Posts filed under Beauty

Face Washing: The Oil Cleansing Method

I promised this post when I last wrote about my various oddities. The funny thing about being a little quirky is that it becomes quite normal after a while... and other people start to look pretty strange instead. (But that's a post for another time). Today, I'm writing about washing  my face with oil. Sounds strange for sure, but only until you try it.

I've been moisturizing my face with plain oil since 2013 and it first happened this way...

I have extremely sensitive and allergic skin and have tried every lotion under the sun with little success. I finally discovered a natural, handmade face lotion made by a Christian Etsy seller and I was hooked. Lovely, lovely stuff... it was the first time I had been able to use a face lotion in a long time without an adverse reaction. I highly recommend it. (Incidentally, this is also the only lotion that my mother-in-law can use without a reaction as well.)

Rosehip and Hibiscus Facial Lotion

The catch was that it costs more money than I like to spend on my face. As I neared the bottom of my bottle, something strange happened to me and I had a frugal fit.

I need this lotion... BUT... I bet I can make it myself.

So I purchased ingredients to make something of my own design and while I waited for them to arrive in the mail, I ran out of lotion. I needed something because my face would burn terribly and dry out after I washed with soap. I did a quick internet search and discovered that I could just use plain... oil.

I ran to my cabinet and pulled out a bottle of almond oil. This will do, I thought. And it did. I thought I would break out in horrendous acne. But I didn't. Instead, it felt lovely and did the trick. I never did end up making the lotion (although it is still on my to-do list) and I have since discovered the simple art of washing with oil as well.

The how-to of oil cleansing is beautifully simple. You need only two ingredients: castor oil (for cleaning) and a moisturizing oil such as 100% pure olive, hazelnut, almond, or grapeseed. A little research and experimentation will help you discover which of these oils is best for your skin.

I made my first batch with equal parts castor and almond oil. I was astonished to find that the combination was a little drying and I have since increased the amount of almond oil with happy results. Everyone's skin is different so this really does end up being a bit unique for each person.

The Ingredients

1. Castor Oil - Draws out Dirt (some people with sensitive skin might want to limit this almost entirely if it is too drying)

2. Olive or other moisturizing oil (My preference is almond oil)

3. Experiment with adding your favorite (therapeutic grade) essential oils for scent and skin benefits.


*Ratio depends upon your skin needs and sensitivities (see instructions and links below for greater detail)

You can find these ingredients at your local Walmart, grocery, or online. It cost me only $5 to make 6 ounces of cleanser, which will probably last me a very long time. It sits on the bathroom counter with a homemade label that reads (in red sharpie):

Mommy's Face Wash... Do Not Touch!

(Which, of course, made all the children want to touch it asap.)

The Method

1. Pour a small amount of oil (nickel to quarter size) into your palm and using your fingertips, massage it into your skin. Apply to a dry face. Gently rub it in for about a minute. No need to scrub.

2. Wet a washcloth with hot water (please don't burn yourself) and lay it over your face, letting it cool until it is about room temperature. This is where a lot of cleaning action happens. It has been so cold here that my washcloth cools off super fast... so I have been repeating this step with the other side of the cloth.

3. Rinse the washcloth out (or just use the corners) and wipe off the oil. Again, do not scrub... just wipe it off. You'll have some residual oil but you really do want that.

4. I will occasionally need a little extra moisturizer and will use some coconut oil or almond oil in the morning or after a shower. It is still my plan to make a gentle, organic lotion and I plan on adding some zinc oxide to defend against the Summer sun.

The Results

This stuff cleans extremely well. A pre-wash is unnecessary because the oil is the perfect makeup and dirt remover. Oil removes oil. I find that this method works much better than scrubbing with soap and water.

I have acne-prone skin. I'm a 38-year old woman with just as many problems as I did when I was a teenager! I assumed oil would make it worse but instead, I have experienced a very rapid improvement. Dry patches and oily patches are starting to equalize and breakouts have decreased. My skin is softer. I can't do anything about contact sensitivities but I can do my best to have a healthy baseline.

Before someone asks me how I have time to do this kind of stuff, let me say this... I need to wash my face. My face hates the ingredients in almost all commercial beauty products (including make-up which I also have to purchase on Etsy) and I have extreme reactions. So I do what needs to be done. I am no fashion or beauty guru. I do not wear much make-up and I do not wear it often. But as I get a little older, I'm finding that the face and body need a little extra attention. I know the Chief would love me even if I washed my face with mud, but he deserves a pretty wife on his arm. And since I'm the only wife he's got, I'll have to do the best I can with what I have. :)

*This post contains affiliate links {and I love when you use them}... but please know that I only post links that may be useful to my readers!

Posted on June 16, 2015 and filed under Beauty, DIY, Womanhood.

Housedress Chic {I Have a Plan}

We've been sick. Really sick. As in we-got-influenza-A-and-then-the-rotavirus-at-the-SAME-TIME kind of sick. So naturally, I spent the last two weeks wearing clothes suitable for catching a constant barrage of bodily fluids that also made me feel warm and comfortable at all times. I've been sleeping in them, too, and the only change I made was to launder and rotate about once every couple of hours. In the six-day period of greatest , I did 67 loads of laundry. This illness was serious business.

We're improving now and for the first time in my entire life, I just don't want to even look at another hoodie. I want to burn them all. I want to put on some makeup and a sequined ball gown and go to Walmart to buy nail polish (just to "get out"). But since hoodies and sweats make up like 75% of my wardrobe and the other 25% are items I'm not willing to sacrifice to homemade messes, I have a problem. It's also cold here in Cleveland for a majority of the calendar year. I'm cold all the time. So I need a new warm mom uniform that doesn't remind me of being a slob and a vomit queen.

Here's me today in my hoodie. It's a Franciscan University hoodie and that makes it better but still... it's headed for semi-retirement. I went outside to take the selfie. Yes, going outside after this kind of illness reminded me of gollum leaving the mountain to go after the ring ... my eyes, precious! And my kids hung out the window yelling seeeeelfiieeee! because they knew how much I would love that.

I have a plan. What I need is money and accountability. So right now, I'm throwing it on the blog to keep myself accountable. Later today, I'm going to try to convince my good husband that I need more clothes. To which he'll wrinkle his forehead and ask "But you have a whole closet full of clothes already, right?" To which I'll respond: Yes... and no. And all you ladies know what I'm talking about. And all you husbands just don't you worry at all because we know what we're doing.

In the absence of a good stylist, I need to hack a good mommy daily wardrobe make-over. Since no companies are knocking on my blog door asking to throw clothes and shoes at me, I'm pretty much on my own. As I said... I have a plan. I'm going to sew my daily wardrobe....

I'm going for an updated version of a housedress. Imagine this as great-grandma goes boho chic with a Japanese twist and you've got the idea. I need the following features:

  • Able to nurse in it.
  • Must have pockets.
  • Able to withstand frequent washings.
  • Must be at least moderately pretty.
  • Long enough to cover my rump while wearing leggings.
  • Short enough to be practical. (Nothing you can say can convince me that long skirts are not treacherous in a home with many stairs. My life experience is sufficient defense for my position.)
  • Must include at least one small sweet impractical detail.
  • Must be easy to make and modify in duplicate.
  • Must be able to wipe my dishpan hands on it occasionally without flinching.
  • Needs to look cute with leggings or jeans. 
  • Absolutely must somehow be warm enough for Ohio Winters and yet also practical for Summer. (Layering is the obvious answer)
  • Easy on and off.
  • I must be able to throw on a pair of shoes and, without changing my clothes, not be embarrassed to run out to the store.

All of my Pinterest searches for housedress perfection seem to land me on Japanese sites. So I'm buying this book (because it's in English) and running with it. Again, I'm going for great grandma meets boho chic. This will either be brilliant or horribly misguided.  

The picture below shows a Chinese shift dress that I bought used from a lady who had recently become a citizen, had a baby and outgrown her wardrobe. It is close to my ideal but is slightly too narrow for comfortable nursing. It would need more fabric and perhaps a pleat or two to keep it from billowing. I love the lace neckline. I love the pockets. I love the light cotton fabric and feminine sleeves. I tried to find out from the tag where to get another but (shocker) it was in Chinese. (My 12-year old was clearly thrilled to have his picture taken. I don't recall when this was shot but have some clues. He's wearing a suit coat: Must be heading to Mass. His eyes are puffy and he's frowny: Must have been morning Mass.) 

And this is what I found from the book (among other sweet things). I don't think I could manage to be quite as adorable as this young gal but I'll have my pockets. Any fabric nuts out there? Send me your suggestions for cute fabrics!

After my wardrobe is sewn, I'm going to come back here and commit to 30-days without a pullover hoodie and anything remotely resembling sweat pants. Because I'm a big girl now. If anyone wants to join me in kicking their daily wear up a notch (a little Catholic mom upgrade for ourselves and our husbands!), my goal is to have everything ready to go by May. So get your plans and stuff together and meet me here! 

Posted on January 19, 2015 and filed under Beauty, motherhood, Womanhood, fashion.

Catholic Soap Artisans {Holiday Guide}

I am not a high maintenance frou frou kind of person. I like to remind my husband (because men do need reminding) that he should be grateful I don't spend much money at all on hair, make-up, and accessories. But I do have my weaknesses. Like handmade soap. Not the melt-and-pour crafts using commercial bases but the real artisan stuff with lye and goats milk and essential oils and... Oh man. You can't buy just one. 

It started when I discovered that almost all commercial soaps and shampoos, lotions, and make-up cause my skin to burn and welt. It ended with... well... it hasn't ended. It has just continued to escalate into a fascination of sorts. And a deep enjoyment of pure, beautiful, handcrafted goodness. 

I love to purchase from small businesses and specifically, small Catholic business. In my search for Catholic soap makers, I have met several lovely artisans and am highlighting their shops and work here today... and giving some of it away! Please take the time to get to know them and consider doing some (or lots) of your Christmas shopping at their stores. Each one is unique. Each one uses good and wholesome ingredients. Each one loves the Lord and strives to honor Him through their handiwork and businesses. And yes, I did receive free products to review so I know what I speak of when I say... they. are. gorgeous. Let's get to it (in no particular order of awesomeness)...


If you love handmade bath and body, you are going to have a ball in Maggie's gorgeous shop. And if you don't, her stuff will be enough to convert you! She has everything from bar soap to lotions to laundry soap and, oh my, her stuff is good. Multiple members of my family use her shampoo bar (grapefruit for girls and rosemary mint for boys) and yes, it does work on long hair. 

The icing on the soap is that Maggie is a really great Catholic mom (the kind you slip into conversation with like old friends even though you have never met in person) who has promised me a tour of her workshop and soap making party next time I'm visiting her area. (In spite of never having met her, this charming woman is surely a BFF. She clearly knows the way to my heart.) This is her official reminder that I have not forgotten! And if I ever get to her place that "looks like a meth lab and smells like a garden," I will be sure to blog about it.

One of the best features of the For Goodness Soap website is the blog where Maggie shares tons of DIY recipes for healthy handmade bath and body. Tooth powder, bug repellent, dishwasher detergent... and she is also working on sharing her secrets for handmade make-up. She convinced me it could be done, gave me instructions and direction and... I'm almost out of my last bit of store bought make-up. My next beauty project? Handmade face. Stay tuned. 

In the meantime, please check out the shop at For Goodness Soap. There really is something there for everyone, including pretty gift sets ready for Christmas, body butter, laundry soap, shampoo bars, clay facial scrubs, bath bombs and salts , hand lotion, liquid foaming soap, shaving soap... so much goodness. Keep an eye out for bulk discounts throughout the store!


I am a real sucker for the work of blogging, soap-making, pro-life, homeschooling, Catholic mothers. I have the same problem with all Catholic soapmakers: The more I know about them, the more I want to buy all their stuff! Shalimar not only rocks handmade, but her words feed my soul.

How does a mama of 9 find time to create? Please, just do yourself a favor and read her family Mission Statement. So good. And everything that she has written on her blog at Life Victorious.

It didn't take much to add Victory Ranch Soaps to my favorites list. True story...
Ever since my midwife dropped a bottle of lavender essential oil into the water of my tub during advanced labor, I can hardly stand the stuff. Too much smell. Too much pain. The smell association was just... too much. However, Shalimar sent me a bar of Lavender Peppermint. I eyed it warily at first. And now I keep it on my hutch just so that I can randomly pick it up, sniff, and walk away happy. My happy soap. This is one of many reasons she is the master soap maker and I am not! 

In addition to goats milk soap, the Masters family handcrafts Catholic jewelry and gifts, beeswax candles (including an Advent set... get on that), lotions, and custom products. The artist's soap would be a perfect Christmas gift for the special creative in your life. To add to the list of the family's many talents and services, they also offer professional accounting service at Accounting Masters.

Need one more huge reason to shop at Victory Ranch? Soaps for Life. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Artist's Soap from Victory Ranch Soaps


When I first read Amy's shop description on her site, I was blown away. I was sure that I needed a bigger soap budget in order to buy everything I found at Sole Sanctifier Soaps. You've got to read it for yourself to see what I mean...

This business is only one way in which I express my love for God. I completely incorporate water together with sodium hydroxide to form lye. I then mix this with God's oils he has placed on this earth for mankind's use. This soap reminds me that I am cleansing my "self" and each time I go closer to my sweet Jesus, I gain new life in the Lord.

Right... see? And her work definitely reflects the purpose she expresses. Beautifully and wholesomely crafted. She even uses blessed water in the processing of her soaps as a reminder of our life in Christ.  I do have to give you one warning though. If you have young people, they will attempt to eat the soap because it smells that good. 

One of the things that separates intentional handmade from big box commercial is how purposeful all ingredients are. Nobody is putting any garbage in that doesn't belong. With that in mind, I think my favorite product from Sole Sanctifier is the Shea Butter Balm. Amy crafted it to meet a need and perfected it to bless others who have skin issues. Without having used it, I recognize the intentionality, the time that went into it, and the purposeful ingredients. Need help? Buy it.

Amy is a busy Catholic wife and mom and I have noticed that her stock does tend to sell quickly. I recommend heading over to make a purchase soon in order to get your top choice!

Free shipping on all orders over $45 with code RESPECTLIFE. A percentage of some soaps go directly to support Rachel's Vineyard. (Twist. my. arm.)

I'm always looking for gorgeous soap and recently asked around the digital homeschool world for recommended Catholic artisans. There were many recommendations but none were listed as many times as Anna from Roots Soap Co. It didn't take me long to discover why.

Aside from the excellence of her soap, her history drew me in. The daughter of a soap maker, she still uses her mother's recipe. Clearly, Roots Soap is not the creature of hasty internet searching, but of intentional crafting and beautiful ingredients. Read more HERE. I don't usually follow companies on Instagram but I made an exception for Anna since the process and details of her business are downright lovely. 

The real genius of Root Soaps is the simple goodness and although Anna portrays it as "soap for the working class," it is clear that wholesome ingredients are luxurious in themselves. You'll see. I dare you to buy the gingerbread and not head straight for the shower to try it out! (And then you'll hide it like the treasure that it is so that your kids won't scrape holes in it next time they take a 30 minutes shower... because kids do things like that.)

In addition to soap, Anna sells Organic Bath Tea, salves and oils, gift sets, laundry soap and shampoo, and custom monogram favor soaps. Don't miss her Black Friday sale... 50% off of soap rounds this week!


One winner will receive:
A box of
representing the shops featured above.

Don't let the rafflecopter scare you off. All entries but one are optional. The others are there to honor the work of these Catholic women and families and get you motivated to check them out.There's no shame in this kind of worthy networking! 

Posted on November 24, 2014 and filed under Beauty, handmade, review.