Essential Oils


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Essential oils have recently taken on a bigger role in my life, and they have been a total game changer. I wanted to share with you how and why we use them in our home.

When I was pregnant with baby #2, I became increasingly frustrated with not being able to sleep, lots of stress, constantly feeling fatigued and constantly had difficulty relaxing. I chocked this up to moving from one state to another half way through my pregnancy, but who knows. I knew about oils, but didn’t really feel like I knew enough to start using them regularly or to their full potential. I was looking for options that would help me feel better, and finally get relaxed, but mostly wanted alternatives to the products that I was using that I knew contained harmful chemicals. I wanted to ditch those toxins for sure!

I had previously ordered a home essentials starer kit with doTERRA (all the most commonly used oils + a diffuser) and had tried navigating through them but just felt overwhelmed, and so they sort of were shelved. But in the last 4 months or so, I found two lovely ladies on social media who talked constantly about all the amazing uses for essential oils and had a large facebook group where users could share recipes, ask for help with issues, and just receive the overall support that they needed to really feel comfortable using the oils.

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I was cautious at first, but I joined this team and the community really helped me find my stride. I now feel comfortable mixing my own blends not just for my diffuers, but also for roller bottles. I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching and asking questions, but I’ve definitely found a way to integrate oils into my everyday life.

Now, before anyone starts questioning me, I 100% still believe in modern medicine (I’m a nurse practitioner after all married to a physician), and this is certainly not a substitute for that, but it’s certainly a way to compliment it. My love of Beautycounter tought me that there can be safe and effective products that do not contain harmful toxins, and oils just feel like the right step towards a healthier lifestyle for us and our children. For example, supporting our immune systems with On Guard, or encouraging relaxation and a good night’s sleep using lavender or serenity. I’ve discovered an amazing homemade lemongrass scrub for the shower (which supports healthy skin and smells amazing!) or a homemade roller bottle for tummy discomfort.

A few people have recommended the book, Gentle Babies, so I plan to read that and learn more about how oils can support me more while pregnant, nursing or around my newest addition, since there are a few oils you can’t use or need to be diluted. If you don’t already use oils and are interested in learning more, you can READ ALL ABOUT THE STARTER KIT HERE. Also, come follow my health and wellness Instagram @healthy.beauty.mama where I have covered some of my favorite ways to use the oils in my starter kit and plan to share more as I learn and discover even more amazing ways to use my oils.

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I plan to share some of my favorite diffuser blends, recipes for my favorite bath soaks, scrubs, roller bottle recipes and so many other amazing concoctions you didn’t know you could make!

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I hope you’ll join me and I know you’ll love oils just as much as we do!

 

Weekend Sales

This weekend there are some amazing sales going online. I am hugely pregnant, and not really buying anything because my body is still expanding for a few more weeks. No sense in buying fabulous clothes only to not be able to wear them…but I am still browsing around. Here are some of my favorite picks.

SHOPBOP Sale

This is the big spring buy more save more sale at Shopbop. It’s really the only place you’re going to find designer spring clothes on sale before the season. Today is the LAST day, so if you’re looking for some fun things to wear before spring really hits its stride, head over here. Use code GOBIG18 to get the discounts.

American Eagle & Aerie

I have been loving American Eagle and Aerie lately. I don’t know why I haven’t been shopping here for the last several years. All jeans and tees are 20-40% off through Monday. Here are some of my favorites from this weekend’s sale. I may or may not have gotten some despite my earlier statement about not purchasing things due my expanding mid-section…

Here are links to the individual items:

Lace Plunge Bralette / Ankle Zip Joggers  / Denim X High-Waisted Slim Jeans

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All their sale stuff is an additional 50% off. There are so many good items! Here are some of my favorites!

Modern Striped Tunic Sweater / Shirred Keyhole Blouse / Floral Side Tie Two-In-One Sweater / Shimmer Tie Cuff Sweater /  Tweed Ruffle Wrap Skirt

xoxo,

Courtney

How to Find a Safe Nail Polish

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A friend recently asked me if I could recommend a safer nail polish brand. Since I first discovered Beautycounter in 2015, and learned about the lack of regulation in the US personal care industry, I have started taking a closer look at the ingredients in all my products.

The New York Times published an article a couple of years ago that highlighted the dangers of repeated exposure to the chemicals found in the polishes we have grown to know and love. As a nurse practitioner, I like to look at data. The science is where it’s at for me. So when I saw that a 2006 study from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine linked manicurists to increased rates of cough and an overwhelming likelihood to develop job-related asthma, my ears perked up.

The three main chemicals in nail products that are associated with the most serious health issues (respiratory disorders, cancer, impaired fertility) are dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene and formaldehyde. They are commonly known as the “toxic trio.”

In Australia, DBP is required by law to be listed as a “reproductive toxin,” and was subsequently banned from use. It is also one of over 1400 banned ingredients in the European Union. However, there is absolutely no restriction it’s use in the US. Why is that?!

Toluene has also been linked to reproductive abnormalities and formaldehyde is labeled as a human carcinogen by the US Department of Health and Human Services. But note…there’s still no ban on its use in personal care products! Again, why?!

So if it’s proven to cause disease with repeated, long-term exposure, why use it at all?

I’ve put together a list of some safer nail polish brands as healthier alternatives.

Côte 

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Photo from Cote’s Instagram

Côte is an LA-based company that set out to create a safer nail product. Their polishes are free of the major toxins and allergens that are often associated with nail polish: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, TPHP, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, parabens and gluten.

I’ve used Côte before and while it’s a good polish, I personally notice that it tends to chip pretty easily after a few days. Their polishes run $18/bottle and they have a good assortment of colors. They can be purchased directly from their site. One of my favorite things about this brand is that they are USA-based, they have their own free-standing salons in LA and NYC, but most importantly, they are transparent about their ingredients.

Zoya

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Photo from Zoya’s Instagram

Zoya is an Ohio-based company (yay Ohio peeps!) and is by far my favorite of the “safer” nail polish brands that I have tried. I find that the polish lasts longer than others before it starts to chip, the color options are great, and they usually have pretty awesome deals online. They pride themselves on being “10-free” (free of 10 known harmful chemicals) and are completely vegan. They retail for about $10/bottle and often have BOGOs online. Who doesn’t love a good BOGO?? They can be purchased directly from their site or on Amazon.

Ella + Mila

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Photo from Ella + Mila’s Instagram

Ella + Mila is another great nail polish brand (they also make lip gloss now). They are 7-free (made without Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, TPHP and Xylene) and they are vegan as well. All their products are manufactured in the United States.  They have a huge variety of colors. I love their packaging, but that’s mostly because I’m obsessed with all things elephant. Their pastels are just gorgeous and the polishes wear really well. They’re pricing is pretty average at $10.50/bottle and they can be purchased from their site directly, or on Amazon.

Piggy Paint

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Photo from Piggy Paint’s Instagram

For those of us with kiddos, especially those who like to have their nails painted like mommy, having a kid-friendly option is always important. Cue Piggy Paint. They are a water-based polish, kid-friendly polish without the accompanying drawbacks (aka chemicals) associated with traditional nail polishes. Their products are free of formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, biphenyl A, ethyl acetate and acetone and also manufactured in the United States. You can rest easy when you see those freshly painted finger nails go straight into their mouths knowing they are safe. Their polishes are the most affordable at $7.99/bottle and are available on their site or on Amazon.

This is just a small list of the safer brands out there. These are the ones I’m most familiar with. What are some of the safer brands you’ve found and loved? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments 🙂

*Note: There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for supporting Healthy Beauty Mama!

My 2nd Trimester Recap


I hope you enjoy this 2nd trimester recap! I’m sharing all those big moments, weird symptoms, lessons-learned, decisions we’ve made and how my fitness plan is evolving.

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Sweater (no longer sold) // Pants // Watch // Bracelet

Weeks 15-26 of my Pregnancy

Though there were less BIG milestones (in the form of dates) during the 2nd trimester, there is one big date that I don’t think I’ll ever forget…

Important Dates

  • Week 16 – November 29th: I most definitely felt baby boy move for the first time. This was a couple weeks earlier than it was for my first pregnancy, but once you feel it and know what that feeling is, there is NO mistaking it! It was SO EXCITING. It was right before Thanksgiving and we were still recovering from John’s ER visit due to croup (which was very scary as it was his worst respiratory illness to date) and we were exhausted from sleepless nights and pure hypervigilance.
  • Week 19 – December 13th: This was when we had our anatomy scan. We already knew we were having a boy because we did fetal DNA testing and got those results around week 13, but it was amazing to see how much development had occurred since our previous ultrasound around week 12. We got to see all the structures of the brain, verified that we had a 4-chamber heart, take a look at the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, stomach, diaphragm, etc. We even got to see a 4D image of his adorable little face. His hands were up blocking his face for the majority of it, but he still looks absolutely delicious.
  • Week 24 – January 11th: Since we were moving to another state and changing OBs mid-pregnancy, my first appointment with my OB in Columbus marked a repeat of my anatomy scan. I never saw no to taking a peek at my little nugget. He still looks great, but it’s amazing to see how much growth takes place in 5 weeks!

Current Symptoms

  • More energy! After about 16 weeks, I hit my stride, which was good, because we moved from Oklahoma City to Columbus, and I needed to have energy to hit the ground running and unpack. I took a few weeks off from the gym, because let’s be honest, pregnancy + a new house with 3 stories + a TON of boxes to unpack is cardio alone.
  • Some swelling. I’ve noticed that my legs have started to swell. I feel like this is happening quicker than in my first pregnancy, but maybe I just don’t remember it well. I definitely have a good ‘ole sock line by early morning, and more of an indentation by the end of the day. I feel that compression socks are in my future so I just ordered these on Amazon. They got really great customer reviews, so hopefully they will help moving forward.
  • Belly pain. I think it’s mostly reflux and gas. Things really start to slow down the bigger you get!

Baby Decisions (so far)

It’s really hard to move in the middle of a pregnancy and have to find a new OB. I really loved my OB in Oklahoma City, and she really got me. She also knew how to deal with my sometimes crazy husband. I had some complications with my first delivery which require me to see a high risk OB, so having to find a new one halfway through the pregnancy was very stressful to me. However, we found a great doctor here and we have come up with a plan together that is reassuring to both myself and my husband. I had an emergency c-section with my first babe, so the decision of attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) vs scheduling a c-section was a big one. With the help of my OB, we’ve decided to let my body see what it wants to do. I’m going to schedule a c-section at 39 weeks, but if I happen to go into labor before that, we’ll see what happens. I can’t have any pitocin because of my previous c-section, so if I’m going to be able to have a VBAC, my body’s going to have to do all the work with no medical assistance. We’ll see…

Fitness Gameplan

I was a member of Fit4Mom when I lived in OKC, and I have continued attending classes since we moved to Columbus. Fit4Mom, if you haven’t heard of it, focuses on strength in motherhood. I love that slogan, seriously. They provide a wide array of fitness classes that you can do either with or without your children, allowing mom’s to stay healthy, model the importance of exercise for their children, and creates a village of other mama friends. I cannot tell you how important my OKC village was to me, and I miss them all so much!

Since relocating, I’ve joined the Columbus East franchise, and signed up for their 6-week Fit4Baby class. Fit4Baby is a 6-week program designed to strengthen the body for all the changes it will experience during pregnancy. What I love about this is that all the participants are also pregnant mamas and the exercises are geared towards reducing all those aches and pains that come with pregnancy. As a bonus, staying active throughout pregnancy also gives you more energy, and may speed the labor, delivery and record processes. Those are all things I’m for! If you’re looking for a franchise, click here, type in your zip code and try a class for free.