Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Easy DIY Acne Cleanser

With the holidays upon us, I've noticed that my skin is a little more prone to breakouts - predictably, as I've allowed myself more sugar & alcohol than usual. While I am working harder to manage my diet (see my tips here for how to enjoy the holidays without weight gain), I also turned to one of my favorite beauty resources, Beauty by Nature by Brigitte Mars, for a DIY blemish remedy. Fortunately, I found one that was extremely simple to make, smells fabulous, and seems to work as well as conventional acne treatments.

Witch hazel is anti-inflammatory (it can be used to soothe all sorts of topical inflammation, from poison ivy to hemorrhoids) and lavender is an antiseptic - making these ingredients a great pair to combat topical blemishes.

Enjoy - and good luck keeping your skin clear for all your holiday parties!

DIY Lavender Acne Cleanser/Toner 
1/4 c. witch hazel
20 drops lavender essential oil

Mix ingredients together in a clean bottle. Shake gently to combine before each use. Moisten a cotton ball with the solution & apply to washed skin - especially problem areas. Avoid the eye area.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Supple Apothecary, Arcona & Soulstice

This post is loooong overdue! When I was home on the Cape in August, my mom & I stumbled upon an amazing refuge in Orleans called Supple Apothecary. The name sounded inviting enough, but once we saw the sub-header on their storefront sign ("berkeley ca + orleans ma"), I knew I was going to love this place.

The best part about Supple Apothecary is its proprietor, Alison Supple-Evans. She's friendly & fun - by the time I left we'd exchanged business cards and made plans to 'jam' over Thanksgiving (her husband's a musician). Also impressive are the beautiful and luxurious product lines she carries. She hooked me up with a free sample of Arcona's Basic Five Normal Skin Type package, and I bought 3 bottles of pastel Soulstice Nail Colour polishes.

Arcona's Basic Five Normal Skin Type package
Arcona products get splendid ratings from EWG's Cosmetics Database, so I didn't have to worry about using them on my skin. And they felt soooo gooood ... my skin felt plump and protected after slathering them on. The scents took a little while to get used to, but knowing that the ingredients are cold-processed from natural sources like essential oils and sea vegetables was more important to me than fragrance. According to the company, their products never contain petrochemicals, parabens, sodium lauryl sulphates, perfumes, dyes or any other caustic ingredients. This is a great line for someone who likes a high-class, cosmeceutical-type product but values health & safety and wants to keep their personal care products toxin-free.

So many formaldehyde-free nail polish lines are boring when it comes to the colors they offer. That's why I was thrilled to find a trio of trend-right pastel colors from Soulstice. Their polishes are vegan & free of dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene (the "big three" when it comes to nail polish toxins). I'm still wearing them as summer winds down, and I know they'll still be fashionable as Easter 2013 rolls around.

Supple is officially my new favorite. They offer facials & gift certificates for long-distance daughters who want to pamper their mamas. I just love that combination of luxury products with down-home friendliness ... the perfect mix of my West Coast city & East Coast townie sensibilities!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Product Line: Welstar Organics

OK, warning: I'm about to gush. I stumbled upon Welstar Organics yesterday while I was running errands on Cape Cod with my mom. I saw the sign out front touting organic body care products and almost grabbed the steering wheel right out of her hands to pull over. Could it be? A place to buy healthy, safe & effective skincare products in Orleans?

Oh yes it could - and even better, they have a website where they sell their products online so you don't have to be on the East Coast to reap the benefits of Welstar's products!

The store is cozy and charming, and the proprietor/founder/herbalist/aromatherapist, Mahara Ashlie, couldn't be sweeter (or more knowledgeable). She walked us through each section of the store in detail and answered all my questions about efficacy and ingredients. Her line is extensive, with products ranging from facial care to topical therapeutics to baby formulations. My favorites (as you might have guessed from my earlier post about sunscreen and bug spray) were her "Outdoor Essentials," which include an insect bite reliever, a bug repellent, and an all-natural non-mineral sunscreen. My mom snapped up the Ruby Glow Lip & Cheek Tint and the Sinus Drops for my dad's neti-pot.

The products are natural, organic, and vegan (no beeswax even!), and some of the prices reflect that level of quality.

My insect bite reliever worked like a charm, and the bug repellent was amazingly effective too - although my friend Phoebe did have to ask whether I was wearing patchouli when we went out for cocktails later that evening. Not a scent with which I like to be associated. But most of the products are scented with much more pleasantly-smelling oils (...and, truth be told, I may have been a little heavy-handed on the bug spray. I've been getting eaten alive, for chrissakes!).

This place is a dream come true for anyone who's searching for non-toxic personal care products. Get thee to their website now! And if you're lucky enough to live on the Cape, stop in and tell Mahara I sent you.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Product Review: Sephora Collection Mineral Foundation Compact

Hunting around for an effective, non-toxic version of an everyday staple can be challenging. There are so many products on the market to consider, and lots of false advertising that requires a closer look. Yes, it's important - especially when it's a product you use on the daily - but it sure ain't easy.

That's why it's so exciting to find something that meets all your critera, or at least comes close. And so it is with joy that I share with you Sephora's Mineral Foundation Compact. With a 2 rating at the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Database, it's not completely non-toxic, but it's close enough for me (and seems much safer than the BareMinerals foundation I used to use, which gets a 7). Better still, this product works - it offers a solid coverage that can be layered as needed. It comes with a dual-sided sponge, but I use it with my BareMinerals brushes and I love the effect. It provides the matte finish and superior blend for which mineral makeups are revered. Highly recommend!

Many of the ingredients in this compact are not researched or regulated, so data related to their safety is limited. I've provided links about each below in case you'd like to read more.
Ethylhexyl Palmitate
Zinc Stearate
Sodium Dehydroacetate
(+/-) :
Ci 77491 (Iron Oxides)
Ci 77492 (Iron Oxides)
Ci 77499 (Iron Oxides)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Product Review: Badger Anti-Bug Sunscreen

I'm on vacation! And for me, that always entails heading to my childhood home on Cape Cod. Living in San Francisco, I never have to worry about sunscreen or bugs, but the Cape is an entirely different story. In preparation, I closely perused the Environmental Working Group's Safe Sunscreen Guide and headed over to my local Pharmaca.

I am a big fan of efficiency and multi-tasking, so I picked up this Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 34 Anti-Bug Sunscreen. Scented with citronella and cedar, it may be too fragrant for some but I personally like its light lemony aroma. Its power as a sunscreen is undeniable (I'm still as white as a sheet!) and so far, no bug bites. Score!

The formula uses the mineral zinc oxide as its sunscreen source, which is a safe and effective choice. When applying, the zinc creates a whitish cast that takes a bit longer than most sunscreens to rub in. If you can get past that annoyance (which you'll find in many non-toxic sunscreens), you'll find this to be a worthy contender for your beach bag. Surf's up!

Non-Nano Uncoated Zinc Oxide 20%
Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Certified Organic Beeswax
Certified Organic Castor Oil
Certified Organic Citronella Oil
Certified Organic Lemongrass Oil
Certified Organic Cedar Oil
Certified Organic Rosemary Oil
Certified Organic Geranium Oil

Thursday, July 19, 2012

DIY Frizz-Ease Hair Serum

Summer is here, and on the East Coast that means humidity and crazy hair. Even the finest of hair can get frizzy in the summer haze. My mom stumbled upon this easy way to tame flyaways accidentally, and found that it worked better than any product she's tried. Here in San Francisco, we don't get too much humidity, but I've found that this simple serum doubles as a style setting serum - apply a few drops to the ends of your hair, curl away and voila! Your curls will set for DAYS. It's amazing!

Ready for the secret recipe?

Oil, any type (my mom used Vitamin E oil w/ safflower, I use jojoba or olive or shea butter. Argan oil is all the rage at the moment for hair, but you really don't need to spend a fortune!)

Ummmm - that's it! Just go in your kitchen, take a few drops of oil & apply to the ends of your hair or wherever you need frizz control. Use sparingly - you don't want to be too greasy, and you can always layer it if you need more. If you want it to smell amazing, try using coconut oil or adding 1-2 drops essential oil to the mix.

Enjoy your newfound frizz-free locks!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What's So Bad About Parabens, Anyway?

Lately there has been lots of news about parabens - synthetic chemicals that are used as preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products. They're pretty easy to identify on ingredients labels - just look for the -paraben suffix, e.g., ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. According to the FDA, preservatives like parabens are "used in cosmetics to protect them against microbial growth, both to protect consumers and to maintain product integrity."

According to the Environmental Working Group, parabens are endocrine disruptors, which means that they can bind to hormone receptor sites in the human body and interfere with normal function. Currently there is a controversy over what constitutes an acceptable level of exposure to these types of chemicals (Dowdle, H., 2012). With parabens implicated in health hazards ranging from breast cancer to fertility to birth defects (EWG), more and more consumers are choosing to avoid them.

Natural preservatives do exist (think about how food has been traditionally preserved: salt, alcohol, pickling, freezing, etc.). And many cosmetic lines are now producing paraben-free products. As with food, reading labels is essential in selecting safe cosmetics.

Dowdle, H. (2012). Outside Job. Whole Living, 67. 103-107.