Not Another MLM!?! Is Network Marketing a SCAM?!

You’ve seen it a hundred times.

Your good friend Karen is just a normal person, minding her own business… then

BAM!

Karen joins an MLM company.

You avoid talking to her.

You ignore her messages in your inbox.

You may even unfollow her on social media so you don’t have to see the posts about her products.

You are convinced that MLMs are bad news. You haven’t ever actually done business with one before, but you’ve heard a lot of rumors. And they aren’t good:

  • The products are overpriced
  • The reps are obnoxious
  • They have bad business practices
  • MLMs are a scam

While some of this may be true of some companies or some reps, it is important to note that Network Marketing (previously known as Multi-Level-Marketing) is none of these things in and of itself.

Network Marketing is just a way that some companies do business.

It’s simply a different marketing strategy.

Just as most companies employ “conventional” marketing techniques like TV commercials, billboards, internet banners and other such methods, Network Marketing companies employ an equally valid marketing technique:

Word of Mouth

It is well-known in the world of retail sales that the gold standard of advertising is word-of-mouth advertising for a couple of reasons:

  1. Word of Mouth advertising is free
  2. Word of Mouth advertising is incredibly effective:
    • If your mom tells you she just had the best burger of her life at the new restaurant on the corner…what will you be having for lunch tomorrow?
    • If a guy you meet at work tells you Lasik eye surgery changed his life and he hasn’t had to use glasses for 13 years, are you likely to consider it for yourself?
    • If you watch a girl at church go from a size 18 to a size 6 and she tells you it’s because she started drinking a certain brand of shake, how likely are you to look up that specific brand as soon as you get home?

Word of Mouth Advertising is powerful. When someone you trust tells you that a product is good, you listen. And you are much more likely to buy that product than if you just saw it on a TV commercial.

And that referral didn’t cost the company anything!

Companies all know that word-of-mouth marketing is the most influential marketing of all, but they all use different ways to entice people to recommend their products.

Some companies offer affiliate programs to bloggers or social media influencers. For example, if you sign up as an affiliate for Amazon, you can create product links that generate a commission for you whenever someone buys. The larger your referral sales, the higher the commissions.

If you like to look at reviews before buying a product, you have probably seen reviews that said, “I received this product for free/at a discount in exchange for my honest review.” Companies are desperate to harness the power of word-of-mouth. So desperate, they are willing to give their products away for FREE to get it!

If every company in the world could use the power of Word-of-Mouth marketing for every product, they definitely would.

What Makes Network Marketing Different

Network Marketing companies harness the power of Word-of-Mouth marketing instead of traditional marketing methods—and they use those billions of dollars of advertising budget to pay a grassroots army of reps, who live and work among the masses.

People like your cousin Lucy or your uncle Marvin.

People you trust.

People you love.

And if your mom is selling a great shampoo, wouldn’t you much rather use your dollars to support her than buy an inferior quality product from a big box store?

The strategy is genius if you think about it: the product has to be great, or they won’t find people to recommend it to everyone they know.

Because of this, the products from network marketing companies are often far superior to anything you can buy on the mass market.

BUT…??

Now let’s look at a few of the objections that may pop up in your mind when considering a network marketing company or opportunity:

Objection #1: The products are overpriced.

I used to think this too.  After all, why would I buy a $30 face wash or a $50 supplement when I can get what looks like the same thing for ¼ the price at Target or on Amazon?

It looked like those multi-tiered compensation plans just created a bunch of needlessly expensive products.

Then I did some research.

I started seeing products I really wanted to try from network marketing companies that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Sure, there is a supplement that says it does the same thing on Amazon a lot cheaper, but when I look at the reviews on that product it doesn’t seem to be working for people. When I find one online that does have great reviews, it is even more expensive than the “expensive” network marketing product I was trying to avoid! And often the network marketing products last a lot longer or include freebies with a purchase… and they want to give me a discount!

When I really started looking into it, I realized the products weren’t overpriced after all. They were often better quality than what I could get anywhere else, and they were cheaper!

Almost every network marketing company offers discounts on their products based on an automatic shipment, and most also offer wholesale pricing to distributors, or to people who want to buy a bundle of products initially.

Quality matters. I have come to learn that I get what I pay for. People aren’t buying expensive things because they are stupid. They are buying more expensive things because there is value there.

Have you ever purchased a cheap product from a retailer and it barely survived the ride home? Purchased a supplement or protein powder of inferior quality that did nothing for you—or worse—made you sick?

These products have rave reviews for a reason. People are paying their prices for a reason. The quality demands it.

Did you know there is a 70% mark up on any product you buy on a store shelf? There are a lot of expenses that go into a product that have nothing to do with its quality:

  • Manufacturing
  • Advertising
  • Distribution
  • Retailer Mark-up

You are never paying what it costs to make the product because there are so many steps (and people who need to get paid) in-between.

So if you are buying a bar of soap that costs $1, think about it: what kind of quality can it possibly have? It cost the manufacturer 20-30 cents to make it. Are you willing to wash your body with something that cost 20 cents? If you’ve ever tried to make soap, you know it costs more than $1 just to make it with the raw materials, not even including the effort, marketing and shipping. So that soap you thought was such a good deal? Watered down and likely toxic. All so you could save $1.

The businesses that create products are doing it to make money. Everyone has to make a living. So if they are selling cheap products, it’s worth considering what you are really spending your money on. If it’s an inferior quality product with toxic ingredients that will last you a week instead of a month, are you really getting such a good deal?

Story Time

Once my husband purchased “cheap” underwear at Target. He expected that maybe it wouldn’t last as long as the ones he usually bought, but what he didn’t anticipate was that he couldn’t wear them at all. They were itchy and uncomfortable, and he threw the whole package away. Did he save money or waste it? Now he only buys quality underwear, even if it costs three times as much. They are comfortable and they last 2-3 years, so for him that is the value that matters.

When you do a bit of research, you will find that most network marketing companies provide products of superior quality which present a better value than cheaper products offered in stores.

Another example: for years I looked for a natural shampoo that would make my hair healthy. I tried every product on the market: whatever I could find at my local health food store, at salons and online. Nothing ever worked for me.

My hair was damaged, frizzy, thin and unmanageable. I was frustrated because I was not willing to compromise on ingredients. I only wanted to use something natural… but nothing natural ever worked!

I heard about a hair care brand called MONAT, but I balked at the prices. Why would I pay so much for shampoo? When I looked at salon-quality brands, however, they were even more expensive—and filled with toxic ingredients I didn’t want to use!

So I tried it.

Guys.

From the first wash, I could see, feel, smell the difference. My hair was smoother, shinier, more manageable without me doing anything different! Not only that, but that handful of hair I used to shed in the shower? It was reduced to just a few strands.

Photos on the left: before MONAT. Photo on the right: about 11 months of exclusive MONAT use.

I was hooked. How could I not use this stuff? I had been looking for it for YEARS.

And as it turns out, the first bottle I ever purchased lasted me almost a YEAR. That made it cheaper than anything I’ve ever used before: even the clearance stuff of the store shelf at a big box store!

Some things are more important than saving a little cash.

We have to consider the quality of the product.

If I’m faced with a crappy cup of coffee or no coffee at all… I choose no coffee. Every time. It’s not worth it to me if I don’t like it.

The experience also counts for something. Just walking into a locally-owned coffee shop relaxes me. I feel comfortable and wanted: it makes me want to stay awhile. On the contrary: walking into a convenience store is harsh and sterile. I want to get out of there as soon as possible!

I will happily go out of my way to go into a locally-owned coffee shop and pay four times the price of a cup of coffee—because cheap gas station coffee isn’t worth getting at all.

This is the whole idea behind Network Marketing. What if, instead of buying from a corporation, we could buy from our friends… our family… our neighbors?

What if we worked together and helped each other? When all of my friends have small businesses, I can get everything I need from my circle…. I don’t  have to step foot into Wal-Mart or Target if I don’t want to. I get the best products for a great value and the best possible customer service—because I’m shopping with my friends.

Objection #2: The reps are obnoxious.

Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with people who were involved with Network Marketing companies. Maybe they hassled you and bothered you and spammed you with information you didn’t ask for.

Maybe someone sent you a friend request on social media, only to immediately send you a cold message asking you to buy their products or share their business with your friends.

These are not good business practices; they never were. Not only are they annoying, they simply don’t work. Irritated people will not become your friends, your customers or your business partners.

But think about it: just because some people do it wrong doesn’t mean you should never do business with anyone involved in Network Marketing.

As we discussed above, the quality of many products from Network Marketing companies is superior to anything you can find in the store, and often at a better value.

Why would a bad experience with one person or company prevent you from benefiting from great products or even a business opportunity you could really use with another person or company?

Most companies appeal to consumer wants and needs through advertising.

Network Marketing companies appeal to consumers through relationships.

It’s like the difference between going to a gas station for coffee or stopping in at a locally-owned coffee shop.

Sure, you may pay more for the coffee from the coffee shop, but you probably get better quality coffee (that tastes better), a more inviting atmosphere, and you can sit and chat with the owner while you are there.

Which one is really the better value?

Objection #3: Pyramid Scheme! 

We’ve all heard that MLMs are “pyramid schemes.”

But this isn’t accurate.

From Wikipedia: A pyramid scheme is a business model that recruits members via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than supplying investments or sale of products.

Pyramid schemes are illegal, and don’t involve any products or services. They ask for money from participants, and promise that everyone will make much more money than they “invested.” No products or services are exchanged.

Example: Sally tells Bill that there is an investment opportunity that is really easy. All he has to do is invest $1000 and recruit 2 or 3 other people to do the same, and he will make back $5000. Sound good? Maybe, but it also sounds very sketchy.

Pyramid schemes are illegal for a reason: they are a true scam. People at the top make all of the money, and people at the bottom are left holding the bag when the whole thing collapses.

Network marketing companies aren’t like this at all. There are true products and services involved, and that is what you exchange your money for. Just like when you walk into a store and fill your cart then pay for it… you do the same thing with network marketing companies.

The ONLY DIFFERENCE between network marketing companies and other companies is the way they market their products. That’s it. Just the advertising. Everything else is the same.

Now let’s do a little exercise.

Pull out a piece of scrap paper and draw the organizational layout of the company you work for. Or of Sony. Or Ford.

There’s a guy at the top, right? Usually the CEO. Then a couple of people under him, and a few people under them, and on and on and on.

What shape does your drawing make?

Pretty much every company makes this shape: with the people at the top “making the most money,” and the people at the bottom “doing all the work.”

So next time you are tempted to yell “pyramid scheme…” think about it.

The thing I like about network marketing is that it is a level playing field. Literally anyone can be successful, with little to no start-up cost.

Do you have to work hard? Yes.

Do you have to be determined and persistent? Yes.

But is there any limit to what you can accomplish? No.

Sounds kind of like the American Dream to me. 

The tax savings alone make it worth joining a network marketing company, because when you do, you are “starting a business” in the eyes of the IRS, and that means tax deductions, which can get you a fat return check in April.

Besides tax savings, residual income is definitely something you want–and network marketing companies provide that in spades. Would you like to work once and get paid forever? That’s the kind of potential we are talking about here.

To Recap….

Network Marketing is a business model that involves marketing primarily based in Word-of-Mouth advertising. Network marketing companies harness word-of-mouth marketing over traditional mass-marketing methods.

And in the process, they partner with individuals like you and me. They allow us to be their spokespeople, which is way better than hiring celebrities and purchasing TV spots or internet banner ads.

Better for them, and better for us.

It’s better them, because they pay out their “advertising costs” on commissions.

Instead of spending millions of dollars on an advertising campaign, they will pay out millions of dollars in commissions to regular people like you and me.

That advertising money is spent either way. But when it’s spent on commissions rather than advertising, everyone wins.

The company gets more effective advertising, dollar for dollar. And we have the opportunity to build residual, passive income and become financially independent.

Once you understand what Network Marketing is, and what it is capable of giving you, I think you will believe (like I do) that it is the best business model there is.

What Do You Think?

Did you learn anything new about Network Marketing or MLM business strategy?

Will you think differently about it the next time you hear someone say, “I don’t do MLMs,” or, “That’s a pyramid scheme?”

 

 

More Resources

Residual Income: How to Get it in 5 Steps

You Need a Side Hustle: Tax Advantages to Having a Home-Based Business

How to Get the Best Hair of Your Life–And Make Money Doing It

Save the Most Money Possible on the Best Natural Haircare and Skincare

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

 

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo by Skin Science: An Honest Review

I am a sucker for natural products. Anything that claims to use the power of nature to work wonders on my skin, my hair, my body, or my overall health has me entranced, and I have to try it. 

Hair History

For years, I bounced from shampoo to shampoo, looking for natural products that would make my hair healthy, shiny, thick, smooth and manageable. I tried everything I could find: online, at the health food stores, and even in salons. Nothing ever worked for me: my hair was thin, fine, frizzy, flat, weak and pathetic. It was very frustrating. 

About two years ago I found a product that transformed my hair: it is now thicker, longer, healthier, shinier, smoother and so much more manageable than ever before. My shedding is down 80% and my hair is 2-3x thicker than it’s ever been. It would never grow past my shoulders and now it’s half-way down my back. It’s just overall better. 

That doesn’t stop me from seeing ads for other products that come out, however. 

I’ve been eyeing this WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo by Skin Science for awhile: the ads are everywhere and they look really good! I’ve even had a couple of friends say they love it.

Apple Cider Vinegar is making people’s hair thicker, shinier, longer, healthier! It’s getting rid of dandruff and build up! (Basically everything my current shampoo has done for me. But this one looks like it might be cheaper, and what if…?)

So when I was offered the chance to try it, I thought this would be a great time to compare it with my current routine. 

Full disclosure: I love my current hair products. They have done wonders for my hair. I don’t think I’ll ever switch. But if I found something I liked better, that was just as natural and cost less, I absolutely would switch. And I would promote that shampoo instead of the one I have been talking about. 

So let’s see how this one shakes out. I will try not to compare too much with what I’m using, but I’ve been using it for almost 2 years, so some comparison is inevitable: I am used to my hair being the way it is, so I have to compare my experience here with that. 

Let’s see how it goes! 

First Impressions

  1. Large Bottles, Low Price
    My first impression is that at first glance it appears to be very affordable. The bottles are 16.9 ounces and I paid $29.99 for a shampoo and conditioner set (they’re about $20 each if purchased separately on Amazon).

Over the past couple of years I have realized that fluid ounces of hair product + price is not always the most accurate indication of value. Most shampoos I’ve looked at are heavily diluted, so it’s necessary to use an entire handful to get a good lather on my head. If that’s the case, 16.9 ounces may not last as long as it looks. If I’m using almost an ounce of product for each wash, it will last me less than 20 washes.

2. The Ingredients

I also had to look at the ingredients. I have become somewhat of a shampoo ingredient guru over the past 20 months with countless hours of research under my belt, and I can recognize the main offenders of toxicity and build-up in hair care products pretty quickly. 

I noticed the claims of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo by Skin Science (from the official Amazon store):

  • BEAUTIFUL, STRONG HAIR: WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is able to balance the pH level that closely resembles human hair to help obtain the silkiest, softest, glossiest hair. Use twice a week to be less prone to breakage, split ends, and thinning hair.
  • CLARIFYING CLEANSER: Detox your hair & scalp – cleaning the buildups caused by dirt, dust, filth, dead scalp cells and styling product. Raw apple cider vinegar ensures removal of toxin in damaged hair. Helps rejuvenate & refresh for men and women.
  • MAXIMIZE HAIR SHINE: Improve your hair cleansing routine with our deep cleaning shampoo to get the best results possible. You’ll reduce dandruff, flakes, and frizz while enhancing shine and gloss to your hair. Get the best hair nourishment available.
  • SLOW DOWN HAIR LOSS: Saw palmetto helps slow down hair fall and male pattern baldness, reducing the amount of hair strands falling during a shower. With a little patience, your hair will have more volume and will feel softer, thicker and natural.
  • NATURAL INGREDIENTS: Our WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is hypoallergenic, sulfate and paraben free for moisturized and hydrated hair. Massage scalp and stimulate hair follicles to be less prone to breakage, split ends, and thinning hair. Cruelty Free.


Sounds pretty good! I did notice that there were no claims to not contain any PEGs or petroleum derivatives, silicones, waxes, gums, phthalates or harmful fragrances. 

This distinction is important for a few reasons: 

PEGs or Petroleum derivatives are the most toxic ingredients in most hair and body care products. All of the problematic ingredients: sulfates, parabens, phthalates, harmful fragrances, harsh sulfates and other toxic chemicals are most often derived from petroleum. If you see a guarantee that there is no petroleum or PEG (petroleum derivatives), pay attention! 

Harmful fragrances (derived from PEGs) cause a lot of problems! Many people have become very sensitive to artificial fragrances and with just a passing exposure can have symptoms like migraines, dizziness, nausea, or worse! Even if you don’t have a fragrance sensitivity, these fragrances can cause hormone imbalance (endocrine disruption) and absorb into our bloodstream, causing more health issues over time (and sometimes building up to result in the fragrance allergies listed above). 

Silicones, waxes and gums are not necessarily toxic, but they are deadly for your hair! These artificial (and sometimes even natural) ingredients build up on the hair strands and in the hair follicles. They are in most hair products for a reason: they make hair feel soft, silky and smooth by coating the hair strand with a waxy, plastic-like substance that glosses over the imperfections and damage of the hair cuticle. The problem with them is that they build up on the hair strands and on the scalp over time, causing issues like dry, brittle, frizzy hair, dandruff, oily scalp, and even hair thinning over time! That’s the opposite of what we want from our shampoo!

Phthalates, parabens and harsh sulfates are also commonly derived from petroleum (PEGs) and therefore carry the same health consequences listed above. I have seen some sulfates that can be derived from other sources, like coconuts (as in the case of Dr. Bronner’s Sal’s Suds), but for the most part, ingredients like SLS are toxic and will damage your health and your hair in the long run. Your best bet: find products completely free of PEGs or petroleum products of any kind. 

Overall, Wow Apple Cider Shampoo and its accompanying Conditioner are not as bad as many mainstream products, but I was not impressed with them as a whole.  

3. Where is it Made?

The bottle indicates WOW Apple Cider Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science are made in India. I do like that my current shampoo is formulated, manufactured, processed and shipped from start to finish on American soil. Not only is it a point of pride and provides jobs for American workers, it makes the products more Eco-friendly as well, cutting down on pollution from shipping and other environmental footprints. 

4. Is it Eco-Friendly? 

As it contains petroleum derivatives, that already makes it less than ideal from an ecological standpoint (as well as a health one). The bottles do have a “1” plastic recycle code, which means they are recyclable. Hooray! But the fact that they are less concentrated means they use more plastic than necessary, and more bottles need to be used and recycled than if it were more concentrated. So overall, not terribly impressed with the eco-footprint, especially combined with the fact that it is made in India and shipped to me across the world, containing mostly water. 

Testing the Product

Without further ado, let’s see how the product works!

The First Wash

I followed the instructions on the bottle, which advise to use a “generous amount” of shampoo, lather on the scalp, and allow to sit on the scalp for up to 5 minutes for best results, then rinse and follow with conditioner.  

In doing this I noticed I used 5-6 times as much product as I usually do to get a good lather on my scalp. It definitely is not nearly as concentrated as the products I have been using.

The Fragrance

The shampoo smells like apples, and the conditioner smells like coconuts. 

But not like smelling an actual apple or coconut… more like smelling an apple or coconut candle. Very artificial fragrances. I am not chemically sensitive to most fragrances unless they are in my face and I’m breathing them in heavily for over an hour, but I can usually spot harmful artificial fragrances just by their overpowering, artificial-smelling scent. These products do not even claim to eliminate harmful fragrances, so it’s clear that the fragrances are not natural or safe. 

Shedding

My primary concern before using my current shampoo and something that is very important to me is shedding. Since I was a teenager I would shed handfuls of hair in the shower every time I washed, and then I would be shedding hairs all day long: every time I ran my fingers through my hair I would get 4 or 5 hairs. In order to prevent my hair covering everything, I made constant trips to the trash can to throw away the hairs that were inevitably in my hands every few minutes. 

Shedding I have experienced over the past two years with my current products and routine, washing 1-2 times per week.

 

The shampoo I’ve been using for the past couple of years cut that shedding down by about 80%, which also has made my hair much thicker as it’s grown out without all of the constant fallout. I was very curious to see what happened when I used this shampoo, and a little bit worried because I don’t want to lose all that hair again after growing such a thick, healthy head of hair over the past 2 years! 

 

 

 

Shedding from shower using WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner.

In the first wash, I did experience about twice as much shedding as I usually do with my current shampoo. Not as bad as before, but still not exciting to me. 

Tangling

My hair type is fine and thin, so I have always had some issues with tangling and knotting, especially when my hair is damaged and I need a haircut. With my current shampoo regimen I almost never have any tangling. If i do have tangling (once every month or two) I use the detangling spray from our junior line and that takes care of it. 

Shedding when combing out numerous tangles after using WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner.

With Wow Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and their accompanying conditioner, my hair felt more coated than I am used to, and it was much more tangled. When using my wet brush to brush it out, I lost about the same amount of hair I had lost in the shower when I was washing! 

To be honest, the shedding alone makes me hesitant to use this product again, but I want to use it at least a few times for a fair review. 

 

 

 

Results

My main requirements are low shedding, no frizz, manageable, thick, healthy hair with shine and volume, that will grow past my shoulders. Of course I don’t want to add build up to my hair if i don’t have to either.

Knowing the detriment of buildup to my hair health, why would I? 

For the purposes of review, I did everything the same as I normally do it with my hair: I most often air dry by twisting my hair up into a bun and allowing it to dry in loose curls that way. So that is what I’m doing with WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science

Here are my results: 

  1. Shedding. As I discussed above, the shedding has quadrupled in just one wash. Not loving it. 
  2. Frizz: More frizz than normal, but not terrible. Definitely not as bad as before I started using my current products. 
  3. Manageable: Slightly less manageable overall. My hair felt coated and heavy and didn’t “fall” in the effortless way I am used to. I found myself brushing it every few minutes to try to get it to lay down and look decent. Finally I gave up and pulled it into a pony tail. I can’t remember the last time I needed to do that before day 5 after washing. 
  4. Thick: I’d have to use it for a good year to see the difference in how it grows out, but if the shedding is increased, my hair will not be thicker. 
  5. Healthy: My hair is already healthy, as it’s been growing out with my current products for almost 2 years, and getting better and better with time. It will probably take a year or more of exclusive use to see if there is a real difference. 
  6. Shine: I didn’t notice any difference in shine compared with my current routine.
  7. Volume: Volume was decent in the first wash. 
  8. Growth: Again, impossible to say for sure unless I use it for a long time. 

Overall, on day 2 (the day after my wash) my hair felt heavy and coated. I was surprised that it didn’t look terrible, but it didn’t feel good either. It was a little more frizzy and less manageable than I am used to, and the artificial fragrance lingered and was nauseating after a while. 

WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo  by Skin Science promises to remove buildup and resolve scalp itchiness and dandruff… yet, my hair and scalp felt coated and less clean, and my scalp itched a little bit (it usually doesn’t itch at all). So that is a concern with continued use as well, because buildup can have that effect. 

Cost Analysis

I had to use a full handful of this product to get a lather all over my scalp. I would say I used at least an ounce of product, but to be fair, let’s say I will get about 20 uses out of this bottle, which means it will last me about 10 weeks if I wash my hair twice per week. 2.5 months for a bottle of shampoo that cost me $15 comes out to $12 per month for both shampoo and conditioner, or $1.50 per wash. Not a bad value!

Also a lot more expensive than what I am currently using and what is giving me much better results. The first bottle of my current product lasted me more than 10 months… roughly 4-5 times the 10 weeks this may last if I can stretch out washes to twice a week (doubtful since I already want to wash my hair on day 2).

Even with a lower cost per bottle, this still makes WOW Apple Cider Vinegar 2-3 times the cost of what I am using now.


Given my current experience and how it compares to my regular shampoo in terms of cost, safety of ingredients and results achieved, there is little chance I would ever use this product long enough to see what happens with continued use.

I will probably use it one more time, for the sake of a reasonable test period, but I really don’t want to. I will probably have to wash sooner than the 4th or 5th day (the soonest I usually have to wash with my current routine), which will be an added cost of time and money (if I’m washing more often than twice a week as I do now, the bottles will not last even the projected 10 weeks, which is much shorter than I’m used to already). 

Side Note: My Skin

Another thing… when my hair feels dirty and oily, it makes my skin feel oily and dirty too, which for me usually results in breakouts. As another uncomfortable side effect of using this… definitely not persuading me to continue. 

Conclusion

I stated from the beginning that I love the hair products I’m using now, but after using them for almost two years, I thought it would be fun to try something else that claims to do the same things, and might be cheaper. 

My conclusions for this test of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science are: 

  • It leaves my hair feeling heavy and oily
  • I have slightly more frizz than I’m used to. 
  • My hair is noticeably less manageable than normal.
  • Volume and shine seem about the same. 
  • I will need to wash more than my normal 1-2 times per week. It’s only the 2nd day and I already want to wash my hair because it doesn’t feel clean and it’s making my skin feel oily and clogged. 
  • It is much more expensive than what I am currently using because it is much less concentrated and I will have to wash quite a bit more often. At most, if i wash 2 times per week, these bottles will last me 10 weeks. My first bottle of what I am using now lasted me more than 10 months, 4-5 times longer. Even at retail price, my current products are half the price of these and give me much better results. At the wholesale price I pay, WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science are about four times the cost of what I am using now. 
  • The ingredients of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science are not as clean as the products I am using now. They use toxic PEG (petroleum derivatives), harmful artificial fragrances, and ingredients that build up on the scalp and hair cuticles. After almost two years of researching the ingredients in hair products, these do not impress me, especially for something that claims to be all natural and pure. 

 

Bottom Line: While WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science is less toxic than most mainstream brands of hair care, it does not match up to my current hair care on any level: not in terms of cost, performance or toxicity. 

 

Want to know what I’m using instead? Check out this review.

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

The Truth About Fluoride

No matter where you live or what you believe, you’ve probably heard conflicting information about fluoride.

We are all taught from an early age that fluoride is beneficial for teeth and that it can prevent tooth decay. We hear this from the dentist, from our parents, on TV, and we may even be exposed to an advertising campaign aiming to make sure we know all the wonderful benefits of having fluoride in our toothpaste and in our water.

We also hear conflicting information, however: and usually this information comes from less… “reliable” or “trusted” sources.

Perhaps you heard it from your conspiracy theorist uncle, or you saw alarmist posts on social media. Maybe you’re noticing the products on the store shelves that boast a lack of fluoride (fluoride-free toothpastes and water filters that can remove the fluoride from your water).

Is All Fluoride Created Equal?

First of all, I have been researching natural health and how to heal ourselves without meds for over a decade. During that time I have discovered that nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Fluoride is no exception. It’s not a clear-cut case of “Fluoride: bad, ” as it turns out.

This fact was discovered by my friend Kara over at Deep South Crunchy Mom when we were discussing Kombucha. She told me that in an effort to cut back on coffee, she was now drinking Kombucha every morning and it was doing wonders for her gut health and energy levels. I told her I had read on the blog Cheeseslave that there were high levels of fluoride in Kombucha, both because tea leaves tend to absorb fluoride from the soil, and because fluoride is a byproduct of the kombucha-making process.

Kara was devastated (but not for long). She knew the fluoride in our water and toothpaste was bad (see below) but thought there had to be some difference between naturally-occuring fluoride in tea and kombucha, and the nasty industrial waste product found in our water supply or even the pharmaceutical grade fluoride found in our toothpaste (which is still a neurotoxin).

See what she found here.

Then, if you are curious about Kombucha and what it can do for you, head over to my friend Sara’s blog Clean Living with Kids, to learn more about Kombucha and how to make it.

What is the Truth About Fluoride?

If you’re here for the first time, you may not know it, but I have been researching health, nutrition and the big industries in America for over a decade. (Read here about how I got started on this journey).

I have learned a lot of very eye-opening information during this time, but the number one thing I’ve learned is:

We can’t trust everyone, especially those who are profiting from our trust.

Have you ever heard the term, “Follow the money?”

It may seem cliche, but this phrase one of the truest statements you will ever hear regarding the dangers in our food and water supply as well as a lot of the other dangers in our society today.

If you hear of a “conspiracy” in any area of society, whether it pertains to food or politics or anything else, and you think, “Why would they do that?” The answer is almost inevitably: “Follow the money.”

A Brief History of Fluoride

Fluoride was first added to the U.S. water supply in 1945 in an effort to combat tooth decay.

It seems strange that this was the goal, however, because the year before (1944) the American Dental Association found that fluoride was actually detrimental to teeth and could cause decay and other issues.

The 1944 the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that using between 1.6 and 4 ppm (parts per million) fluoride in water would cause 50% of adults to need false teeth. On top of that, the world’s largest study looked at 400,000 students, revealing that tooth decay increased in over 25% with just 1ppm fluoride in drinking water. (Source 1)

To understand why a chemical of then unknown risk was added to our water supply for seemingly no good reason at all, we have to understand the mindset of the scientific community in post World War II America:

“The history of community water fluoridation is a reflection of the post WWII era of the 1950’s when many thought chemicals in one form or another could solve almost any problem. Our gaze was focused on the beneficial properties of the chemicals, not on the potential hazards. A classic example is DDT, that in addition to being a potent pesticide, almost killed off predatory birds and more recently was found to be harmful to humans.”  –Steven Gilbert, Ph.D., founder and director of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders (INND) (Source 2)

Since that time, it has become widely known that fluoride is a neurotoxin, yet it is still added to approximately 70% of US water supplies. Why?

Any dentist will tell you it is beneficial for our teeth. But is it?

And what are the potential hazards of this chemical?

And how is it produced?

We’ve already discussed that the American Dental Association has known since 1944 (the year before water fluoridation began) that fluoride is actually not beneficial for dental health. So why have they been adding it to water supplies ever since?

In 1945, a large quantity of hydrogen fluoride was produced as a byproduct of industry from DuPont’s Deepwater, New Jersey, plant. The huge quantities of this chemical byproduct were a problem: they had no good way to dispose of it, so they proposed a solution: add it to the water supply. After the government was convinced that fluoride was good for our dental health and that it should be added to water, they continued to do so, finding other sources, like the fertilizer industry, which produces phosphates as an industrial byproduct.

Again from Dr. Gilbert:

Many are surprised to learn that unlike the pharmaceutical grade fluoride in their toothpaste, the fluoride in their water is an untreated industrial waste product, one that contains trace elements of arsenic and lead.

Without the phosphate industry’s effluent, water fluoridation would be prohibitively expensive. And without fluoridation, the phosphate industry would be stuck with an expensive waste disposal problem.”

Studies Proving Harm from Fluoride Ingestion

If you thinks this smacks of conspiracy, take a look at this. When European countries such as Germany, the UK, Italy and France did a risk analysis of fluoride, they all concluded that it was a dangerous toxin and that any potential benefit was not worth the risk.

They further concluded that adding fluoride to drinking water has no measurable benefit to dental health at all. It doesn’t even make sense to take it internally when it is only supposed to help prevent enamel erosion and decay.

Dr. Gilbert explains that the U.S. government’s decision to fluoridate drinking water was the result of two short-term studies that compared cavity rates in a city with water fluoridation (Muskegon/Grand Rapids, Michigan) with the cavity rates in a city without it (Kingston/Newburgh, New York).

These two studies were set to run 10 years, but when early results showed cavity reduction, the U.S. Public Health Service approved water fluoridation after five years — with no data or safety studies on long-term toxicity.

A more recent study done by researchers collaborating in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico shows that fluoride levels ingested by a pregnant mother is inversely proportional to the IQ of the child she is carrying. Because of reports of neurotoxicity from fluoride, these researchers wanted to do a study that measured the actual effects on prenatal brain development when the pregnant mother ingested differing amounts of fluoride. The study included 299 participants and the results were astounding: for every increase in maternal urine fluoride by0.5mg/L, the IQ of the child she was carrying was lowered measurably and significantly (Source 5).

Okay, so we shouldn’t fluoridate our water… but what about toothpaste?

If you are thinking that maybe fluoridating the water supply went too far, but we should still harness the dental health benefits of this chemical at the dentist and when we brush our teeth, think again.

Remember, it’s never a good idea to put a neurotoxin in your mouth.

Let’s look at this logically. Pick up a tube of fluoridated toothpaste and look at the back. There is probably a warning on the back that it is “harmful if swallowed,” and that you should call poison control:

Wait…what?

You should call poison control if you swallow something that you put in your mouth every day? Does that sound reasonable to you?

How much fluoride is worth calling poison control?

The amount of toothpaste that the package itself says it harmful to swallow (and that poison control should be enlisted) is the amount in one use: a pea-sized amount (as listed on the package).

Do you know anyone who uses a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when they brush their teeth? Do you? These are the images we see every day, on every package of toothpaste, and on every television commercial:

To me that looks like about 6 peas lined up together, and one source said the “pea-sized amount” is about the size of a split pea: much smaller than you would think!

So if more than a tiny pea-sized amount of toothpaste, a product we put in our mouth every day at least once, is swallowed, we are supposed to call poison control. Because fluoride is toxic. Does that sound okay to everyone?

Add this to the fact that the fluoride found in toothpaste is actually pharmaceutical grade, and the fluoride found in our water supply is an industrial waste product (most recently being purchased by our government from China’s industrial waste supply, because not even China thinks fluoride is safe enough to put in their water supply)….

 

…and to the fact that fluoride doesn’t even benefit our teeth! The evidence that there is any benefit to dental health at all is sketchy at best, and far outweighed by the toxic nature of the chemical itself.

Which really begins to beg the question… why are we being poisoned with fluoride?!

Is it Really That Bad?

At this point you may be thinking, “Okay, I’m sure fluoride is toxic at high levels, but surely we aren’t ingesting anything significant in our drinking water, right?”

Wrong.

And that is why adding fluoride to drinking water is so dangerous. The amount of water people drink on a daily basis can vary widely from person to person, and the toxicity of even just a minute amount can affect a baby much more than it can affect a 200-pound man.

So how can the government be so irresponsible as to allow a known neurotoxin to be added to our water supply? And why would they tell us it’s good for us?

The world’s largest study looked at 400,000 students, revealing that tooth decay increased in over 25% with just 1ppm fluoride in drinking water. How much fluoride is in our drinking water? A minimum of 1ppm.

And how much fluoride do you have to ingest for it to become toxic? Well, that depends what you mean by toxic. The minimum lethal dose of fluoride is 5 milligrams of fluoride for each kilogram of body weight. And how much fluoride does the average fluoride toothpaste contain? About 5 mg in a tiny pea sized dollop (which we 10x every time we brush our teeth).

For an adult, one swallow is not a lethal dose of fluoride, but consider that many children’s toothpastes are also fluoridated:

“Most disturbing, however, is the fact that even bubble-gum and fruit-flavored toothpastes for children contain sufficient amounts of fluoride to kill a child. Indeed, as shown in the following table, an average-weighing 2-year-old child could die from ingesting just 40% of a “Colgate for Kids” bubble-gum flavored toothpaste.”  (Source 6)

So… we make children’s toothpaste taste like candy and then put enough fluoride in less than half a tube of it to kill them.

Perfect.

Another disturbing fact is that fluoride builds up in the body. It is not flushed out like you may think. This means the effects of this poison are cumulative.

Now that 8 glasses of water we drink every day doesn’t seem so harmless, does it? That tiny bit of toothpaste we swallow twice a day just got a lot more intimidating.

 

The Plot Thickens…

Don’t forget to check out my friend Kara’s post about why not all fluoride is created equal…

And if you are curious about Kombucha, check out Sara’s post about the benefits of Kombucha and how to make it yourself.

Resources and Citations

  1. https://www.naturalnews.com/036280_history_water_fluoridation_FDA_approval.html
  2. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/05/23/statement-opposing-fluoride.aspx
  3. Hazard Profile on the Fluoridation of Drinking Water 
  4. Health Effects Database
  5. Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Cognitive Outcomes in Children at 4 and 6–12 Years of Age in Mexico

  6. What is a Lethal Dose of Fluoride?

  7. How Fluoride Was Sold to America and How We Bought It
  8. More Fluoride Resources

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Eyeing that Instant Pot? Why Stainless Steel Isn’t as Safe as You Think (and What to Use Instead)

When I learned about the dangers of aluminum cookware and non-stick coatings, I was eager to find safe alternatives that I could use without the risk of exposing my family to dangerous heavy metals or toxic chemicals.

I began researching all the options: from stainless steel to glass, copper and ceramic. I made a lot of rice, so I wanted a rice cooker (they make the best rice!) but it was very difficult to find a rice cooker that was not non-stick-coated aluminum.

I first began looking for rice cookers with stainless steel inserts, because I knew that was safe. My research, however, led me to the facts, which are not always as simple as we think.

Stainless steel is safe… sometimes.

As with everything else, manufacturers eventually will cut corners and produce inferior products that save them money in production and increase their profits. Stainless steel is no different.

Instant Pots are all the craze right now–and why not? They make cooking easy, quick and fun again! They don’t heat up the house and they create delicious meals in minutes! They’re programmable and they come in huge sizes–perfect for any family! Most importantly, they are made of stainless steel, so they are completely safe!

Not so fast. 

With every material, there is some kind of trade-off…so it’s good to be informed as to the benefits and the risks associated with each material.

I’m teaming up with Kara at Deep South Crunchy Mom and Sarah at Clean Living With Kids to bring you a series on truly safe cookware.  We want you to have all of the information: risks and benefits, so you can decide for yourself what are the best materials for your family.

See Kara’s post about cast iron here,

And Sarah’s post about glass here.

What’s Wrong With Stainless Steel?

At first glance, stainless steel seems like the perfect solution: it’s hypo-allergenic, it doesn’t rust, it isn’t breakable, and it doesn’t have any heavy metal issues.

Upon closer examination, we will see that not all stainless steel is created equally.

Cheaper grades of stainless steel are not as pure as we have been led to believe, and they can leach nickel into our food. Nickel is a heavy metal, so this is not ideal. (Read more about nickel toxicity here).

How do I know if my stainless steel is safe?

It can be very difficult to determine what grade of stainless steel you are using…. and this is where it gets confusing. There are quite a few grades and classifications of stainless steel (read about them here), and each grade is a different combination of metal alloys.

Bottom of my one stainless steel pot (I use it for popcorn)

Manufacturers don’t often disclose what grade of stainless steel they are using in the cookware that we buy at the store, but a general rule of thumb is: the more expensive it is, the higher grade it is.

In general, stainless steel cookware is either of the 300 or 400 series, and often you can see the grade stamped on the bottom of the pot. Usually these numbers look something like 18/10 (most common), which indicates it is 18% chromium and 10% nickel.

To me, 10% is a lot…especially when it can leach into my food. So I try not to use this kind of stainless steel on a regular basis. I have one stainless pan (pictured) that I use just for popcorn or for steaming things in a separate bowl inside of it.

I’d be particularly wary of cooking anything acidic (tomato sauces, anything with citrus) in low-grade stainless steel, as it would more readily leach the harmful nickel into your food, especially with high pressure or long cooking times.

Check your stainless steel pots and pans for this mark to see what grade your pots and pans are. They are likely this 304 18/10 grade, as that is the most common and most affordable. If you didn’t pay $300 to $400 for each of your pans, it’s not likely they are a high enough grade that would eliminate the nickel (18/0).

If Stainless Steel isn’t Safe, What Can I Use?

I know this is frustrating. It seems like nothing is safe any more, so why even bother? What can I even use?

I have a few things that I use that are safe:

I’m also not a fan of glazed ceramic, like is used in slow cookers and other baking dishes, because it has been found that trace amounts of lead exist in all of those glazes. Now, trace amounts might not matter too much when it’s in your drinking glass… but I don’t want my hot food stewing in something that has any lead in it for hours on end.

So in my house, I primarily use these three materials, and my favorite is clay.

Unglazed clay is great for a lot of reasons, and my favorite way to cook with it is VitaClay.

  • Pure Zisha clay has no lead or heavy metals (3rd party lab verified)
  • No glaze means no added lead
  • Clay has excellent thermal heat retention properties
  • Clay has excellent nutrient retention properties
  • Clay preserves texture and flavor better than any other material
  • Clay employs infrared heat to cook the food faster and more safely than other methods

VitaClay is my favorite because it is a multi-cooker, and it makes cooking easy, quick, safe, and non-toxic! Plus it doesn’t heat up the house or run up the utility bills.

VitaClay is a slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, broth maker, steamer, and reheater in one. It can do almost all of my cooking tasks quickly and more easily than with other methods.

The food in VitaClay comes out tasting better than cooking with any other material I’ve used, including stainless steel, non-stick, glass and cast iron. For some reason, food just tastes better when cooked in clay.

VitaClay is the best of all worlds–delivering safe, delicious food, home-cooked without the hassles, the stress or the mess. Most meals can be put together in less than 10 minutes, then VitaClay takes over, and dinner is ready when I am. It even has a preset feature that allows me to have steel-cut oats ready when I wake up in the morning!

And if you’re still thinking that Instant Pot will cook your food faster and more easily, think again! We tested several dozen recipes in both VitaClay and Instant Pot, and in most cases, the meals were cooked faster (not to mention with better results) in VitaClay! Why? Because that “15 minute” recipe quickly becomes 55 minutes when you take into account the 20 minutes it takes to pressurize and the additional 20 minutes it takes to de-pressurize. VitaClay, not being a pressure cooker, has none of that extra time added on and still cooks 50-75% faster than other slow cookers and multi-cookers.

VitaClay is truly my favorite kitchen appliance: it has replaced my slow cooker, my rice cooker, my yogurt maker, my microwave, and my stock pot… just to name a few. And the results are always better in clay.

Right now you can get 10% off any VitaClay cooker on the website with code NOURISH10 at checkout. So start saving today! If you’d rather order from Amazon, check it out here.

 

And please, if you do decide to use the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, always follow these safety tips to avoid explosions, burns or serious injury.

Resources:
Here is more information about Stainless Steel Cookware and the different grades that can be found.

Here is the 3rd party lab testing that has been done to ensure the unglazed clay used in VitaClay pots is free of lead and other heavy metals.

Check out Kara’s post at Deep South Crunchy Mom about the benefits of cast iron and why you should replace your non-stick pans STAT.

Check out the post from Sarah at Clean Living with Kids on glass bakeware and why glass is a great cookware option opposed to glazed ceramic, aluminum or other non-stick options.

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

How to Purchase MONAT for the Best Price Possible

I’ve been using MONAT exclusively for the past 20 months… and my hair has been literally transformed.

My hair before was thin, flat, frizzy, dull, lifeless, weak and wouldn’t grow past my shoulders. I had to was it every day.

My hair now is full of volume, shine, manageability (just run a brush through it and go out the door!), thickness, and strength! I regularly go a week without washing my hair, and it’s grown halfway down my back!

Before MONAT I had terrible shedding: handfuls in the shower, and then I was shedding all day long, every day.

Now: I shed just a few hairs in the shower when washing, and rarely does a hair fall out during the day. Because of this fact alone, my hair has grown out at least twice as thick. I have thicker hair now than I ever thought possible!

Photos on the left: before MONAT. Photo on the right: about 11 months of exclusive MONAT use.Needless to say, I never want to use anything else…and I think everyone should try it too.

If you’ve been watching awhile you may be curious. You may want to try it but be hesitant.

At first glance, I thought this stuff was too expensive. I wasn’t going to try it. But then my friend who was using it talked about how concentrated it was, and how she was spending less money with MONAT than the other brands she had been using. She broke down the cost to about $12 per month. That didn’t sound bad, so I tried it. And as you can see, I am so glad I did.

Guys… my first bottle lasted me almost a year! I was shocked. I was amazed. I was sold for life.

I don’t care how cheap your current shampoo is… it is probably more expensive than MONAT when you factor in how long it lasts. The average bottle life is 4-6 months, for people who wash almost every day.

And most people find themselves washing less frequently with MONAT too: it just feels and looks clean longer (which also contributes to a longer life of each bottle).

Since MONAT offers a 30 day money back guarantee (even if your bottles are empty), there is no reason not to try it: you’ll save money, and you’ll love it: GUARANTEED, or your money back!

Is a Guarantee Important?

Personally, I always look for money-back guarantees in the products I buy for a few reasons:

  1. I want to know if I don’t like it I can get my money back. I like to buy quality products and that sometimes means they are pricey. If they are worth it, I will know that when I try them.
  2. Most things I buy these days are online. There is no real way to know for sure if something is as good as its claims until I try it. There has to be a guarantee.
  3. I want to purchase from a business that stands behind its products. If they are asking me to take all of the risk (buy with no guarantee), do I really trust this company?
  4. It tells me that this product will for sure be good. How can a company stay in business if they have a money back guarantee and their products aren’t great? They’d go out of business! You are literally guaranteed to love it.

3 Ways to Buy

Now that you know that you can save money with MONAT and that it’s guaranteed you will love it, let’s do it!

You will save money with MONAT over what you are doing, even if you buy retail. The prices are comparable with salon brands, but last much much longer (and what salon brand do you know that is money-back guaranteed??).

But who wants to pay retail?

Fortunately, there are a few great ways to get discounts:

  • Sales 
    MONAT has great sales, usually at least twice a month.  This summer sales have been ongoing–often overlapping! Sometimes concurrent sales can be combined for the best discounts I’ve ever seen!Reach out to me: Text “SALES” to  802-227-7051 and I’ll update you on the current offers!
  • Be a VIP Customer
    MONAT has the best customer loyalty program I have ever seen. Here are the benefits:

15% discount on all products — for life!
Access to all of our flash sales (2-3 every month) — save even more!
Free shipping with flash sale and flexship orders
No requirement to buy monthly — push your flexship out every 2 months — indefinitely
Free Only-for-You product with every flexship order ($25 value)
$25 in product credits every year on your birthday
Earn $20 in product credits for every referral

😍 How to Sign Up as a VIP Customer

Text “VIP” to  802-227-7051 and I will give you a link that will get you $20 off your second order too! I’d also love to chat with you to help you choose the best products for you at the best price possible. 

  • Get it Wholesale: Be a Market PartnerI think being a Market Partner (also called wholesale customer) is the best value overall and gives you the most flexibility with no commitment at all.

Here are the benefits:

✅ Wholesale prices — 30% off all products, all the time
✅ Access to all of our flash sales (2-3 every month) — save even more!
✅ Free shipping with flash sale and flexship orders 
✅ No sign up fee
✅ No minimum orders, ever
✅ No minimum sales, ever
✅ No automatic shipments
Tax deductions on your side hustle business (you can potentially save thousands of dollars on taxes)
✅ Earn commissions for every referral 
✅ Opportunities to earn cash bonuses every month
✅ Earn free products
Earn free vacations

And if you don’t want to earn money with it, you don’t have to! (But if you do want to, it’s a great business to be in. And what do you have to lose? You have to buy shampoo anyway so why not get it wholesale and get paid to tell your friends about it!) You can just be a wholesale customer with no requirements, minimums or expectations.

Just wholesale discounts. And whenever there is a sale, you get the sale discount on top of your wholesale discount–so you are saving money twice!

To become a Market Partner there are no fees or requirements: just buy a wholesale product pack and you are in!

There are 4 options. Check them out here!

To discuss which option is best for you and which products you should start with for your hair needs, text “MP” to 802-227-7051 and I’ll be happy to discuss any questions you have!

To review, there are 3 ways to order: 

One thing is for sure: you should try MONAT.

You won’t regret it.

And if you don’t like it, there is always a 30 day empty-bottle money-back guarantee! 

Text me today to find out how you can have the best hair of your life, and maybe even earn a living doing it!

 

More Resources:

Get Residual Income in 5 Easy Steps

Why Everyone Needs a Side Hustle (Hint: Save money on taxes and get a bigger refund!) 

What’s So Great About MONAT? 

Link to order MONAT as a Retail or Wholesale Customer

Referral Link to Order as a New VIP Customer (to get $20 off your 2nd order)

See What Sales Are going on Now (click “Start Now”)

Heard Rumors About MONAT? Find the Truth Here

Resesarch on the Safety and Effectiveness of MONAT’s ingredients

Spreadsheet listing MONAT shampoo ingredients and SkinDeep Ratings

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Residual Income: GET IT! 5 Simple Steps

Let’s talk residual income and how to get it.

What is residual income, and is it really possible?

Residual income almost sounds too good to be true:

  • Make money while you sleep
  • Work once and get paid forever
  • Become FINANCIALLY FREE

This may be why you’ve disregarded claims about passive income.

Is that possible?

How could I do that?

Where would I start?

It is possible. And every person who builds wealth does it. 

We are all taught the “path to success” from an early age:

  • Go to school
  • Learn things
  • Get a job
  • Work your way up the corporate ladder
  • Retire

How many people do you know who have followed this path?

Most people.

And how many of those people are financially free?

Many are struggling.

Some are comfortable.

But none are wealthy.

That’s because it’s not possible to become wealthy while building someone else’s dreams.

Wealthy people (in every sense of the word)* work for themselves.

They are entrepreneurs. 

Take a moment and look it up: the wealthiest, most successful people in the country, in your state, in your city: what do they do?

I’m willing to bet they are almost ALL entrepreneurs of some kind.

In order to create real income and true wealth, it is imperative to create passive, residual income. Without it, you’ll never do more than just “get by,” and you’ll never be paid what you are worth.

Once you understand what residual income is and how it works, you will want it. Surprisingly, it’s not incredibly difficult to accomplish, but it does take work!

Maybe you have tried your own business…

Lately I’ve been talking to a lot of new entrepreneurs.

These people want to work from home, but are frustrated with their “new businesses”

Many have joined network marketing or direct sales companies.

I haven’t gotten any sales!” Stephanie complained.

I’ve talked to people, but no one is interested,” lamented Melanie.

I’m just not very good at selling,” Olivia sighed.

What’s the problem?!

The frustration is real, but if you consider a few simple factors, you will see that true, substantial residual income is not only possible, it’s attainable by anyone: even you and me!

You just may need to reconsider your approach.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing YOUR Side Hustle

1. The Products

People often tell me they chose their side hustle because “the products are amazing,” or “they changed my life.”

That’s great!

But is it a good enough reason to make that your side hustle?

Of course, it’s important to be passionate about the products you represent.  It’s guaranteed that if you don’t think your products are life-changing, nobody you talk to will get excited about them either.

Your products ABSOLUTELY must be life-changing, and you must believe in them 100%!

So if you are representing a product you love, you will definitely be successful, right?

Not so fast. There are four other very important considerations, and it is crucial that they all apply to your business if you are going to be successful.

2. The Competition

Ask yourself objectively: How many other companies carry products that are similar to yours?

  • You have 100% organic bath and body products? Great! So do 100 other direct-selling companies. Even more importantly, organic soap and lotion are quite easily bought on almost anywhere with no commitment or interaction.
  • You have the cleanest make-up around? That’s amazing! How many other companies offer organic make-up and skin care? (Also, not everyone wears make-up. Your audience is limited to women, and then only some of them use make-up often if at all).
  • Your weight loss shakes transformed your health and you lost 60 pounds? Perfect! But if every other company you see sells weight loss shakes and supplements, it may be difficult to compete. Do they all have amazing testimonies that look just like yours? (And even if people buy weight loss products, how long will they continue to purchase? Generally, they either don’t work and they stop buying it, or they work great… and they stop buying it).

COMPETITION MATTERS. It can make or break your sales.

What sets you apart?

You should offer something people can’t get anywhere else.

“But these shakes are truly revolutionary! They do things no other shake does!”

Your shake could be amazing, but that testimony isn’t very convincing to your average consumer, who has 5,326 other options for shakes that (to them) look identical to yours. And that’s if they are even in the market for a shake: only a fraction of the population is interested in shakes at all!

Ideally, your product has NO competition.

And you should be well-versed on what sets your product apart.

EXAMPLE: I love MONAT haircare products. Of course there are many other brands of shampoo, but what sets MONAT apart is:

  • It’s the only anti-aging hair care on the market. (Check out this testimony!) When your hair looks younger, so do you!
  • It is non-toxic. Conventional shampoos contain a dizzying array of toxic chemicals that absorb into your scalp and enter your bloodstream within 26 seconds of contact! These chemicals do all kinds of damage, from disrupting hormones to causing migraines or worse. That’s bad news. We ran all of MONAT’s ingredients through EWG’s Skin Deep site, and the average score is 2 out of 10 (10 being most toxic… think Johnson & Johnson’s baby wash, Pantene, Herbal Essences).
  • It doesn’t promote build-up. Build up is a big deal: most shampoos contain silicones, waxes, gums and keratins that build up on your strands and your scalp. This not only suffocates your hair and makes it dry and unmanageable, it can cause thinning and even balding in the long run! MONAT removes existing build up and doesn’t add any back in. Check out this video of an expert stylist who shows the build-up that is likely lurking on your hair and scalp.
  • No artificial fragrances. This is a biggie: it’s great if your shampoo smells amazing, but more and more people are becoming intolerant to chemical fragrances, which can trigger migraines, respiratory problems, or worse! MONAT’s fragrances are all essential oils, so they are actually good for you. And they smell INCREDIBLE.
  • MONAT is salon-quality and it is the ONLY direct-selling hair care company. People can’t hear about it from you then turn around and buy it on Amazon or CVS like they can do with other salon products.
  • It is demonstratable. There are literally thousands of before-and-after pictures and testimonials on social media: real people showing exactly what MONAT has done for them, some in as little as one wash!
  • There is a 30-day Money-Back guarantee. No other salon-quality hair care brand offers that, anywhere!
  • MONAT is very concentrated, and one bottle lasts an average of 4-5 months. You can actually SAVE MONEY using this over even store-shelf products!
  • Samples are available to let potential customers and team members try it out before they take the plunge. Sampling is very effective!

That’s just one example… now look at your products and see what makes them unique.

Come up with a list of things that sets your products apart.

Make sure your list is compelling, and that you have it committed to memory.

If you can’t come up with a good list of reasons why your product is ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE, you may have found the reason it isn’t selling well.

If your product has too much competition in the marketplace, the dollars will be spread over every option, giving each one a smaller share.

The problem may not be you: it may be your products.

3. The Company

The products can be amazing and there can be no competition, but if the company lacks integrity, you have a problem.

Research the company you are looking at.

  • Is it owned by a family or a mother corporation?
  • How long has it been in business?

(If a very long time, like Avon, Amway or Mary Kay, the market may already be saturated).

  • How does the company treat their associates?

Do they value the people that work with them or have they ripped people off, leaving distributors unhappy?

Do they offer valuable incentives, trips, and a generous compensation plan with bonuses that encourage success?

  • What is the structure of the business model?

Is it direct-sales, network marketing, traditional marketing, commission-based?

Do they provide resources and quality marketing materials to give their associates the best possible chance at success? Do they provide training videos?

4. The Compensation

You can have amazing, unique products that have no competition and a wonderful, family-run company that treats their distributors like gold, but if they don’t have a great compensation plan that allows you to build significant residual income long-term, how can it be the right vehicle?

The first thing to look at is the nature of the products. Do they allow for residual income by being used up, so people keep coming back for more?

  • The product should be consumable.

Consumable means they run out: they must be repurchased regularly.

While selling something like hair clips or jewelry is fun, every time you want to sell more, you have to find more customers, and sell more.

That’s not passive income—that’s active income. It can be one type of income stream, but it will NOT create residual income—because people aren’t re-ordering on a regular basis. After all, how many pieces of jewelry does a person need?

Conversely, if one of your selling points is that your customers only ever need to buy one thing every few years (like with one cleaning company I’ve worked with that sells high-quality cleaning cloths), what does that mean for you? It means you have to hustle a lot more to make a decent income, and it won’t be very residual.

To build truly residual income, your products MUST BE consumable.

  • Study the compensation plan.

Any time you are considering a company, you need to evaluate the compensation plan and really understand it.

There may be videos that go in depth, or maybe the person who told you about the company can explain it in more detail so you know how they get paid and what you can expect.

It’s great to find a company that not only pays commissions on personal sales, but also incentivizes building a team. This way you can earn commissions on all of the people on your team, not just your customers.

See how far down you get paid: if you build a large team, is there any point at which you don’t get paid on the people far below you?

Look at the top earners in the company. How much are they making and how long did it take them to get there? How many people are making really great incomes?

Also many companies have bonus incentives the first 1-3 months after joining: so you start making good money right away and get your business on the right track from the beginning—which is good for everyone!

EXAMPLE: MONAT has a period called Smart Start that lasts the first 3 months after you join. You get paid the normal commissions on all sales, and you also get bonuses if you build a “block,” which is 3 VIP customers and 1 Market partner (distributor), and if you build 4 blocks you get another additional bonus on top of that! You also get bonuses for ranking up to the next level. Some people have made several thousand dollars in their very first month and got their business off to a great start—already earning residual income on all of those sales!

Bonuses built into the comp plan, especially at the beginning, allow for active income (now) and passive income (residually…forever)!

The details of the comp plan matter. A lot.

5. The Team

Lastly, examine the team you would be working with if you joined your potential business.

  • Do you like these people?
  • Are they successful?
  • Do you like their strategies?
  • Can you relate to them?
  • Would you like to work with them and learn from them?
  • Are they people that could be (or already are) your friends? Would you be happy to travel with them and do events together?

One of the biggest benefits of having your own business is the ability to work with people we like. We can choose who our teammates will be! And when they succeed, we succeed–we are literally invested in each other’s success.

Over the past year, I’ve met some of my best friends doing this business.

Some of them live near me, and some live across the country. I’ve traveled to the Bahamas with some of them (a free vacation on MONAT!) and look forward to many more trips with these new life-long friends.

  • Does your potential team work together well to achieve goals?
  • Do they help each other?
  • Do they like each other, or is there a lot of drama and fighting?
  • Can you get on board with the team’s strategies? Are they open to your ideas?
  • Can you see yourself contributing and being successful with them?

These are all questions you must ask yourself when considering a serious side hustle.

Network marketing is a team effort–your choice of team is important.

 

Now that we’ve gone through the top 5 things to look for when choosing the side hustle that is perfect for YOU… let’s talk about some questions or objections you may have.

But isn’t Network Marketing a Scam?

Network marketing  (MLM) has a bad reputation.

Some people call it a “pyramid scheme” (which isn’t accurate—look it up! Pyramid Schemes are illegal and don’t involve any products!).

Let’s look at what Network Marketing is, exactly.

Network Marketing is a business model that involves marketing primarily based in Word-of-Mouth marketing.

Why?

Because studies (and common knowledge) show that the most effective way to get a new customer is if someone they know and trust recommends it to them.

Plain and simple.

People buy what their friends and family recommend.

But what kind of marketing do most companies do?

Billboard ads, TV commercials, radio spots, Internet banner ads, etc.

That advertising is far less effective than word-of-mouth. But for huge corporations, it is a lot easier to spend money to advertise than to enlist an army of faithful customers to dedicate their time and efforts to spreading the word about their products.

And that’s what Network Marketing companies do. They harness word-of-mouth marketing over traditional mass-marketing methods.

And in the process, they partner with individuals like you and me. They allow us to be their spokespeople, which is way better than hiring celebrities and purchasing TV spots or internet banner ads.

Better for them, and better for us.

It’s better them, because they pay out their advertising costs on commissions.

Instead of spending millions of dollars on an advertising campaign, they will pay out millions of dollars in commissions to regular people like you and me.

That advertising money is spent either way. But when it’s spent on commissions rather than advertising, everyone wins.

The company gets more effective advertising, dollar for dollar. And we have the opportunity to build residual, passive income and become financially independent.

Once you understand what Network Marketing is, and what it is capable of giving you, I think you will believe (like I do) that it is the best business model there is.

I have a couple of companies that I work with, and of course I’ve applied all of the above criteria to each of them. That being said, if I come across products I really want to try and I can get a wholesale discount by signing up as a distributor, I usually do it: because that makes that purchase tax deductible, and if I recommend it and someone buys I can make a little bit of money as well.

Here are the companies I have found to meet all of the above criteria and offer (with work) the best chance of success:

MONAT haircare.  I was never a “hair person” before, but guys: this stuff is life-changing. I always thought I had bad hair, but it has been literally transformed in the year since I’ve been using it. (And it’s helping people GROW BACK THEIR HAIR from thinning, balding, Alopecia, chemo, and other hair loss. This stuff is flying off the shelves!) It’s just a great business model, comp plan, company, team, and consumable product.

  • Click “join now” to get the best hair products you’ve ever tried at wholesale prices, write off all of your hair related expenses on your taxes, and make great money! Always a 30 day money (empty bottle) money back guarantee on every purchase–so there’s no risk! If you’d rather try a sample first, click here.

Wholesale Travel Club. Do you wish you could travel more? What if you could take 5-star vacations at 2-star prices, plus get wholesale discounts on plane tickets, rental cars, hotels and theme part tickets? I’ve found that just the mention of “wholesale travel” piques all kinds of interest: I had 4 people sign up with one Facebook post! Everybody wants to travel more, and there is one reason they don’t: money. It’s a great way to write off your vacations on taxes, save money on great destinations, and make money to boot!

And of course if you ever have any questions or would like to discuss anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My google voice number is (802) 227-7051. Feel free to call or text me any time, or PM me on Facebook messenger.

*Wealth: What is “true wealth” (in every sense of the word). It is a lot more than money. It is freedom. 

  • Time Freedom: Make your own hours, do what you love on your own schedule. Pay attention to your kids when they need you. Take a vacation on your clock. 
  • Location Freedom: Work wherever you are: from your phone, laptop or in person. At home, on the beach, in a ski cabin, across the world. 
  • Freedom Freedom: Be your own boss. Call your own shots. Choose the people you work with.
  • Financial Freedom: To accomplish all of the above, you have to make enough money to finance it. Don’t be a slave to your job, your bills, your taxes, your mortgage. Live in freedom. 

Resources:
Is Network Marketing a SCAM?? The Truth About MLMs

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Gorgeous Hair Naturally: Regain Confidence and Save Money!

If you are anything like me, you do everything you can to keep yourself and your family healthy.

  • You eat organic
  • You exercise
  • You avoid fast food and processed junk food
  • You take vitamins
  • You limit your exposure to chemicals and toxins

You probably know by now that we are exposed to toxins from every side: from pollution in the air to the chemicals in our cleaning supplies to the food we eat and the body care products we use.

It has been found that over 70% of the things that touch our skin are absorbed into our bloodstream within about 26 seconds.

That’s a sobering thought, because in a typical day we touch a lot of things. 

You may be aware that the products we put on our skin, from lotions and perfumes to face washes and serums, are absorbed quickly and can affect our skin’s health and vitality.

But did you know that the skin on our scalps are just as sensitive as the skin on our faces?

The products we use on our hair matter: because we are absorbing those ingredients into our bloodstream and they are affecting the health of our scalps, our hair, and our bodies.

Knowing this, I looked for a long time for hair products that were natural: I needed something that didn’t damage my health but that cleaned my hair and made it look and feel healthy.

I also wanted to grow my hair longer, which had always been a struggle.

I tried everything I could find: from expensive salon products to health store brands and infomercial products. I was disappointed because the products either didn’t work in my hair (made it look or feel gross) or still had ingredients I didn’t feel good about.

My good friend and long-time blogger Ann Marie Michaels (of Cheeseslave.com) introduced me to a new hair care brand that she was crazy about.

It had:

  • no parabens
  • no sulfates
  • no harsh salt
  • no phthalates
  • no petroleum-based ingredients
  • no harmful colors
  • no harmful fragrances

It was naturally, botanically-based, and she was getting great results with her hair. And it’s vegan, cruelty-free and leaping-bunny approved!

Plus it was concentrated: so she was spending less than she ever had on her hair care products!

 

Salon quality results from a naturally based product and it’s going to save me money?

I wanted to try it.

She also told me it had a 30 day money back guarantee, even if I used the whole bottle.

I was ready to try it: what did I have to lose?

After the first wash, I knew I had found my shampoo. My hair was different. It felt stronger. Healthier. It looked better. Smoother. Softer. More manageable.

I loved it.

So I decided to join her team and tell people about this product that I had been searching for.

If you have been looking for a naturally-based hair care line without any of the harmful ingredients found in most brands, and you want your hair to grow stronger, longer, healthier and faster–you’ve found your brand.

Here are the benefits I’ve seen, beginning from the first wash:

  • Less frizz
  • Less damage, even using heat
  • Looks better, with or without styling
  • Dries 2-3 times faster after washing
  • More manageable
  • Softer
  • Smoother
  • Shinier
  • Stronger
  • Growing faster
  • More volume
  • Less shedding
  • No breakage or brittle hair

My hair is noticeably healthier from every aspect. 

And it has only gotten better the longer I’ve used it!

I was tired of compromising when it came to my hair–now I don’t have to!

I look like I just stepped out of a salon every time I step out of the shower– without compromising on ingredients or damaging my hair over time!

It always bothered me that hair commercials said, “Have healthier-looking hair.”

“Healthier-looking” hair?

Can’t I get hair that is actually healthy?

Now I actually have healthier hair: I can see it and I can feel it. And I have confidence because my hair always looks great, I can wash it less often, and it’s growing faster and stronger than ever before.

The smaller pictures on the right are before I started using these products. The bigger picture on the left is using them and air drying my hair by letting hit hang loose, which I’ve never been able to do before:

My hair is smoother, stronger, longer and healthier without any effort on my part.

Simply wash and go!

Here are my hair growth results from February to April (excuse the funny faces–they are screen shots from live videos documenting my #longhairchallenge):

My hair has consistently been growing almost two inches every month since I started using this shampoo! Since average hair growth is 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month, that is 4-8 TIMES the average growth rate of hair. And it’s growing longer than I could ever get it to grow before–no matter how hard I tried!

Now you’re probably thinking, “Sounds great, but it’s really expensive, right?”

Actually, I’m saving money over what I was using before.

Whether you are using salon-quality products or getting your shampoo at Target, there are several reasons to consider switching:

The shampoo you are using is mostly water.

Whether you use a drugstore brand or buy your shampoo from the salon, the product is 80% water, giving you only 20% of actual ingredients. No matter how good those ingredients are, that’s not a good value!

These products are 60% product, giving you three times more per bottle: which means an 8 oz bottle of this is like buying a liter bottle of anything else. Monat shampoo is literally a shampoo concentrate

Most shampoos and conditioners contain silicones and waxes

(even if they are free of sulfates and parabens)

The purpose of silicones, gums and waxes is to protect against heat; the problem is that these substances coat your hair and build up over time, causing all kinds of problems: dryness, brittleness, split ends and even hair loss.

So your hair is less manageable, takes longer to dry, and has to be cut more often because it’s unhealthy. 

More trips to the salon does not equal a lower cost.

If you want to check the ingredients of your bottle, anything ending in “-cone” is a silicone, and acts like plastic on your hair when you use heat, damaging it to the core.

Contrast: none of that in this brand.

I use a dime-sized portion for each wash: the first wash grabs build up and the second wash flushes it away, for a sqeaky-clean feel that lets you know the build-up is gone.

The brand is MONAT: the first anti-aging hair care line ever.

With all of these benefits and no additional cost, why wouldn’t you try Monat today?

30 Day Empty Bottle Money Back Guarantee

We are so sure you are going to fall in love with these products, you try any product for 30 days and receive a full refund if you are unhappy for any reason–even if you’ve used the whole bottle? 

Have you ever purchased a shampoo that offered that?

Wanna know a secret, though? There is a less than 1% return rate.

Now that’s a guarantee.

VIP customers get a free product with every flex-ship order. This month you can choose which one you want:

What are you waiting for? Get the best hair of your life, or your money back. Check out these amazing before & after pictures, posted by users:

Heal Damage

Get Back Manageability and Health

Create an Ideal Environment to REGROW HAIR!!

Bring Life, Shine, Bounce and Vibrancy to Color-Treated Hair! 

.

Tame Those Tangles and Bring back the Soft, Shiny Curls! 

Hydrate and Nourish: Perfect for Any Hair Type or Ethnicity!

What is Your Confidence Worth? 

As mentioned above, these products are so concentrated, they will last you for months–so you actually save money while getting the hair of your dreams!

Imagine what it will be like to turn heads because you have shiny, beautiful, healthy hair.

Imagine having hair that you can’t stop touching and that makes you look great in every picture.

Imagine frizz is a thing of the past, and having great hair, even when it’s air dried.

Imagine healthier, more vibrant hair with every wash.

Imagine how you’ll feel when you see people looking twice, three times when you walk by.

Imagine spending less time getting ready, and looking even better than before.

Imagine going longer between haircuts–growing your hair longer, faster without damage

Imagine what MONAT can do for you. 

To see this month’s offers, click here. Go to “Start Now” and click on your country. You will see the offers and prices available to you today.

There are three options if you are ready to buy, and discounts are available!

How could having the best hair of your life change everything for you? There are samples available if you need to try it first–but there is always an EMPTY BOTTLE Money-Back guarantee–try it risk free for 30 days and see what Monat can do for you!

Get the best hair of your life, or your MONEY BACK! 

(Scroll down for more details on each product and what it does for you.) 

If you have any questions about any of the products, my experience, or how to order, feel free to contact me by email, text (802-227-7051) or on messenger.

Here are some details on some of MONAT’s botanical, revolutionary products:

  • Rejuvenique Oil Intensive                                                                                           Abyssinian oil was the first ingredient selected for its remarkable rejuvenating properties. Next, a blend of 13+ unique ingredients, including antioxidants, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids was developed. Thus REJUVENIQE Oil Intensive was born. Think of it like replenishing your hair and scalp with much needed nourishment that tends to be removed through washing. Because REJUVENIQE is compatible with the skin, it is easily absorbed without leaving greasiness.This flagship product balances the scalp, resolving both dryness and oiliness and nourishing the hair and scalp. Use the Rejuveniqe Oil as an overnight treatment once or twice per week, then wash the next morning. You may find yourself washing your hair less often–which is better for your hair, your scalp, and your wallet!

Rejuveniqe Oil is also a luxurious anti-aging facial moisturizer and can even be used to help resolve skin issues such as psoriasis and other rashes. It’s very concentrated, so a few drops will do–and there are over 600 drops in each bottle. With over 101 uses, this is one versatile oil! (Message me and ask for the 101 uses and I’ll send it to you!)

  • Restore Leave-In Conditioner                                                                                        I love this lightweight leave-in conditioner because it weighs down my wispy, wavy hair just enough it make it look great: it’s great in combination with the air dry cream.
  • Revive Shampoo                                                                                                                                    Get volume and smooth, shiny style. This is the shampoo I use most often for my fine, thin, limp hair.
  • Revitalize Conditioner                                                                                                                 The other half of the Volume System, this is the most popular conditioner: strengthen and smooth your hair while nourishing it and cleansing out the build-up. It smells like heaven!
  • Tousled Texturizing Mist                                                                                                                    This fun styling product gives your hair the sexy, messy look like you’ve just come back from the beach.

Guys. This technology is pretty great: tiny (natural) beads penetrate your hair shaft and actually mend split ends! Makes hair smoother and mends damage so you can go longer between hair cuts and grow your hair long, strong and smooth!

This cream has been a game changer for me: now I can air dry my hair without using curlers or tying it up all day. My hair looks great air drying it loose, and it dries so much faster!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you love the idea of dry shampoo but have never found one you love, this is for you. Dry shampoos normally contain talc (carcinogen) and leave a white powder residue in your hair (not great for brunettes–which is why I’ve never used it).

This one doesn’t have talc and doesn’t leave a white residue. It lets you delay washing for another day and your hair still looks great–and nourishes your hair while doing it! Use it after going to the gym too for an effortless style.

PLUS it’s CFC-free, recyclable and doesn’t affect the ozone layer–and it’s not flammable (no butane or propane)!

This is the best hairspray I’ve ever used. The cleanest ingredients in a hairspray I’ve ever seen and doesn’t create the build up on your scalp that other hairsprays do. I also love the scent (and don’t worry — all the fragrances in MONAT products are safe).

PLUS it’s CFC-free, recyclable and doesn’t affect the ozone layer–and it’s not flammable (no butane or propane)!

In addition, when you sign up as a VIP customer now you will receive an additional free product at check-out and free shipping on your order!

*VIP benefits are below. This first order counts as your first flex ship.

More Resources:

More about MONAT: the company, the brand, the products

How to Buy genuine MONAT products and save the most money. 

How Non-toxic is it? See the Ingredients and Skin Deep Scores

Search this Group to Find Your Issue and See Which Products They Used (Everyone posts their own results here) 

A Review of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner

Still have questions? Text me at 802-227-7051

or email me at leah@freedomandcoffee.com

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Bacteria Boom: What are Probiotics and Why are They So Popular?

Over the past couple of years, I noticed that the pastor at my church has had some health issues which made him him sometimes miss meetings, stay home sick from church on Sundays every once in awhile, and generally just not feel very well.

Thinking back, I remembered about two years ago he had a big infection and was hospitalized for several weeks. During that time, he was put on an aggressive course of antibiotics (as most sick people are, whether or not they have a bacterial infection).

I don’t know the details of this original illness, but I do know that he’s been suffering from digestive issues ever since, which have increasingly tormented him and prevented sleep at night, interfering with his work and ministry at church.

One day after hearing he was again missing meetings, I emailed him and told him my suspicion: the course of antibiotics resulting from his illness two years ago had wrecked his gut and had precipitated most (if not all all) of his current issues.

I recommended he try taking some high-quality probiotics.

I shared some articles and research, then gave some recommendations of how to choose a few good ones.

I told him to start slow (because there can be an adjustment period as “bad bacteria” die off and “good bacteria” begin to populate the gut–but nothing worse than the symptoms he was already experiencing).

Two weeks later my pastor approached me and said, “Leah, I’m a new man! I feel so much better! I’m sleeping better and I have energy and I don’t feel sick any more!”

Word began to spread at church, and now I have people approaching me with questions about their health all the time. I’m happy to pass along any knowledge and resources I have, because the information is all out there!

What are Probiotics? 

Probiotics are “beneficial” bacteria. In modern society, we’ve been conditioned to see all bacteria bad, foreign things that will make us sick, but this is simply not true. There are millions of bacteria that live with humans and animals in a symbiotic relationship: they benefit us, and we benefit them.

Why do We Need Them?

We don’t know the full scope of the symbiotic role that beneficial bacteria play, but we are beginning to understand how vital they are to our existence.

  • It is estimated that human bodies are made up of approximately 90% bacteria by volume. These microbes are everywhere: on our skin, in our sinuses, ears, mouths, in our guts… literally everywhere. These microbes do a good job of helping to regulate our bodies and keep them functioning properly, and in return, we feed them with the food that we eat or byproducts from our bodies, like skin cells and sweat.
  • A huge variety of our bacteria live in our digestive systems, or our “guts,” and researchers are discovering that at least 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. Our guts have a huge influence on our overall health: both physical and mental.
  • Bacteria do a lot of work in our bodies, including helping to regulate hormones that control fat stores, skin issues, auto-immune response, fertility, available energy, and overall well-being.
  • Balance is key. We refer to bacteria as “good” and “bad” but really we just need a balance of the bacteria in our guts. The fact is, we all have “bad” bacteria such as E. Coli in our bodies, but if these bacteria don’t overrun our systems or multiply too quickly, they are not a threat. Even “good” bacteria can cause problems if there’s too much of it. Our bodies generally do a good job of regulating the population of bacteria, as long as we ensure we have a good variety of bacteria for our bodies to work with. As long as we have enough “good bacteria,” or probiotics, in our guts, they will fight off the “baddies” and keep our bodies balanced and healthy.

How Can I Get Them?

You may have noticed an array of probiotic supplements in your local health food store (and how expensive they are).

The good news is that you don’t have to buy a lot of expensive supplements to get a good balance of bacteria in your body. In fact, different fermented foods carry a large population of beneficial bacteria, and they are really easy to make, and to eat.

Yogurt is the most popular and widely-known source of probiotics, but not all yogurts are created equal.

Many of the yogurts on the store shelves are full of sugar (which feeds bad bacteria) and a lot of them even have harmful additives like carageenan (which has been found to cause cancer) to keep them refrigerator shelf-stable for weeks at a time.

Store bought yogurts can be a source of probiotics, but you need to know what to look for, and they shouldn’t constitute your only source of probiotics.

  • Look for “live and active cultures” on the container, and check the ingredients for which specific cultures are contained.
  • Find out if the yogurt has been pasteurized. Most yogurt is made with pasteurized milk, but even after it’s been turned into yogurt is then pasteurized again. Pasteurization will kill the beneficial bacteria that were necessary to make the yogurt, so they won’t benefit you.
  • Get organic. Yogurt is made from milk, and if the milk is not organic it will contain antibiotics and hormones that were given to the cows. These substances are detrimental and even toxic to our bodies, and can cause hormonal imbalances and antibiotic resistance in the long run.
  • Get plain and unflavored yogurt. You may not like the taste of plain yogurt, but you can add fresh fruit and honey for flavoring, instead of consuming a lot of extra added sugars.
  • Get whole milk yogurt. Studies have shown that low-fat dairy products do not contribute to weight loss and may actually cause weight gain. The full-fat options allow your body to more efficiently process the beneficial fat-soluble vitamins in the yogurt, and the fat will make you feel full longer, so you’ll eat less overall.
  • Check the ingredients. In addition to checking for live and active cultures, make sure your yogurt doesn’t have any additives like carageenan, sugar, color, or anything else. Ideally, it should just be milk and a culture.

Did you know? 

Yogurt is so easy to make. Yogurt makers are inexpensive and make it easier, but you don’t even need one to make yogurt. My favorite yogurt is clay-batch yogurt, which I make in VitaClay.

VitaClay has a built-in yogurt maker in most models.
VitaClay Personal Yogurt Maker and Slow Cooker

All you have to do is load in milk and a yogurt culture and press “yogurt” and a few hours later you’ll have the best yogurt you’ve ever tasted, and a starter batch to make more!

Kefir is a milk-based probiotic beverage that is also known as “drinkable yogurt.” Kefir often contains different bacteria than yogurt, and sometimes at greater quantities per serving. If you’re buying kefir from the store, apply the same checks as listed above for yogurt. Add kefir to smoothies or drink it plain–it tastes like buttermilk.

Incidentally, my father suffered from terrible seasonal allergies for over 60 years. My mother read about kefir and started making it at home, and he hasn’t had a problem with allergies since!

Homemade Sauerkraut: cheap, easy to make, and loaded with probiotics!

Other fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, natto and miso contain other probiotics that are beneficial, and they are delicious additions to your diet. Sauerkraut is super easy to make, and two ounces of homemade sauerkraut contains exponentially more beneficial bacteria than a whole bottle of store-bought probiotics, for pennies on the dollar!

Chop up the ingredients for salsa, then just add a little whey and let it sit on the counter for a couple of days–you won’t believe the healthy zing!

Additionally, lots of things can be fermented: I’ve fermented homemade salsa, which was super easy and so delicious! I’ve also seen recipes for fermented carrots, onions, cucumbers (pickles!), and even guacamole! The possibilities are endless! (Wild Fermentation link)

If you don’t want to make these fermented foods at home and would rather buy them, follow the rules listed under yogurt, and make sure they have live and active cultures (which is, after all, the whole point). Also watch for additives such as MSG and citric acid, in addition to those listed for yogurt.

Probiotic Supplements

Overall, I think that many probiotic supplements are a waste of money. As discussed above, the probiotics in just one serving of homemade sauerkraut can contain more good bacteria than an entire bottle of store-bought bacteria! This generally applies to lacto-based bacteria, however, which are the type contained in yogurt and most fermented foods. These bacteria are good, and you should definitely get them. If you absolutely don’t want to ferment anything at home, go ahead and buy them.

A few great brands to consider are: 

I recommend going to a health food store with high-quality probiotics rather than trusting a drugstore brand.

AND! Check out this really great database that can help you determine which probiotic strains may help you the most based on your current symptoms and struggles!

Look for a bottle that lists the type of bacteria included and a guaranteed number of live bacteria per serving (usually listed in the billions CFU). The higher the number, the more bacteria it will contain (and very high numbers will require a slower breaking in period, which you can discuss with the worker at the health food store). These higher-quality probiotics will cost more, but this is a classic case of getting what you pay for, and what we want here is results.

Probioitics I buy

My one exception to the “store-bought probiotics are a waste of money” rule is in the category of soil-based probiotics. Here’s why: the lacto-based probiotics like those found in yogurt, sauerkraut and other ferments are so easy to make and so delicious to eat that there’s no reason to pay expensive store prices for a shelf-stable inferior product.

Soil-based probiotics, however, are different strains that have a different effect in our bodies: they go deeper into the gut and contribute differently to immunity. So we need both, but soil-based are found in soil, as the name implies.

In antiquity, people got a good amount of soil in their diets from digging up veggies and eating them.

These days, I don’t trust the soil as far as I can throw it. It’s been compromised with pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceutical drugs, and all manner of other toxins from our waste water and runoff. Even if I were inclined to eat soil (I’m not), it would probably do much more harm than good.

So when it comes to soil-based probiotics, I will purchase them from a reputable company that can guarantee their purity, quality, and effectiveness–even if they are expensive. I’ve listed below a few soil-based probiotics on which I have done research. I trust them to deliver a safe, effective, quality product.

What About Prebioitics?

Prebiotics are the “food” for beneficial gut bacteria that already live in our guts. And since not all gut bacteria can be supplemented with probiotics, it’s a great idea to get some good prebiotics in your diet as well.

As a matter of fact, you probably already do get some prebiotics, as they are often soluble fiber found in fruit.

There are also symbiotic prebiotic-probiotic supplements that you may find beneficial, especially if you have recently taken antibiotics or had some digestive problems. Here’s one I like because it includes a prebiotic in drink form, a probiotic with several different types of strains, and a real food multi supplement. 

One Last Thing

Since probiotics by their nature will multiply in our guts, it is unnecessary to take the same one every day of your life (though it is a great practice to ensure you are always getting plenty of prebiotics so your gut population can flourish). In fact, it’s better to switch them up, comparing the ingredients to ensure you get different bacteria with each different supplement.

Once a bacteria colony is established in your gut, it will likely be there awhile, so after you’ve taken one for a month or two, you can move on to a different one with different strains. You may want to double back to one you like in a few months or in a year to make sure that colony is still thriving, but overall, your body will maintain those bacteria once they are established (until they are killed off by antibiotics or toxins in the diet).

Read this article about how different strains may help different health issues.

Resources:

Humans: 10% Human and 90% Bacterial
Our Bodies, Our Health, Our Gut Bacteria  (Cornell)
5 Quick Tips For Healthy Guts And A Healthier Immune System
The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet (Johns Hopkins)
Gut microbes closely linked to proper immune function, other health issues
How to Repair Your Gut After Antibiotics
Why Antibiotics Today Could Threaten Your Life Tomorrow
Antibiotic overuse: Stop the killing of beneficial bacteria
Is Carrageenan Safe?

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks! 

To Drink or Not to Drink: A Coffee (Mate) Story

For a beverage, coffee is very controversial in the health community.

A few years ago as we were carpooling to a retreat, a friend of mine said, “Guess what?! I quit coffee!”

Knowing that I am in the field of natural health, she thought this would impress me.

She explained that she’d been getting terrible, migraine-level headaches and she quit coffee to see if that could be the culprit. The headaches stopped, and she was proud of herself for finding the answer.

I dug a bit further.

What kind of coffee do you drink? Do you make it at home? What do you put in it?

She told me she makes it at home and uses regular coffee from the store. She loves to put a flavored non-dairy creamer in it every day, because it “tastes so good!”

Ah ha! Yes, there it is.

I told her I thought it was great that she’d cured her headaches, but from my research coffee isn’t a terrible thing: there have even been studies that show protective benefits against cancer and other diseases.

The problem is probably the coffee creamer–look at those ingredients! No milk whatsoever: a laundry list of unpronounceable additives, colors, thickeners and flavors. I’d be willing to bet that’s your issue right there.

Try drinking coffee with just milk or cream and see if you still get a headache.

My friend has happily been enjoying coffee ever since, headache-free.

So, is Coffee Bad or What?

Coffee: people either love it or hate it. Most of my friends who don’t drink coffee are rather proud of themselves that they don’t need “that crutch” every morning. The Weston A. Price Foundation, who I respect for nutritional information, doesn’t recommend coffee at all (don’t even try to talk about coffee on one of their many forums: you’ll get a stern talking-to).

Some people do have an issue with the caffeine. My cousin loves coffee, but always drinks decaf because she can’t handle the caffeine. Personally, I have always loved the taste of coffee but didn’t drink it regularly until after my son was born. After that I began to crave the taste of it.

Some nights I want to go to sleep early so I can wake up and drink coffee. I just love it: the taste, the warmth, the feeling.

Like other foods that people have been enjoying for thousands of years, coffee is a traditional food. As such, I have no problem with it. In recent years headlines have gone to both extremes:

coffee is an addictive toxin–stay away! 
Coffee may prevent colon cancer!
 Coffee will kill us all–it’s a drug!

It’s fun to watch the media go back and forth on these issues, but I prefer to do my own research and see how a food affects me personally before I make a decision to give up something I really enjoy.

About a year ago I started to get anxious for no reason. My chest felt tight and I just felt stressed out, even though nothing was really going on. My neck was starting to hurt and my heart would sometimes beat irregularly.

I thought it was the coffee. I’d have to give it up.

So I stopped drinking it for awhile, and I felt better. But what do I drink in the morning? I’d sometimes drink a matcha latte or a cup of broth, but it just wasn’t the same. So I went to decaf, finding an organic water-processed one that I liked.

Did you know coffee is decaffeinated using a chemical cocktail that leaves a residue on the coffee beans? That’s why I always look for water-processed when I buy decaf.

In the end, I found a chiropractor that took some X-rays and showed me that I could benefit from spinal adjustment, and those symptoms of anxiety, tightness and irregular heartbeats have subsided, even while drinking my regular coffee.

Yay! Coffee wins again!

Now I am free to enjoy my morning cup without fear or guilt.

And if you like coffee and don’t suffer any ill effects, I think you should, too.

There are a some things to keep in mind with coffee, however. Here are a few:

Conventional coffee is loaded with pesticides.

Buy organic so you don’t get a nice swig of toxins with your morning Joe. There are so many options these days–you can find organic coffee in virtually every coffee option there is: ground or whole bean, dark or light roast, flavored or unflavored, caf or decaf.

 

For decaf: get water-processed.

The de-caffeination process typically involves harsh chemicals and solvents. If you want to avoid those chemicals, look for “water-processed” decaf–many of the organic versions are already water processed.

It’s also best to get single-origin coffee

Because coffee is such big business, most coffee is sold in “blends” and the coffee beans may have come from all over the world. So if any one of those batches of coffee was contaminated with a mold or other coffee crop blight, your whole coffee blend is affected. Getting single-origin coffee reduces the risk of that happening.

Buy whole beans and a grinder.

Freshly ground beans taste so much fresher than pre-ground; I can really taste the difference! Try it and I think you’ll agree it’s worth the extra few seconds to grind your beans every morning.

Grinders are inexpensive and easy to use. Lately I’ve been having fun grinding my own beans in this manual burr grinder.

Use real ingredients.

I love to add a lot of healthy things to my coffee: like whole raw milk, gelatin powder, coconut oil, butter, Ceylon cinnamon and Real Salt. Sometimes I even add a pastured raw egg. It’s a regular real-food smoothie by the time I’m finished–so much better than any coffee shop!

Get an immersion blender

Especially if you’re adding a bunch of ingredients to nutrition-out your coffee like I do–you’ll be so glad you have this super handy tool. It’s also great for mixing up soups, pancake mix, and other recipes–and very easy to clean.

 

Don’t drink it black or on an empty stomach.

The absorption of caffeine in coffee can be slowed by eating something and by adding some fat to your coffee, in the form of milk, cream, coconut oil, butter, gelatin, etc. So mix it up!

Here’s how I make my bullet-proof(ish) coffee every morning:

Tell me:

How do you like your coffee?

Or what do you drink instead?

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Who I am

When I was 32 years old

I lost a baby. I remember laying on the stretcher on December 22, getting wheeled to the ambulance in the freezing cold at 3:00 am thinking, “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas.”

Losing that baby at 23 weeks gestation was the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me.

 After that happened, though, I finally felt like a “real” adult for the first time in my life. As traumatic as it was, I rose out of that experience finally feeling like I had grown up. I was an adult. I was no longer afraid. I wasn’t intimidated by other people, no matter how “powerful” they are. It gave me a perspective on life that I value. It was a leveling field.

Every person has value,

and not only that: every person has the same value. Every person is strong, and every person is weak. Every person has influence, and every person uses it for good and uses it for bad. This maturing process happens at different times in life for everyone, and for some it never comes, but when it does, I suppose it is usually called wisdom.

Fear used to strangle me.

I was afraid of everything: afraid of risk, afraid of danger, afraid of other people. Fear ran my life. Since that pivotal moment in my life, fear no longer controls me. I’ve learned that fear is nothing: it’s just a perception, and it is all in my mind. It’s not real.

If I can go through the death of my child and come out strong, I can do anything. There is no longer anything in this world to fear. Even the most powerful person is just another person. What can they do to me?

”Don‘t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul.

In America we’re all about freedom.

So why do we feel stuck in our lives, unable to change anything? Maybe you feel stuck in your job, your income level, your lifestyle. Maybe you were diagnosed with cancer or diabetes and you think it’s a death sentence. Maybe you feel cornered in a marriage that isn’t what you thought it would be. Maybe you feel trapped by your body and want to break free of your weight, or your fatigue, or your pain.

Come with me and break free.

Freedom: where you don’t have to be afraid! Cancer is not a death sentence and you take back control of your health and your destiny. Where you don’t care what anyone thinks; you can work for yourself and make MORE money. Where you are not afraid of anything and . Where you don’t depend on any person, any thing or any company to give you what you need.

Let’s find Freedom.

Health Freedom. Financial Freedom. Coffee Freedom. Freedom Freedom.