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I first fell in love with natural-living company J.R. Watkins’ packaging — simple, clear labels, copperplate writing, small Victorian flourishes — the modern products look every bit as old-timey as when the company was founded in 1868. But eventually I came to rely on Watkins for a few key products, and the look was just a bonus. True to its apothecary roots, J.R. Watkins still makes an all-natural menthol-camphor ointment, which I cannot recommend enough to my fellow sinus sufferers. The lemon-cream hand and body lotion is paraben- and sulfate-free and smells like it can absolve all of last night’s sins. The travel kits are perfect for a little on-the-go pampering.

Imagine my delight when Watkins announced a new natural home-care line. Is it weird to buy laundry detergent from the same company that makes your shampoo? Well, if you’ve started to become concerned about the toxic chemicals we apply to our skin, it makes sense that you’d apply the same scrutiny to what goes into your home. We know we don’t have to sacrifice effectiveness to go green indoors. Watkins natural cleaning products feature non-toxic plant-based formulas that are phosphate-free, biodegradable, and naturally derived. And they smell so much nicer than white vinegar. You can find the line at Target and Whole Foods, or online at

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