I recently had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Denine. I found her to be such an amazing person, I wanted to share her with you. You will quickly see why we got along so well. Below is an interview with her so you can decide for yourself how inspiring she is!
1. What is your job/jobs?
As a virtual registered dietitian consultant, I work my full-time job with Elevance Health, formerly Anthem BCBS. I also work at my integrative and functional nutritional consulting practice, Living Healthy. On top of that, I also have an e-commerce homemade natural botanical and food blend soaps and skincare products store called Living Healthy Skincare.
2. How did you get interested in making soap/scrubs?
I started when my sister and husband complained about the lack of good quality natural soaps and skincare products. My sister has acne, and my husband has severe eczema. It was hard to find the right products for their skin type. Since I am a registered dietitian, I have always been interested in the connection between food, nutrition, and skincare. It started as a hobby to help my family. I then decided why not combine them to see if this would help them. Research has shown that what you eat can affect not only the inside of your body but also the outside. So I started doing an old-fashioned natural soap-making process called Cold Process and added real raw fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, herbs, spices, milk, nuts, oats, honey, essential oils, and luscious butter. The reactions when my clients use these products have been incredible!!
3. What are the most important characteristics you look for in your final product?
The essential characteristics that I look for in my products: how does it smell ( does it smell sweet or citrusy or woody), how does it feel (I prefer for my kinds of butter creams to feel non-greasy and my soaps to give a clean and moisturizing feel) and how does it look (For my soaps I use only natural colorants such as clays, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, etc. and add natural oils to give it that popping colors).
4. What are your future plans for your soap biz?
I would love to take my business mainstream and have educational classes on nutrition and skincare. I would have my lessons based on understanding why it is essential to eat wholesome foods to get healthy skin, and it will show you how you can create your skincare regimen with natural healthy ingredients.
5. Where can we learn more, shop, and follow you?
You can learn more about me at my integrative and functional nutritional business - Living Healthy - www.livinghealthy1.org, and to check out and purchase my soaps and skin care products, you can go to my Living Healthy Skincare website at https://livinghealthyskincare.com/
Check out the 2021 holiday sets from Beautycounter, plus my ideas for gifting.
I've got all of my daily products in this photo. I feel like it's a lot to use everyday, but I bet if you collected all of the things you use on your skin everyday, it would be as much or even more.
You'll notice a theme: Beautycounter! 😻 More on that in a bit.
I'll start with the deodorant I've been using for the last 1 1/2 years or so, Mystic Water Soap. I have tried MANY deodorants in my quest to find something "natural". I gave up on antiperspirant many years ago (I didn't like the idea of suppressing sweating, plus the ingredients, like aluminum, who's job it is to do that are questionable). I tend to sweat a lot, so I developed all sorts of strategies to minimize body odor (since my deodorant du jour didn't really work), like showering BEFORE going to the gym, loading up on extra deodorant, and resigning myself to a not-so-fresh feeling by the end of the day. None of that is happening anymore. Once I got past the concept of having to apply the paste with my fingers (actually, before that), I realized this is the deodorant for me, and I'm not going back.👍🏼
I recently discovered Beautycounter, and I'm so glad I did. Check out my post "Introducing Beautycounter" for more on this. This company stands by their products in terms of performance, so no issues there. I have been really happy with each of the items I have chosen. Beautycounter also bans 1500 ingredients and will even commission research on ingredients that haven't been studied yet. Do you know how many ingredients are banned in cosmetics in the US? 30! The last major legislation regulating the beauty industry was in 1938!😵🤬
Many of the ingredients that our government allows companies to put into the products we use everyday are endocrine disruptors. That means they can mess with our hormones! Ugh!
I want to mention, as I have in several other posts, the Environmental Working Group's database, Skin Deep (https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/), where you can check the rating of your favorite products. I love Beautycounter because they've done all the work for you - you know you are getting safer, high-performing products. But, many other products pass muster, if you want to do the research.🤞🏼
If you are at the beginning of the process of decreasing your exposure to environmental toxins, it can feel overwhelming. I would encourage you to go slowly - replace an item as you use it up.
Here we are in the shower! I'm clearly a minimalist. I only know this because I've used other people's showers and there's all sorts of stuff in there! I've mentioned before I'm a big fan of bars. In this picture, I've got my Beautycounter Charcoal Bar on the left, which I use for face and body (extra points because it's dual purpose!), and shave soap on the right, which my husband and I both use. The bar on the bottom is Castile soap, which I was using until I recently discovered the Charcoal bar.
Now shampoo and conditioner are another matter. I'm not all that worried about conditioner since my husband and I both stopped using it a while ago. How did I go 4 decades using something I really don't need?! In the past, I have used Free & Clear Shampoo (and conditioner), but I got lazy about ordering it online. I really prefer to buy things in actual stores (old school, right?), but store choices in my current locale are limited, so I'm letting go of that dream. But, I also got lazy thinking Pantene was decently rated on EWG's Skin Deep database - wrong!
As I said, I love a bar, so I've tried a few shampoo bars. Now, I am really not particular with my personal care products, like AT ALL, but these shampoo bars did not work for me. It's disappointing. But, I've got a plan! I'll explain more about Beautycounter in a later post, but this company uses safer ingredients in all their products and does not compromise on performance. So, I'll be upgrading to Beautycounter Shampoo, and the kids will be getting an upgrade to their shower products as well.
Today we're talking about cleaning the bathroom. I've already mentioned Castile soap - I use it in the bathroom, too. One squirt in a spray bottle filled with water will clean and disinfect any surface (including the toilet). I've got my microfiber cloth in the picture as a reminder that paper towels are not needed here either!
Now, I took a shortcut, which I know isn't 100% correct - I've reused a spray bottle to make a homemade window cleaner. Ideally, you buy a whole bunch of spray bottles to put your homemade cleaners in and keep them in your bathrooms and kitchen. Whether you take the shortcut or not - make sure you label the bottles with what's in them!
So, using my handy Clean House Clean Planet book, I made a window cleaner recipe with just a few ingredients. The book also claims you can use club soda in a spray bottle for this purpose.
Moving on to the inside of the toilet, I have gotten lazy and started buying Method toilet bowl cleaner, and once again, the score on EWG's guide is not great. (check out your own bathroom cleaners here: https://www.ewg.org/guides/categories/3-Bathroom)
So, back to the drawing board, or book, and I found a simple recipe that calls for Castile soap, vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil and water. Just mix in the proper proportions into a squirt bottle.
What to do about about the tub and shower? The book has a recipe similar to the toilet cleaner that will work most of the time. Your best approach with soap scum and mildew is prevention - make sure there is plenty of ventilation, and squeegee the shower walls after showering. A few times a week, spray a vinegar solution on the walls (no rinsing needed).
Ok, so back to reality. I have fabric shower curtain liners, rather than those disposable, toxic-fume-emitting, vinyl ones. I struggle to keep them from getting mildew. I need help here, because the only effective way I've found to remove it is soaking/washing with bleach. That stuff really stinks up the house, and I'd love an alternative.
I'm so glad I'm doing this post series, because it has caused me to take a look at my laundry habits. I'll admit I've gotten kind of lax (read: exhausted) with trying to make sure all the products I use are safe. I thought I was doing it right!
Years back, I started cutting my laundry detergent with Borax. I thought it was a win/win: use less detergent, replace with something more "natural" and save money. Turns out Borax gets a grade of F on EWG's Guide for Healthier Cleaning (link in the comments). More recently I've been using Oxiclean, which is more of a mixed bag when it comes to the rating by EWG - depends on the specific type. Look for the Baby Stain Soaker or the regular kind: Versatile Stain Remover.
My choice of laundry soap is in question, as well. I often choose TIDE Free & Clear, which has no perfumes or dyes (have I mentioned I hate smells?!). Their score? F!
Seriously, take a look at the guide in the comments to see where your detergent falls and to find a new one (I'll be doing the same). Another option is to make your own soap, which people do - and good for them! I'll be buying something at the store.
Lately I've been debating whether the pods are better than the liquid. I do think the pods are a better choice for the environment because they come in less packaging. More research is needed, though.
Let's talk fabric softener. This was an easy one for me due to my aversion to smells - I use dryer balls and have no problems. Is static cling a problem for you? There are two brands of fabric softeners, Attitude and Green Shield, that have an A rating with EWG.
Over the course of the past 10 years or more, I have be working on developing more sustainable practices at home to reduce waste (including recycling). I have also been on a mission to swap out cleaning and personal care products with safer versions (products that limit exposure to environmental toxins).