A Q&A with She’s Free as the Flowers Lifestyle Blogger, Heather Burnette
She's Free As The Flowers
Before becoming the “She’s Free as the Flowers” lifestyle blogger, Instagrammer, and photographer, Heather Burnette was a tattoo model. Seventeen thousand Instagram followers regularly engaged with her, and she thrived. She loved social media because it gave her another avenue to connect with people, and she loved tattoos because, she said, body ink “is art that tells a story.”
“Most of my tattoos have meaning,” she explained. One image on her left arm renders a note written by her father that she found not long after he died from a motorcycle accident. “My tattoo artist was able to copy part of the note onto my arm, in his exact handwriting, with his signature. That’s why I take good care of it; that whole arm is so special. I always have my dad there with me.”
But, she added, a few years ago her interest in tattoo modeling waned; around the same time, she embarked on a new journey to healthier living. She and her fiancé, Talon Mullinix, inspired by a good friend, joined a program that taught them about living a toxic-free lifestyle. Armed with new facts about the crazy high number of chemicals people exposed themselves to daily (“…at least 200 before you leave your house in the morning,” she stated), the couple reevaluated every product they had in their home and subsequently reconsidered every product they’d purchase in the future. They downloaded an app called, “Think Dirty” (“Skin Deep” on Androids), which enabled them to scan every product in their house for levels of chemicals. Out of a score of zero to 10, with 10 being the worst, they started to use stuff that reached #4 or less.
“After learning all the facts about chemicals, I wanted to make the switch to ensure my fiancé and I lived as healthy and long as possible,” Burnette explained. “We even became more conscious about the things our animals used—kitty litter, dog and cat food, and the products we used on them. We all made the switch.”
Still, she said, it took six months to replace the chemical-laden products with non-toxic ones.
There are thousands of toxins hidden in places people would never imagine, Burnette explained. For example, the FDA doesn’t regulate chemicals in many “fragrances” that soaps and lotions have.
“It freaked us out when we started discovering this stuff,” Burnette said, because the potential side effects of using these chemicals included feeling tired, foggy thinking, inflammation, toxicity-induced depression, and pain, future health issues, among many other things. Burnette, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 18 months and bi-polar disorder and ADHD at age 19, has experienced many of these issues daily for much of her life.
“However, once we swapped out our products and switched to eating organic, I noticed a huge difference. My brain fog was less severe, and my inflammation wasn’t nearly as bad,” she said.
The same time Burnette and Mullinix started shifting their lifestyle, the nature of Burnette’s Instagram posts changed. She started posting more photos of her outdoor adventures. Subsequently, her engagement dropped. So, she cancelled her old account and started a new one, and with @shesfreeastheflowers, she quickly linked up with people who loved the outdoors, adventuring, animals, and the kind of natural lifestyle she was leading.
“I wanted to find people to relate to,” she said. “And I found them. I found lots of people who were saying, ‘thank you for putting your story out there because now I know I’m not alone in this.’ I’ve saved a lot of those emails; it’s so important to connect with people, to be raw and real.”
As well, she documented her “Baby Steps to Toxic-Free Living” on her blog and Instagram. Since then, people have regularly come to her for advice or product recommendations.
And, Burnette said, she hasn’t abandoned her tattoo roots. It’s just one of the lenses through which she showcases the lifestyle changes she has made; she documents the more natural ways she cares for herself and her ink, including her regular use of shea butter and, most recently, her discovery of Tattoo Care. She appreciates the natural ingredients in Green Goo’s tattoo skincare salve, including the aloe, which, she says, will help tatts heal better than petrolatum-based salves. Most tattoo artists suggest people use A&D ointment or Aquaphor, but Burnette explained those products clog her pores rather than nourish and heal her skin.
She has various recommendations for how to care for tattoos:
- Definitely always use sunscreen. “Your tattoo will fade if you are out in the sun!” she stated.
- Clean new tattoos with good soap like you would treat a fresh wound. “You don’t want it to get infected.”
- Regularly use moisturizer. “It’s like a cat scratch; when you get one, you want to put something on it to make it feel better and heal.”