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Q&A with the Owners of Lavish

I’ve been on a quest to phase out my chemical-laden beauty products, and replace them with natural, cruelty-free brands. Recently I visited a shop, called Lavish, located in Mission Hills, San Diego. Lavish is an aromatherapy health and body care company, which specializes in natural plant-based products. One of the owners, Carly, was nice enough to answer some of my burning questions about her products, their ingredients, and a great cause they donate to!

-I understand you created a brand that donates 10% of profits to help fight against malaria. What inspired you to get involved in this cause? How do the proceeds actually help fight malaria? 
Last year we launched a new brand called Botanical Me. It’s a collection of vibrant aromatherapy products made with exotic and healing plants from Africa. We source amazing ingredients like shea butter from Ghana, frankincense from Ethiopia, and lavender from South Africa to make the most effective, beautiful and healthy skincare products you’ll ever use.  

These products are very close to our hearts because we donate back 10% to our partner charity, Malaria No More. Sadly, one child in Africa dies every minute from malaria. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Our mission with the Botanical Me products is to give back to Africa in the form of life-saving medical treatments, mosquito nets, and malaria prevention programs. 

The idea came from a touching conversation between Jill (co-owner) and her husband, a Nigeria native and malaria survivor himself. During this conversation she realized that we could do something to help this very serious problem and save lives.

-Why is it important to switch to nontoxic, more natural products? In your opinion, what chemicals are the most important to avoid?
Jill and I both feel very strongly that what you put on your skin, and the products you use in your home greatly impact your health and well-being. Look, everybody uses products. Some people use A LOT of products, some use just a few. Regardless of the quantity, using clean, natural and healthy products is one of the simplest ways to reduce the amount of toxins that your body is exposed to on a daily basis. Give yourself a break! Don’t make your organs work harder or put more stress on your system by smothering, breathing, bathing, and “beautifying” yourself in chemicals!

We think it’s VERY important to avoid synthetic fragrances (perfumes) in products. We are aromatherapists and the foundation of our companies (Lavish and Botanical Me) is essential oil fragrances. Essential oils have health-giving properties; perfumes do not. Not only do synthetic fragrances lend absolutely no beneficial purpose to products, they are bad for your lungs, skin, and immune system. Save yourself a headache and use products that are scented with 100% essential oils. Also, ditch products that are full of dyes, multiple chemical preservatives, and petroleum. These synthetic “plastic” like ingredients won’t do your body any good.

-Do you think it’s important to use organic ingredients? If so, why?
Yes! Using organic is important and we do use organic and wild crafted ingredients as much as we can. If a plant was grown organically then it didn’t encounter any pesticides along the way, and this will make for a cleaner, more pure final product.

-Are your products animal cruelty free?
Yes! Our products are never tested on animals. We are definitely the human testers. Nothing goes onto the shelf until it is Jill and Carly approved!

-What are your favorite natural ingredients and their benefits?
We love using rich, creamy and exotic butters. Our lip balm for example (Madagascar Mint) is packed with organic shea butter. It is so moisturizing and so divine for your lips and skin. We also pack our creams with mango butter and organic virgin coconut. Amazing!

-Are natural products as effective as commercial products containing more chemicals?
Natural IS better. No ifs, ands, or butts about it. That’s sort of like asking… Are Cheetos better for you than organic, farm fresh asparagus? People aren’t made out of chemicals. I think our skin and our bodies respond to plant-based and earth ingredients. Even though chemical products might make your skin look good (key word, might) what are they doing to your cells and your organs that have to filter them out? We’ve had thousands of customers over the ten years we’ve been open tell us that our products are the best they’ve ever used. And that their skin has never looked so healthy.

-What product is your beauty routine staple?
Lip balm, lip balm, lip balm. We make the best on earth and I gotta have it. Also, good face creme. Our Vital Moisture from our Lavish line is one top notch creme. It’s full of pumpkin seed oil, honey, cocoa butter, rose oil, and collagen.

-What is Lavish’s best selling item?
We’ve sold a pillow and linen spray called Nighty Night for years now. People absolutely adore it and it literally flies off our shelf. Its a blend of 20 pure essential oils that are naturally relaxing, anti-depressant, and have a sedative effect on your system. It smells beautiful… like lavender, flowers, and herbs. Also, our Namaste Yoga Mat Spray in the Botanical Me line. It cleans your yoga mat and provides a relaxing aromatherapy experience. It sells like crazy at our store!

-What advice would you give to someone interested in switching to more natural products?
We love teaching people how to be healthier, because to us being healthier means being happier. When was the last time you were in an awesome mood because you were sick? We also think that today, people are craving a more natural lifestyle. What was once more uncommon is becoming more trendy and normal– but in a great way. We think people are finally starting to understand the value and importance of a healthy lifestyle, and we’re super happy to be a part of that. It’s a trend that NEEDS to stay!

Check out Lavish to learn more about natural beauty products, and to browse their lovely collections.

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By Chloe Mulliner, Guest Blogger

Sometimes I wince at the very thought of working out. I dread the huffing and puffing, sweating, and the cramping in my muscles. There’s a whimper as I lace up my running shoes and a last-minute attempt to bail on yoga class. If it were up to me and my lack of drive, I’d count my laps around the mall as a workout and call it a day.

Fortunately, my exercise routine isn’t completely up to me. My sister and I have agreed to remain workout partners till sixpacks do us part. We attend hot yoga sessions, go on 5am runs, and take evening walks between blending up green juices.

When I’m twisting myself upside down in an awkward yoga position, I look over at my sister, silently giggle, and suddenly I don’t feel so silly and self conscious. And there’s something so refreshing about sharing the serenity of a morning run on the beach with the first morning ocean breeze and colorful horizon. With a workout partner, I’m not alone on the journey to wellness. It holds me accountable. If I backout on a workout, I’m not only letting myself down, but I’m letting down her and our agreement too.

Instead of taking the easy way out and squeezing in a couple more zzz’s, we encourage each other through that first stretch. I push her to run an extra leg and she gives me the thumbs up when I master a new yoga pose. We high five each other at the end of our exercise sessions with our endorphins releasing and our muscles aching with gratitude.

Its the way we feel after our workouts, flushed faced and determined, that reminds us why we’ve made our pact in the first place. When my skin radiates with that post-workout glow and my jeans fit a little looser, I’m so appreciative for that support. Thanks to my workout buddy, I realize my potential. I may huff, puff, and sweat, but I know I’m capable and stronger because of it.

When you’re in a exercise rut or lack the motivation to take your wellness up a notch, consider finding a buddy to bring some accountability to your workout regiment.
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Looking for a quick, exotic, healthy meal?  Try this filling vegan recipe packed with iron and vitamin B.

-2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
-1 cup brown jasmine rice
-1 TSP coconut oil
-1 pinch sea salt
-1/2 lime
-Optional: beans, peas, and cilantro garnish

Boil coconut milk in a large pot.  Add one cup of brown jasmine rice. Mix in one teaspoon of coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt. Simmer for 35-40 minutes.  If the liquid seems to be drying too quickly, add extra coconut milk- you don’t want the rice to burn! Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for five minutes. Add fresh squeezed lime juice, fluff the rice, and garnish with cilantro. If you would like a more colorful version, top it off with cooked red kidney beans and peas.
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By Chloe Mulliner, Guest Blogger

No eggs? No dairy products? No problem? Well, not exactly. While I’m all for experimenting with the vegan lifestyle, I run into a problem when it comes to whipping up a dessert for a vegan-inspired party. I’m no chef in the kitchen, so when my friends have hosted vegan bashes this year, I’ve panicked without my go-to dishes. From blueberry pies to chocolate chip brownies, all my signature recipes entail beating eggs and whisking butter.

However, come my second or third round of health-conscience party invitations, I discovered just because I’m creating a dairy-free concoction doesn’t mean a lackluster arrangement of veggies and fruit. After a lot of investigating and a little bit of experimenting, I found a simple, yet impressive, vegan caramel dip. Sans the cream, sugar, and butter, this faux caramel sauce just may fool your junk-food loving friends.

-2 cups dates
-½ cup almond butter
-5 TSP fresh lemon juice
-1 ½ TSP vanilla extract
-1 TSP sea salt
-1 TSP raw honey

Remove the pits from the dates and soak them in a bowl of water overnight. When the dates are soft, place them in your blender, but keep the leftover date water on the side. Blend all the ingredients together and add the date water in at your discretion to create the desired consistency. Less date water will make more of a thick dip, while more date water will yield a sauce. Serve chilled with some sliced organic apples, and surprise everyone with this caramel counterfeit.

Chloe Mulliner is a writer and dabbler in the healthy living scene. She vows to try everything three times before forming an opinion, and that includes tasting green juices and sweating it out in hot yoga. Look forward to more guest blogs from her in the future, but in the meanwhile, find more of her musings here.


Daring to Detox: A Juice Cleanse Experience

To most people, a juice cleanse sounds like an extreme form of self torture. I hardly even considered the idea until I had the opportunity to watch my coworker, Carolynn, embark on a five-day cleanse. What once seemed like a ritual reserved only for people who do head stands during yoga class, now seems achievable, and maybe even enjoyable.

Cleansing allows your body to take a break from the digestion process to heal other areas. While you may temporarily lose weight, dropping pounds is not the goal. It can, however, kick-start a healthier way of eating by quickly eliminating excess sugar and processed foods from your diet.

I had tons of questions about her juicing experience and wanted to document some of them here. Hopefully you, too, will be inspired to try a cleanse.

-Why did you choose to do a cleanse?
​I have been wanting to cleanse my body/system for a while now, and when I recently returned from my vacation in Puerto Rico, I felt an emergent need to clean my body of all the unhealthy/fried food I ate while I was there. Also, I felt an urge to get my eating habits back on track by “starting new” and first cleaning my system.

-Was it expensive?
​I bought a five-day juice cleanse on Living Social for $194, which comes out to about $6.46 per bottle of juice, and I consumed six juices per day. It’s a little pricey (in my perspective), but the benefits were well worth it.

-Was this your first cleanse?
Yes, this was my first Juice ONLY cleanse- I did not have ANY solid food for the entire five days.

-What was the most difficult aspect of the cleanse?
​My first two days were the most difficult because of my cravings, however, by evening time of the second day my cravings had subsided.

-Although you didn’t choose to, were you allowed to eat any solid foods during the cleanse?
I was allowed to eat egg whites and steamed vegetables only.

-Did you like the juice flavors?
Yes, the juice flavors were great!

-Did you experience any negative effects? Skin breakouts, shakes, low energy, mood swings, cravings?
​I experienced cravings the first two days, but they subsided by the evening of the 2nd day. No mood swings, although on day four I noticed I had less patience for people. No breakouts, no “shakes”, and my energy level was great!

-Did you notice any physical changes in your body? Any immediate positive effects?
Yes, I noticed I lost inches, so I looked leaner. I did not weigh myself, however, I’m sure I lost some weight because my body was leaner. I noticed these changes around day three.

-Did you cheat?
​Not at all, and I was VERY proud that I stayed strong!

-How did you keep yourself dedicated and on track?
​I stayed focused on my juices, and I watched the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” to give me inspiration. I did not want to deviate from the juices.

-How do you feel now that its over?
​OMG, so refreshed and renewed!

-Would you do another cleanse? If so, would you choose the same duration?
​Absolutely! Yes, I would do another five-day cleanse, a three-day, and continue with a one-day (monthly or weekly) maintenance cleanse. I would really like to do a 14-day cleanse, but at a detox retreat where I’m surrounded by people doing the same thing.

-Any advice for cleansing newbies?
​Don’t let your fears hold you back. When you try it for the first time, think about all the positive effects it has on your body. I recommend watching food/healthy eating/juicing documentaries and/or reading about the benefits of juicing- it will give you inspiration to stay on track and keep going.

Carolynn used a kosher five-day cleanse through Jus by Julie. For an organic option, check out Gentle Giant.