The Ayurvedic Collection (Alternative Soap Ingredients)

The Ayurvedic soap collection is a beautiful creation by my friend and founder of Bare Elements Skincare, Anuradha Pant. I wanted to share this collection and it’s ingredients, for some soap inspiration, that celebrates important ingredients in the ancient Indian system of Ayurveda.

Use the code CORNER25 and get 25% discount at Moksha Lifestyle Products, to shop the ingredients. Moksha is a leading wholesale supplier of 100% Pure, Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils and other materials around the world.

MRIDUL – meaning gentle

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Key ingredient: Basil and Bael

Ingredients: lye, water, goat milk, basil, bael, charcoal powder, coconut oil, palm (RSPO), rice bran, olive oil pomace, shea butter, kokum butter, chlorophyll oleoresin, silk fibers tussah, kaolin clay, Himalayan rock salt, brown unrefined sugar, cedarwood, lime essential oil

SHANTI – meaning peace

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Key ingredient: 100 x washed cow ghee and Wild Turmeric

Ingredients: lye, water, goat milk, 100 x washed cow ghee ( clarified butter), coconut oil, palm (RSPO), rice bran, safflower, olive oil pomace, kokum butter, castor oil, silk fibres tussah, kaolin clay, Himalayan rock salt, brown unrefined sugar, annatto infusion, wild turmeric ( Kasturi Manjal ), cedarwood, ashwagandha, ylang-ylang, pine

CHANDAN – meaning sandalwood

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Key ingredient: Red Sandalwood

Ingredients: lye, water, goat milk, 100 x washed cow ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, palm (RSPO), rice bran, olive oil pomace, cocoa butter, castor oil, kaolin clay, red sandalwood powder, Himalayan rock salt, brown unrefined sugar, tussah silk fibres, french lavender, peppermint essential oil

KESH – meaning hair

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The key ingredient(s): Brahmi, Amla, Arapu, and Curry leaves

Ingredients: lye, water, coconut oil, safflower, olive oil pomace, shea butter, castor oil, silk fibres tussah, kaolin clay, Himalayan rock salt, brown unrefined sugar, Brahmi powder, amla powder, arupu ( cake oil tree), curry leaves powder, basil, lime, lemon, cedarwood, rosemary essential oils

Hope this will give you some inspiration to explore Indian ingredients for your next soap making session. Feel free to leave a comment below with any thoughts or questions!

//Louise

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DIY Coconut & Coffee Scrub Cubes

Coconut & Coffee body scrub cubes are one of the easiest DIY projects you’ll ever make, and it will make your skin feel as soft, smooth and healthy!

Use the code CORNER25 and get 25% discount at Moksha Lifestyle Products, to shop the ingredients. Moksha is a leading wholesale supplier of 100% Pure, Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils and other materials around the world.

Why Coconut & Coffee?

Coconut oil is a widely used oil for health and beauty worldwide, and there are many good reasons for that. In India, it has been used for thousands of years as a part of the ancient science of Ayurveda, for both internal and external healing. It promotes wound healing and is cooling on conditions such as eczema. Since it is highly antibacterial and antimicrobial, it can also help ease different mild skin irritations. Overall though, it just keeps the skin healthy and moisturized.

Coffee grounds scrubs off dead skin cells, leaving the skin smoother and softer. It is also known to be absorbed into the skin where it dehydrates the fluid in cellulite affected areas, tightening the skin temporarily. An extra benefit is that it’s a great way to reuse your coffee grounds, from your morning coffee!

What you need

  • Coffee grounds (new or used)
  • Coconut oil – not fractioned since it won’t harden – either 72 degrees or 92 degrees)
  • Essential oil(s) of choice (optional)
  • An ice cube tray

How to go about it

  1. Spread the Coffee Ground in the cube ice tray
  2. Heat the semi-solid Coconut Oil in a double boiler or in a warm water bath
  3. Pour the Coconut Oil over the Coffee Grounds
  4. Add two-three drops of essential oil to each Ice Cube Compartment
  5. Put the tray in the freezer until the Cubes are solid
  6. Keep the Scrub Cubes in a jar and keep it in the fridge (unless you keep your house under room temperature – around 22 Degrees Celsius)

How to use them

  1. Take out a Scrub Cube 10 min. before your bath or shower. You will use the scrub as the last thing, so don’t put it too close to a steaming hot shower since it might melt
  2. Use the Cube AFTER SOAP. Put it in your hand and it will soon start melting
  3. Scrub it against the areas of your body you want to treat
  4. Wash the Coffee Grounds off with water
  5. Dry yourself lightly with a towel, to allow the Coconut Oil to be absorbed into your skin

Disclaimer: since cold pressed coconut oil hardens under room temperature, it can create plumping use if poured excessively down the drain in colder climates.

That was all for now. Would love to hear from you if you try this out – or if you have other tips on easy DIY projects from Natural Beauty.

//Louise

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Coconut:Coffee scrub cubes is one of the easiest DIY project you'll ever make - and it will make your skin feel as soft and smooth. It can also temporarily help cellulite, by tightening

How to Make Liquid Soap, the Easy Way!

If you have never made liquid soap from scratch, and are looking for a natural alternative for commercial options – this might be helpful! To making liquid Soap the easy way you just need a piece of natural soap, water and a pot to boil it in. If you would like to try your hand at making liquid soap from scratch you can start by reading  How to make natural liquid soap. Otherwise, keep reading!

The Method, Issues and Solutions

This method is very simple, and I didn’t invent it. Though there are two differences between how I use this method and the way I’ve mostly found other people do it. Here are the two main issues and the solutions I’ve found to solve them.

Issue 1: some soap turns out sticky, lumpy or uneven when its melted into water.

This can partially be avoided by adding more water, but that takes away from the lather (and obviously makes it very thin)

Solution: I use pure Coconut Soap. 

Every soap, according to its formulation, has a different diluting point (how much water is needed to dilute it). Coconut Soap has one of the lowest diluting points, as well as an abundant lather, meaning that even when it’s diluted with water it still stays relatively thick and with a great lather.

Issue 2: most recipes call for grating the soap.

Have you every grated soap? It takes forever!

Solution: the same solution – I use coconut soap.

Coconut Soap dissolves fast and evenly, without needing any grating. I simply leave the full pieces of soap in the water and let the heat do its job.

What you need

  1. A pot – it doesn’t have to be a double boiler, just any regular cooking pot
  2. A spatula or big spoon 
  3. Pure Coconut Soap – I make it by the cold process method and store it for when I need more liquid soap. You can find a guide here: Two Coconut Soaps – for Beauty and Cleaning. Alternatively, you can buy it!
  4. Water – plain old normal tap water
  5. (Optional) Essential oils – any of your own choice

How to go about it

  1. Measure and weigh your soap and water – approximately 1 CUP of water per 100 grams of soap
  2. Simmer it on low heat – don’t boil it, since it might burn (and burned soap smells horrible!)
  3. Stir occasionally – until the pieces of soap have dissolved completely
  4. Put aside – until it has cooled down
  5. Add Essential Oils – until it has the scent you want

How to store it

Keep in an airtight bottle. I don’t make more than I need for a month, so I don’t need to add any preservatives. In case you keep it for more than a month, I would recommend that you only use it for dish wash, laundry and cleaning around the house.

Note: I use this method for personal use only. If you intend to sell or in any other way distribute, I would recommend you use appropriate preservatives.

What to use it for

Coconut soap is very cleansing and is, therefore, makes great for washing dishes, clothes and cleaning the house. As for beauty, make sure the Coconut Soap is properly superfatted (read the article given above) since it will otherwise be too drying on the skin. I’ve heard very mixed reviews on coconut soap as a face and body bar, but I personally love it!

This was all for now. Let me know if you try it out, or have any other tips to making liquid soap the easy way!

//Louise

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Making soap the easy way, is as easy as vooking a meal. All you need is a solid bar of coconut soap and water!.png

Homemade all-natural hand sanitizer (Dettol alternative)

Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers have boomed over the last decade, and ironically enough this has introduced a number of new health concerns.  That being said, keeping good hand hygiene (washing your hands with good old soap and water) is essential to stay healthy. Because I don’t always have access to soap and water when I travel here in India, I have learned to make my own hand sanitizer from all-natural ingredients, that I would like to share with you. But first a little background.

The antibacterial scam

While we are being bombarded with commercials, stating that antibacterial products are more effective than regular soap and water, the reality is more complex. Many antibacterial agents added in commercial products are strong chemicals that do more damage to our health than it prevents. Additionally, tests have shown no evidence they do a better job at cleaning your hands. If you want to read more on this topic, you can start by reading The dangers of antibacterial soap (Dettol).

It’s also important to understand that not all bacteria is bad – actually, we need them to stay healthy! We even need to be exposed to ‘bad’ bacteria to help build up our immune system, which usually happens as we grow up. Though the same process continues every time we get exposed to a new environment. My point is this: don’t take commercial companies on their word. Understand the science, and make an informed decision. I’ve concluded that the best option is natural soap, water, and homemade hand sanitizer.

The Ingredients

Rubbing alcohol – a strong antibacterial agent, often used for disinfecting and sterilizing. It can be left out of the recipe, for a milder hand sanitizer.

Aloe Vera gel – a nourishing gel, that is mild on the skin. It can help treat small rashes and skin irritations.

Essential oil – a selection of EO’s with antibacterial properties – choose between tea tree, cinnamon, Oregano, Thyme, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemongrass and Bergamot, Clove.

(Optional) Glycerin – a moisturizing liquid, known for its ability to ‘attract’ moisture from the air. Rubbing alcohol can be drying, and this is to counter that.

The Recipe

Note: the recipe is not adjusted to children. Do research child safe essential oils, to adjust accordingly.

  • 1 tbs Rubbing Alcohol
  • 5 tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
  • 20 drops Essential Oils of choice
  • 1/2 tsp Glycerin

Simply mix the ingredients in a bowl and stir for a few minutes. Keep it in an airtight container. I have re-used an old squeeze bottle, which fits conveniently in my hand bag.

This was all for now. Let me know if you have any questions or comments below. I’d be happy to hear your favorite recipe for homemade hand sanitizer if you have any!

//Louise

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Making your own natural hand sanitizer out of just 3 ingredients, and avoid buying toxic commercial options..png

 

 

Intermitted fasting & it’s benefits

I don’t believe in living on diets, but on developing healthy habits and maintaining them. This includes eating whatever ‘bad’ food you have a weakness for, from time to time. Anyway, this post is not on my eating habits in general, but only one of them namely intermitted fasting. I actually started intermitted fasting by curiosity, but have since then experienced a lot of benefits attached to it, that I would like to share with you in this post.

What is Intermitted Fasting?

In simple words, intermitted fasting is fasting in intervals. Either by skipping one meal in a day, or fasting on certain full days of the week. There’s a lot of scientific backgrounds, that I’m not gonna get into – but if you’re interested you can read more here. The basic idea is that the digestive system and body is given a break and that you at the same time take in fewer calories. My confirmation of its validity comes more in the fact that it has been done for centuries in India, than the high amount of hype that is being made around it lately. So, I chose only to look at the benefits I myself have experienced and how it makes me feel. For a better understanding, I don’t eat lunch, meaning I only eat breakfast and dinner. The following is what has happened since I started this practice.

It makes you less hungry

I wanted to write this first, to ensure that you’ll keep reading! I admit there’s an adjustment period, but it can be managed by slowly easing into it. You can start by eating a smaller meal during your fasting time, and then work yourself down to just having a snack and then nothing. A great way to ease into it is to prepare chia seeds in water, with for example fresh berries and cinnamon, that you can drink through the day. Chia seeds keep you feeling full, and is loaded with nutrients.

It gives you more time

We spend a lot of time every day either preparing food or eating food. For some either is a recreational activity and for others a hassle that just needs to get over with. No matter how you feel about cooking or meal time, cutting down on one meal a day frees up time to spend on something else. This could, for example, be used to get in some exercise or put extra effort into your two other meals.

It allows you to eat better

Since you only have to cook two meals in a day, there’s more money and time to spend on them. I use the extra money I save to buy better quality foods, but also to treat myself to going out to eat or making something special at home. I think it’s important to note that when you only eat two meals and don’t snack in-between, these meals need to count. Both so that you won’t get hungry during the day, but most of all so that you’ll get all the nutrients you need to be healthy.

It makes you lose weight

I’m sure there are combined reasons for this. Even if you eat to your hearts desire during two meals, one can only ever eat so much in one go so you will be taking in fewer calories altogether. Additionally intermitted fasting lets the body enter into what’s known as a fat-burning state (which only happens 12 hours after a meal), as well as to increase the metabolism.

This is all I’ve noticed till now, but maybe in time, I will make a follow-up post after exploring it some more. Feel free to comment below with questions or your own experiences!

//Louise

 

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Want to know more about fasting? I can highly recommend this book:

The ‘no 2nd hand shop’ guide to sustainable clothing

I am originally from Denmark, but have been living in New Delhi for the past 4 years. Ironically enough I work with development work, and in that connection with one of the biggest clothes recycling areas in Delhi, but can’t for the life of me find a second hand shop (at least not one that isn’t super pricy)! Now, it’s not that there isn’t markets that sell second hand clothing – but it’s usually one of those ‘messy’ markets, where you cant try out the clothes before buying it. There’s also a few websites that sell second hand clothes, but again, there’s no option of trying it before buying it. So, in my attempt to try to be as sustainable as possible when it comes to my clothing, I’ve learned a few ways to go about how to keep my wardrobe sustainable that I would like to share with you.

The Tradesman (Or Women)

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I got tired of my old dress, so traded it for this one.

This trick is my absolute favourite! Since I couldn’t find any second hand shops here in India, I started letting my friends know that if they had any clothes they could no longer fit – or just wanted to clean out their closet (like many girls like to do, so they can fill it up again), I’d love to take a look at it. At first I sometimes paid them for the clothes I took, but with time I simply showed my appreciation by contributing to their life in any way I could – I gave away homemade soaps as gifts, helped out with hair loss remedies and other things I do well. With friends that are interested I exchange clothes – which is pretty useful when I sometimes gain or loose weight. Actually me and my best friend, continuously exchange clothes, and often regain a piece of clothes we couldn’t fit some years back.

I must admit that in the pursuit of getting as much as possible of my clothes second hand, I’m not picky about what I wear – at least style wise. Which is always kind of funny, when people give me compliments on what I wear, because I get to say: “You’re really complimenting my friends taste, not mine”!

Buy Me Once

My father has taught me many things, and one of them is this: buy things of quality, and only buy it once in your life. There are some things I haven’t been able to wait around for one of my friends to have a spare of, in my size and of the quality level I needed. Such as for example hiking boots and a travelling purse. So whenever I have to buy anything new, that I know I will need for many years to come, I try to find high quality brands. A few brands even have life time warranty. It does take some research to find it, and at times a little manoeuvring to get my hands on it. But on the other hand, I only buy it once! The last three things I bought were:

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  • A handbag and shoes from Hide design. The bags are made completely from natural materials, and also run a range with lifetime guarantee. Though, even the ones that don’t will last a long time, if taken proper care of.

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  • Dr Martens for hiking. A bit on the expensive side, but even they are super solid and robust, and again have a range with life time guarantee.

For inspiration on quality purchases you can visit the website: Buy Me Once. If they don’t ship to your country, you can search the same items on amazon or other. Thats what I do!

The Ethical Brand

There are some items, that no matter what I do, wont ever last a lifetime. Items such as underwear, socks, jeans (at least mine) and t-shirts have to be exchanged from time to time. So if I can’t get it second hand, and I know I will have to buy it more than once – I try to buy from Organic and Ethical brands. The biggest downside to this is that the brands I trust are legitimately ethical, are also quite highly priced – but since it only happens rarely, it can also be a welcome treat. In India some examples are No NastiesPeople TreeSoma shop and Anokhi. The online shop Organic Shop (India only) has the biggest collection of different organic/natural brands and items I’ve found.

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A collection from the Indian based No Nasties – organic and ethical clothing

Know Your Fabrics

This is my third go to method of buying more sustainable clothes, if the two first aren’t an option. The trick is simple – go for natural fabrics such as cotton, hemp, silk, wool and bamboo, because they are biodegradable. Even if I buy something second hand, I will still try to go for natural fabrics. Examples of synthetic fabrics are polyester, nylon, acrylic and spandex. There’s a lot of information online, so in doubt I just google it.

Think Global, Act Local

Transport of goods has a very high co2 footprint, because of the use of fuel and energy – as well as possibly use of extensive packaging and other protection needed. So I try as much as I can to buy things produced here in India or neighbouring countries. If possible I try to buy directly from the producer, or NGO’s and other organisations linking villages to markets here in Delhi.

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Keep It Simple

This last trick, has in time become my first – I think many knows the feeling of having a closet full of clothes, and nothing to wear. So I try to keep my closet simply, with clothes that fit (get rid of those jeans you haven’t been able to fit for years) and that I love to wear. Whenever I get tired of wearing the same, I trade it for something new. That was it for now. Feel free to leave a comment with your own experiences, questions or anything really…

//Louise.

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The 'no 2nd hand shop' guide to sustainable clothing

 

The comeback of the indigenous cow (A2 vs. A1 milk)

Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored, but has been written in collaboration between the co-founder of “Meri Gaiya” Rajesh Madan and myself. It is entirely our own personal perception of the matter at hand.

When I came to India, I discovered something about milk that I had never thought about – namely that there’s a big difference between pasteurised, homogenised and raw milk! Furthermore, organic and non-organic milk are two very different things too. Recently my understanding of milk deepened even more, when I found out milk from different breeds, contains different proteins, making them very different as well. So why does it matter if all these are different? From my own personal conclusion, I believe the kind of milk we drink has enormous implications for our health (as well as a number of other aspects – but that discussion is for another time). In this article I will focus on my new discovery, leading me to conclude – that we should all be drinking A2 milk over A1 milk. From here I will let Rajesh Madan explain:

A1 vs. A2

When Keith Woodford published the Groundbreaking Work “Devil in the Milk” in 2007, it put a stirrer in the world’s glass of milk, so to speak.

A professor of Farm Management and Agri Business at Lincoln University in in New Zealand, Woodford presents irrefutable evidence in his book that linked cow’s milk to numerous medical mysteries including diabetes and autism.

In “Devil in the Milk”, Keith Woodford brings together the evidence published in over 100 scientific papers. He examines the population studies that look at the link between consumption of A1 milk and the incidence of heart disease and Type 1 diabetes; he explains the science that underpins the A1/A2 hypothesis; and he examines the research undertaken with animals and humans. The evidence is compelling: WE SHOULD BE SWITCHING TO A2 MILK.

The book in itself is an amazing story of not just about the health issues surrounding A1 milk, but also about how scientific evidence can be molded and withheld by vested interests, and how consumer choices are influenced by the interests of corporate business.

So what exactly is A1 and A2 milk?

Originally, all animal milk was A2, including of course the cow milk. But then, a mutation occurs in the Bovine Population of Northern Europe and Voila! Cows started producing A1 milk.

India’s National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NABGR) had done a study in 2012 where they specified that the A1 and A2 variants differ at amino acid position 67 with Histidine in A1 and Proline in A2 variant. This polymorphism leads to a key change in the secondary structure of expressed β-casein protein. The variant A1 of β-casein has been suggested to be associated as a risk factor for the following diseases: Type 1 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, sudden infant death syndrome and neurological impairment including autistic and schizophrenic changes.

The Indian Village and the Cow

Needless to say, all indigenous breeds of cows in India produce only A2 milk.

The cow in fact had, and perhaps still has a central place in the Indian Rural Economy. The milk was treasured, the dung used as fertiliser to rejuvenate the soil, the dried dung cakes used as a cheap substitute for firewood, the male bullocks put to work in the fields, and then of course it fed the leather industry too. This bond of the farmer with the cow is so strong that the cow has came to be held as sacred in the Hindu way of living.

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This sacredness turned beef consumption into a contentious issue in India. The ancient ayurvedic texts supported eating of beef: “The flesh of the cow is beneficial for those suffering from the loss of flesh due to disorders caused by an excess of vayu, rhinitis, irregular fever, dry cough, fatigue, and also in cases of excessive appetite resulting from hard manual labor.” But over time, beef became a strict no-no in the diet of an Indian, except the lowest of the low classes of Hindus and those from other religions.

The invasion of the Western Cows

To increase the availability of milk for every Indian and also to increase the income of farmers, the Indian Government launched Operation Flood in 1970. The import of alien cow breeds like Jersey or Holstein Friesian was encouraged as they produce more milk.

That started the slow but steady downward slide for India’s 37 indigenous cow breeds. There was a relentless and reckless drive to cross-breed the alien varieties with the indigenous ones.

In 2013, Jay Mazoomdar wrote in Tehelka, an Indian News Publication: India is the world’s largest producer of milk. But in 10 years, we will be forced to start importing it. And the Indian cow will no longer exist.

Today, according to one estimate, only 5% of the total cow population is of pure indigenous breeds. But the good news is that over the last few years, awareness has grown on the harmful effects of A1 milk and efforts have gathered steam to promote and increase the indigenous cow population.

The A2 Ambassadors

Unknown to most, Desi Ghee made from A2 milk is lighter than the ghee from other sources. It can prevent heart blockages, help cure gastric problems and headaches. It also combats Asthma and Insomnia, besides lowering blood cholesterol and recovery of wounds.

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Many ventures like ‘Meri Gaiya’ and ‘The Way We Were’ have come up in India which have taken it upon themselves to increase awareness about all the health benefits of cow ghee made from A2 milk and at the same time promote ethical dairy practices and conservation of indigenous breeds.

We felt passionately about our cause for the consumer’s health, farmers as well as cows. We put together a small capital to start our dairy last year with just 4 Desi A2 Cows. We made sure to feed them only with Organic feed and took care of them like part of our extended family. We now have 28 cows – Rajesh Madan

The fight to reclaim the health, community and environmental benefits of indigenous cow breeds and their milk products has begun in earnest. And in the years to come, it promises to gain momentum and turn things around.

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A big thank you to Rajesh for this inspiring information, and for inspiring others to get back to basics! Your ghee will from now on be a stabile on my kitchen counter. 

//Louise.

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The comeback of the indigenous cow (A2 vs. A1 milk)