Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Picks Part 1: Makeup

One of the most frequently asked question I get is..."What do YOU use?"  People know that they can come to us for soap, deodorant, insect repellent, body butters and more...but for the products that we don't make, are there some that I recommend?  Here I have created my full list of product recommendations from dish soap to mascara, complete with handy links.  If you're wondering about additional products or categories, write in the comments and I'll try to add them to my list.  Because there are so many different products and categories I've split this up in to a series.  So, here's Part 1:

While there are no certified organic options on the market, there are a few that come close.  Now, keep in mind that there are no perfect options.  There will still be mineral pigments, micas, or other ingredients that aren't organic, but I've poured over countless brands and ingredients lists to come up with these recommendations.  Ingredients-wise, they are the best available.  Now, do keep in mind that I have not tried all of these products, so I can't speak for how they will work for your particular skin.  However, most of these companies offer sample sizes that you can try before you invest in a full-sized product. 

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.)

Do keep in mind, just because I recommend one product, does NOT mean that I recommend the entire line. 


Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Creme Foundation
This is what I use on the rare occasion that I wear makeup. It gives light coverage and has a nice silky feel.  It also doesn't irritate my skin like a lot of foundations do.  Natural Joy Beauty offers samples for $1 so you can try different shades and find out what works best for your skin.  Another great thing is that it contains non-nano zinc oxide, and, while it doesn't officially boast an SPF, the zinc oxide naturally offers UVA and UVB sun protection.  No separate SPF face cream needed!

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.

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.  


RMS Beauty Un-Cover Up

I have not tried it, but it gets some great reviews. (Some shades contain titanium dioxide.) She doesn't list the ingredients on her website clearly for each product (just a master list of ingredients used overall) so here is an ingredients list that I found on another site for our perusal:
*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
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

RMS Beauty Cream Eyeshadow


Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Eyeliner Pencils
(This is what I use.)

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. 

Liquid Eyeliner

100% Pure Creamy Liquid Eyeliner
See above for my opinion on 100% Pure.


Real Purity 


Meisha Cream Blush

RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek

Except for the "smile" shade which contains synthetic colorants.  Again, hard to find full ingredients listings on their website, so here it is:
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
Some shades do contain titanium dioxide.  You may want to e-mail RMS and find out if there's a shade you're interested in.


Miessence Lip Creme

Lip Colors by Lauren Brooke

Coastal Classic Creations

Lip Gloss

Botanical Lip Gloss by Lauren Brooke

Lip Liner

Lauren Brooke Lip Liner Pencils
*Note: some colors contain carmine.

I don't have any primers that I recommend.  That's because they are primarily used for loose powder foundations, which I don't recommend because of the potential to breathe in the mineral dust.

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.

Aquarella is probably one of the best ingredients-wise.  However, it does take some special care to use it.

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. (Can't find it online for some reason to link to it.)  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.  

Tomorrow: Part 2--Cleaning Products

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Understanding Sensitive Skin

Do you get frequent skin reactions to new products, or even those you've been using for years? You stop using the product and start thinking, "I guess I have sensitive skin!" Contrary to what might be expected, the phrase "sensitive skin" is not a medical term, but is used colloquially to describe a number of skin conditions.

We get asked a you have products for sensitive skin? Will your products be good for my sensitive skin? As simple a question this might seem to be, it's literally impossible to predict. There are so many different medical conditions that live under the umbrella of "sensitive skin." Some skin sensitivities are caused by contact allergies. Some by eczema, acne, rosacea or psoriasis. Others have a condition called dermatographism, when the skin reacts in hive-like bumps to simple touching. Internal conditions like anemia or hypothyroidism can also cause skin sensitivity. Certain medications can also create the side effects of skin sensitivities, dryness, peeling, etc. Food allergies are also a big culprit that cause eczema and acne. Hormonal imbalances, fatty acid imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, candida overgrowth, immune system impairment--all of these contribute to skin problems. Because there are so many individual factors that come in to play, there is not one product that will work for everyone. Not even water. (Someone with dermatographism could rub water on their skin, rub it just a little too hard and they'll break out.)

Our first inclination when we start to experience skin issues is to think about what we can put ON our skin. Having dry flaky skin that's peeling? Our first thought is to apply lotion. And then when that doesn't work, we try another lotion and another lotion until maybe you find something that will somewhat manage the symptom. But, until you figure out what's causing the eczema on the inside, you're only covering up the symptom and not treating the problem.

Last year I had a strange problem. My lips started peeling and wouldn't stop. Soon it developed in to a bright red ring all around my lips. It was extremely embarrassing, as here I make lip balm for a living! I learned that the condition is called cheilitis. After trying numerous things I finally visited a Naturopath. Turned out that it was caused by hormonal imbalances! I got them back in line by starting up on my flax seeds again (don't know how or why I would have been failing to take them!) and taking some supplements that she recommended. Two weeks later my lips were back to normal, along with my hormones.

Now, it just so happened that we came out with our pomegranate kiss lip balm at about the same time that my problem started. For months I thought that I was allergic to this lip balm. But now that I've gotten my internal balance back in check, I can use it, and every one of our lip balms, with no issues whatsoever. It wasn't the culprit, but, again, we always have a tendency to look to the external when it comes to skin conditions. When a skin condition pops up, we tend to think "what did I put ON my skin that caused this?  When in fact, in so many cases, the products that we've been applying to our skin have nothing to do with the problem or the solution. Our skin is an organ that's kind of the great indicator of something that's going awry inside our bodies. (Of course there are plenty of exceptions and many true contact allergies, but the point still remains that we need to look at the body as a whole, and not just at the one organ that has visual symptoms.)

Many times drugs are to blame. Accutane is one of the biggest ones. The use of accutane and similar drugs will treat acne, but later in life, it can cause skin sensitivity, especially to sunlight, where skin becomes easily burned. In fact, any drug can cause eczema, hives, or other skin eruptions. "Almost any medicine can induce skin reactions, and certain drug classes, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics and antiepileptics, have drug eruption rates approaching 1–5%" (Source.) So, if you have developed mysterious skin issues, you may want to visit with your doctor about the medications that you are taking.

Another consideration to dry, itchy, sensitive or irritated skin, is the water in your home.  Chlorinated water can cause a host of skin problems.  Hard water can also leave irritating deposits on your skin.  Simple shower head filters can make a big difference (or a whole-house filtration/softening system as well.)

Of course, everyone's skin is different, and there are true contact allergies to substances, whether they're synthetic chemical or an organic herb.  But always keep in mind that our skin is a reflection of what's going on inside the body, and my suggestion is to look at internal, as well as external causes when you're dealing with sensitive skin.