Natural Aussie Gal

Natural Aussie Gal

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Henna hair dye - my first time!

I used henna hair dye for the first time last night, and boy was it an experience! It turned out a lot better than it should have because I hadn't done my research beforehand. I purchased it thinking it would be just like dying your hair normally. Wow, was I wrong!
I have been dying my hair red for 12 months now and I love it. But i don't want to use the usual hair dyes with all their chemicals, so was looking for a more natural approach. It was really faded red as it had been so long since i had dyed it.
I went to the two health food shops in town, the first one had none and the second only had Bonvit in dark brown. I didn't even know that it came in any other colour except red! The lady at the counter warned me that it was hard work and very messy so do it in the shower, which was very helpful advice. I decided to buy it as brown would be good for a trial, before going red. I am so glad that i did now.
The instructions were very vague. It didn't tell me how much water to use, how long to leave it in for, or how to wash it out so I just winged it. I left it in for 30 minutes, and then I blasted it with a hairdryer to dry it. I rinsed it out with warm water only. It turned out quite nice, I'm not used to seeing my hair brown though. It does have a slight green tinge to it, but nothing too noticeable. Apparently I should have washed it out with conditioner which might have helped.

Here are the main tips I wish I had known beforehand, to save you some of the troubles I had:-

* Do your research first.
* It won't cover greys and if you have streaks and regrowth beforehand, you'll still have that afterwards.
* When purchasing henna, make sure it only contains lawsonia inermis and indigo. Try to purchase body art quality henna. A lot of henna has added metallic salts which react badly with ammonia in synthetic hair dye. To be safe, don't use henna for a couple of months before or after dying your hair with a permanent colour, as this can cause your hair to burn.
* Wash your hair first and make sure it's dry before applying henna.
* Sift the powder for a smoother consistency.
* When making it up, read your packet instructions. I just used boiling water with mine and let it cool slightly. Some people add coffee, tea, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice etc. It's best to start out simple though, and once you get the hang of it, then trial with liquids. It is supposed to be roughly the consistency of a pancake batter. (Mine was way thicker than this, and was very crumbly!)
* Use some sort of barrier cream around your hairline as it stains everything. I used my tea tree and jojoba oil face oil mix and it worked great.
* Wear gloves so your hands don't stain. If possible get someone else to put it through for you (I roped my husband into it), and make sure you do it in the shower so you can rinse it straight off the floor afterwards, before it stains. A lot will fall onto the floor in the process. Clean up will be so much easier.
* It looks really disgusting (like cow poo!) and smells strongly of herbs. It keeps dropping off when applying down your back etc, so rinse off your skin straight afterwards to prevent staining. Also rinse out your bowls, utensils straight afterwards for the same reason. My bowl is stained green and will never be the same again.
* Read your pack for instructions on how long to leave it in for. Mine didn't say anything, but after further research, it was meant to be 2 hours. A lot of them are 8 hours, or overnight for best results.
* Wrap your hair in a shower cap, cling wrap, a plastic bag or whatever you have. This will keep the heat in for better results, and also save it dropping off all over your furniture and floors. If you need to go out, just add a beanie or bandana over it and no-one will even notice.
* When washing it out, only use conditioner. If you use shampoo the colour won't develop properly, and it will mess with your final result.
* As an added bonus, henna is actually really good for your hair! Some people use clear or natural henna just for the treatment benefit, without wanting the red colouring. Henna makes your hair shiny and reduces frizziness. My hair feels so soft and lovely, and I didn't even condition afterwards. In saying that, while you have it on it is a different story. My hair was so matted and it felt like I had dreadlocks as I was trying to wash it out, and it wasn't pleasant to comb my hair after it was washed out. It was worth it in the end though.

I will most definitely be using henna again. I am looking forward to trying it again now that I have all the information needed and will be venturing to red. I'll start out with a more natural red colour and work my way up to the brighter reds. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Herbal tea for natural healing

I have been drinking green tea for a couple of years, and I love it! I drink a green tea and lemon blend and have one after each main meal - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Green tea is packed with antioxidants, lowers the risk of certain cancers, lowers cholesterol, helps burn fat, may help prevent memory loss in old age and helps to keep your teeth healthy by killing off bad bacteria. It does however contain caffeine.

Since I have started my new lifestyle change, I have being experimenting with different herbal teas, especially for their healing qualities. It is always a good idea to at least give these a try before heading for traditional medicines, providing that your ailment is not life-threatening of course and you have consulted with a doctor if you have any concerns. Try to buy organic wherever possible, or you can also make your own using home-grown or organic herbs. As a rule, for medicinal qualities, you need to steep your tea for 10-15 minutes to get the full benefits. Drink up to three cups per day.
Here are some of the top teas I have found:

* Blackberry leaf - High in vitamin C, helps treat a sore throat, boosts your immune system, helps relive pain and fever and promotes tissue repair.

* Cardamom - Eases indigestion, prevents stomach pain, helps nausea, breaks up phlegm for cough relief and helps control PMS mood swings and mild pain. It also helps detox your body and rid it of waste.

* Chamomile - Relaxes stomach muscles, relieves anxiety, eases indigestion and menstrual cramps, reduces coughing, is blood thinning and has anti-inflammatory properties to help ease hay fever symptoms.

* Cinnamon - Increases blood flow, improves circulation, reduces nausea, eases bloating and indigestion, heals a sore throat, stabilizes blood sugar and relieves cold symptoms. It is antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial, so is a great all-round remedy. It is loaded with antioxidants. It can also reduce muscle soreness after exercise and assist in weight loss.

* Clove - Pain relief, a decongestant to help break up mucus and relieves a sore throat. It also has antiseptic qualities, reducing bacteria in your mouth.

* Dandelion - A gentle liver cleanser, assists in bile production and helps digestion, purifies blood and cleanses your system, helps weight loss, helps reduce high cholesterol, boosts immunity, and maintains optimum liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen, stomach and gallbladder functions.

* Echinacea - Enhances immune system, relieves pain,  reduces inflammation, antioxidant qualities and helps shorten the length of a cold. It can also aid the healing of skin conditions like acne, eczema, inflammations and irritations.

* Ginger -Helps to stimulate and energise you, reduces nausea and motion sickness, neutralises stomach acid, soothes a sore throat, is anti-inflammatory and improves blood circulation.

* Hibiscus - Reduces hypertension, has antioxidant qualities, boosts immune system, soothes menstrual cramps, lowers blood pressure, aids with insomnia and soothes skin irritations.

* Lavender - Soothes your mind and body, induces sleep, uplifts spirits and helps an upset stomach.

* Lemon balm - Tames tension, nerves and mild depression, helps fight viruses, aids concentration and memory, helps digestion and nausea and is an antispasmodic which helps ease menstrual cramps.

* Lemongrass - Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal, aids digestion, anxiety, lowers blood pressure, helps circulation and reduces fluid retention. It is anti-microbial helping prevent or slow the growth of bacteria.

* Milk thistle - Gentle liver cleanser, assists in bile production and helps digestion, lowers blood sugar levels and it's a natural liver treatment.

* Passionflower - A gentle sedative for insomniacs, helps if your sleep is anxiously disturbed, improves blood circulation, lowers blood pressure, treats physical aches and pains and nausea relief.

* Peppermint - Eases indigestion, quells nausea and vomiting, heats up your body to make it sweat, helps sinus congestion, eases menstrual cramps and headaches.

* Rooibos - High in vitamin C, lots of minerals, antioxidant qualities, helps ward off disease and ageing, soothes common skin concerns like eczema, acne and psoriasis, improves circulation, aids iron absorption and helps prevent memory loss.

* Rosehip - High in vitamins A and C, boosts immune system, lots of minerals, increases energy, and heals tissues and cells.

* Rosemary - Helps ward off stress headaches, antioxidant qualities, aids digestion and supports brain circulation.

* Thyme - Helps stop coughing, relieves indigestion, antioxidants qualities and provides essential minerals.

So try some of these herbal teas and you'll be amazed at the benefits you'll receive, without taking all the medicines/painkillers etc that we are all so quick to grab at the first sign of trouble. They are so good for you, and will also be more cost-effective than conventional medicine. What have you got to lose?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Alfree natural toothpaste review

I found this toothpaste while shopping at The Chemist Warehouse the other day and decided to give it a try. It sounded really good and I was very curious to see what it was like.
It cost me almost $6 for 100g and I really can't stand it! It tastes weird and leaves your teeth feeling really gritty. I can't even finish the rest of the tube, it will be going straight to the bin. This was a total waste of money for me personally.
On paper it all sounds good. It has no colours, flavours, sugar, salicylate, fluoride or sodium lauryl sulfate and is good for people with allergies to regular toothpaste ingredients, but I surely would not choose to use this product.
Maybe it was the lack of a minty flavour, that I have grown accustomed to, but I can't find any positives about this product apart from it being natural.

* Good for allergy sufferers
* No colours, flavours, sugar, salicylate, fluoride or SLS

* Tastes horrible
* Leaves teeth feeling gritty
* Doesn't feel like you've cleaned your teeth

I give this product 1 flower out of five. I wouldn't recommend this product to anyone.

On a more positive note I have completed Day 2 of my 30-day exercise challenge. It was harder today as I was sore from yesterday. It's going to be a long 30 days!

Monday, December 1, 2014

30-day exercise challenge

I am all nice and refreshed from a lovely weekend away, with the hubby, to Port Stephens. I stuck to my healthy eating throughout the days, but must admit, I did cave in for dinners and indulged in some takeaway. That's what holidays are for after all. And only eating junk for dinner is a massive improvement for me on holidays. 

But now I am back, all ready to get back into my healthy eating and I have been trying to decide how to start exercising for a bit of toning up. Nothing like walking around in a bikini on the beach to help get you motivated!
Then I found this 30-day challenge on Pinterest and decided that I had nothing to lose and it is a great way to get started into exercising. I really lack motivation, so this should gradually work me into the routine, without being too time consuming. It's great that I have something to tell me what to do every day, so there are no excuses!!

I am so trying this. Starting today, for the month of December. I can't do a proper push-up so this could be very interesting...

I am proud to say that day 1 is complete. Only 29 more days to go...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Natural hand wash review

While doing the groceries, I came along thankyou hand wash. Naturally I just had to pick up a bottle to replace my chemically-laden hand wash I was currently using! I chose the Botanical sweet orange & almond one, but they also make a Botanical patchouli and vanilla scented one too.
Thankyou is a social company which donates money from each of their products to life-changing projects in developing countries. They give you an individual track your impact number on each product, so you can go to their website thankyou and find out exactly who the product you purchased is going to help.
My hand wash is helping 263 people in Bahalal (HHE), Timor-Leste towards hygiene education and sanitation. This is a great idea, to help us, the consumer, become more involved in the project, and to help educate us. We tend to take things for granted, and don't realise how well off we actually are.
Thankyou started out with bottled water, because Australians spend $600 million of dollars each year on bottled water, yet there are nearly 800 million people in the world who don't have access to safe water. They decided to bottle water and sell it to help out those who have none. They have now expanded into food and body care.
This is an amazing company, and their products are natural and very reasonably priced for what they are!
My hand wash smells divine, a lovely citrus smell. It foams up really well, which I was surprised at, as a lot of natural beauty products I've previously used don't tend to.
This product uses ingredients derived from nature. It has no sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) , sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), propylene glycol, parabens, harsh petrochemicals, triethanolamine, synthetic fragrances, harsh detergents, animal derivatives, mineral oils or artificial colours. Basically it doesn't contain any nasties, that we all should be avoiding for our health. All products are also ethically sourced.
It is vegan friendly, not tested on animals and made in Australia.
I purchased mine from Coles for around $7.50 for a 500ml bottle, which is a great buy for a natural product, with such good-quality ingredients. Plus you don't need to use much, so this will last a long time. Although, I can't wait for it to end already, so that I can purchase the patchouli and vanilla one to try!
The only slight problem I have found is that it isn't very moisturising, but in saying that, it doesn't dry out your hands either. This is well worth it for all the nasties you are avoiding by using this product.

* All natural ingredients
* Money goes to developing countries in need
* Not tested on animals
* Made in Australia
* Cost-effective
* Smells divine
* Foams up well
* You can track who you are helping by purchasing their product

* Not very moisturising

I give this product 4.5 out of 5 flowers. It is made by such a great company, uses natural ingredients, and foams up well. What is there not to love about it? I will definitely be trying more of their products in the future, and hope to see more variety on our shelves too.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Homemade almond milk

I made my own almond milk this morning and it was delicious. It tasted so much better than the store-brought almond milk, and is so much better for you. It does take a bit of time and prep work, but it is definitely worth it!

You'll need a nut milk bag. I purchased my strainer bag from eBay for $8.99 with free postage. Make sure it is made from natural fibres. And wash it well before use. I rinsed mine out and boiled it in a saucepan of boiling water for 15 minutes. The amount of grime that came out of it was crazy! Then I hung it on the line to dry in fresh air to sterilise it.
After use, rinse and clean it with a natural soap and some warm water. Every few uses, soak it in vinegar to take out the stains and disinfect it, then boil it in a pan of boiling water and allow to air-dry.

The first step is to soak 1 cup of almonds (preferably organic) in a bowl (glass or ceramic - not plastic) of water, about 1 inch above the almonds, for 12 hours. I added 1 tsp of sea salt to the water to help neutralise the enzymes. Cover it with a clean cloth so the contents can still breathe. Ideally, it is a good idea to change the water and rinse the almonds every 3-4 hours, but usually it's easier to do the soaking process overnight. I changed mine after 9 hours when I got up the next morning, then soaked for another 3 hours afterwards. Rinse the nuts a few times through a strainer, as the water they are sitting in contains all the toxins that have been released from the nuts. If any float after this process, they are probably off, and it is best to dispose of these to be safe.
You can shell them if you like as it will make your milk less bitter. I chose not to. However, if you prefer, sit them in boiling water for 5 minutes, rinse and they should peel easily.
Soaking activates the nuts and makes them easier to digest. It also enhances the flavour. It will stop the heavy feeling in your stomach that you can get from eating nuts and drinking nut milk. It rehydrates them and plumps them up so they look so much more enticing!

* 1 cup soaked almonds
* 2 cups of filtered water

- Place the ingredients into a food processor and process until the almonds are fine crumbs (almond meal), about 3-5 minutes on HIGH.
- Pour the milk mixture into your nut bag, which is sitting over a bowl or jug, bit by bit. Wring out the bag to get all of the moisture from the nuts, then sit the almond meal aside, and repeat until all the milk is used.
- I repeated this process again with the almond meal and another 2 cups of water, blended it again slightly and strained. Then I mixed the two batches together and it still tasted great. It's more economic.
- It will last approximately 3 days in the refrigerator or you can freeze it.
-You can also opt to not strain the milk, and leave it rustic with the almond meal still in it, this will give you more calcium.
- Dry the almond meal in the oven 160°C for 15-20 mins until most of the moisture is gone. You can then use this in your baking/shakes etc where almond meal is used, so that it doesn't go to waste.

- TIP - you can add a mixture of dates, coconut, cacao powder, vanilla essence, blended strawberries, honey, salt etc to make this milk any flavour you desire.

MAKES 4 cups, if you re-use the mixture a second time like I did.

Homemade almond milk has live enzymes and no additives so it's gentler on the digestive system. Once you try this, I'm sure you'll agree that it is well worth the time and effort for such a pure, great tasting milk!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Facial steaming

I have been facial steaming for the past month and I think it is amazing! It feels so good, is very invigorating and refreshing. I have been doing this morning and night, but after some further research, this does not look to be advisable.
I will cut back to once a day, but it is recommended to only do this once or twice weekly.
If done correctly, this is a great treatment as it frees dead cells for great anti-ageing benefits, and also frees dirt and bacteria that cause breakouts. It's especially great for getting rid of blackheads and causes pus to come to the surface. I find it often extracts the pimple without having to touch your face, therefore preventing the spread of bacteria. It also stimulates blood circulation for healthy, glowing skin.
It encourages your skin to sweat, secreting small amounts of waste and toxins in the process.

Here's how:-
* Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil.
* Wash your face to remove any dirt and oils, so they aren't absorbed by the skin when your pores are opened. Do this while your water is coming to the boil.
* Reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins.
* Pour into a ceramic or glass bowl.
* You can add a few drops of essential oil at this point, but I don't bother.
* Put a towel over your head and the bowl, to lock in the steam, and steam your face for 5 minutes.
* Rinse your face with cool water. I always wash my face afterwards with tea tree soap.
* Apply a mask. I use manuka honey (moisturises), or bentonite clay (removes toxins).
* Apply a moisturiser. Facial steaming is very dehydrating for the skin, and this moisture must be rebalanced to prevent acne. I use aloe vera gel.

But there are some precautions to take!
* Do not steam your face if you have severe inflamed acne, rosacea or broken capillaries as this can exacerbate your symptoms.
* Do not use a plastic bowl, as the plastic will leech into your water.
* Make sure you face is at least 15 inches away from the water, so that is doesn't burn your skin.
* Ideally, your water temperature should be 43°C, to prevent burns.
* If it feels like it's burning your skin, let it cool for a while first, as this is very dangerous and can cause facial burns and burst capillaries.

This treatment is obviously not for everyone, but I love it and will definitely keep doing this regularly as I find it beneficial in my fight against acne.