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Expert Interview with Sarah UmmYusuf About Ridding Your Home of Chemicals

Expert Interview with Sarah UmmYusuf About Ridding Your Home of Chemicals

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We live in alarming times, with people questioning everything from the air we breathe to the water we drink to the sunlight we walk around in. It's easy to become a ball of anxiety, worrying about every little thing (which would probably be even worse for your health).

We all want the best for our families, our children, and ourselves, but want to do so in a positive and constructive manner.

The groundwork for this natural path has been lain by Sarah UmmYusuf of the blog Nature's Nurture, who set out to remove every unnecessary chemical when she started having kids.

She took a moment to tell us about Nature's Nurture; about some common chemicals you might find around the house, and what to do about them; as well as about some of her favorite natural health, beauty, and household products, with a dollop of positivity.

Could you introduce us to Nature's Nurture?

I'm based out of Toronto, Canada, and I started Nature's Nurture over four years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. I had already started making non-toxic, homemade alternatives to some of the products I used around the home, and after several people asked me for recipes, I decided to put them online for easy reference. It all started as just a few static webpages - nothing fancy. As I started doing more research on natural products for my pregnancy, I really went into overdrive and decided that Nature's Nurture would take a more proactive approach as a full-blown blog. I knew I had to share everything I learned with others, and I started blogging regularly just a few months later.

Who is Nature's Nurture's main audience, and what are some ways your blog meets their particular needs?

We've been blessed with a pretty wide audience, but it does tend to appeal more to women, mostly mothers, who are looking for ways to live a more natural lifestyle. Nature's Nurture meets their needs by showing them just how easy and simple it can be to rid our homes and bodies of the toxic ingredients found in most cleaning and personal products.

You sum up Nature's Nurture in just four words: Natural, Frugal, Sustainable, and Homemade. What would you say to people who want to start using natural beauty products but feel like they are prohibitively expensive? How can someone go about finding the best deals on natural beauty products?

While I do try to find homemade alternatives to store-bought products when possible, there are times, of course, when homemade is not necessarily the best choice for me. In those instances, it's important to seek out products that are not only natural, but affordable as well.

I always check the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database, where I can learn more about natural beauty products and their safety ratings. It's true, sometimes natural beauty products are more expensive than their non-natural counterparts, but you're paying for high-quality ingredients that will actually work with your body instead of against it.

From my experience, natural beauty products also tend to last longer because a little goes a long way. And perhaps most importantly, by taking care of your health and avoiding toxic chemicals today, you're also saving yourself from medical expenses that may arise in the future.

What about sustainable? Are you aware of any particularly exceptional companies who have been going above and beyond to practice sustainable ideals?

To me, sustainability means anything that leaves the smallest footprint on our planet. So anything from recycled/recyclable packaging, to organic ingredients, and anything made without the use of toxic chemicals or pesticides.

I really like some of the skincare products from Mountain Rose Herbs because they use the same ingredients that I would use if I made them at home. The Homegrown Collective is also another very cool company. It's a monthly subscription box, but instead of just sending you a bunch of different products to try, their boxes contain items that help promote self-sufficiency, sustainability, and environmental stewardship. So they might send you a box with everything you need to make homemade soap, for example.

Your goal is to rid your home of any kind of chemical, processed or otherwise unsustainable products, one item at a time. First of all, what are your reasons for wanting to have healthier and more sustainable items around? Secondly, what are some baby steps people can take to start having a more natural, holistic lifestyle?

Sustainable is the key term here - the initial idea that started this whole way of life stems from my family's desire to live on a homestead sometime in the near future. We want to be able to be self-sufficient, to provide for ourselves, to not have to depend on big corporations and pharmaceutical companies for our health and wellbeing. So we're slowly taking it into our own hands, either by making products at home or by supporting small, handmade businesses and artisans.

So many people really do want to live a more natural, holistic lifestyle, they really do, but they just don't know where to start. And it's true: When you first start out, it can be quite overwhelming! But it's important to remember that, like anything else in life, it's a process. Each step we take toward our goals of a natural lifestyle is one step closer to where we want to be (and one step further away from where we were).

Baby steps:

  • Research, research, research! Read articles, blogs, books. Ask questions. Subscribe to a few blogs and learn all you can about making a change.
  • Start reading labels to familiarize yourself with exactly what it is you're putting in and on your body.
  • When switching out products, focus on one area (e.g.: body care), then one product (e.g.: deodorant) at a time until you've found one that works for you, then move on to another one.

You also have a passion for homemade solutions. What are a few quick natural beauty tips someone can try at home?

Quick beauty tips: Try moisturizing your body with organic coconut oil; make a simple paste of baking soda and water and apply to blackhead-prone areas on the skin; wash your face with honey!

Ridding your home of chemicalsWhat are a few of your personal favorite natural bath and body products, and why?

I love my homemade sugar scrub made with coconut oil, brown sugar, and lavender essential oil - especially during the dry winter months! It's so easy to make and really helps scrub away dead skin while leaving your body super soft and moisturized. Another favorite is the coconut body oil from Annmarie Gianni Skin Care. It's smells so heavenly and leaves my skin feeling so smooth and hydrated.

You wrote a post a while back on DIY Face Masks for Every Skin Type. Can you give us an example of what are some different skin types?

Some different skin types include combination, dry, aging, oily, and sensitive. Normal skin is well balanced with a radiant complexion and small pores. The most common skin type is combination skin, which can be normal in some areas and oily in others, like the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin). Dry skin will be red, flaky, and dull, and can be caused by aging, weather conditions, or even medications. Moisturizing is key for dry skin. Oily skin is more common in youth (think puberty) and can have larger pores with blackheads and blemishes. Gentle cleansers and noncomedogenic products are best, as they don't clog pores.

What are a few of your favorite natural cosmetic products?

I am really loving the skincare products from Annmarie Gianni Skin Care. They're all-natural and very gentle. I also can't live without my hard lotion bar and stick from MadeOn Skin Care. And my favorite lip balms are from Earth Mama Angel Baby - their coconut smoothie lip balm is amazing!

For more updates from Nature's Nurture, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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