StorkNet interview with
Janice Cox
Author of
Natural Beauty Books: Natural Beauty at Home,
Natural Beauty from the Garden, Natural Beauty for all Seasons

In her three enticing natural beauty books, Janice Cox offers us hundreds of soothing, pampering and delightful recipes for body, bath and hair care. Using the freshest of ingredients, you'll learn how to mix, blend, store and use homemade bath spritzers, body lotions, eye creams, shampoos, hair conditioners, cleansers, masks, body powders, bath teas, bath soaks, massage oils, hand and foot creams, toothpaste, moisturizers, lip glosses, toners, astringents, bath oils, soap and more. Learn how to give a great massage using Janice's Amorous Massage Oil, containing cinnamon and vanilla!

Read StorkNet's full review of Janice's books and discover her personal recipe for Great Expectations (stretch mark) Cream!

Janice Cox has been making her own beauty treatments for over twenty-five years. She is the author of three books on Natural Beauty: Natural Beauty at Home, Natural Beauty for All Seasons, and Natural Beauty from the Garden all published by Henry Holt and Company in New York. Her books contain over 600 recipes for Body, Bath and Hair Care products.

She writes a regular column for Natural Living Today magazine, "Recipe for Beauty."Her recipes and ideas have also appeared in Self, Shape, Fitness, McCall's, Country Living, Organic Gardening, Herb Quarterly, Herb Companion, The Natural Way, Health, Mothering, Fit Pregnancy, New Woman, At Home Mother, American Health, and Natural Way magazines. She has appeared on National television and radio programs discussing Natural Beauty. Mrs. Cox has turned her passion for home beauty into a full time career and has become a nationally recognized expert on Natural Beauty.

She is the mother of two beautiful daughters, Lauren (age 11) and Marie (age 8). Along with keeping her husband and daughters well cared for, she is also involved with Girl Scouts, School activities, Gardening, and Handicrafts. Janice and her family live in Medford, Oregon.

Be sure to visit Janice's web page.

StorkNet: Janice, thank you for being a guest on StorkNet! We're very curious how you got started in this creative, natural and nurturing field. Was this something you've always wanted to do, or did you suddenly become interested in homemade products as an adult? Does your business also feel like a hobby? How did/do you find time to test recipes and write books with a family? Do your daughters help? So many of our StorkNet members are young mothers, wives and women with careers. Some are embarking on careers or have put dreams on hold. You are an example of a woman who is blending womanhood, motherhood, family and career successfully. Any words of wisdom?

Janice: Creating my own beauty products and treatments is something I have always loved doing since I was a young girl. It first started out of necessity - I grew up in a small town where we did not have a lot to choose from in the line of natural products - also, I did not have much money to spend on luxury items such bath and body products. So, I began collecting recipes and using treatments that my Mother and Grandmother both used. Some of my early experiments were with egg facials, oatmeal scrubs, and witch hazel astringents. Now, nearly thirty years later my hobby has definitely turned into a passion - which after three books and hundreds of magazine pieces has turned into a career!

I love what I am doing currently and it does feel like a career - I once read: " a job is how you spend your time but a career is how you spend your life" - well Natural Beauty is definitely a part of my life! It is also a career that blends easily with family life -especially now that my children are in school. In the beginning I had to write whenever I could - which was usually late at night - now I can work while they are at school and still participate in their activities. I would encourage any woman to explore their passions and create a career around them - If you love what you are doing it will show and your family will not suffer -remember, "a happy mother is an effective mother." Also, keep your life balanced - you will not be able to "do it all" -- there are many times when I have a deadline and my house is a mess and my family gets sandwiches for dinner.

Jen : I have an abundance of rosemary and sage growing in my garden. Do you have any personal favorite recipes from your collection that make use of either of these herbs? Also, I have a lot of red valerian. Do you know if this is the same valerian that is used in teas and such for aiding insomnia? And do you have any recipes that call for it? Thanks in advance!

Janice: Jen, I too love rosemary and sage (especially pineapple sage has a wonderful scent). They both can be used in a variety of natural hair and body care products such as herbal baths, astringents, or hair conditioners. Here is a recipe from Natural Beauty from the Garden for an herbal shampoo that uses both sage and rosemary:

Scarborough Fair Shampoo
1-tablespoon fresh parsley leaves
1-tablespoon fresh sage leaves
1-tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1-tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
cup boiling water
cup mild liquid soap or shampoo
Place all the herbs in a glass bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let the mixture steep for at least 20 minutes. Add the liquid soap and stir well. Pour the mixture into a clean plastic bottle and let sit overnight to thicken. To use: Pour a small amount into your hand and massage into your hair and scalp. Rinse well with warm and then cool water. Yield: 8 ounces

I would be very careful using valerian root in teas - it is a powerful tranquilizer and large does may cause vomiting, dizziness and depression - I would stick with warm milk with a bit of orange flower water or lavender added for insomnia much safer - For cosmetic uses valerian is mainly used in the bath and can be added to herbal blends for a relaxing soak. Try a combination of valerian, lavender, and chamomile in the evening to help you sleep.

Erica: I have always had very blemished skin and I'm 26, it's still happening. The closest thing to helping it is Mary Kay products (all oily/blemish prone formulas) but lately even those aren't working. (I'm pregnant right now too.) What remedy do you suggest and how do I make it? Thanks! I'm willing to try just about anything at this point.

Janice: Erica, pregnancy puts your hormones into overdrive and can cause all sorts of changes to your skin and hair - Women with clear skin suddenly breakout while others with troubled complexions enjoy clear skin!? I would keep your skin clean and well moisturized and you may want to try a weekly facial mask. Strawberries are perfect for acne prone skin because they contain a large amount of salicylic acid - a popular ingredient in many acne preparations. Simply mash a few berries and spread on your face or mix with some sour cream for a more moisturizing mask. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes then rinse with warm water. Remember to use a rich moisturizer and use a sunscreen when outdoors.

Maureen: I have a problem with dry, itchy scalp. My doctor prescribed Nizoral shampoo, but now that I'm pregnant, I've stopped using it. What can I use on my scalp to keep the itchiness away? Thanks!

Janice: Maureen, Have you tried a conditioning hair pack? Remember, your scalp is basically an extension of your face and it too needs extra moisture and conditioning every now and then. Rather than trying to dry it out further with harsh shampoos - which causes more flakiness - try a little TLC and some added moisture. Some good conditioning hair packs to try are honey, eggs, avocado, and sour cream. Massage a few tablespoons into your scalp before shampooing and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes - you can wrap your hair in a warm towel or plastic wrap for extra conditioning. Then rinse with warm water and follow up with your favorite shampoo and conditioner.

Gwen: I need a good hair conditioner. Either leave in or wash out. My hair is thick and naturally curly and also naturally dry. Plus I dye it and that makes it worse. Also something I can put in to tame the frizziness but enhance the curls. All the store stuff leaves my hair crumbly or greasy looking. Also where can we go online to buy the ingredients for your recipes? We have a store here in town that sells a lot of the stuff, but they are VERY expensive.

Janice: Gwen, here is a recipe from Natural Beauty at Home for a good general purpose Hair conditioner. I use this one once a week before I shampoo and leave it on my hair for 15 to 20 minutes. If you cannot find almond or avocado oil simply substitute with light olive oil.

Perfect Hair Conditioner
1 teaspoon almond oil
1 teaspoon avocado oil
1-teaspoon olive oil
1 egg yolk
1-tablespoon honey
1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Mix all the ingredients together and stir thoroughly. Massage into your hair and scalp. Wrap your hair in plastic wrap or use a plastic shower cap and leave the conditioner on your hair for 15 minutes. Shampoo your hair as usual and rinse well. Yield: 2 ounces, enough for 1 treatment

Many of the ingredients in my books you should be able to get at the grocery store or natural food store. You may want to search online under the ingredient you are looking for.

Maria: I am a high risk pregnancy case... just getting pregnant this time was a miracle. Since I have to be careful about medications I take, could you suggest as a relaxing bath tea that will help with back ache. Thanks for your help.

Janice: Maria, I would use bath salts. You can make a relaxing muscle soak using equal parts sea salt, Epsom salts, and baking soda. Add approximately cup to a warm bath and stir well. If you are extremely sensitive you may want to avoid strong scents and colored products.

Analise: Janice, I have fresh lavender growing in my yard and I love the scent. Do your recipes in your book include something to do with fresh lavender, or will I need to buy lavender oil? I'd love to do something wonderful with this since I have it at arms reach. Thank you!

Janice: Lavender is one of my favorite plants and I too have several varieties growing in my own yard. In all my books I always feature recipes using lavender. One of my favorites is for a bath my daughter created in Natural Beauty for All Seasons. "Lauren's Lavender Bath" which is simply a quarter cup of fresh or dried lavender added to a warm bath - very relaxing at the end of a hectic day.

Ann: My 13 year old son suffers from eczema. He gets little dry patches all over his arms and legs, he has had two patches on both of his knees since last summer and on the inside of his elbows. I have tried every prescription and OTC remedy available to mankind, but nothing seems to work. Any ideas? Thanks, Ann

Janice: Ann, have you tried oatmeal? Oatmeal is extremely soothing to individuals with eczema. You can create a soothing body scrub using ground oatmeal (simply grind in a coffee grinder or food processor) and water - mix into a paste and massage into damp skin then add cup to a warm bath a soak for 10-15 minutes - do not use too hot of water as this can be drying to sensitive skin. Then make sure you use a mild body lotion or natural oil such as light sesame or almond oil.

Elizabeth: Do you grow some of your own ingredients? What are the easiest herbs or plants to grow that would be handy to have on hand to make some of your recipes?

Janice: Elizabeth, yes, I love to garden and herb plants are some of my favorites because they actually thrive when neglected - perfect for a busy gardener. I love any mint - especially chocolate mint, lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme, calendula, and parsley. These all can be grown in the ground or in a container and many varieties come back year after year. Herbs also love to be picked so watch -- the more you use the more you will have!

Barb: Is it better to use glass containers or plastic bottles (or something else) for the things we create from your books? And where would I purchase containers?

Janice: Barb, both glass and plastic work well - it really is a matter of personal choice and how the products are going to be used. For gift giving I usually always use pretty glass bottles - but for shower or bath product I use plastic, as they are much safer and do not break if dropped. I love to use recycled jars and bottles - some of my favorites are colored water bottles, salad dressing containers, and plastic sport drink bottles with the spout style tops.

Joan: Janice, do you have a good recipe for something natural to use on diaper rash?

Janice: Yes, Joan, In Natural Beauty from the Garden I have a whole section of children's products. Here is the recipe for "Diaper Cream:"

Diaper Cream
2 tablespoons soy lecithin
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon apricot kernel oil
teaspoon vitamin E oil
cup distilled water

Mix together the lecithin, coconut oil, apricot kernel oil, and vitamin E oil. Heat this mixture gently until the coconut oil is liquefied. Gently heat the water until it is roughly the same temperature as the oil mixture. Pour the lecithin mixture into a blender and start stirring. Slowly add the warm water and blend on high until the mixture is thick and creamy. Pour the cream into a clean container and allow it to cool completely, stirring occasionally. To use: apply a small amount on to your baby's clean bottom before diapering. Yield: 6-ounces

Elaine: I finally have a yard and place to grow herbs. I would like to grow some kitchen herbs -- rosemary and basil, for example, and wonder how you use such things fresh?

Click here for purchasing linksJanice: Elaine, herbs are wonderful additions to your own Natural Beauty Products - check out my book, Natural Beauty from the Garden where there are hundreds of ideas and recipes for growing and using fresh herbs. One of my favorite ways is create fragrant after bath splashes by simply adding fresh herbs to a bottle of witch hazel and letting it sit for a few weeks - very soothing and energizing and a great way to enjoy your herbs!

Lesley: I have been making homemade aromatherapy products for years now. My favorites to make are: soap, balm and bath salts. Can you recommend a recipe and/or combination of herbs and essential oils that is good for babies? I would love to try to make a homemade baby soap and maybe even a baby massage oil. Thanks!

Janice: Lesley, when making bath products for babies think super sensitive - babies' tiny systems do not do well with strong scents. Some good choices for infants are orange blossom, lavender, chamomile, and thyme. I have a recipe for "Apricot Baby Oil" in Natural Beauty from the Garden that uses apricot kernel oil, sesame oil, wheat germ oil and a choice of essential oil of sweet orange, lavender, or chamomile. You may want to try this one.

KC: I ordered your books through Amazon online. I'm anxious to have ingredients on hand and am wondering what the basics are. I'll be wanting to make lotions, creams, moisturizers and maybe things to put in the bath. What are the very basics I should start searching for to have on hand? Thank you, Janice!

Janice: K.C., many of the basic ingredients you should already have on hand in your own home. I wrote the books using common household ingredients such as natural oils, eggs, honey, fruits, and vegetables. So readers could get started creating products right away - Have Fun!

Tricia: I can't wait to get started. I didn't even know these books were available and now I'm in my glory. I've always wanted to experiment or learn to make homemade products and now I can! There are farms around me where I can buy things at a discount, so I plan on trying a lot of the recipes, like the one on your web page for strawberry bath! When it comes to gifts, do your books give suggestions for decorating the items to give away?

Janice: Super! Have fun - My second book, Natural Beauty for All Seasons contains many gift giving and packaging ideas - it came about because so many of my readers were making products and giving them as gifts or hosting Natural Beauty parties. Thanks for the nice feedback.

Deborah: I tried the oatmeal cookie bath recipe and I love it and will probably be making that several times a week now! Please tell me what the baking soda does. Why is it in the recipe?

Janice: Deborah, baking soda is a common household ingredient that is used in cosmetics as a skin soother, cleanser, and deodorizer. In the "Oatmeal Cookie Bath" recipe -- the baking soda acts as a gentle cleanser and skin softener. It is also soothing to tired muscles.

Lilly: Janet, do you have a recipe for something that would add comfort and cooling during a hot flash?

Janice: Lilly, Hot flashes can be annoying and can range from a warm sensation to burning-hot session-- It may help to dress in layers and to keep your environment on the cool side (turn down your thermostat). Some women suck on ice cubes, drink cold drinks, and visualize themselves walking in the snow or swimming in a cool mountain lake. You may also want to cutback or avoid hot liquids and spicy foods which can trigger hot flashes. Here is a recipe for a cooling body powder from Natural Beauty for All Seasons to try:

Cooling Cinnamon Body Powder
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Mix together the cornstarch and cinnamon until well blended. To use: sprinkle on dry skin or use a powder puff. Yield: 4 ounces

StorkNet: Janice, thank you for sharing your talents, healing thoughts and recipes with StorkNet members. Any new books or projects in the works? What can we look forward to at www.janicecox.com? We hope you will come back again. In the meantime, we'll be blending, mixing and testing over here, and we'll let you know our favorites!

Janice: Thank you for having me on StorkNet - it is a wonderful site and a great way to exchange information. I hope visitors are inspired to create just a few of their own beauty products - it's something women all over the world have done for centuries and it is extremely rewarding. It is convenient, fun, and very cost effective. Not to mention that you know exactly what ingredients you are using - Enjoy! You can always visit me at www.janicecox.com where we feature a beauty forum, recipes, and hopefully soon, hard to find ingredients for sale. I am currently working on a revised edition of Natural Beauty at Home with more recipes, due out next fall. I also write a regular column "Recipe for Beauty" for the Magazine Natural Living Today. Remember - "We are all born with a natural beauty, it is how we choose to use it that makes us truly beautiful!"

Have a beautiful day,
Janice Cox

Read StorkNet's full review of Janice's books and discover her personal recipe for Great Expectations (stretch mark) Cream! We think you'll love it!

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