From the Pantry to the Bathroom: Toner Edition

March 27, 2009

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I haven’t posted an installment in From the Pantry to the Bathroom lately, partly because I haven’t stumbled upon another recipe or ingredient as miraculous as coconut oil, which I realized works as both a moisturizer, a hair-softener and a deodorant. So this time, I’m going to write about something I have mixed feelings about, and maybe you readers can offer your opinion, too, and help make the final call.

A while ago, my friend Meghan mentioned that she was using apple cider vinegar on her face as a toner after washing. When my attempt at no ‘poo eventually failed, I had some ACV leftover with a bit of cinnamon and vanilla extract in it, and decided to try it out. I don’t normally use toner because, frankly, I don’t get why we need yet another ablution in between washing, drying and moisturizing, but I gave it a shot.

Well, it left my face smelling pretty yummy, but that’s about it. I wasn’t getting more/less pimples; it wasn’t getting more/less dry or oily; it was just staying the same. Then, a couple weeks ago, I noticed I was getting weird rashes under the outside corners of my eyes, so I decided to stop using it. (Unfortunately, the rashiness is lingering, but I’m throwing buckets of essential oils and Vitamin E on it).

This isn’t to say that I’ve fallen out of love with ACV — this acidic companion is great to have on hand for everything from salad dressings to natural remedies — but as a toner? Meh. What do you think?

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Vanilla nice, nice, baby (Day 364)…

February 27, 2008

fair-trade vanilla

Everyone always talks about fair-trade chocolate, but why not vanilla? It’s just as important. In fact, as an ingredient, it’s probably used in more products than chocolate — nearly every pastry, baked good, dessert item, jam and so on includes either vanilla beans or vanilla extract.

Ben & Jerry’s launched their fair-trade vanilla ice cream in 2006, complete with online photo albums of their growing operations in India, Paraguay and Ecuador (on a side note, B&J are also working on a prototype for thermoacoustic fridges powered by sound waves, their employees offset all air travel, their climate “hoofprint” is climate neutral, they use free-range eggs, their brownies come from a kitchen that teaches cooking to the homeless and they’re currently looking at converting their ice cream waste into energy with a bio-gas digester … could Vermont get any crunchier?).

Anyway, I got the Frontier brand vanilla flavour but there are other varieties out there, and you can read a bit more about all the fair-trade certification requirements here. Either way, I’ll be making sure all my vanilla from now on is from as ethical a source as possible.

Of course, some forms of vanilla are just never ethical.

Image licked from this website