Posts Tagged With: Desert Essence

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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Categories: hair products, perfume | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Deodorant Debate: Spring/Summer Edition

I think it is time to revisit that age old debate…the one about being stinky or not.

For some of you, I will suggest that you have something of an easier task in finding an antiperspirant than my poor, old, sensitive arm-pitted, living in Texas self.  If you don’t have to face 90+ degree weather everyday, there’s that.  If you DO, then you likely have the same debate I have.

So, there was the baking-soda and water spray, which I used for about a month.  And the verdict:  Doesn’t really work on really hot days.  AND, even this water and baking soda formula was too “hot” for my sensitive skin.  I never switched it up with aloe vera or anything more moisturizing, because I discovered I didn’t really like the mess of it…waiting for it to dry and dealing with it dripping everywhere.  Yeah.  Gross.

Lafe’s, which I had also reported on back in December, is still on my counter as an effective back-up for not having something else. It is also water-like in its drippy-ness and needing to dry, and it does contain potassium alum, which contains aluminum. This concerns me for more than one reason, but if you read this article at Mother Nature Network, it seems to suggest that potassium alum isn’t as absorbable as other forms of aluminum commonly found in other deodorants/antiperspirants. And, when you look it up on the Skin Deep Database, it is graded with just a 1. Combine this deodorant with synthetic clothes, however, and it is lacking…at least for me. It does not irritate, my skin, though. So, that’s why it is still on my counter…good enough for most days, but when I have an important event or meeting, I have backup.

I said I would do it, and I did.  I splurged on LaVanila’s Healthy Deodorant.  It cost $18.  That is not a typo, and it isn’t missing a decimal.  I chose the Vanilla Passion Fruit, but I didn’t think it smelled too much like either–it did smell nice, though. Similar to the other natural deodorants, it worked decently with natural fibers and less so with synthetic fibers.  I didn’t notice it feeling wet or sticky, and it was very much like a standard solid deodorant stick, which I personally prefer.  The sad news for me, though, was that something in this “healthy” product was still too strong for my sensitive skin.  My significant other, though, liked it and said he didn’t notice it smelling too girly.  Truth be told, he actually went looking for it when I had misplaced it one morning saying “where is MY deodorant?”  He works construction in the Texas heat, and though he specifically prefers deodorant over anti-perspirant, he was happy with it’s de-stinking abilities.  The major problem, however:  when I told him how much it cost, he was shocked and a little upset that I would spend so much on something like deodorant.  “For this little thing?”  Yeah.  Not worth it for me, but maybe for you, if you don’t mind the expense.

The major disappointment for me was Desert Essence Tea Tree Deodorant.  Now, one of the things that is difficult about blogging about products is that the formulas change, like, almost every day.  I purchased this deodorant around January, but the kind I bought isn’t on the market anymore, unless you happen to find it in store that doesn’t turn over products often.  Anyway, don’t bother.  My main complaint with this product is that it is hard to apply.  It seems more “gluey” and sticky than glidable and applicable.  It just didn’t want to “go on” and maybe that’s why it didn’t work.  Stinky pits by midday.  Like didn’t work at all.  My significant other also gave a thumbs down on this one as “not working.”  Desert Essence has many other fine products, which I totally encourage you to try.  If you are brave, you might even try one of the new formulas of deodorant, but I would honestly try something else. Especially at almost $7 a pop.

And, just one more review that is really more of a “beware.”  In one of those moments where you are at the drugstore at midnight picking up random things you need (like a gallon of milk, tweezers, a birthday card for a co-worker, and deodorant), beware of the “natural-sounding” versions of deodorant that you may find from a reliable-sounding brand.   For example, Sure has made deodorant for decades.  I think some of us might remember commercials that had people dressed in business professional clothing stopping in the middle of a meeting to “raise your hand if you’re sure!” or some such.  Anyway, as it turns out, their recent formulas for just “deodorant” seem fairly mild as far as toxic chemicals go.  The asterisk next to that statement, of course, is the fragrance formula may contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates.  Or it may not.  We don’t know.  However, and this is my main point, as odd as it may seem, Sure’s “Natural Extracts” version has a worse ranking than than its regular stuff on the Skin Deep database.  Now, it’s still not that bad, but it has more “non-active” ingredients making up the base of the product, and some of these are considered more toxic than less.  Go figure.

Also, you may think Arm & Hammer’s Essentials Natural Deodorant sounds like it would be pretty awesome.  Well, not only do we not know what is in the fragrance formula, but this version also uses Triclosan, an endocrine disruptor, as an anti-microbial to keep the stink down.  This is definitely something you do not want to put on freshly shaved skin every day, and serves as prime example of “what not to buy” when you are wandering those drugstore aisles too late at night.

Of course, one glaring reality that I have yet to discuss in this blog is the fact that all of these products are delivered in the form of a plastic container of some sort.   Many do not have recycling labels, and many, even if they do have a number on it, aren’t really readily recyclable, because the inner workings or caps are made of different plastic types.  Can you imagine how much plastic goes into landfills just because we feel the need to apply chemicals to our pits so we won’t stink/sweat?

You can, of course, like me, go back to the drawing board, and make your own.  My dear friend, Rebecca (fellow naturalist and good food foodie), swears by a simple powdery mix of baking soda and cornstarch dispensed by a glass spice-shaker…you know the kind they have at pizza parlors for the red pepper flakes?  Just a dusting seems to work for her.  I haven’t tried it yet (I will, I swear), but she smells pretty nice every day, and she even rides her bike to work in the Texas heat!  That sounds like a winning product review to me!

I personally think I am going to return to my original preference and create a spray formula of some sort (alcohol? water? aloe?) that will be scented with essential oils or oil blends that do not contain any crappy chemicals in them.  Hey, it works for me.

I will keep you posted on this on-going debate, but until then,  feel free to share any good finds or recipes that really work.  Any good ideas are welcome here!

Categories: aluminum, deodorant, endocrine disruptors | 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

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