DIY Charcoal Mask for Acne-Prone Skin

It’s no secret that have struggled with acne for the greater part of my post-pubescent life. Although it’s been well under control for several years, I was continuously on-the-go and traveling over the summer, and both of those things tend to wreak havoc on my skin. Now that life has calmed down a bit, I’m attempting to get my skin back in check.

I’m sure most of you have at least heard about activated charcoal as the latest and greatest beauty hack. For those of you who haven’t, it’s most known for whitening teeth, banishing bloat, and attacking acne. I recently received a sample of a charcoal mask and absolutely loved what it did for my skin! However, when I researched the price of the full bottle, I was less than thrilled.

In an attempt to save a few bucks and ensure that my beauty products are as non-toxic as possible, I decided to make my own. While I won’t go into detail about the toxicity of most beauty products on the market, I encourage you to check out EGW’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to learn more. Keep in mind: our skin is our biggest organ, and it absorbs everything!

The ingredients that went into this mask were carefully selected, and here’s why:

  • Bentonite Clay
    • Due to its negative electrical charge, pulls toxins (which generally have a positive electrical charge) away from the skin
    • Unclogs and shrinks pores
    • Helps regulate sebum production
    • Controls redness and inflammation related to both acne and scarring
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Contains alpha hydroxy acid that works to remove dead skin cells and reveal vibrant, healthy skin
    • Contains malic acid, which serves as a potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent that removes toxins from the skin
    • Balances skin pH, thereby balancing sebum production
  • Activated Charcoal
    • Proven to absorb thousands of times its own mass in toxins
    • Unclogs and shrinks pores
    • Helps regulate sebum production
    • Controls redness and inflammation related to both acne and scarring
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil
    • Has potent cleansing properties that work to remove toxins from the skin and prevent further clogging
    • Studies have shown that it is gentler, yet more effective than benzoyl peroxide
    • Helps regulate sebum production
    • Controls redness and inflammation related to both acne and scarring

You probably noticed that the ingredients selected have similar functionalities. This makes for a potent and highly effective face mask. As such, I recommend that this mask is used no more than two times per week, as overuse may lead to dried-out skin. Further, you’ll notice that the mask will tighten over the 10 minutes in which it is left on. This is to be expected. That sensation simply means that you are experiencing the bentonite clay and activated charcoal in action! :)


What you’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup bentonite clay
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup activated charcoal powder
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 40 drops tea tree essential oil
  • An airtight, 16 oz. container

What you’ll do:

  • Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl; transfer to container using a rubber spatula
  • To use, apply a quarter-sized amount to the face; leave on for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water; tone and moisturize as usual
  • Be sure to store in the refrigerator as it does not contain preservatives

DIY Dry Shampoo

Hellooooo, ladies! If you are an avid dry shampoo user such as myself, you will love this post! I am a dry shampoo junkie. I go through cans and cans and cans. Between work, school, maintaining a social life, enjoying hobbies, and working out, whose got time for daily hair washing and styling?! Quite honestly, I should have invested stock in Batiste a looooong time ago. However, as I’m on a mission to rid my apartment of all things toxic now more than ever, I almost fainted when I realized what goes into that aerosol can.

Upon researching how to make some dry shampoo of my own, I was blown away by how simple (and cheap!) it is to make. As an added bonus, I made mine with peppermint and lavender essential oils. They not only make the final product smell wonderful, but have functional benefits as well. The tingling sensation of peppermint on my scalp is also amaaaaazing! It’s truly incredible how much more I have incorporated essential oils into my life since joining the Young Living community. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time and know that I have only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of what there is to learn.


  • Corn starch: adds volume
  • Baking soda: cleanses
  • Peppermint essential oil: anti-itch
  • Lavender essential oil: anti-dandruff, strengthens hair, promotes hair growth

What you’ll need:

  • A 4 oz. powder shaker with lid (I purchased this one from Amazon and it is perfect for this project!)
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 6 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 6 drops lavender essential oil
  • Optional for brunettes: 1 tbsp. cocoa powder

What you’ll do:

  • Add all ingredients to the shaker, apply the lid, and shake well
  • Shake the dry shampoo onto the roots of your hair and use your fingers to work it into your scalp; allow to sit for roughly 5 minutes
  • Once 5 minutes has elapsed, brush the remaining dry shampoo through your hair and style as usual

DIY Rosewater

A friend, Arielle, reached out to me to see if I had any good techniques for making rosewater at home. At the time, I had no idea, but being that I love rosewater in cocktails, I was up for the challenge. I researched a variety of techniques and am sharing what I believe to be the simplest, yet most effective method. This project requires only three ingredients and takes only 15 minutes from start to finish.

Aside from being super yummy in cocktails, rosewater can be found in a number of natural beauty products due to its countless benefits for skin and hair. To learn more about these benefits and for more ideas regarding how to incorporate rosewater into your beauty regime, click here

I must note that a 4 oz. bottle of rosewater spray that I purchased several months back had a price tag of more than $10. Meanwhile, the stunning bunch of spray roses that I bought for the purpose of this project cost me only $6. Even more impressive, those roses yielded a whopping 32 oz. of product. I’ll let you do the math. Needless to say, it is completely worthwhile to make your own rosewater.

What other uses do you know of for rosewater? I’d love to hear about any and all ways of putting this beautiful elixir to use!

Note: I used spray roses because they are half the cost of regular roses, but yield the same amount of petals that a bouquet of regular roses would. Either variety will work perfectly. 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bunch of spray roses
  • 4 cups of distilled water
  • 2 tbsp. of premium vodka to preserve freshness (optional but recommended)
  • A quart-sized mason jar

What you’ll do:

  • Remove the petals from the stems and place into a colander; rinse thoroughly
  • Add the petals and distilled water to a medium pot; simmer on low to medium heat for approximately five minutes, or until the petals have lost their vibrant color
  • Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth; discard the cheesecloth and petals
  • Stir in the vodka, pour into a quart-sized mason jar, and store in the fridge for up to one month

Nature-Inspired Gallery Wall


Hey, y’all! I had so much fun putting this gallery wall together, and I am so pleased with the results that I couldn’t help but share. Of course, there are countless ways in which a gallery wall can be put together, but I will at the very least share the thought process behind mine.

Personally, I think that gallery walls should share both a color scheme and a common theme (shout out to my poets who don’t know it). As you can see from the photos, I went for both vibrant and muted earth tones, with turquoises and greens taking center stage. Furthermore, I went with a nature-inspired theme, with some pieces being straightforward and other pieces being abstract.

I love gallery walls because they say so much about who you are and completely set the tone of your space. I also love photo ledge shelves in particular, because they allow you to switch up your gallery as often as you’d like without having to potentially put new holes in the wall. I purchased mine from IKEA, which offers two different sizes: large (pictured) and small.

While I typically love symmetry and perfect alignment, Dan dared me to step outside the box and stagger the shelves, and I’m so happy that I did! I think staggering them adds a certain element of interest. As it turns out, perfection is often quite boring. ;)


Top shelf, left to right: 1) frame from World Market and art print by TheClay Play via Etsy // 2) frame from World Market and postcard print a freebie in an Anthropologie shipment // 3) frame from West Elm and art print by Cat Coquillette via Society6 // 4) tile gifted from Dan via Moravian Pottery & Tile Works in Doylestown, PA // 5) frame from Michael’s (old) and photography by yours truly

Bottom shelf, left to right: 1) frame handmade by Dan and antique map from MySunshineVintage via Etsy // 2) frame from World Market and art print by TheClay Play via Etsy // 3) frame from West Elm and art print from Amy Sia via Society6 // 4) frame from World Market and card from my ABM Happy Mail subscription // 5) frame a hand-me-down from my mom and photography by yours truly





Four Ways to Update Your Wall Art and Photo Frames

…on the cheap. I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: I’ve got champagne taste with a beer budget. While I hope to one day have all of my walls adorned with original art, that’s simply not in the cards for me at this point in my life. However, to do things on a budget does not mean that you need to compromise elegance. Most of my frames were housing prints that I’d had since college. Sorry, Van Gogh. “Almond Blossoms” stole my heart for a while, but I had to move on.

Here are four simple and affordable ways in which I updated my bedroom’s wall art and photo frames:

ONE // I made a poster collage via Printstagram, which is a super awesome company that links its website to your social media accounts and allows you to print all kinds of lovely things. The size of the poster that I went with costs $25 and fits most poster frames. I already had a poster frame that was (of course) too big for this print, so I ordered a pre-cut mat board to make it work. Well, it all worked out for the best because I ended up loving the look of it with the mat so much more. Even with the mat in the picture (uh, no pun intended), this project should cost no more than $50 bucks.



TWO // Do you have any photos that you’ve taken that you just love? Or at the very least have a photographer friend or family member whose work you really admire? Simply edit a couple of your/their shots and get them printed. As illustrated above, mat board makes everything look a touch more elegant. I edited these photos on iPhoto, got them printed through Apple and shipped to my doorstep, and framed them with pre-cut mat board from Blick Art Materials in Center City Philadelphia. All in all, the cost of this project is $15 for both frames.




THREE // While Printstagram offers 4×4 prints, the minimum amount that you can order at a time is 24. Sometimes, you don’t want 24 prints. Sometimes, you want only one print for that adorable, 4×4 picture frame you scored at Homegoods. That’s what the Walgreens app is really great for. It links to your Instagram account and prints however many (or however little) photos you desire. I believe this particular print cost me 42 cents? 44 cents? Either way, it was cheap and I love it.


FOUR // I couldn’t really capture the essence of how beautiful this print is, but it’s a “Map of the Plant Regions or Florae” and it’s an antique from an 1873 World Atlas. I love plants, I love maps, and I love antiques, so there shouldn’t be any mystery as to why I’m obsessed with this guy and wanted to showcase it. Unfortunately, being that it’s so old, its dimensions are bizarre and it doesn’t fit in standard-sized frames. Shocker: I went with mat board to solve this problem. However, this time I couldn’t go with pre-cut mat due to its odd size. The folks at Blick cut a custom mat board for me so that it now fits in a standard 11×14 frame. While custom generally means more money, this project still cost me less than $50. Vintage and antique maps can be found by the boatload on Etsy. Also, if you’re in the Philadelphia area, there is a vendor who sells beautiful maps at the Phila Flea Market.