Non Toxic Nail Care

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I am always looking for ways to non toxify my beauty routines, and today I’m talking nails.  Most mainstream nail polish brands have altered their formulas to remove the “toxic trio”, that consists of Formaldehyde, Toluene and Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), and now label themselves as “3 Free”.  Although this is great, these polishes still unfortunately carry other toxic chemicals.  Now for the good news!  There are great choices out there for brands that are non toxic.  My new favorite right now is Scotch.  They have beautiful colors and are vegan, cruelty free, gluten-free, fragrance free, toxin free, paraben free, hypoallergenic and biodegradable!  To top it off they have an adorable kids line called Hopscotch.  It always kills me when I see a little girl in a salon having a fun, girls day with her mom while getting toxic paint put on her nails.  So next time, bring your own!  Your best bet is doing your nails at home or finding a non toxic nail salon (a salon that only uses non toxic polishes and doesn’t do acrylics, etc), so that you aren’t breathing in the toxic fumes.  But at the very least, bring your own non toxic polish to any salon and don’t forget your own non toxic base and top coat too!   

To remove polish at home, I found these great nail polish remover pads at Whole Foods from a brand called Gabriel.  At first, I thought, “oh no, these aren’t working”, but give it a couple of seconds of rubbing and it will take all the polish off.

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Happy painting!!

Review: May Lindstrom Skin Collection

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Back in November, I posted an interview with the lovely Spirit Demerson of Spirit Beauty Lounge.  In that post I expressed my extreme joy and gratitude for the lovely box of natural/non toxic goodies that Spirit sent to me to try, and I promised to share with you any products that I loved.  After testing them out over the last few months, I am now ready to share some of  my favorites!  The first product I would like to introduce you to is actually a few products from a skin care line by May Lindstrom.  May is a model and make up artist who spent 3 years developing this line of luxurious skin care products that are made with bio dynamic, organic and all natural ingredients and never any chemicals.  Below are my three favorite products.  They feel luxurious, well made, effective, yet simple.  They are not your typical cleanser, mask and moisturizer, and takes a little getting used to, but I have learned to love the ritual of using these products and my skin truly glows afterwards.  I hope you all get a chance to experience the magic for yourselves!

1) The Clean Dirt: A cleansing clay, this cleanser comes in powder form and gets activated when you add a few drops of water.   It is made with a blend of cleansing clays, warming spices and healing salts and is like a daily micro-dermabrasion.  My experience: It is a brown powder so when activated with water can get a bit messy, also you don’t want to put it on your eye area to remove make up.  So, I use it whenever I am getting into the shower and don’t have any make up on.  That way, it doesn’t matter if it’s messy, cause you are in the shower, and your face is already free of make up and ready to be exfoliated, leaving you free to enjoy the primal feeling of rubbing clay all over your face.

2) The Youth Dew: A hydrating facial serum made with 20 regenerating plant and botanical oils and is infused with CoEnzyme Q10, known to rejuvenate skin cells. My experience: This is essentially a moisturizing oil.  It is in a small bottle, but you only use 1-2 pumps, so it lasts a really long time.  It smells absolutely amazing and soaks in nicely.  I personally feel like it is a tad too oily to use under make up, so if I plan on putting make up on, I use a squirt of my daily moisturizer and I mix in a drop or two of the youth Dew.  At night I use 2 pumps of The Youth Dew only and wake up with soft, supple, clear skin. I’m obsessed with this product!

3) The Problem Solver: A corrective mask made of antioxidant-rich cacao, healing bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients, salts and warming spices.  This mask comes in powder form and activates with water to purify, tighten pores, fight & heal blemishes, detoxify and jump-start circulation.  My experience: This sh*t is intense!!!  It gives a serious burning/tingling sensation, but don’t get scared, as that will diminish as it dries.  I was afraid that my skin my be red afterwards because it feels so intense, but quite the opposite, my pores were tight and my skin was even-toned and glowing. I’m hooked.

You can find all of these products at Spirit Beauty Lounge  here.

Profile: Spirit Demerson

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Have you ever dreamt of a website that only carries the most luxurious, effective, non toxic skin care and beauty products?  A place where you could trust that each product has been vetted out by someone who believes that high performance skin and beauty products should also be non toxic to us and the environment?  Well, your dreams have become a reality with Spirit Beauty Lounge.  I had the pleasure of meeting Spirit Demerson, founder of Spirit Beauty Lounge, at the NYC Premiere of my documentary, GMO OMG.  She is a natural beauty (inside and out) and I wanted to pick her brain a bit about her company and her thoughts on skin care and make up.  I told her how I have managed to switch to non toxic products in almost all areas of my life, but that there are still a few make up products that I just haven’t been able to find healthy alternatives for.  Spirit generously offered to take the list of products I wish to replace and send me a bunch of new, healthy alternatives to try out!  I just received the glorious box of goodies in the mail this week and I am SO excited to give them all a try!  I am going to chronicle my experience with the transition, as well as share any products I find that I think are must haves for all of you.  So check back soon for updates on my journey!

Is your real name Spirit?
My real California-hippie-parent-given name is Spirit Ireland Demerson.
 
What inspired you to start Spirit Beauty Lounge?
I spent a lifetime trying to reconcile my love of luxury beauty products, with my commitment to health and sustainability.  I longed for a place where one could shop for products that were all as green and clean as they were beautiful. That didn’t exist, so I created it!
 
Is it possible to get the same performance as conventional products in natural skin care and make up products?
Generally I wouldn’t say the “same” but in most cases I would actually say natural performs better – it’s our expectations that tend to be off. Especially with skin care, many conventional products are formulated to give the immediate appearance or sensation of improvement, but not long-term, skin balancing, nourishing and strengthening results that we get from natural.  There are certain areas where natural will never compare to synthetic, but by and large it has always been superior.  We should remember, the reason chemists in labs synthesized most of the cosmetic ingredients out there was not to improve on nature, or because effective natural ingredients were lacking, but rather to mimic nature, at a much, much cheaper cost.
 
What is the worst common ingredient that people should avoid and why?
I wish this were an easy question to answer.  Just for perspective, the EU bans over 1,000 ingredients from use in cosmetics, the US bans 10.  Even the new Whole Foods Premium Body Care Standard bans over 400 ingredients.  It would be careless to pick one, or even 12, and think that everything is OK except for products that have those ingredients.  With thousands and thousands of unregulated ingredients in use in US cosmetics, I believe the better solution, for women who aren’t completely obsessive ingredients researchers like myself, is to look at this backwards;  If you can’t memorize a list of several hundred ingredients to avoid – buy only the ones you know and trust.  In most of the products you’ll find on spiritbeautylounge.com, you’ll recognize 90% of the ingredients as the types of things you’d eat (think: argan oil, licorice root, sea algae…).  Anything you don’t, look it up.  You’ll start to get familiar with the chemical-sounding-but-good-for-you ones like “Caprylic Capric Triglycerides” (a fraction of coconut oil).  This is why starting in a store that’s already done a lot of the work for you is so helpful, if you’re looking to shop better.
 
What are your top three favorite natural beauty products of the moment?
May Lindstrom Skin Clean Dirt
Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence
Kjaer Weis Blush in Desired Glow
 
Why are natural products more expensive than conventional products?
They really aren’t.  I think that’s a misconception.  The more you know about the cheap synthetic stuff that goes into products, the more you’ll find that what’s really overpriced is most everything you find in department store beauty counters.  Their minimal-benefit ingredients cost a tiny fraction of the markup you pay.  With a jar of RMS Beauty Un Cover Up you’re getting skin nourishing, anti-aging natural ingredients, that can cost nearly what you pay! With a silicone based designer product of the same price, it’s not multi-benefit or skin nourishing, and what you pay can be 20 times the cheap ingredient cost.
 
What is your recommendation for women who want to start the switch to natural products?  Where should they begin?
I know it can be overwhelming, you start to look around at everything you’re using and think “Oh no! I have to start all over figuring out what works for me!”  This is why I like to think of SBL as a service, and not just a store.  Our beauty experts, and myself, know exactly what that’s like and we specialize in transitioning.  You tell us what you’re using now, and we find the best way and the best products to crossover!
 
What is the best way for us to find out if a product we are using contains harmful ingredients?
Statistically, (if you use conventional personal care products) the odds are, it does.  The questions is: to what degree are you being exposed to them? I used to challenge my loved ones to pick any product they use daily – shampoo, lotion, lip balm… and look up the MSDS and research data on each ingredient in just that one item.  Then ask, “Am I OK with this going into my bloodstream?”  There are some products you may use on special occasions, and even then, only apply them to your nails or eyelashes – I’d say the exposure there is not something to stress about.  But think of the products you use frequently, in particular those you apply to and leave on the skin, knowing that you’re absorbing up to 65% of that into your bloodstream.  Toxins are a part of life on this planet, and unavoidable.  But consider the cumulative effects of that amount of exposure through the skin, and whether that’s something you’re really comfortable with.
 
If you could give some beauty advice to my readers, what would it be?
It’s cliché, but I learn more and more every day, that it truly comes from the inside out.  Making your health and vitality a priority as a woman, will without question, lead to you being more beautiful, and radiating more beauty, than anything you’re “giving up” ever could have.
 
What is a saying you live by?
Beauty is as beauty does.
 

The perfect nude lipstick!

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I have been searching high and low for the perfect nude lipstick for years!  They are either too pink or too brown, so I end up having to mix a crazy concoction of 2 lipsticks, a liner and a gloss to get the look I’m going for.  Well, not only have I found the perfect nude lipstick, but it happens to be from my favorite non toxic line, BITE!  It is their Luminous Creme Lipstick in Retsina, and it is amazing.  (In the picture above, I am wearing it with BITE Crayon Contour Lipliner in Cashew)

The perfect oil for your skin: Jojoba Oil

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It took me a while to get into putting oil on my skin.  I mean, it goes against everything that we have been taught!  “Oil will clog your pores”, “oil causes zits”, etc.  Well, I’ve learned a few things that really turned it all around for me.  First of all, your skin needs oil to be balanced.  So if you are terrified of oil, and constantly washing, blotting, and/or using drying products, your skin is actually going to become more oily!  Why?  Cause it is smart!!  It starts to over produce oil to try to give back your skin the nourishment it needs.  Unfortunately, this can lead to more skin problems.  So, the lesson is, if you are giving your skin the moisture it needs, it will not over produce oil.  Secondly, not all oils are created equal.  Sure, if you rub grease from your pizza slice on your face, you will probably break out.  You want to use all-natural, unheated, raw, organic oils.  I used to use coconut oil on my face and body, which I still do occasionally, but I recently learned why Jojoba oil is a better choice.  Jojoba oil is a natural antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.  It is a non greasy, dry oil that soaks into your skin quickly.  The number one reason why it is best for your skin is because, out of all oils, Jojoba most closely resembles human sebum.  Therefore your skin can easily absorb and utilize it.  It will keep your skin moisturized, balanced and looking youthful!  I put it on my arms and legs (a little goes a long way) and I add a drop or two to my moisturizer when I’m feeling dry or straight on my face if I’m feeling super dry.  The brand I use is NOW Foods Organic Jojoba Oil.  Give it a try!

Profile: Rachel Winard

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Most of you know that I am obsessed with Soapwalla’s deodorant cream, I mean, I talk about it all the time.  If you haven’t heard, check out the post I wrote about it a while back here.  Well, Soapwalla is not only the makers of the most amazing natural deodorant, they (or shall I say “she”) make a host of wonderful, luxurious, all-natural products.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Soapwalla’s founder and master chef, Rachel Winard.   Not only does she give some great advice of what ingredients to steer clear of when purchasing beauty products, but she has graciously offered The Daily Tonic readers a 10% discount on all Soapwalla products until July 7th!!  Check out our interview below and the discount code at the bottom of this post.

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Me: What inspired you to start Soapwalla?

Rachel: Out of sheer necessity! I have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune illness that can manifest itself in a number of ways. Like others who suffer from lupus, I get terrible skin rashes, hives, and irritated skin patches. When it was at its worst, I could barely use water on my skin without irritation.  Soapwalla was born one late night in early 2002, after months of unsuccessfully hunting for face and body products that wouldn’t aggravate my skin. I tried everything on the market I could find, without luck, and finally decided to start making my own products that were as healthy and wholesome as possible. The product line grew from there.

Me: What are your three favorite Soapwalla products and why?

Rachel: (1) Deodorant cream, because it works! (I also love the smell and application method.) (2) My restorative face serum, it’s the only thing I’ve tried that doesn’t exacerbate my lupus-related skin sensitivities. (3) My luxurious body oil because it’s my favorite scent on the planet, feels like liquid velvet, and instantly absorbs into the skin!

Me: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about conventional beauty products?

Rachel: Ooh, great question! This fact always sticks in my mind: Of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products, 89% have never been evaluated for safety. And of the measly 1,150 (11%) that have been tested, the US National Institute of Occupational Safety lists 884 of them as toxic – classified as possible human carcinogens. That’s insane to me.

Me: What is the number one ingredient that you think consumers should avoid?

Rachel: Petrochemical byproducts (mineral oil, ingredients ending in ‘myreth,’ ‘oleth,’ ‘laureth,” etc, PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, and several others). Mineral oil, for example, is a byproduct of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. It’s a hydrocarbon, abundant and very cheap to produce. Petrochemical byproducts can also be highly toxic to not only the environment but our bodies as well, and at least one industrial process – ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to create surfactants found in soap, detergents and even medications – requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical ethylene oxide, which generates 1,4-dioxane as a by-product. Fun stuff!

Me: If you could give women one piece of advice regarding skin care, what would it be?

Rachel: Less is more! Our skin is incredibly intuitive. When we bombard our bodies with dozens of products on a daily basis, we create confusion and imbalance. When in doubt, or when your skin seems to be acting up, pare down your skin care regimen. When my skin is particularly reactive, I use finely ground oats to cleanse, my hydrating toning mist to hydrate and prep, and restorative face serum for moisturizer. That’s it.

Me: What do you think the biggest misconception of natural beauty products is?

Rachel: That they aren’t as effective or as beautiful as conventional products.

Me: Some companies claim to be “all natural” but still contain harmful ingredients.  How can one be sure that they are really buying something that is non toxic?

Rachel: This shouldn’t be the consumer’s responsibility, but unfortunately it’s on us to read every label carefully, and to do due diligence to ensure we know what every ingredient means.

Me: Some women can’t afford to buy all natural products (shampoo, cleanser, moisturizer, make up, etc).  If they could only afford one in their beauty routine, which do you think is most important?

Rachel: Whatever you use the most of – for me, that’s body oil. I cover myself head to toe in body oil (I even use it as a hair texturizer!). Whatever you expose yourself most to, whether it be sunscreen, lotion, perfume — that’s what I’d recommend changing first.

Me:  Fill in the blanks:  Your skin is __________, treat it with __________.

Rachel: Your skin is your largest organ, treat it with love and respect.

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*To receive 10% off your purchase of any Soapwalla products, visit http://soapwallakitchen.com/ and use the discount code 13YDT10.  Enjoy!

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Safe Sunscreen!- EWG’s 2013 Sunscreen Guide

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The same organization that brought you the Guide to Healthy Cosmetics and the Guide to Healthy Cleaning, has now brought you a Guide to Safe Sunscreens! The Environmental Working Group is the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization.  Their mission is to serve as a watchdog to see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment. I am so thankful for the work that they do.  So before you start slathering on the sunscreen this summer, search your products on EWG’s Guide to Safe Sunscreens to make sure what you are using is safe and non toxic!

Good day sunshine: Non toxic sunscreen and why to leave it home every once in a while

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Spring is here and Summer is just around the corner, and with that comes the sun.  I personally love the sun…always have.  I love the way it feels on my skin, I love rockin’ a little tan and it just makes me happy.  I do believe we have to be careful in the sun, but I don’t think we have to freak out and keep ourselves completely slathered in sunscreen.  I don’t love using sunscreen for a couple of reasons.  1) I personally think you are more likely to get cancer from the chemicals in typical sunscreen than from the sun itself, and 2) Vitamin D plays a huge role in the health of our bodies and immune systems and your body will not produce Vitamin D if you are wearing sunscreen.

Vitamin D helps in absorbing calcium and promotes bone growth.  Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and other maladies. These studies show that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease, although they do not definitively prove that lack of vitamin D causes disease — or that vitamin D supplements would lower risk.  You can get a simple blood test at your doctor’s office to check for vitamin D deficiency.  If you are low, you can take a supplement, but make sure you get a liquid D3 which is most absorbable by the body.  The brand I used while pregnant is Carlson.  For your little ones, they have a kids version.

I think we have been basically scared out of the sun for fear of skin cancer, aging, etc.  But lets not go overboard here people.  Of course, lets use common sense though.  If you are going to be out in the blazing sun all day, please where sunscreen.  But if you are going to the park with your kid where there is shade and sun for an hour, you are probably fine and could benefit from a little sun exposure.   I think the best way to protect you and your little ones from the sun is to use hats and lightweight clothing to cover the skin, and also to limit your time in the sun.  Now, I am not downplaying the strength of the sun and/or the possible dangers of too much sun exposure, but I also don’t think we need to avoid it all together.  Everything in moderation, my friends…

The two sunscreens I use for myself and my son (when needed) are below, and both are rated ‘low hazard’ on EWG’s Cosmetics Database.

1) Supergoop! spf 30 sunscreen wipes I unfortunately can’t find these anywhere right now!  It looks like Supergoop! discontinued them for now.  I love these because it makes applying sunscreen to a toddler easy.  So keep checking their website, maybe they’ll bring them back….hopefully!!

2) California baby fragrance free spf 30