4 Reasons to Leave Your Shoes at the Door

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I didn’t always but, now that I have little ones crawling all over my floor, I ask people to take off their shoes upon entering my home.  Most of the time I feel bad asking that of them, especially if it isn’t their first instinct (I’m working on that). But, the more I learned about why it’s a good idea (as if the fact that those shoes have most likely been in a public bathroom recently isn’t enough), the more I felt confident in my request.  Below, see my top 4 reasons to remove your shoes when you walk in the door.

1) Bacteria- A study from the University of Arizona collected germs and microbes on footwear. The researchers found 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe, including E. coli, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds, reports Reuters.  Gross.

2) Toxic Chemicals- Studies show that unhealthy chemical herbicides from walking on grass outside can easily be tracked into the home.  Exposure to these chemical herbicides can cause immediate problems like skin rashes and gastrointestinal upsets and although long-term health effects of the herbicide are unknown, I think we can all agree it probably ain’t good for us, our kids or our pets.  Also, the EPA’s Doormat Study showed that virtually all lead dust found in homes is tracked in from lead contaminated soil outside. No thank you!

3) Allergens-  Pollen, pet dander and other common allergens can be brought inside on the bottoms of your shoes.  Then they get trapped in your home with you.  If you or your kids have allergies, you definitely don’t want to be bringing even more allergens into your home than you are already exposed to outside.

4) Dirt- This isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but shoes inside mean dirt and grime inside.  This equals more cleaning for you and more use of cleaning products.

So next time you have guests over, kindly ask them to remove their shoes.  While you’re at it, might want to ask them to wash their hands (especially if you have small children).  Washing with soap and water removes all kinds of microorganisms, including viruses that cause colds and flu.

Wonderful Website: Life Without Plastic

Life Without Plastic is a website dedicated to bringing you safe, high quality, ethically sourced, Earth friendly alternatives to plastic.  Everything from kitchen items to pet care items, and bath & body care to kids and babies products.  This is a great place to look for everyday items that are non toxic and support a plastic free environment.  A few of my favorite products they sell are below..

1) 1000 ml GLass Love Bottle with Ceramic lid:  I have two of these that I fill up with filtered water and keep in the fridge for when I want cold water.  Also great to have on the table at dinner time for easy water refills.

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2) Freezycup Stainless Steel Individual Popsicle Mold:  I haven’t used these yet, but with summer around the corner I can’t wait! NOTE: Buy the wood holder for your popsicle molds if you don’t have a stable flat surface in your freezer.

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3) Stainless Steel Children’s Bowls:  Super cute and a great alternative to plastic! NOTE: Lids from standard yogurt containers (750g/26oz) fit nicely on these bowls for keep leftovers fresh.

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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!!

3 good reasons to use organic tampons

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When most of us think of tampons, we think of all of the typical brands we see at the drug store and we assume that they are safe to use.  I mean, why wouldn’t they be?  Why would they be approved for use inside our bodies if they were not safe for us?  Right?  Well, after doing some research I have found some pretty upsetting information about the ingredients in conventional tampons and the possible harm they can cause.  I am so glad that I switched to organic cotton tampons a few years back and I hope after reading this post that you do too!

Here are three  good reasons to switch to organic cotton tampons:

1) Chlorine bleach- To get that clean-looking white color, tampons (unless otherwise stated) are bleached with Chlorine.  This process creates Dioxins and Furans, which are defined as highly toxic compounds produced as a byproduct in certain manufacturing processes.

2) Pesticide residue- Yup, unless it is organic cotton, cotton plants are treated with chemical pesticides that can leave a residue on the cotton.  Not to mention that  85% of cotton in the united states in GMO (genetically modified), bad for us and the environment. The chemicals in these pesticides are known carcinogens (substances capable of causing cancer in living tissue).

3) Unknown fragrance chemicals- Unfortunately, “fragrance” is considered a trade secret, so companies are not required to disclose their ingredients.  Even “unscented” products may contain masking fragrances, which are chemicals used to cover up the odor of other chemicals.  Fragrances (in not only feminine products, but soaps, lotions,  shampoos, candles, cleaning products and more) can contain allergens, phthalates (a class of chemicals linked to hormone disruption), neurotoxins (chemicals that are toxic to the brain), and/or synthetic musks ( a class of synthetic aromachemicals to emulate the scent of natural musks, and are known to be toxic to the environment and to proliferate estrogen-responsive human breast cancer cells).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any of these things near by body, let alone inside it!  The vaginal area has extremely permeable mucus membranes and sensitive tissue that readily absorb whatever is in the products we put on or in it.  That’s why I urge you to switch to organic cotton tampons.  Know what you are putting in your body.  You can buy the brand I choose here or find them in a store near you here.

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.

The Truth About Your Favorite Tea

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I don’t know about you, but I love myself some tea.  I always try to drink organic teas, but on occasion I drink conventional if that is all that is available.  I never gave much thought to what the tea was packaged in and what the actual tea bag itself was made of, until I read this alarming post by Food Babe.  If you love tea or know someone who does, it is definitely worth a read.  You can find it 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)