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Embracing Your Natural Beauty


Cat RunyanPhoto by Cat Runyan

 I co-wrote this article with my wonderful friend Katie Reeves, of Natural Full Circle Beauty (https://www.facebook.com/NaturalFullCircleBeauty).  Watch for more articles from Katie about breastfeeding, homebirth and more! 

 

What do you think of when you hear the term "natural beauty"?  It might be physical- a fresh clean face, free of any products... or maybe it's a light application of makeup to play-up your features.  On a different note, maybe "natural beauty" has nothing to do with the outside appearance but more of a feeling or persona.  In a broader sense, the term also conjures up images of the geographical exquisiteness of nature- the vibrant elegance of a sunrise...frothy waves crashing over rocks at the beach... white snow-capped majestic mountains.  As women, we've grown up with society's standards of beauty everywhere we look- magazines, television, advertisements, peer influence.  As mothers, we're growing into a deeper sense of self and our definition of beauty continues to evolve as we do.  We've learned that womanhood and motherhood create in our hearts the opportunity for some of the deepest expressions of natural beauty.

 We feel most beautiful from things which make our souls happy- nursing our children... feeling strong and centered during a yoga session... a steamy shower and fresh comfy clothes at the end of a long day... hearing those wonderful unsolicited "I love you's" from our little ones.  These feelings of beauty have nothing to do with physical appearance.  In fact, the most accurate mirrors in which we see beauty reflected are our children.  When a young child sincerely and sweetly says "Mom, you’re boo-tiful", even though your current state of mess may not be anywhere near the worldly standards of beauty, those moments of feeling beauty are our most treasured.  Children are the best example of natural beauty- they glow with a gorgeous burst of inner joy, curiosity and wonder at the world around them and exemplify the mindfulness of the present that we all strive for.  These sweet, young souls have yet to become so self-aware as to be influenced by the business of beauty (which too often sells insecurities and false hopes- stifling the exact joyful and generous spirit which makes one inherently beautiful).

Children are the best example of natural beauty- they glow with a gorgeous burst of inner joy, curiosity and wonder at the world around them and exemplify the mindfulness of the present that we all strive for. 

It definitely helps to feel good about yourself inside when you take a thoughtful and holistic approach to caring for the outside too.  If you believe that true beauty and happiness come from within- through loving thoughts and letting your inner-light shine by extending kindness and warmth to others- but also recognize how WOW the feeling of soft, smooth skin after a sugar scrub is, and take delight in how fresh your face looks with a pop of pink blush flushing your cheeks, then we invite you to join us as we explore a holistic approach to natural beauty in the warm summertime!

As women, we've grown up with society's standards of beauty everywhere we look- magazines, television, advertisements, peer influence.  As mothers, we're growing into a deeper sense of self and our definition of beauty continues to evolve as we do.  We've learned that womanhood and motherhood create in our hearts the opportunity for some of the deepest expressions of natural beauty.

As busy, loving, giving mothers we often we long for more time to put effort into our own self-care.  We are constantly learning the tricks of finding synergy, not neglecting our children to indulge ourselves and not neglecting ourselves to indulge our children- instead, finding fun and clever ways to indulge and nourish ourselves and our children simultaneously.  By spending just a few minutes a day doing something that makes us feel good, we know we'll be the best version of ourselves to take care of everyone else.  With this approach, you set an important example for your children about the value of self-care, a respect for health and an appreciation for your body.  It can be FUN and even funny- we love to create simple face masks and multitask beauty tricks while in the kitchen.  Stress or tears over food turn to smiles and giggles when all of a sudden Mom is putting oatmeal on her face or cucumbers on her eyes (we highly recommend- resulting in softer skin and less puffy eyes, this is a winning combination)!

NUTRITION is key of course:  through eating a varied diet of whole foods as close to their natural state as possible, drinking plenty of water and taking care of your body with exercise and sleep (when you can get it!), you are maintaining and improving your natural physical beauty.  The difference in energy you feel when you've nourished yourself well definitely helps to feel great about yourself and shows up on the outside through a strong, healthy body, shiny hair, clear skin and bright eyes.

Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which really help to keep your skin looking fantastic.  They're so simple to incorporate into your family's diet- add slices to salad, blend a mashed one with dates, raw honey, vanilla, and raw cacao for a delectable pudding, or just cut one open and eat it with a spoon!

To make:  Scoop an avocado into a bowl and add a little fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt;  spread on a toasted slice of Ezekiel sprouted sesame bread and add sprouts and edamame.  Or cover your toast with hummus and pomegranate seeds and walnuts.  Delicious, easy and packed with nutrients.

Rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and manganese, strawberries are a cute, yummy powerhouse of goodness.  So many things to make with fresh, juicy red berries...and you can also mash some with Manuka honey to spread on your face for a quick brightening, antioxidant-rich mask (leave on for 10 minutes and rinse off).   Here's an easy, healthful jam made with the nutrient-packed superfood chia seeds (this will be a favorite in your house for sure!):

To make:  Add 1.5 cups strawberries to a food processor, 1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey (totally optional) and 2 Tbsp. ground chia seeds.  Pulse until well-blended.  Add the mixture to a saucepan and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container (jars are great!) for up to a week.   Your kids will love this spread on just about anything (add the nut butter of your choice to up the protein)!  Another simple idea:  add strawberries, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper to your food processor and pulse.  The perfect dressing for your salad or quinoa!

Make it a family event and go to a local farm to pick your own berries!  Then you can spend time together in the kitchen, making some naturally beautiful memories and traditions.

By spending just a few minutes a day doing something that makes us feel good, we know we'll be the best version of ourselves to take care of everyone else.  With this approach, you set an important example for your children about the value of self-care, a respect for health and an appreciation for your body. 

HYDRATION is a must to keep as cool, fit and beautiful as possible- from the inside out!  We strongly emphasize the importance and benefits of water and your body's need for it.  Pump up the vitamins and minerals in your water by infusing slices of fresh fruit, veggies and sprigs of herbs.

This also adds to the visual beauty around you and is fun for children to experience new tastes and their favorite flavors in a refreshing and healthy way.

To Make: Fill a pitcher with fresh filtered water and add any combination you crave!  A few of our unexpectedly delicious favorites are:  Lime/Cucumber/Strawberry/Mint, Raspberry/Lavender and Citrus/Cilantro.  In a frugal kitchen, put those small leftover pieces of uneaten or unused bits of fresh produce and herbs directly into your water glass to make single-serving infusions.  Storing your water infusions in the fridge will help the fruit, veggies and herbs to stay fresher longer and delay decomposition- but a favorite trick is to pour into an ice-cube tray and freeze.  You will not only have deliciously pretty ice  cubes to toss into a drink, but you have what we like to call "beauty ice":  a wonderful topical vitamin infusion and an incredibly effective treatment for pimples:  just rub the cube all over your face post-cleanse and enjoy the benefits of reducing the size of pores and the instant tightening and brightening of your skin.

EXFOLIATE away the dry skin of winter with a simple homemade scrub that hydrates, sloughs, and leaves your body clean, glowing and ready for the sunshine!  A layered blend of sugar, almond oil and coconut oil are the basics while dried rose petals add prettiness and a heavenly scent to the mix.

To Make: Fill a small mason jar 1/3 up with a large scoop of coconut oil and toss the rose petals on top. Fill the rest of the jar with sugar (experiment with the different types for different levels of exfoliation!), leaving room to pour 2-3 Tbsp. of almond oil on top to let it all run down and soak through the sugar and dried flowers. Keep the lid on tight and when ready to use just mix with a spoon and scrub from head to toe, being most gentle with the skin on your face or anywhere else that is sensitive.

Embrace the WAVES AND WILD BEAUTY OF YOUR HAIR!  In extreme heat, there's nothing like sweeping that mane away from your face and off your shoulders with a cute messy bun or carefully plaited braids.  Learning new braided styles is so much fun- check out Pinterest for a plethora of ideas.  A French braid or fishtail done on damp hair keeps your tresses tamed through the day and results in glorious waves when let loose in the afternoon.  To encourage volume and texture, making a sea salt spray is inexpensive, effective and easy!

To make:  Take 1 cup of hot water, 2 Tbsp. Epsom salt, 1/2 tsp. Himalayan pink sea salt, 1 tsp. Aloe vera gel and (optional) add a few drops of essential oil for a little scent (citrus or lavender are especially nice for summer).  Reuse an old empty spray bottle (ideally, about 10 oz.)  Pour in hot water then the rest of your ingredients, shake until all salt is dissolved, spray and scrunch away!

Winter can be so drying to our skin and the lack of sun can make us feel lethargic.  To "WAKE UP" YOUR FACE, we've found the perfect remedy- a simple coffee mud mask that will leave your skin glowing, toned and refreshed.  Coffee is an antioxidant and gentle exfoliant, while the mud will draw out impurities and tighten skin.  The apple cider vinegar will infuse softness, reduce redness and restore your skin's pH levels.

To Make:  In a small bowl, mix 4 Tbsp. Bentonite clay, 2 Tbsp. coffee grounds (recycle from your morning brew!) and 5 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar.  Your mixture should be thick and creamy.

Spread onto face and rub in circular motions (the coffee is an excellent exfoliant!).  Leave on for about 10 minutes or until dry then lay a warm, wet washcloth on your face to loosen the mask.  Wipe and rinse as needed then pat dry.  Follow with a light layer of argan oil, patted gently onto skin with fingertips.  You may have some mask leftover- if so, use it on your whole body in the shower as in invigorating scrub!

We LOVE making homemade products...but sometimes it's nice to be "indulgent" and order something fun and new to try.  We especially enjoy spending our hard-earned money on products created by companies who share our holistic approach to beauty and hold high standards for safe, quality ingredients.  A few of our favorites...

Fig & Yarrow makes a wonderful Complexion Water that delivers a lovely mist of rose, sandalwood and neroli oils- the scent is amazing.  It's perfect to mist on after a splash of cold water in the morning or a refreshing mid-day pick-me-up.  Add a little of their Rose Vanilla tinted lip blush to your lips and cheeks and you're ready to go! 

SOCO Botanicals is an exciting new skincare line from Austin, Texas where each small batch is wildcrafted and handmade.  Their commitment to work with only 100% active ingredients- meaning no fillers are used in their products and every drop is rich with nourishing, healing benefits.  Their Black Lava Scrub is the most unique scrub we've ever tried, with an incredible sweet, woodsy scent and a texture gentle enough for everyday cleansing.  Their Symphony Moisturizing Oil is a blend of over 30 botanical oils herbs and flowers that are active, natural skin healers making it a potent moisturizer to support the beauty of aging well. 

salonsolids offers a completely fresh concept in green haircare- their shampoo and conditioner arrive to you in the form of biodegradable dry granules which only need to be mixed and shaken with hot water to transform into liquid products (which last about 3 months or until you use it up).  This innovative system allows the plant-based ingredients to effectively cleanse your hair and drastically reduce waste by simply mixing the products as needed while reusing your containers.  Their Dry Shampoo is one of our "holy grail" items:  sprinkle some into your hand and work into your hair as you unravel those braids to add texture and volume to your fresh waves! 

Dr. Hauschka is a long-loved brand of higher-end skincare, creating products from a passion for holistic healing and appreciation for the rhythms of nature.  We are absolutely in love with the light, creamy texture of their Tinted Day Cream moisturizer.  It gives an instant sun-kissed glow as it hydrates and evens your skin tone.  For anyone disliking the feeing of foundation makeup but wants a little coverage... or for the woman who is used to wearing foundation and wants to try something lighter, this is an excellent option!  We feel that it's worth the money- a little goes a long way (so your tube should last quite awhile) and it really delivers amazing results.  We also adore their lip balm!   

We hope this has given you some great ideas and inspiration to pamper yourself for the summer.  Enjoy the feeling of natural beauty that comes with taking care of yourself inside and out!

About the Author
Sara Sites
Author: Sara Sites
Sara lives outside of Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and sons. Passionate about the inherent strength and beauty of womanhood, she seeks to develop within herself and share with others through her interests in fertility, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenting and holistic living. Sara stays busy laughing and learning with her boys while supporting and encouraging moms, babies and families as a La Leche League leader, doula and leader of various groups and workshops through her business, Full Circle Doula Care.

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