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!