The moment I typed “eco-friendly,” “zero waste,” “sustainable,” “minimalist,” or “green living” into my search bar and hit enter, an overwhelming barrage of data and opinions flooded my screen.
Everything. Everything I needed to change. Everything I was doing wrong. All the products that were poisening my home, my children, my skin, and seeping into the Earth.
So what happens next? This is the turning point. Either you turn wistfully away and think…
“I’ll never be able to get there.”
“No way can I fit all my trash into that tiny mason jar.”
“I can’t afford to get rid of all my cleaning products just because they score an 8 on the toxicity scale.”
“The KonMari method is far too complicated to maintain long-term.”
“Sustainable fashion choices just aren’t available for my body type.”
OR you take the plunge. Dive deep into the murky waters and attempt to discern truth and implement change.
This is my passion. If you find yourself at the turning point, I want to grab your hand and walk you one tiny green step at a time into an Eco Friendly Momming lifestyle that will positively impact your future for as long as you walk on Planet Earth.
It should be simple.
Long term change happens slowly. Don’t try to change it all at once, but start consistently changing. I’m not guaranteeing to change your life. Only YOU can do that. But if you want to start the process, I want to give you a few tips.
I’ll start where I began about 3 years ago. I’ll share where I am today, how I got from there to here, and where I dream of going. Stay tuned, and please leave a comment to let me know you’re reading or if you have specific questions for me!
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*Before you read this full list, this is your moment to remind yourself that one tiny little Eco Friendly step at a time is what gets us to the finish line. Going completely plastic-free may be a long term goal, but that’s not where most of us start.
Instead, browse the following list and write down 2-3 steps that sound EASIEST. Start with those. Once you get them down, come back to the list and choose one more. Then repeat.
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Trying to reduce waste but not quite ready to abandon your morning coffee routine? Here are some tips for lowering your coffee waste at home!
☕️ Buy coffee beans in bulk or in recyclable packaging to reduce packaging waste.
☕️ Opt for a manual coffee maker (such as a French-Press) or a stovetop coffee maker! We personally use a Bialetti stovetop coffee maker and really love it. These methods completely eliminate the need for a coffee filter.
☕️ Avoid single-use coffee pods. If you regularly use a Keurig coffee machine, swap the disposable pods out for a reusable one.
☕️ Avoid single-use coffee filters. If you’re attached to your traditional coffee pot, opt for one that has a built in coffee filter or purchase a reusable filter! Here’s an idea from Amazon, but you’d need to make sure the dimensions fit in your specific coffee pot.
☕️ Compost your coffee grounds. They’re rich in nitrogen, which is an essential element for a successful compost bin.
☕️ If you’re a latte lover, try your hand at making your own lattes at home to reduce waste from disposable coffee cups (or read my other blog post here about simply bringing a reusable coffee mug)! Here’s a little collection of everything I use for my homemade lattes:
Over the past several months, I’ve pondered what implications the Christian walk should have on an Eco Friendly lifestyle and vice versa. What does God think about the time and effort I’ve put into writing this blog, researching healthier product swaps, and my striving to care for the Earth and the people in it? Will I get to heaven and find that I’ve wasted my life on earthly things that aren’t going to matter for eternity, or perhaps, just maybe, does it actually reflect a tiny bit of the heartbeat of the One who created it all?
I keep asking God if I should quit. Yet each time I’ve asked, I can feel my heart settle into peace, and I’m reminded that I’m His daughter. He longs to give good gifts to His children, and I feel the pleasure of Father God smiling down on me, like a sweet daddy watching his little girl delight in the gifts that He has given her.
The worries fall away, and I’m reminded of these verses:
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” The Earth being a place of beauty was God’s idea, not man’s. He created a perfect world, full of thriving ecosystems and intricate creatures, and He declared that it was good. The Earth was valued deeply, and original mankind was tasked with the job of caring for the planet, including plants and animals.
Proverbs 31:10 “A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” This passage continues to describe a godly woman who works hard to bring good, not harm, to her family. She stays up late working for her household (her home environment), she creates things with her hands, she cares deeply for others, she buys and sells and makes wise, healthy choices that benefit those around her. The passage ends by saying, “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” This tells me that while the ‘ins and outs’ of running a healthy household may not often be considered glorious, it is very possible to do all these things and also fear the Lord. One does not disqualify the other.
Matthew 13:31 “He told them this parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.“” So many parables and teachings of Jesus included references to nature. Seriously, so many.
Job 38:1-4 “Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? …. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” Our God is mighty, and His wisdom is higher than our wisdom. Do you think it’s a coincidence that God created the world as He did, where plants naturally biodegrade and eventually turn back to dust? Where compost miraculously fertilizes new life? Where dead matter decomposes and specific micro-organisms aid in that process?
When a culture adheres to the laws God gave us for how to govern human life, societal blessings generally follow, because God’s plan just works better. Similarly, I believe that choosing to care for our environment yields real blessings to our overall health and to our souls.
Psalm 19:1-3 “The heavens proclaim the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” Somehow, God created the Earth to point back to Him. It teaches us about His nature, His vastness, His creativity, His wisdom, and as we learn to observe His handiwork, we are propelled into worship.
So what’s my point, exactly? While I’m NOT claiming that Eco Friendly living is the central theme of Scripture (Jesus alone stars in that role), I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that God cares deeply about the planet.
He created it and breathed the galaxies into existence. Of course He cares about it! So take care of the Earth, take care of your body, the lives of the people around you, and the creatures you encounter.
Walk in a way that respects the natural world, and as you care for the environment, allow it to inspire a heart of worship for the God who made it.
Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts – I’d love to hear reflections from others as well!
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A big part of my journey into an Eco Friendly lifestyle has been educating myself about product ingredients and learning to make better choices for the Earth on a macro-level, but also for a cleaner & more toxin-free environment at home on a micro-level.
But let me tell you, it has been a long process. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried a product labelled “natural” only to find out it contained ingredients that were potentially hazardous, or how often I would find a product that was toxin-free but only available in plastic.
My ultimate goal is to discover the best of both worlds (toxin-free ingredients AND zero waste), but these are the best household items that I’ve come across in my search. I will continue to update this list as I find new items that I feel I can recommend.
For recommendations on Eco Friendly personal care products (lotions, shampoos, makeup, etc), read here.
Seventh Generation Dish Liquid Soap (Not zero waste, but a clean swap that can be recycled. I find it hard to use a soap bar when I need to soak a dish in soapy water, so I like to keep this on hand as well.)
MamaSuds Automatic Dishwasher Powder (Currently unavailable on Amazon, but I just ordered this sample pack and will update this post after I try it! However, I LOVE that this is zero waste and has only toxin-free ingredients, so it looks promising.)
Wool Dryer Balls (I use all 6 dryer balls for a full load of clothes. For my full post on why dryer sheets are the worst, read here.)
Molly’s Suds Natural All-Sport Laundry Wash (This is not zero waste, but it’s safe for the whole family and the plastic bottle is recyclable, so it’s a good alternative for anyone not wanting to use laundry powder.)
Savoy Tea Co. Loose Leaf Teas (This tea won me over to loose-leaf teas, and they come in tins that can be refilled locally for completely zero waste tea. They offer a few teas on Amazon, and a wider variety on their website here.)
14. Keep yourself motivated on your zero waste journey with an in-depth study on your recycling and trash facilities.
Forewarning, though – this late night research paper might just rock your world.
If you’re lacking in motivation to keep up your zero waste goals, just block off a few hours one evening, pour yourself a strong cup of coffee, and begin to research what *actually* happens to your trash and recycling when that magical green truck whisks it away from your driveway.
About 2-3 years into my zero waste journey, it dawned on me that all of my motivation for why I was working So. So. Hard. to reduce my waste stemmed from external factors: A TED talk here that challenged me to avoid single-use plastics. A documentary there about the horrors of the environmental damage from over-trashing our planet. A guilt-inducing pin on Pinterest with that checklist of everything I needed to banish from my kitchen cabinets.
These were the initial factors that piqued my interest and gave me the capacity to actually care about the zero waste movement; however, it wasn’t until very recently that I took the next step and allowed the zero waste movement to sink deep beneath the surface of my skin and really touch my heart.
It started out with a preliminary search for details on my city’s trash collection. Here’s what I discovered:
First off, I want to highlight how incredible my city is. The City of Fayetteville (in Northwest Arkansas) has established a city-wide initiative to reduce waste by increasing awareness of recycling and composting, and they have created a Master Plan with specific action points to help them “achieve a goal of 40% waste diversion by 2027.” In an effort to remain transparent, the city has also published quarterly reports that reflect the amount of trash collected (by tons), along with an estimate of carbon dioxide produced by that trash, recycling collection details, and the cubic yards of compost created.
This. Is. Amazing.
This gives me hope that drastic changes for the betterment of the planet ARE possible. It just takes one city at a time. One small business at a time. One individual at a time.
If you live in a city that doesn’t keep detailed records of trash and recycling collections, you might need to dig a little further to find answers. Here are a few suggestions for where to start:
Look at your bills to determine the name of the company who collects your trash and recycling.
Once you find their contact information, call or email to ask: Where is my local landfill? Is there a record of where recycling is sold? What percentage of collected recycling is actually sold? What programs are offered for recycling or composting within my city?
Once you’ve found some answers, jot them down on a piece of paper and sit down to reflect on the following:
1. My trash is part of the problem. Perhaps this is an obvious point, but our trash doesn’t just disappear and become part of a mystical global trash problem when it’s picked up from our houses each week. Most likely it’s heading to the local landfill – mine is exactly 17 minutes from my house.
What blows out of the local landfill or the trash trucks during their weekly treks around the city is part of the trash I see on the side of the road when I’m driving to the grocery store. It’s part of what enters our city’s drainage systems, streams, rivers, and eventually the oceans. Side note: the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has an interesting article here about how plastic ends up in the ocean.
2. Recycling is good, but it should never be my end goal. I don’t know where I got the idea, but somehow I had always been under the impression that my recycled paper just made new paper, my recycled glass jars ended up as new glass jars, my recycled water bottles ended up as new water bottles. Unfortunately, while this can happen occasionally, it’s not the norm.
Instead, I discovered that my paper is made into tissues and paper towels, which most likely will not be recycled a second time. My glass jars are mixed with plastic to make fiberglass insulation, which definitely cannot be recycled. My plastics bottles and containers are used to create plastic pellets for a variety of uses, but are unlikely to be recycled again. In essence, my recycling only postpones their landfill burial.
3. Our support of small businesses, city-wide programs, and educational initiatives is critical for the success of the zero waste movement. Yes, the actions of individuals are important, but the waves of change are going to ride on businesses and legislation that take a stand for reducing waste. So make it a point to discover who is already doing it, and then go all-out to support them.
Buy products from companies that offer zero-waste packaging.
Buy food from restaurants with compostable utensils and carry-out containers.
Share posts on Instagram or Facebook when your city initiates a new zero waste/recycling/compost program.
Write a quick email to encourage a company when you hear about the zero waste steps they’re taking. Let them know you see and approve.
Thanks for reading this post! If you have other ways to stay motivated on your zero waste journeys, please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!
Imagine a world where Eco Friendly Living was normal because “that’s what my mom always did.”
That dream is why I write this blog. My hope for my two boys is that their journey towards an eco-friendly lifestyle will be a simple journey, because I do the hard work for them on the front end. No having to research safe products, because mom already found great ones that work. No need to figure out how to compost, because they’ve watched mom do that their whole lives. No YouTube tutorials on what can be recycled, because they’ve helped me recycle for as long as they can remember.
One of my proudest mom moments was a few months ago: my almost three year old had popped a balloon he’d received from school, so he proceeded to throw it in the trash, then looked at me and said, “Well, my balloon is going to the landfill – bummer!”
I laughed at first, because that’s something you just don’t expect to come out of the mouth of a toddler! But it’s moments like these that reveal just how much our kiddos absorb from simply watching us live our eco-friendly lives.
What a beautiful thing it is to have the privilege of influencing the next generation through such a powerful tool as motherhood. No matter what season of motherhood you find yourself in – maybe a brand new mama, an experienced mom with several littles running around, a single mom with way too much on your plate, or perhaps you desire to be a mom at some point in the future – here are a few tips for how to encourage your little ones to follow in your Eco Friendly footsteps:
Talk about nature and go outdoors with your children often! Let them get dirty and feel the grass between their bare toes. Let them pick up worms and watch the ladybugs fly off their tiny fingers. Something about being in nature gives humans the ability to look at the Earth with a sense of compassion, and as their love for nature grows, so will their desire to care for it. There’s no coincidence about the fact that the more disconnected a culture gets from regularly experiencing nature, the less the Earth is valued in that culture.
Bring nature indoors for craft time! Collect rocks to paint, flowers to press, leaves to sketch, or twigs to build with. Not only is this completely zero waste, it’s yet another way for your kids to learn to appreciate nature!
Give your children age-appropriate eco-friendly chores.
Recycling: Teach them how to collapse cardboard boxes and put them into the cardboard recycling bin. Explain to them what items can and cannot be recycled, and how to sort the recycling. Let them come with you and throw the plastic bottles into the correct bin at the recycling center. Who knows, your kids might even help keep you accountable if they catch you throwing a plastic bottle in the trash! 😉
Composting: Show your kids where you collect your compost during the day. Let them put the apple cores in and dump in their food scraps after dinner. If you have a compost bin at home, let them walk everything out to the compost bin every evening, and let them witness the miracle of their food turning back into dirt!
Practice an eco-friendly lifestyle yourself! Trust me, they’ll notice. I could type a mile-long list of all things I do just because that’s how my mom always did them. I cook recipes that my mom always cooked, using ingredients that she always used. When I’m at the grocery store, I select brands that my mom always bought.
Day after day, as you continue to make choices that are better for the planet and your family’s health, your kids are going to follow suit:
Minimalism is often described as the answer to jam-packed closets, the overflowing junk drawer, or the hectic pile of boxes in the garage. But if you really want to evaluate whether or not you’re a true minimalist, head over to your bathroom.
If your heart is really in it, your bathroom will easily follow suite, as the main concepts of minimalism apply there as well. However, if you’re not fully committed, your bathroom will call you out.
The sheer volume of products that are marketed for your bathroom shelves is astounding: hair products, lotions, makeup, skincare, wall decor, etc. What makes these especially tricky is that you do actually need some products, but you don’t need them all. How do you discern between the necessary and the superfluous?
First, imagine your dream bathroom. Perhaps you’ve already got a board on Pinterest with exactly what it looks like – for me, it’s clean, crisp white, neutral tiles or wood floors, full of greenery, uncluttered, calming, uplifting.
Once you’ve got that picture in your mind, imagine brightly-colored plastic bottles, cheap makeup, and mismatched products scattered all over the countertops and in the shower. Still your dream bathroom?
This is often the disconnect. Everyone wants a picturesque minimalist bathroom, but the daily purchases of products that are allowed into the bathroom counteract that. We cannot have both at the same time. Does that mean we need to stop washing our hair or never buy makeup products again? Not at all. But it does mean that we need to be a bit more choosey about what is allowed to cross the bathroom threshold.
Here are a few tips for a minimalist bathroom:
1. Generally speaking, cheap products create visual clutter, so aim for quality over quantity. Products are usually packaged in plastic because it doesn’t cost as much as eco-friendly packaging materials, allowing the seller to reduce the overall cost of production and market the product to you at a lower price. Plastic also comes in bold colors to grab your attention and make you want to grab that item off the shelf at the supermarket. Investing in quality products (with healthy ingredients and eco friendly packaging) is far more likely to be visually appealing as well.
2. Before making any bathroom purchases, ask yourself: is it beautiful? Do I want to look at this product every day for as long as it takes to use it up? If not, keep looking. There are literally millions of products out there in the world to choose from!
3. Research, research, research! The greatest enemy of a minimalist bathroom is hurried consumerism: “I need shampoo by tomorrow morning, so I’m gonna pick up whatever catches my eye in the 2 minutes it takes me to stroll through the shampoo aisle.” Before you know it, you’ve got another product in your shower that simply doesn’t perform, is full of potential toxins, and will eventually end up in the landfill — after it sits in the back of your cabinet for months because you just don’t like it. Committing to research products on the front end prevents clutter before it ever arrives. Read about my favorite product recommendations here!
4. Refuse to start a new product until the old one is completely gone!While it can be SO tempting to try out a new shampoo that you just purchased, what inevitably happens is that the old shampoo is passed over in favor of the new favorite. The result is that you end up completely wasting the old shampoo when you finally just throw it away, OR you end up with multiple different products. Consistently doing this will result in a bathroom full of cluttered, half-used bottles that you don’t really love but feel guilty getting rid of.
5. Just because a product says you need it doesn’t mean that you actually do. This is minimalism in a nutshell – it’s just exponentially important in the bathroom, because this is where the majority of marketing targets us:
You need this product to be thinner.
You need this productto gain weight.
You need this productto be prettier.
You need this productto heal yourself.
You need this productto fit in.
You need this productto practice self-care.
You need this productto be eco-friendly.
You need this productto be zero waste.
Now, some of these goals are negative, but others are actually beneficial to our bodies (self-care, health, eco-friendly living, zero waste living). However, the problem is that our culture wants to twist even good things into materialism – the core opposite of minimalism.
So, I challenge you today to remind yourself of the truth: material things cannot make you happy. No amount of stuff can do that. Allow yourself to let go of the clutter and focus on what actually does matter in life!
For additional minimalism tips, read my other blog posts:
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Throughout my search for healthy and eco-friendly personal care products, I’ve tried quite a few that were amazing and nearly as many terrible ones. So I thought it might be helpful to compile a master list of my favorite products that are available on Amazon, in case anyone wants to go on a quarantine shopping spree! 😉
While I’m working towards ditching the plastic bottles, I’m not completely there yet. I’ve included my favorite zero waste products below, but decided to also share a few clean products that I really loved despite the packaging, or that I just haven’t found good plastic-free alternatives for yet. Feel free to recommend any others you’ve tried in the comments below!
Learn more about ingredients to avoid in beauty and personal care products here.
Innersense Organic I Create Volume Hair Volumizing Lotion (Hairspray is one of the worst offenders when it comes to containing toxic ingredients, and this is my favorite product for helping my curls retain their shape without stiffening them. While they still use plastic bottles, the company has pledged to use recycled plastic and also become plastic proactive by collecting 150% of their annual plastic output! Read more here!)
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.*
13. Exchange plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner for the bar version of the same!
Want to hear my #1 tip for switching over to bars of shampoo and conditioner?
When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! 🙂
Think about all the brands of shampoo you’ve used during your lifetime. I’d venture to guess it’s quite a few! I used to browse through the shampoo and conditioner aisles at Walmart to find products that smelled the best, were safe for permed hair, claimed to tame frizz or breathe life into my curls or restore split-ends….. I could go on and on.
So why is it that when we decide to switch to eco-friendly bars of shampoo and conditioner, we base our entire experience on the first bars that step into our showers?
My first shampoo bar was nothing short of a disaster, and I was SO CLOSE to ditching the bars and returning to my plastic bottle comfort zone. But I decided to give it a second try, and the very next brand I tried (called Ethique) was amazing! So far I’ve loved both of these:
Note: the conditioner bar is slightly smaller, but because I generally apply less product, it actually lasted longer than the shampoo bar! The shampoo bar lasted about 5 months (washing my hair 2-3 times per week), and I still have about half of the conditioner bar left after using it for 6 months!
A few things I admire about Ethique: the company is based in New Zealand, but their products are available for purchase on Amazon! They use only plant-based and vegan ingredients, are cruelty-free, and they are a certified sustainable business. Read more about them here.
Here are a few other zero waste shampoos with great reviews online! I haven’t tried these yet, but they’re definitely on my wish list for products to try.
Plaine Products Travel Size Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash (This one is not actually a shampoo bar, haha! Their products are on the pricier side, but they’re a good option for anyone who isn’t quite willing to part with liquid shampoos. Plaine Products are packaged in refillable aluminum bottles, so when you’re finished, you can ship the bottle back to be reused!)
Lifestyle Benefit: Interestingly, eco-friendly products are often better for your body too. Perhaps people recognize that it’s pretty silly to care for the Earth without caring about it’s inhabitants! Whatever the reason, the shampoo bars I’ve come across are much more likely to be toxin-free than regular shampoos and conditioners. For more information about toxins to avoid in personal care products, read my mini blog series on Clean Beauty: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3!
Earth Benefit: Ethique shares an infographic here called “The Problem with Plastic,” and the most astounding statistic is this: “80 billion plastic bottles [are] disposed of around the world every year just from shampoo & conditioner alone.”
While recycling your shampoo bottles is better than tossing them in the trash, plastic cannot be recycled forever. According to this National Geographic post, “The same piece of plastic can only be recycled about 2-3 times before its quality decreases to the point where it can no longer be used.”
This is why finding alternatives to plastic packaging is so important! If you replaced 4 shampoo bottles every year for the next 50 years with a zero waste option, that’s 200 plastic bottles that aren’t cluttering up the Earth – just because you decided to make this swap. That’s a lot of plastic!! Your little choices make a difference!
If you read this and decide to make the swap, please leave a comment and let me know! I’d also love to hear any other experiences you’ve had with zero waste shampoo alternatives!
Towards the beginning of my clean beauty timeline, one particular memory stands out to me. I had just completed my (very minimal) makeup routine, so I was wearing the usuals: mineral powder foundation, blush, mascara, eyeliner, and some neutral eyeshadow with a slight shimmer to it.
I scooped up my 4 month old son and held him close – with his face snuggled up next to mine. Then we walked into the kitchen and the sunlight streaming through the windows highlighted his tiny face, and I could clearly see the glittery shimmer from my makeup on his face.
Somehow that moment impacted me. All the research about ingredients in my products flooded through my brain, and I realized that what I was putting on my skin was impacting my little ones as well. It wasn’t just the quality of my life at stake. It was theirs, too.
So I committed to start looking for replacements that:
Contained only toxin free ingredients
Had Zero Waste (or very low waste) packaging
Was high quality and performed well
As it turns out, it’s very hard to find makeup and skincare that fits all three of those descriptions! I tried several natural makeup brands that had healthy ingredients, but came wrapped in plastic or didn’t perform well at all. Or maybe they were zero waste, but had the typical ingredients with red flags I was trying to avoid.
Started by a couple of women with a desire to pioneer the Clean Beauty movement, CRUNCHI impressed me from the get-go. Here’s a few reasons why:
Every single product is toxin-free. Their website states that: “A product is considered toxin-free if it does not contain any ingredients known to cause harm or health hazard based on available ingredient data and research.” CRUNCHI has created a list of “Banished Ingredients” that will never be in any of their products.
Conscious Packaging: CRUNCHI has carefully chosen their packaging to reduce plastic wherever possible, opting for glass or paper packaging as a preference. When I received my order, ALL of the packaging was recyclable, and most of my products were in glass containers.
Cruelty-free and Vegan: All CRUNCHI products are completely vegan, and no products are tested on animals.
CRUNCHI products are also Gluten-free, non-GMO, and made in the USA!
So I decided to make the investment and try a product…
And then another…
I was completely blown away by how amazing my skin felt, and then hours after putting my makeup on, I’d glance in the mirror and still feel beautiful and fresh!
I had tried SO many liquid foundations over the years, but I always reverted to a mineral powder foundation because the liquid foundations made my face break out every single time. CRUNCHI’s Beautifully Flawless Foundation stayed put all day and was the perfect coverage, but it felt so light-weight and healthy on my skin. My skin didn’t react to it at all – even when I forgot to wash my face in the evenings! (Real #momlife, anyone with me?)
The Nightlight Facial Cream quickly became part of my self-care routine and was a simple way to feel pampered even after a hard day of momming.
CRUNCHI’s New Mascara is hands down my all-time favorite mascara and the only mascara I’ve ever seen packaged in a glass tube.