Simple Advice for Healthy Skin

Skin Detox unscented soap made with organic oils and cosmetic clay

Skin Detox unscented soap made with organic oils and cosmetic clay

Hi Mary,

Nice to make your virtual acquaintance! I was talking with our friend, Sarah, recently about natural skin care solutions – I don’t really know a lot about the subject, but I’ve found myself buying more and more expensive products while wondering if there’s a better way to take care of my skin. I asked Sarah if she had ever tried any homemade skin solutions, and she referred me to you 🙂

My biggest trouble is moisturizing – my skin seems to dry out a lot, and I also get small, single hives on my face pretty regularly, which exacerbates the redness and irritation. Do you know of anything that might calm that down?

Katie

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Hi Katie,

I don’t claim to be an expert on skin care, but I can point you in the right direction. I have had a long-time routine of washing my face with just soap (real soap made with oils, not commercial “soap” which is actually petroleum-based detergent), then using a light moisturizer. The simpler, the better. I also stay away from foundation, which tends to clog my pores and dry out my skin.

Many facial products contain chemicals that can dry out and irritate your skin. I recommend that you check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, which lists various personal care products that don’t contain harsh chemicals. You can also look up the ingredients in your current products to see if they are associated with irritation, etc.

Also, it seems that our skin is like the canary in the coal mine, letting us know that something we are putting on our skin or in our bodies is hurting our systems in a bigger way. Here are links to a couple of articles on the most commonly found harmful ingredients in personal care products, one from Care2 and the other from Mother Earth Living magazine.

It also helps to keep an eye on your diet. You might want to keep a food diary for a month to see if there are any correlations between what you are eating and any hives you develop. I, for example, have found that if I eat certain foods, I am more prone to breakouts or hives the same or following day.

Hope this helps, and please feel free to ask me to clarify any of this.

Thanks!
Mary

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Cleaning Up the Greenwash

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

Back in July, I moved back to Arizona and I’m now newest member of the my Econista friend’s household. With the move came a shift of my lifestyle to the greener side of things, one of them being greener household cleaners. Basically the only things we use are vinegar, baking soda, and thieves all purpose cleaner.

More people are using natural cleaning methods because most cleaning products on the market contain chemicals and toxins that create indoor air pollution and can lead to health side effects such as lung damage.

Because there is no industry certification for what is “natural” or “eco-friendly” or “healthy,” household cleaner manufacturers can get away with greenwashing their products. So the Environmental Working Group (EWG) launched their “Online Guide to Healthy Cleaning” a few weeks ago, to let consumers have a better idea of what’s in their products and what effects these products might have on their consumers. Unlike food and cosmetics, it is not required that cleaning products list all of their ingredients, so EWG had to do some real digging to determine the full ingredient lists.

Like EWG’s Skin Deep Database, the Online Guide to Healthy Cleaning really surprised me with the items that got a bad grade. Here’s an example: When I think toxic cleaners for some reason the first thing that popped into my head was Windex. So I typed in Windex, expecting to have a bad grade come up, which it did. Windex Original Glass Cleaner got the grade of D, so did Windex Nature’s Source Glass Cleaner and Windex Multi-Surface Vinegar Cleaner. So I wanted to try a more eco brand, thinking for sure the eco brand would get a better score. I looked at Seventh Generation’s window cleaner, Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner, Free & Clear, the score was better, but not by much, with a C grade, mainly because of the ingredient methylisothiazolinone. Frustrated, I clicked on the category “Glass/ Window Cleaner” to see who could best the C grade. Turns out of the 49 glass cleaners out there, 4 received an A: Simple Green Naturals Glass & Surface Care, Rosemary Mint; Whole Foods Market glass cleaner, unscented; Green Shield Organic Glass Cleaner, Fresh; and Citra-Solv Citra Clear Window & Glass Cleaner.

For the record, there are simple homemade DIY recipes out there, including pure vinegar; you can check them out here. Or try our Four Thieves Vinegar or All-Purpose Cleaner recipes! Happy Non-toxic cleaning everyone! Have any favorites?

We Are the Champions, My Friends

Today, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a new report, Market Shift, which documents how they worked with cosmetics industry leaders over the past 7 years to raise awareness about personal care product safety. Through the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, companies voluntarily pledge to avoid chemicals banned in other countries, avoid harmful ingredients whenever possible and fully disclose their product ingredients. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, increasing consumer demand for products made without hazardous chemicals has made natural and safe cosmetics the fastest-growing segment of the $50 billion cosmetics industry. This is great news for consumers looking for healthy options, and great news for companies that work hard to provide the safest, purest products for them.

I am proud to announce that Herban Lifestyle is one of the 432 companies that have achieved “Champion” or “Innovator” status by meeting the goals of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Compact for Safe Cosmetics! In fact, Herban Lifestyle achieved Champion status, which means that we:

• Comply with the European Union’s Cosmetics Directive, widely considered the global gold standard of cosmetics safety regulation,

• Disclose all ingredients, including ingredients in “fragrance,” which in the United States can be claimed as “confidential business information,” even when it contains hormone disruptors, carcinogens and other harmful chemicals,

• Publish and regularly update product information in EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database,

• Comply with any additional ingredient prohibitions and restrictions under the Compact and substitute ingredients of concern with safer alternatives, and

• Participate in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

If you go to the Campaign’s Skin Deep Database, you will see that Herban Lifestyle products contain the safest ingredients available.

Market Shift shows how the Champions and Innovators (who range from small mom-and-pop businesses to some of the largest businesses in the natural products sector) are working toward higher standards of safety for personal care products, and are doing so successfully. As Mia Davis, organizing director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said, “Their ability and willingness to work toward the Compact requirements shows not only that it is possible to make products that far exceed current safety standards in the United States, but also that making safe personal care products can be part of a successful business model.”

[Note: I have seen similar posts to this one on other sites that have attracted comments emphatically stating that there is no need for safer cosmetics because the FDA already assures that cosmetics are safe. It is true that the FDA has standards around cleanliness of facilities and non-contaminated products, which is very important. But safety in this context means that a product doesn’t have the potential to put you and your family at higher risk for cancer, diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases that are not as immediately apparent as a rash, but certainly have more dire long-term effects. For more details, please see the President’s Cancer Panel Report, which was released in April 2010. Also, today’s news on the FDA and contaminated cosmetics products indicates there is still some work to be done in this area, too.]

Discovering the Beauty of Natural Products

This post was written by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s sustainability intern

I recently started an internship with Herban Lifestyle. I got the position in part because of the knowledge about natural beauty I had gained from my experience at ecocentricity!, an eco-friendly gift shop in Phoenix, AZ that sells, among other things, bath and beauty products from locally-owned businesses. Last month, I returned to Phoenix to pay a visit to my Alma Mater for an Alumni reception and to visit my friends and “Phoenix Family” that I had left behind six months ago. I had only started interning a few weeks prior and was not only learning about the natural, organic, and fair trade ingredients found in Herban Lifestyle products, but found myself obsessively checking out labels on any bath products I came in contact with.

On my second day back in Arizona, I woke at 6:30 am to help my organic, natural, locavore and thoroughly earthy-crunchy former roommate sell locally-made tamales at the farmer’s market (something she does every morning). I had a wonderful time walking around the market sampling salsas, peanut brittle, chocolate, cupcakes, desserts, and of course tamales. I was also excited to see the natural beauty products there, since I am now an expert! I read many labels and was tickled to spot ingredients that I had just entered into the Skin Deep Database for Herban Lifestyle. There was a smorgasbord of soaps, lotion, lip balms, deodorants, shampoos, massage oils, and facial scrubs. Some were really creative, with exfoliants such as natural and plastic loofah embedded into the soap. This reminded me of the exfoliating properties of our Fuzzy Soaps, which have a built-in wool “washcloth” on the outside. I discovered lotion in solid form, that came in a tube like deodorant. I later found you can get solid perfumes in a tube, too. There were even cosmetics made out of goat’s milk, which was a new concept for me.

I collected these vendors’ cards and headed over to ecocentricity to tell my former boss about all the fun, local, bath and beauty products products that she could potentially carry. At the store, I saw a lot of new natural soap that comes in loaves so customers can purchase as much as they want and pay by the ounce. I also saw my old favorite lip butter, which comes in an array of natural flavors, and my mascara made from tea and blackberries.

In the store, there was a display calling attention to the Skin Deep Database, explaining that some products that are ranked highly toxic even though they claim they are “natural.”  I smiled when I recalled the time I had spent entering products from Herban Lifestyle’s new Naked Line into the database, all of which scored a 0 or 1 (on a scale of 0 to 10) for toxicity.

Entering products into the Skin Deep Database made me more aware of the importance of knowing what ingredients are in my personal care products. I have not used a lot of cosmetics in my life. so I feel good knowing I haven’t been smothering my face in toxins. But now I am working on replacing my soaps and shampoos that I had no idea were bad for me and the planet (I am really digging the Herban Lifestyle Deeply Herbal Shampoo Bar). That’s one more earthy-crunchy step I’m taking to reduce my ecological footprint, and reduce my exposure to environmental toxins.

Safe Cosmetics

safecosmeticsLead in lipstick?! Carcinogens in baby shampoo?! Are any bath and body products safe?

Luckily, there’s the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, where you can look up virtually any product on the market and discover what’s really in your products, and which products are safe. If your product isn’t listed, you can look up the individual ingredients. Associated with this is the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which asks companies to sign a pledge to abide by EU standards. Companies that sign the pledge register their products and ingredients in the Skin Deep Database, and abide by a set of standards that ensure full disclosure of the safety of their products. You can support the Campaign in many ways, big and small, from becoming a fan on Facebook, to starting a grassroots movement in your community! Herban Lifestyle has signed the pledge. Encourage your other favorite body product company to sign, too!