Introducing S.W. Basics DIY Skincare Essentials

If you don’t know me, let me explain something. I don’t cook (my husband does, phew). I don’t craft. I don’t sew. I don’t fix things. Ikea furniture gives me meltdowns. I firmly believe two things: store-bought products exist for a reason (so we don’t have to DIY them), and there are a lot of amazing companies out there who make stellar products, by hand, in the U.S., and just like anybody, I like to buy those products.

When you think about it, it’s pretty crazy that S.W. Basics started out as my DIY project.

Seven years ago I started making my own skincare in my kitchen. But not in a “Yay I’m so excited DIY is the TRUTH!” kind of way. It was more like, “Ugh kill me is this really the only option?”

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An Ode to Minimalism

Several months ago I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I’ve been obsessed ever since. If you haven’t read it, here’s the gist: Kondo is a professional tidier and consultant (talk about forging your own career path). She’s developed new methods to help people get rid of excess in their personal spaces, with the idea that, “…as you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you.” (Kindle Edition, 90)

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Natural Hair Tips, As Learned When I was 12

Reflecting back on my 12-year-old self there is a lot to cringe about, appearance-wise. I had a unibrow and, to balance that out, I had a massive gap between my teeth. I was a tomboy who spent my days making up music videos to the Jock Jams soundtrack while wearing stuff like oversized t-shirts emblazoned with sea bass (my older brother liked to fish, so I thought that was cool), satin-y Umbro shorts, and Tevas.

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Certifiably Awesome: Meika Hollender, Co-Founder of Sustain Natural

We’ve got a major crush on Meika Hollender, co-founder of Sustain Natural, a sustainable sexual wellness brand. Yup, you read that correctly: a sustainable sexual wellness brand. If that strikes you as an usual categorization, it’s because Sustain Natural – and Meika – are doing some amazing, innovative work in an industry that’s long been in need of some disruption. Hence, the crush.

Let us elaborate: Not only are Sustain’s products created in an environmentally conscious and responsible fashion (for example, they use only fair trade rubber in their condoms) using only non-toxic ingredients, they’re perhaps the only sexual wellness brand that is marketing their products to a bafflingly long-ignored audience: women!

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Are we too obsessed with cleanliness? Let’s get dirty.

We live in a culture that’s crazed with cleanliness. We’re drawn to sterility, perpetually reaching for our hand sanitizers and cringing at the idea of eating something that’s been on the floor. Some of us shower twice a day, and use crazy chemicals and drugs to ensure disinfected spaces and bacteria-free bods. But what if we’re going too far, inadvertently sabotaging ourselves by succumbing to this fanatic decontamination?

Increasingly, evidence shows that those who were exposed to more microbes as children are less likely to have allergies and asthma as adults. This is because we actually build up resistance to harmful bacteria through exposure. Researchers call the idea the “hygiene hypothesis,” proposing that spotlessly clean environments may actually be detrimental to our health. Similarly to working out your muscles to build strength, our immune systems need to be exercised in order to function effectively. Our bodies are entire ecosystems, influenced by bacterial interactions in both our internal and external environments. Overly-sanitizing our spaces or always defaulting to strong antibiotics weakens our immune systems. It’s like trying to ace a test you haven’t studied for, or going into a presentation completely unprepared: Your body simply doesn’t have the tools necessary to defend itself.

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Fall Fitness: Cycling with SoulCycle Instructor Madeleine Starkey

Our ongoing fall fitness series continues with this week’s feature: indoor cycling! We admit we’re a bit biased here, as S.W. Basics’ founder Adina Grigore happens to be a huge cycling fan, with her studio of choice being – you guessed it – SoulCycle. And for good reason, too. For those unfamiliar with cycling or SoulCycle, the gist is this: You work your ass off, rock out to awesome music, and leave feeling totally zen. Yet we know that reducing cycling to simply “it’s awesome” isn’t going to help anyone be less intimidated by it or more motivated to give it a try. To that end, we commissioned Madeleine Starkey, a SoulCycle instructor here in New York City (she teaches at both Brooklyn Heights and Union Square), to discuss everything cycling. Her interview is below – but first, some Certifiably Awesome questions!

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S.W. Recipe: Skin Cleanse Hair Conditioner

This recipe is straight from our founder Adina Grigore’s book Skin Cleanse. Pick up your own copy here!

DIY conditioners are usually full of oil, but it’s often very difficult to get oil out your hair. We prefer this recipe, which is still very conditioning but really light and easy to rinse out.

Beer is full of B vitamins, repairs damaged hair, and adds volume. The fatty acid content of eggs helps moisturize and condition your hair, and apple cider vinegar will help make your hair shiny and also clear you of scalp issues and buildup. The nice thing about this conditioner is that it’s good for your hair and your scalp. This recipe is especially great for fine hair.

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The Self-Massage: How to Do It, and Why It’s Awesome

 We all know how miraculous it is to get a massage: Your stress levels lower, your heart rate evens out, your muscles relax, and you can breathe more easily. Basically, you feel like your best self. Indeed, touch has important physiological effects on our systems. Among the researched effects of daily massage are improved digestion and circulation, a more balanced nervous system, smoother skin, and more luscious hair.
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