Au Natural Stocking Stuffers For Mamas

My philosophy for 2015 is to love and maximize what I have, as an exercise in perspective. That means treating weekends like short vacations and showers like spa treatments. But a shower-as-spa requires some extra forethought to feel like a spa (as do weekends to feel like holidays, but we'll save that for another post).

I spent a lot of time in 2014 sorting out what products are good for me, other creatures and the environment (and of course, that also work well!). After all, what you put on your body is as important as what you put in it.

After researching and testing quite a few different products (you're welcome for the equivalent of all those paychecks, Whole Foods Beauty), I landed on a lineup that I'm pretty psyched about. They vary on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database ratings, which you can learn about here. It is a great guide to use, and one I keep on hand for go-to reference via their App.

If you're looking for stocking stuffers (or Hanukkah gifts or any gift for any holiday, really!) for a lucky lady in your life this year (or, ahem mamas, gifts that you will later pretend to be surprised-and-delighted to open), these are my top recommendations and my personal "daily spa" routine lineup:


HAIRCARE: ACURE ORGANICS

I have long, highlighted hair that is determined to weave itself into a dreadlock every day (a curse that somehow got much worse post-baby). So haircare has been the hardest part of my routine to nail. Whereas my skin is fairly forgiving, my hair is not. I tried quite a few shampoo and conditioner combos before I landed on my dream product.

What: I use either the Moroccan Argan Oil + Argan Stem Cell or the Pure Mint + Echinacea Stem Cell shampoo and conditioner.

The bottom line: What's most important to me about Acure Organics is that their products are free from animal testing, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, harmful preservatives and artificial colors, yet it makes my hair feel the most nourished, soft and amazing it ever has. That's all I need to know.


DEODORANT: TAPROOT ORGANICS

The bane of every self-care routine, or at least mine, is deo-for-your-B-O. I switch brands often because as my body gets used to one brand, it becomes less effective. However, the big switch came when I learned how many chemicals my poor little armpits are soaking up. I became alarmed and looked not only to a more natural solution, but a local one, as well. Win, win, win, win, win.

What: Taproot Organics Lavender Clay Deodorant

The bottom line: It works! I found them at Jersey City's Farmers' Markets during the blistering heat of the summer. When I asked if it works, Daniel (the co-owner, with his wife Zaida) told me that all of the vendors use it, and it works for them under that sun. At $8, it's not cost-prohibitive to try. The only thing to get used to is rubbing it between your fingers and applying (no spray or roll-on when you're au natural), but I soon did and I won't be going back.


BODY WASH: ALAFFIA EVERYDAY COCONUT

I have a variety of handmade natural soaps in my shower that I've collected from here and there, but I prefer a loofah and body wash as my primary soapsy routine. I like a body wash to be hydrating, to smell good (but not too fragrant) and of course, make me feel squeaky clean. This does all of the above.

What: Everyday Coconut Hydrating Body Wash

The bottom line: I love coconut. Water, milk, dried, oil, and now, body wash. The fact that this is 100% natural and free of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, synthetic fragrance, animal testing, refined oil, parabens and gluten, and furthermore that their domestically sourced packaging is both phalate and BPA-free AND it's Fair Trade-certified from Togo, West Africa. Smells good, works good and is nice to everyone involved in producing it. Perfect.


BODY LOTION: DR. BRONNER'S COCONUT OIL

Well, this one's easy. I gave up all of my body lotions this year, and now I cover my body in coconut oil (yup, the same stuff I have in my kitchen for my frying pan and baked goods) from neck-to-toe when I get out of the shower.

What: I use Dr. Bronner's Fair Trade & Organic White Kernel Virgin Coconut Oil, but any brand of all natural coconut oil works. I put it in a nice little glass vase/jar on my bathroom counter and I'm good to go!

The bottom line: First of all, it really nails that spa-ish, vacation-ey essence with the smell of coconut. But don't think you'll smell like suntan lotion all day, because the initial sweetness wears off and you're left with just the deep conditioning. Not sure about coco oil? Here are 101 reasons and ways to try it. It's a full-body rub from coco oil to deodorant, and again, you get used to it and it's not a big deal.


FACIAL CLEANSER: ALBA ORGANICS (for now)

As I mentioned above, my face is very tolerant compared to my hair. I'm still testing products, as the Alba Botanica and Burt's Bees products I use aren't the best rated on SkinDeep, and that matters to me. I'll update this post once I find the dream facial combo that's safer. But these work well, and are certainly better than most. Furthermore, if you are not so strict about your ingredient list and SkinDeep ratings, I would highly recommend them based on their performance.

What: Alba Botanica Hawaiian Pineapple Enzyme Facial Cleanser (and the towelettes when I'm traveling)

The bottom line: Alba's hawaiian cleansers smell really yummy and are not harsh at all. I'm left feeling clean but not overscrubbed and I've never had any breakouts after using them.


FACIAL LOTIONS: BURT'S BEES (for now)

What: Day cream: Burt's Bees Radiance SPF 7 Day Lotion // Night cream: Burt's Bees Radiance Night Cream

The bottom line: Both are a solid cream. SPF is important to me during the day and deep moisture is important at night. I haven't had any breakouts or reactions. They have a neutral smell and sink in quickly.


MAKEUP: BAREMINERALS

What: Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara, Mineral Veil (finishing powder), a READY Eye Palette (always best to choose your own) and READY Blush.

The bottom line: As with the above (facial care pending), what's important to me is not only what my skin is soaking up, but also the effect that the products I use have on the animals and environment on this planet. BareEscentuals/bareMinerals is made of... yes, minerals, and made without (for the most part) preservatives, parabens, chemical dyes and fragrance. The company does not test on animals (nor work with any manufacturer who does), does not do business with any company engaged in child labor, and they offer up supply chain transparency on their website.


So, that's it! My shower-as-spa lineup. I've spent the past year creating habits that set a precedent I'm comfortable with my daughter emulating in years to come. While the impact of so many chemicals on ourselves and our environmental should be top priority for all of us, it isn't for many.

My personal conclusion is that cutting on cost cuts a lot deeper for the world we live in. Therefore, I'm happy to invest in fewer, better products that simplify my routine, make space in my shower and cabinets, and ultimately make me feel my best, inside and out. It's a lean, mean self-care routine around here.

What are your favorite products? I'd especially love au natural facial care suggestions, as I continue the hunt to find better products. Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.