The Sweet Meadow

beauty

The Good Oil - How to Use Essential Oils Everyday

essential oilsAishe Besim
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I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it. We just need to keep discovering the properties for natural healing.
— Vannoy Gentles Fite, author

My introduction to essential oils was a practical one. I was about to open The Sweet Meadow in 2016 and was looking for a healthier peppermint flavouring to make our peppermint slice (if you're in the cake decorating aisle at the supermarket, have a look at the ingredients list in the 'peppermint essence'- it's alarming!). 

Through my research I stumbled on an essential oils brand called doTERRA, went along to an introductory workshop held by Wellness Advocate Sammy Morgan, and the rest is history! I would now use at least 20 different oils every day, which help to support me physically, mentally and emotionally. 

The key with essential oils is to use less oil, more often, rather than a lot of oils once or twice during the day. Ways I like to use oils on a typical day include:

MORNING
Peppermint or Lemon - When I first wake up, I like to place one drop of an invigorating oil on the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and take a few deep breaths. Usually I'm still so tired when I wake up, so a zesty oil really helps to get me in the mood to get going!

Clove, Oregano, or OnGaurd - I'm a big fan of oil pulling (an ancient Ayurvedic medicine practice), and rather just use plain coconut oil like I used to, I now add a drop or two of one of these oils with my coconut oil. All are anti-bacterial and help to remove germs, although clove is especially high in antioxidants and is great for oral health. I tend to opt for oregano if I feel like a cold or flu is coming on.

Wild Orange - Sometimes I add a drop of this oil to my oats or granola for breakfast - yum!

Tea Tree, Lemon, Lavender, Geranium, Frankincense - These are all amazing oils for the skin. I add Tea Tree to my cleanser, Lemon to my toner and a mix of Lavender, Geranium and Frankincense to my oil-based moisturiser. I only need to add the oils once, when I first purchase the skin product. Generally I work off a dilution ratio of 5 drops of essential oil for every 10mls of carrier oil. So, if my bottle of rosehip oil (moisturiser) is 20ml, I would add 10-12 drops of essential oil once, and use as normal until the bottle was empty. 

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Frankincense, Copaiba - I place a drop or two of both of these oils under my tongue every morning. This is the closest I'll get to taking a multivitamin. I seriously think these oils are gamechangers and should be used by every single person on this planet! They both help build and maintain healthy immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems. They are also amazing for skin health and on an emotional level, can help soothe anxious feelings. There are countless studies about the positive effect both of these oils have on our internal health - do your own research. 

Diffusing - As I'm getting ready for work, I like to mix a few different essential oils into my diffuser. I change up my blends daily, but usually I like to incorporate a citrus oil (for energy), a woody oil (for grounding) and a floral oil (to make it smell nicer, basically!). My favourite combo is Citrus Bliss (citrus), Hawaiian Sandalwood (woody) and Ylang Ylang (floral). 

Pure-fume - I still use conventional perfume on my clothing (Santal 33 is my fave), but essential oils are the only perfume-type products I'll put directly on my skin. At the moment I'm layering Jasmine & Rose oils on my wrists, neck and chest. I also like placing 2-3 drops of the oil blends Balance and Elevation on the soles of my feet as I head out the door. doTERRA's Balance blend helps to lessen stress (I need A LOT of help in that area), while Elevation is the perfect blend to increase energy. 

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DigestZen - This oil is magic! I place one drop of this oil mixed with a little coconut oil directly onto my stomach after meals and gently massage it into the skin. As the name suggests, this oil blend aids in the digestion of food, helping to reduce gas or bloating. Hands down one of my favourite oils. 

EVENING
Diffusing - When I get home one of the first things I do is get the diffuser going again. My oil blends at night tend to be more soothing. I like Lavender Peace, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Whisper or Console at night, and generally steer clear of any zesty, citrus oils. 

Tea Tree, Citrus Bliss - These oils are my go-to when washing the aprons for The Sweet Meadow! I add a couple of drops of each to the water as it's filling up in the washing machine. Tea tree is known for its purifying properties, while Citrus Bliss is an energising oil that can help uplift people's moods (hopefully it rubs off off on the staff!). 

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Cooking - The herb-based oils like Coriander, Basil, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Oregano and Rosemary are great to use in savoury dishes in the kitchen. A little goes a long way though. These oils are potent. Start with dipping a toothpick into the oil and adding it into your sauce/curry/dish and go from there. I use about 6 drops of peppermint oil when making a batch of our peppermint slice, but that feeds about 30 people! 

Aromatic Dressing -  I've been using coconut oil as a body moisturiser for years, now I just add four or five drops of essential oils to the mix too and call it an aromatic dressing! Like my diffuser blends, this changes daily, although I generally find a way to incorporate my favourite smelling oils, like Hawaiian Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Elevation, Citrus Bliss, Whisper, Jasmine and Bergamot. 

Geranium, Tea Tree, Lavender - I've pre-added drops of these oils to my shampoo and conditioner, as both are great for hair health. 

Manuka - I love earthy scents like Manuka to help me wind down and de-stress, but I also mix Manuka with coconut oil and apply it directly on cuts, burns and any eczema on my hands (the joys of working in hospitality). 

Hawaiian Sandalwood - I've mentioned this oil a few times in this post. I think this is the most heavenly scented oil I have ever smelt. It's been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac, and while I love to use it on my skin for it's health benefits, I love adding a drop or two to my pillow so I can take in the aroma as I fall asleep. This oil also happens to be one of the most expensive in doTERRA's range, but even if it were double the price, I'd find a way to purchase it. I honestly think I will use this oil every day for the rest of my life. 

So how do you get your hands on these oils? doTERRA works in a similar way to Costco (stay with me here). Purchase a yearly membership fee ($35, or choose an enrolment kit instead to waive the fee) to create your own wholesale account. Order the oils online at wholesale price and wait for the magic to arrive! More details and instructions here

What are you waiting for? Lift the lid off the bottle and get smelling!

Beauty & The Vegan - Part II

beautyAishe Besim
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It's finally here - a follow up to the Beauty & The Vegan makeup post. These are my go-to products to encourage healthy skin, hair and body. A quick disclaimer though - beauty really is an inside job.

As Dr. Libby Weaver says, the health of our skin is impacted by everything from the food we eat, the nutrients present or missing from our blood, and the hormones and messages our bodies make based on whether our thoughts are fearful or loving (yes, really).

So, optimising your inner health has the power to affect your outer beauty by improving the health of your skin, transforming the shape and movement of your body, and allowing you to express a radiance that will inspire those around you.

These products will only enhance what you already have, so look after your largest organ - your skin!

LEFT TO RIGHT - 
Aesop Skincare - This Melbourne-based company makes waves on a global scale for its quality and philosophy. They use a mix of plant-based and laboratory made products, don't test on animals or use any animal-derived ingredients. I use their cleanser, toner, facial oil, eye serum and body scrubs. 
Bentonite Clay - I'm a huge fan of this product. I mix a large handful of powder with water to create a paste, then use this as a face and body mask. Leave on the skin for about 10 minutes and then rinse off in the shower. You can also drink a tablespoon of the clay with water (the clay attracts toxins in the body and then expels them), although I grew tired of that fairly quickly.
Toothpaste - Lush's toothy tabs are my go-to. Whenever I forget them and have to use conventional toothpaste the consistency makes me sick! Oral Pleasure is my favourite flavour (pardon the pun).
Lip Balm - A vegan lip balm proved to be hard to find, but this vanilla-based balm from Courtney + The Babes delivered. It is incredibly nourishing with a subtle scent. I loved it so much that we now stock it at The Sweet Meadow.
Fragrance - Santal 33 from Le Labo has to be the most amazing smelling perfume I have ever used. I love this brand - they are completely vegan and have recently opened a boutique in Fitzroy where they mix the fragrances for you when you purchase. Worth every cent!
Coconut Oil - If I only had access to one product for skin, hair and body health, coconut oil would be it. I use this in so many ways - oil pulling first thing in the morning (I explain more about that here), as a carrier oil to mix with pure essential oils, on the ends of my hair after a shower, and as a body moisturiser. I don't have a preferred brand, organic & cold-pressed are what I generally look for.
Shampoo - The best shampoo for you depends on your hair type, but for flat, slightly oily hair like mine, Lush's Big shampoo is my holy grail. 
Bath Salts - I'm a big fan of epsom salts in the bath, but when I feel like something a little more special, the bath salts from Herbivore Botanicals are my favourite. I would happily own every single product this brand makes. I love how they infuse essential oils with their beauty products - a true mind & body experience. The face masks are also amazing. 
Room Mists - Courtney strikes again. These mists are infused with crystals to aid in creating a calming environment. I like to spray Cleanse in the morning as I leave home and Love Like before bed. 
Essential Oils - I could probably write I whole blog post about how I use essential oils for mind & body health (actually, come to think of it, I will), although pictured here are my absolute go-to's in terms of beauty. Geranium is amazing for skin irritations and healthy, shiny hair. I use clove oil when oil pulling with coconut oil as it aids in oral health. Manuka helps me manage my eczema and is a great oil to ground and centre for deep meditation. I drop a few drops of tee tree oil in my face cleanser and use ylang ylang everyday in so many ways - it's amazing for all kinds of women's health issues. The king of oils is Frankincense though, derived from a tree native to Northern Africa. I place a drop or two under my tongue every day - it's the closest thing I take to a multivitamin. It's amazing for building and maintaining a healthy immune system and also promotes cellular health. I also add this to my facial moisturiser. Oh how I love Frankie!

Of course, daily practices like drinking enough good-quality water, dry body brushing, affirmations, meditation, exercise and eating a whole food, plant-based diet full of healthy fats (hello, avocados and almonds) will do wonders in creating clear, glowing skin. 

Nourishing your body from the inside out will do more for the health of your skin than any quick fix product ever will. #word

Beauty & The Vegan - Part I

beautyAishe Besim

When I opened The Sweet Meadow cafe I expected questions from customers about how we make a particular dessert or what thickener we use in sauces, but one question I get asked quite a lot is what makeup / beauty products I use. Who would have thought?!

While I called myself a vegan since the day I stopped eating animal products, it took a little longer to transition away from other non-vegan products that I was using on my skin & body. Now, after four years as a vegan, I'm almost there! 

The term "cruelty-free" gets thrown around a lot in the beauty industry and it can be misleading, especially for us vegans. Cruelty-free basically means the brand who makes the product does not test on animals, although that same product may include animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax or honey and still be labelled "cruelty-free." Go figure. 

In this post, I will share my holy-grail cruelty-free makeup products and where you can purchase them (stay tuned for Part II for skin/body products). Most of these products are by brands that are considered high-end, however I see no point going out and buying cheaper alternatives if they aren't the ones I personally use. Brands such as NYX, Australis and E.L.F. are cheaper alternatives with a lot of vegan makeup options.

TOP ROW (L-R):
Australis Banana Powder - I use this to highlight under the eyes (a must when you wake up at 5am), as well as the centre of the face (forehead, nose & chin).
Laura Mercier Translucent Powder - This is a cult beauty product for a reason. Sets your makeup without creasing, caking or flashback. Buy it from David Jones or Sephora in Australia.
Hourglass Luminous Bronze Light Bronzer - Finding a vegan bronzer is bloody hard work but this one is a gem and worth the price. 
Jeffree Star Cosmetics Skin Frost Highlighter - Get ready to glow for the gods - this highlighter is bomb. Jeffree may be a polarising personality but he gets points from me for creating an entire beauty brand that is vegan. 
Tarte In Bloom Eyeshadow Palette - Disclaimer: this eye shadow palette isn't vegan. While the brand Tarte offers an impressive selection of vegan makeup, some of their eyeshadow shades contain carmine, a purplish-red pigment made from dye obtained from a beetle. Without a doubt the most difficult vegan makeup item to find is eyeshadows, as most brands use carmine in their formulas. I'm taking the matter into my own hands as I am in the process of creating my own custom eyeshadow palette - more on that later.

MIDDLE ROW (L-R):
Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish Powder - This is a must-have for those of us with oily skin. Also living for Charlotte's rose gold packaging.
Cover FX Illuminating Setting Spray - Like Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Cover FX's entire collection is vegan. Their setting spray gives the skin a nice glow without being oily.
Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer - Makes your skin feel as smooth as a baby's bum. Get your hands on a sample - there's no going back.
Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Youth Boosting Foundation - A great foundation for everyday wear with a good colour range. 
Beauty Blender - This sponge is worth the hype. Blends liquid products into the skin like a dream. 
Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer - I love this concealer because it's so hydrating. I have a few different shades as I use concealer to highlight as well as camouflage imperfections.
Cover FX Customer Enhancer Drops in Sunlight - I mix this with my foundation to create a bronzed glow. Comes in handy if I've been fake tanning. 
Sportsgirl Draw The Line Eyeliner - The best feature of this eyeliner? It has a twist-up top meaning no need for a pencil sharpener - winning!
Stila Waterproof Liquid Liner - Super pigmented and works a treat over chunkier eyeshadows on the lash line. I never use anything other than black. 
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara - With a name like that you know this has gotta be good. I've lost count as to how many times I've repurchased this (best to only own one or two different mascaras at a time - they only last about six months once they've been opened). 

BOTTOM ROW (L-R):
Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Butterscotch - The best lip glosses in the business, and every colour is vegan! Her eyebrow products are also the bees knees, and vegan-friendly. 
KKW Beauty Lip Creme - These behave more like a lip gloss than a lipstick, but the colours are ideal for everyday wear. 
Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Bow N Arrow - A passionate vegan herself, Kat Von D's liquid lipstick formula is one of the best I've tried. It lasts all day and doesn't dry out your lips like most. 
Jeffree Star Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick in Mannequin - This colour is the perfect nude. I always get compliments when I wear this colour.
Zoeva brushes - In my opinion, Zoeva offer the best selection & quality of vegan brushes on the market (some of their styles use animal hair, be sure to check before you buy if you're purchasing single brushes). 
Natasha Denona Star Palette - This palette costs a small fortune but Natasha Denona is a master of colour and the quality is insane. Like the Tarte eyeshadow palette, some of the shades contain carmine, which is not vegan. I own around 15 eyeshadow palettes and none of them are completely vegan. As a result, I've just purchased my first Z Palette and have started purchasing single eyeshadows from Makeup Geek and Anastasia Beverly Hills to finally create a vegan-friendly selection of shadows. 

For more information about cruelty-free beauty products make sure to check out Cruelty-Free Kitty, which has the most extensive resources to help you choose cruelty-free products.