What is non-toxic living?

I just realized I’ve been sharing toxic-free, plant-based living for 2.5 years now and I’ve never actually provided my own “Rustik Health definition”. Just like anything else, non-toxic living means different things to different people.

The easiest way for me to define it is by explaining what it is and what it is not in my view.

What it is

Non-toxic living is about avoiding any man-made chemical in the products we consume internally, put on our bodies and use in our homes. It is also about ensuring our bodies are functioning optimally to metabolize any existing toxins we have stored over the years and the toxins we can’t avoid exposure to in our daily lives.

Non-toxic living is a continuum. You can take it as far as you want to go… and you can make it a quick journey or a slower, ongoing journey. Personally, I hopped on the bandwagon about a decade ago and made some drastic changes initially but have kept a more moderate pace ever since.

Non-toxic living is a LIFESTYLE. It is a practice that weaves seamlessly into your everyday living. And while it may seem daunting at first, you will soon realize that it is WAY:

  • SIMPLER – no more driving across town to various natural health stores to get all the products you need. When you do run out, you can usually quickly whip up a new batch.
  • CHEAPER – many of the ingredients can be found at discount stores and they often serve multiple purposes.
  • GREENER – again, one product can serve multiple purposes so less plastic bottles make their way into our homes (and, ultimately, landfills).

What it is NOT

Non-toxic living is not about perfection. Nope… I don’t own an organic mattress (yet!) and I haven’t replaced my stash of nail polish (I just avoid wearing any as much as possible) and I’m still searching for an effective DIY dishwasher machine soap (working on it!). It’s about focusing on the positive changes you are making and not on the places you fall short.

Non-toxic living is about accepting certain social constraints and, especially, not judging others. Yes, I will use that toxic-ingredient-filled hand soap at the restaurant and won’t dart out of a room sprayed with synthetic fragrance (although I may hold my breath for a while… lol!). We’re not all of the same mind or beliefs and that is TOTALLY OKAY.

Non-toxic living is not about knowing and understanding all of the questionable toxic chemicals out there. Honestly, I used to try to remember them all… then I figured why on earth would I bog down my brain with that useless information?! At the end of the day, all you need to know is they are either: neurotoxic (super bad for your brain), endocrine-disruptive (they mess with your hormones) and/or carcinogenic (screw up your DNA).

When you live a non-toxic lifestyle, you frankly couldn’t care less about the names of all those toxic ingredients in our foods and products because they are no longer part of your world… they become completely IRRELEVANT.

Innocent until proven guilty

People will argue that in many cases there’s no proof these man-made chemicals carry negative effects. I say that’s exactly why I avoid them as much as possible. I’m not going to be a guinea pig (and neither is my family), plus there’s no good reason to use most of them. Nature has provided us with the powerful and safe tools we need.

While I see value in the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” in the context of criminal justice, I see ZERO value in it in the context of the safety of man-made chemicals.

What steps have you taken lately towards a non-toxic lifestyle?

M.

PS – I’ll soon be offering group challenges to help you either get started on your non-toxic lifestyle or push your existing journey one step further. Sign up below to BE THE FIRST to know more!

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Top 3 essential oils for beautiful hair

Essential oils have a wide range of benefits for hair, ranging from cleansing to growth to scalp health. Plus, they can leave your hair smelling absolutely amazing!

Since going “no ‘poo”, I’ve been relying on essential oils a lot to add punch and variety to the mix. And when my hair smells beautiful, I tend to feel that way too 😉

Here are my favourite 3 essential oils for gorgeous hair.

Tea Tree

Tea tree, being one of the most anti-microbial of essential oils, is a great addition to your hair care routine to address dandruff and (for those of you with children, especially) lice.

I add 2-3 drops of tea tree to my baking soda and water mixture to keep my hair super clean.

Geranium

While geranium is a great support in balancing your hair’s natural oil production whether it’s oily OR dry, I mainly use geranium for its super “femme” smell. If you sniff it straight from the bottle, the floral scent can be intense. But, in your hair, I like that it’s strong enough to smell for a long time.

I also add 2-3 drops of geranium to my baking soda and water mixture.

Sandalwood

Sandalwood is my natural leave-in conditioner. After rinsing with water and apple cider vinegar, I run a drop or two of this oil through my hair. It is great for dry scalp and I enjoy the hippie smell. It’s woodsy and earthy with a hint of sweetness.

What essential oils do you love for your hair?

M.

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Simple skin care routine

Basic skin care ingredients: water, aloe, Dr. Bronner's soap, xylitol, baking soda, witch hazel, jojoba oils and essential oils

After switching to my DIY deodorant, I then revamped my skin care routine. The title of this post may seem deceiving because there are a lot of products in the picture, but it’s pretty basic. These are just various options I go through.

I started my transition to natural skin care with the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM), which means I washed my face with oil (e.g. coconut, argan, castor, sweet almond oil – or a mixture!). This seemed counter-intuitive (and like an overall bad idea) considering I had oily skin. The first few days were rough – and I did break out – but my skin then regulated itself. On blemishes, I used a mixture of equal parts Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and water or tea tree essential oil.

Over the years, I gradually moved away from daily OCM and am now mainly washing my face with water. If I wear make-up, exercise heavily or need extra moisturising in the winter, I will use the OCM or wash with diluted Dr. Bronner’s castile soap before going to bed. After washing my face, I moisturise with jojoba oil mixed with a few drop of helichrysum essential oil. Jojoba is currently my favourite oil for the face since it is similar to naturally-occurring sebum and does not clog pores (I’ve used coconut and argan oils in the past). Helichrysum has amazing skin benefits (you can also use frankincense or lavender).

Oh, and the aloe vera plant in the picture is not just decor. I do, every once in a while, clip a piece of it and rub the gel on my face.

About twice a week, I will use witch hazel as a toner on my t-zone. I also try to exfoliate once or twice a week with xylitol (which I grind to a finer texture) or baking soda (rubbing very gently since it can be irritating). I also treat myself to a weekly face mask.

I guess I call this simple because there are no fancy products involved…

To recap, here are the steps:

  1. Wash with water (0r natural cleanser)
  2. Use toner (witch hazel or rose water is another option) 1  – 2 x per week on t-zone
  3. Moisturise with jojoba oil (or argan oil or coconut oil or even aloe vera gel!)
  4. Exfoliate 1 – 2 x per week
  5. Weekly face mask

Remember, everyone is different… I recommend you test out a few options to see what works best for you. Also, please be patient. Your skin will need a bit of time to adjust to whatever new routine you introduce.

Hope this was helpful!

M.

 


Henna-tinted hair mask

Henna, aloe, indigo and non-metal mixing utensil

I remember dying my hair for the first time when I was 16 years old. I got blond highlights.

From there on, I continued to dye my hair various colours until I had my son and started reducing my chemical exposure. I’ll provide more detail on my transition out of commercial hair-dying in a separate blog post but I wanted to share this henna-tinted hair mask I am doing today.

(Shameless plug: subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos like this)

Please note this is for natural brunettes – if your hair is dyed blond, I don’t recommend trying it. Also, if you plan on dying your hair with commercial dyes in the near future, do not try this. It is a commitment.

Now that the cold weather is upon us, I noticed my scalp is getting very dry. Plus, since I do not use commercial shampoos, it’s important for me to moisturize regularly. And, since those pesky grey hairs keep showing through increasingly with each passing birthday, I find myself needing to dye my hair more often. So sometimes I combine the two!

Ingredients

  1. Aloe vera gel
  2. 2 – 3 tbsp of henna
  3. 2 – 3 tbsp of indigo*
  4. Essential oil of your choice** (lavender, peppermint, rosemary, clary sage and geranium are good ones for hair)
  5. A dash of salt
  6. A squeeze of lemon
  7. A non-metal stirring utensil
  8. Glass bowl
  9. Water

*I add equal parts indigo to get a medium brown hair colour.

**optional

Instructions

Mix henna and indigo each with water to make a paste with a ratio of about 1:1 (adjust as necessary). Add a squeeze of lemon to the henna mix and a dash of salt to the indigo mix. Let henna and indigo sit for about an hour to release dye. (You would normally let henna sit much longer if using for the main purpose of dying your hair. I find even letting it sit for a bit gives colour back to my greys.) After an hour, mix all ingredients together in a glass bowl using a non-metal stirring utensil. It is important not to use metals to mix the ingredients as they will interact!

In the picture above, I had just mixed the henna and indigo so you will notice they are green. The henna will eventually turn brown and the henna will turn a metallic purple/blue colour.

I normally use lavender in my mixture but today I am trying geranium. You can also adjust all quantities based on your hair length. Mine is very long – more than halfway down my back – so I tend to use a lot.

Enjoy!

M.


Sweet hibiscus kombucha tea

Finished hibiscus kombucha tea

A new habit I recently incorporated into my lifestyle is making homemade kombucha tea.

Kombucha has a host of health benefits but I take it primarily for digestion and gut health. I make sure my 6-year old son drinks one glass a couple of times per week. He loves it! You can learn more about why it’s so good for you here and here.

There are a variety of ways to make it – my personal favourite is to customize with hibiscus. Hibiscus has its own benefits, plus a great taste! You can use black, white or green tea for this recipe. However, I usually stick to green tea.

Ingredients

  1. 6 cups of water
  2. 1/2 cup organic white or coconut palm sugar
  3. 2 tbsp green tea leaves (or 7 tea bags)
  4. 1/3 cups of dried hibiscus leaves
  5. 1/2 cup starter liquid from a previous batch
  6. Kombucha SCOBY
  7. Glass container
  8. Cloth or towel
  9. Rubber band

Instructions

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Remove from heat and mix in sugar until dissolved. In a fine-mesh strainer, place tea and hibiscus. Sit strainer in the pot, ensure the liquid covers the leaves and let sit for 10 – 20 minutes.

Brewing hibiscus kombucha tea

Remove the strainer and let cool completely – do not let hot liquid come in contact with your SCOBY. Once cooled, pour the tea into a glass container with the SCOBY and starter liquid. Cover with a clean cloth and secure with the rubber band. Let the mixture sit in a dark place for a minimum of 7 days.

I was lucky enough to get SCOBY from my aunt, along with the 1/2 cup starter liquid from a previous batch which is required for the recipe. You can also buy a SCOBY kit online to get started.

Once brewed and ready to drink, I love to add a drop of lemon doTERRA essential oil which is safe for internal use.

Enjoy!

M.


Quick and easy natural deodorant

image-for-blog-post-1

The first step I took as I transitioned towards a natural, chemical-free lifestyle was to stop using store-bought deodorant and start making my own. I’ve been using this recipe for so long now, I honestly don’t even remember how I found it!

It’s only three ingredients and you can customize the scent by using your favorite pure, high quality essential oil* – or a combination!

 Ingredients

  1. Baking soda
  2. Essential oil* (I’ve used lavender, chamomile, geranium and ylang ylang)
  3. Water
  4. Glass or stainless steel container

 *optional

 Instructions

Pour a small quantity of baking soda in your palm, about the size of a dime (or more, if necessary). Place one drop of essential oil (or combo) and mix with a sprinkle of water. Rub palms together to make a paste and then rub over armpit area.

(Shameless plug: subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos like this)

As this is not pre-mixed, you don’t have to worry about shelf life. It is good for as long as your baking soda and essential oils are good! I like to put baking soda in a small stainless steel container normally used for spices. This makes it easier to pour in my hand and store with my other self-care products.

Some people might experience irritation from the baking soda. Always test on a small patch of skin before using. I only experience irritation if I shave my armpits right before applying the deodorant. To avoid this, I normally rub a pea-sized amount of coconut oil on my armpits prior to application.

I love this recipe because I never have to “make” or buy pre-made deodorant. I just always make sure to have my favorite essentials oils and some baking soda on hand.

 Enjoy!

 M.