bipoc-owned herbal shops

hi loves!

representation matters. representation in herbalism matters.

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here is a small list of bipoc-owned herbal shops that i’ve combined from ones my herbalism school has put together and from who i follow on ig. some are owned by my fellow students – super cool!

no links provided are affiliates nor do i benefit in any way, shape, or form.

please leave your favorites in the comments, including your own shop. i’ll keep this updated.

XO, ALEXRAYE

 

ingredients:

herbal products:

herbal-based skin & hair care:

cucumber gel serum

welcome back! today’s formula is super simple. it’s a lightweight, hydrating treat, perfect for hot weather.

cucumber gel serum!

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this recipe is fully customizable, as usual, so get creative!

note the links provided are not affiliates and i do not benefit in any way. they’re provided only to help you find good quality ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • cucumber hydrosol
    • deeply hydrating, calming, and conditioning
    • fresh and earthy smelling
    • gentle enough for all skin types
  • xanthan gum
    • gelling agent; used in miniscule quantities
    • found in your local grocery baking aisle
  • aspen bark powdered extract
    • water-soluble preservative
    • skin-conditioning
    • high in salicin
  • optional – a lightweight carrier oil
    • suggested: prickly pear seed oil or amaranth seed oil, both great for all-things-“eye”
    • note: xanthan gum can hold about 1% oil without needing an emulsifier, but it can separate over time
  • optional – water-soluble colorant

FORMULA

HOW TO

  1. in your bottle of cucumber hydrosol, sprinkle in your aspen bark powder and shake well.
  2. in the same bottle, gently and evenly sprinkle the xanthan gum across the top of the hydrosol. let sit for a few hours until the gum is fully swelled/hydrated. you can shake it after a few hours to make sure, but not before (or else you will get clumps called “fish eyes”)
  3. add up to 1% of your oil. shake well.

apply to clean skin before any creams or oils. store in a cool, dry area, away from sunlight. toss if the smell or color turns.

BONUS: you can easily turn this into a hyaluronic acid serum, since it’s mostly hydrosol. if you opt for that, omit the xanthan gum.

enjoy!

XO, ALEXRAYE

my favorite ingredient sources

hi loves! i hope you’re doing well. this is a quick post to help share some online, trustworthy, ingredient sourcing for at-home DIYs.

there are no affiliate links, no codes, no referrals, nothing. the companies don’t know i’m doing this. i don’t gain anything – just sharing the love!

please share your favorite sources in the comments below.

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dried herbs

oils & butters

hydrosols

preservatives

emulsifiers

essential oils

containers

 

 

4 things on my blog i no longer agree with

… and no, non-vegan items are not included 😉

i’ve decided to publish this because, hey, no one is perfect. if we’re not learning from our mistakes, we’re doing something wrong. we should always strive for improvement.

let’s get straight into it.

  • baking soda hair wash
    • the pH of baking soda is much too harsh (too alkaline) and can cause damage to both hair and scalp over a sustained time period. i no longer advise this version of the no-poo method, but am still a fan of water-only washing and low-poos. calia is a nice shampoo & conditioner brand that’s affordable and has great ingredients.
  • diy sunscreen
    • please do not try to make your own sunscreen. you have no idea if you’re properly protecting your skin. to have that tested and confirmed requires a formal panel, testing, and thousands of dollars. if you need suggestions – i like Badger Balm sunscreens for my body and Josh Rosebrook’s Daily Nutrient Cream for my face. please leave others below in the comments!
    • i’m a supporter of responsible sun exposure. i think it’s crucial to health. that doesn’t mean i’m a supporter of reckless sun exposure. for example, i know i will be outside an average of 30 minutes total every day, and not midday. knowing that, i do not apply sunscreen to my body. however, if i know i will be on a midday hike, i will slather it on.
  • diy lotion w/ no preservatives
    • say it with me – anything containing aqueous ingredients, or anhydrous coming into contact with water, NEEDS a preservative. i get on my soapbox about it here.
    • two things to know: 1. preservatives are not evil. 2. antioxidants are not preservatives. rosemary eo and/or extract and vitamin e are antioxidants and can be used in anhydrous formulations, but they are not preservatives.
  • mixing EOs and herbs haphazardously 
    • as wonderful and easy as it sounds, you can’t just blend random essential oils and/or herbs together. everything has different constituents with varied herbal and drug interactions, in addition to varied contraindications. yes, plant extracts can and will absolutely interfere with prescribed medications. please always talk with both your doctor and your local certified herbalist.
    • other than endangering yourself, loved ones, and even pets (no EOs with pets!), at the very least, you could be – 1. wasting plant material from not understanding constituent solubility properly (ex: trying to drink nettle tea for silica… won’t happen, babycakes. check out my post on this here); 2. wasting plant material from using herbs and essential oils with opposing ‘actions’ in the body (blending chamomile and green tea).

 

is there anything you no longer practice or agree with in the ‘crunchy’ or ‘green’ world? let’s hear it!

XO, ALEXRAYE

diy formulation educational series: luxury face oil

hello friends! i’m back again with another DIY face oil formula, taking inspiration from a $225 / 0.67 fl ounce night serum. picking apart ingredient lists is a fun hobby for me, however weird that sounds.

it has really great ingredients, but can be DIY’ed because – 1. it’s completely anhydrous; and 2. doesn’t need to extract from whole plant materials.

please note the upfront costs are high (still lower than the price of the finished 0.67 fl oz product), but will yield multiple batches.

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here are the original ingredients:

Opuntia ficus-indica (Prickly Pear) Seed oil*, Supercritical Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) fruit oil extract*, Sclerocarya birrea (Marula) seed oil*, Supercritical Borago Officialis (Borage) Seed oil extract*, Adansonia digitate (Baobab) seed oil*, Caulophyllum Inophyllum (Foraha) oil*, Argania spinosa (Argan) nut oil*, Curcubita pepo (Pumpkin) Seed oil*, Camelina sativa (Camelina) oil*, Nigella sativa (Black Cumin) oil*, Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), Supercritical Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Berries extract*, Supercritical Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) seed extract*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride and Pheonix Dactylifera (Date) Seed Extract, Supercritical Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) extract*, essential oils of: Boswellia Carterii*, Helychrisum italicum*, Daucus carota*, Commiphora myrrha*, Pelargonium x asperum*, Cananga odorata*, Jasminum grandiflorum L. extract*, Elettaria cardamomum L*, Rosa centifolia extract*

aren’t the ingredients great? my personal favorite oil for skincare is prickly pear seed oil. it’s pretty pricey but oh-so-worth-it. it’s nice to see it at the top of the list!

formulation notes:

ingredients have to legally be listed by % contribution in descending order. knowing that, when creating a diy dupe we want to look for the “1% line.”

one “1% line” we sort of could use is the ubiquinone, aka co-q10. this is a bright orange powder and is typically used at 0.3-3%…  a bigger range than is helpful to us.

however, next in the formula is sea buckthorn berry oil. we know that SBO can be used up to 1% topically without staining, so normally we could cut it there. since co-q10 is also bright orange, let’s call the SBO at 0.5%. if you’re still following, anything above that is >0.5% contribution, and anything below is less.

black cumin seed oil is very near and dear to my heart, but it is quite a strong smelling little guy… very medicinal. i will assume, due to the strong scent, it’s also lower on the lower side of the formula % contribution.

do you see where instead of the individual ingredients being separated by a comma they’re instead connected with an “and”? that means it’s a pre-blended product. hint: it’s “caprylic/capric triglyceride and pheonix dactylifera (date) seed extract.” in this case, the product is known as d’orientine s. it’s typically used at 1-2.5% concentration, but i think it’s used less here, given that SBO is listed ahead of it.

and lastly, the rosemary extract used here is an antioxidant (not a preservative), and is typically used at up to 0.5%.

for the rest of the oils: prickly pear seed oil is super pricey, so let’s assume it’s no more than 20%. that being said, the blend of the main carrier oils could be anything from an equal split to being mostly prickly pear seed oil. this is where your personal preference and skin type would come into play. regardless, tamanu oil can be a little thick and greasy, so let’s assume it’s not a huge part to the overall formula, even though it’s listed towards the top.

formulation adjustments: 

let’s make the EOs optional, due to high upfront costs, as well as a safety precaution. if you’re an aromatherapist – first of all, you’re cool; second of all, blend EOs to your heart’s content. either way, if you choose to add these EOs, please do not use more than a total contribution of 1%.

the original formula is NOT suitable for blemish-prone skin, but this DIY will be as close to the original as i can get. if you want something for blemish-prone skin, try  this post for the best and worst facial oils and this post for an overview on different oils and their comedogenic ratings. 

diy formula:

NONE of the links provided benefit me in any way. they’re here to save you time and energy searching for them.

total cost: $141.55

total possible 1 fl ounce batches*: 2.5

*if using 15 mL prickly pear seed oil as your constraining factor… if you repurchase that, you will have many more batches from the other oils
**minimum amount saved… assuming only 2 purchased bottles, not 3 to fully cover the 2.5 oz of dupe you can make

 

what do you think? do you think this would be a luxurious gifting idea?

XO, ALEXRAYE

alright, alright… let’s make a hyaluronic acid serum

hi crunchies! let’s keep this to the point 🙂  i’ve never posted a DIY hyaluronic acid serum before, so here i am.

for this DIY, you will need something that blends on your behalf for the hyaluronic acid powder, a water-soluble preservative, and patience. this might cost more upfront in bulk ingredients than it would to purchase, but you can make multiple bottles and i think it’s fun to play and mix. it’s also fun to learn, as it can further help you read labels and understand what you’re actually paying for.

since we’re only making 2 ounces, let’s use a sturdy, more powerful milk frother. it won’t “froth” water, so it’s fine. since i’m sure other formulators will read this and scream in horror, please note i’m aware that a high-powered immersion blender is the best option, but we’re only working with 60 mL of liquid, so i provided a realistic option to a $350 hand blender.

hyaluronic acid serums will only ever have a 0.1% to 2% concentration of hyaluronic acid, because it swells in water and turns into a gel. you can’t add more, or it won’t dissolve. the low concentration doesn’t mean it’s not an active ingredient, but i do think the aqueous base it’s dissolved in is important. let’s opt for a skin-supporting hydrosol instead of plain water.

the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid is also important. we want HIGH molecular weight (HMW-HA). here’s an article i like for explaining things in an easy-to-understand and no-frills format.

as always, NO links provided are affiliates nor do i benefit in any way. they’re there to help guide you to trusted sources only.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ounces favorite hydrosol
    • i had cucumber at the time, but rose or tulsi would be lovely; choose based on what your skin needs
  • 1/8 teaspoon hyaluronic acid powder
  • plant-based colorant, if desired
    • i’m a huge fan of cold-infusing butterfly pea flowers to give a beautiful indigo shade to the final product. it is rich in the antioxidant anthocyanin, briefly mentioned here. many companies are starting to include butterfly pea flowers in their formulations… 😉
  • water-soluble preservative
    • this is non-negotiable. i wrote about this topic here.
    • i really enjoy aspen bark extract because it’s a natural BHA, but it’s very expensive. many companies formulate with this one instead.

HOW TO:

  1. add your water-soluble preservative to your hydrosol base and stir well, ensuring it’s completely dissolved
  2. add your plant-based colorant, if any. if using butterfly pea flowers, this will be like making a room temperature ‘tea’ and then straining the flowers back out
  3. completely submerge your frother and SLOWLY sprinkle in the HA as little at a time as you can. it will gel up.
  4. bottle in air-tight container. a pump or dropper bottle might be good options.

STORAGE: store in cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. toss after 3 to 6 months, always monitoring for changes in smell, appearance, or texture. 

USE: use daily before creams, oils, and butters.

XO, ALEXRAYE

herbal-infused body oil

hi crunchies! i hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead.

today let’s blend up 8 ounces of a silky, soothing, fast-absorbing body oil that contains skin-supporting herbs.

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before you order or bring out your ingredients, please note this will require an herbal solar infusion lasting 6 weeks. if you don’t have that kind of patience, this isn’t the DIY for you. i do have other body oil blends you can check out, though. just use the search bar 🙂 i promise the wait is oh-so-worth-it!

the base oil i suggest for this herbal body oil blend is marula. it’s pricey, and nearly any carrier of your choice will do. just be mindful of its oxidative stability. for example, argan oil and hempseed oil would unfortunately be poor choices for herbal infusions, whereas jojoba oil would be a good one.

ok, so why marula?

marula oil is very high in oleic acid* (~76%), deeply moisturizing, super fast-absorbing, and is one of the only oils that remains stable when exposed to light for extended periods of time. that will come in handy when we infuse our herbs in sunlight.

if you use another carrier oil, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – please keep doing what you know and enjoy. after all, mixing up other people’s DIYs is more than half the fun!

for our skin-supporting herbs, we’ll be blending in calendula and chickweed, as both are soothing and anti-inflammatory. aka, perfect for cooler weather when you may get a little dry and itchy.

i’ve also chosen these 2 herbs because their constituents are fat-soluble. solubility is incredibly important in herbalism. if someone working with plants does not understand solubility, the end product could be ineffective. for example, an oil infused with horsetail will never help your skin and hair, because silica needs to be extracted in vinegar. as another example, marshmallow root is fantastic, but since the constituents you want for skin and hair are mucilaginous, it can only be extracted into hydrous bases. does that make sense? i wrote more on it before here.

INGREDIENTS:

other:

  • 16 ounce mason jar for steeping
  • cheesecloth or nut milk bag (what i prefer) to strain oil
  • 8 ounce pump bottle to store oil when finished

HOW TO:

the typical ratio of herbal infusions is 1 part dried herb to 10 parts oil. in this case, due to small batch amount, we will use 2 tablespoons dried herbs** to 8 ounces oil. remember the herbs will swell as they steep, so you want to avoid overfilling the jar with dried herbs.

in your sterilized mason jar, add your 2 tbs of dried herbs, and top with 8 ounces carrier oil. gently tap to release air bubbles and make sure the herbs are completely covered in oil to reduce risk of mold growth.

sit in sun for 6 weeks, very gently “stirring” the jar every day.

strain after 6 weeks. bottle in airtight, UV-protecting bottle.

enjoy all over body, particularly on dampened skin.

happy blending!

XO, ALEXRAYE

*=not suitable for the face for most people
**= must be dried, not fresh, to avoid mold growth in oil infusion

relaxing body balm

hi crunchies!

tonight let’s go over a super simple but effective DIY for a silky, relaxing, nighttime body balm.

this recipe only includes 3 ingredients and does not require heat. and guys – IT SMELLS SO GOOD. it’s a complex yet light floral scent, but does not linger long on the skin.

swoon-worthy. you need this waiting for you on your bedside table.

as this is anhydrous, feel free to store it at room temperature in an air-tight container. use 30 minutes to right before your bed time (on feet and body), and let the wonderful aroma help you unwind from the day.  i also love this because you wake up with silky smooth skin and feet!

please note the links provided are for your benefit only. they are not affiliate links nor do i benefit in any way – the companies are unaware of this post 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ounces monoi de tahiti oil
    • this is coconut oil with macerated gardenias, so do not apply to face
    • the source linked is the only one i can find that properly macerates the gardenias. please let me know if you find another!
  • 2 mL cape chamomile (or german chamomile)
    • prized and touted as the rare and ultimate relaxant EO, as reflected in the steeper price
    • not related to german chamomile; not a suitable substitute, but you could try lavender EO
  • 4 dropper fulls of this magnesium oil
    • magnesium can help promote deeper sleep and muscle relaxation. however, check out a post i did here on the science of it.

HOW TO:

  • blend monoi de tahiti oil, chamomile EO, and magnesium until well incorporated in a small bowl
  • transfer to UV-blocking, airtight container
  • store at room temperature
  • use before bed

sweetdreams. xo, alexraye

Monoi Butter | Organic Monoi de Tahiti Body Butter - Nature in Bottle