Monday, April 30, 2007

Used book sales in Fairfax County (Library/Book Information)

In May there will be several book sales at different libraries in the county. This weekend there is a sale at the King's Park (Burke), Tysons-Pimmit, and Chantilly libraries. Last fall Jen, Ed, and I went to one and got a big box of books for only $5. Definitely will be going to a few this month. Books ;P

Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Chantilly (Craft Show Information)

Just a quick post to let those in the DC area know that this friday, saturday, and sunday, the Sugarloaf Craft Festival will be held at the Dulles Expo Center. I went a year and a half ago, and it was amazing! I got a lot of nice pottery pieces for my sister and Ed. They also have food vendors, jewelry, and a lot of craft demos. Some 350 vendors will be there, so it's a great place to get good deals on gifts. Cost is only $7 to get in for all three days, and kids are free. If you go to their website, you can get coupons for $1 off admission. I'm definitely going again (for mineral makeup addicts in the area this is a great chance to get 'swirly bowls' for your minerals. Ok, I'm such an enabler! ;P ).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

FAQ: All About Soap (All Natural Cosmetics)

Time for another FAQ since the stickies on my desktop are getting way over crowded. I guess this means I need to blog more! ;)

What is castile soap? And how is it different than conventional soap?

Castile (also spelled castille) originally meant a soap made with only olive oil (no other oils). Nowadays it usually means an olive oil soap or an olive oil blend soap (though I've seen soaps that call themselves castile that don't contain any olive oil, sometimes people just use this term to mean any natural soap). Castile soap can be liquid or in bar form.

Most commercial soaps are actually not soap, but either synthetic detergents or a blend of soap and synthetic detergents. The exception is Ivory (which is real soap but made with beef tallow, which I personally wouldn't use).

I can't seem to use soap on my face: why and also what can I use instead (my skin is really dry)?

While many people can use soap to cleanse their face, some people (especially with very dry skin) just finds that it removes too much of the skin's natural oils (sebum), and hence your skin's natural moisture barrier. It's also said to disrupt the natural acid barrier (however the acid barrier quickly re-establishes itself).

Though my skin is dehydrated (so water dry but can also get oily), I prefer using natural soap, but during colder/drier months, I like using soapwort or cold cream which cleans my skin but doesn't strip it as much as soap does.

For extra dry skin, you may prefer using a cleaning oil, cream cleanser/cold cream, or if you still want to use soap, try a liquid soap with things added like oils, aloe, hydrosols, glycerine, and other moisturizing ingredients. Liquid soap is usually less drying than bar soap because of all the added ingredients. Also some people like honey with or without clay (vegans may want to use agave; also for really dry skin, you may want to skip the clay).

I am allergic to all fragrances, including natural. Where can I get unscented soap?

Vermont Soap makes a nice unscented oats and aloe bar, and a butter bar. They are certified organic and are natural, and you can buy eco bricks of their soap (uncut block of soap, enough for 12 bars). Also check your local natural food store; many brands like Dr. Bronner's sell unscented soaps.

How do you color soap (in soap making)?

Well I haven't tried it myself but I know some people use things like titanium dioxide in soap (that what makes white melt and pour soap white) and I think I've read some people use micas etc. There might be more info about this is tkbtrading's website (a minerals, colorant supplier).

I've been hearing about shampoo bars, are they any good?

I love Heart of Iowa Soapworks. They also make my favorite facial soaps, and I love their shampoo bars.

Many people will need to use either a vinegar or herbal rinse with soap based shampoos. I personally prefer herbal rinses or cream conditioners, and after using shampoo bars and soap based shampoos for years no longer have funky hair syndrone, and sometimes don't even use hair rinses or conditioner (but I wash my hair every day).

The aloe fresh one is my favorite. I've tried other shampoo bars (from VT Soap and Burts Bees) and didn't like them because they left a film on my hair, but some people swear by them (and I like many of their other products).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Li's crafting thoughts 4-20-07

I've been on a crafting kick the last couple weeks. I've crafted hair conditioner, a bug bite oil/skin healing serum, lip gloss base, two different lip glosses using said base (including one brand new color), a new vegan cream formula, and five single note perfumes. Here is a quick overview of everything I made.

Hair conditioner: my first attempt making a conditioner using cetyl alcohol. I made it with almond oil and aloe juice. I think I used too little cetyl and almond oil and way too much aloe, so it ended up separating on me. LOL! Which in natural formulation isn't that bad of a mistake (it just needs to be shaken before use, so it forms this kind of thin almond milk rather than the rich thick conditioner I was hoping for). Though the formulation needs work, I have to say since I've started using it my hair looks great! :) (For the all natural purists, some people argue that there are natural and synthetic sources of this ingredient, others argue it is at best semi-natural or that it is definitely synthetic. I personally think it is like stearic acid, natural but it goes through so much processing so it is more semi-natural. However most waxes would coat the hair in conditioners and are hard to rinse off, and so far I haven't found a better alternative).

Bug bite oil/skin healing serum: I made this for my mom (after using a commercial brand which somehow burned and blistered her skin more). I used anti-inflammatory essential oils like helichrysum, and her skin is starting to heal. :)

Lip gloss base: finally used the castor wax I bought a while ago. It made a slightly gooey (but not too gooey, nearly the perfect texture for gloss) but very shiny base that wasn't as moisturizing as I'd hope (though when I use this gloss on top of my awesome lip balms, it's pretty good. I'll have to try different oils with this wax). I mixed this base with two mineral makeup blends that I made (one new and one that I had made a few months ago), using different amounts of minerals. For gloss, definitely less minerals are best because when you add too much, the gloss feels drying and the color just doesn't look as good.

Vegan cream: I am on a kick with making vegan creams, this one contained red raspberry oil which has a high spf!

Perfumes: nothing complicated. I had received five free essential oils samples when I recently ordered from AV-AT, so I made perfumes out of them (the samples were in these cute vials; each vial was not filled to the top, only about maybe 6 to 10 drops of oil in each vial so lots of room to add vodka and make perfume). The cocoa absolute from them smells divine.

I also have given several samples (full size really) away of vegan cream and a couple different lipbalms, and have received good reviews on all of my formulations. :)

Agenda for the next few days: I haven't crafted anything in the last few days because my damn cold came back :( I'll probably make some complex perfume blends, and I still have to strain my herbal infused oil that I made a few weeks ago.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy Earth Day/week (Environmental Information/Events)

As many of you know, April 22nd is Earth Day, and many organizations are having Earth Day events this week.

This week George Mason University (my school :) ) is having many environmental related events. If you are in the area I highly recommend going to some of these events, especially tomorrow's screening of "An Inconvenient Truth". I finally just saw this documentary recently with my sister. I have studied global warming and climate change at GMU, and think that the film did an awesome job at presenting the issue in an easy to understand manner (translating the science into something the public can understand, which is often difficult to do). Best of all, tomorrow after the viewing of the film, Dr. Crate (who was trained by Al Gore on presenting his presentation) will be speaking on solutions (this will be a lecture on solutions and will not be a presentation of what was in the film). Dr. Crate's lectures are very thought provoking; she has studied the potential effects of climate change on indigenous peoples and the arctic region extensively. Also not to be missed: on Tuesday environmentalist Janisse Ray will speak three times on various environmental issues.

For those of you not in the DC/Northern VA area, check out your local community paper for events. Many universities, organizations, parks/nature areas, and local governments will be hosting activities.

I'm definitely going to some of GMU's events. I think Earth week/day activities are very informative-though as an environmentalist I think that every day should be Earth Day! :) Personally there are many things that I do to be more environmentally aware and also more environmentally friendly, however I realize that I can always do more. One thing I will definitely do is begin posting more environmental tips and issues on this blog (don't worry miy lovers, I will still post miy information, as my interest in aromatherapy/herbalism is part of my passion for the environment). Happy Earth Day! :)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tori Amos: American Doll Posse

I can not wait for Tori Amos's new album American Doll Posse to come out (it will be released May 1st). Tori's music has helped me get through a lot throughout the years, including now: there are about a dozen songs that I've been listening to over and over again recently. It's really strange but I've heard all of these songs hundreds of times and they've always meant something to me in a particular way, but listening to some of the songs now, I've been finding different meanings in the lyrics.

So far I've heard two songs from the album and clips from all the songs (links on, and I absolutely adore the song "Bouncing Off Clouds". This album is definitely more guitar driven than her previous works, but I really like the concept of how she takes on the personas of all of these different women, which are kind of parts of every woman. I think I've been each of these women throughout my life at particular/different times and sometimes all of them at the same time too, but I'm kind of identifying with the persona of Clyde right now, so maybe that's why I like Bouncing Off Clouds so much! :)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Li's crafting thoughts 4-01-07

Last week I finally made a new batch of vegan cream and lip balm to send to a couple people that I'd promised. I've given my cream and lip balms to several people; so far the reviews have been good. The biggest compliment has been from my sister, who I gave her some cream to help her inflammed skin. She said it was awesome and really helped heal her skin! :)

My crafting agenda for the next few days: I think I'm going to work on crafting more perfumes. As I've mentioned, I restocked my essential oil collection and now have nearly 50 organic essential oils (only maybe 6 or so are non-organic) and I can't wait to start experimenting with more complex perfume blends.

Like the ancient Eqyptians and many other ancient or indigenous cultures, pagans, herbalists, and aromatherapists, I see perfume as more than something that smells good or an aphrodisiac but also as a means of communicating with the spirit. In addition to the cosmetic and medicinal properties of essential oils, the scent of essential oils affects moods, emotions, and certain oils can help a person attain a level of spiritual awareness. Essential oils directly influence the limbic brain, the "seat of the emotions/conscious/soul" that controls memory, hormones, stress, some bodily functions (like heart rate), and emotions.

So I really need to craft, breathe in my essential oils, and do some serious healing! :)