Launched on July 21st, The Story of Cosmetics is the brainchild of Annie Leonard, a campaigner for safe cosmetics. This video may look cute but the message is serious – get toxins out of our skincare! Annie discusses how cosmetic companies get away with including ingredients that are potentially carcinogenic (cancer causing) in products such as baby shampoo and flow on effects of such action. The Story of Cosmetics will help spread the word to millions of people and in turn help effect the changes needed to ensure all the products we use are safe for us and our families.Twitter It!
Antiaging ingredients and eye creams that work…a myth or reality? While there may be many products in the market that claim to work, how many actually do make a difference? Two tried and true ways of finding out are:
1. Review the research. Antiaging is big business but there are a handful of key ingredients that show real promise. Among them, marine extracts, Hibiscus esculentus extract, sodium hyaluronate and naturally sourced alpha hydroxy acids.
2. Alternatively you can try a product out for yourself. What works for others may not work for you…and vice versa and it can be worth spending the money to find out.
The Eyes have it…
In my opinion eye cream isn’t just a clever marketing gimmick – it really does work! And it makes sense to take care of the skin around your eye, as it is the thinnest skin on your face and the first to show the signs of aging. And yes, eye creams are different to everyday face creams. Moisturisers tend to have a heavier molecular structure and so can cause puffiness or inflammation around the eye area. Eye creams are designed specifically for the delicate skin around the eye.
In my experience, eye creams are lighter and tend to absorb in more quickly. The ingredients are also targeted for the eye area however, there are many different choices when it comes to eye creams and eye products tend to focus on specific issues be it puffiness, dark circles or fine lines and wrinkles. Choose the one that suits best suits your skin and the predominant issue. Similarly to moisturisers, it is important to choose age-appropriate eye creams (and I don’t mean R-rated eye creams!). Anti-aging eye products and creams are probably to rich for someone in their early 20s. In this case an eye gel may have a better result.
To get the best out of your eye cream use it daily both in the morning after cleansing and in the evening after you’ve removed your make-up. Gently apply using the pad of your fourth finger and dab the eye cream around your eye socket. Our pick of the very best natural eye creams on the market now:
1. Worth every cent La Mav Certified Organic Firming Eye Lotion contains active ingredients to help with skin restructuring by preserving collagen & elastin fibers and marine extracts help reduce the appearance of dark circles.
2. Haven Scent Rosehip Eye Cream is a light soothing eye cream that nourishes and hydrates skin using certified organic aloe vera and rosehip oil. A favorite indeed!
3. To minimise dark circles Devita Under Eye Repair Gel is ideal. A light, refreshing serum that soothes tired eyes. The inclusion of bioflavanoids Astaxanthin and Hesperdin help strengthen the capillary network under the eyes and clear dark circles. Don’t expect overnight results; give it 3 months and you should see a lightening of dark circles – anything less is unrealistic.
4. As a light and soothing gel, Third Stone Botanicals Green Tea Eye Serum l contains colloidal silica and green tea antioxidants soothe and protect the delicate eye area and help reduce puffiness. Storing this product in the fridge will further help with the reduction of puffy eyes.
Tell us what your favorite eye product is and why for your chance to win a $10 Vitale Gift Voucher (prize will be presented 14 days after post).Twitter It!
The beauty of many natural skin care remedies is that far from being exclusive, they can be found in your kitchen cupboard, growing in your back yard or even in the supermarket isles. Generally they are inexpensive, costing as much as a teaspoon of honey or a tea bag. In some cases such as aloe vera, you can grow it in your own back yard. Made with ordinary ingredients, these remedies are easily available, simple but highly effective and can have powerful healing benefits.
Aloe is one of the best remedies for soothing irritated skin and healing burns including sunburn. Aloe contains constituents that have a demulcent (soothing)
effect and so can be used on grazed, red or inflamed skin; as well as a vulnerary (wound-healing) effect. Aloe inhibits the formation of tissue-injuring compounds that gather at the site of a skin injury and so can be applied to the wound site to promote healing. When applying fresh aloe from the leaves of the plant, use only the clear inner pulp of the leaf. This component has soothing and healing properties. The yellow/green sap that is exuded by leaf surface can be irritating to skin and so is best avoided. If you don’t have an aloe plant growing in your back yard, you can still harness the benefits of this plant by choosing products that are made with Aloe vera.
Raw, unprocessed honey is one of the most useful natural remedies we have available for wound healing. Medical grade antibacterial honey, particularly for chronic and poorly healing wounds such as ulcers has even proven its worth in clinical trials. Not all types of honey are effective for wound healing and the
differences related to the floral source. Manuka honey from New Zealand along with honey from the Leptospermum tree found in Australia, are considered the most effective medical honeys. Antibacterial honey is beneficial for wound healing because it has such a broad range of therapeutic effects. It offers wound protection by proving a physical barrier to antibiotic resistant strains of microorganisms thereby preventing cross infection. It promotes clean wounds by removing necrotic (dead) tissue and debris. Finally it promotes wound healing by maintaining a moist wound environment and encouraging tissue granulation. Medical honeys are available in typical honey form, which is ideal for oral use or incorporated into creams or lotions and even bandages for easier application to external wounds. Raw honey is also available in products such as Live Live Bee Yummy Skin Food and Eko Organica Calm Magic Balm (UMF16).
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has two qualities that make it one of the most effective essential oils as
a natural skin remedy. Firstly it is a powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic, active against all infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Secondly, it is a very effective immune stimulant, increasing the body’s ability to respond when in contact with any of the above micro-organisms. Tea tree oil is useful in the management of infection in minor wounds and even acne. In the case of mild infection, liberally apply 100% tea tree oil to the affected area. Further application of tea tree to any bandage may also be applied and then changed every 24 hours.
Apart from its soothing and relaxing aromatherapy benefits, 100% pure lavender essential oil can be used as an effective first aid remedy. When applied to minor
burns and bites or stings, the undiluted essential oil has an antiseptic and pain relieving effect. The sooner the oil is applied, the faster the pain relieving and healing effects of lavender will occur. Apply undiluted oil for burns or skin irritation or combine a few drops with a carrier oil such as jojoba for use as a relaxing massage oil.
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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.
’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?
This is a special bulletin because I’ve just partnered up with an associate of mine and her team at Outrageously Healthy. Their mission is to help as many people on the planet as possible, live their best life. One way they do this is by finding the most outrageously healthy experts to interview and bring those live interviews to people like you at no cost!
And guess what? I am this week’s Expert! I will be interviewed by Lenore and you can listen in live either by phone or webcast this Friday 23rd of October at 9am (Brisbane time). To gain access to this call and to all future expert calls just go to http://www.outrageouslyhealthy.com/rep/anandamahony.html and sign up for their Free Ruby Membership when you do you will also receive a gift from Lenore and the Team the MP3 ‘Feeling Great for No Good Reason’. The call details will be emailed to and a reminder sent a few hours before the call.
So come join us and learn about my favourite Outrageously Healthy topic this week, I can’t wait to hear you on the call.
Have an outrageously happy healthy week till then,
(here is me looking excited about the interview!)
I love paw paw ointment but haven’t used it for years. The brand I used to use I found out contained petrochemicals as a base so I stopped using it all together. Recently however a couple of natural brands have popped up and I have been trialling them to see how they compare to the original. Of those natural brands I have done a comparison below and interestingly while I love the Pure Nutraceuticals product which we stock, the Suvana Paw Paw Ointment is really good too. For this reason, you will see it in-store soon! (Ed note: I is now in-store and on-line)
|Lucas Paw Paw Ointment||High concetration of paw paw ointment. A TGA listed product which means the base ingredients aren’t listed on the label||Contains natural paw paw extract in a petroleum jelly base (a petrochemical)||
|Pure Nutraceuticals Paw Paw Ointment||Natural with food grade preservative. Contains calendula which is healing and nourishing to the skin.||Vitis Vinifera (Grapeseed) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Beeswax, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Paw Paw Ferment, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit, Coconut Flavour, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Benzyl Alcohol||
|Suvana Paw Paw Ointment||Natural with some organic ingredients||Castor seed oil*, beeswax*, coconut oil*, cocoa butter*, papaya extract, honey*, jojoba oil*, vanilla bean oil*, candilia wax, carrot seed oil, stevia extract, vitamin e. * organic ingredients||
|Simmons Paw Paw Salve||Natural. Made with 51mg/gram of fresh paw paw. More papaw per volume than other leading brands.||Fermented fresh paw paw fruit, Rhus succedanea wax, glycerine, canola oil, hydrogenated castor oil, beeswax, corn starch.||
My video blog about Pure Nutraceuticals Paw Paw OintmentTwitter It!
I have always been curious about AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). While there was lots of good research around about their benefits there was also some about their potential side effects. So it has been an ingredient I have treated with caution and before I researched the ingredient, some suspicion. I think I am a bit of a cynic – I have to know about an ingredient before I am ready to embrace it. I also don’t like to leave stones unturned so when I realised the potential benefits of AHAs, I decided to give them a try. Who better to try it out on than myself? So this is part one of a blog about “My AHA Experiment”. The next installment will come at the end of 6 months.
AHAs (I use this term to cover BHAs or beta hydroxy acids as well) have a two fold effect. The first thing they do is reduce congestion – woopee, I need some of that! You can see the effects of this action relatively quickly (i.e. 10 days to 3 weeks). The second is to reduce sun damage and improve skin texture. According to clinical skin trials, this takes up to 6 months. I have been using the Devita AHA product for about 5 weeks now and I review the product as well as talk about the benefits and potential issues with the use of AHAs. So installment one of “My AHA Experiment” is below. I will get back to you with an update…in about 5 months time!
“My AHA Experiment”
Click here to view Devita AHAs
Topical Slow Aging Ingredients
We wash, style and blow-dry in order to tame our often un-ruly tendrils. Yet some of the everyday hair care practices we use are actually doing more damage than good. This article takes a look at the issues we face in our efforts to achieve well groomed, shiny and healthy hair.
The average human head has about 100 000 hair follicles and from each one emerges a shaft of hair. Nourished by blood vessels the follicles produce new keratin cells promoting the constant growth of new hair. The inner layer or medulla,
which is protected by the outer keratin cells, contains pigment cells (for colour), fat granules and oxygen. Separate glands run alongside the follicle producing sebum, a natural hair and scalp conditioner. Straight, shiny hair is the result of sebum produced by the glands easily travelling the length of the hair shaft. By contrast, curly hair will often look and feel dry because the sebum has a more difficult time getting from the base of the hair shaft to the tip.
The overall health of the hair depends on numerous factors however nutritional status is key. There are no topically applied hair products that can compensate for poor nutrition. Hair cannot repair itself because it is already dead tissue. However, you can grow healthier hair from the “inside-out”. Healthy hair depends on a constant supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to grow and maintain the look and feel. Any deficiency in key hair nutrients will show up in our skin, hair and nails first, before affecting our internal organs. Therefore, brittle, dry, dull hair that easily breaks may actually be a signifier to check your general nutritional status.
Hair is predominately made up from protein so a deficiency can result in changes to the colour and texture resulting in brittle, weak and thinning hair. Eating protein 3-5 week will help maintain your levels. If you have had a protein deficiency you will notice hair returning to healthy condition within 12 weeks of correcting the deficiency, as the new hairs grow through.
In addition diets high in sugar and animal fats may contribute to poor hair health. An imbalance between good and bad fat consumption can either lead to an overly dry and flaky scalp and dry hair or excessive oil production. Correcting the imbalance will help to normalise the health of the scalp and the relative dryness or oiliness of the hair. High sugar consumption creates a higher demand for B group vitamins, which can also affect hair health. Reducing highly processed and sugar rich foods will not only help hair health, it will also improve general health.
While internal factors affect hair health, external factors also have the potential to damage hair. If you have ever washed your hair with soap you would know that it tends to get tangled and knotty afterwards. The outer “scales” on the hair shaft stand up when in the presence of an alkali, such as soap and get caught up creating a tangled, messy “do”. The scales will lie down flat in the presence of an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar, which is why vinegar hair rinses were traditionally used after washing. While shampoos don’t create this effect they come with their own set of issues as they are stronger cleansers than soap and strip more of the natural oils from the scalp and hair, leaving it dry and in desperate need of moisture. This is where conditioners come in, their key functions to make the hair scales lie back down and coat the hair so that it feels smooth again.
In addition the type of surfactant used to clean hair in shampoos can be problematic with those such as sodium or ammonium lauryl sulphate contributing to irritated and dry scalp and hair issues. Softer surfactants such as decyl glucoside, coco glucoside or coco betaine are better choices for both hair and scalp health.
In general try to avoid conditioners and stying products with added silica as these will just build up on the hair shaft and create “artificially” shiny and silky hair. They will also increase the need to wash hair which in turn dries out hair again, creating a cycle of poor hair management and ultimately, poor hair health.
How often we wash hair is an individual choice however, most people tend to wash their hair too frequently, each time stripping back the protective oils from the scalp and hair. If your scalp is dry or itchy, try waiting one extra day before washing allowing the sebum to protect the scalp for a longer period. Twice weekly for normal to dry hair is a good benchmark. Obviously oily hair needs to be washed more frequently and often daily. Washing hair often entails blow-drying or straightening which if done excessively, damage the hair shaft. The less you dry & straighten, the better your hair condition will tend to be.
Hair styling agents can also impact on the health of the hair and more importantly your general health. In conventional styling products synthetic plastics such as PVP (polyvinyl pyrrolidone polymer), acrylic copolymers, VA (vinyl acetate)
polymer and acrylamide polymer are used as holding agents, all of which are synthetic petroleum based plastics. While these may not be specifically damaging to your hair, they are not environmentally friendly and in addition are easily absorbed through the scalp thereby contributing to the total toxic load your body has to deal with. Look instead for natural products such as beeswax or coconut oil based products for strong hold pastes or gels and sugar biopolymer based products from corn or vegetables instead of hair spray or mousse. The natural wax products will also help to keep the hair shaft moisturised. Generally styling products based on such ingredients are healthier for you and for the environment.
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I was talking to my friend Lisa Tristram, who knows more about the state of the Australian Organic skin care industry than anyone I know – and that is saying something! If you have a question, she has the answer – of course I have lots of questions! Lisa has worked in all areas of the skin care industry from the shop floor to formulating to dealing with issues of organic regulation.
Our discussion centered around the topic of “truth in beauty” and we both rued a. the lack of good regulation in the skincare industry and b. the out and out greenwashing that is so common. I think for the consumer, the toughest thing is knowing how to discern between the truth about product claims and what the the marketing says is true. Unfortunately there is often a big gap between them. I have put an article below that Lisa wrote for the Jasmin Skin Care blog. While I have written on this topic before, Lisa is at the coalface of the recent changes in the Australian industry and offers some insight:
If you don’t mean it don’t green it
Author: Lisa Tristram for Jasmin Skincare
Something we get asked about constantly is organic certification – what it means? who really has it? how can you tell? what do the different levels of certification mean? And in an industry awash with “greenwashing” how do I know what is really green and organic??
There is a lot of confusion out there and one of the main reasons for this is the lack of industry standards and regulations that apply consistently to everyone. For example in Australia we have SEVEN organic certifying bodies! I mean come
on how hard is that to regulate ! let alone all the other countries different regulations and standards. AQIS ( Australian Quarantine and Inspection services) govern all the certifying bodies to keep them all in line with overall regulations governing food, agriculture, importation and exportation. But we have never had an Australian standard for certified organic for either food or cosmetics/skincare.
Now things are changing and an Australian Draft standard has been drawn up over the last year, co-authored by many of the larger players in the industry. Many companies such as ours (Jasmin Skincare), who were already doing everything organically, were asked to contribute to the draft to ensure that a standard was accessible across the board and truly defined the terms that go with acheiving certified organic status for skincare. The Standard is expected to be published towards the end of the year and will effectively be policed by the ACCC , in as much as consumers will be able to report companies that seem to be greenwashing or using the term “organic” without reason.
A number of companies have been caught out in the past year greenwashing their products and this has caused quite a stir in the industry. Check out these articles http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Products-Markets/Australian-authorities-take-action-over-organic-mislabelling and http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Products-Markets/Cosmetics-awash-with-greenwashing-says-report
Which brings us to what is happening overseas with all the press caused by Dr Bronner (a certified organic soap company with very high ethics) suing a number of companies for using the term “organic” either in marketing or branding without following through on this claim in their products. The whole point being that Dr Bronner felt that a company that has put the hard yards into going organic should be able to use that claim without the fear that someone else is using it fraudulently.
This led to a huge shake up, many claiming it had been long overdue in the US Organic industry. The NSF created a National Standard which was adopted late last year in conjunction with NOP (the US National Organic program) which covered standards for those products that are claiming to be “made with certified organic ingredients”. It states that there must be a minimum of 70% overall certified organic ingredients in any skincare product that claims to be organic which has certainly paved the way for more industry regulation. The USDA in the US is still the main certifying body for products claiming 95-100% certified organic ingredients and is becoming a widely recognised logo globally for this.
Note from Ananda: it is my hope that not only “organic” status is defined in the upcoming Australian draft standard but that like Europe, they also define “natural”. There is a lot of confusion about the difference between the two. I will address this issue very soon.
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