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.
 

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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Profile- Margaret Floyd

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For this months profile, I had the pleasure of interviewing nutritionist, and friend, Margaret Floyd.  Margaret is not only a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) but she is also a Certified GAPS Practitioner, a Certified Healing Foods Specialist, and has trained in the psychology of eating.  She created the Eat Naked nutritional therapy practice and is the author of two books: Eat Naked and The Naked Foods Cookbook. Buy her books here http://amzn.to/14ENx9g and here http://amzn.to/14ENB8N and to check out her services, visit  http://www.eatnakednow.com/.

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Margaret and I actually met through her husband, James Barry, who is a wonderful chef and owns a food delivery service in LA called Wholesome2go.  I used his service after my son was born and I was having trouble taking care of a newborn and making time to cook healthy meals for my family.  We continue to use it off and on as our work schedules and dietary needs change, and I highly recommend it for anyone who lives in the LA area and is looking for a high quality, organic and delicious food delivery service.  Check him out at http://wholesome2go.com/.

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Margaret and I hit it off immediately because of our common belief in holistic minded living, eating and child rearing.  She has a wealth of knowledge on the healing powers of food and is our go-to for any food or health related questions. I wanted to share some of that knowledge with you by asking her a little bit about her nutrition philosophy, the average American diet and feeding her growing daughter, Sia.  Enjoy and look out for future guest posts on nutrition from Margaret!

Me:  When did you first get interested in nutrition?

Margaret:  I’ve always loved food and anything to do with it (eating it, growing it, cooking it…) but I didn’t understand the power of nutrition until I was in my mid-20s. I’d been dealing with terrible eczema since my early teens, and even with medical help it was only getting worse. In desperation, I went to a health practitioner who drastically changed my diet, and within several weeks, that eczema was gone. It was a huge lesson for me, and taught me that what we eat has a strong impact on our health.

Me:  What is your philosophy on nutrition?

Margaret:  I believe in the power of eating real, whole foods. When we go back to the basics and give our bodies what they recognize: whole foods, grown in harmony with the earth, eaten as close as possible to their original state, it’s a powerful thing. Our bodies get the nutrients they need to heal and thrive. I call this “eating naked” because we’ve stripped away those things that are added and done to food – the pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, excessive processing, that long list of unpronounceable ingredients you see on most food labels, and so on. None of these added things are health-promoting, and are in fact a major reason for the massive deterioration in health we’re seeing everywhere.

Me:  What do you think is the most common misconception about what it means to be healthy?

Margaret:  There are so many! The most common one I see is that a low-fat, mostly vegetarian (read: low-protein and high-starch) diet is the most health promoting. No matter how many studies come out to show the opposite, there is a deep, deep fear of fat in our culture. Even those who’ve come around to the idea of “good” fats, most still don’t understand how vitally important they are to our health, and that even saturated fats from animal sources are important. The vegetarian myth is one that I subscribed to for many years (on and off for well over 10 years) and I’ve seen many people do significant harm to their health by eating this way. Vegetables are cleansing and important, but animal proteins and fats are building and are also vitally important. It is possible to eat meat, fish, dairy, and eggs in a way that’s good for you, good for the environment, and that treats the animals in a humane and respectful way.

Me:  What do you think is the most important thing to do to stay healthy?

Margaret:  Listen to your body, it always knows. We tune out our bodies’ signals, and so they have to get louder and louder to communicate to us. The more we listen, the more our bodies will tell us.

Me:  What do you think Americans are missing most from their diet?

Margaret:  Quality. We are a nation of over-processed immediate gratification, and this has come at the expense of quality. Without quality, everything suffers. When I think of quality with respect to food I think: nutrient-dense, whole food, that have been prepared in such a way as to maximize its nutritional value.

Me:  If you could tell the average American to change one thing about the way they eat, what would it be and why?

Margaret:  Eat a different breakfast. Swap out the bagel and low-fat cream cheese, the orange juice, the cereals, the triple caramel lattes for something more balanced and nourishing like some eggs with veggies cooked in good old fashioned butter. This one change can make an enormous difference.

Me:  What inspired you to write your book “eat naked”?

Margaret:  There are so many misconceptions about food, and it has become almost impossible to figure out what is truly “healthy” amongst the mixed messages and confusion. I wanted to clear through the clutter in a really simple, accessible, and practical way. Also, there’s this myth that eating healthy is either hard, expensive, or tasteless and boring, and I wanted to dispel that myth.

Me:  Has motherhood changed the way you feel about food?

Margaret:  It has enhanced it more than anything. Food and health have always been priorities for me, but now they’re top of the list. I also see the direct impact of what I do with my baby girl, and watch how she thrives on real, whole foods.  Nutrition is always important, but it is never more important than when you’re preparing to conceive, pregnant, and breastfeeding. You cannot give your child what you don’t have – she inherits your nutritional sufficiencies or deficiencies. Your health sets the foundation for her health for the rest of her life.

Me:  What is the biggest thing you have learned from being a mama?

Margaret:  Trust and patience. Trusting my instincts and my baby’s cues, and being patient with the process of learning and growing (for both her and me!)

Me:  What advice would you give mamas to be?

Margaret:  Nourish yourself on every level – physically, spiritually, emotionally – even if it feels like there’s not enough time or space to do so. It’s the only way you’ll have the ability to give your best self and to give your child the best possible start in life.

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Profile: Akal Kaur

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When I was Pregnant with Miles, I did two things to keep in shape: walking and Kundalini Yoga.  Before I was pregnant I did The Bar Method religiously, and although I loved it and it kept me in shape, it didn’t feel right once I was pregnant.  All that contracting and straining felt like the opposite of what I needed, which was to be open, flexible and connected.  I was introduced to Kundalini the year before and it really resonated with me.  What I love most about it is the recognition that we are all connected to something greater than our selves…the universe, the divine, God, whatever it is for you.  It also made me feel present, grounded and aware of my mind/body connection.  So when I got pregnant I knew that I wanted to take prenatal Kundalini classes as much as possible (which ended up being twice a week for most of my pregnancy).

Akal Kaur was my teacher.  She led such a beautiful class that left everyone feeling calm, happy, and grounded.  The interesting thing was that Akal herself was pregnant with her first child at the same time!  So she taught throughout her pregnancy and gave birth to her adorable son, Meherpal (meaning “the lion whose heart is filled with kindness and compassion.”) just a few months after Miles was born.  Although Akal has been a registered nurse since 1999 and works in the labor and delivery ward of one of the best hospitals in LA, she chose to have a midwife assisted home birth (Fun fact: we had the same amazing midwife).  I found this very interesting and wanted to pick Akal’s brain a little bit about her experience with Kundalini yoga and her choice for a home birth.  Here’s how it went…

Me: Can you define Kundalini yoga for those who aren’t familiar with it?
Akal: Kundalini Yoga is the Yoga of Awareness.  It is basically a yoga that
creates consciousness and makes a person happy and healthy.
Me: How did you get introduced to Kundalini?
Akal: A friend of mine took me to my first Kundalini Yoga Class.  It
was with that first class that I had felt that I came home.  From that
moment on my life was forever changed for the better.
Me: How long have you been practicing Kundalini and what made you gravitate towards it?
Akal: I have been practicing since 2001.  After that first class I
immediately felt better.  Then I went back again and felt even better.
I continued to get happier and healthy.  Everything started to fall
into place for me.  I woke up and life got really good!
Me: What do you think makes Kundalini different from other yoga practice (vinyasa, hatha, etc)?
Akal: Kundalini Yoga is all about raising a person’s consciousness.  The
other yoga practices are the same.  The difference is that it takes
one kundalini yoga class to absolutely and completely alter a person’s
consciousness and it takes longer in the other forms of yoga.
Me: How long have you been teaching prenatal kundalini classes?
Akal: I have been teaching prenatal Kundalini Yoga classes since 2006.
Me: How do you think Kundalini benefits pregnant women and/or their unborn babies?
Akal: I feel the kundalini prenatal classes can be extremely healing for
pregnant women.   The classes connect women to their strength and
intuition.  They also work on the physical body to prepare them for
the birth.  The classes can be very meditative which can help a woman connect more
to their baby in the womb.  The babies also get massaged in utero
which is great for them developmentally.
Me: What made you choose a homebirth instead of hospital?
Akal: I work in a hospital and I think it is an amazing place to have a
baby.  I chose a homebirth because I knew it was the safest place for
my baby to be born.  I really feel like the best place for a woman to
deliver is where she feels safest.
Me: How old is Meherpal? How did you choose his name, and what is the meaning of his name?
Akal: Meherpal is 15 months old.  His name was given to him by his
birthdate.  It is a numerological spiritual name.  The meaning is “the
lion whose heart is filled with kindness and compassion.”  The
spiritual name is a mantra.  The more a person is called that name the
more they become it.
Me: Is there anything that you would have done differently with regard to your birth plan?
Akal: Yes.  I would have had the birthing tub checked over a bit more.  When
I was in Labor we realized there was a hole in it and it could not be
used!
Me: What is the biggest thing you have learned from being a mama?
Akal: Being a Mama has been the most humbling experience of my life.  I have
learned so much but the biggest thing would be that there is no such
thing as plans anymore!  I have learned to totally let go and be
present.
Me: What advice would you give mamas to be?
Akal: Enjoy your pregnancy, connect with your baby and get lots of rest!
Also, play mantra’s for your baby in the womb.  Put speakers on so the
babies can hear the sounds.
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NOTE: Akal is available for private healings, yoga classes, counseling
sessions, and workshops which help a person to transform and elevate
in a progressive and effective way. http://www.yogawithakal.com/