Natural Products for Hyperpigmentation

Natural Products for Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of certain patches of skin caused by an increase in melanin deposits. The main cause is UVA/UVB exposure, but a combination of factors including excessive heat exposure, fluctuating hormones (like melasma during pregnancy), acne and general conditions of inflammation, can act as triggers. People with deeper skin tones and freckles (*raises both hands*) are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation.  That being said, I take common-sense precautions like wearing sunscreen and hat, but I live my life and go on long hikes and hand by the pool.  

But before you dive in we’ve gotta set some rules, hunny:

These products are designed to be active and the tradeoff is increased photosensitivity, so a zinc oxide sunscreen of SPF 30 is a must.

2. These should not be used in conjunction with any other retinol/peels/acid treatments.

3. If you are experiencing acute skin conditions like extreme acne, perioral dermatitis, or eczema, hold off on using these active products until the condition is under control. Your skin is stressed and the last thing you want to do is apply a product that stresses it out even more. Stick to nourishing, gentle products.


My maintenance mode product. This retinol alternative exfoliates and brightens, and hands down, has delivered the best results in reversing sun damage, scarring, and breaking up hyperpigmentation. The actives include fruit-derived enzymes that resurface the skin, increasing cell turnover. And like retinol, it is slightly drying, so make sure to use a rich facial oil or cream to replenish moisture in between uses. Shop here.


I was nervous to use a product that has retinol in it, but after  speaking to Marie Veronique’s director of education and learning the science behind retinol, (read this incredibly informative article) it’s clear that there’s a lot of confusion about which forms of retinol are both safe and effective. This formula includes encapsulated retinol, not to be confused with retinyl palmitate, which bioaccumulates in the liver. I’d wanted to incorporate a more active product to address photodamage and this is the most “gray-area” product I’ve used since switching to clean products, so if you’re nervous about using a retinol, I would skip it.  Shop here.


This peel is my reset button that brightens and decongests. I was nervous to try it because it’s so active, but with my first use,  I noticed a significantly brighter complexion, especially areas on my cheeks that show the most signs of hyperpigmentation. With AHAs and hyaluronic acid, it resurfaces and plumps. My face was red for about an hour, so definitely save it for bedtime. I only use this 2-3 times a month since it’s really intense.  Shop here.

Five Commandments for Healthy Curls

Five Commandments for Healthy Curls

I’ve done my own hair for about 25 of my years on this Earth and I’ve got epic tales of trauma suffered by my hair: knots, awkward layers, bangs, heat, chemicals, and that one time I thought it would be great to let my friend in beauty school give me peek-a-boo highlights to be edgy; my hair fell out. I’ve earned these pearls of wisdom through trial & error, burns, sweat and tears. But my hair and I are finally buddies, and have been for the past eight years and these are most valuable things I’ve learned along the way.

The Five Curly Hair Commandments

1. Get your hair cut by a stylist that specializes in curly hair

If you follow one thing on this list, please, DO THIS!  Getting your curls properly shaped will make styling so much easier, minimizing the amount of time you need to spend on your hair.

Ask questions about their process before they take the shears to your hair. If a stylist wants to cut your hair while it’s wet, or god forbid, straighten it and then cut it, save your money and walk out of that salon; they don’t know what they’re doing.

A curly stylist who is good at their craft will know how to layer your hair, cutting each single curl while it is dry to lay nicely while also factoring in shrinkage. Yes, you’ll have to pay upwards of $100-$150, but it is so worth it.

Finding a good curly hair stylist means researching and asking around.  My stylist is certified in the Deva Cut technique, and you can find a certified stylist in your area. If you think you’ve found The One, look for before and after pictures of their clients. A reputable stylist should have an online portfolio their past work or post on social media. See someone in your coffee shop with great curls? Ask her where she gets her hair done! It’s not weird.

2. Comb/detangle only while in the shower

  • Hair should be soaking wet and have conditioner applied to minimize breakage.
  • NEVER attempt to comb or detangle outside of the shower.
  • Always use a wide-tooth comb or pick, never a brush.
  • Set your part while detangling in the shower to minimize any fiddling you have to do to style, once outside of the shower.
  • Once out of the shower, immediately apply styling products to soaking wet hair.
  • Now, hands off until it’s dry. This is the secret to minimizing frizz and getting hair to air dry in perfect corkscrew coils.

3. Do not use silicones

If you’ve read my post about 10 ingredients to avoid, you know how gross silicones are, but it’s one of the most tempting rules to break. Yes, products with silicone initially feel great since your comb whisks through the hair, but for the next three days, my curls are limp and weighed down. Hair gets dry because strands are coated with the plastic-derived ingredient, preventing moisture from getting in. I then have to use a clarifying shampoo, which dries out my strands, creating a vicious cycle.

If you need lots of slip for detangling, try these go-to products: Innnersense Botanicals Cream Conditioner or Rare El’ements Conditioner

4. Use shampoo/clarify periodically (with sulfate-free, natural, clean and gentle products, of course)

You are probably inundated with bloggers/websites preaching the gospel of shirking shampoo for the rest of time. I tried it, but guys…there is such a thing as too much shea butter. I know, I know: blasphemy. Yes, I still co-wash, but no longer swear off shampoo.

Even natural products can build up, especially when using super moisturizing products with rich butters and oils usually incorporated into formulas for curly hair. When my hair is not responding to anything, I know it’s because it needs a deep cleaning. I shampoo then spray my ACV solution from roots to ends, let it sit for about 3-5 minutes, then rinse out. While there are great D.I.Y. shampoos out there, just be careful using these if you have colored hair as ingredients like baking soda can dull color.

5. Color on curls = zero heat

I made the decision to get highlights at my wonderful organic salon, The Local, in North Hollywood. They use an organic color system (in this case, organic meaning not as harsh as traditional formulas and ammonia-free) which swayed me to switch things up. When I had virgin hair, I could get away with using a curling iron to perk up lazy curls around my face sometimes 2-3 times per week and even straighten my hair about once or twice a month.  But with this decision, I knew I would have to stop using any heat.  I’m so happy with my color and with weekly deep conditioning, my curls remain soft and healthy. I know this would not be the case if I were up to my old habits. Again, the technique for applying color to curly hair is completely different from straight, so make sure to find a colorist that has experience working with curls.

Do you have a commandment to add to the list? Leave a comment; I love learning tips from other curlies!


How To Dispose of Toxic Beauty Products

How To Dispose of Toxic Beauty Products

A commonly asked question I receive is how to dispose of old toxic, chemical-filled cosmetics and personal care products in an environmentally responsible manner. Once you’ve switched over to natural products, the last thing you want to do is create more pollution by washing them down the drain or dumping in the toilet. Here are three responsible options to discard those bottles without trashing Mother Earth:

1. Drop off at your local hazardous waste facility

This is the best and most environmentally responsible way to dispose of toxic products. Most hazardous waste facilities will accept cosmetic and personal care products where they will be discarded properly. In fact, most cities have banned personal care and cosmetic products from being poured down the drain to prevent pollution in local waterways. Yes, that’s right, the conventional personal care items formulated for our bodies have to be disposed of at the same facility as paint thinner

While some suggest at least recycling the plastic bottles, there’s still the dilemma of what to do with the contents that shouldn’t be rinsed out. And mixing in bottles which still contain product with other recyclables can contaminate the entire contents of the blue bin. Placing items in the trash is not a great option because landfills leach chemicals into nearby soil and waterways.This brings us back to the first, and best, option to treat conventional beauty products as hazardous waste.

Make the most out of your excursion to the town hazardous waste dump (no, just me?) by gathering up other hazardous items most households have lying around like batteries, bulbs, leftover paint from that cat condo DIY, cleaner, medications, electronics, etc. and drop them off, too. Some facilities have schedules for different materials or require appointments so make sure to call or check their website for the posted schedule.

2. Return unused products to the brand

Unlock your inner activist by mailing the product back to the brand or returning to the store and explain why you’re no longer a customer. Post on social media, making sure to mention the brand. This signals to the company that if you’ve stopped buying their toxic sludge, so have other customers, affecting their bottom line. I’ve created a customizable template letter to express your concerns about the harmful chemicals used by the company to include in your package:

To the X Company,

I am writing to inform you that you have lost me as a customer because of the presence of chemicals linked to serious health issues and environmental harm in the products sold by your company. Enclosed is the unused portion of (list product), which I no longer choose to use. As ingredients in this product are classified as hazardous to local waterways under state and federal law, I trust that your company will dispose of the remainder of your toxic product in accordance with local and federal hazardous waste regulations.

If you would like to win me back as a customer, remove these harmful chemicals from your formulas (list ingredients, if you choose). Make a pledge to find safe, non-toxic formulas that are tested for long-term environmental and human safety and sign The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

I hope to see (company name) take the well-being of its customers and the environment seriously by phasing out dangerous chemicals.


3. Using up or donating products

If you absolutely cannot get to a hazardous waste facility and the idea of wasting products keeps you awake at night, then this is the last resort. I’ve gone back and forth with this, but ultimately, we have to think about the big picture: Yes, the chemicals are still going to be used and end up going down the drain but the impact of your new toxic-free lifestyle has a positive impact that eclipses the negatives of using the last bit of that ‘Toxic Brand X’ conditioner. You’re happy and thriving with your natural, eco-friendly products and have most likely influenced the purchasing behaviors of your family and others in your life and have now prevented multiple bottles of ‘Toxic Brand X’ from being purchased.

Understanding this, combined with the spirit of using up items that have already consumed precious resources to produce, I’d say that finishing up or donating the last few bottles to those in your community who really need it, is a reasonable option.

Spa Day At Home: Therapeutic Facial Steam

Spa Day At Home: Therapeutic Facial Steam

DIY Facial Steam Dry Mature Skin


I’ve never had a professional facial; I know, I know. I’m a green beauty blogger – shouldn’t that be at the top of my list? I do dream of making an appointment one day but most treatments at organic spas cost about 1/4 of my rent, at least here in L.A. But while browsing fancy spas and wishful thinking, I noticed that steaming is a part of the treatment, something that up until recently I reserved for alleviating a head cold.

Steaming works like a deep clean, unclogging the buildup from your pores while encouraging blood flow and increased circulation which is incredibly wonderful for dull, tired skin. And it’s one of the easiest, yet most indulgent DIYs out there! [Ed. note: this also comes in handy if you told someone you worked out, but instead decided to collapse onto the couch and watch Netflix. Just steam your face and you’ll have a legit-looking workout glow to show off.]

I now steam before applying my weekly mask and each time I’ve experienced an instant revitalized glow along with better efficacy from my pricey products! Incorporating this steam step into your routine does take a few minutes extra, but if you have a fancy product that you feel guilty even using, applying it after a steam is the best time to use it since your skin is ready to soak up every penny’s worth of its benefits.

Just hot water and a towel will do the trick but you can customize your home steam with the essential oils, herbs and flowers beneficial to your skin type.

DIY Therapeutic Facial Steam

Here’s my custom blend, good for normal/dry skin: 1/3 cup blend of dried rose buds/petals, calendula, chamomile, and lavender.

My method:

  • Pour a full tea kettle amount of boiling water into a large pot.
  • Throw in your desired herbs or essential oils and mix around.
  • Lean over the pot and drape a large towel over your head to trap in steam and breathe deeply. Sit for 8-10 minutes, enough time to allow the steam to cleanse pores and for the beneficial oils to sink in. Take intermittent breaks from the steam, when needed (note – if someone’s in the room with you, its fun to look out from under your towel and cackle like a witch).
  • Rinse face with lukewarm water then apply a mask or just finish your routine with your night time serum/moisturizer.
  • If you have rosacea or redness, you may want to limit to 3-5 minutes or skip steaming altogether since it increases circulation and can irritate already inflamed skin.

When finished, you can compost the herbs and water your plants the facial steam water.

Happy home spa day!

My DIY Stress Relief Potion

My DIY Stress Relief Potion

DIY lavender and peppermint stress relief
Lately, I have been carrying around a mystery vial with me and receive a lot of odd looks when I unscrew the top and sniff. To clear up any rumors, it’s a very simple stress & headache relief essential oil blend that I have with me at all times. The two oils work together to instantly lift my mood and open up nasal passages. Lavender acts as a stress-whisperer, dissolving tension. Peppermint cools when applied to the skin and remedies nausea and headaches. Make this yourself with just two oils that you probably already have around the house:

Peppermint essential oil
Lavender essential oil
Optional: oil to dilute, like jojoba or almond, if this blend is too strong for you

In small glass jar/vial (make sure it’s glass since you’ll store the oil in it) mix 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil with 5-7 drops of peppermint essential oil. If it’s too strong for your liking, dilute with a 1/2 teaspoon of jojoba or other carrier oil. Mix and you’re done! You can also just mix a couple drops of each E.O. in your palms, rub your hands together and breathe in.  I like to dab this on the back of my neck and the pulse points on my wrists.

Life hack: Container Store has these little glass droppers and vials (pictured, above) that are great for concentrated DIYs!

Any other essential oil blends you’d like to share? I’m always looking for new combos!

4 Products To Solve Your Winter Skin Issues

4 Products To Solve Your Winter Skin Issues


It has finally hit 50 degrees at night which means that us Angelenos now have to wear a medium-weight jacket over our dresses we’ve been wearing since summer. Even though it’s not very chilly here, my skin tends to dry out from indoor heating, hot water, and living in a really arid climate, and dry skin can turn into painfully itchy skin. Check out my roundup of therapeutic products that will alleviate all your winter skin issues and are great to take with you on your travels!

Dry, windburned, or cracked skin and eczema: True Organic of Sweden’s All You Need Is Me
For those of you who can’t seem to find a lotion heavy or moisturizing enough, this stuff is for you.  True’s stand out ingredients are castor, shea, olive, and blueberry seed oils, and zero fillers, making this balm ultra effective since it’s so concentrated.  I’ve been using this waterless balm on my hands, elbows, knees, cracked heels and general rough patches and they’ve been magically softened up! True also suggests using this on hair and to treat everything from diaper rash and insect bites to sun and windburn. Skip the toxic jar of Vaseline and use this single product as your family’s winter skincare cure-all!

Cracked, dry cuticles: Lilian Eve Cuticle Oil Pen
A la Karen Smith, my nail beds suck. Really, I have painfully dry, hang-nail ridden cuticles that will make even the most polite nail technician gasp with concern. This oil pen has rescued me! While it’s a simple product made with just Argan, apricot, and jojoba oils, the ease of application via the handy cuticle brush pen really wins me over. For me, half of the battle is remembering to oil my claws so I leave this on my nightstand and apply before bed.

Prevent dry ends: One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo Powder
Two words: greasy bangs. Since I followed through on a whim to cut my own curly fringe/bangs, I now understand the greasy bang struggle that my straight-haired counterparts have dealt with. This dry shampoo stands out for me because of its gorgeous, subtle scent and the incredibly velvety consistency of the powder. OLO’s dry shampoo is great for soaking up excess oils at the root of the hair in-between washes, preventing my ends from being dried out from too much exposure to hot water.  I sprinkle a little at the crown of my head and then add oil to my ends and I’m set!

Calm irritated facial skin: Keys Luminous Hydrating Moisturizer
This is one of the first natural products I tried and it has been a staple in my winter routine for about three years now. With therapeutic ingredients like avocado oil, Shea butter, blood orange and carrot seed oils, this formula is wonderful for calming sensitive, dry skin. It’s perfect to use as a daytime moisturizer since it is thoroughly hydrating and protects against drying environmental factors. It also provides a moisturizing base for makeup without being greasy.

Do you have any special wintertime rituals to soothe skin? Share, below!


*Affiliate links appear in this post which means that I receive a small commission from any purchases you decide to make. I only provide reviews for products and brands that I use, trust, and love and all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting MDG!

Homemade Healing Body Butter

Homemade Healing Body Butter

DIY healing lotion, body butter, may day glow, coconut oil, shea butter, almond,

As a kid, summer meant never not being in a pool (AZ life, hollaaa) but at the end of a carefree day, I would come home with patches of itchy, dry skin. This summer has been reminiscent of my childhood; traveling, being outside all day, nothing to worry about except which type of ice cream to devour for dessert. But spending so much time in the elements has returned my skin to that scaly fishchild state. One of the first things I did when I got home from vacationing was whip up a batch of this body butter/lotion, et voila, my skin was renewed!

This homemade body butter soothes virtually every skin irritation issue; dry skin disappears, rashes and bites are calmed and it also heals and prevents scarring, which is wonderful for my darker, scar-prone skin.  This would also be great for preventing stretch marks and healing burns.It’s thick and luxurious due to the incredible healing properties in these rich ingredients. Not to mention it smells like chocolate frosting (no, it doesn’t taste like frosting..not that I’ve tried it or anything…*looks away*).

If greasy lotion bothers you, just make sure to slather it just before you go to bed to give your skin plenty of time to soak it up.

Healing Body Butter Recipe

To get the most out of any homemade products, make sure to purchase raw ingredients that are responsibly-sourced and organic. I purchase mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, Lassen’s (LA area), or Whole Foods.

1/4 cup Shea butter (improves elasticity, collagen production, intense moisture, anti-inflammatory)
1/4 cup coconut oil (healthy fatty acids, rich in vitamins K, E and iron, anti-bacterial/anti-viral)
1/4 cup cocoa butter (antioxidants, rich in vitamin E, caffeine said to help firming/reduce cellulite)
1/4 cup jojoba or sweet almond oil
10-15 drops of essential oils of your choice (I prefer rose or neroli)
Hand mixer (optional)

Combine the first four ingredients in a sterilized glass bowl and melt using a double boiler. Once melted, let the bowl cool down then place in fridge until the ingredients solidify (about 45 min-1 hr).

Optional, yet highly recommended: use a blender to whip ingredients for about 5-8 minutes, until a frosting-like consistency is achieved.

Mix in essential oils of your choice, if desired. When you choose your oils, keep in mind that there will be a strong chocolatey smell from the cocoa butter, so they should pair well with that. Slather this on after exfoliating/dry brushing and feel like a queen. Store in an airtight glass jar, like a small mason jar. Use within 1 month. Enjoy! You’ll definitely be feeling yourself.

Simple DIY Oil Cleanser and Makeup Remover

Simple DIY Oil Cleanser and Makeup Remover

In the spirit of spring cleaning, I’ve been purging and simplifying all aspects of my life. Clearing out the unnecessary really does clear the mind (can you tell I’ve been doing a ton of Yoga? Hehe). While I love luxurious, rich products, lately, my skin has been asking for minimalist products, and to just let it be. Trying to be more in tune with what it needs, I’ve been using my own blend of oils for cleansing and makeup remover and my skin has responded really well. I thought I’d share this since it’s easy to make and super inexpensive.

Here’s my no makeup selfie, post oil cleansing. See, dewy, happy skin!

May Day Glow no makeup selfie DIY oil cleanser

I’ve chosen these three oils because they give skin a balanced ratio of oleic (moisturizing) and linoleic (great for cleansing and preventing blemishes) fatty acids, and would work well for normal to dry skin types. If your skin is acne prone, I would suggest reducing the amount of coconut oil and doubling the amount of grapeseed oil since it’s higher in linoleic acid, the type of acid that acne prone skin lacks. This is just a base formula, so feel free to play around with the ratio of oils. And since I also use this as my makeup remover, the only essential oil I’ve included is lavender that will not irritate the delicate eye area.

Basic Oil Cleanser Ingredients:

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp grapeseed oil

1 tsp sweet almond oil

optional: 3-4 drops lavender essential oil

Add oils to a small glass jar then stir or gently shake to blend (I use these amber dropper bottles from the Container Store). Add 3-4 drops of lavender, if desired.

To use, apply a few drops to dry skin. Massage away dirt and makeup for 30-60 seconds (I like to add a few drops of water to emulsify), then wipe away with a gentle microfiber cloth or my favorite, this cute lil’ konjac sponge. Follow up with a toner and/or moisturizer.

I hope this inspires you to simplify in some way!