Posts Tagged With: beauty

What Matters Most?

Since we are getting close to the new year, I’m planning my future research and product reviews and wanted to pose to the people: What matters most to you?

I’ve listed the top-ten most common things that crop up as questions regarding the healthful qualities of a better-for-you product.

Please let me know what matters to you and I’ll put those things highest on my list to delve into this coming year.

And thanks in advance for playing along!

The Southern Girl

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Green ‘n Healthy Gift Basket (or Stocking) Ideas – Part 1

I don’t know a girl alive who doesn’t enjoy a good “basket o’ stuff” for the holidays. Of course, it is important to personalize this basket for the particular girl you have in mind, so I thought I might offer some basket filling ideas that are green and healthy! And clearly, you can stuff a stocking with this stuff, too.

If you are looking for some healthy bath products for a girl who likes tropical or beachy themes, try these:

Indian Coconut Nectar, Island Vanilla, Hawaiian Ruby Guava, or Brazilian Mango Grapefruit perfume and body butter by Pacifica. Each one is an exquisite blend of tropical and luscious fragrances. The coconut is reminiscent of your favorite summertime sunscreen, but more subtle (though surprisingly lasting). The vanilla is really an all-year kind of fragrance that reminds me of Aquolina’s Pink Sugar, but richer, less candy-scented, and all-natural guaranteed. Hawaiian Ruby Guava is fruity, warm, and floral, while the Brazilian Mango Grapefruit is fruity, crisp, and bright. Pacifica is one of my favorite makers of natural perfumes…you can normally find them in stores like Whole Foods, Central Market, Sprouts, etc…but they are also online and you have plenty of time to order now! They often have candles, diffuser reeds, and solid perfumes to pair with their perfume scents, as well. They also have a relatively new line of face care and makeup that is getting rave reviews.

Honey Mango or Island Citrus body wash by Alba Botanica are very much like “standard” body washes that smell incredible, hydrate the skin, and omit the following types of ingredients: artificial colors, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate or sodium methyl sulfate. Alba Botanica is a company focused on vegetarian and earth-friendly products and is usually easy to find in your natural grocery stores. Try iherb.com for sweet online prices.

Coconut & Hibiscus Body Butter by SheaMoisture is a luscious lotion that is super softening and moisturizing—so much so, that I keep it on my desk at work. When I first started using it, my co-workers immediately commented on how “lovely” it smells. It’s a nice floral and tropical scent that works with those Pacifica perfumes above and it should be fairly easy to find at your local Target.

Himalayan Pink Salt Scrub – Grapefruit or Brown Sugar Body Polish – Kumquat by Hugo & Debra Naturals make great scrub options for your basket. Hugo & Debra Naturals are committed to creating vegan products that omit the following ingredients: parabens, phenoxyethanol, sulfates, PEGs, propylene glycol, petroleum products, silicones, phthalates, synthetic surfactants, artificial colors, or synthetic fragrances. Also soy free, gluten free, and cruelty free. These products smell amazing and are gentle enough to be used on the face and décolleté. Find them at your local natural grocer or online.

Coconut Foot Cream by Burt’s Bees is, in my humble opinion, Burt’s best creation. Not only does it have a wonderfully simple coconut (and rosemary and peppermint) fragrance, it is the best healing “balm” type of product I have ever found. It’s super rich, and although it is oily, it works wonders at smoothing out rough heels! I even use it on my hands in the winter time because they get chapped and cracked…this is the only thing that heals that dryness. I cannot recommend enough. Also, it should be super easy to find at stores like Target and Walmart.

And it might sound weird to give your gal deodorant, but if you do, it will be a very special treat for her. Fancy deodorant by La Vanila comes in all kinds of scents, but Vanilla Passion Fruit or Pure Vanilla will stay within the “tropical” theme we have going here. These puppies are expensive for deodorant, but are all-natural and effective, luxurious and lasting. This is Oprah’s deodorant of choice, if that means anything to you. I find it hard to spend this much money on deodorant, personally, but that’s what makes it such a special treat! You can get this from Sephora or directly from Lavanila.com.

Round out your basket with a natural loofah, pumice stone, nail brush, and towel, and you have got a magnificent gift to give that someone special.

Dang. I wish someone would buy all of this stuff for me. Note to self…have hubby read my blog.  Happy gifting, y’all!

Up next: Peppermint and Cinnamon!

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WHAT? Only 7 Shopping Days Left?!

AAAAAAHHHHHH!  How did this happen?!  Time is flying!

All the more reason to make living greener a priority now.

My whole blog started a year and a month ago, because I watched “Bag It,” the documentary.  And I started learning about all the harmful chemicals we have around us, not only in toys and products and all things plastic, but everywhere.  It takes a real commitment and continued vigilence to start living a cleaner, greener life.  But it doesn’t have to be hard.  That’s the part where I think a lot of people get overwhelmed.  I think blogs like mine and stores you should have near you (and yes, online stores, if you are more rurally-located) are making it much easier to live healthier, less polluted lives.

So…with 7 days left until Christmas, I am going to point  you in some directions for last minute shopping, if you haven’t already found them yourselves.

1. Sprouts/Whole Foods/Central Market – These grocery stores have a wide range of all kinds of products that are suitable for stocking stuffers and gift baskets.  Each of these stores have quite the treasure trove of natural/healthy personal care products in all sizes and for all purposes.  Even a gift card for one of these stores could be a most excellent gift!

2. Target/Walmart – I KNOW most of you are close to one of these stores.  If you are looking for personal care products that might be nice for gifts, I have had luck finding Burt’s Bees products in most Walmarts.  They also usually have “Yes to” products.  These are normally in the cosmetics aisle, not where shampoo or lotion are.  Depending on your store, they may have much, much more to choose from–this seems to be especially true for Target.  Not only do they have Burt’s Bees and “Yes to” goodies, they may also have Shea Moisture (a luxurious line of bath and hair products), Dr. Bronner’s liquid soaps (Peppermint is a nice wintery zing!), natural candles by Mrs. Meyer (in Iowa Pine!) and Beeluxe (Mandarin Clove is a awesome seasonal scent), and I even found some Caldrea products (on sale, no less!).  Take a tool around the aisles and see what you find!

3. Your Local Department Store – Okay, so call me crazy, but TRY IT.  You might be surprised.  There are a few premium brands that are healthy and you never know what your store might carry during the holidays.  It seems like Origins might be your best bet for a higher end product line that “are formulated with natural and certified organic ingredients and 100% natural essential oils.  And formulated without parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, PABA, petrolatum, paraffin, DEA and animal ingredients.  We manufacture using a combination of renewable resources, wind energy, and earth-friendly practices.”  They have lots of great gift sets that are probably perfect for someone on your list.  Maybe yourself? (I totally bought myself a gift box of this stuff on Black Friday…shhhh…don’t tell).

4. Sephora/Drugstore.com/iHerb.com – All of these places have a bevy of products with a lot of information about ingredients (usually in separate tabs on the product pages).  You can get reviews at these places, too, to see if you really want to get something.  If you are going to buy something here, though, you better do it asap because they do have to ship it to get it there before C-Day.  Sephora is probably the best bet for sussing out perfumes and specific products within a brand line (like Philosophy) that are better than others.  Drugstore.com has really huge variety of things, especially things that are hard to find in a store.  iHerb.com has more “regular” products, but you can find some items at super awesome prices.  Give ’em a whirl…but do it today!

5. Amazon – Same thing goes with Amazon for the shipping, but this is (as most of us know), the new general store of the world.  Because individual vendors can post their own products, you really can find almost anything.  I was looking for more BeeLuxe products, and that’s where you can find them.  Of course you can also get books and media and other things…where Amazon started it all.  Look up some books about natural products and/or how to make your own products for the craftier folks on your list…everyone likes new know-how and recipes (at least I do).

6. Pinterest – Okay, so maybe you have some time to do some last minute creations…go perusing for ideas here!  I think I just might go find some of the more excellent recipes, print them out on some nice paper, create a little box or book of them, and use this for a stocking stuffer for some of the cooks/bakers in my life.  It doesn’t have to be super elaborate…maybe even write a few recipes out by hand and tie them with a ribbon.  Or, heck, make some of those marvelous creations and take them with you to the office party or give out samplers to your friends in lieu of “stuff.”  Your only limitation at this point is time!

7.  Etsy.com – Again, time/shipping is of the essence, but this website is the website of crafters the whole world wide.  You can buy anything from art to  jewelry to homemade soaps or purses or shirts or even vintage items…just anything really at this site.  Individual crafters/collectors have their own pages, so you will be paying them and they will be shipping the items. HOWEVER, there is a “search by” feature that can limit your options to a zip code or town.  I can’t guarantee that a seller would be willing to have you come over to their home, but you can communicate directly with people via a messaging system (if you create an account)…you could probably work out some sort of “pick-up” method.  This way you can get something super-special and unique from a local crafts person AND avoid the shipping (thereby reducing your carbon footprint).  You might even make a new friend or become a loyal customer if you find the right craftsperson.  You never know until you look.

I hope this gives you some ideas at the very least…GOOD LUCK, Last Minute Shoppers!  Go get ’em!

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Only 19 Days ‘Til Christmas! Stocking Stuffers!

I *hope* you have already begun to use more natural products for yourself.  But maybe you are having a hard time convincing others to follow suit.  It can be hard to let go of favorite products and to venture out into the world of reading labels and knowing what to avoid.

So, an easy way to get some people to just *try* something new is to give them a collection of samples or maybe just fill their stockings to the brim with travel-size products.  If the product is a good one, they may just seek it out for that reason, not BECAUSE it’s good for them, just because it’s GOOD!

Try some of these:

Burt’s Bees has some easy to find, inexpensive, and varied sample-size collections.  You can find one for everyone on your list from babies and new moms to teenagers and dads.  If you can’t seem to find one in a store local to you, try their website.  If you go to “Gifts,” you will find “Gift Sets” and also “Travel & Trial,” where there are 21 different products you can buy individually to create your own little sampler.  Fun!

Aubrey Organics has a variety of pre-packaged travel sets for right around $10, which will give someone a good amount to sample.  They have six different collections to address different skin types and conditions.  They also have natural lip balms and 2oz. sizes of some products like the Natural Baby line. 

South of France Soaps is a new and surprising find for me…from their webpage, it says: 

The luxurious South of France® soap is kettle cooked in small batches using a traditional Marseille recipe with all natural vegetable ingredients. Each fragrance is chosen specifically for its cleansing and calming qualities. All South of France® soaps, lotions and body wash are free of sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, EDTA, paraben and phthalates and never tested on animals. As a result of its superior quality and fragrances, South of France has quickly become one of the best selling natural bar soap brands in the United States.

Many of the soaps also indicate they are soy free, gluten free, and vegan.  You can find this soap in various on-line stores, which will probably afford you the best prices.  I found it at World Market on sale 2 for 1.  At $5.99, regularly priced, it is kind of expensive, but the fragrances are really wonderful and the 8 oz. bar seems to be lasting a long time.  They do have a half-size bar that comes in a 2-pack if you can find it, which might make a better stocking stuffer.  But I’d be happy with a big ol’ bar of good smelling soap in my stocking!  With fragrances like Lavender and Tea Tree Sandalwood, even the men in your life will enjoy it. 

And to stick with the idea of soap bars, if you want to try a shampoo bar, look for J.R. Liggett brand.  You can find sample sizes easily online and they even come in a variety of scents…Peppermint is even a seasonal scent that is available!  These are made by hand in small batches with all natural ingredients.  Mr. Liggett, himself, indicates that you don’t even need conditioner with his shampoo bar.  Might try it myself!

Jojoba & Peppermint 3.5 oz.

And a new/old perfumer that is bringing some wholly natural and “mostly” natural options is Demeter.  They have a new line of fragrances called Demeter Naturals, but per their FAQs on their website:  “Demeter Naturals fragrances are completely natural. And while some Demeter Classic fragrances are all natural, we do use some synthetic ingredients in most Classic fragrances. Generally speaking, the ingredients in our fragrances are at least 95% derived from natural and sustainable sources, and we use no artificial color or Phthalates or parabens.”  They also conduct no animal testing.  The full size Demeter Natural fragrances (1.7 oz) go for about $30 online, but you can probably find them for less in stores or on sale.  They also have purse-size 0.5 oz sprays that might be better for stockings.  The Vetiver and Mimosa fragrances have gotten pretty good reviews.

So, these are just five ideas, but I hope they lead you to giving your family and friends the gift of healthier and more natural living this year!

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Endless Summer…Coconut and Mango!

I think I have well established the fact that I am addicted to fragrances. I use them to affect a mood that makes me feel…happy (hopefully). Since the scent-center of the brain is so strongly bound with memory, coconut (or coconut-inspired) scents are like summer in a bottle for me. Put a little bit of mango with that, and I am whisked away like in those old Calgon ads, except to a tropical island drenched with sun and sweetness. And in the face of the impending time and season changes to something ever more dreary and less sunshine-y, I intentionally cling to my summer with coconut and mango inspired products.

I know most people are all into the “pumpkin spice” or chocolate or mint or other seasonally appropriate scents, but not me. Not yet. So…let me, as your all-natural product guide who is also addicted to summer, offer some things worth trying and some things to avoid.

Let me first start by admitting that Alba Botanica is the brand that first introduced me to “good for you” products in the form of it’s Honey Mango Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel.  This product literally smells good enough to eat.  When you look at the details of the ingredients, you will even find that there is no actual honey in the product, meaning that it is vegan (the company also conducts no animal testing and is cruelty-free).  This bath gel creates a creamy, moisturizing lather that seems to work (for me) against the drying powers of more wintery weather.  You can find a 12 oz. bottle for about $8-ish in natural stores and probably for less online.  If you aren’t super excited about a “honey mango” fragrance, they do have other scents like French Lavender, Island Citrus, etc.  I haven’t tried ’em, but I am sure there is something everyone can love.  I give this product a “Hooray!”

And just as a refresher, straight from the company’s website:

Alba Botanica® products are formulated without: parabens, phthalates, artificial colors, propylene glycol, aluminum, mineral oil, petrolatum, oxybenzone, PABA, nano-particles, DEA, MEA or TEA, PEGs and PEG derivatives, ethoxylated ingredients associated with 1,4 dioxane, formaldehyde donors, or GMOs.

Which leads me to the second Alba Botanica “Endless Summer” selection:  “Coconut Milk” Shampoo and Conditioner for “mega moisture.”  I bought a dual-pack of these two (also in a 12 oz. size), for around $11 at the end of September.  I expected something that looked, well, like coconut milk.  I also expected it to smell like, well, like coconut.  So, the shampoo is clear and gel-like and smells like coconut mixed with something that reminds me of that oh-so-popular potpourri fragrance:  mulberry.  Now I like the smell of mulberry, but I don’t think it smells like coconut, and I’m not sure how they arrived at that fragrance given the ingredients listed like pineapple and papaya and ginger.  Must have been a magical alchemy of sorts.  The shampoo works to clean my hair, but it seems to take a bit more than usual to get a good lather going and I sometimes feel compelled to “wash, rinse, repeat.”  So, that’s a bit wasteful.  The Coconut Milk conditioner is very thick and creamy, coming out of the bottle very “dollopy” instead of runny.  It smells like a lighter version of the shampoo, which is fine.  Still not too coconutty.  It does a good job at detangling and moisturizing without weighing my hair down.  So.  I’ll give this duo a “Yay.”  It does the job, and it smells fine, but just not what I’m looking for to satisfy my “coconut” craving.

On to Desert Essence, another brand I have featured before…they are dedicated to natural products that are phtalate-free, cruelty-free, organic, etc.  The Coconut Shampoo/Conditioner (Nourishing for Dry Hair), is also specifically touted as having no:  “parabens, sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates, Phthalates, artificial fragrances or colors, silicones, EDTA, glycol or petroleum based ingredients (from drugstore.com’s product details).”  For about $7.49/8oz., I think this product (on sale) is a bit too expensive for me.  But I wanted coconut shampoo and it was on sale!  This shampoo is also clear, but lathers really well…I’d say it’s just like “regular shampoo” with a nice rich lather that really leaves my hair feeling clean.  Unfortunately, I think the fragrance is…terrible.  I’ve really tried to like it, but I just can’t.  Again, it is another instance of coconut not being the “superstar” of the fragrance.  This was meant to smell like a pina colada, I think, but…sigh.  Okay, I’ll tell you what it smells like to me.  You know that white shoe polish people use to write on their car windows?  Yeah.  That’s what it smells like to me.  If I *try* to think about pina colada, I can kind of get it, but no.  White Shoe Polish.  The conditioner is similar to the Alba Botanica above, thick and rich, moisturizing without being heavy.  The fragrance is much diminished in the conditioner and I WOULD consider using just the conditioner with some other shampoo.  So…in the end.  This shampoo gets a “Not So Great” and the conditioner gets a “Yay.”

And now, the piece de resistance…the one that has NOT let me down, once again…Pacifica Perfumes, I love you.  I swear they are not paying me.   This IS summer in a bottle, to me.  It is a “true” coconut in my mind, not mixed with a variety of other fruity fragrances that detract from the star of this show.  There is some vanilla in the mix, but even with the dry down, coconut is the feature of this perfume.  I also think that this particular perfume lasts longer than some of the other, more citrusy fragrances that I love from Pacifica.  Here it is 3pm on a warm day and I still smell great.  One of my friends says it smells like sunscreen…which is just fine with me.  I wish they sold “Coppertone” as a fragrance.  All those childhood memories of my favorite time of the year come rushing back when I use this perfume.  Winter-schminter…now I can keep it summer all year long (which makes me happy–mission accomplished)!  So, if you haven’t guessed…this one gets a “HOORAY!”

I am still on the search for a natural shampoo/body wash that will really strike home that coconut summer of love when January rolls around.  If you have any favorites that achieve that feat, please DO share!  Stay tuned…I’ll share if I find some other good ones!

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Post Christmas Splurge!

So, I couldn’t resist…I bought some more shampoo, hairspray, and toothpaste.  They were all on sale!

First, Everyday Shea Shampoo in Vanilla Mint.

Vanilla Mint Everyday Shea Shampoo

This came in a gigantic size (32 oz.) for $13.99 (about $0.44/oz).  I’ll use it for body/hand soap, too, to justify the cost.  The mint (spearmint), in my opinion, overpowers the vanilla, but it’s still lovely and makes me feel all happy.  It produces a nice lather and doesn’t leave hair feeling…shall I say… TOO clean?   If you’ve ever washed your hair with Dr. Bronner’s you know what I’m talking about.  It’s not like that at all.

Shea butter and oil, as well as coconut oil, are the saponified fats in this product, so it should be quite moisturizing.  I’ve only used it for a few days, but so far, my hair seems manageable and not greasy and not crunchy.  So far so good.   The company uses fair trade ingredients, no synthetic fragrances, no parabens, and does not test on animals.  The fragrances are created with essential oils (and they have unscented versions of their products, too).  This means no phthalates!

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss an ingredient: cocamidapropyl betaine.  This is a surfactant that is synthetically made by chemically manipulating coconut oil and it can be an allergen to some people.  If you know you have skin reactions to surfactants, you may want to avoid this product.  If I notice anything strange, I’ll report back.

Second, Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz!

Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz

Okay, so I delayed getting hairspray after my purge, thinking I didn’t “really” need it and most brands cost about $10/bottle.  Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t wear my hair up, because I can’t stand the falling-down fly-aways that happen without hairspray.  And, honestly, I’m one of those people who like my hair to be neat and without the hairspray, all of those little pieces that wouldn’t lay flat after midmorning drove me nutso.

THIS hairspray to the rescue!  Giovanni products are vegan with a few exceptions of beeswax in their lip balms and milk in some of their products.  They do not test on animals, they do not put phthalates in their products, most fragrances are created naturally from essential oils and plant extracts, and many of their ingredients are certified organic.

This hairspray smells slightly floral, and holds lightly all day without being stiff (although this is touted as “maximum hold,” I don’t think it can be compared to the hard/crispy hairsprays we remember from high school).  At least the hairspray holds enough that I don’t have to fuss with my hair in the  mirror at work with those crazy fly-aways.  I haven’t tested the up-do hold, yet, but I’ll do more homework and get back to you on this.  It also hasn’t had to stand up to any crazy humidity yet.  I’m happy with it so far, so I hope it works for the occasional bun or ponytail.  It cost $7.95 for 5 oz…which will probably last about 4 months for me.  Not bad. And yes, ANOTHER toothpaste:  Now XyliWhite Cinnafresh Toothpaste Gel.

I have decided for my own health concerns to avoid fluoride.  This toothpaste doesn’t have any fluoride, but it does have xylitol, which works to prevent cavities by killing bacteria.  It also contains papain (a fruit enzyme) for whitening effect.  The paste itself is very much like gel, but it has the same color as beeswax, which I suppose could be a bit off-putting at first, but at least it’s not full of fake food dyes.  Here are the other ingredients: water, hydrated silica, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium coco-sulfate, carrageenan (Chondrus crispus), cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) leaf oil, tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) leaf oil, potassium sorbate.   Keep this FAR away from dogs, because the high quantity of xylitol could be fatally toxic (this is true for anything containing xylitol, obviously).  I like the cinnamon flavor, but it certainly isn’t as powerful as Jason’s Powersmile pepperminty-blast of fresh.  It does foam up nicely even though it doesn’t have any SLSes, and the slick-clean sensation is about a 9/10 for me.  I feel like my teeth keep that quality longer than with regular toothpaste…like it’s 11 pm now (I brushed my teeth around 8:30 am), and there’s no noticeable plaque-y feel on my teeth like there normally would be.  I find this amazing!  It  cost about $4.39 for a big 6.4 oz tube.  On www.iherb.com, you can get other flavors, and it is on sale for $3.81 right now.  It’s a definite thumbs up, and I am happy to feel un-conned on fluoride with this one. AND…although I haven’t tried any of their products, the Yes To Inc. company that creates Yes to Carrots and Yes to Cucumbers (and other vegetables)…have passed the no phthalate test!  They have a wholly organic line of baby products, which of course are good for adults to use, too.  They also avoid the use of parabens and SLSes.  They try to use as many organic and non-synthetic ingredients as possible, so just read the labels to see if there might be anything objectionable in it.  They do not test on animals and most products are also vegan…those that aren’t contain only beeswax and honey.  This is another brand that is widely available at WalMart and drugstores, but you might find a better selection at a “natural” store.  You can also shop at their online store, of course.  So, huzzah for finding another good and easy to find natural brand.  Options are awesome and variety is the spice of life!  Next time…the deodorant test continues.  Spoiler Alert!  I am breaking up with Tom’s of Maine forever!

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Reporting Back, Finally!

Found this bag by Credo Bags today...love!

 

I have updates! 

I was asked to contact Aveda and Philosophy specifically by friends and I contacted each company and finally received responses from each company.

First, Aveda. 

Verbatim from their e-mail response:  “Aveda’s plant-based mission and principles, on which the company was founded, have always steered us toward using plant-based or plant-derived ingredients whenever possible.  In keeping with this mission, Aveda products are developed using pure flower and plant essences and are phthalate-free. Aveda does not use phthalates in its formulations.”  So, this is good to know, however, I have learned to go ahead and take a look at the other ingredients to make sure that nothing is listed there that might be harmful in a different way. 
 
Secondly, Philosophy.  Also, verbatim from their e-mail: “thank you for contacting philosophy! we do have many different products that are phthalate free. please reply to this email with any specific products you are interested in and we would be happy to verify if they are phthalate free.”  Yes, the e-mail contained no capitalized letters.  Weird. 

Anyway, this is more of a “skirting the issue” response to me, because while Philosophy does have some phthalate-free products, they are not committed to using natural products, and so, don’t.  This means that phthalate-free products may have different harmful chemicals in them.  I confess to completely crushing my sister-in-law’s favorite lip gloss from Philosophy by letting her know that it contained three different ingredients that are considered to be carcinogenic, bio-accumulating, and/or endocrine disrupting.  Whoops.  So, I am debating crafting a doozy of an e-mail in response, listing every Philosophy product I can find, also asking pointed questions about the oxybenzone, octinoxate, and benzyl benzoate they put in their lip gloss. 

Thirdly, Thymes.  This is a fancier-than-usual product line that they sell in my fancy grocery store, but you can also find them in gift shops and on-line.  I wanted to buy my mom some of their candles/soaps, but decided to see if they were “okay.”  Their response, also verbatim, was:  “Thank you for your reply. No, we no longer use SLS/SLES, propylene glycol, DEA, TEA, formaldehyde donors, or phthalates in our products. I hope this is helpful and if you have any further questions, please let me know. Thank you!”  Similar to my Aveda research, it would be wise to check out the other ingredients they use to make sure they are “good enough.”

So, if you want to hunt down info about specific chemicals, you can either read up on wiki or head over to EWG’s Skin Deep database.  They have a big databank of products that they grade based upon ingredients.  There are a couple of caveats with the EWG database, though…some of their listings are outdated and therefore do not necessarily have the current product formula in the database.  They also score heavily for potentially harmful side-effects that don’t necessarily affect people in the same way.  For instance, I am not allergic to fragrances.  Anything with an undisclosed fragrance (possibly because fragrances can contain anything from phthalates to synthetic fragrances that do not occur naturally) gets a high score of 8/10.  Hence my research that entails actually contacting the companies and asking for clarification.  However, if you want info about a particular chemical, it’s a good source. 
 
And my own review of the ridiculously cheap, homemade baking-soda-based deodorant spray that I wrote about last time:  Day 1, I wore a wool sweater over a long-sleeved tee and jeans, the temperature high for the day was 50 degrees, and I did not do much in the way of exercise. Day 2, I wore a loose jacket over a t-shirt with a scarf (and jeans again), the weather was a little warmer, and I matched the same level of effort for the day.  I am not a sweaty person, usually, so I’m not really concerned about wetness, but on the funk-level, I am more concerned.  In all honesty, I have to say that at the end of each day, there was surprisingly *almost* no stink.  I think this works better than Tom’s for me.  And when I say almost, that means, there wasn’t zero odor, but I’d say it was at about 97% funk-free even the next day. 
 
Day 3-4 were spent on the weekend doing not much.  Then came Monday, which was, notably, the first day I wore synthetic fabrics.  And this was the first day of funk.  I thought maybe I had not applied enough.  So, of course, like the good little researcher I am, I made sure I put enough on the next day, and wore another outfit of synthetic fabric.  Same result.  I switched back to cotton, and voila, no stink!  And then, I did go to the gym.  And I did sweat.  But I did not stink.  So all those health classes touting natural fabrics to allow the body to breathe weren’t lying!   Natural fabrics allow any moisture to wick away.  Synthetic fabrics?…not so much, therefore encouraging funk-causing bacteria to grow.   So, at least for me, I will continue to use the non-aluminum, baking soda and water “deodorant” on those days when I wear natural fibers, and someday, when I splurge on the La Vanila stuff, I’ll use that when I wear the synthetics.  In the meantime, though, I have stumbled upon a reason to buy more natural-fiber clothes.  Oh, dang.
 
 P.S.  The only drawback to the baking soda and water formula is that the spray pump seems easily clogged by the baking soda in the solution, so I now I just “splash” it on.  Maybe less baking soda or more water will reduce that problem? Next batch I’ll tinker with the amounts.  But, definitely a thumbs up.    Try it!
Categories: deodorant, endocrine disruptors, phthalates, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

To Sweat or Not to Sweat? That is the question.

I have promised to write about a subject that is near and dear to my heart…sweating. And not so much the sweating part as the stinking part that usually happens along with sweating.  Because, when you do ask the question, to sweat or not to sweat?…the answer is obviously to sweat, because humans eliminate toxins from their bodies via the sweat glands (why do you think they have saunas in health clubs and gyms?). Sweating, of course, is less than comfortable when you are wearing nice clothes or just any clothes that reveal obvious sweat-marks. Perhaps we need to take a page from the rest of the world and just, well, be sweaty and okay with it as a natural thing our bodies need to do. But, in our American society, this just isn’t okay, because although we may be able to overlook your embarrassingly sweaty pits in a meeting, we will not forgive you for bringing your stanky funk with you.

So, what’s wrong with anti-perspirant? Aside from not letting your body eliminate toxins from your underarm sweat glands? 1. These products can make you just sweat more in other parts of your body…this happens to me. So while my pits might be lovely and dry, my whole back will be drenched to compensate for it…this is even worse than sweaty pits in my experience, especially when you go sit in the air conditioning afterwards…freezing!  Since it isn’t summer, this may be less of a concern, but keep it in mind when summer rolls around again. 2. Not sweating causes toxins to accumulate in your body and this has been associated with cancer of the lymph system and possibly breast cancer.  Enough said.  3. Aluminum is one of the main ingredients people want to avoid, but alas, this is the key ingredient for keeping the sweat glands in check. There is already a lot of aluminum in the world, but applying it directly to one of the most absorbent areas of the body gives one pause when you consider that an increased risk of Alzheimer’s has been associated with increased levels of aluminum in the body. Most anti-perspirants (even the “natural” crystal ones) use some form of aluminum salt to keep those sweat glands in check. Your cells literally swell from the aluminum salt application enough to close up the sweat glands. Depending on the strength of the anti-perspirant, you may only need to apply once a day.  However, the other problem I have with these products is my tender, sensitive skin begins to react to this application of salt in my underarms every day so that they hurt and feel…well…crusty. Even the pretty, made for a woman anti-perspirants do this to me. So…deodorants for me!

But wait. What’s wrong with deodorants? If any of you have been paying attention to my blog you can probably guess…it’s phthalates and other endocrine disruptors. And I thought I was being so clever and healthy. I replaced my Secret solid for some fancy Bath & Body or Victoria’s Secret body spray about five years ago. I rationalized that the alcohol would be killing the bacteria that are actually responsible for making sweaty pits into stinky pits, and then the fragrance would cover up anything that may develop throughout the day. Well, although that worked pretty well except for during the deepest Texas summer and trips to the gym, I was still applying harmful chemicals to my skin, half the time on freshly shaved skin, no less.

No doubt, some of you may have already tried the natural crystals. I suggest that you read your package ingredients and see if it contains an aluminum salt. If it does, I would also suggest looking for a different type. It just doesn’t seem worth the risk to use a product that may impact your brain function in later years, and since it runs in my family, I am absolutely concerned and will not use aluminum-based products if I can help it.

Some of you may have already tried Tom’s of Maine deodorant. I have tried three different scents over the years, and I don’t know if they have been tinkering with the formula or if the essential oil used for scent makes that much of a difference, BUT…the only kind that kept me from being stinky was the lavender version. This product is not powdery or silky, but rather on the sticky/goopy side. I have applied, then blotted before putting on clothes to keep the white-marks from getting everywhere. You must remember that Tom’s is only a deodorant and not an anti-perspirant, so you are still going to sweat. This brand is easy to find in most places you can buy personal products at about $5/tube.   Tom’s is also all-natural and never uses phthalates. You might want to give it a shot just to see if works with your body chemistry or well enough for you to be happy. I can live with it until I find a replacement that is better…and these are the ones I think I am going to try in the near future.

The gold standard seems to be La Vanila brand Healthy Deodorant. These babies cost $18/50g (1.7 oz) unless you buy a three-pack for $44 (that’s a $3.33 savings per tube). La Vanila swears by natural perfumery (they also have some apparently to die for fragrances/lotions/soaps) and science that exclude “petrochemicals, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oils, silicone, synthetic dyes, sulfates, or parabens” and additionally, since we are talking deodorant, they also have eliminated aluminum from the mix. You can buy these at Sephora and according to the reviews there, these are actually even acceptable for men to use (and they like it and don’t complain about smelling girly). If Santa Claus doesn’t bring me a gift card to Sephora, I might have to splurge and go get this anyway.

Options to consider. Honestly, you have decide for yourself on this. Do you care more about being sweaty or being stinky? If you care more about being sweaty, you are probably going to have to opt for some form of aluminum containing product. IF you choose this route, I suggest Lafe’s Natural and Organic Deodorant Spray. It uses potassium alum, which is a mineral salt containing, you guessed it, aluminum! It contains less per content than many other brands and works decently to keep you dry AND stink free. It only contains water, potassium alum, and aloe vera juice. I’m not sure about the plastic bottle it comes in, because it seems to have no recycle symbol on it, so that’s something of a question (I’ll contact them and see what they say about that). This brand is made right here in Austin, too, it seems, and you can get it on-line for about $6/4 oz. bottle, but I think I got my last bottle at the local fancy grocery store for about $4-something. On the up-side, it is unscented and therefore if you have found a natural perfume/body spray you like, it won’t clash with it at all, and you can share it with the men in your life without complaint. I confess that if need be, I might use this again during the high heat of the Texas summer if La Vanila or the recipe below can’t cut it.

Weleda spray deodorant was recommended by someone online, but a review of its ingredients (via drugstore.com) turned up benzyl benzoate, which is similar to phthalate in the fact that it is an endocrine disruptor. It’s even been used as an insecticide. However, when you go to the Weleda.com website, a different set of ingredients are listed and benzyl benzoate isn’t there. So, there could have been an update to the formula and drugstore.com hasn’t updated that info (or aren’t selling it yet). Read the label and if the benzyl benzoate is there, don’t buy it. This brand is also on the costly side…$13 from Weleda’s online store. It comes in Sage, Citrus, and Wild Rose fragrances. The company is natural certified six different ways to Sunday, so it seems ridiculous that they would put anything crappy in their formulas (like benzyl benzoate or phthalates), so in this instance, although it does not say “phthalate free” anywhere, I think we can assume it is. Or should be.

Now, for the real nitty-gritty hippy version. If you’ve done any sort of “greening up” your house, you’ve surely heard the praises of baking soda already. You can scrub with it like a scouring powder, you can brush your teeth with it, you can wash your hair with it, you can polish your silver, settle an upset stomach, get the stink out of your refrigerator, and, of course, make your baked goods rise. Now, too, you can keep your armpits from being smelly. You can dust it on like a powder using ½ c. baking soda mixed with ½ c. cornstarch. Or you can (and this is what I did) combine about 1 ½ cups of distilled or filtered water with ¼ c. baking soda. Mix well and pour it in a spray bottle. It’s that easy. AND it is ridiculously cheap at probably about $0.15 per batch. You might try adding some witch hazel, alcohol, aloe vera juice, or rosewater to improve your recipe. Witch hazel and alcohol will help kill the stink-causing bacteria, aloe vera will moisturize, and rosewater just smells good (but make sure it’s natural or make it yourself). Essential oils can be added with an alcohol mix, but without alcohol they won’t disperse properly. Spray this on your underarms after you get out of the shower and let it dry before putting on clothes. I’m trying this right now, and I’ll let you know how it goes. 

But I’m still gonna try La Vanila just because I want to.

Sweat on, dear friends, sweat on.

Categories: aluminum, deodorant, endocrine disruptors, phthalates | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is it Christmas, or is it just me?

Since I have recently been avoiding the pollutant-laden products that I have been accustomed to since…I dunno, BIRTH…I have begun to notice some changes.  I was hoping one of these changes would be some instantaneous weight-loss, but no such luck.  Oh well, I will keep my fingers crossed on that one.

1.        I have always had what I dubbed “sensitive skin” meaning a variety of things seemed to make my oily skin break out in “blemishes,” as my mother calls them.  I saw Dr. Murad on some morning show once where he first clued me in to the break-out evils of “isopropyl miristate.”  This extreme surfactant might as well be labeled “zit maker” for me. 

 So, that’s what first started me label reading.  From time, to time, however, I would break out and chalk it up to stress or hormones or whatever.  But now that I am washing with home-made soap and facial toner, and applying an all-natural moisturizer (Desert Essence Daily Essential Moisturizer), it seems that my skin is having a reaction.  And it’s not from extreme surfactants this time.

I am told, by other natural-product-using friends, that this is just my body re-balancing itself.  All those accumulated toxins are making their way out of my skin, or my body is deciding to expel them.  While this was always the ultimate goal and something I certainly want to happen, it’s not much fun to look at myself in the mirror in the morning and see Rudolf the red-nosed 37 year-old.  I am not gonna let it bother me, though.  I’m getting healthy, and if this is what happens on the way there, whatevs.  Anyone who wants to judge can just…well…stuff it.

2.       I have always had (what I thought was an extension of my oily skin) oily hair.  Oily, fine hair that tangles very easily.  Now, I will confess that I color my hair.  This is a blog for another day, but regardless, my hair has always been something to deal with every morning.  It has to be washed and conditioned at the least.  I have been known to throw it in a bun or ponytail while it is wet and just go to work that way.  If I don’t put it up, though, it has to have some sort of “holding” product like gel or styling cream, be blow-dried, and maybe touched up with a flat iron, and usually hair-sprayed into place for me to feel like it is “presentable” by normal southern standards. 

So, I’ve been washing my hair with Nature’s Gate Awapuhi Volumizing Shampoo.  It is spectacular!  Smells great and contains none of the following:  “artificial color, alcohol, animal-derived ingredients (with no animal testing ), parabens, or phthalates.”  The formula I bought, which may be a newly improved version (check the ingredients if you want to purchase this shampoo), also contains no sodium laureth sulfate.  My hair really used to feel like straw no matter what products I put in it.  Now it is soft, manageable, and shiny.  I’m sold.  And did I say it smells great?  It does.

One of the salvages from my product purge was also Nature’s Gate Sunflower and Pomegranate Conditioner.  It’s similarly lacking in “bad” stuff and is recommended for colored hair.  It doesn’t weigh my hair down and yet leaves it detangled and easy to comb through.   When the bottle is empty, I might have to go get the Awapuhi conditioner just to try, but not until this one is all gone!  No need to have 15 different types of conditioner again.  Cross my heart.

I have been using Aubrey Organics B5 Design Gel for styling purposes.  Now, let me tell you, I have medium length, very fine hair, and I am only interested in keeping it from flying around too much.  Honestly, this product smells…well…“medicinal” at best, but I think most people would say it stinks.  I only use about a dime-sized amount of it, and honestly (I promise), when I’m done blow-drying it, there is no smell of it in my hair.  If you want your hair to be more “gelled,” or if you have courser hair, I’m not sure how it will work.  However, it’s doing the job for me now, so I’ll use it until it’s gone.  This will likely take a while considering I use so little.  I have discovered that if you go to the Aubrey Organics website, you can buy smaller sizes than what is available at the stores…so you can buy a half size to try if you don’t want to commit to a full-size product. 

3.  The oddest thing though—is really odd.  Especially considering all the “blemishes” that are happening on my face right now.  Maybe my awesome hair is compensating for that.  Or maybe, since I’m not covering up the way I smell with a bunch of harsh chemicals, my pheromones are working to…attract the opposite sex.  Now, I’m not looking for anyone, because I have someone whom I love very dearly, but I have noticed complete strangers, like…smiling at me and holding the door open for me and talking to me out of nowhere.  Of course, at first, I thought maybe I had spinach in my teeth or something.  And honestly, maybe it is just Christmas and people are being more friendly than usual.  Or maybe this whole detox is cleansing my aura in such a way that I am more approachable.  I don’t know. 

But I noticed.  Maybe it’ll be a nice side-effect for you, too, if you try to cut some of the pollutants out of your life.   You never know.

Categories: hair products | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2.5 out of 3 ain’t bad

It’s been a while since I last posted, and of course I have a hundred new things I want to write about. But let me start where I left off.  I had contacted three companies to ask for information, further confirmation, that their products were indeed phthalate-free.

1. Kuumba Made fragrance oils have been CONFIRMED as phthalate-free. The actual language from the e-mail went like this: “Our fragrance oils are created using the finest oils and resins of flowers, plants, roots and trees. They are free of any dilutants, alcohols, petroleums, phthalates, and animal products. However, they are not 100% natural, some items such as musk is not available naturally.” Good to know they aren’t using animal musk. However in the artificial musk world, there are three types…two are questionable, much like phthalate, and one is considered safe. CRAP! I guess I need to press them further about which type of synthetic musk they are using. That will be a blog for another day. But it seems safe to assume that the non-musk fragrances are 100% good to go. I personally like Water Lily (and Egyptian Musk…so now I have more research to do).

2. Pacifica skin care, including perfume, is, according the e-mail response I received from customer service, “made without: Animal testing, animal bi-products (sic), phthalates, parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, benzene, GMOs, mineral oil, peanut oil, and triclosan. All Pacifica products are cruelty-free.” So this is more good news. The body butter, in Mediterranean Fig is still quite nice, but once I found out that their perfumes were 100% safe, I went on down to my Central Market and sprayed nearly every inch of my arms with a sample of their fragrances. Now, the selection on Pacifica’s site is much broader, but at my local store, there are approximately 8 scents. I purchased Waikiki Pikake, a light, white floral. But I’ll be going back (or asking Santa?) for Mexican Chocolate and Malibu Lemon Blossom. They are seriously yum! And free of nasty chemicals, which is the best part, I think.

3. After e-mailing customer service at Teva (the maker of sandals and flip-flops and, yes, even more complicated shoes), I got a reply indicating that they didn’t have material details about the products, but they did provide a handy phone number I could call. So I called, I asked my question of the helpful customer service staff, and she put me on hold for quite a while, but eventually came back with good news! Teva uses EVA plastic for the footbed of their products, and polyester for the straps. EVA is a type of plastic that does not require further plasticizers to make it bendable and “squishy,” and is actually considered to be inert enough to make children’s toys from in lieu of phthalate-based “squishy” plastic. This is good news since I live in my Tevas much of the year. By the way, I prefer this brand because they make durable products that can last for years and years. It’s worth the investment over cheap-o flip-flops, for sure. Not only are the straps fashionably cute, they last, and now we know they have no phthalate to absorb through our skin. Yay for Teva!

So, have I had any regrets about pursuing a hippy/natural-product lifestyle? No, because I think I am on the road to being healthier.  When you know better, you do better, right?  There’s really no going back for me now, and actually a broad door of questioning products everywhere has opened, and I am concerned not only for my own health, but the health of my family, friends, and yes, even perfect strangers.

I will confess that overcoming vanity is part of the process. I would still like to look nice (and smell nice) and this has suddenly made that task a little more challenging.  From my purging of grooming products, the product I regretted having to throw out the most (so far, that is, since I haven’t yet culled my perfume collection)? Don’t laugh at me, but it was a stash…yes, a stash…of discontinued Dove Straight and Soft Sleek Styling Cream. I LOVE this product so much that when it was discontinued, I went on ebay.com and bought 10 tubes. I KNOW! This makes me *almost* a hoarder…but it works so well on my hair! When you research its ingredients, this product is somewhere on the scale of about a 5-6 where 0 is pure water and 10 is considered extremely toxic/carcinogenic/allergy-causing/etc.  So I haven’t really found its replacement, but I am trying a styling product I’ll blog about tomorrow.

I do want to extend an offer to research the toxicity of your favorite product and perhaps offer a replacement product of similar qualities. Just leave a comment and I’ll start the search. First up, as requested by my co-worker, is Philosphy products. Tune in next time…

Categories: endocrine disruptors, hair products, perfume, phthalates | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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