I was walking at the beach this morning and thinking about the year in review…what a big one it has been for me, both personally and for Vitale Natural as a whole. Of course there are ups and downs, but I am pleased to say more ups that downs by a long shot.
Firstly I would like to share a few personal highlights:
case, we started caring for Edmond at 4 months but couldn’t officially adopt him until the RSPCA won the court case against his previous owner. Finally in November we adopted him from the wonderful people at the RSPCA. If I have never mentioned this before (I am sure I have!) I adore my two dogs.
Some Vitale highlights:
Please let me know what you want to find out about as I am happy to do topic requests
And I am just so excited about 2010. Looking forward we have some super exciting things coming up (well I think so anyway!):
I am sure I could think of lots more but I will hand it over to you. Please let me know your highlights of 2009 and what you are looking forward to in 2010. And please have a great New Years!
Propylene Glycol is a humectant and humidifying agent. This ingredient is generally used in brake fluid, anti freeze, laundry detergents, paints and floor wax. It is also used in the cosmetic industry and in some foods to keep products from melting or freezing in extreme temperatures by maintaining a balanced moisture content. Propylene glycol is on the US Food and Drug Administration’s list of ingredients which are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) and is recognized by the World Health Organization as safe for use.
Despite its GRAS status there are a growing number of grass roots claims that propylene glycol is an inappropriate ingredient for cosmetics and food. This is largely due to the material safety data sheet (MSDS). An MSDS is a safety disclosure which instructs manufacturers and shippers on proper procedures for handling ingredients, for treating accidental exposure, and for cleaning up spills. An MSDS does not indicate how the ingredient will react when combined with other ingredients, and the effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present. However the MSDS can be used as a guide of the ingredients potential for hazard.
The material safety data sheet for propylene glycol states that it is “implicated in contact dermatitis, kidney damage and liver abnormalities; can inhibit cell growth in human tests and can damage cell membranes causing rashes, dry skin and surface damage”. The concentrated form of the ingredient can cause temporary reddening, stinging or swelling when it comes in contact with the eyes or skin. Propylene glycol is a petroleum plastic that can easily penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin potentially weakening cellular structure.
These indications do not mean that a product formulated with the ingredient will have irritating properties but that it could. Due to the potential for Propylene glycol to weaken cellular structure it is likely that people with a propensity to sensitive, easily irritated or damaged skin are more likely to be affected. However, it is probably best to avoid any cosmetic ingredient that has these risk factors as there are always safe alternatives.
If there is any good news it is that the MSDS for the propylene glycol contains no indications of carcinogenicity or chronic exposure effects and
tests both in humans that have worked with this substance and animals have confirmed this. However, these tests don’t take into account exposure to babies, children or the effect on babes in utero all of which are more susceptible to toxic exposure than adults.
Fortunately there are good natural alternatives to propolene glycol and in this author’s opinion synthetic ingredients should always be avoided where possible. Look for natural skin care products that contain alternatives.Twitter It!
Every day we are exposed to air pollution, sunlight, smoke and more all which give rise to the production of “free radicals”. Damage to our DNA, protein (collagen & elastin) and protein remodeling (skin healing) are all side effects of the production of free radicals. Internally the metabolism, the effects of stress and emotions and the result of everyday body process that utilize oxygen all create free radicals. Externally ultraviolet light from the sun and environmental stressors such as smoking, pollution, poor dietary habits and chemical exposure also contribute. The production of free radicals and the damage they cause is one of the key mechanisms of aging. As one ages, the skin’s structural foundation weakens. Specifically, collagen which keeps the skin firm and elastin which maintains elasticity and helps prevent the skin from sagging. Free radicals attack your skin’s collagen and elastin layers, accelerating the creation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Skin-aging caused by free radicals occurs over time however, the damaging effect of free radicals is exacerbated in the presence of an antioxidant
deficiency which can accelerate this process considerably. Consider for example the skin of a smoker aged 40 years compared to a non-smoker. In this case, the antioxidant defenses of the skin are far outweighed by the production of free radicals as a byproduct of the daily cigarette habit. Much research has been done with regard to the benefits of antioxidants to combat the production of free radicals. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that harm the cells, causing damage and premature aging. Specifically antioxidants help to maintain the health of the skin cells such as collagen and elastin which keeps skin supple.
There are two ways to slow the effects of free radical damage on the skin:
Reduce the production of free radicals. You can’t really do much
about reducing free radical product that is the byproduct of everyday bodily processes however you can reduce your exposure to the environmental factors such as ultraviolet rays, pollution, chemicals and poor dietary habits. So the key advice such as minimizing exposure to midday sun and giving up smoking apply here.
Improve your antioxidant status. The neutralizing effects of antioxidants don’t prevent the effects of free radical damage however ensuring that your antioxidant status is optimal will certainly slow skin aging. Antioxidants can be increased internally and topically by:
Antioxidant Supplementation – specifically vitamins C and E, as well as lipoic acid and flavonoids (green tea and grapeseed), exert protective effect against oxidative stress in the skin and help protect the skin from damage caused by the sun. Lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin as a specific subset of carotenoids may also be used as oral sun protectants and contribute to the maintenance of skin health.
Whether in our diet, as supplements or topically applied, antioxidant play an important role in slowing down the aging process. Of course to get the best effect it is important to consider all three delivery methods. In addition, minimising your exposure to the environmental factors that cause free radical production, will significantly add to slowing the aging process, not just of your skin, but of your whole body.Twitter It!
The pleasure of a morning cuppa had been increased by the emergence of the many health benefits from tea of all kinds – black, green and oolong (white). Heart disease, gum disease, cancer and even weight loss. In addition to these health benefits tea has emerged as a significant therapeutic ingredient active against skin damage.
The many medicinal properties of tea are attributed to phytochemicals called polyphenols of which catechins are the
principle subtype. White and green tea has the highest concentrations of catechins with up to 25% being standard. While black tea contains 4% on average. There are many types of catechins but those that have been studied most extensively in relation to skin phyto-ageing are epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Research assessing the benefits of green tea for skin has shown that topical application can reduce sun damage. Green tea does not have a UV ray blocking effect like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide however there is a synergistic effect when combined with either of these ingredients. The benefit is achieved by blocking free radicals and reducing inflammation and apart from reducing sun damage it may also help slow the skin aging associated with sun damage.
The findings above applied equally to white tea in clinical trials. Interestingly, while black tea contains less than a quarter of the EGCG of green or white tea, it also has a protective effect against sun damage and reduces erythema (reddening of the skin). Based on these findings it is worthwhile considering a sunscreen that contains green, white or black tea extract.
Green tea in particular has been showed benefits for papulopustular rosacea. The particular study used a lotion containing a
tea extract which produced a 70% improvement in rosacea when compared to use of a lotion containing the base ingredients alone. The most significant finding was a reduction in inflammatory lesions when compared to placebo.
While not focused on topical application an interesting result using oolong tea was achieved in patients with chronic atopic dermatitis. Patients in the trial maintained their standard dermacological treatment and at the same time drank 3 cups of oolong tea per day that had been steeped for 5 minutes. After only one month of treatment, which is a relatively short period of time, 63% of patient showed marked to moderate improvement and the response was still evident 6 months after the trial in 54% of patients. The authors of the trial suggest the antiallergic properties of the tea polyphenols are responsible for the result.
One study that looked at the role green tea may play in slowing photoaging gave participants a 10% green tea cream and 300mg supplement twice daily or placebo over an 8 week period. However, while there was a significant improvement in elastic tissue there were no obvious visible signs of skin improvement. Given the trial was only 8 weeks, longer supplementation may be required for clinical results to become obvious.
Another quite specific use for green tea is to reduce the skin damage from of radiotherapy. Skin toxicity is a common side effect of radiotherapy for solid tumors. In one study a green tea extract made by steeping a green tea bag in water was applied to damaged skin. It showed that green tea supported the restitution of skin integrity by inhibiting inflammation and mediating local immune responses. In addition the higher catechin content of green tea may be responsible for the considerable antibacterial effect often seen in super-infected skin lesions common to hospitalised patients. This study shows potential for green tea to have greater benefit than just reducing inflammation, in particular an antibacterial effect which significantly widens the scope of use in skin conditions such as acne and skin infections.
The benefits for green tea are numerous and particularly effective in the area of sun protection and phytodamage. The issue with the use of creams that there is generally no indication of the percentage of extract in the cream and it could be anything from waving a tea bag over the top to significant levels up around 10%. In addition, the quality of extract may not be known or not specific for skin application. For example, the green tea extracts that are beneficial contain more caffeine (although
this isn’t the only active required) where as EGCG or catechins are required (as far as we know from clinical trials) to help slow sun damage.
This is my Christmas themed post! In our family we have made the choice to give presents that are in consumable (ie like skin care), experiences (such as a facial) or eco-friendly gifts (because it feels good). It is our way of helping to prevent land fill. So this year (I hope none of my family are reading this), I am going to outline what I am giving to my family:
My Mum likes indulgent gifts. She love beauty treatments and gorgeous smelling products. It is only of late that she has started buying these things for herself rather than on us kids so I like to encourage this trend:
Deliciously exotic, this body oil is made from gardenia flowers that have been steeped in coconut oil. With mica for shimmer, it is the perfect body oil for Summer nights.
Having a pedicure in Summer is perfect for wearing thongs and sandals. Mum loves it because it is something she would never do herself and it is for her a complete indulgence.
For my dogs (yes before anyone asks, I am one of those crazed dog owners and so buy my dogs Christmas presents), I bought a Etiko Fair Trade Soccer Ball. Granted the whole family will be able to play with it when we are at the beach but I also know it is going to be a hit with the dogs. The soccer ball itself was made without child labor and is sweat-shop free. This and other sports balls are available from Good Concepts in West End, Brisbane or on-line at www.etiko.com.au.
This year I am giving my partner a My Heart Beats Green eco t-shirt from Bliss Eco Wear. My Heart Beats Green and Kowtow have some fantastic designs and all in fair-trade and 100% organic cotton.
My sister is going on a European trip in January so she needs practical gifts. I am thinking of a recycled manicure kit (Eco Tools Nail Care Kit) as a good pair of nail scissors and a set of tweezers will come in handy and a La Mav Travel Pack so that she doesn’t have to lug around full sized skin care products.
Lastly each year we choose a charity to give to and because I spend a fortnight at the beach every Christmas, my favorite charity is the Australian Marine Conservation Society. The AMCS guard our ocean wildlife and as a beach-goer I value the work they do:
A lot of us value more than just a coastal view, we love the sea itself. But the sea that we know and love is changing. Once treated as a dumping ground and considered inexhaustible, our oceans are now in crisis and need our help. The Australian Marine Conservation Society is Australia’s only charity dedicated exclusively to protecting ocean wildlife and their homes.
I would love to here about the gifts you are giving to your friends, family and loved ones.Twitter It!
’Our children will ask…. What were our parents thinking? Why did they produce toxic chemicals and then put them in and on our bodies? Were they so arrogant to think that our bodies would not be affected?’
– Dr Sarah Lantz (PhD)
Chemical Free Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World is a powerful read. Powerful in the way that it clearly lays out the links between the chemicals we are using on our kids and ourselves and the health implications they have. Powerfully motivating as it makes us aware of the issues and drives our choices away from toxic chemicals. And lastly powerful because it is educates so we can make informed choices for ourselves and our children.
Researched and written in Brisbane by Dr Sarah Lantz (PhD), Chemical Free Kids addresses the following issues:
Chemical Free Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World brings together compelling research that includes interviews with Australian families with kids who have been affected by environmental chemicals revealing how toxic chemicals in the environment play a critical role in our children’s everyday health and wellbeing – food additives; personal care products; over the counter and prescription drugs; household cleaning product; etc. In a practical sense, Chemical Free Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World teaches how to read labels and identify toxic and harmful ingredients leaving parents more empowered in asking the right questions about what is going into their kids’ bodies. Through her research, knowledge and experiences, the author of this book, Dr Sarah Lantz, brings new insights into a world of toxicity and related diseases caused by environmental chemicals that have gone relatively unnoticed for a long period of time.
Editor’s Note: Chemical Free Kids is aligned with my own thoughts about toxic chemicals in skin care…I take a precautionary approach which is that I avoid all known toxic chemicals and taking this a step further, avoid synthetic and artificial chemicals of unknown toxicity and choose instead natural and organic alternatives. In all honesty, the only products that I can’t find 100% natural or organic alternatives for are nail polish and hair dye. So I have found the best alternative, non-toxic versions of these products, which I have to say I am happy about because I am not ready to go gracefully grey (and I love nail polish)!
I would love to hear your comments about using non-toxic skin care. Do you agree, disagree or just don’t care? Or is it just that you can’t find a good natural alternative for your one favorite product?
An article from the UK Telegraph reported on a recent survey which found that women typically use up to 13 products on a daily basis, most of which contain more than 20 ingredients, including additives. This statistic is alarming particularly if you consider that many of those chemical have long-term toxicity issues. The article went on to say that the biggest chemical offenders are perfumes which contain an average cocktail of 250 ingredients, with some containing as many as 400.
Another issue is the trend in ‘aluminium free’ deodorants, many of which contain additive ingredients that have been linked to cancer, hormone problems, skin conditions and allergies. I actually discussed this in a recent video blog about deodorant use.
The report also found that lipstick contains on average 33 ingredients, body lotion 32, mascara 29, and the purest product, hand moisturiser, 11. Now it is not to say that all of these chemicals have issues and if they are 100% natural or certified organic, then long term toxicity shouldn’t be an issue at all. But we have certainly come a long way from the basic “wash and go” routine of old. When I counted up what I applied daily it was quite a long list:
In the morning I use: face wash, treatment face serum, moisturiser with SPF 30, eyecream (sometimes), deodorant, body moisturiser with SPF 30, hair wax and if going to work I also add perfume, mineral make up, mascara and lipstick.
In the evening I use: face wash, treatment face serum and eyecream.
Then sometimes I add in: a mask or exfoliant, eye shadow and non-toxic nail polish.
I count 14 products a day as average which surprised me. Fortunately I only use natural and organic products so I feel good about what I put on my skin.
The key thing to consider to remember is that a certain percentage of whatever we put on our skin will be absorbed. It then has to be broken down and detoxified by the body. The body has a harder time processing and eliminating synthetic chemicals than it does natural ones. This is because in the scheme of things, our body’s have only been exposed to synthetic chemicals for the last 60 years or so and this isn’t long enough for us to adapt to this onslaught. Decrease the toxic burden on your body by reducing synthetic chemical use around the home in these ways:
cleaning agents. He made this choice to reduce his exposure to cleaning chemicals and we benefit as a result.
I would love to hear how many products you use every day and if you are happy with your choices. Tell us also the ways you reduce your toxic load. As always, I love to hear from you.Twitter It!
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