Thursday, April 3, 2014

Do You Really Need a Multivitamin?

We've all been there before. You're living a stressful life and not eating as well as you could be. Perhaps you're feeling generally run down and could use a boost.  So, you might thing taking a multivitamin would be a good idea, just to cover your bases.

But taking a multivitamin may not be the answer. 

Recently I had some bloodwork done. One thing they checked were my hemoglobin (iron) levels. They came back showing that my blood was really rich in hemoglobin (iron.) To the point that it was slightly above normal. Had I been taking a multivitamin with iron, I could have pushed my iron levels to an unhealthy level and became seriously ill. 

They also took my vitamin D levels, which were on the low side of normal. To really get the benefit of D and raise my levels, my doctor wanted me to take 5000 IUs of vitamin D daily.  In a multivitamin you'll get maybe 400 IUs--not enough to raise your levels or really see any benefit from it. Most of us are D deficient and can benefit from at least 5000 IUs a day. Some people may not need that much. Others may need way more. Without testing, it's a shot in the dark when it comes to a dose, so it's always best to find out first what's going on with your levels before supplementing. (You can get tested at your doctor's office or try a test kit like this.)

Well, what about just eating whole, nutritious foods?

Eating whole, fresh, nutrient-dense foods is always a great idea and what we should all strive to do. But even with eating the best foods, there may be things that your body still needs. Especially when it comes to B vitamins. B12 is especially difficult to get from your diet because it's only present in a handful of foods (salmon, calf liver, grass fed beef, lamb, eggs).  The cards are stacked against me when it comes to B12 because not only do I not eat much of the food sources, I found out through my blood testing that I actually have a gene mutation that makes it difficult for my body to absorb and utilize B vitamins. (Called a MTHFR mutation) So, I have to take care to supplement with the active forms of B12 (methylcobalamin), and folic acid (l-methyl folate) (and niacin to help absorb their by-products once the body has broken them down.). Sometimes diet and even the whole food supplements just aren't enough and you need to get pure standardized forms of these vitamins. 

When it comes to supplementation, it's all very individual. It's about what your body actually needs. When you take a multi, no matter how "clean" it may be, you're putting yourself at risk for either getting too much of something or not enough of what you need. If you're experiencing sluggishness, brain fog, and general malaise, you may be deficient in one or more vitamins or nutrients and getting a blood test can help you figure out the missing pieces of your nutrition puzzle.  There may be instances where taking a multivitamin is a good idea, but it's really dependent on what your body needs.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dealing with Acne Naturally

So, I have to start out saying that I am not a doctor and this should not be viewed as medical advice.  I can't claim to heal or treat any medical conditions and this is for educational purposes only. These are my personal experiences and may or may not work for your situation.

We've all heard it..."our skin is our body's largest organ."  Not only does this mean that what we put on our skin affect what's in our body, but what's in our body affects how our skin looks on the outside. Our skin, many times, is a reflection of what's going on in our body, and acne is no exception. It usually signals imbalance and/or inflammation.

The first question to ask when dealing with acne is: what is it INSIDE the body that's causing the external manifestation? Is it an omega-3 imbalance? Is it caused by a food intolerance or allergy? (Gluten intolerance can be a big one that causes acne.) Is it a hormonal imbalance? Rather than covering up the symptoms with harsh treatments topically, I always recommend visiting a qualified naturopath, dietician, or other holistic medical practitioner to look in to to find the exact cause of the condition and find a natural treatment. Without treating the internal cause, you're only covering up symptoms. 

As recently as 2007 I was struggling with hormonal acne pretty bad--all over my cheeks and jawline. T-zone, too. It was something that I had always lived with, along with hormonal imbalances.

The first step towards my healing was getting rid of estrogen mimickers in my diet and beauty routine. This means eating an organic diet as much as you can. Pesticide residues many times will act like estrogen in the body, throwing off hormonal balance and making you estrogen dominant. (Which can be the cause of acne, among other problems.) GMOs have also been shown in animals studies to affect hormones and increase inflammation; eating organic products ensures that you're GMO-free. Avoid plastic wrap, especially when heating food, as it can leach endocrine-disrupting phthalates in to your food, especially fatty foods, as it is a fat-soluble chemical. It also means avoiding xenoestrogenic chemicals like "fragrance," parabens, phenoxyethanol, phthalates, and aluminum.  Dietary Considerations
  • Processed flours and sugars also create inflammation in the body so limiting/avoiding them can work wonders in clearing your skin. 
  • Consider looking at food allergies and intolerances. If you have unexplained inflammation in your body and other skin issues, simple food allergies may be to blame. Common allergens include corn, eggs, dairy and nuts. Visit an allergist for proper testing.
  • Also look at the fats that you're eating.  Fat isn't bad, but it is when it's damaged. If you're eating unsaturated fats that have been heated to high temperatures they've likely oxidized; when you ingest them you're introducing oxidation to your body, which can lead to inflammation. If you're cooking foods in oil, keep your temps on the lower side (of course you need to heat any meats properly) and use stable fats like coconut oil for that purpose. Also make sure to have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, found in salmon, fish oil, krill oil, walnuts and walnut oil, hemp seed oil, evening primrose oil, and flax seed oil.  

Flax Seeds The way that flax seeds help acne is three-fold. First, flax seeds are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, thus curbing the inflammation in the body, and thus in the skin. Second, flax is high in lignans. Lignans have been shown to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase, an enzyme involved in the conversion of testosterone to DHT (its more active form). In other words, it helps to balance the production of androgens, which, in excess can cause acne. Third, essential fatty acids strengthen the skin's cell membranes, thus hydrating the innermost layer of skin. This makes skin less susceptible to hormonal fluctuations. If your acne is hormone-related, you may consider adding flax seeds to your diet.  They can be added to practically anything--smoothies, salads, soups, even sandwiches and baked goods.  Or just eat them straight from the bottle!  I usually say 2 tbsp a day is what you need. Most flax seeds need to be ground in order to be digested and absorbed properly.  If you'd like to skip this step, check out the FlaxPro flax seeds on our website:

Baking Soda If you've worked with a doctor and can't figure out the internal causes to acne and want to try something simple topically, baking soda is a great idea. You use it like this--Make a paste with baking soda and water, and then use it to scrub your face gently to remove dead skin cells that can block pores, as well as removing/killing the bacteria that's causing the acne. You can do this every 3 to 10 days, depending on your skin. I do this maybe once every 10 days and really love how soft my skin feels afterwards. The less dead skin there is on your face, the fewer dead skin cells there are to block your pores. (Do note that some people with extremely sensitive skin may not be able to handle the alkalinity of the baking soda, so perhaps do a test patch first to make sure it doesn't irritate your skin.) To balance the pH of your skin afterwards and add hydration, I recommend our Splash of Lime Toning Mist.

For a gentle daily cleansing option with beneficial essential oils and extracts, check out our best-selling Cool Cucumber Cleanser.

Of course, this is a general and simple synopsis of a few considerations when looking at acne. Consult a dietician or other professional before altering your diet and lifestyle. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

5 Myths About Deodorant & B.O.

Myth 1. Natural Deodorants Don't Work for Me

Finding a natural deodorant that works, especially if you're a heavier sweater, can be a challenge. But it CAN be done--it's just about finding what works for your body chemistry. What do we mean by body chemistry?  A number of factors: how much you sweat, the composition of bacteria on your skin, the composition of the fatty acids in your sweat. Body chemistry can change over time based on diet, hormones, and even environment. Sometimes layering deodorants will be the key--a stick over a cream, a powder over a spray, a stick over a spray. Sometimes if you're a heavier sweater it can be a realistic expectation to need to reapply more often. It's just about finding that right thing for you.

Myth 2. Natural Deodorants Can Keep Me From Sweating

There is a difference between a deodorant and an anti-perspirant. Deodorants are designed to stave off odor, while an anti-perspirant keeps you from sweating.  No natural deodorant will keep you from sweating, as there is no botanical substance that can keep you from sweating. The next best thing is to use a product with powders to absorb sweat and reapply throughout the day to keep heavier perspiration under control.

Myth 3. The Crystal is a Healthy Option

Crystal deodorants have gained in popularity over the last few years--you can even find them in Walmart!  Most people think this is a healthier option and that it's just salt. Well, crystal deodorants are usually made up of either potassium alum or ammonium alum. Potassium alum's full chemical name is potassium aluminum sulfate. (Likewise with ammonium alum, it's ammonium aluminum sulfate.) When you wet a crystal deodorant your'e releasing a concentrated dose of aluminum ions to your skin. (More info here, here, and here.) A lot of the crystals will say "no harmful aluminums" or "no aluminum chlorohydrate" but aluminum in all forms has no place in the body, leading to a host of health effects.  (More info here.)

Myth 4. Eating Clean Will Keep me From Smelling Bad

It's a common myth that body odor is caused by toxins being released through the underarm and that eating a certain way (ie, vegan diet, only organic, low-carb, paleo, etc) will keep you from smelling. While it is true that certain foods can contribute to body odor by releasing odiferous compounds through your sweat (garlic, onions, coffee, alcohol) body odor's prime cause is bacteria feeding upon amino acids in your sweat.  The amino acid composition in your sweat can increase through diet (if you're eating a lot of protein) however, it's largely controlled through genetics.  This means that for a lot of people, no matter what you eat, you're gonna smell. Perhaps if genetically you're pre-disposed to be a light sweater with limited amino acids in your sweat, you could eliminate the need for deodorant through dietary measures, however, diet alone won't fix a bad case of B.O. for most people.

Myth 5.  There's no Difference Between Natural and Organic

Anything can practically be marketed as "natural" because there's no legal definition for the term. Uranium ore mined from the earth could be billed as "natural." Organic, however, has a very specific and legal definition when it comes to products marketed in the U.S. Organic only refers to agricultural ingredients (products grown from the earth, not mined), can't be grown with certain pesticides and herbicides, must be grown from non-GMO seeds, and also can't be contaminated with ionizing radiation, sewage sludge and a number of harmful chemicals.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cleaning Products UPDATED

Household Cleaning

Most of my cleaning recommendations remain the same, with GreenShield scoring top marks in every category. Unfortunately it seems that GreenShield is harder to find in stores now, with Whole Foods taking it off the shelf in many stores to make room for their own similar (read: copy-cat) formulas.  I'd rather support an independent business than the Whole Foods brand, but, in a pinch, the Whole Foods stuff will do, I suppose. :)

Hand Washing Dish Soap

Better Life DISH IT OUT Natural Dish Liquid, Unscented gets top scores with EWG's new Health Cleaning Guide.  And rightly so!  It uses only glucosides as its detergents (the safest way to go if you've gotta use a detergent) and doesn't have anything bad!

Dishwasher Soap

I just learned about this one and I'm so excited to try it out!  It's almost too good to be true...a certified organic dishwasher soap!

Squeez by GreenShield Organic.  You can find this line of products at most Whole Foods stores and at Lowe's!  And speaking of GreenShield...they're my top picks for the following categories...

Kitchen Cleaner

GreenShield Organic Kitchen Cleaner

Bathroom Cleaner

GreenShield Organic Bathroom Cleaner

Toilet Cleaner

GreenShield Organic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Glass Cleaner

GreenShield Organic Glass Cleaner 

All-Purpose Cleaner

GreenShield Organic All-Purpose Cleaner
I use this one a lot.  I use it to clean my countertops in the kitchen, to clean up sinks, mirrors.  Great stuff.

Alternative to Scrubbing Bubbles
When we went organic, that was one of the things I really missed---my Scrubbing Bubbles.  With the Scrubbing Bubbles you just sprayed it on and as you wiped or rinsed it off, the soap scum disappeared.  When I stopped using it, it was back to using the old elbow grease on the soap scum in the bathtub. And it was hard to find a good method for cleaning the bathtub.  Baking soda and scrubbing brushes, steam cleaners...nothing really did a good job without a ton of effort. But then I found this: method bathroom cleaner.   Now, do keep in mind that this is not a perfect product ingredients-wise.  It still contains synthetic fragrance, and a couple other questionable ingredients.  However, the fragrance didn't trigger my asthma like Scrubbing Bubbles does, and is a heckuva lot better ingredients-wise. They're up-front about their fragrance in that it's partially synthetic, but state that it is free from phthalates, NPE's and carcinogens and also has been tested for skin irritation and allergies.   To my delight, it did exactly what the label said.  You can spray it on your shower tile or bath tub, let it sit for just a little bit, and then just wipe it.  The soap scum just comes right off, no scrubbing needed.  All with no overwhelming fumes.  What a dream!

Laundry Detergent

Soapnuts, yo!
Have you tried soapnuts yet?  You can use them as a laundry detergent, hair wash, all-purpose cleaner--so many things you can do with them!

GreenShield also has some good ones, too.

DIY Recipes

Window and Glass Cleaner

1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
2 cups water

This works amazingly!  It gets your windows and mirrors sparkling clean without streaks!

Removing Coffee/Tea Stains

Baking Soda!

Just take a paste of baking soda and water, use a sponge to scrub and the stains disappear! Use it on your mugs, in your sink, tile--wherever those tannins from coffee and tea are lurking!

Handwashing Dish Soap

50 g (about a handful) soapnut shells
4 cups of water

Bring water to boil and add soapnuts. Simmer for 20 minutes. Let it cool and then strain out the soapnuts and put the liquid in to a 1 qt mason jar.  Use 1/4 cup in a sink full of hot water for hand washing dishes.  Don't be fooled by the lack of bubbles--it's still doing its job!  Store remaining liquid in fridge. Can also be used for cleaning and shining jewelry, as a shampoo, and a veggie wash.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Makeup Picks UPDATED

The first article I posted last year about my makeup recommendations was a hit. Throughout the year there have been some changes in my criteria and in the products available on the market, so I thought I'd give y'all an update!

My criteria
In addition to the obvious ones...parabens, fragrance, artificial colors, phenoxyethanol, ethoxylathed chemicals, propylene glycol, etc, here are my additional standards for choosing these products:
  • No Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • No Japanese Honeysuckle Extract
  • No dusts that pose inhalation hazards
  • No essential oils on my "avoid" list
  • Adequately and safely preserved
  • No carmine
I also tried to avoid titanium dioxide, although there are some products that do contain it.  (I have noted below if they do.)

Now, keep in mind that there are no perfect options.  There will still be mineral pigments, micas, iron oxides, and other ingredients that aren't organic, but as far as makeups are concerned, these are the best. Formulators have to use something to create colors and the "coverage" that we expect.

Also, just because I recommend one product, does NOT mean that I recommend the entire line. I judge products based on INGREDIENTS and never by brand name.


Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Creme Foundation

Ingredients: Triglycerides, Zinc Oxide, Organic Beeswax, Organic Jojoba, Silica, Radish Root, Organic Argan, Organic Rosehip, Neem, Clay, Organic Green Tea, Organic Passionflower, Organic Raspberry, Natural Vitamin E (+/-, Iron Oxides, Mica, Org Essential Oil Blend).

What I Like About It: In addition to a good ingredients list, it contains non-nano zinc oxide. While it doesn't officially boast an SPF, the zinc oxide naturally offers UVA and UVB sun protection.  No separate SPF face cream needed! I've put it through the test for several summers while out hiking and can tell you the sun protection coverage is great.

If you've ever talked to me about makeup, you know that I love Lauren's line.  She's local to me here in Utah, and I've spoken with her personally and know the extreme care she takes in creating her products and choosing her ingredients.

What I didn't quite care for: 
There's not much that I can say bad about this foundation; it's my go-to formula on the rare occasions that I wear makeup. I'm not crazy about the presence of silica, however, because it's not in powder form, I'm not too concerned about it. 

Miessence Translucent Foundation 

I have not tried this product.  It is a bit on the pricey side, but it also has a great ingredients list as far as makeup is concerned. 

Raw Skin.Ceuticals Matte BB Creme Foundation

Ingredients:aloe barbadenis (aloe leaf juice), rosa rubginosa (rosehip seed oil), garcinia indica (mango butter), cannabis sativa (hemp seed oil), calophyllum inophyllum (tamanu oil), cucurbita pepo (pumpkin seed oil), oenothera biennis (evening primrose oil), persea gratissima (avocado oil), cetyl-stearyl alcohol, proprietary vitamin C herb complex blend: glebionis (chrysanthemum), helisso chrysos (helichrysum flowers), citrus sinensis (orange peel), rosa canina (rosehips), euphrasia officinalis (eyebright), malpighia glabra (acerola cherry), galium aparine (cleavers), l-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) preservative blend: potassium sorbate usp, citric acid mineral oxides for color

What I Like About It:
I love that after you apply it, you don't feel like you're wearing makeup.  I can't stand to have anything on my face and with most foundations even after a couple hours I'm ready to scrub it off.  Not so with this formula--it's mostly water-based so it goes on very lightly. 

What I Didn't Quite Care For: 

I had some trouble getting the product to prime the pump on the nozzle, and when it first came out it kind of came shooting out. Also the formula dries out at the nozzle so when you first squirt it, the little dried piece comes out in to your fingers and it's impossible to blend in your skin and you have to somehow pick it out. 

I also couldn't quite master the art of application with this one.  It seems that the moisture is absorbed and evaporates quite quickly once you put in on your skin so you have a very limited time for blending before the pigments become almost painted on your skin. The W103 shade was too light for me, surprisingly (I usually have to get the lightest shades) and left me looking like a pasty ghost.  But that's not the fault of the foundation; I just didn't get the right shade. Either way, though, the formula dried so quickly that I was left with splotches of pigments that were impossible to blend in. I'll have to keep trying with this one.  

The bottle also states that it has an SPF, however there's no drug panel listing "active" ingredients as required by law when you're marketing a sunscreen product.  

PRIIA Essential Cover Creme Mineral Foundation

Ingredients: Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Mica, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Manihot Esculenta (Tapioca) Root Starch, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Boron Nitride, Silica, Allantoin, D-Panthenol (ProVitamin B5), Bisabolol,
Iron Oxides. May Contain: Chromium Oxide Green, Ultramarine Blue.  

What I Liked About it:
This is a jar of creamy smooth perfection. Not too heavy, easy to spread, easy to blend. The texture and coverage is almost identical to RMS UnCover Up, but you get way more for your money.  With RMS, it's 5.76 grams for $36, whereas PRIIA gives you a generous 8.5 grams for only $22.50. 

What I Didn't Quite Care For:

Once again I ordered too light for my skin tones.  (I must have really picked up some sun this summer.) However, it's pretty easy to blend and almost works for me.  I'm not crazy about the possibility of chromium oxide in the formula. It also contains silica and titanium dioxide. 


I've removed Real Purity's foundation from my recommendations, as their formula had no apparent preservative. When questioned, the company assured us the product was safely preserved and that they've never had a problem, however, they wouldn't answer exactly how the product is preserved. They continued to offer a vague explanation and wouldn't provide any challenge testing or antimicrobial data, so we removed them from the list.  


RMS Beauty Un-Cover Up

I had the opportunity to try some RMS products this year, including the Un-cover Up, which can act as both a concealer and a foundation.  RMS Beauty is somewhat of a darling of natural cosmetics bloggers everywhere, and for a good reason. It has a good ingredients list and a little goes a long way. 

Ingredients: *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopherol (non-GMO), *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract. May contain [+/-]: Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499
*Certified Organic
What I Liked:
The texture is creamy and smooth, the coverage is nice, and the ingredients

What I didn't quite care for:
  • Not crazy about Titanium Dioxide. 
  • Felt somewhat heavy on my skin (although I'm one of those people that can hardly stand to have anything on my skin.)
  • I have pretty fair skin so I ordered the lightest shade--it actually ended up being too light for my complexion, so I was surprised about that.  However, I can't fault them for that, just my ordering decisions. 
  • The box does state that it's "organic" when it is not certified nor does it meet the criteria for organic certification.  You know I'm a stickler for organic claims.  :)
Lauren Brooke Creme Concealer
This is what I would use on the rare occasion that I wear makeup.

Earth's Beauty Concealer

Really simple ingredients list!

Miessence Concealer

Also a really simple ingredients list.

Eye Shadow

Lauren Brooke Creme Eye Color
This creamy eyeshadow comes in a convenient twist-up stick with a generous portion of creme. I usually rub the top of it with my finger and apply it with my fingertip. Blends well, lots of pretty colors available. 

Matte Ingredients: Capryllc/Capric Triglycerides, Certified Organic Beeswax, Certified Organic Olive Oil, Silica, Certified Organic Vegetable Starch, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Certified Organic Raspberry Extract, Certified Organic Vanilla Extract, Non-GMO Natural Vitamin E (+/- Iron Oxides, Mica, Zinc Oxide, Ultramarines).

Shimmer Ingredients: Grapeseed Oil, Capryllc/Capric Triglycerides, Certified Organic Beeswax, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Silica, Certified Organic Shea Butter, Avocado Butter, Certified Organic Rosehip Oil, Certified Organic Vanilla Extract, Non-GMO Natural Vitamin E (+/- Iron Oxides, Mica, Zinc Oxide, Ultramarines).

(In a pinch I've even used it as a lipstick. )

RMS Beauty Creme Eyeshadow

Ingredients: *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil,*Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Tocopherol (non-GMO), *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, and may contain: [+/- Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Mica CI 77019] 


Earth's Beauty Eyeliner Pencils

Ingredients: organic jojoba, organic castor oil, organic beeswax, candellila wax,iron oxides, mica and vitamin E.

I don't think I could ask for a simpler ingredients list! I have not tried this product, but it's on my must-get list!

100% Pure Creamstick Eyeliner
I hesitate to recommend anything from 100% Pure because of their use of Japanese Honeysuckle Extract, among other issues (labeling inaccuracies, preservative issues).  However, this product appears to be good.  Lauren Brooke is my top pick, but if you couldn't do it for some reason, this would be okay too. 


Lauren Brooke Lash-Strengthening Mascara

Ingredients: Organic Aloe, Sorbitol, Olive Emulsifiers, Organic Horsetail, Organic Burdock, Organic Herbal Extract Blend, Radish Root Ferment, Cetearyl Alcohol, Non-GMO Organic Lecithin, Glyceryl Stearate, Orange Peel Wax, Sunflower Wax, Vitamin B Complex. 

While I haven't tried it yet, I am in love with the ingredients list and have every faith that Lauren's nailed it with this one. 

Miessence Mascara
I haven't tried this one either, but the ingredients look pretty stellar. No titanium dioxide, which I like. 

Ingredients: certified organic aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, certified organic rosa damascena (rose) essential oil, certified organic oryza sativa (rice) bran extract, black iron oxide, certified organic simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, non-gmo lecithin, sclerotium rolfsii gum, aqua, certified organic rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, certified organic butyrospermum parkii (shea) fruit butter, certified organic unrefined cera alba (beeswax), certified organic ethanol (sugar cane alcohol), citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) fruit extract


Meisha Cream Blush

This would be my top pick ingredients-wise because it doesn't contain titanium dioxide. 

Ingredients: Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Mica, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Manihot Esculenta (Tapioca) Root Starch. May Contain: Iron Oxide (CI 77499, CI 77492, CI 77491), Ultramarines, Zinc Oxide. 

RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek 
Except for the "smile" shade which contains synthetic colorants.  
For all Lip2Cheek except Smile: *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, *Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernal Oil, Tocopherol (non-GMO), Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Propolis Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract. May contain [+/-]: Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Mica CI 77019
PRIIA Creme-to-Powder Blush

Ingredients: Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Mica, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Cymbidium Grandiflorum (Orchid) Flower Extract, Manihot Esculenta (Tapioca) Root Starch, Kosher Oryza Sativa (Rice) Powder, Mica, Zinc Oxide, Boron Nitride, Silica.  May contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Tin Oxide, Ultramarines.


Miessence Lip Creme

Lip Colors by Lauren Brooke

Coastal Classic Creations

PRIIA Pucker Upz Lip Infusions

Juice Beauty Conditioning Lip Color

Lip Gloss

Botanical Lip Gloss by Lauren Brooke

Juice Beauty Lip Shimmer

Lip Liner

Lauren Brooke Lip Liner Pencils

*Note: some colors contain carmine.


I don't recommend using loose powders due to the inhalation risk, but if you just have to have your favorite powder and need a primer, our Splash of Lime Toning Mist actually does a great job.  

Nail Polish

A really tough one because even the "good" brands contain questionable stuff.  But, the bottom line is, you're putting paint on your nails.  It's a very unnatural thing in and of itself, so some chemicals are needed.  My standards for nail polish are completely different from those of my other makeup items because there are no nail polishes that would possibly meet the standards.

Acquarella has one of the best ingredients list.

Honeybee Gardens is another option along the same lines.

Keeki Pure and Simple is another good one.  It's marketed more for kids and teens but can be used by anyone.

Finally, there's Scotch Naturals.

All of the above fall in to the water-based formulas that are somewhat high maintenance.  Adequate cleaning of the nail beforehand, doing numerous light coats, giving it a really long cure time, etc. And even then, it seems to quickly peel. 

If you're looking for a nail polish that acts more like a "regular" nail polish, I've been impressed with the Mineral Fusion brand that I found at Whole Foods. It dries quickly and is way easier to use than the watercolor brands.  The only downside is that it does contain some bad ingredients like phenoxyethanol. But it is at least tolulene-free. 

Any other categories in makeup?  Comment below and I'll do my best! If you'd like me to take a look at a product for you, I'll be happy to do so.  Please either post the ingredients list, or provide a direct link to the product.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Your Guide to Underarm Rashes

Sometimes I'll receive e-mails from people telling me that they have a baking soda allergy, and can't use it in a deodorant. I wanted to talk today about this as well as other causes for underarm rashes.  

There actually is no such thing as a baking soda allergy. 
An allergy is an immune response to a substance that the body sees as "foreign." It sends white blood cells to attack the foreign substance, usually a protein or a substance that binds to a protein (called a hapten.) Baking soda is a simple substance that's easily soluble in water and breaks down in to sodium and bicarbonate ions (or to elemental carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen), which are common metabolites in the body. All are elements that the body needs to function. It doesn't act like a protein or bind to proteins to create a molecule that triggers an immune response.  There's no function whereby baking soda could be an allergen.

Now, that said, a person can get a skin reaction from baking soda, known as contact dermatitis.  There are two types of contact dermatitis: allergic and irritant.  Baking soda reactions fall under the category of irritant contact dermatitis.  Baking soda is alkaline, so if high amounts are left on skin for a long time it can irritate skin because it disrupts the skin's acid mantle, leading to moisture loss.  Brief exposures can cause reactions in someone that has severely impaired skin function, such as someone who has been through radiation treatment for cancer, or been through other serious illnesses. But for most of the population, brief or low concentrations of alkalinity are just fine (and can be beneficial for cleansing purposes). Irritant contact dermatitis looks and feels like a burn. One will experience redness, dryness, or scaly/leathery-feeling skin. You will read a lot about this in forums with people making home-made deodorants because baking soda is usually used in too high concentrations in these formulas (usually around 30%, sometimes 100%!).

However, baking soda is usually not the problem
This rarely happens with our deodorants because the baking soda is used at a less than 5% concentration, plus our formula has the moisturizing oils that counteract the possible drying effect of the baking soda.  Additionally, if you sweat at all, you'll neutralize the baking soda (because sweat is mildly acidic) and it won't be an irritant any longer.

Most of the time, when using a natural deodorant, rashes are caused by perspiration.  

Other Common Causes for Rashes

Intertrigo is the most common form of underarm rash, which is irritation caused by skin-to-skin friction. When moist skin rubs against itself, that friction causes skin to become inflamed. You'll start to notice a red, raw spot right in the crease of your underarm (or other folds of skin.) It can progress from there and get larger. If it progresses untreated, it can get flaky, or infected and oozy.

To prevent intertrigo, the key is to reduce the friction in the underarm.  This is best done with a natural powder such as arrowroot or corn starch. Reapplying our Pit Putty sticks frequently throughout the day to keep the underarm dry and friction-free can control intertrigo.  This may seem counterintuitive because when you first get an underarm rash you might blame the deodorant. When in fact the deodorant can definitely help. Of course, if your rash is infected or doesn't go away, please visit a doctor.

Heat Rash
"This deodorant is clogging my pores!" might be your first reaction to seeing a heat rash because it looks like a bunch of pimples.  Heat rash is actually caused when perspiration gets trapped in your skin, causing infected and blocked pores. Liberally applying powders as mentioned above, frequently throughout the day, will help draw out that moisture and dry up the heat rash.  Cleaning with alcohol (rubbing or ethanol) can also help to dry out the infected pores and help keep the infection from growing. Cortisone creams can also help if you've got a tough case. Heat rash can happen in the underarm, the groin area, and other folds of skin that may be moist. If your heat rash doesn't go away or continues to spread, do see a doctor.

Infected Sweat Gland(s)
Excess perspiration can also cause sweat glands to become infected.  These will feel like deep tender bumps, and your lymph nodes may also become infected. This can also happen during anti-perspirant use, because the blockage that these chemicals cause.  Infected sweat glands can be serious and may require the use of antibiotics to treat. Keeping your underarms dry by applying powders frequently throughout the day can help to prevent infected sweat glands.

Allergic Dermatitis
Allergic dermatitis can be the cause of underarm rashes, although it is less common than the conditions described above. Rashes will present on all areas of skin the product was applied to, but also may spread out from there due to the immune response. Allergic dermatitis can come in the form of a simple rash, but can also be hives, itching, pustules, blisters, and thickening of skin.  If you suspect that you're allergic to a deodorant, one thing you can do is to apply the product to your wrist and see if you get a reaction on your wrist as well.  Also keep in mind that it can take 1-2 days for an allergic rash to appear, so if you just started a new deodorant and immediately noticed an allergic rash, you may want to consider that it may have been something that you put on your skin within the last 48 hours that's causing the rash. Additionally, there is a phenomenon called a memory response. If you previously had an allergic reaction, say, on your eyelids from a makeup, if your fingers (but not your eyelids) touch that substance again, your eyelids can flare up, even without that area of skin touching the substance. So if you're prone to allergic rashes, also consider not just what you put on that area of skin, but what other parts of your body has touched. Allergies can be very tricky to figure out; visit your allergist to pinpoint your exact triggers. 

[For educational purposes only, this information is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical conditions you may have. If you have an underarm rash that persists, visit your doctor. Bubble & Bee Organic does not make any implied or implicit medical or drug claims of our products.]

Monday, August 12, 2013

Essential Oils vs. Extracts

Here's a question that I'm frequently asked: "What's the difference between an essential oil and an extract?"  "If I should avoid grapefruit seed extract, should I also avoid grapefruit essential oil?"

What are Essential Oils?
The term "essential oil" has a very specific meaning. Essential oils are the concentrated volatile aromatic compounds of a plant, typically consisting of terpenes, esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides. In other words, the aromatic compounds of the plant are removed and separated to create an oil-like substance.  (Although essential oils are not technically oils, as true oils are made up of lipids.) Essential oils are typically extracted through the process of steam distillation.  Plant matter is placed in a big vat with water and boiled...the steam arises and through a system of tubes. As the steam cools, the water collects to the bottom of the tank and the essential oils arise and collect in a separate tank.  (The water that's collected is known as a hydrosol and contains trace amounts of the essential oil and other components from the plant.) The only exception to steam distillation is with citrus fruits, where the essential oil is sometimes pressed from the rind of the fruit.  (Called cold-pressing.)

What are Extracts?
There are several types of extracts.
  • Infusions
    • An infusion is made when the plant material is let to steep in water or oil for a period of time.  A water-based infusion is made just like you'd make a cup of tea--boil the water and add the herbs to steep for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.  With an oil infusion, the steeping time is much longer, from days to weeks.  
  • Tinctures
    • A tincture is an alcohol-based extract. The plant material is steeped in a solution of (usually) 50% alcohol. The plant material steeps for days to weeks to extract compounds from the plant.  
  • Glycerites
    • These are liquid extracts in glycerin.
Essential Oils that Aren't Really Essential Oils

You may see a few ingredients listed as essential oils, when in fact, they aren't truly essential oils. Take for instance vanilla.  The "essence" of vanilla is difficult to extract via steam distillation, so it's typically extracted through steeping in alcohol (most commonly) or in oil.  This is the traditional vanilla extract that you'd use in cooking.  This is the least concentrated form of vanilla extract.  But, for a more concentrated form of vanilla, there's vanilla oleoresin. (Sometimes you'll see it listed as essential oil.)
  • Oleoresin
    An oleoresin is created by taking an alcohol-based extract and evaporating out the alcohol.  You're then left with a thick resinous material that's a more concentrated form of the aromatics that the plant provides.  Two common oleoresins are vanilla and rosemary.  Vanilla oleoresin is commonly used in personal care products as a scent.  Rosemary oleoresin (also listed as rosemary extract) is used as an anti-oxidant in foods and personal care products, helping give oils a longer shelf life. (Do note that it is an anti-oxidant, not a preservative.  It will help keep oils fresh but it does not stop bacterial growth.)
  • Absolutes  
    Finally, there are absolutes. This is the most potent and concentrated form of extracts.  Absolutes are typically extracted with a solvent like hexane to create a waxy material called a concrete.  The concrete is mixed with alcohol to further extract the aromatic compounds.  Then, the alcohol is evaporated out and a highly concentrated oil known as an absolute is left behind.  Sometimes people will mistakenly list an absolute or oleoresin as an essential oil, whereas they are technically not an essential oil.  Plants that are typically extracted as absolutes instead of essential oils include vanilla, jasmine, tuberose, oak moss and mimosa.  When it comes to roses, both steam-distilled essential oil and absolutes are made.  There are actually absolutes of honey as well, that will extract the delicate fragrance notes from different types of honey.  
Fake Extracts

There are some ingredients that you'll see listed as "extracts" on a product, when they're not really an extract.
  • Japanese Honeysuckle Extract is not a true extract but a highly synthesized preservative.  You can read more about it here.
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract is not a true extract, but a quaternary ammonium compound that's also used as a preservative.  You can read more about it here. (Not to be confused with grape seed extract, which is a totally different thing, extracted from grapes, not grapefruits. Grape seed extract is a true extract.)
Vegetable/Carrier Oils

Vegetable or Carrier oils are true oils, composed of lipids (fats). These include sunflower, jojoba, safflower, almond, olive, coconut. They are either solvent, or, preferrably, cold-pressed from the seeds, nuts, or fruit of certain plants.  Some carrier oils sound like essential oils, when they are not.  For instance rosehip seed oil is not an essential oil but a vegetable carrier oil.  After the rose has blossomed and created a rose "hip", inside this hip are hundreds of tiny little seeds.  These seeds are taken and pressed to create rosehip seed oil.  It doesn't smell like roses, but has a nutty, seed-like aroma.  Red raspberry seed oil is also commonly confused. It is pressed from the raspberry seeds and while it does have a mild raspberry aroma (somewhat like raspberry leaf tea) it is not an essential oil and is used for moisturizing properties, not for scent or aromatherapy.