How to smell like a cookie: Extracts vs. Essential Oils

 Geeks are Cute. 

Geeks are Cute. 

As you probably know already, we're really into reading and researching labels.  Call us super-geeks, but hey, we'd rather know what we're putting on our bodies!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes an ingredient list will have "{insert flower here} extract" and sometimes it will say "{insert flower here} essential oil"?  What exactly is the difference?  So glad you asked!

Essential oils are the concentrated aromatic compounds of a plant, that is, the yummy, delicious smelling parts. Separating this from the rest of the plant is usually done through steam distillation.  If you're a geekier geek than we are, read about steam distillation here

 Now. Extracts.  Put in the simplest of terms, extracts are kind of like a tea.  Get the plant and boil in water or oil for a long time. You can also do this in alcohol (not the drinking kind.  Or maybe the drinking kind?  We've never tried - if you do, let us know how that went!) and this is called a tincture. 

What's the main difference between the two?

Well, both can be used for aromatherapy, but only essential oils have true medicinal properties.  Essential oils are also a lot stronger and more concentrated, and for that reason, very few essential oils should be put directly on the skin with no carrier oil.  Lavender oil and Tea Tree oil are examples of two essential oils that you can put directly on the skin. 

Essential oils are also a lot more expensive because it's darn difficult to separate the oils from the plants!  One thing extracts and oils have in common?  They both can be used as a non synthetic, all natural perfume.  So instead of buying fake vanilla perfume, just raid your baking cabinet and use some high quality vanilla extract and smell like a cookie all day long…

Cruelty-Free Beauty

 Here's what this bunny thinks of animal testing on cosmetics and beauty products. 

Here's what this bunny thinks of animal testing on cosmetics and beauty products. 

We have a bunny mascot here at BOX Naturals. His name is Hank. And we're very proud to say that the only testing we do on Hank is taste-testing. So far, his favorite seems to be cilantro, with kale being a close second. He's always happy to gnaw on a carrot or devour a cherry, but surprisingly he has to be in the right mood for Romaine lettuce. 

We all have a million choices every single day of our lives. If you had the choice to hurt animals, or not to hurt animals, well, the answer is (hopefully!) easy. If we asked you go to cruelty free when it comes to choosing your beauty care,  the answer is probably still easy. What if, however,  we said your favorite shampoo, the one you have been using since you decided to wash the Manic Panic out of your hair (so, we're talking mid 90's unless you're in a Punk band), was tested on animals? Could you give it up? 

It's not an easy choice, and we totally get it. If we want to get real, it probably takes us 10 Pick Ups and Put Downs before we can walk away from our favorite dry hair spray. But when we think about the hundreds of thousands of animals that are hurt because we didn't feel like washing our hair that day...well, then we feel like jerks.  

No one is perfect and it's difficult to live a 100% cruelty free life, but small choices lead to big results, so look for the Leaping Bunny logo on all of your cosmetics and you can be sure that no animals were harmed. With literally THOUSANDS of cruelty free choices, there's almost no excuse! Check out resources such as Peta and Logical Harmony to see if your favorite brands made the cut.

Kloverbox + BOX

  What's more fun than getting gifts in the mail?  

What's more fun than getting gifts in the mail?  

October is turning out to be a big month for us. We are very excited to partner with Kloverbox – a subscription box for the woman who is inspired by healthier products.  That's us!  That's YOU!

Kloverbox urges us to "Live Naturally and Organically.  Replace every product you use with a conscious alternative."  We LOVE this motto because that's exactly how we look at attaining a healthier lifestyle.  You might KNOW  that synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, and parabens are bad for you,  but it's hard to go cold turkey.  However, if you replace just one product at a time with an equally effective and natural product, well, suddenly, it's not hard at all.  

Kloverbox is a wonderful way to sample premium, natural, organic and cruelty-free products.  You get six to eight products from the purest and most sustainable brands in their monthly subscription box. 

Thank you, Kloverbox, for helping us all Live Naturally!

Check them out here.

Gluten-free Beauty?

When people talk about living a gluten free lifestyle, the first thing that comes to most minds is Food.  But did you know that to be totally, 100% gluten free, you need to consider not only the things you put IN your body, but ON your body, too?  More and more people are being diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity which can range from full flown Celiac disease where eating gluten can damage the lining of your small intestine so it cannot properly absorb nutrients, to having a gluten intolerance where eating a tiiiiny bit of gluten can just make you feel icky in a whole host of unpleasant ways. 

Some people have such a sensitivity to wheat that even skin to skin contact will result in a rash.  Most gluten sensitive people experience discomfort primarily when they INGEST gluten-full cosmetics which is why it is important to stay away from lipgloss, lipsticks, and dental products containing gluten, but some people experience sensitivity just from skin to skin contact!  

The GOOD NEWS is, there are plenty of companies to choose from!  Our favorite brands are below: 

Bite Beauty -  A collection of lip crayons featuring twelve timeless matte shades with superior hydration.  No parabens, sulfats, gluten.

Sunday Riley - Super Luxe skincare line that is hypoallergenic, cruelty free, and gluten free.  Try their amazing Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil (shown in image above) - great for the winter months ahead. 

Nude Skincare - This skincare line, like BOX,  also uses natural fragrances and is vegan and gluten free.  They also have an extensive ingredient glossary so you know exactly what's going on your body. 

Hourglass Cosmetics -  Super cool make up line (launched at Barney's NYC 10 years ago), this make up line stays away from parabens and gluten.  

Bottom Line - cosmetics DO NOT have to be full of bad for you chemicals and irritants.  Ever wonder what would happen when we eliminate these micro-attacks on our skin and body?

Food (and makeup) for thought...

You Call It WHAT?! Names for your V.

No sense beating around the bush (haha, pun intended), so we'll just come right out and say it: "Why don't women have special names for their vaginas?" 

In a hilarious video, vlogger Arielle Scarcella and fellow YouTube celebrity ElloSteph tackle the all important topic of "Empowering Names for your Vagina."

Think of it this way, little boys grow up giving their little weenies special names.  And let's not even broach the subject of what grown men call their buddies.  You'd think they were all born with the 8th Wonder of the World.  Don't they know EVERY guy has one? 

It's our turn. 

Gone are the days where the only nicknames for our special parts were the ones men give them.   Because they're all terrible.  

Introducing....THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS.  Isn't that so much better than...oh, we can't even bring ourselves to write some of the names men call it.  

Watch the entire video here, but make sure you're not at work.  Just sayin'.


BOX Naturals + The Birthday Suit, Las Vegas

Did you know, we've landed in Las Vegas!! And (if you couldn't tell by the exclamation points), we are really, really excited about it. Yes, we are at The Birthday Suit. So next time you're in Sin City - whether it's before a quickie marriage, after a win at roulette or to prepare for a pool party, swing by and let the amazing Stacey and her team of dedicated waxers help you fix your situation up. 

We had a chat with Stacey about her business, her philosophy, and everything she's seen as a waxer (ok, maybe not EVERYTHING). Read on to learn more about this incredible company. 

The first thing I think women ( and men) need to know about waxing, specifically the Bra/Bro-zilian is that your first visit is not going to be a unicorn and rainbows kind of experience but it will also not be a 40 Year Old Virgin/Kelly Clarkson moment. I canʼt blame anyone for being nervous! Letʼs start with the pants off in a brightly lit room (I donʼt care how cute and charming the decor is, at the end of the day there are spotlights above you pointing right at your nether region) in a butterfly or flamingo leg arrangement with a stranger who is about to apply hot wax to your most important parts! Wait, before you start to panic and rethink the experience, the hype you may have heard is just that, hype. Once you get over the awkwardness of the initial situation, it is a 15 minute relatively pain free experience with 3 weeks of hairless bliss to follow!

My best advice to first timers is unless your friends are already regular waxers, donʼt tell them. They will try to tease you and tell you that you are crazy! Letʼs see who looks crazy when you are in a bikini in the summer with zero razor bumps and no sign of hair! Gently exfoliate the area to be waxed prior to the wax. GENTLY. Avoid any type of harsh scrubs. The last thing you want to do is break the hair you have been growing out to have waxed or irritate your skin. Ahhh, this leads me to the most important part of your first wax... 3 Weeks of growth!!! Donʼt shave 3 days out and say itʼs been almost 3 weeks. This is what we do, we know how long it has been. You will have zero waxing results and will leave with 3 days worth of stubble. I know it can feel like an eternity but if you are going to subject yourself to this, make it worth your while.

Please donʼt take any type of muscle relaxer pre wax. If you seem out of it, chances are you will be turned away. Shower. Please shower. Your spa should provide some type of wipes for you to “freshen up” with. The Birthday Suit is proud to offer the Box Natural Cleansing Wipes to our Gals & Guys! Please take the 2 minutes to do so. We understand that plenty of our clients come straight from work or just life but please be courteous and use the provided cleaner-upper.

I promise though, there will be no tears, no blood, no screaming. You can do it!

When choosing a waxing boutique, first and foremost, your nail salon is not the place to go. They may do great nails but waxing is not their specialty. Look on places like Yelp and Google for reviews. Donʼt necessarily shop around for the cheapest place. Inexpensive is one thing but if a place seems like their prices are too low, it may be a red flag. Tell the reception if you have any concerns. I know with 14 Estheticians we have personalities to suit every type of guest. I for one am one of the chattiest waxers (like you couldnʼt already figure that out). We have chatty and quiet zen. The room will never be silent but our zen girls make very little small talk and let you lead the pace of the conversation as opposed to myself who may not let you get a word in. I would also look for experience. I know everyone has to start somewhere, but do you really want that somewhere to be on your chuckalina? I love the relationships and real life friendships I have made with Clients. Although, once we go out for coffee or a drink, you have to find a new waxer. Sorry :) There are 13 other gals in my boutique to choose from.

We get the question “what does everyone else do?” when choosing your end result look. Right now styles honestly vary by age. Our 17-40 somethings normally take it all off. Our ladies 50 and up tend to leave a “landing strip” or triangle. A lot of our guests will often do what their partner requests. They may not care but their other half prefers a certain “look”.
We have had requests for partners initials, $ sign, heart, X (as in X marks the spot) and an arrow pointing down. We fortunately donʼt do anything other then the standard “all off”, “landing strip” or “triangle”. When you get into detailed shapes there is quite a bit of tweezing which can be a bit more painful then the wax itself.

We donʼt do any type of “extra” like Vajazzaling, Vajacials (facials on your bikini area) or hair dye (yes, there is a company that has cornered the market of pubic hair dye). Most of the vajazzaling is overpriced rhinestone stick on tattoos. Donʼt get me wrong, there are some places that have made an art form out of it. Swarovski Crystals and intricate design. We are focused on one thing, waxing. And we are amazing at it. The Vajacials... no offense, I have no interest in giving your private area a facial. It never made sense to me. I think that type of thing is better done at home in the privacy of your own shower.

To achieve the best results, you want to maintain your waxing every 3 to 4 weeks. Again, 15 minutes out of your day. It is difficult to explain the results if you have never had a wax. The hair, because you are removing it in its entirety - root and all, will grow back like a hair. Thin, soft, like the hair on your arm. Most people notice about 2/3 of the hair does not grow back! But this is why you have to stay on schedule. The body is an amazing thing, if you say “hey, itʼs not all grown back, I will wait” you have now allowed the rest of the hair to grow in and your cycle is out of sync. The hair growth also slows down significantly. In between your wax, donʼt touch it! Donʼt shave, donʼt tweeze! You will break all that new thin hair and shave it back into a whisker. The new growth will be so thin you wonʼt even mind! Nobody is worth it!!! We have had so many clients come in and confess they shaved because they had a date. So not only did they sign up for an uncomfortable wax, yes, when you shave you are starting from square 1 again, they 99% of the time will admit, it wasnʼt worth it! The second wax is an entirely different experience then the first. You have all this thin fine hair, no whiskers, and minimal amounts. Breeze!!!

I guess if I could request one thing for a Guest to do/not to do during a service is to put the phone away. It is equally as awkward for us when there is no conversation but to be belittled like we are “the help” and you canʼt take 15 minutes out of your life to acknowledge us... it is slightly insulting and degrading. To talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend during a service and make crass “dirty talk” is honestly sightly offensive. And really, is candy crush that addicting you canʼt live without it for a few minutes? The other thing that both my OB/GYN have joked about is feet. In the summer it happens, we get stinky feet but our heads are right above them. When you are taking the time to clean up your “areas” use a wipe to wipe your feet off :).

I started The Birthday Suit out of the desire to be able to provide for my family and have something my husband and I could do together. No, he is not waxing. He is actually rarely there. He handles the boring stuff; bills, insurance, permits, pretty much anything that requires paperwork is all him. He was the driving force in getting The Birthday Suit opened, literally, he did all the finishing work, painting, design for the interior. We, as parents wanted a family friendly place. Somewhere that a mother would not feel uncomfortable bringing her child at any age or a place a man would not feel uncomfortable in. Our interior is what we like to call Chicago Loft looking. With cool browns and tans and brick faced interior. Our walls are covered with art work from local artists using us as gallery space. We love it. It is a constant change in scenery and I feel like we are encouraging people to use their creative side! We also have a “Childrenʼs Lounge” aka a playroom. Oversized pillows and kids comfy chairs. We encourage them to color pictures so we can hang them on the wall. We also have Netflix streaming child friendly shows all day. Makes coming in for a service so much more convenient when you know we can accommodate everyone! I guess I really just want my brand to recognized as a luxury that everyone can afford. We use THE top of the line custom hard wax and have an amazing line of skin care from The Birthday Suit but nothing is too expensive to make someone feel they canʼt afford it.

We joke, The Birthday Suit is like Cheers, just with your pants off. We are a family. Dysfunctional as that may sound, every guest that walks through that door is now part of my family.

I wish we could say we had some crazy stories but I donʼt. Aside from the requests for boyfriends and husbands wanting to watch (No Way!) we are so “mom and pop” that everything is pretty vanilla in there. Again, the way we wanted it so at no point anyone would ever feel uncomfortable being there. We were actually approached to do a reality show and they let us know after observing us that they would have to script the crazy and the drama because it was just a lot of laughter and hugs and if you didnʼt know that 99% of our clients were taking their pants off behind the doors it looked like a reunion of friends. Which is exactly the tone we want to set in there.

I have had the pleasure of having the same 19 girls on my team for almost the entire 3 years we have been open! That says something about my company. That they are happy and believe in me and The Birthday Suit and all it represents. I have seen 2 marriages, 5 babies, 5 first time home ownership, 8 new cars and a sense of pride on a team of women that I cannot describe. They are truly my family and I will do what I can to continue being a source of not only financial stability for them but pride in what they do!

We are in the early stages of Franchising our brand to make The Birthday Suit a nationwide house hold name synonymous with quality, affordability and very community involved. We have decided to look into opening a second Vegas location first though. We are currently vying for “Mission Main St Grant” from Chase Small Business. They will award approximately $3.5 million dollars to small business around the country to help them expand their business. We have been accepted into the search and it is multiple stages. The first stage is acquiring 250 votes to nominate us to be considered for the second round. The first round is a FB voting only round. If you feel like checking out The Birthday Suit on Facebook, feel free to click the link and cast a quick vote for us!

And at the end of the day, my best advice is #GetYourWaxOn Twitter/IG @thebdaysuitlv www.TheBirthdaySuit.com

Formaldehyde in Nail Polish and Other Cosmetics

It's crazy to think that the same stuff used to preserve that poor frog you were forced to dissect in high school biology is often used in your cosmetics and body care products as... you guessed it, a preservative! Thats right, formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) are used in many personal care products like nail polish, shampoo and liquid soap. And it's even scarier than it sounds – these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to allergic skin reactions and cancer. 

People can be exposed by inhaling the formaldehyde that is off-gassed from the product, by ingesting it or by absorbing it through the skin. While there's more research happening all the time, animal studies have indicated that formaldehyde can be absorbed through the skin when formaldehyde-containing personal care products, including FRPs, are applied.

So what can you do? Read labels and avoid products containing the following ingredients: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol).

We were surprised to find out that several companies are still using FRPs. In addition to the cancer issue, Formaldehyde in cosmetics is widely understood to cause allergic skin reactions and rashes in some people. They're commonly found in nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash, color cosmetics and even wipes. Yes, wipes! (Um, never our wipes though, don't worry.) We were researching different wipe formulas and were shocked to see FRPs listed among the ingredients, which sparked hours of google searches and this blog post. So... choose wisely! 

Gotta Have It: Get Your Bag Ready For Fall

Our mothers told us to do three things every change of season:  1) get a facial,  2) flip your mattress, and 3) take stock of what's in your bag.

We can't help you with the first two, but we've done the legwork on #3.  

First up - Time to buy a new Fall Bag! (As if you needed an excuse).  Here's a roundup of our faves:

Left to right: Botkier Python Embossed Soho Tote ($298), Topshop Leather Bucket Bag ($240), Alexander Wang The Rocco ($875).

Now, for the goodies that lie within your new Fall bag: 

A good hand creme:  Fall means cold weather so get ahead of dry hands with  Desert Essence Pumpkin Spice Hand Repair Cream.   Its super high concentration of organic oils will supercharge your skin with moisture.  And it answers your need for more Pumpkin Spice magic in your life.

A yummy lip balm:  We love the philosophy behind Hurraw's products: premium ingredients that are organic, vegan, and raw.   Raw?  Yes, raw!  The result is the softest, smoothest lip balm we've ever tried.  

A ruthless germ killer: With cold and flu season getting close, take no chances! Burt's Bees has a 100% natural aloe and witch hazel sanitizer spray that checks all the boxes. It dries quickly, the witch hazel softens your skin, and the scent is light and fresh. 

A new Fall scent:  What does Fall smell like?  Brisk air, hot apple cider, rain soaked leaves, and ... spices. Dab Cinnamon or Clove essential oil onto your skin (test first for sensitivities!) or mix into unfragranced lotion.  Be forewarned, it may result in excessive consumption of apple pie...

A new nail laquer:  Zoya's nail polish in Pepper is the perfect Autumn color - rustic, warm, cozy, fiery...best of all, it's Big 5 Free (No Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor).

Fall Colors Ombre Hair Ties:  Because all the Summer ones are lost anyway...

Now, that your bag is ready for fall, the world is your oyster! Don't forget to kick every single pile of leaves you see... it's only fall once a year. ;)

 

Sugaring vs. Waxing...The debate continues!

We had the chance to talk to Felecia Rincon, owner of Bare Sugaring Studio, to explain to us the difference between sugaring and waxing.  Who knew?  There is a HUGE difference! Read on to learn more...

Many people don't know that there is a huge difference between sugaring and waxing.  Can you tell us a little about sugaring?
Sugaring is the oldest form of hair removal said to date back to the times of Cleopatra. We actually use a sugar paste composed of sugar, lemon and water. It's cleaner, more effective and since we remove it with the direction of hair growth, there is less trauma to the skin.

A lot of women are nervous about getting their hair removed in sensitive places. What advice do you have for them, and how should they prepare for their visit? 
I would tell them to consult with their esthetician prior to their appointment. Being nervous for your hair removal appointment is natural especially if you are receiving a service you haven't done before, like a first time bikini wax. The most common advice I give to first time clients is to breathe! 

 What should they look for in a sugaring salon?
Look for a practitioner who is well versed in their modality, or area of practice. Someone who has been practicing their craft for a while. Make sure the person providing your service is licensed. Word of mouth, reviews are all great to look up while researching your Esthetician. 

What's the most popular style for summer, vs. winter? 
Styles are really individual to the person, not so much a seasonal style. With the bikini there are really only variations of three basic styles. Bikini, (basic  what extends beyond a pair of bikini panties) Skinny bikini ( which is what it sounds like) and Brazilian ( everything removed with the exception of sometimes a strip or triangle left on the pubic mound).  Once a client is sugared, they get used to it. It feels cleaner, lighter. Sugaring clients are regular year round.  

How often do you recommend getting sugared? And what about upkeep in between? (Is shaving in between sugaring off limits?)
It depends on the clients desired outcome. If someone wants to impact the way their hair grows back, I recommend pre-booking their next appointment for 3-4 weeks after their first appointment. Your regrowth is at its first stage 3-4 weeks after removal. When you keep removing it at this stage, it interrupts the growth cycle, resulting in finer, sparser regrowth. I've seen amazing results where the hair just doesn't grow back the same. 

Also, proper home care is crucial, to maintain good removal. Your skin is constantly renewing itself. Proper exfoliation and hydrating maintain the integrity of your skin making it easier for your new growth to come out. 

Will sugaring work with even very thick or coarse hair? 
Sugaring works with all hair types. Generally people with very thick or coarse hair see great results where their hair grows back sparser early on. They're usually the people who get hooked on sugaring! 

 If there was one thing you wish you customers could know, or would do before an appointment, what would it be?
I do a full phone consultation before we schedule an appointment so there are little to no surprises before the appointment. You should absolutely feel comfortable with the person providing our service. 

 What's the motto of your salon?
I own and operate a sugaring only studio.  Because sugaring is such a natural form of hair removal, I believe it's just as important to be selective about the skincare you apply immediately after.  Your skin, your first protective barrier, is compromised after hair removal so I'm very selective about what I use prior to treatment on my clients.

My motto is Clean . Conscientious. Cultivated. Not a single compromise, it's your skin.

 *******

Thank you Felecia.  Wise words to live by!  Bare Sugaring Studio is based in beautiful Benecia, CA in Solano County.  If you are ever in this lovely town, stop by to say hello to Felecia!

The Perfect Bath

I have never been a bath person.  Sitting in hot water, making a "myself" soup never really appealed to me.  Until I discovered that I've been DOING IT ALL WRONG! 

These are the steps you need to make (and take) The Perfect Bath:

1) Add to it: Essential Oils, Epsom Salts, Coconut Oil.  Ordinary things you can buy that will make your bath anything but.  Both Rose and Lavender  oils are associated with relaxation (use 10 drops), Epson salts (use 2 lbs!!) will detoxify and soothe sore muscles, and Coconut Oil (oh, glob in about half a cup or so) will leave you dewy and soft.  

2) Think Goldilocks: Make sure that the water is not to hot, but not too cold.  Apparently, the ideal temperature is 92 degrees F.  Test the water with your elbow which will give you a truer feeling of what it will feel like totally submerged...

3) Unplug:  We are all overly scheduled so take the time to unschedule (even if your bath is only 10 minutes long...) and scrub your body with a body scrub.  Forcing yourself to do this will help focus your mind on the bath, and not what you're going to do after you've finished.  And leave your skin soft and clean.  

4) Tea Bag It:  We mean, Chamomile Tea Bags. Chilled.  Over your eyes.  Again, this forces relaxation, even if only for ten minutes.

5) Ice water:  Some people swear by dumping ice water over your body to awaken your body and close pores, but I am not "some" people.  The ice water i'm talking about involves taking a nice long swig of it after your bath is done.  Sitting in hot water can dehydrate/make you sweat - weird to think about, but it makes sense!  

So there you have it.  Quick and easy steps you'll need to emerge from your bath, one arm covering your boobs, and the other hand covering your lady bits, like The Birth of Venus, all radiant and serene.  Ok, that last step is optional, but the rest are not!

 

 

Chemical free products? Why that's a lie.

Next time you're shopping for eco-friendly products and you see a label that says "chemical free," it might be best to stay away from it. Why? There's one reason:

There is no such thing as "Chemical Free." Water is a chemical.  We are made of chemicals.  If a product claims to be Chemical Free, it can't possibly be true unless the product from Made Up La-La Land.  There are naturally occurring chemicals and synthetic chemicals.  But synthetic chemicals are NOT unilaterally bad for you, nor are naturally occurring chemicals unilaterally good for you (i.e. mercury = naturally occurring = BAD!)  What you need to know is how that individual chemical reacts with the human body and its environment (yes, on top of what bad chemicals do to our body, it can also wreak havoc to our environment when it's washed off and into our water system and drains!).

There's no doubt to the proven benefits of leading a life that's as natural and organic as possible.  But there are two sides to every story and we're here to talk about what it truly means to be safe and natural.

What you can do is use technology. "Think Dirty" but first get your mind out of the gutter!  Think Dirty is an app that allows you to scan your make up and other personal care products for potential carcinogens.   Founded by Lily Tse who developed this app after her mother's battle with breast cancer.  Read about her journey.  

Ok, so if food has the "Dirty Dozen and Clean 15", what does the cosmetic world have?  Chemicals to definitely avoid are: 

Mercury (often masked as thimerosal)
Lead Acetate
Formaldehyde and Toluene
Petrochemicals
Coal Tar
Phthalates

If there's one takeaway from this article, it should be that nothing is cut and dry.  There are arguments from every angle why a certain chemical is good, bad, or ugly.  We encourage every one to do their research. As a company we are constantly researching and reviewing our formulas to make sure we're doing the best we can to provide a natural, safe option for women that's free of parabens and artificial fragrances.  

Get Smooth: A Waxing Expert Tells All

At BOX Naturals, our clients are the best and the brightest of the waxing and sugaring world.  So, we thought we'd tap into our network and ask the questions you always wondered about.

First up:  Nickie Janes, owner of Smooth, an *amazing* and very popular skin and waxing boutique in Norfolk, Virginia.  We fell in love with her vivacious personality and infectious energy - read on, and you'll see why.

Q: A lot of women are nervous about their first visit to get a wax. What advice do you have for them, and how should they prepare for their visit? 

A: It's completely normal to be nervous or embarrassed when getting your first Brazilian wax. Exposing your half naked self to a complete stranger that may inflict pain on you isn't anyone's idea of fun! There are plenty of things you can do to ease your nerves and discomfort. First, remember that your esthetician has probably seen more bushes, bumps, lumps, scars, and stretch marks than you could ever imagine. Yours aren't anything to be ashamed of and your waxer won't even notice them, so put that out of your head! It's a good idea to take 2 ibuprofen 30 minutes before your service to help with the discomfort and lessen any irritation.  There are creams on the market that can help ease the pain as well, but they won't completely numb the area. These are normally applied about 30 minutes prior to your wax. 

Avoid drinking caffeine and waxing the week before your period. These will make your skin much more sensitive! It's best to stop shaving at least two weeks prior to your appointment. If the hair is too short it may not be able to be removed. If it's been a while since you've shaved, it's ok to do a tiny bit of trimming, but don't go crazy with it! 

Q: What should they look for in a waxer?

A:  Finding the right person for the job is probably the most important step in ensuring a good waxing experience. Do your research! When looking online, choose an establishment that specializes in waxing. If you look at a website that lists hair, nails, massage, and then somewhere at the very end in tiny print lists waxing, that's probably a sign that it's not their specialty. Chances are someone inexperienced will be doing the job. It's also a good idea to call and ask what type of wax is used. Hard wax is preferred for the Brazilian wax because it doesn't adhere to the skin, which is more comfortable and leaves less irritation. Some waxers may use a combination of both hard and soft wax, which is also good, but stay away from someone that only uses soft or strip wax for the entire Brazilian. This type of wax has a tendency to stick to the skin more, leaving more of a chance of unnecessary yanking of your pliable lady parts! Another REALLY important question to ask is "How many sticks do you use during one Brazilian?". This is sort of a trick question, because a good esthetician may not know exactly how many she uses but the answer should be "a lot!" If the waxer answers  "huh?" or "one or two" then RUN! This means hygiene is not of importance to them and they've been double dipping the wax sticks. This causes cross contamination and is just plain dirty! You wouldn't double dip your chip at a party, so why would you do it in your wax? Nasty!

Q: What's the most popular style for summer, vs. winter?

A: At Smooth, our most popular service by far is the full Brazilian wax. That's every stitch of hair removed from the front to back. Most clients wax year round because they feel cleaner and more comfortable with the hair removed, especially around that time of the month. It's not just for summer, ladies... no need to become Sasquatch in the cold months! 

Q: What's the most interesting style request you've ever gotten?

A: In previous years I'd been asked to create shapes and colors in the hair. Lightning bolts, pink hearts, Christmas trees, even boyfriend's initials. Now, since going completely bare is the trend, most clients just say "take it ALL off!"

Q: What are your thoughts on vajazzling, vajacials and similar services?

A: Oh, Vajazzling...this trend started and died years ago and I was surprised when it returned. I'm a big believer in doing whatever makes you happy and if putting a little bling on your thing makes you happy, go for it! Personally, I'd be more worried about losing a crystal down the toilet...or someplace worse. Plus, if my man turned it down because there wasn't sparkle on it, I'm afraid I'd have to find a new man that was ok with twinkle free lady parts. As far as the Vajacial, I'm a believer! We get tons of clients that have come to us for waxing because the irritation and ingrown hairs from shaving have literally left their mark in the form of scars. This leaves the client embarrassed and self conscious. Vajacials can be a good way to even out the skin tone and prevent ingrown hairs. One of our top selling products is an at home ingrown hair solution called Get The Bump Outta Here! It works like a charm on preventing and getting rid of those ingrowns that can cause scarring. 

Q: How often do you recommend a wax? And what about upkeep in between? (Is shaving in between waxes off limits?)

A: Waxing is a process that, if done correctly, will result in smoother skin, finer hair, slower regrowth and fewer ingrown hairs. The magic tricks : Toss the razor for good & wax every 3 to 4 weeks to start. By your third waxing session, you should notice a great improvement in the texture of your hair and skin. Hair will come in slower and finer. Then you should be able to wax every 4 to 6 weeks. Just make sure to never go past 6 weeks or shave because this disrupts the process. 

Q: If there was one thing you wish you customers could know, or would do before an appointment, what would it be?

A: By the end of your appointment you will say "Hey, that wasn't so bad!" You will feel empowered, sexy and smooth. You will be bad ass. One other thing...everyone has butt hair. 

Q: What's the motto of your salon?

A: Our motto: Break up with your razor. You won't miss it. We promise. We also promise to give you the cleanest, most comfortable wax you will ever have! 

Q: And can you tell us a little about yourself and your salon?

A: I'm Nickie Janes, a licensed esthetician and the owner of Smooth, located in Downtown Norfolk, Virginia. Started as a tiny one room shop in 2011, Smooth now services thousands of clients each year, has won numerous awards and created their very own hard wax specifically for Brazilian waxing. 

For more detailed information on waxing, skin care and Smooth, visit www.smoothdowntown.com

 

It is SO Easy to Live Green!

 With a face like this, who wouldn't want to be green?

With a face like this, who wouldn't want to be green?

Fall is here, and Fall means green.  We're not talking leaves, we're talking ways to do good for our Mama Earth.  

At BOX, we do what we can - we use biodegradable packaging and wipes, we reduce our carbon footprint by manufacturing in the US.  But there are many many more ways to be green - ways that are as easy as 1,2,3:

Paper - It Has Two Sides:  Like, duh.  State the obvious much?  But how many of us actually USE both sides? Think of how much waste we'd prevent from clogging our landfills if we just flipped it over.  This goes for printing, too.  Use both sides!

Unplug: Think about all the things that are humming along as we sleep - your phone, computer, blender, toaster, hairdryer, lava lamp.  Why not get into the habit of unplugging or shutting down when we're not using our tools?

Take cold showers:  Just kidding.  We would never ask you to give up your hot shower.  But can we ask your clothes to?  Washing clothes on cold or warm means less energy going to heat water, which accounts for as much as 85% of the total energy used.

Meatless Mondays:  Try it!  Not only may you feel better living on a plant based diet, but you will relieve the earth of the enormous stress of raising and sustaining lifestock. 

Go Fragrance Free: Synthetic fragrances can use chemicals that can disrupt hormones and when these chemicals are washed down the drain, they hurt our earth, just like they can hurt us.  Use products made with essential oils or are fragrance free.

Recycle Fashion:  Not only can you find the best stuff in vintage stores (stuff that no one else has - extra bonus), you are helping our earth digest the enormous amount of waste we produce on a daily basis.  

So there you have it.  6 SUUUUPER easy ways to go green.  Just take it from Kermit

"When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder? Why Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful!
And I think it's what I want to be."

Coudlnt' have said it better ourselves.  

 

Fall is Here - Bundle Up!

Although it's hard to beat Summer, there's nothing cozier than Fall:  brisk weather, autumn leaves, harvest moons, mugs of tea, and of course, Fall fashions. Here's what's on our must have list (click on image for all links):

When the weather turns cool but not cold, you need an inbetweener and a wool schoolboy blazer fits the bill exactly.  Wear it with a T shirt on the warmer days, or with a thin sweater on the cooler ones.  J. Crew, $198.

A lightweight scarf is the perfect piece to bridge your wardrobe from Summer to Fall.  Stick one in your carryall to wear over your summer outfits when the temperature takes a quick dip! Rag & Bone, $195.

 

Ahhhh, what is cozier than a soft sweater?  An ENTIRE OUTFIT MADE OF SWEATER!  Sweaterdresses make us happy - pair with wool tights and boots, or bare legs and flats.  It's perfect for those fickle weather days!   Asos, $58.

Perfect shoes to ease you into the next season, the dreaded Winter, these boots are an investment that crossover several seasons.  Goes with practically everything.  Frye, $368.

Who does love cable knit socks?  If it's you, please step into our office.  Nordstroms, $8.50.

Change of season means change of bags.  Goodbye Summer Tote, Hello Fall Satchel. J. Crew, $198. 

Your everyday cardi is your best friend (yes, that is how we are justifying the price, because isn't your best friend worth at LEAST this much?)  Proenza Schouler, $1150.

A black wool skirt can be worn so many different ways, on so many different days.  Work, play, and everything in between.  Madewell, $52.50 (on sale!!).

 

So break out your S'mores Kits and get ready.  #Falliscoming.

Happy Leaf Jumping Everyone!

Are parabens bad news?

The first ingredient green beauty companies ban from their ingredient list is usually parabens. Take a look and you’ll notice “paraben free” on all kinds of packaging, even our own! But why is there so much concern about parabens? Have they been proven to cause cancer? Here’s what you need to know:

What are parabens?

Parabens are among the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products. Methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben are what you'll see most often – over 85% of cosmetics have them. Typically, more than one is used in a product.

Are they dangerous?

The short answer is, the jury’s still out. A study published in 2004 (Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology) detected parabens in breast tumors. Parabens have weak estrogen-like properties and it’s been shown that estrogen can have an influence on breast cancer. However, the study did not show that parabens cause cancer, or that they are harmful in any way, and the study did not look for paraben levels in normal tissue.

If they aren't 100% sure, why are companies still using parabens?

They’re inexpensive and effective.

The lack of a simple, definitive answer is a little frustrating, right? When it comes to questions about our health (especially where the dreaded C-word is concerned) we want to know for sure. There are all kinds of research, opinions and conclusions out there. Some say parabens are completely safe. Others have come to some pretty frightening conclusions! But most dermatologists recommend keeping an eye on your exposure to parabens, and choosing paraben-free when you're choosing products that will come in contact with your skin (your largest organ!).

The good news is there are so many green beauty companies that offer paraben free options, so you can easily make the choice that's right for you. And BOX Naturals products will always be 100% free of all parabens. 

Essentially Perfect: DIY Essential Oils


 Magic in a bottle.

Magic in a bottle.

Seems like everyone is swearing by essential oils these days. But what exactly are essential oils and how can we use them in our daily lives?

Well, since you (slash we) asked, essential oils are extracts from the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. These oils have the "essential" aromatic and chemical properties of the plant, hence their name.   Essential oils are natural, powerful, potent, and effective.

If you're ready to try some of this magic out for yourself, here are some great starters to ease you into the world of essential oils:

Peppermint Oil: Strong, clean, fresh, minty aroma. DIY: A few drops of peppermint oil massaged around the temples, the base of the skull and along the hairline will help chase away a headache.

Tea Tree Oil: Fresh, woody, earthy, herbaceous aroma.  DIY: We use tea tree oil directly on skin as a zit zapper.  The oil penetrates the built up oils in your pores and also acts as a disinfectant. 

Lavender Oil: Floral, fresh, sweet, stimulating aroma. Calms stress, treats skin, and promotes sleep.  DIY:  Rub 2-3 drops of lavender oil in your cupped palms, then inhale.  Rub on the feet, temples, wrists (or anywhere) for an immediate calming effect on the body.  Experience bliss.

Rose Oil: A highly romantic oil with a beautiful scent, rose oil is used in many beauty products for its rejuvenating properties.  Great for dry skin.  DIY:  mix 1 tbsp. rose essential oil with 1 tbsp. vitamin E oil and 1/4 cup of purified water.  Put it in a spray bottle and shake.  Use before your day or night moisturizer and spritz throughout the day for a quick refresh.

So many uses, so little time.  With all of these remedies out there, there's no room for the fake stuff!

 

How to have a Healthy Hoo-Ha

Ok - racy post today to scandalize your Friday :).  Ready?  We're gonna talk about yer ladyparts.

We all know that it's a complicated system down there, moreso than NASA's Command Center, figuring out how to open blister packs without taking off a finger, and folding fitted sheets.  But did you also know that there are foods you could be eating to keep it in tip top shape? Here's what you need to know:

Yogurt:  Just like yogurt is good for your gut, it's also good for ladytown.  Good bacteria found in yogurt (and kombucha, and kimchi, and other fermented foods) can help prevent infections.

Cranberry Juice:  Unfortunately, we're talking about cranberry juice in its pure form; the kind that makes your face look like you just swallowed dill pickle flavored sour patch kids. Sadly, that cranberry and vodka doesn't count.   This classic UTI remedy, cranberry juice helps acidify your pee to help keep things in balance (i guess in this case, acidifying something is GOOD?).   Reason why cranberry cocktail won't do the trick is because of it's high sugar content.  We all know sugar isn't good for you, but to add to the list, sugar actually FEEDS the organisms that can cause infections and other highly uncomfortable situations. 

This Juice: Juicing company Jugofresh introduced a drink called Happy V into its line up.  For once, we're too bashful to go into all the details, but bottom line is that fruits can help freshen everything up.  

Garlic: Probably the OPPOSITE tasting of Happy V, garlic can actually achieve the same results while also preventing infections. 

So there you have it.  More info about your vagina (there, we said it!) than you ever wanted to know.  Or maybe, you always wanted to know, but never wanted to ask!!

 

Get Fit - Sweating is Good For You

Leave it to shopping to inspire a lifestyle change.  I just discovered these running pants by Lorna Jane, an Aussie brand new to the States, and lo and behold, they made me feel like I could try out for American Ninja Warrior and win.  They hold everything in, gave my legs definition, and are incredibly comfortable.  They made me want to...run.  Run?  The last time I ran was when I tripped in my flatforms and had to break into a slow jog to cover it up.  

It was time to get back into running.  But how?  Here are some tips:

1) Start Slow: If the most running you've ever done is chasing Mr. Frosty wtih a dollar bill in your hand, now's not the time to sign up for your first 10k.    We like this schedule from Fit Sugar - interval training breaks up the monotony of running for 30 minutes straight and burns more calories. 

2) Accessorize:  Ok, so maybe not essential to running, but doesn't hurt to look cute.  The FlipBelt is a streamlined and good looking way to keep your key, cards, phone, etc in one place.

3) Music:  Some people like to run without music.  I am not some people.  Running without music is like going one day without checking Instagram.  Really hard to do.   Sign up for Run Hundred, a free service that sends you monthly top ten songs submitted and voted by 40,000 people.

4) Running Apps:  Yup, there's an app for that.  We used Couch to 5K to turn us from potatoes to broccoli.  Er...you get the picture.

5) Let the Benefits Motivate: According to this article, every system in our bodies benefits from running, including your brain. Not only does it release endorphins, when your body falls into a rhythm, all the excess noise in life fall away.  

Are you up for the challenge?  

 

Get Ready To Faint from Too. Much. Cuteness.

It's Friday!  Need more reasons to be happy?  Check out these impossibly cute as can be images and get ready to melt into a puddle of goo.  

If these aren't the cutest things you've ever seen, you're officially made of stone.

TGIF!!

I...I...I just can't.  Are these animals for REAL? 

(all images from Pinterest)

Journelle + BOX Naturals: Luxury you definitely deserve

This month, BOX Naturals will be available at Journelle's Flagship store in NYC's Union Square and at Journelle.com.  Below are our favorite picks - we wanted to buy everything, but limited ourselves (and our credit cards) to these six (TRUST US, it was a huge exercise in self control)!

  Zinke Jilly Shorts $77.00.   The softest of all cotton, these loungy shorts are a girls best friend on a hot summer morning at the beach.

Zinke Jilly Shorts $77.00.  The softest of all cotton, these loungy shorts are a girls best friend on a hot summer morning at the beach.

  Eberjey Petite Batik Teddy, $86.00 :  Navy and Ivory print makes this romper demure and just a tiny bit naughty.  

Eberjey Petite Batik Teddy, $86.00:  Navy and Ivory print makes this romper demure and just a tiny bit naughty.  

  Eberjey Orianna Bralet, $48.00.   Light, sheer, and very very feminine.  

Eberjey Orianna Bralet, $48.00.  Light, sheer, and very very feminine.  

Julianne Samantha Cami, $78.00.  Literally the most modern yet classic camisole we have encountered.  Should be a basic in every woman's closet.  Versatile and incredibly special.  

  Tocca Giulietta Bar soap, $12.00 : Even if this soap didn't smell of pink tulip and green apple, we would buy it anyway for the gorgeous hand printed paper it's wrapped up in.  

Tocca Giulietta Bar soap, $12.00: Even if this soap didn't smell of pink tulip and green apple, we would buy it anyway for the gorgeous hand printed paper it's wrapped up in.  

  Tocca Florence Cadelina, $20.00:   Perfectly sized to set the mood, these iconic Tocca candles should be on every bedside and next to every bath...

Tocca Florence Cadelina, $20.00:  Perfectly sized to set the mood, these iconic Tocca candles should be on every bedside and next to every bath...

So there you have it.  Oh, and self control is under-rated.  Go to Journelle now and indulge!