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Why I DON’T Use MLM Oils

 

 

 

 person holding amber glass bottle

 

 

I love essential oils. 

How many times have you heard that phrase? Dozens? Hundreds? Probably the latter, because these modest little bottles are making headlines like crazy. Science backs it up, with essential oils used in trials and studies boasting big results. But not all oils are created equal, and not all companies have YOU at their interest point (big mistake!) Here’s my breakdown of the oil game and why I do not doTerra. And, I’ll share who I trust with my essential oil love, because it’s strong, people.

 

 

 

 

 

 lavender field

 

 

 

 

 

What are Essential Oils?

Simply put, EO’s are the concentrated oils from various plants. By concentrated, I mean really, really concentrated. Because of this, the effects of the plant when used for healing are oftentimes much more noticeable and faster acting. They can be used in a variety of applications, from aromatherapy to massage and even to internal supplementation. 

I’ve used oils for around five years now, and I must say I have come a long way from where I started (which was with cheap products, probably used in dangerous ways. Don’t do that, guys.) Along the way, I have learned a lot about these little compounds, and I’d like to share with you where I stand.

 

 

 

 

MLM: The Oil Game

Anyone who knows oils knows these two names: doTerra, and Young Living. They’re GIANTS in the world of essential oils. I used doTerra when I first started out, because, quite frankly, I didn’t know there WERE other companies. That’s how big these two are, they cloud out everything else. In order to understand why I don’t support these companies, we need to look at the beginning. See, doTerra and Young Living go way back. What you need to know about that is that Young Living used to have several reps that were, well, fired. Fired over something very ugly. Unfair pay, diminishing their female executives, etc. That’s a nasty business you can read about on this page. Basically, Gary Young, founder of Young Living, didn’t want justice or equality for his employees. He fired David Stirling and Emily Wright (now owners of doTerra), and they parted ways. Young Living also conducted immoral practices, including lies about their whole ‘Seed to Seal’ process. Definitely not someone you’d want to support, right? Well, David and Emily got tired of it and after they were fired, went out and found some fellow people to plan doTerra’s launch. As this went down, Young Living pitched a fit, and a whole slew of legal ugliness ensued. Fake lab reports, former employee testimonies, it was deep. 

Now then, obviously both companies are still standing, so what happened? Well, the court found doTerra to be in the right, and the whole thing kind of dissolved. This legal battle lasted over five years. So, then, it looks like a cut and dried answer, no? Young Living is obviously not great, but doTerra seems much better! Ehhhh, sorry. 

 

 

 Assorted-color Bottle

 

 

 

doTerra, or don’tTerra? 

Now, I want to start by saying that I have no problem with people who use this company. It’s generated a lot of community, love, and health for people, which should ALWAYS be appreciated. What I’m dissecting is the behind-the-scenes stuff. The details that matter to ME, because I want to support companies I BELIEVE in. Now, good, great, let’s move on. Keep in mind, I used to buy doTerra. My family did. I knew people who sold it, and who still sell it. I know it is a great thing for some people. It wasn’t great for me, and here’s why. 

– doTerra made up a label to mislead their customers. Yeah, there’s no sugarcoating that. doTerra takes great pride in their Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade labeling, boasting that they have the highest quality oils in the world, and that the CPTG label proves it. Only, it doesn’t. They claim that this label is FDA given, but with a bit of research, which most people wouldn’t think to do, you can find out that hey, the FDA does NOT evaluate essential oils at ALL, and furthermore, sent a warning letter to doTerra in 2014, exposing the company for violating FDA laws for marketing drugs and pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the letter, which can be read here, touches on the fact that doTerra’s MLM consultants, known as Wellness Advocates, are NOT allowed to promote these products for uses in treating disease, as they do NOT have formal medical training to do so. So, you can see where that’d be a problem, right? 

– doTerra encourages its MLM base of sellers to promote products as a doctor would. The FDA got on them for this in the same letter, which can be read here, and touches on the fact that doTerra’s MLM consultants, known as Wellness Advocates, are NOT allowed to promote these products for uses in treating disease, as they do NOT have formal medical training to do so. So, you can see where that’d be a problem, right? 

– doTerra advocates internal use of oils. This isn’t necessarily a BAD thing, but it is a DANGEROUS thing, and doTerra doesn’t seem to put much emphasis on the RISKS involved. What that means for customers is a lot of very risky oil ingestion, which could lead to very serious consequences. My stance on ingestion is know before you go, and I don’t think doTerra is equipping people to do that. Not all oils can be taken internally, most can be taken ONLY in very specific ways as to not harm your body, and you should only take them in very closely monitored amounts, after ensuring there’s no preliminary triggers for a bad reaction. 

– doTerra is exclusive. Point blank, this isn’t fun to say, but it is. doTerra build this weird atmosphere of superiority, through people who buy into (literally!) their system. I’m never fond of companies that do this, especially when they have such a high minimum price point. The cheapest enrollment kit for doTerra is $200, and if you choose to pay the fee, it’s $35. But the kit is what gets you really “in” the door, pretty much forcing out anyone with a tight budget. Sound like someone who is all welcoming? If doTerra is truly about health, then accessibility needs to be their number one priority, and it’s not. You may say, but Allison, you pay those prices because it’s a really GREAT product! Yeah, I can see where you’d think that, but again, it’s a deception. The reason doTerra has those prices is so their wholesale prices look way more appealing, and, guess what? To get THOSE prices, you must pay the $35 dollar fee. Then buy more, and more, and recruit people you don’t want to drag into this, and so on. See the vicious cycle? It’s ridiculous. 

– doTerra prices are unforgivable. I said it, I believe it, I’ll bear my cross for it. This ties into the above a little, but on a more glaring note. doTerra’s prime focus is bringing in more people, right? In order to do that, well, they spend a FORTUNE on events, rewarding their top earning advocates, and marketing. This translates into stupid high costs for you, the innocent consumer trying to do better by doing natural. Sorry, but I’m NOT shelling $30 for Lavender when I don’t even like their Lavender. That’s my WATER BILL, for crying out loud. There’s nothing sustainable about that if you’re not making six figures, which, shockingly, most of us do not. (There’s a big difference in Lavender oils, which I’ll discuss another time.) No one can afford this, with the monthly fees, pressure to recruit, and more. Needless to say of the social ramifications that aggressive recruiting will have on your relationships. 

 

 

 brown glass bottles on white surface

 

 

 

 

So.. what does this mean? 

It means that nothing is as it seems, especially when it comes to health products. Like I said, I’m not out to get anyone for using these companies, I just feel everyone should have the information to decide for themselves. MLM doesn’t stack up with that in the Essential Oil department, and, now that I know better, I’m sorry I ever wasted my time with them. There are better options out there if you find yourself shaken like I was when I read this information for the first time. That said, I want to touch on the parts of doTerra that ARE good. (I won’t touch on Young Living because I simply don’t want to encourage people to support their practices, but you can find info on them at their website.)

– they have pure oils. The whole nonsense in the legal debate was solved as being falsified, so you can trust that the oils are good quality. That said.. they don’t publicly share their test results, which I don’t like. They also are not very clear about their sourcing.  I love having that ADVERTISED to me, to blatantly say: “Hey, we test our stuff and here’s the scoop!” So, if that’s your thing, check my recommended companies down below. 

 

 Honestly.. I’m not a doTerra fan, if you couldn’t tell. I like transparency, and made up certifications, messy legal battles, and skeptical sourcing practices do not match my standards. That said, many tests have been done and there’s no concrete evidence against doTerra’s oils. So, if anything, the product is okay to use. 

 

 

 

 

     

     Let’s change it up.

     

    So, if you like being the guru of where things come from, how they’re made, and what steps they go through from manufacturer to YOU, you’ll love this next bit. After I delved into the MLM oil madness, I decided to kick it all to the curb. Sorry, not sorry! Let me tell you, sifting through these companies for the truth is a MIND GAME. Advertising that’s created to pull you in, carefully worded statements about quality and morals- it’s a labyrinth. Fortunately, I was able to find two companies to roll with, and my results have been perfect. This journey of trying out new companies has been a little over three years, so be informed that I’m still formulating opinions. I’m not a die-hard, not a loyalist, but just someone who loves good product and great companies that fit my vision for natural health – for all. 

     

     

     

     

     Purple Flowers Beside Clear Glass Bottle

     

     

     

     

     

    Rocky Mountain Oils

     

    I’ll admit, the first time I checked them out, I was like- whaaaaat? What’s all this sciency jargon about GC/MS, batch numbers, and the like? Well, RMO is a very bold company. They’ve skyrocketed to the top of non MLM EO companies with their publicly announced test results. Every bottle comes stamped with a batch number, for which you can find the results of very intensive tests through their website. GC/MS, or Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry testing, is the ONLY way to tell what is in an essential oil. The process starts by having the Gas Chromatographer pulls out all the molecules in a sample of oil. Then the MS, Mass Spectrometer, “sorts” the particles out and identifies them based on an extensive database of known substances. It gives a report of these substances with proportion to sample size. That’s the simplest way to explain it, but Robert Tisserand wrote an awesome article about it here.

     

     So RMO offers these test results for every bottle of oil, which is kind of amazing, right? But wait, there’s more! RMO has a very strict sourcing process. Here’s the main page, but essentially (no pun intended), they sample a potential source of oil, then test again, and again, until they’ve exhausted all their efforts in finding any flaws. The oils that pass, are sold with the RMO label. The ones that don’t, well, those get rejected. 

     

    Another reason to love RMO is their Oil-ty points program, a program for customers that earns you points on every purchase to use in their store. And, unlike similar programs, the points add up very fast, and nothing is off limits. RMO is also well known for their generosity. I have received free gifts on nearly all of my orders, big or small, and the company is more often than not running severe discounts on oils, offering freebies, and more. You’ll notice how much price difference there is as well, because RMO is not an MLM, they can offer those lower prices. 

     

     

     So, yeah, they’re kind of amazing. 

    But moreover, what have I tried from them? A LOT, thanks to their ridiculous deals. (Thanks, guys, for feeding my oil hoard. Appreciate it.) What drew me in was their lavender, which has been the penultimate favorite of all the ones I’ve tried. They offer multiple cultivars for those nuanced aroma profiles, which is important to me, since I spend a lot of time with lavender. Plus, they’re the only company to implement a bottle recycling program to help offset their impact on resources. Win!!

     

     

    Essential Oils, Aromatherapy, Spa, Oil, Essential

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Jade Bloom Essential Oils

    So why would anyone look anywhere else for oils? RMO has clearly set the bar. Well, true, but for me, it wasn’t a case of lacking anything. It was a “Holy CRAP it gets MORE INTENSE??” reaction to a new company. Jade Bloom, y’all. So I stumbled across a Facebook ad for Jade Bloom, for their Oil University, actually. Me being me, I had to go check this out. More education?? Yes please. And then I found out it was free. Free education. Warms my soul! Oh, wait, there’s more. By completing the oil university, you earn a boatload of points to use with Jade Bloom, and just like RMO, nothing is off limits! So, obviously, I had to do that. And as I went along completing the courses, I realized something. I had NEVER seen such in depth stuff from an oil company. This was in depth, advanced learning, from start to finish for beginners AND experts. I was hooked. I had to get behind this company. They paid so much detail to everything that I felt giddy when I ordered. They are hounds when it comes to their product, and while they do not own their own farms, they vet them thoroughly to ensure that not only are the growing conditions right, the practices safe and natural, but they ALSO make sure that the plants are happy. Wait, say what? Happy plants? 

     

    Yes, happy plants. Say for instance, a cactus. Would it be happier in the desert, or a dorm window in New York? Obviously, the desert. Jade Bloom does this same research, to figure out where they can get the absolute top notch materials. The better a plant is, the better what comes from it, including the oils. Jade Bloom sources from all over the globe for this reason, seeking not only the best of the best, but to improve economies for the people who grow and harvest the plants. 

    Wow, talk about good deeds. But wait, Jade Bloom isn’t done. They have a page that’s super duper important. The failures page, found here. Wait, a failure page? That sounds bad. See, Jade Bloom is only five years old. They’re brand new, and their mission has been since the beginning, to promote the truth, health, and happiness of everyone involved, from CEO to customer. So they publish the obstacles they’ve faced, the lessons they’ve learned, and how this affects the consumers they serve. Indeed, it’s remarkable and absolutely commendable work. Especially when adulteration came into the picture. When faced with this, Young Living called foul and tried to force Dr Pappas, who tested their oils and found the flaws, to retract his statements. doTerra went to bat with the French company who allegedly falsified the reports. But Jade Bloom, well, JB sat back and went “Well, what next?” They took the oils in question off the market to do more testing. They shared from day one with the customer base what was going on, and reached out to several labs to run tests. Dr. Pappas, who also tested these oils, made the discernment that the adulterations were so minor that only an experienced eye could have caught them, and furthermore, the adulteration would not have harmed anyone. So really, no one would have known, but Jade Bloom persisted, hiring a doctor of chemistry to permanently test every batch of oil before they even thought about marketing it. They then implemented a new action plan to help prevent this from happening again, which you can see at the bottom of their failures page. 

     

    Bottom line: Jade Bloom exists to promote change in the natural health world, and I’m growing to firmly support this company in their endeavors. 

     

    One last note, pricing. Yes, that really IS the right price- in a good way. I know, the prices make you wary at first glance, but TRUST ME, they’re totally real. Jade Bloom has simple priorities- oils for everyone, and part of that includes prices for all. They focus so much into their product that they offer it at these prices to encourage you to broaden your oil horizons. But how is that possible, you might wonder? Low overhead, efficiency, and passion. Jade Bloom loves what they do, and because of that, they are working for everyone, not just themselves. This is true natural health and healing, as it SHOULD be. Accessible, wonderful, and PURE. Their education is what I came for, but their company values are why I’ll forever stay. They want to teach everyone how to use these oils safely, effectively, and efficiently. Also, I have to tell you about the lavender, because who doesn’t LOVE lavender??

     

     

     Lavender, Purple, Bloom, Plant, Flowers, Nature, Scent

     

    Lavender and Lavandin… what?

    So you may not find a basic Lavender label on Jade Bloom bottles, and there’s a reason for that. They offer two types of lavender, and lavandin. We’ll start with the latter. So Lavandin, or Provence Lavender, is a French lavender hybrid with spike lavender. It’s used for its high aroma and sweet fragrance over true lavender’s more healing benefits. So, it’s an economical alternative when you just want the scent of lavender, if that makes sense. It is higher in camphor, so may help with sleep problems. 

    Bulgarian Lavender is a type sourced from, you guessed it, Bulgaria, that has a very distinctive floral and almost fruity scent. It’s not as light as Lavandin, but it’s well used in many different applications. Some report Bulgarian to be one of the sweetest smelling lavenders. 

    And finally, Kashmir Lavender. Be still my oil lovin’ heart. I didn’t even know this was a thing before I started with Jade Bloom, so to be fair, our relationship is quite new. But, I’ll be honest,it’s been awesome. The second I took the top off it was unanimous- this was the BEST lavender my family had ever smelled. Why is that? Well, this lavender is Jade Bloom’s pride and joy, sourced very exclusively from the Kashmir region of the Himalayan mountains. Jade Bloom sources from a family farm as well, to preserve the heritage and culture of this beautiful variety. Because of the elevation and climate, this lavender thrives and boosts the content of some properties in the oil. It has a sweet, full, almost grassy or green aroma, which just blows your mood out of the water. 

     

     

     So this has been a full article.

    We’ve covered oils from top to bottom, as far as brands go, and I feel confident saying “Go for it!” As you embark, keep in mind that companies SHOULD:

    – advertise test results in a simple way

    – source from thoroughly evaluated farms

    – maximize needs of the customer

    – take education to the top

    – encourage you to try more oils and use them safely

     

    Of that list, Jade Bloom has rocketed to my #1 spot. I love Rocky Mountain as well, and I love their oils, but Jade Bloom has really swept me away with their determination and attention to honesty and sourcing. Plus, those price points free me up to explore a lot more. 

     

     

     

     

     

     What do you think? Do you have specific things you look for in an essential oil company? I’d love to hear them down below!

     

     

     

     

    Also, don’t forget to check us out on social media! 

    Best Seed Companies to Support (+ My Top 2!)

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Seed planting time is the best time.

    It’s the end of winter, everything is muddy, half frozen, and the chill in the air is just barely there. Already, your mind has begun planning out your spring and summer projects, and, if you are like me, it has to include poring through seed catalogs and putting together a gorgeous garden. But how does that start? With more and more companies than ever before, choosing garden seeds has become a tyranny of choice. Not to fear, I’ll walk you through my standards for seed companies, why I support certain practices, and finally, who the best seed company for your amazing garden needs!

     

     

     

     

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     What to look for.

    Everyone has different standards, and that is a-okay. I’m just offering mine up for example. Personally, I look for food that is non-GMO, organic when possible, and grown with care, as well as a deep understanding of that plant’s needs and benefits. In my seeds, I try to support heirlooms, open pollination practices, and permaculture wherever I can.

    Why non-GMO? I look for pure, whole foods. Genetic Modification is not a practice I want to support. It’s important to note that GMO’s are not the same as hybrids, the former being the result of a lab practice splicing together genes from two different species. Hybrids are a result of breeding two cultivars of the same species. It’s good to note also, that I don’t generally use hybrids in my gardens. There are several exceptions, when I stumble across a fruit or vegetable with outstanding qualities and want to try replicating it, but for the most part I avoid them. I like to save my own seeds, and hybrids do not breed true. (Meaning two parent hybrids may produce something similar or something totally different.)

    Untreated seeds, are they different? Yup. Treated seeds are seeds that have been coated, sprayed, dipped, or rinsed with a solution designed to preserve them or make them easier to plant. These coatings are almost always made up of a cocktail of chemicals that will leach into your soil, and stay in the plant that grows from that seed. Avoid the treated seeds at all costs. 

    Is organic that important? It depends. If it’s a crop you are planning to grow for years from that one initial set of seeds, then yes, organic matters. If you go with hybrids, I don’t think it’s as important. Obviously in a perfect world we would always choose organics, but price wise it isn’t worth three dollars if you can only get one year of crop from it. Growing organically will reduce contamination anyway.

    What does open pollinated mean? In short, open pollinated seeds are the opposite of hybrid seeds. They are able to pollinate with whichever method or plant is in their range, meaning more genetic diversity. In some cases, this can lead to creating new varieties when two kinds of plants of the same species pollinate, or, if you only plant one cultivar, you can get true breeding seed for years to come. 

    Why heirloom? Aren’t they finicky? Yes, there’s generally a reason why an heirloom is, well, an heirloom. Either they didn’t produce enough, fast enough, nice enough, to make it to today’s lineup in the commercial farm world. That said, heirlooms almost always have a rich history, beautiful product, and amazing flavors. I’ll always take quality over quantity, but for market farms, you may see more preference to more vigorous, disease resistant types. The home garden is always a wonderful place to learn how to care for heirlooms, so I recommend going for it! (And, yes, a tomato really can taste that much better.)

    Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI): The world of seeds is becoming monopolized by a handful of giant companies with little interest in the actual seeds they sell, the customers they serve, or the impacts they have on the world of food production. What that means is that it is vital to have someone out there looking out for us little guys, to support the practice of saving seed, and to protect seeds from being patented, restricted, or taken away from gardeners and farmers everywhere. Remember how we discussed GMO’s? The companies that practice that science put a lot of money into it and want to control who gets to use it, how, and why. OSSI stands to support and protect the companies who vow to never restrict, patent, or prohibit the use of their seeds. 

     

     

     glass mason jars with seed sachet inside

     

     

    How to Tell Who’s Ripe, and Who’s Rotten

    Navigating companies can be hard, but there are a few things to look for. The best seed companies will clearly label their seeds as non-GMO, organic, open pollinated, heirloom, and so on. These companies are supporting practices they believe in, and they want to show that off to potential customers. If you ever see packaging or a website that looks very nondescript, with very little transparency on values and principles, it’s a safe bet they are not operating at the level you would like. 

    Some big box companies (Like Burpee, Bonnie, and Ferry-Morse) do not advertise per their product packaging that they are non-GMO, but their website states that they don’t use genetically engineered seeds. Still, I don’t purchase from these companies, because there are a crazy amount of word games that can be played. “Not-knowingly” using GMO seed, is very, very different than actively seeking out non-GMO seed and responsible sources to acquire it from. I always look for the statement that a company either grows its own product onsite, or sources from thoroughly vetted farms. Trust me, you can never have too much information about what you’re buying!

     

     

     

     green metal garden shovel filled with brown soil

     

     

     

     

     

    The Champion Seed Companies

     

    Did you learn a lot? I hope you did. Or, anyway, how to be a more finicky gardener! I could go on and on about seed companies, sourcing, and the like, but at the end of the day we want to have actually planted something. So pop over to one of my favorite seed company websites, get those seeds ordered, and start growing! Here are the best seed companies to support this year!

     

    • Victory Seed Company I have to say, I don’t know where or how I found these guys, but I’ve never been happier for a chance occurrence than I am. Victory puts a huge emphasis on growing the best, highest quality stuff. They’re a family owned and managed company, an ambassador for OSSI, a non-GMO, non-hybrid, heirloom and heritage seed company that really puts quality first. They helped me achieve a 95% germination rate, plus they have a loyalty points program so that when you shop, you earn more goodness. Their prices are insanely affordable for the varieties they offer, including the original Brandywine. (The original is the Landis Valley red, not the common pink.)I honestly cannot say enough, but I’ll leave you with this final showing of their character: when I put together my order last winter, they sent a handwritten note along with it, thanking me for choosing Victory, and wishing me luck on my gardening endeavors! Nothing warms my heart like handwritten notes. 

     

    • Everwilde Farms I found this company because of green beans. Yes, truly. Do you know how hard it is to find an heirloom, non hybrid, non-GMO green bean that keeps well, cans well, and tastes great? I didn’t until I started looking. Everwilde introduced me to the Slenderette Bean, which, if you are unfamiliar, is a rock star and a staple in my garden lineup. Seriously, I had no clue green beans could grow like that! The other huge appeal to me was the packaging from Everwilde. Their Mylar pouches are just so incredible, you’re going to have to read about them yourself. Find the product page here. Trust me, no one else in the seed world offers this. It makes seed saving so much more enticing when you know your seeds have a permanent home where they can be fresh and viable for years! Did I mention that they are super reasonable on pricing? I should. They have the best prices of anyone I’ve seen for the quality they offer.

     

    Those are the main two companies I support, but, here are a couple honorable mentions for you plant fanatics!

     

     

    Adaptive Seed Company – Their mission statement says it best: “NONE of our seeds are proprietary hybrids (F1), patented, PVP, or genetically modified (GMO). All of our seed is grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, and NONE of it is treated.” I love their Kale Coalition, which has grown like wildfire for me. 

    High Mowing Organics – This company offers a wide range of clean, organic seeds at modest prices for the home gardener. I especially enjoy their wide selection of melons! (Try the OrangeGlo, you won’t regret it!!)

    Turtle Tree Seeds – If you’re truly looking for a great cause to support while filling your garden, look no further. This beautiful small company is a non-profit community that provides purpose and home to many people of different walks of life, offering high quality seeds grown with great care in the biodynamic method. 

     

     

     Now, arm yourself, get out there, and plant those gardens!

    Signed, Allison, the mastermind of seeds, the hoarder of plants, and snob of tomato varieties. (Just sayin’ Paul Robeson is the best. Grab it from Victory today!)

     

    Do you have a favorite seed company? Let us know below!

    Also, don’t forget to check us out on social media! 

    Simple and Sweet: Gua Sha

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I’m the worst at self care.

    Yes, I am. Truly. Despicably. Awful. If you’re me, doing something related to “treat yo’ self”  looks as appealing as a pile of mud to the most high maintenance of neat freaks. So, if I’m recommending something for self care, specifically skin care, you should probably try it. Because it’s really awesome. I don’t recommend lame things, you guys. Gua Sha. (GWAH-sha) is one of those things no one actually believes in until they see it. Like Alexa. Or spring weather in February (unless you live in Ohio, like me). The effects, however, are definitely worth believing in.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    person holding amber glass bottle

     

     

     

     

     What is Gua Sha?

    GWAH-sha, or Gua Sha, is an ancient Chinese healing practice involving pressured massage. This practice has many benefits, including pain relief, reduced inflammation, and tension relief. Originally, healers used things like spoons, animal horns, and coins. Today, a mild version can be performed at home with a special tool and some facial oil.

    Though touted by some medical experts as harmful or dangerous, this practice is really only as intense as you make it. There is no perfect method, so it’s uniquely customizable to your individual needs. And, in my case, idiot proof! (Which is good, because I’m accident prone!)

     

     

     

     

    How To Practice Gua Sha

    Like I said above, you only need two ingredients for this: a tool, and some oil. The tools made and marketed today come in a variety of shapes, colors, materials, and sizes. It can be daunting, so let’s explore tool types together.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     Rollers

     

    These look different than the other tools, but their function is the same. They do boast some added benefits, like increased absorption of product (helpful for face masks, hydrating serums and moisturizers, etc) and massaging deeper facial tissues.  Gua Sha involves pressured strokes in a uniform direction, and rollers help maintain even pressure and smooth strokes. Note: should you choose a roller, be careful to purchase a well made one! Some are made with cheaper metal which results in your tool breaking. Not fun!

     

     

    My Recommendation: This Roller

    This tool comes with interchangeable stones for a very universal performance. I like that it is made well to last. Also, it comes with the deep tissue (bumpy stones) massage pieces to really improve circulation and ease tension in the facial muscles.

     

     

     

    Image result for gua sha tools

     

    Scraping Stones & Tools

     

    The scraping pieces are probably what you’re more familiar with. They are the ones that come in different shapes and sizes, some are even made of different materials! Stones are better suited for toning, contouring, and soothing than their bumpy roller counterparts.

    This is what I personally use. I bought them at TJ Maxx for pretty cheap, because I was a skeptic. I promise that you’ll want to invest in a nice tool!

    I like the traditional jade for its cooling benefits, which can be enhanced by placing your tool in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes before use. Can you imagine the summer relief that’s gonna bring?

     

     

    My Recommendation: This Stone

    I like this stone because the shape is very forgiving, comfortable in hand and sleek. I also love that it comes with a box for storage, and the free eBook offers extra guidelines and tips for success and benefits with Gua Sha.

     

     

     

    Bonus Recommendation: This Stone

    Words cannot describe how beautiful this piece is. Honestly, it seems too pretty to use so intensely! Plus, Cordial Organics throws in a little storage pouch, and a free sample of their Nourish facial oil. Score!

     

     

    White Petaled Flower on Clear Glass Beside Clear Glass With Liquid on It

     

     

    Oils & Benefits

    The other tool you need for Gua Sha is a lubricant oil. In this case, I recommend choosing an oil or creating a serum to enhance moisturizing benefits. There are a lot of facial oils out there, but allow me to run through my personal favorites!

    • Jojoba Oil- this is what I use on my own skin, because I love how quickly it absorbs and how it is moisturizing, but not oily, on my sensitive and finicky skin. Jojoba is a good choice for acne sufferers and those with dry skin, combination skin, or anything in between! If you’re new to oils and their different properties, I recommend Jojoba as a starting point.
    • Sweet Almond Oil- known to be super moisturizing and light on the skin, while being mild enough to use on the most sensitive of faces. It has a high antioxidant content, as well as being protective against UV rays. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, or aren’t sure if a heavy oil is for you, go for almond oil!
    • Argan Oil- I wasn’t sure about including this in an oil list because it is a bit pricey, but the results are swoon worthy. No joke, when I use this stuff on my skin, I can tell a massive difference in five minutes. Your skin just, like, glows. Worth the investment, especially if you have acne. This stuff is not at all comedogenic (pore clogging), and boasts a lot of omega fatty acids that are super powerful in fighting acne.
    • Avocado Oil- Okay, now we’re busting out the big guns! If you have a lot of inflammation, dry skin, or need a really powerful moisturizer, avocado oil is your new tool. Not just for toast, avocados are known powerhouses for beneficial fats, and that holds true to avocado oil as well. It is a heavier oil, so be forewarned that you may need to let this one soak in.

     

     How-To Gua Sha

    While there aren’t “rules” involved, there is a method or two used to ensure maximum benefit from this tradition.

     

    1. Wash your face. While I apply this technique with the Oil Cleansing Method (you can find a great article about that practice here!) to combine my moisturizing and cleansing in one swoop, it is advisable to start with clean skin. We don’t want to add oil on top of dirt and debris that may be present on your face!

    * I recommend washing your face with warm, but not scalding, water, to open your pores to allow for maximum absorption of the facial oil.*

    2. Apply the oil. No need to break out cotton swabs or anything special, your hands will work fine for this step. I generally pour a dollop of oil into my palm, and use my fingers to swab it over my skin. Don’t worry if it doesn’t soak in right away- the Gua Sha will help with that!

    3. Get massaging! There are dozens of guides out there, but the general idea is to massage towards the outer part of your face. You can find great guides for these on my Pinterest board, “Skin Scores!” found here. You don’t have to work any specific area to death, but I find my tension areas (the muscles of my forehead and my cheekbones) benefit from a few extra strokes.

    4. Clean the stone. When you’re all finished, just wipe the excess oil off of the stone and return it to its box or case. Every week or so, I clean my stone and tools with very warm but not boiling water, and a mild soap such as castile soap. Let dry, and then spritz lightly with witch hazel, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol, and let air dry. That’s it! No super involved cleaning needed. Stones last quite a long time, but if you find yours is chipping, or has a rough edge, it’s a good idea to replace it.

     

     

    Notes For Success!

     

    I’ll admit, the first time I slathered my face in oil and rubbed it with a piece of jade, it felt.. weird. Probably because I didn’t really pay attention to how I was going about it, but just gouging my skin. The next couple times grew more and more enjoyable, as I learned what pressure to apply where, what direction to use, and the spots I needed to focus on.

     

     

    1. Let your body lead you. It may seem like a no-brainer, but honestly, when you’re trying out something new you may feel pressured to do it “exactly right.” As one of these people, I understand the pull to get it right, but with many things there is no right or wrong, and Gua Sha is a great example of that. Simply follow what feels good to you and that’s it! There’s no simpler instruction book.

    2. Be mindful. Mindfulness is one of the surefire ways to enhance stress relief and help relax yourself- mentally and physically. Focusing on the feel of the tool against your skin, your breathing, and even your heart rate can take what is already a soothing practice to a whole other level. I already use Gua Sha in my nightly routine because it leaves me feeling calm and peaceful, but I also find it extremely beneficial in times of high tension or anxiety.

    3. Don’t be too rough. This is a slightly different point than the first, in that pressure can make or break this ritual for you. Too much and you want to run away, too little and you won’t notice any differences in muscle tension. If it hurts you, it’s probably too intense and you should lighten your touch. If the oil is sitting on your skin when you are finished, you may have too much, or you may need to increase pressure.

    4. Use the right amount of oil! Yes, but how do you know what amount is ‘right’ for you? Trial and error, mostly. Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all measurement, so everyone must calculate for themselves what is appropriate. I started with a penny sized amount and quickly, unsurprisingly, figured out it was too much! But a dime sized portion proved to be just right. In the winter, I need more oil, in the summer, when humidity is higher, I need less. And sometimes I just have to grab a washcloth and wipe away the excess. No judgement!

     

     Bonus Tip: Grab my FREE meditation guide to put yourself in the mindset to heal and relax during Gua Sha! Find it at the bottom of this post. 

     

    Final Thoughts & A Sneak Peek!

    Whoo! We made it through a whole new practice, start to finish, with product recommendations, tips and tricks, and a tutorial. Give yourself a pat on the back, because you, my friend, just learned a new skill! And learning is always worth celebrating, am I right?

     

    Gua Sha hasn’t been in my life for long, but I truly do love it and love the healing it has brought me. I wish you all the same success in your own journey, and hopefully more! Who knew facial massage was so great?

     

    Now, as a relatively new blogger, I have a lot of opportunities before me to shape my blogging journey, and I want to include my audience (little though it may be!) in that process.

    So, as my attempt to do that, I wanted to share with you the new series I will be starting in hopes that it will reach and persuade others to evaluate their lifestyles.

    It’s called the Moment Manifestation series, and it’s going to cover a lot of different topics. The denominator will be learning how to apply simple techniques to enhance and appreciate the beauty of everyday life. Call me a sentimentalist, but moments are important. If we don’t appreciate the here and now, we cannot begin to build a better future for ourselves, or anyone else.

     

    Be tuned into my social media pages to see important updates and take part in surveys regarding this thrilling new series!

     

    It’s ciao for now! See you on the flip. (Do people still say that? I feel like they should.)

     

    — Allison, self care newbie, Gua Sha ambassador, and certified coffee addict.

     

     

    Do you practice a skincare routine that you love? Share it with us below in the comments!

    Also, don’t forget to check us out on social media! 

    Winter Blues, I’ve Got Bad News

    Winter depresses me. 

    I don’t say that in a ‘the cold makes me feel down’ kind of way, I say that in a clinical sense. Yes, winter causes depression. Not in everyone, but in quite a few of us. In the U.S., approximately 5% of people experience SAD in a given year. SAD stands for, fittingly, seasonally affective disorder. It happens in the winter, when our days are short, our weather is nasty, and our vitamin D is at its lowest. SAD has many of the same symptoms of general depression, but a few stick out in SAD. Increased cravings for carbohydrates, excessive sleepiness, and weight gain headline this annual menace. I myself have struggled with seasonal affective disorder for several years, without knowing it even existed. Looking back now, I don’t know how I missed it.

     

     

    Though reasonably new in its studies, seasonal affective disorder is very hard to deal with. See me, early 2018. I pored over garden catalogs, bought new yarn, tried lots and lots of art and hobbies, and still felt like a hopeless case. I literally found myself pacing the house, looking out all the windows, wondering if spring had abandoned us for good. Of course, it didn’t, and soon I was back in my garden, digging gleefully through compost. Er, that’s a story for another time.

     

    This story is about how to prevent the craziness from taking over.

     

     

     

    winter is made easier with a morning routine to start the day

     

     

    Number one, I suggest getting ahold of a morning routine. Mornings are hard, at least they are for me, and crawling into another icy day out of my warm blanket cocoon? Pass. If you design a reason to like getting up, you’ll do it. Sometimes, it’s breakfast. Sometimes, it’s the excitement of doing something fun that day. Regardless, give yourself a reason to get up. Something you like, that you WILL get up for. Starting out right is the first step to a less panicked day. My favorite 

     

     

     

    Next up, I’d encourage you to incorporate lots and lots of light. Especially in the morning. Turn on all the lights in your house, buy brighter bulbs, I don’t care. Light triggers our brains to start waking up, which counteracts that nasty exhaustion following us around like a lost puppy.  There are special therapy lights, super bright panels or lamps that are designed to drastically improve mood and health. I plan to add one of these to my routine, but don’t have the money just yet. Similarly, you can find alarm clocks with built-in light features that help to more gently ease you into the world of consciousness. I myself am shopping around for one of these, but have not purchased one yet. 

     

     

     

     

    Third, vitamin D. We lose a lot of it during the winter, so supplementing can really, really help. Be sure to check with a professional on dosage. Sometimes, Vitamin D can really help, and in some cases, such as mine, it doesn’t seem to do anything. But, it is worth trying for no more than a few dollars a bottle for the potential of feeling better.  Click here to see what I recommend. NOTE: The dose of this product is quite high, you may need to start with a lower dosage and work your way up as needed. CHECK WITH YOUR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE STARTING ANY SUPPLEMENTS, IN THE EVENT THAT MEDICATION REACTIONS MAY OCCUR. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    fresh air is the best cure for the blues

     

     

     

    Go. Outside. I know, the one thing we’re trying to avoid. Hang on, guys, let me explain. Nature helps depression. I don’t know why, or if there’s some greater power at work here, but being outside is magic for the body inside and out. Even if you stand on your porch for thirty seconds, mentally berating me for suggesting this hogwash, try it.  Fresh air does us all good, even if it’s cold.

     

     

    Have a hobby. Or three. I collect hobbies like kids collect rocks (seriously, where do they get all of those?), and in the wintertime, it’s helped me stay busy. I’m not outdoors, but it gives my hands something to do and keeps my mind off of things like the snow that just keeps falling, or the cold that won’t go away. Personally, I draw, paint, knit, bake, cook, garden- you got it. Try to see if you can find something fun to do on those indoor days. Make a list, and work through them. Some may stick with you, others may not. Regardless, you’ll be doing something interesting. 

     

     

     

    Limit screentime. I know, out come the claws, but it’s for your own good. And hey, this is my worst fault. I curl up with Netflix or Hulu and some knitting and BAM there goes my afternoon. Some lounging is definitely okay, but don’t linger on it. Easy to say, hard to practice. I’m with you there. Maybe this provides some accountability

     

     

     

     

    a book is good for any season

     

     

     

    Read. Read a lot. Yes, very typical of me to say, but there’s something magic about winter and a pile of books. I’m constantly writing down names of books and authors I want to check out, so if you have something like that, winter is a perfect time to actually read those books! Hot beverage of choice + new book = pure bliss.

     

     

    And finally, I leave you with this. Plan your spring and summer projects. It will help you feel closer to that end goal where the sun shines, we’re all happy, and eating ice cream for dinner is once again acceptable. Vacations, life changes, events, whatever you’re looking forward to, pen it out or brainstorm for a bit. I think you’ll be surprised at how energetic you’ll feel afterwards.

     

     

    In conclusion, SAD is a monster that rears its ugly head when the going gets cold, but it can be stamped back into hiding. By using some of these tips, I hope you will find more joy in the winter months. I know I have!

     

     

     

    Until next time, y’all.

     

     

     

    – Allison: mastermind, yarn addict, and Netflix guru (for now)

     

     

     

    Do you have some cold weather tips to beat depression? Let us know in the comments!

    Also, don’t forget to check us out on social media! 

    How did I become a blogger?

    starting a blog takes time, patience, and imagination. learning how takes perseverance.

     

    First of all, I have no clue. Second of all, it took a long time. Blogging always seemed like one of those things I admired and aspired to do, but would never truly get a chance at. I made my peace with that, for a while. After that I started stumbling across more and more blogs. More and more people I wanted to follow and hear from. I mean, it wasn’t just recipes anymore; it was financial tips, shopping lists, even things like printable art! That’s when I realized the key thing that drove me to start my own blog. The fact that we all turn to each other for advice and insight. And that ,maybe, I could offer up some of my own.

     

     

     

    It wasn’t really something I entertained past that for several years. I mean, I wanted to, but.. no one tells you how to do these things. Plus, would I even be successful at this? Did I really have enough knowledge to invest in an online presence?

     

     

     

    How to get started.

     

    My feelings on the subject were pretty pessimistic up until about six months ago. The fall of 2018 led me to wonder about that lifelong dream of serving a greater purpose. Now, blogs weren’t just blogs. They were action groups, communities, and in some aspects they were support groups. People bonded over these things. That not only surprised me, it left me feeling really great. I had come to a blog for a recipe or a printable, and it had turned into something more. It made me feel connected to others who shared my interests. So I took the leap and started digging.

     

     

     

    Apparently, I’m not alone.

     

    you'll learn that others had the same question: how do I start a blog? Can I do this?

     

    Let’s just say, digging is a mild word for how far I went down the rabbit hole. In other terms, I found out just how much there is behind these blogs, behind those posts about saving for that vacation or meal planning for busy people. There were stories, and real people. Similarly, these people didn’t start out feeling confident. But then they jumped in. Therefore, things started happening. Several of these bloggers even went so far as to offer up classes and workshops and seminars to teach others how they had done this. Now I had no excuse not to try it out. A free webinar that lasted about an hour? What could I lose? What could I gain?

     

     

     

    Then, something that one blogger (I’ll link to her site at the bottom of this post) mentioned in the very first webinar I attended really, really hit me.

     

     

     

    You can research forever and still never make your blog happen. You must take the first step!

    – Raelyn Tan, of raelyntan.com

     

    Now, I was just cornered. This person didn’t know me at all, and yet she just called out my whole plan. Okay, subconscious plan. I’m someone that revels in the fact that I can research something forever and never have to make anything happen. It gives me great comfort. Having to invest in myself? That gave me great anxiety.

     

     

     

    Raelyn gave me great confidence (as she is so adept at doing). As a result, I plunged. I invested. Financially, mentally, emotionally. If my jumped up pulse counts as physically, I invested even more.

     

     

     

    To wrap it all up..

     

    Without that push I wouldn’t have known what I was capable of.

     

     

     

    In the end, that’s why I started, and why I’m still here. I have no idea if I can affect others with my experiences and philosophies, but I want to see. I want to connect, I want to feel that satisfaction that comes with knowing you’ve helped someone else.

     

     

     

    Well, that’s how I started my blog. Open and shut.

     

    Ha, not quite. I’m still learning, reading, and researching. It’s an infinite process. Fortunately, I’ve already learned that the one piece of knowledge you truly need to succeed is to challenge yourself. Meaning, in short, that if trust is something you struggle with, trust more. If you’re like me, worry less. You got this. Now go act like it!

     

     

     

    Dedicated to:

     

     

     

    My wonderful “mentors” who have helped me along this journey (knowingly or otherwise). They have been huge, essential, really.

     

     

     

    So here they are. The people who got me up and running. Feel brave? They’ll help you too.

     

     

     

    Help to start a blog comes from many a place.

     

    Resources to Start Your Blog:

     

    + Namecheap: Namecheap is basically what it sounds like: a name, for cheap! See, you have to have what’s called a domain name. What you call your blog.website.business. Namecheap offers really good rates on those.

     

     

     

    +SiteGround: Ah yes. The powerhouse of the blog. SiteGround is your host. They run the servers and make sure you stay online and up to date with the world. Basically. There are many companies like this, some you may have heard of. (GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, DreamHost.. there are a LOT) I chose SiteGround for their compatibility with WordPress and their 24/7 customer support team. They’re awesome at helping you with pretty much everything!

     

     

     

    +WordPress: How can I not include the foundation of it all? WordPress (the .org edition, not the .com one) is kind of like the display case. They show the world what you’ve made, and make it easy for you to keep everything together. In laymen’s terms: they’re the body of the car, where Namecheap would be like the paint and SiteGround would be the engine.

     

     

     

    +Pinterest: You may not think Pinterest is good for anything but recipes and DIY projects, but think again. It’s an invaluable tool to keep articles, freebies, and tips right where you can go back to them. Not to mention, who doesn’t love Pinterest?

     

     

     

    Blogs to Check Out:

     

    Now, this is by no means a definitive list. It’s just a small group of the places I found myself returning to time and time again on this path. I resonated, to say it plainly, with the content and voices of these blogs.

     

     

     

    + What Mommy Does: Yeah, I’m not a mom. However, Lena is a mastermind. Aside from her numerous courses on getting things rolling, increasing traffic and turning views into money, Lena offers insight into a lot of topics beginners struggle with. (I’ll be honest, her article on not being able to choose a blog name saved my life!) Not to mention the loads of free printables and trackers she so kindly offers. Did I mention her massive course library? Swoon.

     

     

     

    + Moms Make Cents: Another mom blog? Yup, you got it. But this one is more than mom stuff. It’s a “how-to-get-motivated-to-actually-do-stuff” blog. Resources galore and lots of important things to think about if you want to start a blog that brings in income! Plus, value packed courses at a very, very nice price!

     

     

     

    + Raelyn Tan: I left this one for last because I don’t honestly know how to categorize it. Raelyn does everything. If you want to start a blog, a business, or build an online presence, you need to go see her. Like, now!! Words can’t convey what her work has done for me. And she really packs in value, between the webinars, worksheets, courses and classes, you cannot leave without learning something useful. As I said before, it was her free workshop that inspired me to actually go after my dream of being a blogger.

     

     

     

    how to blog and resources to start

     

    ** IMPORTANT: The links used in this post are not affiliates. I do not get anything from you using the resources advertised here. I simply love them so much I want to spread the word! That said, these products and people do offer content to purchase, should you choose to do so.**

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