Thursday, November 13, 2008

Winterizing Your Skin Care

An early snow made a beautiful scene in the canyon where we make our products. It got me thinking about how we winterize our houses, our cars, our clothes, but we may not think about winterizing our skin care regime. Well, now is the time! Here are my tips for getting a healthy all-over glow in the winter.


Make sure the soap you're using isn't stripping your skin. Strong detergents in "softsoaps" and other liquid soaps can strip skin's vital oils that prevent moisturie loss. (For more on this, visit this blog entry I wrote a while back.) Choose a bar like our Mint Tea Soap that's high in vegetable glycerin to clean hands. Vegetable glycerin draws moisture from the air and to your skin. And it's gentle enough to not strip your skin's oils.

Now that you've stopped stripping the moisture from your hands, let's make sure it doesn't evaporate in the dry air. You need a seal. No, not the kind at Sea World. I'm talking about a moisture seal. In the winter, switch to an oil or cream based hand moisturizer. Our lotion sticks are a great choice. Organic beeswax seals in moisture while organic cocoa butter adds emollience and increases skin elasticity. This increase in elasticity will help heal up any dry cracks.


Just because you don't have to have sandal-worthy feet in the winter doesn't mean you should neglect them. Taking care of your feet during the winter will make it easier to transition back to sandals in the Spring. Exfoliation and moisturizing is key for feet. An easy one-step way to do this is with a salt scrub. Fill up a little tub with warm water and give your feet the relaxing scrub they deserve. Pay attention to heels and balls of your feet and apply the scrub liberally. After a long day on your feet, the cooling sensation of peppermint will feel absolutely divine. A salt scrub will moisturize and exfoliate all at the same time.


Once again, make sure that the cleanser you're using isn't drying out your skin. You shouldn't feel strong a tightening and drying feeling after you wash. Try a soap like our Unscented All Over Bar that has added nourishing oils like jojoba and sunflower.

My favorite moisturizer is rosehip seed oil. Rosehip seed oil is high in vitamin A, so it has great anti-aging properties. It absorbs in to the skin quickly and doesn't end up greasy.


A light dry brushing before your bath or shower with a horsehair or other natural fiber brush will slough off dead skin cells and increase blood flow to the skin, giving you a healthy glow. In the bath, use a natural and moisturizing shower gel to gently cleanse skin. Choose one with essential oils, not synthetic fragrance. Choose citrus oils for energizing in the morning, or if you shower at night, pick a calming scent like lavender to end your winter day in peace.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Bubble and Bee Was Born

Sometimes people ask us how we came up with the name Bubble and Bee. Have a minute? Here's the real story...

In the beginning right before we launched our products at the Farmer's Market, we were going to call ourselves Wild Life Organics. I had done my due dilligence and researched the name through the trademark office, Steve had created a bunch of designs for our labels, we started getting banners printed...then, two weeks before the Farmer's Market, we came to a screeching halt. I did a double-check with the trademark office and lo and behold there was somebody already using that name. I had missed it in my initial search! All of Steve's designs were gone out the window. All of our marketing materials were now garbage. I felt horrible because I had made such a stupid mistake. We had to hurry and come up with a completely new name, design--everything before the market began. We had a bunch of names we had come up with--trying to stay in the vein of Wild Life Organics, but they just weren't working. We were calling and e-mailing friends and family. I'm sure they were tired of hearing all the crazy names we were coming up with. Finally Steve came up with Bubble and Bee and it stuck. However, I wasn't quite sure of it all.

The new Bubble and Bee packaging he came up with was very fun and playful, but I wasn't sure that it was the right decision. I thought we had to be like the other organic body care products with photos of herbs and such. So, that first day at the Farmer's Market I was really biting my nails. This was the culmination of two and a half years of research and development and there was a lot at stake--not just financially but emotionally! We got there at 7 am (after staying up all through the night) and set up the booth and by 8 we were ready to go. For the first hour things were really slow (as they usually are at the market--but I didn't know that then) and I was ready to chew Steve out about how he had gone "too playful" with the packaging. But then all of the sudden the people came and the first thing out of everyone's mouth was "I looove your packaging!" and it's been that way every day since. Suffice it to say that I've been living on a steady diet of crow for about a year. I've grown quite accustomed to its taste.

It's been over a year since that fateful day when we launched this line---we've been so busy we even forgot to celebrate our one-year Bubble and Bee anniversary! We are truly grateful to every one of you who have helped support this organic endeavor since we started it. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Why Work Stinks

Recently I received an e-mail from a customer who had a great question. So great, in fact, that I decided to expand upon the subject here in my blog. The gist of her question was this:

I've noticed that it's harder to keep body odor under control in my
air-conditioned office than when working in the heat in my yard on the
weekend. How can this be?

I had noticed the same thing a couple summers ago when I was working at a TV station. The air conditioning was always super cold but I always had a harder time deodorizing myself there than when hiking in 90 degree weather. That led me on my quest to find the answer to the mystery. While there may be other reasons that work may figuratively "stink," today I'll give you the reasons why it really can!

The first reason is caffeine. The body gets rid of caffeine by sweating it out. One study found that caffeine is present in sweat for up to four hours after drinking it. [source] You know when they say the body sweats out "toxins?" Caffeine is one of them! In addition, caffeine inhibits the creation and function of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). ADH is responsible for regulating the amount of water in your body's tissues. So when caffeine inhibits ADH, you excrete water. That's why caffeine is known as a diuretic. To get rid of water, your body does a number of things. First, it flushes water through the kidneys and bladder (as you've probably noticed in more frequent trips to the bathroom). Second, it stimulates the bowel system and can increase the water content in your stool. Third, it increases sweating to rid itself of water. After all is said and done, that cup of tea or coffee may have made you more alert, but now you're dehydrated and sweaty!
In an office setting you're more likely to need a boost of mental focus and alertness, so you revert to a cup o' joe. Or a cup of organic green tea in my case. ;) Over the weekend just working around the house you usually get to sleep in and don't have the pressures to perform so you don't partake of that extra boost as readily. Thus caffeine is reason number one it "stinks at work."

Every Saturday in the summer we have a booth at the Salt Lake Farmer's Market. And, while it's hot, I usually can keep the sweat and the odor under control with the Pit Putty, no problem. One week last summer I noticed I was sweating a lot. I mean, I was afraid to put my arms up! It wasn't any hotter than previous weeks. I was wearing the same clothes and not doing any activities out of the ordinary. Then I realized it--instead of my usual Strawberry Limeade, I had drank some strong black tea. There was the first hand proof that convinced me to keep the caffeine to a minimum--just for my market neighbor's sake!

The second reason you could be more odiferous at work is stress. When our body comes under stress the sympathetic nervous system is triggered. This causes our heart rate and breathing to speed up, our blood pressure to escalate, and sweat production to increase. [source] In fact, the average person sweats more when stressed out—700 milligrams per hour—than when in a 100-degree room—600 milligrams per hour. [source] In addition to the increased sweat, when you're stressed your body undergoes many physiological changes, like increases in hormones and a shift in pH. Under constant duress, the skin is consistently starved of both blood and oxygen, making it weaker and more prone to the bacterial growth that can cause odor. [source]

Third, our clothing is different. On the weekend you may wear a cotton t-shirt or tank, while in the office you may wear "stuffier" clothing made from rayons and poly blends. These clothes (especially if you're wearing layers) aren't as breatheable as your weekend attire and can trap in sweat, making a moist environment for those odor-causing bacteria to grow.

Now, while you probably can't eliminate stress from your workplace, or start wearing t-shirts, and you may not want to give up that mid-day cup of green tea, there are ways you can improve your odds for staying fresh. First, when choosing business attire, look for 100% natural, lightweight fibers like cotton, hemp, and bamboo. As for the stress, there are plenty of breathing exercises you can do to calm your nervous system and decrease your heart rate. Or just getting up and taking a 5 minute walk around the building. And don't forget all the health benefits of green tea and coffee can be found in decaf. Getting plenty of sleep will help you curb the caffeine cravings. Plus cutting caffiene will help you get to sleep better at night's a win-win situation.

So that's it. Mystery solved. Caffeine, stress, and clothing all affect the way we smell at work. Now when someone says work stinks--you'll know exactly why!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Navigating the EWG Skin Deep Database

I am so grateful that so many of you found us through the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database. It is an invaluable tool in helping to spread the word about the dangers of chemicals in every day personal care products. For those of you who have never been to the database, you can find it at There, you can look up just about any personal care product or ingredient and generate a full safety report. The database draws upon study data from five different national and international databases. No where else can one find such a vast collection of information on brands, chemicals, and products. But at times browsing the database can be confusing. It has been a topic of lively discussion with many of you and lately I've been bombarded with questions about ingredients and products. My aim today is to help you navigate the deep waters of the Skin Deep Database. Armed with my advice and some common sense, you'll be on your way to choosing the very best, safest products you can find.

Tip #1 for using the Skin Deep Database: Choose natural over synthetic. Let's look for shampoo and compare two products in the database...Terressentials Cool Mint Pure Earth Hair Wash vs. Giovanni Magnetic Energizing Shampoo. Both score a "2" risk score, but they couldn't be more different. On the one hand, Terressentials Shampoo is completely synthetic-free. It's basically an herbally-infused mud you put on your hair. Giovanni's shampoo is a synthetic detergent diluted with water infused with herbs. It uses cocamidopropyl betaine as its main lathering agent. Cocamidopropyl betaine scores a 5 risk score as an individual ingredient for its contamination concerns. (It can be contaminated with carcinogentic nitrosamines, a group of chemicals that it can come in contact with during its synthesis.) However, because the shampoo contains so many herbal extracts that rate a 0, the overall risk score of the shampoo averages out to a 2.

Now let's look at the Terressentials. The main objection that the database has to the shampoo is the fact that it has "clay minerals." The database doesn't recognize "clay minerals," as an ingredient so it gives it a risk score of 4. However, there are no side effects, warnings, or problems listed with the ingredient. Just the fact that the database didn't recognize it gave it a bad score. If you look up other clays, like Rhassoul or Kaolin, they get low risk scores. But because the ingredient was listed on the label as "clay minerals" it put up a red flag. With all the other ingredients, the shampoo averages out at a 2, just like the Giovanni. But let me ask you--which one is more natural? Which one would you choose? One with a truly problematic ingredient, or one that the database flagged? The Terressentials, naturally.

Tip #2: Look for errors. Let's continue to look at shampoo. One shampoo that comes out with a "1" score is "Phyto Phytoneutre Rebalancing Cream Shampoo." If you click on it and read the ingredients listed in the database, it looks like they're pretty safe---we have some herbal extracts and proteins. But let's look closer....up above the database of ingredients is the actual list of ingredients, which includes sodium laureth sulfate. Somehow, the full list of ingredients didn't get entered in to the database (and with the thousands of products they have to monitor, it's a forgivable oversight) so the score is incorrect. Don't just look at the score, look at the label ingredients and the ingredients listed in the database.

Tip #3: Use common sense. Because it's such an information overload, it's easy to hang on to every word that the database gives you. But a little common sense will go a long way when you're looking at ingredients. One case in point is coconut oil. If you look up coconut oil in the database, it gives you a risk score of "1." Listed in the ingredient warnings is the fact that at high doses it can cause fatty liver degeneration. (What that has to do with applying it to your skin, I don't know). However, if you look up hydrogenated coconut oil, it gives it a risk score of "0" and no warnings. Now, we all know that organic extra virgin coconut oil is better for you than the trans-fat laden hydrogenated version. But because the database has no studies to which it can refer, it gives the hydrogenated oil a better score. That's one thing to remember--this is a database, not a person.

Another case in point is aloe vera. "Aloe vera" gets a risk score of 2, and "aloe vera gel" gets a risk score of 1. While there really is no difference, the database somehow sees them as two different ingredients. The risk score of 2 that aloe vera receives may scare some people off, especially with the bad sounding "reproductive toxicity" and "cancer" risks. However, we have to take this rating with a grain of salt. Aloe vera is known to be one of the best things you can put on your skin. It has been used safely for hundreds--maybe thousands--of years to heal bruises, cuts, lesions, blisters, and so on. So why does it get a bad rating? First off, the database could be citing studies done on the effects of aloe taken internally, which has been controversial for years. All it takes is one study that says that aloe vera caused mutated cells in a lab and the database will flag aloe as a cancer risk. (There could be ten studies that conclude aloe cures cancer and it won't show up in the database because it only reports negative information. And who knows who funded the negative study!) Second, there are hundreds of varieties of aloe. Which variety is this study looking at? Third--is this certified organic aloe that they've studied, or aloe that has been grown commercially, with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers? Could these pesticide residues be affecting the outcome of the study?

So, as you look at these natural ingredients that get a less than perfect score, the biggest question to ask yourself is this: has this ingredient been used safely for hundreds of years? If the answer is yes you can breathe easy.

If you haven't ventured over to the Skin Deep Database, do it soon. Your eyes will be opened to the many chemicals out there. You can generate a safety report on just about any personal care product out there. Go look up your fingernail polish, hair sprays and other products--you may be surprised to find out what's lurking in your lotion! Armed with some common sense, an eye for details, and a naturalistic point of view, you'll be able to find safer alternatives for you and your family for years to come.

I'm always happy to answer your questions about ingredients. Because the database is just that---a database--and not a person, it can be quirky sometimes. So sometimes its helpful to have someone off which you can bounce your questions. Keep 'em comin'!

Now it's your turn--tell us what you think!


Environmental Working Group

Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Polluters and Pinkwashers

I'm going to stir up a little controvery here and I'd love to hear your comments, even if you disagree. Post them below!
I find it amusing that so many companies are "donating" to "Breast Cancer." As if breast cancer was an institution in and of itself like manufacturers and sellers of pink ribbons everywhere would have you believe. First of all, how much are these companies donating? When you buy something with a pink ribbon, how much is going to a non-profit? 10%? 1%? And then, once the money filters through the non-profit, how much of your money is actually going to help a person with cancer? How much is going to drug companies? How much are paying the big salaries of the people who run the major non-profits? These "pinkwashers" add pink ribbons and such to products to make them look like they're a caring company. When, in fact, all the pinkwashing does is help them increase their profits.
Financials aside, there's another reason that these companies don't live up to the hype. Let's take a look at one example that showed up in my mailbox.

Amidst the slue of junk mail I received one day, an ad popped out at me: "Buy a Serta matress to support Breast Cancer!" Seemed nice enough. But let's think about this a a mattress that's likely to contain chemicals like fire-retardant boric acid (that is commonly laced with carcinogenic arsenic), formaldehyde glue (a known carcinogen), bleached cotton that emits dioxin during manufacture, and carcinogenic tolulene finishing. All of these chemicals that can disrupt hormone function and lead to a higher risk of breast support breast cancer!? Serta would do a lot more to stop breast cancer if they would just not add the chemicals to the matresses! But they know that adding a pink ribbon to the product makes it desireable to the unknowing public--and a lot cheaper than finding safer alternatives!

Then I remembered an earlier ad that I had seen from Ford Motor Company. They had a two-page spread in one of the "health" magazines about how they were raising awareness for breast cancer. They even had a whole line of clothing and accessories in pink that "supported breast cancer." Let's think about this one for a minute... According to the Breast Cancer Fund, a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate the environmental causes for breast cancer, one of the largest environmental causes of breast cancer is tailpipe emissions. Exposure to certain pollutants, especially in a young girls life, can increase cancer risk later in life. So, if Ford really wanted to help stop breast cancer it would enforce stricter emissions standards on their vehicles. But, it's a lot easier and more profitable to sell a line of cute scarfs and t-shirts that make them look philanthropic.
Estee Lauder was one of the first companies to distribute pink ribbons, and now Avon has jumped on the bandwagon with a special lip balms and charm bracelets to help their "Cancer Crusade." Both companies have long refused to sign the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and continues to use hormone disrupting parabens and phlalates as well as formaldehyde donors like diazolidnyl urea. It's a vicious cycle that supports the products that cause cancer, and then buy the products to increase cancer awareness.

From 2005 to 2006, the Campbell Soup company doubled their sales of Tomato and Chicken Noodle soup to the largest grocery chain, Kroger. How did they do this? They branded the soup with pink ribbons and donated $3.5 cents per can to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It only took them $250,000 in dontations to make an extra $3.5 million in sales. Now, there's nothing wrong with a company making profits--that's what they're obligated to their shareholders to do. However, once again, they're not really working to cure cancer. Soup cans contain a plastic coating called BPA. BPA is a known hormone disruptor, acting like estrogen in the body. The more a woman is exposed to estrogen, especially synthetic estrogens, the greater her cancer risk. But instead of spending money on finding a safer alternative for their can, it's easier to make a pink label donate to a non-profit and hand off to them the responsibility to find a cure.

And finally...A common sight in my house as a youth was a little basket full of pink yogurt tops. The pink inside of the little foil lid said that Yoplait would donate fifteen cents to the Susan G. Komen foundation. We did our duty, ate our yogurts, and sent in our tops. But what we didn't know was that yoplait uses yogurt from cows that are treated with rbST, recombinant bovine growth hormone. Our yogurts were laced with synthetic estrogens that ran their course through our bodies, increasing OUR risk for breast cancer. If yoplait really cared about cancer, they'd use organic milk, or at least rbST-free milk (not to mention all the refined sugar, artificial flavors, and sweeteners.) But it's easier and more marketable to have novel lids that people can interact with and feel like they're making a difference.

I don't want to say that we shouldn't donate to breast cancer foundations. It's a great and kind thing to do so. Many of them do a great job at funding reasearch and getting money to small cancer clinics. But I just wonder---if we didn't have all of these companies putting chemicals into our air, water, land, food and bodies, would we need all the breast cancer funding? Would we need the research, the studies, the drugs? The moral of the story is, the best thing to do is to give directly to the foundation or volunteer your time to the organization, or even a cancer patient in your life.

One organization I admire is the Breast Cancer Fund. Visit their website at

For more info on matress chemicals:

For more info on cancer hypocrisy:

PBDE info:

For more info on chemicals in lotions to avoid:

Breast Cancer Fund:

BPA in cans and other products:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Propylene Glycol

Just a quickie this week...

I found this interesting. Ater my last TV appearance on Studio 5, the station received a very interesting message that they forwarded on to me:

"Yesterday, during your segment with Bubble and Bee, I had to shake my head when you talked about how some shower body washes contain the chemical propylene glycol. Your guest stated that it is a "penetration enhancer" and that it will go directly to your blood stream. I'm an airline pilot, based out of SLC, and the de-icing fluid that all airlines use to remove snow, frost and ice from their aircraft is mix of heated propylene glycol and water. For us, the propylene glycol is listed as a hazardous material. If you get it on your skin and don't wash it off, it will irritate the skin, and you will get ill when it is absorbed. Thanks for bringing up the information about this chemical in body washes. Also, thanks for hosting an informative show." --John, UT

De-icing fluid! I couldn't believe it! So what's next? Adding anti-freeze to our bodywashes? Gasoline to our fingernail polish? Well, actually, yes. Ethylene glycol is a "sister" chemical to propylene glycol and is a main component of anti-freeze. It's used in over 50 personal care products, including bodywashes by Suave and Jason, as well as in shampoos by Dove. Tolulene is a known carcinogen and a component of gasoline. It's in over 60 kinds of fingernail polish.

The moral to the story: read your labels! Because you never know what crazy things they're going to sneak in there!

To see our chemical-free shower gels (now with a new waterproof label!) click here!

Friday, April 18, 2008

What About Sunscreen?

Even in the middle of Winter people ask me: what do you recommend for sunscreen? Now that there's a hint of Spring/Summer out there (even though it snowed here today!) I'm sure I'll be asked the question more. So, I thought I'd lay it all out here so you know exactly what I think about sunscreen.

In my opinion, most sunscreens can do more harm than good. Most of them are filled with synthetic fragrances, parabens, formaldehyde donors---ingredients you'd find in common lotions. The biggest difference though, is the "active ingredient." These active ingredients are the components that keep your skin from burning in the sun for a period of time. The problem with these active ingredients is that when exposed to sun, they break down and create free-radicals on the skin. Now wait a minute---aren't these the free radicals we all hear about that cause cancer? They sure are. So, even if you're not being visibly burned, your skin can get damaged invisibly from these chemicals. How does this happen? Instead of being a sunblock that reflects the sun's rays, these particles absorb the sun's energy. The energy has to be released from the particle somehow, so it breaks down and creates free-radicals (also referred to as "oxidative species") Let's take a look at a few "active ingredients" one by one. I've listed a few examples of products that contain these chemicals, although there are many more products than listed.

Used in:
Neutrogena Skin Smoothing Body Lotion
Banana Boat UVA & UVB Sunscreen
Jason Naturals Sunscreen

Oxybenzone is one of the most commonly used SPF agents, and possibly the most damaging. According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website, a 2006 study showed that oxybenzone (aka benzophenone-3), "produces excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, lead to cell death and may be implicated in cardiovascular disease." Cellular mutations? Isn't that what causes cancer? That's the fallacy of modern sunscreens today. We think we're protecting ourselves with these chemicals, but they can be doing just as much, or even more harm than the sun. Oxybenzone is also known to be absorbed into the skin and the bloodstream, and can affect the endocrine system and hormone function in the body.

Used in:
Blistex Lip Balm
Carmex Lip Balm

Phenol receives a risk of 10 on the EWG Skin Deep Database, the worst score an ingredient can get. It is banned in Canada and Japan, there is limited evidence that it is a carcinogen, it is known to be a reproductive and developmental toxin, and a wildlife pollutant.

Octinoxate (Octyl Methoxycinnamate)
Used in:
Alba Organics Sunscreens
Jason Naturals Sunscreen
Coppertone Sunblock
Aveeno Facial Sunblock

Often listed as "made from cinnamon" by the peddlers of "natural" products, Octinoxate is an endocrine disruptor, estrogen mimicker, a penetration enhancer, and "produces damaging reactive oxygen species upon exposure to sunlight."

Used in:
L'Oreal Daily Face Moisturizer

Octocrylene is restricted in Japan because it creates free radicals on the skin when exposed to sunlight and is a penetration enhancer. One study says that "when octocrylene penetrates into the skin, the level of reactive oxygen species increases above that produced naturally under UV illumination." Another free-radical-forming chemical.

PABA (Octyl Dimethy PABA, PABA Ester)
Used in:
Aubrey Organics Nature's Balance Unscented SPF Hand and Body Lotion

PABA has a long list of concerns. In the manufacturing process, it can be contaminated with nitrosamines, a group of dangerous carcinogenic chemicals. It too produces free radicals on the skin, and lab tests have shown it to cause cellular mutations. A penetration enhancer and a hormone distruptor, PABA has long been an ingredient to be avoided.

Used in:
Jason Naturals
Total Block Cotz Waterproof Sunblock

Nano Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are gaining popularity among the "safer" companies that make sunblock. Sometimes billed as "natural" or "mineral" these particles are anything but natural. Labs take the natural minerals of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and put them under intense heat, light, and other processes that break down their natural structure to make them smaller particles. These nanoparticles are then absorbed into the skin and in to your body. You now have these little particles of metal in your bloodstream that your body doesn't know how to handle. Nanoparticles are a very recent invention and there has not been enough study done to find out the side effects of these unnatural particles. They too break down to create free-radicals in your skin. In their natural, non-nano form, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are my safer sunblock agents of choice. The most difficult thing is that companies don't usually disclose if they're using nanoparticles. So, it could be listed as zinc oxide and we don't know if it's "regular," "micronized," or "nano." Micronized is smaller than natural and larger than nano. Most companies claim that micronized particles are not absorbed into the skin.

The Safer Choice: Non-Nano Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Zinc Oxide especially is a great sunblock agent. It gives you both UVA and UVB protection. This is the old-fashioned zinc oxide you see in old surfing movies---the white pasty stuff. Yes, it's not as convenient, and it's not as fashionable, but it's the safest and gives you the best protection. One thing to consider when using a zinc oxide sunblock is to apply it frequently. Zinc oxide is a powerful anti-inflammatory, so it's going to soothe your skin. So much, in fact, that you could be sunburned and not know it. After your day in the sun, you go in and rinse off the zinc oxide and you could be deeply burned. This is why I always recommend to apply it every hour to make sure you've got adequate protection, even if you feel like you're not getting burnt.

I'm still looking for a product with non-micronized zinc oxide for my personal use and recommendation. As soon as I find it I'll be sure to post it. If any of you know of any sunblocks that fall under these guidelines of safety or have any product suggestions, be sure to post your comments below. We are currently developing a sunscreen with zinc oxide, as well as some other choices, and we'll keep you informed of them as they come out.

There's always another more organic option: a wide-brimmed hat!

What do you think? Would you rather use the less-fashionable white sunblock for safety's sake, or would you take your chances with nanoparticles?

Badger Balm and Mexitan use micronized particles instead of nanoparticles. They claim that the particles are not absorbed into the skin. So far, these two products are the safest that I've seen. Thanks to Monica for the tip!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Top Five Chemicals To Avoid

There are thousands of chemicals out there in personal care products, and only a small percentage that have been tested for safety. Although there are many more chemicals to avoid, I've created this top five list as an important starting point and shopping guide for you.

1. "Fragrance"
Althought it sounds fairly benign, the ingredient "fragrance" is one of the most dubious. Synthetic fragrances commonly contain chemicals called phlatates that are known hormone disruptors. They bind to your body's estrogen receptors, disrupting the delicate balance of hormone function. In women, they can be a root cause of monthly hormonal extremes and irregularities. But it doesn't just affect women. Phlalates can disrupt thyroid function, leading to hyperthyroidism. The scary part is that companies don't have to disclose the actual ingredients in "fragrance" so they can add whatever chemicals they want to. Many people also have allergic reactions to these strong synthetic fragrances, from asthma to dermititis. Typically found in: make-up, lotion, deodorant, shampoo, hair products, soaps.

2. Synthetic colors
FD & C Blue. Yellow Lake. You've probably seen them on labels before. Synthetic colors like these are made out of some nasty stuff, from petroleum to acetone to coal tar. These colors can contain impurities like lead acetate, which is toxic to the nervous system. These dyes are allergens, skin irritants, and even known carcinogens. Contrary to common sense, and popular belief, there is no law out there that keeps companies from putting known carcinogens in personal care products. The state of California enacted their own law requiring companies to disclose any carcinogenic ingredients, but there is no national governing body. Always check the label, avoiding Lake or FD&C colors. Typically found in: shampoos, & conditioners, deodorants, lip balm, lipsticks and other makeups, lotions, liquid hand soaps, bar soaps, shower gels.

3. Parabens
The public is becoming increasingly aware of parabens nowadays, and that's a good thing. Parabens, (methyl, ethyl, butyl, iso, propyl) are preservatives that have been shown to act like estrogen in the body. Not only are they hormone disruptors, but studies have found them to accumulate in breast cancer. Although chemical creators and users deny a direct link to breast cancer, the chemical is under harsh scrutiny right now by organizations like the Environmental Working Group and The Breast Cancer Fund. Typically found in: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, facial washes, shower gels.

4. Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is used even in some of the supposed natural products, most commonly in deodorants. The problem with propylene glycol is that it's a penetration enhancer. It breaks down and passes your skins protective barrier, going straight into your bloodstream. It also will carry other chemicals with it, so the artificial fragrance, the parabens, and other chemicals are going straight into your bloodstream. Typically found in: toothpaste, lotions, deodorants

5. Aluminum Chlorhydrate and other aluminum salts
These aluminum salts are common ingredients in anti-perspirants. They clog and shink your sweat glands and pores so you don't sweat. But sweating is a natural process of the body. It helps you regulate your internal temperature and helps you release toxins. Aluminum salts are also being studied for their estrogen-mimicking properties, and for a link to Alzheimers. Doctors have noted that Alzheimer's patients have had aluminum deposited in the brain, and many people believe that aluminum from anti-perspirants are to blame for much of this exposure. Typically found in: anti-perspirants.

Do you have another suggestion for a chemical to avoid? Have a question about another chemical? Leave a comment below! Also, check out my chemical database to read about other chemicals to avoid. Or rat out a "natural" company here that you have found using any of these chemicals.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pets, Naturally

Nothing's too good for my pooches! My pets are my kids. With all the dog-food recalls it's scary to think of what could happen to your pets. But there's a lot we can do to keep our pets in great shape and protected from all the chemicals.

Using a chemical-free cleaner for your pets is one thing you can do to lessen their toxic load. Did you know that our shower gel can actually be used on pets? It's actually a great cleaner for fur. In fact, when my little white cat Hannah decided to play around in the fireplace (bad kitty) the shower gel got all the soot out. She was mad about the whole bath thing, but I was happy to see my clean white kitty again.

Choosing a natural food is a good idea too. Here are my suggestions for some natural foods:

A great dog food. You can find it at Whole Foods and other natural food stores. No gluten, no by-products or fillers. High in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for a shiny coat, plus lots of vegetables and protien. Probably the highest quality dog food that I've found. My dogs especially love the wet food. The downside? The hefty price tag. Ususally $2.50 plus for a can of wet food, and $25 for a 15 lb bag. Same thing goes for the cat food. Higher price tag, but quality ingredients. My cat's don't seem to take to it as well as some other brands, though.

Pet Promise
You can most likely find this brand at your regular grocery store. It's reasonably priced (just a little bit more than Iams) and contains no by-products, wheat gluten, (it does contain corn gluten), rendered meats, or antibiotic-fed meats. Its my cats' favorite food and the dogs take to it well too. I just learned that it's owned by Purina, so now I'm a little sketchy on it.

Newman's Own
This is a good food--a lot of organic ingredients and meat is the first ingredient. It's a little pricier (in-between the Pet Promise and the Wellness) but for some reason my dogs don't like it. They'll eat the wet food, (around $3 a can) but they won't touch the dry food.

Brandon Farms
This is the best value that I've found. The certified organic canned food is half the price of the other premium brands, and the dog food is the most affordable of the brands out there. It too is certified organic. It's not my cats' favorite, but they'll eat it. And the dogs eat theirs up just fine. It's somewhat hard to find, but I can get it at my local Smith's Marketplace a lot of the times. Smith's is owned by Kroger, so most likely you'll be able to find it in your area. (Kroger owns Smith's, Fry's, Fred Meyer, Owen's and a bunch of other chains.)

For more information about the brand you're using, and if it has been affected by any recall, visit The Pet Food List.

Natural Cleaners

Every newsletter we send out includes a little section called "What I Know." It's my musings not just on our products, but on organic living. I look forward to your comments!

So, you're eating organic foods, and using organic bath and body products. But how "clean" are the cleaners you're using? Oftentimes the fumes and toxins in household cleaners are more of a risk than any pesticide residue in food or even chemicals in bath and body products. But here's the good news: green cleaning doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. I'm going to give you some tips for simple cleaning success.

I used to not be able to live without my Scrubbing Bubbles, but I was always bothered by the strong fumes. With the aid of some simple ingredients I have rid my house of the nasty stuff. Plain old baking soda does the trick when it comes to scrubbing sinks, bathtubs and toilets. Case in point: this week my kitchen sink had all kinds of stains from tomato sauce to grape juice. I simply sprinkled baking soda all over the sink, let it sit for a minute or two, then started scrubbing. The stains were gone and the sink was cleaner than ever. No bleach needed!
Then, it came time to clean the mirrors in my bathroom. How to do it without Windex? Just follow my simple recipe. In a spray bottle combine:

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

This recipe works better than any window cleaner--it totally cuts through that yucky film that can build up on your mirrors, and even works great on calcium buildup on shower doors.

Here are some more recipes for non-toxic cleaning success:

Floor cleaner.

1 tbs liquid dish detergent
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup lavender tea (optional)

Add to your mopping bucket and fill to the line with water. Then, get mopping!

I prefer Planet brand dish detergent because it is biodegradable, unscented, and uses gentle, naturally derived ingredients. Plus, it's more affordable than the other natural brands. Lavender tea will add a nice clean scent, and it also has antibacterial properties, and vinegar helps add a nice clean shine to the floors. This recipe can be used on tile, vinyl, or laminate. For hard wood floors, leave out the dish detergent.
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Have other good ideas for cleaning? Post your comments below!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Whaddya Think?

So, we're working on this new program. It's a club where you get new and exciting Bubble and Bee products delivered to your door on the same day every month. What we want to know is: what do you want? Would you like a soap of the month? Bath Salt? Lotion Bar? Lip Balm? All of the above? A surprise bag?

Click here to let us know what you think. Fill it out and you'll get a promo code good for a free lip balm with any order!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pit Putty Question

Some of you have asked me if the Pit Putty comes all crumbled like in the picture below. Actually no, we just took that picture to show you the interesting texture of the product. Pit Putty comes in a solid stick that you apply just like any other deodorant.

Pit Putty

Hey Everyone,
I'm so happy to be launching 'Pit Putty this week. We've been testing it for a while and I'm proud to say it's our best formula yet. Steve has created some adorable packaging for it--and it's printed on tree-free paper. (It's made from stone--cool, huh.) We knew this product would be in high demand so we've made a lot. You should see it--we ordered 100 pounds of arrowroot powder thinking it would be enough. But we're actually placing another order for 300 pounds more! That's a lotta deodorizing! And the best part is we've been able to keep the formula 100% organic, so there are no synthetic chemicals whatsoever.

There are some other deodorants out there that use arrowroot powder, but none that are 100% organic. Some of them are more like a lotion that you have to put on with your hands, and some are sticks that still contain chemicals. That's why we're so excited about this product.

Making Pit Putty is actually kind of difficult because you have to get the perfect consistency. Too much oil and it's runny. Not enough and it's crumbly. We smash and stir and mix until it's just right. Then it's compacted down into the containers, labeled, and shipped out to you. We've mastered the art of 'Pit Putty and now you get to try it in all its glory. :)

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

(Don't know what arrowroot powder is? Click here to find out.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Natural Deodorants

Anti-Perspirant to Deodorant: Making the Switch

(Be sure to post your comments below! Just click on "comments.")

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you're probably already using a natural deodorant or thinking about making the switch. You may have found out that switching to truly natural deodorants can be tricky. I've written this blog entry to help you navigate the rough waters of finding and keeping a natural deodorant that works.

Different anti-perspirants work in different ways. Some work by shrinking sweat glands. Others work by clogging or shrinking the pores in your underarms. Many studies have shown that the compounds in these anti-perspirants are not healthy, not allowing sweat glands to do their job releasing toxins. Over time the aluminum compounds have also been shown to collect in the brain, possibly leading to Alzheimers. (There are other chemicals to avoid, see the end of this article). While anti-perspirants have these disturbing side effects, deodorants work simply to fight bacteria and to scent the underarm. That's why many people believe using deodorants is a much healthier option.

When you switch from an anti-perspirant to a deodorant, your glands and pores will start to unclog, open up, and function properly. In this transition period, toxins and other fluid buildup are being released and one may notice his/her body odor increase. Not knowing the changes that are occurring in their body, this increased odor sends people running right back to their trusty anti-perspirant. Because I believe it is so important to avoid anti-perspirants, I've created these "rules" for making the switch.

1. Test a new deodorant product for at least a week before you decide if its right for you.

2. "Detox" your pits! If you've been using an anti-perspirant, there's a bunch of "gunk" in the underarms--dead skin cells, chemical residue. Before your shower, dry-brush your underarm skin to loosen this buildup and to gently increase circulation. In the shower, lightly rub a loofah or exfoliating bath mitt on your underarms. Stay away from anti-bacterial detergents for cleaning, only using true natural soaps for cleaning.

3. Sweat it out. Exercise. Use a sauna. Take hot showers and baths. These things will make you perspire and get your sweat glands functioning properly again. You may notice your underarm sweat being a little thick. This is because the sweat glands in your armpits are different from others on your body. Instead of just water and salt, these glands excrete amino acids. Your glands haven't been able to excrete these amino acids for a while, so there may be a buildup of mucous being released.

4. Stay hydrated. With all this sweating you need to replace your fluids!

5. Wear natural fibers. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and hemp will help wick perspiration away from your body. Synthetic fibers like acetate and polyester trap sweat in, giving bacteria a warm wet place to live. Synthetic fibers also hold sweat in the fabric, so bacteria actually starts growing on your shirt itself.

6. Cut the red meat. Many claim that the consumption of red meat increases body odor. For a full article on the subject, click here.

Now you've made the switch. Congratulations! But just because your new deodorant has pretty flowers on the label and says "natural," doesn't mean you're totally in the clear.

Even the "natural" deodorants you'll find at the store have questionable chemicals.

Ingredients to avoid:

  • Propylene Glycol is a penetration enhancer, actually breaking down your skins natural protective barrier and enters your bloodstream, bringing any other chemicals along with it.

  • Aloe Vera or water. While water and aloe vera themselves are not harmful ingredients, their presence means that there's got to be some type of synthetic preservative to keep it from going bad.

  • Fragrance may contain phlalates that are proven hormone distruptors, particularly affecting the way the female hormone estrogen works in your body (in men, women, and children). Tetrasodium EDTA is actually made from sodium cyanide (a toxic salt) and formaldehyde (a carcinogen).

  • Synthetic colors like FD&C Yellow and D&C Green are made from coal tar, and can be skin irritants, hormone distruptors, and formaldehyde donors.

  • Diazolidinyl Urea is a skin and immune system toxin, and has been shown to cause cancer in some studies. Commonly sourced as an extract from animal urine.

  • Triethanolamine (TEA) is made from ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen.

  • Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, iso, etc) can cause skin irritation and allergies and has been shown in many studies to be a hormone disruptor.

  • Quaternium-15 is a preservative that can contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Bronopol breaks down to create the carcinogens formaldehyde and nitrosamines according to the FDA.

  • Octoxynol and Nonoxynol are hormone disruptors and should be avoided by children and pregnant women in particular.

  • Triclosan has been shown to cause liver damage and hormone disruption. Ceteareth-20 (or 12) is used as a thickener and can be contaminated with carcinogens such as ethylene oxide and dioxane. It is also a neurotoxin, a skin irritant, and has been deemed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review an ingredient not safe for use on injured or damaged skin.

Okay, so enough of the doom and gloom. What ingredients are safe in a deodorant? Well, first off, make sure you're using a deodorant and not an anti-perspirant. Look for ingredients like:

  • organic oils

  • beeswax

  • organic essential oils

  • corn starch

  • arrowroot powder

  • baking soda

  • clays

Be sure to leave your comments below! Just click on comments and tell us what you think!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Soap vs. Detergent

There's a lot of confusion out there about detergents and soaps. Some companies say that their detergents "don't dry your skin out like soap" and some soap companies say their products "don't irritate skin like detergents." So who's right? What's better--a soap or a detergent? Let's start out with the basics by looking at how each is made.

Detergents (or surfactants) are synthetic compounds that have been created through a chemical process. The most widely-used detergent, sodium lauryl sulfate, is created by reacting sulfuric acid with dodecanol (a fatty alcohol) adding a few other chemicals, heating it up, adding more chemicals, and so forth. On average, there are about ten steps between the original raw materials and the final detergent. Soaps on the other hand, are created by mixing a fat (usually a vegetable oil) with caustic soda (like lye or potassium hydroxide). Soaps have been created like this for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years. Detergents, on the other hand, have only been around for a few decades.

It can be confusing because often detergents are packaged like soaps. Most of the commerically produced "soap" bars out there aren't really soaps at all. Look carefully at their packaging. Do they list a bunch of chemicals? Some common ones would be cocomidopropyl betaine and sodium laureth sulfate. If there are a lot of confusing chemicals listed, you've got a synthetic detergent. Legally, detergents cannot label themselves as soaps. You'll notice their packaging will say "facial bar" or "body cleansing bar." On the other hand, if the package lists oils and "saponified" oils, you're using a true soap, not a detergent. Detergents and true soaps can be both liquid and solid.

So, now that we've established the chemical differences between detergents and soaps, let's get down to the real question: what's better for my skin?

I've been asked this question a lot and a recent roadtrip from Salt Lake to Denver gave me a fresh perspective on the matter.

We drove at night through the cold and windy plateaus of Wyoming. Halfway through the trip, I noticed my hands had become extremely dry and papery. They looked like old witch hands! At first I thought it was my sleep deprivation. I hadn't slept much the night before and when I'm short on sleep my skin feels out of whack. But no, this was something else. The wind? The cold? Utah's just as cold and dry as Wyoming, so that shouldn't be it. Then it hit me: I had washed my hands at the pit stops along the way!

You know what I'm talking about--the gooey pink stuff that comes out of the dispensers at public restrooms. At home I've been exclusively using our bar soaps to wash my hands. But these detergents were stripping my skin! So that gives us our answer, right? Soaps are more gentle than detergents.


Let's rewind two and a half years.

When I first started doing research for Bubble and Bee, I ordered some organic liquid castille soap. I loved how it smelled and how it foamed up. But after using it on my hands, they turned into sandpaper. They were cracked and dry and I had to stop using it.

So, what's the deal? Are they both bad for your skin?

The real answer is that both soaps and detergents can be both harsh and both can be gentle on your skin. The hard part is knowing what to look for.

I've researched a lot of detergents and the only one that I allow in my products is decyl polyglucose. It's made from the sugar extracted from corn and I've used it at full strength on my skin. If you were to pour straight sodium lauryl sulfate on your skin it would burn. But I've poured decyl polyglucose at full strength on my skin and it doesn't irritate it at all. In fact, since I've got a big supply of it here, I use it as my dishwashing soap. It doesn't dry out my hands and gives me plenty of bubbles. I won't pretend that it's a truly natural substance, but as far as detergents go, it's the best out there. It scores a zero risk through the Enivronmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database and is highly biodegradable.

Soaps are the most natural option, however. The only time I use decyl polyglucose is when I can't use a soap. I can't add a soap to our salt scrubs because salt coagulates the soap. So, to get a nice safe lather in our salt scrubs, I use decyl polyglucose.

The key to finding a great soap is to look at the ingredients and the bar itself. Use bars that are made from vegetable oils, not animal fats. Vegetable oils like coconut, palm, and olive oils will be more gentle than animal fats. (Ivory and Dial, by the way, are made from animal fats sourced from rendering plants.) Also look for soaps with retained glycerin and even added glycerin. The more glycerin, the more gentle the soap will be. Glycerin is a natural component of oil that becomes separated from the oil when you make soap. Glycerin will actually draw moisture from the air to your skin, keeping it moist throughout the day. The softer the bar, the better. Softer bars usually mean more glycerin.

If you're looking for a true liquid soap (not a detergent) also look for those with added glycerin. Liquid castille soaps can be harsh, but those with added glycerin and oils will be more gentle on your skin. Formulas like our shower gels are an example of a true liquid soap with added glycerin and oils.

What are your experiences? Do you prefer detergents or soaps? I'd love to read and respond to your comments below.

Happy scrubbing!


Chemical Free Shower Gels Organic Soaps Organic Deodorants Organic Hand Lotion Organic Lip Balm Organic Gifts Organic Salts and Scrubs

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Blog for 2008!

Welcome to my new blog! Now you can leave your comments and questions for me! We are so excited to bring you the best in organic products. Our new coconut and lime lotion stick is selling like crazy because it smells soooo good! And check it out---we were just featured in the Salt Lake Tribune!

We're also excited to bring you organic Valentine's Day gifts and more, like 100% organic deodorants (our best sellers), 100% organic lip balms (crazy smooth), and chemical-free shower gels made with organic oils.

If you've never visited our site, be sure to check out our articles, videos, and all of our products!

If you ever have any questions about our products, don't hesitate to ask! E-mail me at