The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released its guide to safer shopping. They looked at pesticide residue on fruit and vegetables and have come up with the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. A little statistic from them makes one realise how big an impact choosing “cleaner” food can make. From EWG: Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day from the Clean 15 list rather than from the Dirty Dozen can lower your pesticide intake by up to 92 percent! What a huge impact.
This link outlines the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
There are other ways to reduce your pesticide intake (please comment and add any ideas you have as well):
Please comment if you have any other ideas for reducing pesticide intake from foods.Twitter It!
Sometimes I just want to talk about a product because I love it and this is one of those cases. I have had this product sitting on my dresser all Winter but for various reasons including having heaps of other stuff to use up, I hadn’t used it. Last week I ran out of my regular body moisturiser and so grabbed the Remedica Monoi Blue used it instead – the fragrance, oh so divine. I just love it. So this is my video blog about Remedica Monoi Blue:Twitter It!
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!
Have you ever read the label on one of the Dr Bronner’s Soaps? It is “out there” for so many reasons – every square centimeter of the label is covered with what seems like a quasi-religious messages. However, despite the fact that it sounds a little off-beat, the underlying message is one of love and unity. As Dr Bronner writes, we are “all one or all none”. This from a master soap maker that was put in a mental asylum, escaped to California and started a company that is now one of the most significant in the organic cosmetic industry. His life story is one of almost unenviable passion and is so interesting that documentary maker Sara Lamm has made a film called “Dr Bronner’s Magic Soapbox“ which has been described as “making you feel tingly all over” (if you have used Dr Bronner’s Peppermint Liquid Soap you will understand this reference – refreshing indeed!!!).
Below is the official trailer from the documentary:Twitter It!
So for many mineral makeup is an ideal choice. However, there are some that still love liquid foundations and so for them this will be the only choice. While liquids don’t cover as well as mineral foundations, they do contain moisture, which may be better if you have dry or dehydrated skin. Liquid foundation also tends to give a dewy, glowing look rather than a matte appearance.
Do you stock organic makeup?
Well yes…and no. We only sell natural and organic skincare at Vitale and so “yes” is the simple answer, but I would like to clear up some confusion about the difference between organic and inorganic materials. Only living plant material can be classed as organic. Minerals by their very nature are inorganic materials. This doesn’t mean they contain any nasty chemicals or are petrochemical based, it means that the minerals in mineral makeup are natural, but not organic (i.e. not plant based).
To potentially confuse this issue further, mineral makeup may contain ingredients that are organic such as vitamin E or herbal extracts and so are labeled as containing organic ingredients but really the majority of the product is made up from inorganic minerals. This almost boarders on greenwashing for me but then I am probably just being pedantic!Twitter It!
When I buy a lovely new moisturizer, the first thing I do is get it home and take it out of the box and use some. The bottle goes onto my dresser and once I have reviewed the ingredients for the 3rd or 4th time (ingredients are my obsession and I get immense pleasure knowing what I am actually putting on my skin) the box goes in the recycling bin. I cannot bear to think how many boxes I have chucked in the recycling over the years and in my opinion there is too much packaging in the beauty industry. Apparently I am not alone in my opinion. Research conducted by Choice indicated that Beauty items are amongst the most frequently cited for excess packaging by consumers. What’s more most Australians don’t think enough is being done to get rid of unnecessary packaging.
In defense of beauty packaging, in many cases, the actual product bottle is too small to list the ingredients and so they are listed on the outer packaging. Add to this that many of us that buy organic and natural skin care do not want home-made looking bottles on our shelves, we want products that are good for us, good for the planet and that look good (Green Glamour!). Fortunately, given the growing eco consciousness, the beauty industry is responding with post-consumer recycled packaging, new packaging methods and materials such as bamboo products, bio plastics and use of soy ink instead of traditional petrochemical based products.
Post-consumer recycled content (PCR) is basically any material previously used by a consumer and generally includes paper, plastic, steel and rubber. A prime example of this is Eco Tools brushes which use PCR aluminium for the ferrule (the bit that joins the handle to the bristles) on their brushes. Eco Tools also use fast growing bamboo for the brush handles, replacing less sustainable slow growing timber or plastic. A new company on the market, Pure & Green Organics set out with the aim to not only produce an ACO certified organic range but also to minimise any environmental impact from the product packaging and as such was the first company in the world to use 100% PCR cardboard caps on their products. In a recent change to their product packaging, Devita have changed the exterior packaging to 100% PCR cardboard with recyclable glass bottles replacing plastic product packaging.
Bioplastics are a growing market in the packaging and not just for beauty products. Organic materials such corn or sugar resins are being used as an alternative to petrochemical based plastics. Apart from not requiring non-reusable materials, plant resins require 33% less fossil fuel resources and emit 42% less greenhouse gases than bottles made from PET (petrochemical plastic) 1. Pure & Green Organics use BIOpack bottles from renewable plant sugar resources (PLA – short for Polylactic Acid). PLA is compostable and biodegradable in industrial composting conditions, but it will not degrade or disintegrate on shelves.
I would love to hear your thoughts on product packaging and any stories you have about the worst offenders, be they beauty products or others. Noodle packages come to mind. I buy noodles for my dogs sometimes and they are individually wrapped noodle blocks and then have an additional layer of plastic around the whole lot. What a waste! And individually wrapped tea bags, in cardboard boxes with more plastic on the outside! Enough – let’s hear from you!
1. Natureworks LCA Consultants ReportTwitter 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!
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!
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.
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!
Free eBook for clear skin:
Receive this free eBook by clicking on this link: Glowing Skin