February 26, 2014

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil.....

Since I've been using more natural products for hair, skin and body care, I've been blessed to learn a lot about of different natural oils. The very first natural oil that I learned about was extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil has some amazing uses, not to mention the fact that it smells wonderful. Here are 21 uses for coconut oil. I hope that you try these! I've added comments, in pink, next to the uses that I've tried and found helpful.

Personal Hygiene/Body:

1. Moisturizer – simply scoop some out of the jar and apply all over your body, including neck and face.
I've used coconut oil, alone, as a moisturizer and it works very well. However, I am in love with my shea butter body moisturizer. I use 1/2 cup of coconut oil in my shea butter body moisturizer. Click here for the recipe.
Shea Butter Body Moisturizer

2. Eye cream: apply under the eyes to reduce puffiness, bags, and wrinkles. Use on the lids in the evening.

3. Pre-shave: coconut oil will prep skin for the pending damage caused by shaving. I applied coconut oil to wet skin, prior to shaving. My skin was smooth and felt very moisturized. Just be careful because your bathtub with be slippery.
4. After-shave: coconut oil will help heal your skin after shaving without clogging pores. 

5. Deodorant: coconut oil alone can be used as a deodorant, but even more effective in combination with cornstarch/arrowroot powder and baking soda
. Click the link for my homemade deodorant recipe.
Natural deoderant recipe

6. Hair Conditioner/Deep Treatment - use as a leave in hair conditioner by applying a teaspoon of coconut oil to your ends and then running your fingers through your hair to distribute the rest! I use coconut oil for a deep conditioning treatment. I apply about one (1) ounce of coconut oil onto dry hair and scalp. Gently work through to the ends. Put a shower cap on to prevent transfer onto bedding and leave on overnight. I follow up in the morning with a shampoo and a leave-in conditioner. I did this consistently for about 6 months and it really strengthened my hair. It has also helped me manage my hair during the transition from relaxed to natural. 

7. Hair Gel/Defrizzer: rub a little between your palms and either scrunch into hair (for curly hair) or finger comb in through from scalp to ends (for wavy/straight hair). I use coconut oil in my daily hair care routine. It helps to seal in moisture and it leaves my hair soft but not weighed down nor oily.
 8. Toothpaste: there are numerous recipes out there. The simplest is to mix coconut oil and baking soda. Dab a little of the mix on your toothbrush, then brush your teeth normally. I will be trying this next time I make a batch of my homemade toothpaste.
9. Make up remover: use a cotton swab and a dab of coconut oil.

10. Chapstick – just rub a little into lips and it not only acts as a softening agent but it also has an SPF of about 4 so you get a little protection too!
Coconut oil moisturizes your lips very well. I used coconut oil in my homemade lip balm recipe. Click here for the recipe.
Homemade Natural Lip Balm

11. Massage Oil – pretty simple; grab some and rub! For an added treat, don't forget to warm it up a bit. The scent alone is so relaxing.

12. Sunscreen. Alone, coconut oil has an SPF of about 4.

13. Stretch Mark Cream: coconut oil is great at nourishing damaged skin. It may not be the magic stretch mark cure but it will help.

14. Nipple Cream (for nursing moms): nourishes cracked, sore, or dry nipples. Apply to a cotton ball and leave on your nipples between feedings.

15. Diaper salve – very comforting on a rashy bum with no harsh chemicals. Also safe for cloth diapers.

16. Cradle cap – having issues with dry skin on your baby’s scalp? Coconut oil will not only nourish your baby’s skin, it also helps eliminate cradle cap. Just rub a teaspoon onto scalp daily.

17. Body scrub – mix coconut oil and sugar together and rub all over! Rinse off and your skin will be super soft! You can add in essential oils if you would like a specific smell
I am working on a recipe for a homemade sugar scrub, using coconut oil. Stay tuned!!!
18. Healing - when applied on scrapes and cuts, coconut oil forms a thin, chemical layer which protects the wound from outside dust, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by repairing damaged tissues. Plus, it smells a better than over-the-counter treatments.

19. Bug Bites – when applied directly to a bug bite, coconut oil can stop the itching and burning sensation as well as hasten the healing process.

20. Skin problems – coconut oil relieves skin problems such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.
I use coconut oil in my shea butter skin moisturizer. I love it!!!
21. Swimmers Ear – mix garlic oil and coconut oil and put a few drops in affected ear for about 10 minutes. Do this 2-3 times a day and it usually works within one or two days.

I hope you found this information helpful. What are your uses for coconut oil? I'd love to hear from you. God bless!

February 22, 2014

Coming in March...Living Natural: Hair Care for Natural Hair

Blessings everyone! I pray that you are doing well.
I've really enjoyed sharing my favorite natural products here on my blog! I'd love to hear from you if you have tried some of the products. As I continue to experiment, when I am replenishing my products, I will be posting updates so stay tuned!!!
I am looking forward to the month of March! I am so excited because I will sharing my journey of transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. I can't wait to share the hair care products that I use, which are all natural, and most of all they work!!! I also pray that I can encourage women who are considering whether or not to go natural. God made us beautiful; I am learning to accept how God made me...which includes embracing my naturally curly hair.
I got my first relaxer when I was in 7th grade and I've had relaxed hair ever since. I had a wonderful beautician who taught me how to properly care for my hair and to keep it healthy. In 2001, when I relocated from Michigan to Texas, I had very a difficult time finding a beautician that could relax my hair properly. Nobody could ever get my hair straight enough for my liking. In 2002, I finally found two different people who did an awesome job of relaxing my hair. I would usually get a relaxer at the beginning of spring and then a touch up in the summer. During the cooler months, I would be able to manage my hair touch ups.
In June 2012, I got my last relaxer. That was not my plan though. Through doing hair care research, I learned that coconut oil can help stretch a relaxer. So I began using coconut oil for moisturizing, sealing, and deep conditioning. I found that my new growth was easier to manage and that my hair was becoming healthier. By 2013, I found that I was managing my hair without a relaxer. During my research, I really began to see the pros and cons of relaxed vs. natural hair. After prayer and research, I made the decision to transition to natural hair. It's healthier for your hair and overall health. In June 2014, it will be two years since my last relaxer.
I will share more about my journey as I begin my new series: Living Natural...Natural Hair Care for Natural Hair. Coming....March 2014.....Stayed tuned!!!
This is me with relaxed hair. This photo was taken on Christmas Day 2009. I had just had a relaxer in November 2009.  

This photo was taken in October 2010.

 Me in summer 2011, still relaxed!
December 2012, my last relaxer was June 2012.
October 2013
This is me as of February, 2014.

February 10, 2014

Living Natural, Product 8: Natural Homemade Lip Balm

I am super excited about this product!!!!

Last summer, when I purchased beeswax to make homemade deodorant, I noticed that one of its more common uses (besides candle making) was for making lip balm.  So after much prayer and research, I've put together a recipe for homemade lip balm. These are fun, easy to make and are awesome gifts.

Key-lime and Lemon Essential Oil


2 tablespoons Beeswax
20-30 drops Essential oil, I used lemon, vanilla, sweet orange, key-lime, & peppermint
(Note: Do not use any type of alcohol based flavoring or extract, the heat will evaporate the alcohol and the flavor)
1 tablespoon Shea butter
1 tablespoon Coconut oil
1 tablespoon Sweet Almond oil
1/2 tablespoon Vitamin E oil
Empty lip balm tubes and jars
Glass measuring cup or jar

Lip balm tubs (on the right), lip balm jar (left)

Ingredients purchase links:
Beeswax: purchased from amazon.com Beeswax
Essential oil: I purchased the sweet orange and lemon from Sprouts and Whole Foods respectively. I purchased the vanilla and lime essential oils from  amazon.com. Essential Oils
The actual company's name is Edens Garden. You can also purchase directly from them at www.edensgarden. They have a huge variety of essential oils that are reasonably priced. They also ship quickly. I placed my order on 2/2/2014; my oils arrived 2/6/2014.
Empty lip balm tubes: purchased  through amazon.com. Clear Lip balm tubes
This site that sells lip balm packaging. Lip balm containers. I ordered the black clear daisy lip balm set. I can't wait to get them!!
Empty lip balm jars: I purchased this 24 pack of plastic jars from Michaels. They were $9.99; I had a 40% off coupon and, on top of that, I had one (1) day only coupon for an extra 20% off (I love it when God blesses me with sales like that!). I ended up paying $5.17 for 24, which works out to .22 cents each.
Okay, now that you know where to purchase everything, lets get to the fun part!

Natural Homemade Lip Balm
1. Place about 2.5 cups of water in the pot on high heat.
2. We are going to melt the ingredients using the double boiler method. Place a glass container or bowl into the pot of boiling water. I used a glass measuring cup.


3. Add the beeswax to the glass bowl or container. It is best to melt the beeswax first because it has the highest melting point, thus it will take the longest to melt. Stir until the beewax is completely melted.

4. Add the shea butter next, I used a knife to scoop out 1 tablespoon. Stir until it has completely melted.

5. Add in the coconut oil, sweet almond oil and vitamin E oil. Stir until all the oils are completely mixed together. Your lip balm base is done! Now it's time to have some fun with flavoring!!!

6. Prepare your lip balm containers because once you remove the lip balm base from the heat and begin pouring, it will begin to harden quickly. I placed a piece of wax paper on top of a cutting board to catch any spills or overflows.

7. I poured 1/2 of the lip balm base into another glass jar because I made several different flavors. I placed that glass jar (with 1/2 of the base) in the pot of hot water to keep the ingredients liquid.

If you are only making one (1) flavor, skip  step 7 and add 35-40 drops of the essential oil of your choice, skip step 8.  Pour the lip balm into your storage containers. I placed some in the lip balm tubes and some in the plastic jars.
8. With the other 1/2 of the balm base, I removed a small amount, added 10-15 drops of the essential oil of my choice, stirred, then poured it into a container. I repeated this until I'd used all the lip balm base. I got creative and made several different flavors. I used a sharpee to label the lids on the jars and the tops of the lip balm tubes.
9. Allow the lip balm to set for about 20 minutes.
While the lip balm is setting, clean the glass mixing bowls before the balm hardens. Soak the bowls in boiling hot water (I just use the water from the pot that I used to melt my ingredients) and soap for about 10 minutes, then wash them thoroughly.

10.  Place the caps on the tubes and the lids on the jars.....that's it! Natural homemade lip balm! Enjoy!

This recipe filled four (4) lip balm containers and three (3) jar containers. In the tubes (from left to right): Sweet orange, Raspberry, Vanilla, Lemon/Key-lime. Since the vanilla essential oil tends to settle, I tried to get creative make a swirl design in the jar but it did not turn out quite right. Oh well!!

I also found this natural flavoring at Hobby Lobby. I purchased the raspberry flavor; however, I gave it away, so I have not tried  myself. I will and report on it in future blog. I did notice that, while it did dissolve, the lip balm ended up having some red streaks in it. The lip balm; however, does NOT give any type of color to the lips; it is completely clear.   The company LorAnn Oils, states that almost all of their food products are certified kosher, sugar-free and gluten-free. These flavorings are very concentrated, so a little goes a long way. One (1) package contained two (2) .125 ounce bottles for $3.49. I used a 40% off coupon and the price was $2.09 plus tax. Michaels also sells them for $2.99. I suggest purchasing them from the website because there you can find every flavor under the sun, whereas the stores have less of a selection. Be sure to order the super strength flavors because they are soluble in water and don't contain alcohol. Again, if you use any type of alcohol based flavoring or an extract, the heat will evaporate the alcohol and the flavor.

These lip balms are very moisturizing and nourishing to your lips. Plus, they are fun to make!! You can get so creative and make your own unique flavors. Some other ideas are sweet orange essential oil  mixed with lime essential oil, rosemary essential oil mixed with mandarin orange essential oil or use some natural honey and then add lemon essential oil for a honey-lemon flavor. Experiment!!!!! Okay the science teacher in me is coming out again and I am looking forward to experimenting even more! This is the first batch I've made; I gave most of them to my friends to bless them and for them to try.  Based on their comments, I will most likely tweek some things in the next batch, to make them even better! There is always room for improvement right? :-) I promise to do an update/follow up blog in the future.


1. The coconut oil moisturizes your lips and has an SPF of about 4. So you get a little sun protection.

2. Shea butter is an excellent moisturizer.

3. The beeswax holds the balm together and prevents the coconut oil from melting. Plain coconut oil melts at 76 degrees. Beeswax is very moisturizing, helps retain moisture, and can help protect your lips from the harmful rays of the sun. Since beeswax is a natural product, it is less likely to irritate your skin.
4. Essential oil is for flavor. Essential oils are all natural as well.

5. Vitamin E oil is a great moisturizer.

6. Sweet almond oil is nourishing and also an excellent moisturizer.

7. These are cheaper than store bought lip balms and you know exactly what is in them. The ingredients cost a little up front; however, they will last a long time.

8. Bragging rights!! :-)

I am looking forward to hearing your comments about this product. Look for updates in future blogs as I experiment with different flavors. Stay tuned because I will be using these a gifts during an upcoming give away!!

I also post these blog links on my Facebook ministry page: Foot of the Cross Ministries Facebook Page.

God bless you!

February 5, 2014

Living Natural, Product 6 & 7: Homemade Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener

Homemade Laundry Soap
I've been making my own laundry soap since 2011. I was inspired by a sister at my church and also from watching the TV show "19 Kids and Counting".

I've experimented and changed recipes over the last 2 years. I started out using the liquid formula. In 2013, I started experimenting and made the powder formula. I was still making the liquid formula to use for washing in cold water because it dissolves better.

Homemade Powder Laundry Soap

Up close look at the powder soap. I used Zote soap which is pink.

In December 2013, I was lead to a recipe for a whipped, concentrated laundry sauce. I started using this and, so far, I like it.

Homemade Laundry Sauce
I've also experimented with the type of soap that I use. I was using Fels-Naptha, which is a laundry soap specifically made for washing clothing. However, I found some recipes that used a soap called Zote.
The Zote was a larger bar of soap and cheaper than the Fels-Naptha. I could get two (2) 8 ounce bars for .57 each; Fels-Naptha is .97 for a 5.5 ounce bar. So, I started using Zote during the summer of 2013. I made the powder formula. It did well with cleaning my clothing and it melted better in cold water than the Fels-Naptha. However, later I read that Zote, over time, can leave residue in the clothing. Since Fels-Naptha is specifically made for laundry, it does not leave a residue and it is better for your clothing. Around the time that I read that article, I got a rash on my neck and stomach, then I started feeling a little itchy all over. Since I'd not used anything different on my skin, I thought that it just may be the Zote soap that was irritating my skin. So I decided that being good to my skin and clothing was much more important than trying to save a $1.00. I've switched back to Fels-naptha, the rash is gone and has not returned! Praise God!

Please understand that these laundry soaps will not create the bubbles and huge amounts of suds that you get with store bought laundry detergents; but they do clean your clothing.
So without further delay, here are all three (3) recipes.

Liquid Laundry Soap

1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
4 cups of waterPot for melting the soap
5 gallon bucket with lid, I purchased mine a Lowes for about $5.00. You must purchase the lid too.
Large spoon to use for stirring
Food processor or cheese grater (this will make grating the soap much easier)

This is the cheese grater that I use

1. Place the water in a pot and heat to semi-boiling.

2. While the water is heating, grate the soap. I bought a cheese grater; it gets the job done much faster and saves your knuckles. I cut my bar of soap into 4 equal pieces, then place them in the cheese grater once piece at a time.

Soap in the cheese grater

Grated soap (almost done)
All grated up!
3. Fill the 5 gallon bucket 1/2 way with hot water. I actually marked the inside of my bucket, at the 1/2 mark, with a sharpee. You will need to boil a large pot of water for this. My tap water is over 120 degrees when it is hot, so I just fill my bucket straight from the sink. 

4. Add the borax and washing soda. Stir to dissolve. Set aside.

5. Once the water is semi-boiling, turn the heat to about medium and add the grated soap a little at a time. Stir constantly to melt the soap completely. I use the spoon to push the soap against the side of the pot to help melt it. Continue adding soap until it is all melted. Don't let the mixture come to a boil. DO NOT ADD ALL THE SOAP AT ONCE!!!! It will clump together and it is a pain to melt. Trust me, I know! :-)

6. Add the soap to the 5 gallon bucket and stir very well to mix everything.
7. Fill the 5 gallon bucket to the top with hot water. Stir again then place the lid on the bucket (please excuse the water on the floor, I missed the bucket a few times while I was filling it!)

8. Allow the soap to set for 24 hours. The finished product will look like this (see below). The detergent will have a gelatinous look to it. I sometimes put on rubber gloves, place my hands in the bucket, and squeeze the soap to break it up. You don't have to do this but I enjoy playing in the soap... :-)


To use, add 1 cup of detergent to your washer for a normal load and 2 cups for a heavy load (like towels and rugs).
For storage, you can dispense the soap from the bucket. I purchased several of these 2 quart size containers from the Dollar Tree to store my detergent. The lid twists on and off easily and they are easy to hold and pour. When they are empty, I just refill them from the bucket.

I also purchased these containers (pictured to the left), with the twist on/off lids, from Dollar Tree to store my washing soda and borax. I labeled them with a sharpee. This allows for easy dispensing and it keeps most of the moisture out, thus preventing the borax and washing soda from clumping together.

Powder Laundry Detergent
1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
Pot for melting the soap
Food processor or cheese grater (this will make grating the soap much easier)
Storage container (for mixing and storage)
I use this 2 quart size container/canister, for mixing and storage. I purchased it at the Dollar Tree. It works wonderfully for this! The opening is large enough for you to mix and scoop out the detergent. The twist off lid stores the detergent securely and keeps out moisture.

The indentations in the back make it easy to hold.


1. Add the borax and washing soda to the container, place the lid on and shake to mix.
2. Grate the soap. 

3. Once the soap is grated, add it to the container, place the lid on and shake to mix.
4. That is it!
To use, add 1 tablespoon to your washer for a normal load and 2 tablespoons for a heavy load (like towels and rugs). Sometimes I double the recipe for two batches.
Laundry Sauce
This is the recipe that I have been using since December 2013. I got the original tutorial from this website. I encourage you to check it out because it is has a more details and photos than what I posted below. 
1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
4 cups of water
Pot for melting the soap
Large spoon to use for stirring
Cheese grater or food processor   
(2) 1-quart size mason jars
Blender or hand mixer

1. Place the water in a pot and heat to semi-boiling.
2. While the water is boiling, grate the soap. I bought a cheese grater; it gets the job done much faster and saves your knuckles.

3. Once the water is semi-boiling, turn the heat to about medium and add the grated soap a little at a time, stirring constantly to melt the soap completely. Continue adding soap until it is all melted. Don't let the mixture come to a boil. This process takes about 20 minutes or so. DO NOT ADD ALL THE SOAP AT ONCE!!!! It will clump together and be a pain to melt. Trust me, I know! :-)

4. Remove the pot from the stove once all of the soap is completely melted. Add the borax and washing soda to the pot. Stir very well until all the power has dissolve.
5. Fill each mason jar with equal amounts of the soap.
6. Fill each mason jar to the "shoulders"  or where the rounded part of the jar is with water. Leave 1.5 inches of space from the top to the shoulders.

7. Place the lids on securely then turn the mason jars upside down.

8. Let the soap set for 4-5 hours. I let mine set for 5 hours. Do not allow the soap to sit overnight because the texture will become too grainy. As the soap is setting, two layers will form. This is normal and what you want the soap to do.
9. Now we will blend the soap. Turn the mason jar right side up and remove the lid. Place the bottom part of your blender (the part with the blade) onto the mouth of the mason jar and tighten. If you do not have a blender, place the soap into a large bowl and blend using a hand mixer.
10. Place the jar on the blender and mix for about 30 seconds or until your laundry detergent is completely blended.  You will be able to tell by looking at it, while it is blending. It will thicken to the consistency of mayonnaise and look like this.

11. Repeat with the other mason jar.
12. Replace the lids and you are done!


To use, add 1 tablespoon to your washer. Since the detergent is so thick, I usually just toss my tablespoon in the washer with my clothing. This really gets strong odors out of clothing.

I wanted to mention that I have never tried the liquid formula using the Zote soap, I've always used the Fels-Naptha. For the powder formula, I've never made it with Fels-Naptha, I've always used Zote. Again, since Fels-Naptha is a laundry soap, I recommend using that over anything else.

Okay, that is the laundry soap! Now onto the fabric softener, which is super super quick and easy.


Fabric Softener
3 cups vinegar
6 cups water
18oz-24oz bottle of hair conditioner (I go to the .99 cents only store at get the White Rain brand which is 18oz.)
Large pot
Storage container

1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil.
2. While the water is boiling, add 3 cups of vinegar to the bucket.

3. Once the water boils, add 6 cups to the bucket with the vinegar.

4. Add the bottle of conditioner and stir. I find that a wire whisk is great for mixing and breaking up the chunks of conditioner.

5. Allow the softener to cool then pour equal amounts into the storage containers. Depending on the brand of conditioner that you use, the softener may thicken. I've noticed that the pomegranate thickens more that the other scents that I've used.

Pomegranate Scented Fabric Softener
To use, add 1 cup to your laundry. The vinegar gets rid of odors, the hair conditioner is for fragrance. The conditioner rinses out of the clothing completely and does not stain clothing in anyway.
I have been using this fabric softener for over one (1) year. However, in an effort to be even more natural, I am experimenting with another recipe that does not use conditioner. I am testing it out and will report on it in a future blog.
I pray that you will  try these recipes. Looking at the cost: 1 bar Fels-Naptha is .97cents, Washing Soda is about $4.00, and the Borax is about $3.50. I purchased all three (3) of these things from Walmart. A gallon of liquid laundry soap lasts about two (2) months; the powder formula lasts a little over two (2) months. When it is time to make more soap, you won't need to re-purchase anything but a bar of soap.  The borax and washing soda lasted one (1) before I had to re-purchase them. For the fabric softener: 1 gallon of vinegar is about $1.90 at Walmart, the hair conditioner is .99cents at the .99 Cents only store. One (1) batch lasts about one month. So, you will save a ton of money and still get your clothing clean and fresh. But, more importantly, you won't have to worry about all the harsh ingredients, that are found in regular laundry detergents, irritating your skin. Please, don't forget to comment and let me know how you like it!
I am SUPER excited about my next "living natural" product!! I can't wait to share it with you. Any guesses? Okay okay, I will give you a hint....on second thought, I am going to make you wait!! Stay tuned! Until next week, may God continue to bless you.