All Natural Beauty TipsMasks, scrubs, and hair treatments are great ways to de-stress and restore the natural glow of your hair and skin. But in addition to being expensive, commercial beauty products are a real drag on the environment with all their plastic tubes and foil packets—to say nothing of the potentially harmful chemicals inside. As part of our month-long focus on green living, we delved into proven tips and tricks for transforming everyday items into all-natural beauty boosters. Bonus: many of them may already be in your kitchen and medicine cabinet.

Chamomile tea highlights: Want to highlight your hair without breaking the bank? This gentle method is surprisingly effective. Just brew up a strong batch of chamomile tea, let it cool, and then rinse your hair with it after you shampoo and condition. The process is gradual, so you can stop after one application or go through a few rounds to slowly lighten things up.
Cornstarch dry shampoo: If you’re going a day or two between hair washes, a bit of dry shampoo can help absorb oil and freshen up your roots. But there’s no need to drop $20 on a bottle: cornstarch works just as well. Shake it on, and comb through. (If you have darker hair, you can add cocoa powder so it doesn’t end up tinting your hair gray.) You can also add 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka, and 1 cup water to a spritzer bottle to create a spray-on version. Add a drop of essential oil to make it scented.
Ginger for thicker eyebrows: Whether you’re naturally sparse in the eyebrow department or just accidentally overplucked, ginger can help your eyebrows grow in thicker and darker. After washing your face each night, rub a cut piece of ginger root on the area where you want the hair to grow. The ginger juice acts as a natural stimulant, bringing increased circulation to the area. (But it’s also a major irritant, so be very careful not to get it into your eyes!)
Aspirin mask for acne: Aspirin naturally contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient in many acne-fighting products. So if you’ve got an inflamed pimple, don’t bother hitting the drugstore: just crush up an aspirin with the back of a spoon, add a drop or two of water, and smooth the resulting paste directly on the spot (with freshly washed hands, of course). After five minutes, rinse it off. You should notice reduced swelling and inflammation within a few hours.
Almond oil as makeup remover: It seems counterintuitive to take off oily makeup with more oil, but when it comes to getting off even stubborn waterproof mascara, almond oil is surprisingly great. It won’t clog pores, either.
An oatmeal facial: This is a classic beauty trick for a reason: oatmeal is a natural humectant, which means it traps in moisturizing ingredients and allows your skin to better absorb them. Try mixing 1/2 cup each of oatmeal and full-fat plain yogurt, then letting it sit on your skin for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. Plain instant oatmeal works in a pinch, too: prepare it with water, let it cool, then smooth it on and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. It’s especially good for irritated and inflamed skin or heat rash.
What’s your favorite DIY beauty secret? Let us know in the comments. 

Guest post by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff of MommyGreenest.com.

Guilt-Free ShoppingIt used to be that shopping was simple. You went to the mall, found something you liked, figured out if it was worth the price, and bought it—or didn’t.

But it’s a lot more complicated now. We hear about fast fashion and fair trade, organic and GMO, water conserving and air polluting. When you think about the bigger picture, it’s difficult to justify buying anything.

Let me make it simple for you: Shop preloved by thrifting, swapping and buying on consignment.

Shopping preloved doesn’t just get you gorgeous clothes at a great price. It also can make a huge difference to the environment. According to the Global Fashion Exchange, a full 95% of the clothes that we toss into the landfill are recyclable, and each year 1.7 billion clothing items go unused in closets across the globe. The average American throws six pounds of textile waste away every month!

Buying and selling preloved clothes keeps them out of the waste stream. But better yet, it disrupts the $3 trillion fashion industry, which depends on cheap and often toxic production so that we can have new clothes.

Today, a basic t-shirt requires 1/3 of a pound of toxic fertilizer to produce—the cotton crop it’s made from uses 17% of the world’s insecticides and is 94% genetically modified. And it takes more than 2,000 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans—that’s equal to nearly 300 showers. The textile industry is the world’s second largest water polluter, after agriculture.

But buying preloved is the antidote. It’s guilt-free shopping at its best. So go ahead: Find something you like, assess the price, and buy it. It’s not complicated!

Featured on “TODAY” and “CNN Headline News,” among others, Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a journalist, consultant and sustainability advocate. The former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, Rachel was the co-founder of the online magazine EcoStiletto and authored a spinoff book, The Big List of Things That Suck. Today, she publishes MommyGreenest.com where annually she challenges women to the Shop Drop Challenge—give up shopping new for 30 days—in an effort to raise awareness of the environmental impact of fashion, and the eco-friendly options that thrifting, swapping and consignment provide. Previously a partner at the world’s first swap boutique, Rachel has exclusively shopped preloved for more than four years. 

Mommy Greenest

earth day

What does it mean? And how can we get it? 

Living the good life used to mean a closet full of designer clothes, a different handbag for every day of the week, and justifying $120 white T-shirts (Kanye, that’s so 2010).

Now people are talking about wanting simplicity, doing more with less, and consuming experiences rather than things.

That’s the new definition of living large. Living small. 

We’re so in.

Since it’s Earth Month, we thought it would be a good time to share what we’re doing over here at thredUP, and to start a conversation about how we can make a bigger impact in the future—for the earth, for our homes, for each other.

What we’re doing together

By shopping and selling secondhand clothes, we’re saving natural resources necessary for new garment creation and keeping millions of pounds of textiles out of landfill.

Pretty awesome, right?!

In 2014 alone, customers saved $62 million shopping secondhand at thredUP, and earned $4.5 million selling clothes from their closets. We made an even larger societal impact when you include company and customer donations to charities and local school programs.

What else can we do 

Once we shift our mindset to that of a conscious consumer, everything changes. We’re shopping secondhand, using local ingredients, preparing portable meals in mason jars, buying our kids less stuff, owning fewer products. Our closets are clean and organized. Our lives are full. 

Okay, so let’s celebrate Earth Day every day and bring the good into all of our lives. Deal?

Share your ideas in the space below!

Baby-eating
If your baby is working his or her way up to solid foods, you’ve probably at least considered making your own baby food—before also considering how little sleep you’ve been getting and how long your to-do list has gotten. But breaking your reliance on Gerber isn’t just good for your bank account; it’ll also allow you to introduce your baby to interesting new flavors and keep a lid on the amount of sugar, sodium and preservatives in his or her diet. (Turns out packaged baby food isn’t all that healthy.) Here are some tips on how you can make nutritious meals for your baby without too much of a time investment.
Keep your gadget arsenal stocked. Invest in some special ice-cube trays that are just for baby food, and fill them with purees to get individual servings that can quickly be defrosted in the microwave. (These OXO ones even have lids, keeping freezer burn at bay and saving you from confusing them with the normal cube trays.) You can also buy fill-your-own versions of those fruit puree packs, allowing you to carry purees of your own creation on the go. But don’t worry about investing in a special baby-food steamer or grinder: a normal food processor is enough to get the job done.
A fork can go a long way. Most baby foods require some level of cooking, and the subsequent time investment. But don’t forget that nature has a few more-or-less instantaneous baby foods of its own. Keep a stock of ripe bananas and avocados on hand, and with a fork and a bowl, you can have fresh baby food in under a minute.
Trade time. If finding time to make baby food is an issue, consider teaming up with another parent. You can take turns watching the kids while making enough baby food for both households, or trade off babysitting duties: one weekend, someone looks after both kids while the other person shops and cooks; the next weekend, switch roles.
Make dinner for everyone in one shot. There are innumerable adult dinners than can have their components adapted for baby food, without taking too much extra time or causing extra hassle in the dish department. Ratatouille can be pureed for a baby and served over pasta for grown-ups; roasted salmon flakes easily into bite-size pieces; a white-bean stew can have a portion set aside to be pureed. If you can, make extra and set aside a chunk for blending and freezing in your ice-cube trays.
If you can’t always cook, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone has those days when there just isn’t time, and packaged baby food isn’t the end of the world. If you need to feed your baby a premade jar, check the nutrition facts for blends that are low in sugar and sodium and high in fiber. And consider going organic; babies’ tiny bodies are far more sensitive to pesticides than ours.
Got a tip for making baby food a little easier (or a favorite recipe)? Let us know in the comments. 

Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Clean

The kitchen is the true heart of most homes, which ends up being a mixed blessing—great when you’re gathering everyone around the table, not-so-great when you’re digging through drawers trying to find that missing measuring spoon. With spring (and the subsequent impulse to clean and organize) hitting after a long winter, we put together some quick and easy tips that can help you corral your kitchen clutter and make cooking easier, without spending an arm and a leg.

1. Tackle the junk drawer. We all have one (and sometimes more than one), and it’s often the worst offender in terms of kitchen clutter. Make it easier on yourself by picking up either a flatware organizer or a bunch of small plastic containers that fit inside the drawer, which can hold important items like thumbtacks, rubber bands, batteries, and paper clips in an organized fashion.
2. Make a list. Whether it’s a whiteboard on the fridge or a chalkboard-paint panel inside of a pantry door, a place to write things down is essential. Make the top half into a shopping list (and encourage everyone in the family to scribble there when items run out), and use the bottom half as a running tally of what’s in the freezer.
3. Splurge on a sink organizer. Nearly everyone has a dish rack, but if you’re not lucky enough to have a flip-out sponge drawer beneath your sink, your cleaning area is likely a wilderness of stray sponges, scrubbers, and dish soap. A suction-cup organizer (this OXO one gets great reviews) will help corral the clutter.
4. Seek out unused space. Is there a swath of cabinet wall to the side of your sink? That could be just enough room for a magnetic knife strip. Got a tall cabinet that still has no room for all your stuff? Pick up a $5 two-tier shelf and watch your cabinet space instantly double.
5. Upgrade your tubs. Cambro tubs are a standard in restaurant kitchens, but most home cooks don’t know about them. That’s a shame, because they’re great for storing prepped food and leftovers, they’re indestructible, and they last forever. (The CamSquare Translucent are the best ones to get.)
6. Lazy Susans are your friend. You may have one to organize your spices, but have you considered putting one in your fridge? (It makes digging out those leftovers all the way in the back a thousand times easier.)
7. So are magazine holders. Turns out they make pretty darn good storage: they hold everything from onions and potatoes in a cabinet to rolls of aluminum foil and plastic wrap on the inside of a cabinet door.
8. Spice up your life. If you haven’t cleaned out your spices in a while, you might be doing your cooking a serious disservice. Here’s a full guide to what needs to be rotated on a regular basis (and what you can keep forever).
What’s your favorite tip for a more organized kitchen? Let us know in the comments.
mom-packing-school-lunch-for-daughter
Getting everyone out the door with everything they need in the morning is one of parenting’s greatest struggles. While you’re trying to shower and get ready for work, your kids are refusing to get out of bed, haven’t packed their backpacks, and are waving brand-new permission slips in your face—sometimes all at the same time. We’ve all been there, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With some ground rules and consistency, it’s possible to make your mornings relatively hassle-free. Here are our favorite tips for mastering the morning.
Make nighttime prep part of your routine. Everyone’s tired in the evening, but if you can carve out five minutes on school nights to ensure everything’s ship-shape, you’ll save yourself a lot of time the next day. Do a backpack check between brushing teeth and storytime, assemble the foundations of lunches, or even get a little bit of breakfast prep done—if your kids eat cereal, for example, you can pre-portion a couple of bowls and two small cups of milk for pouring and leave them on the bottom level of the fridge, allowing them to “make their own” breakfast while you shower or check emails.
Design your kitchen with mornings in mind. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and usually where most kid-centric battles (drink your juice! where’s your backpack?) end up taking place. So turn it into the command center that it is. A few suggestions: Have several clocks in the room (maybe one wall clock and a couple of digital ones scattered around) so everyone knows exactly what time it is. Create a specific tray for permission slips, checks, and other sign-off material—if it isn’t filed by the night before, it’s not going to school the next day. Make a backpack area, where all jackets and schoolbooks have to be deposited for packing. And to make things fun, maybe add some speakers, to play a cheerful, get-up-and-go playlist as you go about your morning.
Encourage responsibility. When your kids grow up, they’ll have to be capable of waking themselves up, which means using an alarm clock. Get school-age kids in the habit now by teaching them to set and use their own alarm clock, including picking the time they think is best for getting up. They’ll quickly learn that setting the right alarm is the difference that allows them to wear just the right outfit and get that second helping of eggs. (And resist the temptation to check in on them after two minutes—it’s a lesson they need to learn for themselves.)
When in doubt, subtle bribery works. If you have a recalcitrant kid who just can’t seem to get it together, a little bit of parental bribery can go a long way. Set a designated time by which kids have to be 100% ready (with shoes and jacket on and backpack packed), and make it five minutes before you actually need to walk out the door. If they hit the mark, they get something desirable, whether it’s five minutes of iPad time or a mini-chocolate included in their packed lunch.
Allow for “freebie” days. Part of carving out an ironclad morning routine is showing that you don’t always have to be a robot. On weekends or school holidays, allowing kids to get up when they want and making a slower, special breakfast reinforces the idea that school and work require one set of behavior, but everyone gets time to relax. It’s the spoonful of sugar that’ll make the morning medicine go down.
What’s your best tip for mastering the morning? Let us know in the comments.

4 Ways to Save Money this Tax Season

Tax season is once again around the corner, and with a big chunk of change coming out of your bank account, your thoughts have likely turned to how to save some extra money in the weeks and months ahead. Considering that the cost of raising a child has gone up 40% in just the past decade, you’re definitely not alone. And while you deserve a pat on the back for buying and selling clothes with thredUP (money saved + money earned + environmentally friendly = score!), we’re not the only solution for the budget-conscious. Here are a few of our favorite tips for how to save some extra cash in this tight time of year, and stick with it all year long.

Sign up for every rewards program going. Most stores have special rewards clubs that offer regular discounts to their members, but the catch is that the emails can clog up your inbox—and the cards can make a mess of your wallet. To keep things streamlined, keep the pile of cards in a separate pouch and create a separate Gmail address for all the rewards sign-ups. When you need an item from that store, search your email, find the latest discount, and throw the pouch in your handbag. It’ll keep you focused on only spending at the stores you want to visit, and will net you more discounts when you do need to buy something.
Teach your kids to budget. Grown-ups often have a budget for various important items (mortgage, groceries, insurance), but there’s no reason school-age kids can’t have a petite version of the same thing. Instead of just giving in to the occasional request for a new toy, allot each child a weekly allowance (say, $10), and keep track of it in a note on your phone. When your child wants to buy something nonessential, they can see how much budget they have, and deduct accordingly. No financial surprises for you, and a good life lesson for them—you may be surprised how assiduously they save to get that iPad or monster Lego set they’ve been wanting. As they get older, consider adding on clothing and entertainment (like movies or concert tickets) as well, with an increased budget, of course.
Take the 52-week challenge. If it seems like you can’t seem to save up money for emergencies, this trick is a great one. The process is simple: create a special bank account and deposit $1 for the first week, then $1 more each following week for a year. ($1 in week one, $2 in week two, all the way up to $52 in week 52.) It’ll slowly acclimate you to the idea of saving by allowing you to adjust your budget and find your pain points on the fly, and by the end of the year, you’ll have $1,378. Already got your savings under control? Save for retirement by doing the same thing with the percentage of your income that goes into your 401(k) every six months or every year. (1% this year, 2% next year, and so on.)
Try a no-spending month. It sounds like a radical proposition, but taking a month where you spend on nothing aside from the essentials (namely bills, perishable food, and personal care items) can be surprisingly liberating. You’ll end up cleaning out all those nonperishable items from the pantry to create new meals, cracking open books you bought long ago but never read, using those gift cards and certificates lying around the house, and catching up on your Netflix backlog instead of hitting the theater. It’ll encourage you to reconnect with those around you, and appreciate all the little luxuries in life once the month is over. (And the money you save can go right into your savings or retirement account.)

GASP! It’s true. We’re so excited to finally let you know that thredUP is now offering Free Returns across the board – from your computer to your tablet to your phone to whatever device you use, you can now qualify for Free Returns on any eligible item.

To get your free return, you have to just take your refund in store credit, and send the items you don’t want to keep in their original condition within the first 30 days after you received the order.

If you would prefer a cash refund, you can conveniently print your return label at home and easily return your items paying only a flat rate fee of $6.

If you choose to simply take the money as store credit, returns will always be free. We will continue to be making improvements to this service over time so stay tuned for more updates.

One last thing…we know we’ve been making a lot of changes lately. And we thank you for your patience. We’re trying to dial in the right experience to ensure that not only do you have a great time shopping on thredUP but that we’re building a viable business that can serve you for many years to come. We appreciate your patience as we continue to evolve to do what’s best as we seek to inspire a new generation of consumers to think secondhand first.

As always, we’re here to help! Check out our Order Returns FAQs, and if you have any other questions about our new return policy, please let us know in the comments or drop our support team an email at [email protected]

A white button-down has been a closet essential since the Stone Age, and for good reason: there are infinite ways to style it, running the gamut from snappy to swanky. Here are three up-to-the-minute ways to wear this wardrobe workhorse, whether you’re at the office, enjoying a lazy Saturday, or hitting the town.
White Button Up
With a bright pant: Channel a little Palm Beach spirit in the depths of winter by tucking a classic long-sleeved button-down from Vince into a cheerful patterned trouser, like this Lilly Pulitzer number. With your pants doing the talking, you’ll want to keep jewelry minimal, but a classic belt like this one from Uniqlo and a simple heel like this Rachel Roy pair will keep you looking streamlined and professional, perfect for the office.
 White Button Up with Printed Pants
With a ripped jean: It’s the ultimate high-low combo: a freshly ironed button-down with a torn-just-so jean. To make sure you come off as insouciant and not sloppy, you’ll want to keep the button-down untucked and the jeans skinny. A dressed-up shoe, whether it’s a colorful oxford or a sassy printed pump, also makes things seem more deliberate. Finish it off with a big statement necklace, like this one from Forever 21, under the collar.
 White Button Up w/ Ripped Jeans
With a full skirt: It might seem a little strange, but designer Carolina Herrera long ago figured it out: a crisp button-down with a big, full skirt makes for a pretty darn chic evening look. Start with a classic white shirt from C Abi, then amp up the drama with a voluminous formal maxi skirt in a luxe fabric, like this one from ASOS. Add some sleek silver jewelry, simple black pumps, and a cute box clutch, and you’ll be ready to hit the town.
White Button Up with Full Skirt
What’s your favorite way to style a button-down? Let us know in the comments.

little_cute_baby-2560x1600

Living in our demanding digital world can become a bit of a drag when you’re a new parent, as precious bonding (and sleeping) time gets sapped in favor of answering work emails, setting up endless Skype sessions with Grandma and Grandpa, and trying to keep track of a spiraling pile of expenses and medical bills. The good news: you can also make the electronic age work for you. Here are seven of our favorite apps and services that have recently debuted on the parenting scene, all of them designed to help you and your baby thrive in that tough first year.

1. MealTrain: Everyone has good intentions about making and freezing a bunch of advance meals for themselves before the big birth, but sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. The good news: you’ll never have a larger group of eager-to-help people in your life than when you have a new baby, and this free site allows you to organize them into an ad-hoc food army, complete with customized delivery times, dietary preferences, and other important info. Let yourself be taken care of for the time being, and make it up to them once your baby is sleeping through the night.

2. Baby Connect: This app serves as a full-on baby command center, perfect for working parents who are entrusting their little one to daycare or a sitter. In the app, you can track feedings, diaper changes, sleep, mood, nursing sessions, and other key activities, not to mention send private messages between everyone in a baby’s circle of care. It works on nearly every platform, and the mobile version only runs $5.

3. Sit or Squat: You may be able to hold it, but you now come with a little person who needs a diaper change or a feeding, like, yesterday. Save yourself from stress when you leave the house with this free app that maps public bathrooms, with tens of thousands listed across the country (and rated on cleanliness, to boot).

4. Citrus Lane: Like a Birchbox for new parents, this service sends a monthly compilation of fun goods tailored to the age of your baby. The assortment might include soft books, tub toys, diaper creams, puzzles, infant toothpaste, and other items designed to make the baby’s life more fun, and yours easier. Subscriptions run $29/month, which gets knocked down to $24 when you buy six months’ worth in advance.

5. Lalaalu: If you’d rather not leave your box delivery to chance, Lalaalu allows you to purchase customized boxes ($50-60 each) where you know exactly what you’re getting. They’re curated by fellow parents, who have the intel on matters both practical (like this pack of parent-approved sippy cups, feeders, and bibs) and fun (like this combo of art supplies, complete with a smock and clean-up products).

6. Baby Sign and Learn: Ever admired those crazy parents who’ve taught their babies how to communicate their needs with sign language? You, too, can make a communication connection before your little one learns to speak, thanks to this animated app that will teach you all of the most important signs (like “eat,” “sleep,” “more,” and “milk”), and give you advice on how to teach them to your baby.

7. Diaper Dabbler: There’s nothing worse than stocking up on packs and packs of diapers in anticipation of a baby’s arrival, only to find out that they don’t fit, or worse, leak. This $75 service allows you to sample the full gamut of what’s out there, with 18 different brands in both newborn and size 1 sizes to help you make your decision. It even comes with a chart to help you track which diapers are working and which aren’t.

And don’t forget, thredUP now buys and sells infant clothing. Whether you need more onesies or a special occasion outfit, we’ve got you covered.

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