I’m very picky about the products I use both inside, outside, and on my body, and people are always asking me for recommendations and advice on anything from snacks to beauty products. Here are a few of my current favorite things. This is just a snapshot of now. This list changes all the time!
I have to start with the snow boots I’m wearing in the picture above, taken at Lake Tahoe, one of my favorite places on earth. They’re actually my current favorite thing. Now, onto more holistic stuff.
Years ago, I dumped my chemical-filled home and body products in favor of those with naturally occurring ingredients. It’s better for the environment, and amid the research I do for my job, I was horrified to learn about the endocrine-disrupting properties of many very common ingredients in lotions and cosmetics. So, now I make my own, or I use oil-based cleansers and moisturizers. Turns out these are better for your skin than the $80 serums and potions I once used. I have a basic natural skin care routine, but I rotate certain oils or natural products in and out as needed depending on the season. Here’s what I’m loving right now.
I don’t wash my face with soap or any cleanser. I use oil! It moisturizes and softens skin, and oil cleansing can even be great for acne. It removes dirt, grit, and makeup. I’ve used jojoba and coconut oil in the past for oil cleansing, and now I just love Burt’s Bees cleansing oil. I use it at night and then just splash my face with water in the AM before applying my miracle DIY skin butter or just straight jojoba mixed with frankincense essential oil, which is fabulous for skin protection and wrinkle prevention.
I’ve long battled with my hair and have tried EVERYTHING to heal and condition it. I finally settled on a good routine that involves the Shea Moisture line of shampoos and conditioners. I love the restorative conditioner— I use it as a leave-in. I’m also loving my Mason Pearson boar bristle brush. Yes, it’s pricey, but it lasts a lifetime and is the best way to distribute your hair’s natural oils while exfoliating the scalp and stimulating circulation to the hair follicles (read: stimulates growth and enhances shine). DO NOT buy the cheap knock offs! I did, and it damaged my hair greatly.
I recently posted about how I’ve been using activated charcoal to whiten my teeth. Here’s a pic! It’s easy to just break a capsule over a toothbrush (you’ll want to designate a brush just for this) and brush for a minute, then let it sit for a couple minutes before spitting and rinsing. It can be a messy process FYI.
I love my essential oils, and I most often use frankincense, myrrh, and carrot seed for my skin. I also love ylang ylang to condition my hair: just add a few drops to your conditioner or to melted coconut oil to apply as a mask before washing.
Food and Drink
I love my pu-erh tea in the mornings. It’s an ancient Chinese tea that’s fermented and possesses many health properties. I don’t drink coffee often, but I’ve been loving the Stumptown cold brew coffee (find at Whole Foods) with a little almond milk occasionally. I can only drink about 1/4 of the bottle at a time– no joke– because I don’t handle too much caffeine well. To wind down, I’ve been loving Yogi tea Relaxed Mind blend. The sage in it gives it an absolutely intoxicating aroma.
For my morning smoothies, I like this new pea protein vanilla protein powder. Did you know pea protein can support heart health and help you build muscle? It has a great amino acid profile! I also add moringa powder. It is an amazing superfood and gives me a nice energy boost.
I can’t live without dark chocolate, and my current crush is the Alter-Eco salted brown butter. I like the blackout dark too. I’ll eat Lovebean superfood Fudge by the spoonful out of the jar, and it’s even more sinfully (but guiltless!) delicious with Nikki’s vanilla cake batter coconut butter. For a quick treat on the go, the Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter squeeze packs are divine and easy to carry with you. Hello, healthy Nutella! I also love Justin’s organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups as a treat.
Finally, I’ve been adding a few drops of grapefruit essential oil to my water, and it’s so refreshing! It’s detoxifying and there’s evidence it boosts fat burning metabolism.
Around the House
Lately I’ve been using Thieves all-purpose cleaner which works awesome. For stains on clothes I use hydrogen peroxide with lemon essential oil, and I add a few drops of lavender to the wash with whatever free and clear hippie detergent I find on sale. Heavy chemical-based cleansers make me gag, and the essential oil-based cleaning products leave the house smelling divine!
I’m still in love with my Himalayan salt lamp and use it in the living room and bedroom. These salt lamps are natural negative ion generators that clean the air and emit a soft glow.
I mostly cook with cast iron, but I’ve mentioned before how much I love my non-toxic, non stick Green Pan. I’ve recently added a Green Pan dutch oven (they call it a “covered casserole”) to my kitchen that is also oven safe.
What I’m Reading
I’m always reading at least two books at a time. Currently it’s The Autoimmune Solution by Amy Meyers, a book I highly recommend to my autoimmune clients. She uses the same functional approach as I. I’m also reading This Naked Mind, a fascinating book about our use of alcohol and how to control it. I’ve been studying addiction for almost 10 years now and teach the nutrition module of my friend Holly’s Hip Sobriety School, a holistic course to help folks quit drinking.
That’s it for my current crushes. What have you been loving lately?
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.