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!
As you know, I usually write most blog entries myself but I liked this one and so have included it as is. This blog is by Lisa Bronner (of the Dr Bronner family) from her website “Going Green with a Bronner Mum“. One of the reasons I like this blog is that it advocates soap and essential oils as effective household cleansers – you can’t get much simpler than these two ingredients:
Somewhere along the way in recent years, we’ve accepted the idea that soap isn’t good enough. The myth persists that only potent, synthetic antibacterial agents are legitimate cleansers and soap simply isn’t effective.
This idea stems partially from the pursuit of efficiency, the desire for cleanliness, and the promotion from advertisers. Although it is true that products such as these do clear away soap scum faster and kill germs “on contact”, if you look at the long term costs and effects, little time or anything else is saved. Rarely does a product do only one thing, such as kill germs. One very common ingredient, Triclosan, which is in everything from toothpaste to bathroom cleaners to hand wash to socks and cutting boards, has also demonstrated in recent studies the ability to alter hormones and create antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Quite a multitasking product. So, down the road when our bodies get sick or start to malfunction, will the few minutes we saved cleaning the bathroom really matter?
The idea that soap doesn’t clean well is also unfounded. Terms such as “antibacterial” actually have carefully regulated definitions. “Antibacterial” means that the product must kill 99.9% of germs. The term “disinfectant” means that the product must kill a mere 99% of germs. Dr. Bronner’s soap is part of the “disinfectant” category. It’s not a term we readily spout out regarding the soap because it sounds so unnatural and not something we want to put on our bodies, but for the purpose of this debate, I’ll use it. Just so you know. So if you’re still really paranoid about germs and suspicious of simple soap, grab hold of a bottle of Tea Tree Castile soap or even a bottle of pure tea tree oil (undiluted this can burn, so use care). Although the US government doesn’t yet recognize it as such, tea tree oil is a naturally occurring antibacterial agent.
In comparing the cost of conventional bathroom cleaners versus a homemade soap solution, both the upfront and long term calculations favor the soap solutions. The recipe I use at the end of this post costs roughly $1.10 USD, compared to an estimate of $2.99 USD for a bottle of conventional spray cleaner. (These numbers and the recipe are from Karen Logan’s fabulous book, Clean House, Clean Planet. I highly recommend this book for ways to replace toxic conventional products.)
To continue with the evils of conventional cleaners, let’s assume that you wear gloves when using them, so they don’t come into contact with your skin during application. (I rarely remember to wear my gloves, if I even know where I put them. Usually I’m cleaning the bathroom while my kids are in the tub, so I can’t leave the room to find my gloves anyways.) But consider what about the little residue that may be left on the tub, that ends up in the bathwater which the kids inevitably drink as they blow bubbles? What about what might remain on the toilet seat, and be absorbed through the skin of their bottoms? What about the little bit that ends up on the counter, which the kids touch and then eat their sandwiches? What if this happens every day – several times a day – for their entire childhood? How much ends up in their little, developing bodies?
Here’s a great recipe for an all-purpose household cleaner that Karen Logan calls “Merlin’s Magic”:
Ed Note: I mistakenly used the essential oil flea repellant mix for my dogs as a surface antibacterial for months until I realised what it was. I then hurridly checked the ingredients (a lavender & tea-tree essential oil mix that I had combined with water in a spray bottle) and realising is was perfect for both, kept using it. Now when the dogs venture into the kitchen, they get a spay as well!
Goth-like, dark & brooding or plain sexy? Love it or hate it, black nail polish is here to stay. Come the onset of cooler months and darker nail colours emerge as a season trend. Personally I struggle with liking this trend. So by way of challenging myself and maybe celebrating winter, I have taken on the darker shade of nail and while I may not quite go the full black, I am going to go a dark plum or purple. Gosh – if I mix this with green eyeshadow threat from my last blog I will look just a treat!
Winners of the 2010 Natural Health & Beauty Awards for “best nail lacquer”, Zoya have some dramatic darker shades – from deep black, to midnight blue to dark magentas. Choose your darker shade of nail:
Raven can be best described as: Intense satiny black with a very subtle silver shimmer.
Mikka can be best described as: Wintery deep wine purple with very fine, frosty silver shimmer.The silver shimmer lightens and adds interest to the vampy nail trend.
Indigo can be best described as: A dark indigo blue shimmer with a pinch of holographic microglitter.
Dovima can be best described as: Smoky charcoal-black with strong silver shimmer and a velvety matte finish.
Casey can be best described as: Dark, rich, saturated blackened red-purple creme. Impossibly sexy and dramatic to vamp up your look.
I love wearing lipstick and am definitely a red lipstick girl. For me red lips are associated with glamor and elegance so the allure of a new red lipstick is always high on my agenda. This season I am in luck. The trend has moved away from beige (which makes me look like I am about to throw up) and pale pink (anemia anyone?) to bold reds and I for one am excited.
Red lips are actually quite a traditional look stemming from the 1920′s when
shades of red were the only shade available. Fortunately by the 20′s lipstick was a sign of female empowerment rather than a sign of being a fast woman as it was previously seen!
The thing about wearing red lipstick is that it tends to stand out so wearing red lipstick is a state of mind. Wear it with confidence whatever the shade or style.
A few red lip trends and tips:
1. Go for gloss – glossy shiny lips with a hint of colour rather than a bold statement of red.
2. Choose a sheer red – I have a sheer red lipstick that gives the idea of red lips
without the intense rich colour of a matte lipstick.
3. Blot back the colour – for a softer red look, apply a matte lipstick and blot back with a tissue.
4. Choose the correct shade of red for your skin tone. I have a blue skin undertone and so only wear blue-reds. If you have a yellow skin undertone, you can choose from the ocher reds as well.
5. Reapply during the day – I tend to arrive at work with lovely red lips and by mid-morning I have eaten most of it off (I snack frequently!). To maintain your elegant red lipped look, reapply after eating, drinking or kissing!
6. As to the above point, if you are going to eat off the lipstick you are wearing, make sure you choose natural products. Apparently women can eat up to 2kg of lipstick in their lifetime (I have yet to verify this fact however, I can only imagine how much I have eaten since I started wearing lipstick…certainly a goodly amount) and there is still the lingering risk of conventional red lipsticks containing lead (read more about this here).
Back in the bad old days (!) when I used conventional skincare and makeup I had about 20 different shades of red (told you I was obsessed). Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, a good natural or organic red is harder to find…but I have still managed to come up with half a dozen or so!
My favorite natural red is Lavera 20 which is a burgundy red with a blue base. It
is oh-so-bright so I usually wear it when I am going out. A great day time red is Lavera 18 which is called light berry but with a definite red look and feel about it. For a dramatic, not-to-be-ignored red, try Minerelle Marie. This red is not for the faint-hearted!
For those with yellow undertoned skin, Lavera 27 is the true red of choice. Gorgeous and intense, wear it with confidence!
If you prefer tints or gloss, try Ere Perez Life Lip Bar (the merest hint of glossy red) or EcoTints Plus Red for a stronger but still a sheer look. Another brand that has a few good shades of sheer red is Hemp Organics.
PS apart from red, the other shade of lipstick I wear are plum and dark pink – I pretty much go for strong, bright colours. When it comes to lipstick, subtlety is not my forte!Twitter It!
A recent study in Mexico revealed that certain phthalates are associated with increased incidence of breast cancer. The study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal reviewed the phthalate urine concentrations of 454 Mexican women (223 with breast cancer and 221 as controls) and found a link between higher concentrations of phthalates and breast cancer incidence.
Phthalates are a group of compounds commonly found in artificial fragrances, deodorant, perfume, nail polish and certain plastic food packaging including articles such as baby bottles. Previous to this study, research indicated that this group of compounds has potential to affect the hormone system (endocrine disrupting effect). The exact link between this effect of phthalates and breast cancer has not yet been established however, the authors of the study suggest that it could be related to the DNA damaging effects of phthalates on breast cells.
Interestingly while some phthalate compounds (Monoethyl phthalate (MEP), which is a metabolite of diethyl phthalate (DEP)) were positively associated with higher breast cancer incidence, a number of other phthalate metabolites, including monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP) and mono(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate (MCPP), negatively correlate with breast cancer. The researchers suggest this is due to the ability of certain phthalate compounds to change gene expression without altering the genetic code of the cell.
As with all preliminary studies such as this one, it is important to note that while phthalates are associated with higher incidence of breast cancer, they aren’t necessarily responsible for the development of the cancer itself. Further studies in broader population groups will help establish a link, or not. Authors noted that additional research is need to identify the source of phthalate exposure, be it cosmetics, plastic packaging or a combination of many sources.
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives Journal
Exposure to Phthalates and Breast Cancer Risk in Northern Mexico
Lizbeth López-Carrillo, Raúl U. Hernández-Ramírez, Antonia M. Calafat, Luisa Torres-Sánchez, Marcia Galván-Portillo, Larry L. Needham, Rubén Ruiz-Ramos, Mariano E. Cebrián
Editor’s comments: I am of the opinion that while there is no need to be alarmist about such studies, particularly as a direct link has not been established between phthalates and breast cancer. However, on the other hand I also think that where there is smoke there is fire. There is an easy solution – reduce your phthalate exposure. The easiest way to do this is to avoid the products in which they are commonly found eg. artificial fragrances in skin care, perfume, deodorant, baby bottles, plastic take away containers. Instead choose natural and organic skin care alternatives and use glass baby bottles and food storage containers. If you do get take away, just make sure you put it into ceramic or glass before heating in the microwave or take your own container to the restaurant!
The other day I was browsing one of my favourite research sites www.ewg.org and I came across their list of Safe Shopping Tips for skincare. It is a useful list but I thought that it could be added to and so here an extended version of the Safe Shopping List from the Environmental Working Group:
true. If in doubt ask the manufacturer or retailer for proof of label claim.
I would love to hear if you can add any other safe shopping tips when it comes to skin care. Or if you have had any adverse reactions to skin care of any type, conventional or natural.
Reference: www.ewg.orgTwitter It!
Each fortnight a box of organic fruit and vegies is delivered to my door. I love this arrangement because a. it means I don’t have to go to the shops as regularly (I hate going to the supermarket and generally avoid it when possible) and b. it is organic! This fortnight the box contained peaches and nectarines, which I have been enjoying immensely. As I was eating my organic peach this morning I felt especially good because I remembered that peaches are on the Dirty Dozen List, a list of fruit & veg most affected by pesticide contamination. The other fruit & vegetables on this list include (most affected to least):
While I momentarily felt ok because I was eating an organic peach I realised that my other favourite fruits are also on that list, namely cherries (cannot share them with anyone) and nectarines. There are some alarming statistics and facts bandied around about pesticide contamination:
Reading all of this I felt a bit glum so I did a search to find out if there was any produce that wasn’t unduly affected by pesticide residue. At one of the best resources I have come across, www.ewg.org, I found the answer which cheered me immensely. Eating from the list below minimises pesticide ingestion significantly (around 2 pesticides daily and less if washed). So my new resolution is to ensure that when I buy conventionally grown produce, I will choose from the list below:
How does this relate to skin care? Well the pesticides, herbicides, synthetic chemicals, petrochemicals we eat, inhale
or absorb all contribute to our overall toxic burden. The more burdened our body’s are, the harder it is for them to get rid of all the toxins and waste byproducts which are either stored or eliminated via alternative pathways such as the skin. In those with skin conditions, reducing the overall toxic burden by eating whole foods, choosing organic where possible and using natural skin care & cleaning products can help improve the condition of the skin. For those that just want to improve their wellbeing, it is also a good idea.
Do you eat any organic produce and if so how important is it to you and your family. Is it as important as using organic skin care? I would love to hear your comments.Twitter It!
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!
’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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