Interview with Pollen & Wax + giveaway

When I was a teenager, I was content with using the Costco shampoo and Ivory soap provided by my parents. My sister, on the other hand, was blowing her allowance on $20 bottles of conditioner. I think she bought her first Dr. Hauschka product at the tender age of 14. She’s always been on a quest for the best beauty products.

For more recent readers, my sister was also the original “Bee” of Crab & Bee – we started this blog together in 2011 before realizing that our interests (sewing for me, and clean beauty and living for her) easily deserved their own sites. She’s been been immersing herself in the health and safety issues in the beauty industry, as well as learning how to make what she wants with clean ingredients. She started her company, Pollen & Wax, last year and has been busily adding to her line ever since.

(Also, her product design and photography is insane!)

Pollen & Wax Satellite

Pollen & Wax Hothouse toner

I’m so excited that the Bee is back for an interview and a giveaway!

What has been the biggest change you’ve noticed since changing to a clean beauty routine?

Bee: Consistently good skin without unhealthy dependencies – before, if I didn’t wash my face for a day, it became a Serious Problem.  That’s what I love most about clean products – they don’t throw your system into imbalance by their absence, since the best ones work with and support your body’s natural processes.

How did you educate yourself on making products that were both safe and effective?

Bee: Gosh. It all started so gradually, it’s hard to pin down! One moment you’re a tween buying bargain makeup at the drugstore, and the next you’ve got your face buried in an organic chemistry text book and PubMed research articles. Mentors, teachers and a support network is a must, and if you have an experimental spirit and love reading, there’s very little in the way of instructional knowledge that’s out of reach! Dreaming big is just as important – you’re bound to fail at a few things, but it’s the “why not?” that really creates change.

Do you have any suggestions for people who are interested in removing toxins from their beauty routine but don’t know where to start?

Bee: I’m a huge fan of No More Dirty Looks – their book and blog changed my life by educating me on the perils of a cheap, industrially-produced beauty fix and helped me look for (and then make) clean products that worked (naturally, I gravitated toward the Good Stuff!). It can feel a little scary walking away from a trusted panel of products you’ve spent years cultivating for particular or fussy skin, and I totally understand!

No More Dirty Looks
Siobhan O’Connor & Alexandra Spunt of No More Dirty Looks

Luckily, there are more green beauty bloggers happily digging in to every shade of product than you can imagine – and truthfully, I owe much of my present success to their kind words and enthusiasm for green products, so it’s really wonderful to experience how green entrepreneurs can support each other.  After you dig into to some inspiring blogs and books, take a page from the NMDL ladies and go at a pace you find comfortable. If you want to throw everything out and start over, or if you’d rather replace things as they run out, do that. (And give some consideration to first swapping out the products that cover the largest surface area – body oils, lotions, washes.)

One easy green fix is to avoid anything with “fragrance” listed as an ingredient – usually that means a chemical cocktail protected by proprietary license notoriously riddled with hormone disruptors and other toxins.

What are some easy or free things people can do to improve their skin without using a new product?

Bee: Oh, I love this question! The most important free thing you can do for your health and skin is educate yourself on the products you use and understand how they influence your health.

Everyone knows the usual mantra for good skin (sleep, hydration, stress management and diet) but there are tons of very affordable remedies very accessible to just about everyone. Grapeseed oil is a fantastically light oil just packed with antioxidants – it’s shelf stable and very affordable for its virtues, and I would venture to say suitable for just about any skin type that needed some light moisture. Shea butter is terrific for more intensive moisturizer and is great for hands, feet and night treatments.

Lavender essential oil is, in my mind, the most important essential oil I would single out for a beginner. It’s very safe and gentle – lavender is remarkable on burns, zits and other skin maladies.  It tones and heals with remarkable strength and support a healthy cellular structure. There really is such a remarkable wealth of knowledge on the net, I encourage anyone interested in natural healing to dive right in!

Pollen & Wax Fresh Deodorant

Also, I have to say – though I make a very fine deodorant myself, I feel so strongly that people need to walk away from the drugstore stuff that I’d like to share a DIY recipe with you. Three ingredients from the cupboard, plus any essential oils you like will make a killer deodorant, and very effective.  (P.S. I did not care for the grapefruit essential oil she suggested in that recipe – I smelled like a pina colada – so my personal taste would be a pleasant combo of lavender and tea tree, or whatever floats your boat!)

I love a good disaster story. My biggest beauty foible was trimming the baby hairs around my forehead and having them grow back in a thick line. That, or my penchant for poorly-applied Wet-n-Wild brick-red lipstick – I think I wore that stuff to bed. What’s yours?


Bee: It’s hard to pick just one…was it the time I tried to recreate an editorially glossy aqua eye and nearly blinded myself?  Or greasy middle-school bangs?  Or obliterating my eyebrows into two almost non-existent yet perpetually surprised commas? No…I think it was the time that I decided a heavy, oily pomade was an appropriate choice for my hair. My long hair. My long, very fine hair. Needless to say, I looked like something that had been fished out of the drain.

I was actually jealous of those eyebrows… Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on clean beauty, sister!

Bee: Thanks for having me!

Pollen & Wax
Bee is offering one of her four skincare collections to any Crab & Bee reader, along with a makeup bag made by yours truly! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment saying which collection you would like to win. (Check out P & W’s Typology feature to figure out which collection would work best for your skin.) Also, please feel free to also share your best beauty disaster story (because I love them so freaking much), ask Bee a question, or share your favorite clean beauty trick.
We’ll close the giveaway by Tuesday March 4th at 2pm PST and announce the winner shortly after!

Sustainability update

Now that I’ve gone through the process, I can say that moving one’s blog is akin to a physical move. You can’t help but see your posts in a fresh light as you export and import them, and make sure they’ve survived the move. I was surprised to look back and see the variety of posts on sustainable living, clean beauty, and food. While my love for sewing has really taken over Crab & Bee (and I’m not fighting it), I still spend a lot of time thinking about how to live healthfully, happily, and more thoughtfully. So in the spirit of Crab & Bee’s beginnings, here’s a smattering of updates on what I’ve been up to!

An illustration I made in 2009

I was feeling pretty happy about my eating habits – lots of cooking and bringing my lunch in – until school started this September. My consumption of packaged foods has definitely been up because I have less time to cook. And  while I’m good about buying lunch at places I know have compostable containers, but my snacks – and I snack often – come in crinkly plastic that goes into the garbage. (Do any of you have good tips on how to eat home-cooked food given my time limitations, or favorite snacks with responsible or no packaging?) The other complicating factor is that I’m eliminating wheat because of potential allergy issues. Because of that, I’ve integrated an occasional (maybe once a week) serving of fish back into my diet after being strictly veggie for over a year.

On the food waste front, we’ve been composting our food waste for a few years now, but I’m still amazed to see how much it cuts down on garbage!

As I explained in one of my Wayback Machine posts, my career path has been all over the place (although mostly in creative fields). I’ve been working at the same job for the past year and a half now, which has been a much-needed break from freelancing and self-insuring. That said, I work for an online retailer. Considering how interested I am in handmade and thrifted clothing, I have some cognitive dissonance around that fact! There’s a lot to like about my company; they hire locally, they sell higher-quality items, they treat their employees ethically, my team is made of awesome and genuine people, and I’m not sure how I would have survived this year without health insurance. I also feel really fortunate to have a job when many people are having difficulties finding anything, let alone fulfilling work. But ideally, my personal convictions would match my work life.

Cleanin’ and Beautifyin’
Really exciting developments in cleaning department!  My main goals have been to keep the same level of cleanliness while using safer products and reducing packaging. This includes:

  • Making my own re-fillable surface cleaning spray from water, baking soda, Borax and tea tree oil. (Just a warning about essential oils – they can be toxic to pets at their full concentration, so dilute them. I couldn’t find a consensus on a safe concentration, but I used 10-15 drops per 12 fluid oz. of water for my cleaning spray and wiped it up as I cleaned.)
  • Based on a tip from No More Dirty Looks via Readymade, I’ve been making my own eyeshadow and brow powder from activated charcoal tabs. (Another warning, The granules are bigger than the ones in makeup powder and can scratch your eyes more easily.)
  • Continuing to make my own laundry detergent, recipe here!
  • Continuing to buy bulk shampoos and soaps

Next up, I’m going to try and make some blush from beet powder and starch, as well as look for a bulk dishwashing soap solution!

Clothes and sewing
Here’s some familiar territory! In my Top 5 Reflections on 2012, I talked about my interest in both new and thrifted fabric. After some extra fabric purchases in 2011, I tried to stick to buying fabric only for the project I was currently working on this year. This was both good (my tiny fabric closet stayed about the same level of crammed throughout 2012) and bad (I bought expensive fabric in a pinch.) Still, this year I’m planning on staying the course, buying fabric on a per-project basis and also spending more time looking for environmentally responsible fabric as well as thrifted fabric sources.

As for what I bought retail, I was able to keep my clothing purchases down through a mixture of thrift shopping and sewing. I bought two sweaters (I have little luck at thrift stores with sweaters and am super jealous of So, Zo’s thrifted beauties), leggings, a dress and… designer sweatpants off of ebay, for a total of 5 items. I did, however, purchase way more shoes than I had intended! I was planning on keeping it to 0-2 pairs, but ended up at 5. They all met my requirements (durable, repair-able, walkable) and 4/5 of them have seen a lot of use, but hopefully I’m set for 2013.

I’ve also decided to do the Seamless pledge, during which I would create or thrift any new clothes for a given period of time. I’m super excited that Gillian is both joining in and helping to re-vamp it.

What are you up to?
I was going to get into transportation, but as this post has run a bit long and I’m pretty much keeping to my bus/walk to work, drive-occasionally routine, I’ll table that topic! But, I’m interested in hearing some of your favorite ways to maximize your resources and reduce waste, so please share! I’m also interested in hearing how these sorts of practices vary by location.

Reflections on 2011

What an eventful year! With so much having happened, I wanted to reflect a moment on all of the blog-inspired changes made this year.

From dirty shampoo to no shampoo to clean shampoo
I started out the year using a supposedly “natural” shampoo that ended up containing fragrance and SLS. Then, I did baking soda/vinegar every three days for a few months until I heard and saw that my kind of scalp can get irritated by that routine. Currently, I’m using a fragrance/SLS/paraben free shampoo without conditioner every other day and it’s working great! My hair feels very similar to the baking soda/vinegar routine, but my scalp is happy. I’m considering working my way up to three days in between washings.

Less driving, more walking
Thanks to moving even closer to work, I walk the 2 miles to work about half the time. It’s even cheaper than the bus and I’m in way better shape! If you don’t live close to your office, consider getting off at an earlier stop or parking your car and walking part of the way. Walking to work has also made me more likely to meet up with friends or run errands on foot. I have to say that I’m not completely self-motivated; finding street parking in my hood is a total pain and a very effective deterrent to getting in my car.

I also have been trying to combine errands that require the car into efficient trips. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve had to spend 30 minutes scouring my neighborhood to find my car.

Still vegetarian, post-Vegetarian Month
I’m proud to say that I’m still going strong! Inspired by Bee’s veganism and some information like this amazing infographic from, I’ve been able to stay steady. Also, perhaps it’s owning a cat that’s about the size of a large chicken, but I’ve become more squeamish about the idea of killing animals so vegetarianism is a good fit for me now. If only I could reduce my cheese intake… perhaps something to tackle in 2012?

Repairing my shoes
Yes, I still wear leather shoes, which have very high carbon footprints (ha! footprints) when bought new. Almost all of mine are thrifted, but some aren’t. One thing I’ve started doing this year is taking them to a cobbler! I got my favorite cowboy boots resoled and weather-proofed and now they’re better than new. At $70, repairs cost more than I paid for the boots at the Goodwill, but cheaper than equally good new boots and easier on the planet. I have three other pairs being fixed as I type.

I’m still new to repairing my shoes, but I highly recommend taking your damaged shoes in to a cobbler and see if they can repair them. If you do need new shoes, I highly suggest springing for higher-quality shoes because they can be repaired much more easily than cheap ones.

How about you?
I’ll stop here because this is a daunting block of text. But Bee and I would love to hear what improvements you’ve made this year and what you look forward to accomplishing in 2012!

Thoughts on hair and showering

Me and my hair

It’s been awhile since we chatted about beauty routines and cleansing habits. Since starting a new job, I’ve eased up on the no shampoo thing. My scalp was getting increasingly irritated by the baking soda and vinegar which resulted in… flakes.

What I have been doing is washing my hair every other day with an extremely clean shampoo that both No More Dirty Looks and EWG would approve of. I buy it in bulk at PCC (for non-Seattlites, an amazing grocery co-op) so I’m not fretting about all the containers I’m using.

I was feeling really good about my routine until I read that the average 10 minute shower can take anywhere from 25 – 70 gallons of water! Even every other day, that’s a lot. So I’m going to try to cut back to 3-5 minute showers, with the aid of a timer or my cell phone. And, I should also probably hassle our landlord to put in a low-flow shower head.

Does anyone have any water-saving techniques to share? For the shower or elsewhere?