Toner vs. Astringent

If you’ve heard of the terms “toner” or “astringent”  you may be wondering, What is the difference?

Toners are typically lotions or washes that are designed to further cleanse the (facial) skin and reduce the appearance of pores.

Astringents are stronger than toners, and are typically alcohol-based. For this reason, they are suggested for use on oily skin to fully cleanse away the oils.

My recommendation, however, is to always avoid astringents – even if you have oily skin!


The more we harshly strip away our skin’s natural oils(sebum) with alcohol, the more our skin will want to compensate and in turn actually produce more oil! It’s a never ending cycle!

Alcohol-free toners are our better option, but the best option would be to make it yourself! That way, we know exactly what it is made with and can also customize it to our exact skin needs!

Better yet, you may(I hope) already have these three ingredients right there in your kitchen and/or bathroom!

Using Apple Cider Vinegar(ACV) with the Mother in its organic, raw, unfiltered, and un-distilled state as the base for our facial toner will give us many amazing benefits. Make sure you are always diluting ACV with water when using on the skin or taking internally because of its potency!


  • Fights pimples, acne, and blemishes with its malic acid that creates a potent antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral shield to keep bacteria at bay
  • Balances your skin’s PH, cleansing and keeping skin from getting too oily or too dry
  • Draws out toxins when used regularly, and helps maintain a youthful glow
  • Helps reduce age spots with its alpha hydroxy acids that remove dead skin cells and reveal vibrant new skin
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles


DIY Facial Toner

1.5 oz Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother (raw, unfiltered, un-distilled)

1.5 oz Reverse Osmosis or Purified Water

6 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia, 100% pure, therapeutic-grade)

Optional to calm sensitive skin: 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula Angustifolia, 100% pure, therapeutic-grade)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a clean, spray top bottle.
  2. Mist on clean fingers or cloth and dab on face and neck. Alternatively, you can directly mist the face and neck from 8+” if you keep eyes, mouth, etc closed.
  3. Finish with a moisturizer.
  4. For spot treatment, hold on concentrated area for a few seconds and skip the moisturizer on those areas.
  5. That’s it!


Tip: I re-used an old 4oz toner bottle I already had, and generally use my fingers or mist my whole face and pat. Try to skip the one-time-use cotton items to be free of waste!


Are you conscious of your impact as a consumer?

Let’s face it; Now-a-days it is easy to get sucked right into our highly consuming, wasteful, and unhealthy ways of society. We are now purchasing most all of our daily needs and wants without having to put a hair of thought into how things truly work; let alone the entity at the top receiving our hard-earned dollars and what his/her true financial and moral intentions are with it, as well as the effects of these purchases and productions on the quality of our natural surroundings: the environment, natural resources, animals, the planet as a whole and life in general.

In addition, most of us may not bring enough attention to each ingredient in the cosmetics or food we put on and in our bodies on a daily basis; and these can have some of the most direct negative impacts on not only all aspects of our natural surroundings, but the very foundation of our own health, wellness and beauty!

Did you know: 

Cosmetics are capable of entering through the layers of our largest organ – the skin – which surpasses our digestive system with potential of going straight to our blood stream?

This bodily invasion can definitely throw things out of whack a lot quicker than offensive food consumption (which goes through numerous natural filters and detoxifiers in the body) and will create much harm with repeated offense. Our kidneys and liver that work to filter our blood can become overloaded by this repeated offense and end up contributing to more toxins in the bloodstream if unable to do its job properly.


eu vs us


The U.S. legislation is currently allowing the use of toxic, harmful chemicals in cosmetics, which we may apply every day, that have been linked to:

  • irritation and allergic reactions
  • mutagenic cells
  • immune system damage
  • hormone and thyroid disruptions
  • nerve, joint, and muscle disorders
  • fertility issues
  • heart, bone and kidney problems
  • reproductive and developmental harm
  • cancers
  • in some cases death

the list goes on.*


The U.S. legislation is also currently allowing the use of toxic, harmful chemicals in conventional food production, which we may consume every day, that have been linked to:

  • mitochondrial malfunction
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • excitotoxicity
  • inflammation
  • weight gain
  • obesity
  • neurotoxicity
  • learning and behavior disorders
  • hormone disruption
  • chronic and/or serious diseases
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • decreased immune function
  • reproductive harm
  • allergies
  • cancers
  • even death

the list goes on.*


So what do we do?

Ditch the harmful chemicals and those companies using them!!!

The worst thing we can do is rely on the large “self-regulated” corporations in the food and cosmetic industries for our safety and righteousness that produce on a mass scale with very little overhead. Will you let them continue to “self-regulate” these industries, or will YOU be in control of your own health and environment?


Let us help you find who to trust or guide you through the wonderful world of DIY – so you can know exactly what you’re allowing in and on your body!


It’s time to be mindful of where our money is going and how we are directly impacting the world around us – starting with our cosmetics and food!


Self-love never looked so good ;).


September 2016: Idaho Springs

Last September we had a friend from back home come out for a beautiful fall visit. As a long time friend of Matt’s, he knew he came to the right person(people) and the right place to find adventure on his vacation days!

One of the nights Matt and I decided to take him to a spot in the hills of Idaho Springs for a fairly easy little hike and his possible first back-country over-nighter – we had been there maybe once or twice for a day hike when there was snow and became fond of it.

As we were ascending, we had come upon a couple of big boulders amongst the trees that we decided to rest at and considered setting up camp.

Oh how I now love the idea of back-country camping for free in National Forest land!! …Who would’ve thought?!

As I sat there looking around at the beautiful scenery, my brain couldn’t help but become flooded with ideas of making a shelter out of the perfectly solid boulders right in front of us. We were surrounded by hundreds of incredibly tall but skinny fallen tree trunks and limbs.

Before I knew it, I was on a mission!!

One by one, I felt like I became Superwoman lifting up these gigantic limbs any way I could and carrying them to the boulders to form a structure. I first started laying them across the top of the two boulders to make a roof; there was a perfect area behind one of the boulders for me to stand pretty level with the top, making it not too difficult for me to carry and lay them up there.


Who would’ve guessed that something as childish as fort building out in the woods would elate me to such a level!?

Doing this all by myself reminded me just how strong, capable and creative I am! It’s easy for me to sometimes lose sight of that or even just lack the energy to give something my all. Well, not this day! I found something so precious within me this day that got me dreaming and playing like a kid again! I feel like this was yet another reminder to me that I finally felt and lived firsthand, just how important it is to never lose not only the voice of your inner child, but your energy of your inner child as well.

Matt shows me this all the time by just being himself :).

After a few hours of hauling trees back and forth, back and forth, I noticed the boys finally starting to take notice of what I was creating and then they quickly jumped aboard. I was indeed very grateful for the help to get my vision moving, but also extremely grateful that I got a whole few hours or so of getting lost playing as a “kid” in the eternally alluring woods I never experienced growing up.

The boys couldn’t believe all that I had accomplished alone while they were off or around doing who-knows-what; the only attention I paid was to what I was doing!

With them now helping, we all ended up getting so enthralled with this project that we continued to work on it into the night – with headlamps lighting the way until 10 or 11pm!

We just HAD to get it done! 

I was truly having one of the greatest times of my life and didn’t want to stop until it was finished! I’m sure the boys could say close to the same – but surely couldn’t be nearly as invested as I was.

We finally ended up calling it a night since I had to work the next day, and I believe his friend was leaving early to go back to Illinois. Matt and I were able to set up our double hammock inside of the fort that night and had our first ever attempt at sharing the dang thing.

Yes, the dang thing…

which is supposedly made for two people technically, but we found out REAL quick that we did not agree with that marketing.

Being the heavy sleeper that I am, I didn’t have nearly as much trouble sleeping as poor Matt. But hey, at least we gave it a try!! At least it definitely looked really cool – ha!

Although, we realized after that, that we may need to try fitting both of our single hammocks in there instead – or just straight up leveling out the ground to have a proper “bed” space.

Here my inner-child goes again…


20160907_072223 (1)


One of our greatest ideas was using straightening out our rainfly on the ceiling to prevent any precipitation from seeping through the small spaces in the log roof – genius!

Another great thing is that the inside is so spacious you can fully stand up and walk around in it! We even have a “backdoor” and “balcony” off the back that perfectly allowed us to climb up onto one of the supporting boulders and have a beautiful view out into the hills, directly facing Mt. Evans.

And as silly and ironic as it sounds, this fort also brought light to both Matt and I’s memories of a childhood obsession to one day have a house with a tree growing through the middle of it!!? Both of us!

We have had many of these ironies in the somewhat short time of knowing each other. But anyway, this tree was awesome in so many ways – perfectly just being itself – and just so happened to be the center of attention inside our creation without us initially knowing!

Pure child-like magic!! 🙂 



The next day after our friend and I left early morning, Matt was “off to work” and took it upon himself to make the finishing touches to the fort. He spent a good little chunk of time hauling some quite heavy stones to line the perimeter of the fort to make it a little more stable.

After doing that, he definitely ended up putting in just as many hours as I did! In total, it took us short of two days but there are definitely still some upgrades that we would both love to add at some point.

(I sadly have only mostly videos at this point in time which can’t be uploaded onto this platform; will eventually change that!)



We now have a lasting memory and physical space in the mountains we can return to! It’s so neat visiting it during the changes of every season. It will hopefully also inspire and give shelter to any other adventurers who may stumble upon it!

Who knows – maybe we will become The Mysterious Serial Fort Builders……. ;).


~~ My challenge to you is to go get out in nature TODAY – even if it’s only just for 15 min!!~~

Go to as secluded and peaceful of a place as you can find and just sit and listen.

Meditate; see what comes to you!

Maybe you will start feeling nostalgic and end up freeing and embracing your inner child?

Have fun, reflect, and enjoy this time! 🙂

February 2017: Fish Creek Trail & Strawberry Hot Springs


Photo Credit: Kirsten Shoup


My birthday is in early February, usually the same exact week as blizzard madness in the Midwest and Superbowl Sunday. Not being a big fan of either, I’ve always shown my true Aquarius colors by gravitating towards water.

Growing up I had birthday after birthday spent at an indoor pool with friends, usually at a hotel of some sort. Ice cream cake was the only way to make those hotel pool parties even cooler! Pretending like there was no snow always seemed to do me well for being “stuck” with a winter birthday.

This year now being in Colorado, I immediately found myself in search of water all over again! Water to swim in isn’t nearly as available in Colorado without icky chlorine or it being ice cold because it’s snow melt. However, having a birthday in February here is not even half as bad as it is in Illinois. You can’t escape the snow, ice, and face-stinging temperatures in Illinois! They are there to stay. Here you have the most beautiful winter wonderland you could imagine, with the sun still so hot and shining so bright that you nearly get amnesia three days later after the snow has all miraculously disappeared and you’re getting too hot in the sun!?

Anyway, I decided that is was finally time to seek out a natural hot spring that I was eyeing for quite some time. Another couple that was joining us agreed that the spot in Steamboat Springs seemed perfect. Strawberry Hot Springs was near a hiking trail called Fish Creek Trail, around 4.6 miles. We figured we could go for a quick hike and then relax the rest of the day in the warm springs!

The hike alone was hands down the coolest winter hike I have ever done; Steamboat had just gotten a huge dumping of snow the day before, making it somehow look almost like a fairyland! The creek was alongside the trail, which had snow piled up so high on what I assumed were rocks beneath, that it looked like numerous layered snow “bubbles” coming out of the ground! You could only hear and barely see the brief openings down into the icy cold water flowing below. How cool.

What made it even more fun was the sketchy and steep bear-climbing we did to get up to the high point of the largest – and completely frozen – waterfall I have ever witnessed!! We snapped a quick pic, and slid on our butts back down to then head to the springs. It was so. much. fun. I bet this hike is AWESOME in the summer as well!


Best Adventure Friends!


Layered “bubbles”; Photo Credit: Kirsten Shoup


Frozen Waterfall; Photo Credit: Kirsten Shoup



After making it to the hot springs, I was quite surprised at how many people were there; given that it was Superbowl Sunday! There was still plenty of room though for us to enjoy our time. What a crazy feeling it was though to be freezing your booty off in your bathing suit(when in the shade) while looking at all the snow-covered ground surrounding you. You start asking yourself what the heck you’re doing… almost just like when you find yourself on the top of a mountain 14,000 ft + above sea level and in the clouds! It definitely wasn’t as extreme as that though as you may have guessed…

Sucking it up, I started to follow my friends right into the “medium” pool as we called it and quickly jumped back; holy hot water!! Was I really that naive that I didn’t realize that natural hot springs are as hot, if not hotter, than a hot tub?! Due to my fair and “sensitive” skin, I have always had issues with real hot water; it has always taken me what seems like 15 minutes just to dip a toe in! Eventually I was able to tolerate it and was super thrilled just to be able to relax in the comforting water and watch the beautiful sun setting.

The springs had 2-3 other pools connected to it; a quite chilly pool flowed into the medium pool, with a very tiny hot tub shaped area for two in between that was more my preferred temperature, and then another bigger pool that flowed from the medium pool and was even hotter.

WHAT?! Who are these freaks of nature that can tolerate THAT hot of water??

There were definitely not nearly as many people in the hottest pool, and most were just dipping their feet or legs in. No comfort here. I did also see someone with what looked like the cupping technique marks on his back, so I believe there are some type of spa services offered there as well. Next time I would love to check into that!


A hangout cove; Photo Credit: Kirsten Shoup


“Medium” and Hotter Pools; Photo Credit: Kirsten Shoup

As the sun was setting, we decided that we were as relaxed as relaxed could get, so we headed back home before seeing what the “night life” was like at the springs. More and more people were still entering as we were leaving. Must have been the “nudists” that I had heard about ;-P. Might also be fun for the next time…

Overall, this trip is highly recommended- even in the winter! I would actually prefer the hot springs only in the cooler months, as I can’t imagine being any hotter in general, unless it’s during a cooler night. I WILL be returning!

Go and check Steamboat out for yourself! Let me know your experiences!

Strawberry Hot Springs

Fish Creek Falls Trail



My hammock & rainfly set up over the only snow-free ground in sight.

April 2016: Sandbeach Lake Trailhead

After moving to Colorado in February of 2016, we were anxious to spend our first night out in the wilderness backcountry camping as official Colorado residents! For me, it would be my very first backcountry trip ever, and as for Matt – he couldn’t say the same. He left the destination of the trip up to me this time, and I of course was searching the map for any sign of water (Aquarius – represent!). Sandbeach Lake: north of Nederland, 8.8 mile round trip, backcountry camping – sounded good to me!

This would also be the very first time I was completely loading up my brand new pack, sleeping bag and all, although it was extremely gracious of Matt to take the heavier 0° bag and let me carry the slightly lighter 20° one. My bag ended up weighing in a little over 30 lbs and Matt’s nearly 50 lbs. Mine was definitely a load, but didn’t seem like it would be too bad!

We started the trail at Sandbeach Lake in the increasingly warm sun, with close to no other hikers in sight. It was a beautiful sunny day with a cool breeze. I was starting to remove layers early on in the hike with much shock at the warmth and dryness April was already bringing. No. snow. in. sight.

I was definitely getting excited at how well I was carrying my new pack with all my different weather gear! Until — about a couple miles in we passed a couple of hikers, maybe in their 50’s or so, with trekking poles that casually warned us of the snow ahead. No problem, we thought. Must not be THAT bad if THEY are coming back from it just fine, considering their age and all…

So we kept hiking, and sure enough ran into that snow they were talking about. DEEP snow too. It seemed to have almost come out of nowhere! The path itself wasn’t even in visibility, but we decided to not let that deter us and kept going. Luckily, with the slight openings in the trees and a previous snowshoer’s faint marks on the ground, we had enough faith that we could still find our way to the lake.

Step after step, we continued to fall through the snow; it often was reaching up to our mid thighs! At this point it was getting quite tough and quite tiring, but also made for a fun challenge! With even less faith now of ever making it there, we for whatever reason persisted. This 4.4 mile one way turned into a near 5.5 hour trek into the unknown.

But alas, the snowshoer didn’t lead us astray after all! We found ourselves right at the mouth of what must have been Sandbeach Lake. With my ignorance, I still expected to actually see a lake; instead, snow covered everything in sight. However, it was FAR from a letdown! The stillness, remoteness of location, and breathtaking beauty of this snow-covered winter wonderland far exceeded my expectations. It was absolutelybeautiful. . .

After that long, tiring journey I was ready to not move for a bit. We were able to find a front and center spot by the lake in a couple of trees next to each other to sleep near. The only, I repeat only, patch of ground in sight that wasn’t covered by snow just so happened to be the perfect place for my hammock to be set up over. Matt didn’t get as lucky with his spot, but he didn’t seem to mind much. We set up our hammocks and rainflys, chowed down on what we wished was a hot meal, and then collapsed. As night hit, we were bundled up with every last warm layer of clothing and feet warmers that we had. It was a coooold cold night, but we made it through.

I was waking up here and there throughout the night due to the coldness, but was also restless with images in my head of marmots, bears, and other wild animals nibbling on my fingertips that were sticking out of the hammock – I hadn’t even heard about mountain lions at this point, but was definitely glad looking back that it was one less thing I had to worry about!

It didn’t help that my mind was probably drawing this illusion of nibbling animals from an actual real-life event: There is a duct taped patch on the top of my sleeping bag from a marmot that tried chewing a hole through to get to a food wrapper inside! I was luckily not the one using it when this happened, but am apparently living with the PTSD every time I use it now! Ha. I now know why it is so important to eat food far enough away from your sleeping area and to never leave wrappers behind either – the physical reminder of the duct tape won’t let me forget ever again!!

The next morning we were dreading our hike back. Expecting the trip back to take just as long, we rose with the sun, took down camp in the bitter cold shadows of the hills, and were on our way. I had to work in Denver at the salon that early afternoon and we still had the whole exhausting hike back to the car, 1.5 hr drive home, and showering/getting ready part to do. Yep, we’re crazy. We also only had one cell phone with us to use for the time, and that was on its last leg of battery. The fear was definitely settling in.

To our surprise, we ended up actually having a slightly easier time avoiding a lot of the fall-through areas in the snow and shaved off maybe an hour or two!! We realized that the early morning snow-covered ground was still frozen enough from the night before to withstand our weight, but that once the hot Colorado sun hits it for a bit it will start to soften and therefore we would fall through. We continued to tread lightly and quickly, and were able to estimate the time with the handy fingers between the sun and horizon line trick to be confident we were staying on track. I was able to validate with the phone once or twice before it died that we were.


We finally made it back to the car, home to shower and get ready for work, and arrived on time to start my day of clients by the early afternoon – Boy, did I have quite the story to tell of the most eventful past 24 hrs leading right up to the entrance of the salon doors!? I almost felt as if I was just telling a tale from a foreign land, so opposite of the indoor city life. There was definitely much to reflect on here.

After the longest, most exhausting, and coldest yet most beautiful backcountry experience out at Sandbeach Lake, I realized: If I can do that, I can do anything!!! 

Sometimes those hard and treacherous experiences are the most rewarding! I am so thankful for challenging myself to see what I’m made of, and now I feel the drive to not stop here!

We plan on returning when the snow is gone to see what was hiding just beneath us that weekend that we couldn’t see! Here is the website’s trip report info with more pictures:

Sandbeach Lake Trailhead

I encourage you to go check it out for yourself! Or maybe there is a nearby conservation site or park you have yet to check out? Don’t let the weather stop you!! Chances are, you’ll end up having quite an experience with stories you will never forget to tell :).

What kind of adventures are you going to have? What’s stopping you from going out to explore the unknown and resurfacing your inner badass?


Have You Made the Switch Yet?

toxic toothpaste

If you are still using brands like Colgate, Crest, Listerine or even Arm & Hammer, it is very possible you are putting you and your family’s health in harms way via your oral care routine!

If you’ve never really looked at the ingredient list of one of these ever-popular brands, you wouldn’t really know that they contain harmful ingredients and other contaminants in the forms of irritants, hormone disruptors, allergens, and even carcinogens!

And if that’s not upsetting enough, we even have to question some of those “natural” brands of toothpaste out there as well that we thought were the safer solutions: Tom’s of Maine, Trader Joe’s, and Honest brands, to name a few! has thankfully put together a super helpful scorecard with some of the best and the worst toothpaste brands to help you navigate your way through the store.

Although, if you’re a “Suzy Homemaker” like me that’s looking for a DIY alternative, you may have been trying some powders and pastes at home. While some are nice alternatives, others take a little bit more getting used to. I, personally, was still in search of something even easier to concoct and also to take with me places; that’s when I discovered an Organic Brushing Rinse at a local health food store.

It definitely didn’t take me long to become obsessed!!

Not only was it super easy to use, fully cleansing and truly refreshing, but it stole my heart when I read the plain and simple ingredients list. With Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide as the main ingredient, I had to know more about the magic of this stuff!

My Experience

scraped knee

I’ll be honest; I had never really given much thought to hydrogen peroxide in the past! My only knowledge of this substance previously was having memories of my mom sitting me up over the bathroom sink and pouring it all over my scraped up bloody wounds after I’d hurt myself playing outside. That foaming, bubbly sight and sound definitely frightened me – and OUCH did it sting – but, it would get me healed up and back to normal in no time without infection! Looking back, I definitely approve of my mom’s natural first aid decisions, even though I absolutely questioned it at the time. That’s all I had ever seen it used for though before, and back under the bathroom sink it went.

Many, many moons later my second encounter was when I randomly stumbled upon a couple of online videos of individuals using hydrogen peroxide to actually cure their lung or throat cancers! To the average person, these claims and images were definitely out there, yet it was extremely hard not to believe these convictions when these users showed to be living proof. These claims definitely intrigued me to look into it a little further.**

Now a days, I am hearing much buzz of the multitude of health benefits from food grade hydrogen peroxide, which I shared with you in the “Hydrogen Peroxide for Health?” post. While some people may be hesitant because of its power, I now too, like many others, am using it carefully as a daily staple in my home with such excitement!

For me, this stuff is totally gaining ranks right next to Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother and of course Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil with their many, many holistic health and beauty uses.

The store-bought brushing rinse was such a hit that we went through it so fast; that’s when I realized I could easily just make this myself and save money too!


**Side Note/Disclaimer:   Since I thankfully do not have any serious internal health issues, I have never tried mimicking the inhalation as seen in the videos, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend you to do so either until you have done your own extremely thorough research and consultation with a homeopathic doctor. Also, always, always be mindful that not any one thing works for everyone. Be knowledgable, cautious, and conscious as to what works for you and your sacred body; listen to it!


I highly recommend reading more about Hydrogen Peroxide in my other article here, if you haven’t so already.

Oral Care

whitening teeth.jpg

HP is commonly and effectively used in professional dentistry today. Higher concentrations are mixed into gel forms for typical tooth whitening routines, while other documented uses for HP treat gingivitis and periodontitis.

HP still needs to be treated with caution in oral care too, as overexposure of undiluted use or marketed whitening products could result in sensitivity and other problems.

If 3% solution seems too strong for you, dilute with purified water to make a 1.5% solution (which is what I do). The HP will kill viruses and bacteria in your mouth, and also naturally whiten teeth over time.

It is suggested to use it as a mouth rinse or in place of a mouthwash, after brushing or in my preference, for brushing. I either swish in my mouth for about maybe 10-20 seconds to let it foam, spit, use a little water to brush, spit again, and rinse; or I will try and brush while the rinse is still in my mouth, but beware; it’s definitely a little tricky to keep it all in there since it’s a liquid! (Challenge accepted!)

I also prefer to use some of the purest and locally crafted essential oils in many of my personal care products for either taste, smell, and natural health benefits – or all three! These oils and plants are great for oral health:

  • Clove
  • Cinnamon Bark & Leaf
  • Eucalyptus Radiata
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Aloe Vera 



oral care

Probiotics, or beneficial microorganisms, are also on the rise for being used in dentistry. That will be a future topic of discussion. But basically, just like we should be aiding our “good” gut flora to keep us healthy, functioning, and free from disease & illness, it is also important to replenish our “good” bacteria in our mouth after a cleanse for the same benefits and precautionaries. Eating a vibrant, fresh, plant-based diet and avoiding harmful chemicals in our foods and cosmetics, including our oral routine, will most definitely help you in keeping the healthy balance of beneficial microorganisms. 
Looking to switch dentists? Search locally for a Probiotic Dentistry or a Holistic Dentist.


And here is the simple recipe:



Printable Recipe


Herbal Mouth & Brushing Rinse

Vegan, Natural & Plant-based
time: about 60 seconds | author: sustainthemane


  • 1/2 c  3% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1/2 c  Reverse Osmosis or Distilled water
  • 1/8-1/4 c  Aloe Vera Juice
  • 3 drops  Thieves Essential oil or a similar blend (clove, eucalyptus radiata, rosemary, lemon, cinnamon); locally & organically sourced if possible; therapeutic grade
  • 5 drops  Peppermint Essential Oil; locally & organically sourced if possible; therapeutic grade



    1. Pour all ingredients into a reusable bottle. I enjoy the BPA-free squeeze bottle with a pop-up nozzle top to easily squirt the liquid out.
    2. Squirt, swish, brush, and rinse!




How do you like using a rinse compared to a paste? How easy was this to make?!




Have you heard the hype about hydrogen peroxide for health and beauty care? Maybe it’s been sitting under your sink for quite some time and you’ve forgotten about it perhaps? Well it’s definitely possible that you may get really excited to learn about some of the countless  amazing benefits and uses of hydrogen peroxide you didn’t know about!

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide(HP), or H2O2 , is a naturally occurring substance that is basically  water (H2O) with one extra oxygen atom, making it one of the most potent oxidizers known. It is colorless and odorless, but has a unique taste. It is an unstable compound that is highly reactive and breaks down easily back into water and oxygen. However, if stored properly away from light and contaminants, it is very stable and breaks down very slowly over time.

As you can see, this substance lives in duality; it can be extraordinary at improving many conditions for the better, but also extraordinary at eradicating those same conditions for the worse. Just as many plants can have medicinal benefits, too much of it and it turns toxic.

Like I always say, moderation and balance is key.

H2O2 exists naturally in different aspects of nature and is even created by our own bodies. Therefore, we know it is necessary to support life and must be treated with much care.


Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide & its Benefits

Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide is praised for being the safest and most natural antiseptic that fights infection, eliminates toxins, cures bacteria and viruses, and neutralizes germs through oxidation!

Look for Food Grade to ensure the quality and safety for at home or personal uses, such as in mouthwash or toothpaste, rinsing fruits and vegetables, helping your plants grow, and is used in at-home or larger food production. It is the ONLY grade recommended for internal use, such as to treat illnesses, cancers, and infections. You will not find the FDA recommending such uses though or claiming it cures.

This label also ensures that there are no additives or stabilizers in the product. It is sold at a 35% concentration, but may also be found more easily and already diluted in purified water at 3% for safer handling. The 35% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide MUST BE DILUTED.


Since H202 can technically be so highly reactive with its one extra atom of oxygen, we have to keep in mind the possibility of it also killing more than just the bad guys, which includes some of our good guys: eukaryotic cells (membrane bound nucleus cells; human cells/DNA). This may be sometimes translated into the stinging or burning sensations like I had felt as a kid after HP was poured over my scraped knees and elbows to fight infection. It killed any harmful bacteria and I definitely remember feeling it working.

Research has lead us to believe that the possible killing off of our eukaryotic cells(the good guys) doesn’t seem to be of serious concern though since these cells are far more compound/complex than the latter, prokaryotic cells (cells without membrane bound nucleus; bacteria); making the prokaryotics far easier to target and destroy and most eukaryotics to stay unharmed.

So therefore, if we decide to use this physical substance topically or intravenously, we can understand why it’s important to use it at precise proportions to help heal and even stimulate life. We understand if too much is used, it may pose a slight threat to living cells, like we talked about before, so we use this true natural remedy responsibly.

This is a good reason to obtain the 3% Food Grade H2O2 that is already far less concentrated. Many recipes require even further dilution on top of that. When in doubt, ALWAYS DILUTE.


Different Grades of H2O2

The grade of the hydrogen peroxide matters. The higher the percentage, the stronger the concentration and the more cautious you need to be with it. It is a very powerful substance that needs to be handled properly!

3.5% Pharmaceutical Grade: Found most commonly diluted at drugstores and food stores with purified water and stabilizers; disinfectant and mouthwash; should NOT be ingested

6% Beautician Grade:  Helps achieve lift or a “bleaching” effect in hair coloring for Professionals; 3%-10vol, 6%-20vol, 9%-30vol, 12%-40vol; not for internal use

30% Reagant Grade: Used in scientific experiments; contains stabilizers; not for internal use

30%-32% Electronic Grade: Cleans electronic parts; not for internal use

35% Technical Grade: More concentrated than Reagant Grade; contains phosphorous to neutralize chlorine usually in the water used to dilute it; not for internal use.

Food Grade 35%(but most commonly found at 3%): Used in food production; MUST be diluted if 35%; personal hygiene; plants; animals; cleaning; ONLY grade recommended for internal use

90%:  Used for oxygen in rocket fuel

How Can We Use Food Grade H2O2?

Now that we fully understand the cautions of HP, let’s celebrate this natural product responsibly! Here are some of the many beneficial and surprising daily uses!

Printable & shareable recipes in the links:



Here is a peroxide dilution chart if you do prefer to obtain the 35%:

h202 dilution chart

*    It is very important once again to be knowledgable, cautious, and conscious when you are using hydrogen peroxide in its versatility. We need to make sure we are using precise proportions and replacing and maintaining the beneficial cells/bacteria through supplementation and proper restorative health care habits.

Where to Find 3% Food Grade H2O2

Check with your local grocery or drug stores first! If you are in Colorado, places like Natural Grocers, Sprouts, and Whole Foods usually carry it. I use the brand Essential Oxygen – typically runs me about $14-17 for 32 fl oz. Lasts me quite a while! Store properly away from heat, sunlight, and contaminants.



Now that you see that H2O2 is naturally occurring in our bodies, boasts numerous uses for natural remedies, and is an affordable & safe replacement for harsh chemicals, can you see it fitting into your healthy lifestyle, or do you now just notice it’s already there…?


As time goes on, the cosmetic industry continues to grow towards the “hottest” and latest trends, but seems to be forgetting one very important thing: Are these cosmetics even safe??

In terms of safe cosmetics, we are referring to the external appearance of our skin as well as the effect on our internal processes as some ingredients are absorbed through the skin into our bloodstream. We love to refer to our EWG Skin Deep Database for some of our toughest research on specific ingredients and specific products. They basically let us know if certain things are safe for our bodies and our environment, which we love.

Some people are more sensitive than others in general, no matter if it is an organic plant-based product or not, so we believe in carrying out 24-48 hour patch tests prior to hair coloring services for those especially with known sensitivities.

Here in Sustain the Mane Salon, we are using some of the best professional products to our knowledge that are leading in the organic, sustainable, non-toxic and vegan beauty industry for hair color and products. We never use aerosols, ammonia, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oils, or test on animals.

The quality of air in our space is one of our favorite changes to the salon environment since introducing safer, more gentle hair color and products in 2016. No more worrying about inhaling toxic fumes when mixing formulas or carrying out our artistic applications, and you as a guest also receive a much more relaxing and comfortable experience throughout the whole holistic pampering process.

It never stops there though; We are constantly continuing to further our knowledge on ingredients and products, and won’t stop until we are satisfied with what we believe is the best for ourselves and of course for you. We will recommend whatever we believe is best for each individual based upon his or her needs and desires.

Some of our products are homemade with organic ingredients and essential oils when we cannot find a trusted brand to carry what we need! This will eventually develop into a larger selection of homemade cosmetic products for you that we are extremely excited about to come!

True health, wellness, and beauty is our top priority for each and every one of you; whether we help you in person or online!

As there continues to be a growing number of people and life in general inhabiting this planet, it only makes sense to make sure that we are doing our own part in keeping our mother earth “clean”, happy, and beautiful.

The beauty and cosmetic industry as a whole over the years has sadly seemed to not have these morals in mind so much. There seems to be more incentive in the progression of “convenient” technology and performance of synthetic products than ever before in modern practices, which is keeping us in even further reach of being harmonious with nature/source.

There is a balance for everything in this life: We must give as much as we take; sustainability. But being regenerative in a way that is causing no harm is truly key.                                                                                                                                 

Thankfully, green-minded companies like Organic Colour Systems, My Hairprint, Green Circle Salons, Beauty Counter and Crunchi – to name a few in my radar – are shining bright to change this. Companies like these are proudly doing their best at sourcing sustainably and/or organically, reducing or neutralizing their carbon footprints, and diverting waste from landfills and waterways. It’s a no-brainer in this industry to look up to these guys! In my opinion, if we are going to indubitably have the cosmetic market, we better do it right and do it responsibly – don’t you agree?

Although half of these “green beauty” companies above were newly founded in the states, the other half and many, many more seem to have emerged outside of the U.S. for quite some years prior – with Europe in the lead. With the U.S. being a younger society and culture than Europe, why haven’t we been using their wise learnings for our own? Are we possibly that ignorant that we haven’t even paid much attention to information(especially the cosmetic safety & regulations in this case) of our country’s forerunners and global neighbors? And on top of not taking note from our predecessors, neither are we from our younger countries as well who seem to also get it . . .

safety compliance

In my opinion, it seems as though a lot of the time we like to remain out of the loop when dealing with the health and wellness of not only ourselves and our environment, but with the many other cultures and safety regulations outside of our bubble of a country as well – and seeing the repetitive tragedies on the news definitely doesn’t count!

To me, this is a call to take action and improve this situation then,

and it all starts with ourselves.


eu vs us

Many thanks to those that are already paving the way for us – especially the European Union & Health Canada for stricter cosmetic regulation and BeautyCounter for creating safe cosmetics & fighting legislation! 

Out with the Old, In with the New

To start with myself, I had to take action to do what I could to improve my current position, starting with my personal life and then with my career. I definitely can’t say it’s ever going to be an easy road to break old ties and form new habits, but it’s definitely a road you will find is worth every moment taking.

I decided to jump; instantly abandoning those habits and materials that were not truly doing good for my well-being or our environmental sustainability in my eyes, and learning along the way how to always keep improving. It’s an on-going process; you (or I) can’t become fully healthy, aware, and sustainable over night!

Due to the lack of awareness and education of potentially harmful and toxic beauty salons, Sustain the Mane Salon was then created to break the mold with alternative, healthy and sustainable beauty practices that we truly hope you always continue at home. This doesn’t mean being tied to a brand; this means being intentional with every purchase or product that you put on and in your body.

We aim to set the right examples through:

  • choosing eco-friendly companies that use biodegradable packing peanuts and recycled materials
  • recycling all product packaging, color bottles, foils from hair coloring techniques, and even our eco-friendly refreshments packaging
  • re-using items that can be sanitized instead of one-time use throw-aways; everything from our balayage meche strips for hair coloring techniques and shower caps for treatments, to our beverage cups we serve organic refreshments in and even our second hand furniture and decor
  • composting everything from some of our waxing materials, our food and paper scraps from snacks, to the natural hair clippings from your haircut
  • choosing an amazing (and hard to find) sensitive skin plant-based hard wax for ultimate comfort and to avoid the use of unnecessary materials: wax strips & more petroleum-based products
  • sticking with clean ingredients and sustainable farming practices for our products, colourants, treatments, and even cleaning products
  • making things in-house, such as our waxing cleansers, cleaning products, and our other soon to come hand-crafted items
  • growing things in-housesuch as our plants to keep the air clean and those that grow organic herbs
  • running this site as a referral database for your educational needs; to spread this sustainable and regenerative awareness.

We also focus on creating as little waste as possible, especially toxic waste! For those very few items that may come into the salon that don’t fit into the reuse or recycle category, we do have a small trash which takes quite some time to fill; as it should.

It’s never too late to start making the small changes! And remember:

Change comes from having the knowledge, and the right tools to help you take the action!



Watermarked Image


*Our Health Advisor and Coach, Matthew Zastrow, thrives on teaching additional sustainable healthy living tips to swap even good habits for great ones. Check him out here.

We 100% support organic farming practices, which we try and use for as many of our ingredients as possible with what we carry. Local organic ingredients are most desired, and we are continuing on working on ways to bring more of those into our salon. Organic farming not only returns love back to the earth by maintaining soil fertility, but also leaves out the very harmful and toxic pesticides and herbicides that do not deserve to be entering our bodies through our skin OR by our consumption either.

While there is no completely 100% organic professional hair color line currently possible, we carry brands that try and swap out as much of the junk as they can for organic plant-based alternatives; leaving your nose, skin, and hair a heck of a lot happier than traditional lines! We are also wanting to start experimenting with 100% Pure Organic Henna Powder as a plant-based colorant alternative as well. (Contact us for more info)

If you are looking for the greenest and cleanest of organic health and beauty products, refer to our DIY section in the blog for inspiration or our resource page.

We provide all organic teas for your enjoyment during your visit, as well as occasional fresh organic snacks. All dietary plans and suggestions made by our Health Advisor, Matthew, are also always based on organic whole foods and never contain GMOs or support conventional farming.

Having trouble growing your hair out or are concerned about hair loss?

We know that we can’t always control all factors that lead to hair loss, thinning, or slow growth, but we know we definitely do have control over most of the contributing factors – through your diet and lifestyle habits!

When is the last time you thought about algae? Or have talked with your girls or guys about gooseberries??

HA! For a lot of you, maybe never!

Well, time to change that… and you’ll see why!


Spirulina is a blue-green algae(cyanobacteria) superfood obtained from primarily two species: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. It grows naturally in warm, alkaline fresh water and salt water, as well as cultivated in specific spirulina farms.

This amazing superfood serves as one of the most nutrient-dense vegetarian supplements on the planet! It is taken internally as a dietary supplement and used externally for hair and skin.

Among its numerous health benefits, spirulina contains amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamin A and beta-carotene, all of which greatly aid in the promotion of hair growth, treatments for hair loss, and treatments for dandruff.

Amla (Indian Gooseberry)

Amla is also an incredible nutrient dense food that is extremely versatile. The tree that bears this glorious fruit is commonly used in the ancient Indian medicinal practices of Ayurveda.

Because of it’s potent Vitamin C content, this fruit aids in preventing and fighting numerous health ailments, boosting immune and bodily functions, and our very favorites: promoting hair growth and even prevents the greying of hair!

That’s right. No wonder why the Indian people have been using this fruit in all of its versatility for generations!

Other Berries

Alongside amla, tart cherries have their own multi-beneficial profile which also includes aiding in great hair, skin and immune function through Vitamin C!

We know that if we are nourishing our insides with the proper vital nutrients, our skin and our hair follicles will only benefit, making it prime real estate for a healthy body with healthy hair to thrive.

When consuming, tart cherries can prevent hair loss due to anemia because of its iron content. Tart cherries or tart cherry juice also helps in maintaining healthy hair through its beta-carotene and 17 different antioxidants, including anthocyanins and melatonins.

Blueberries are also powerhouses when it comes to aiding in hair growth by improving oxygenation and circulation of blood flow, particularly to the scalp. These delicious little berries are widely known for their antioxidant content, but also provide essential vitamins A, C, E, and most importantly B complex. B complex vitamins(B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12) support the overall function of hair, skin, and nails.

More on Hair Loss

If you are someone or know of someone who may be concerned about male or female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), you’re not alone!

According to Organic Colour Systems and the American Hair Loss Association,

  • Female pattern hair loss usually begins at around the age of 30, but can be earlier. It generally becomes noticeable around the age of 40.
  • By the age of 50, 50% of women will experience some degree of hair thinning. In women, the hair becomes thinner all over the head, and the hairline does not recede.
  • By 35, 2/3 of men experience some degree of hair loss.
  • By the age of 50, about 85% of men have significantly thinner hair, including receding at the temples and a thinning crown.

I will be writing a more in depth look into hair loss and solutions, but in the mean time my best advice would be to follow this DAILY for greatest results:

  • Zero in and cut the junk out of your life (crap foods, drinks, shampoos, styling products, etc)
  • Add in beneficial superfoods/supplements for hair growth & strength
  • Focus on your happiness & releasing stress
  • Massage your scalp in small circular motions, preferably with fingers and a stimulating oil treatment
  • Use a soft boar brush to brush your scalp and hair, distributing your natural oils for protection

Make it a goal to enjoy this Superfood Smoothie for Hair Growth at least 3x per week!  


Although there are different forms of amla like there are spirulina, we have found frozen amla chunks for this “Sour Sea Berry” smoothie recipe! The frozen chunks may be one of the easier forms to find if you are not close to India, as the fruit is only in some stores seasonally and won’t last as long.

Amla on its own has quite a unique sour-citrus-type taste! WOO vitamin C!

But don’t worry, this smoothie isn’t too sour since we have natural whole food sweeteners in with the mix that help to balance everything out!

Printable Recipe

“Sour Sea Berry”

Superfood Smoothie for Hair Growth

Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, GF, Dairy-free
time: about 5 min | author: sustainthemane

 All organic, local, farm fresh or homemade ingredients wherever possible!


≈   1  c    frozen blueberries or mixed berries

≈ 1/2 c  frozen spinach

≈ 1/2 c   freshly made almond milk*

≈ 1/4 c   almond butter

≈ 1/4 c   frozen amla chunks

1      small or medium ripe banana

7      fresh cherries*

1      heaping spoon spirulina powder

1-2     tbl coconut oil

1      tbl chia seeds for topping

1-2     tbl hemp seeds for topping

Optional: +1 or 2 dates if banana isn’t ripe/sweet enough; splash vanilla extract ; ≈ 1 tbl maca powder; water for thinner consistency

  1. Blend all ingredients except chia seeds & hemp seeds in a nutri-bullet or blender, adding liquid as necessary.
  2. Top with hemp seeds, chia seeds & an extra cherry! Enjoy!


*substitute handful of almonds + 1/2 c water for almond milk & omit almond butter – or – use coconut milk in place of almond milk; one big squirt of tart cherry concentrate for fresh cherries

Recipe measurements are round about. Use your judgement on taste & additive options.



sour sea berry

Spatial Learner: Who really measures smoothies anyway??

sour sea berry2

Beautiful burgundy hue in the finished blend.