The 2 Chemicals in Cosmetics You Should Avoid First

The 2 Chemicals in Cosmetics You Should Avoid First

I was recently asked which ingredients are most important to avoid in cosmetics. Since there is a pretty extensive list of toxic ingredients that commonly make an appearance in beauty products, plus the many names they go by, this isn’t exactly a short question to answer.

My response was, while it’s best to learn to spot all nasty ingredients or look at a list of those to avoid while shopping, it may help to ease into this whole label reading thing. At first, anyway.

The ingredients I would recommend nixing from your beauty repertoire immediately are petroleum ingredients and synthetic fragrance ingredients. These are both very toxic and the use of them is widespread.

Petroleum Ingredients

Yes, these come from crude oil. Sounds icky, right? And they are! Petrolatum, petroleum jelly, and mineral oil are commonly found on ingredient listings. Of course, they are refined for use in cosmetics (versus what you put in your car), but petro-chems are usually contaminated with carcinogens. The European Union (who sets higher standards for cosmetic safety than we do in the US) deems petrolatum carcinogenic and restricts its use.

The cancer risk associated with these ingredients is enough to make you steer clear, but there’s more. Petroleum jelly is viewed as a winter skin fix all. It is supposed to moisturize, soothe, repair, and protect dry, chapped, irritated skin. The problem with this gloppy ingredient is that it sits on top of skin, forming a barrier so skin cannot properly release toxins or absorb moisture from the air. Your skin may feel better when you first start using it, but will most likely end up dry, irritated, and congested. No good.

There are several healthy products you can purchase as an alternative to petroleum jelly. Cocoa and shea butter are super rich and great for hydrating and healing skin. Try The Beauty Chef Beauty Fix Balm. One Love Organics Skin Savior is made with coconut and jojoba oils, plus other soothing ingredients. Both are healthy choices that get the job done.

Synthetic Fragrance Ingredients

When synthetic fragrance is used in a beauty product it is actually a combination of several ingredients. If you think that makes it more difficult to identify these nasties on a product label, wait until you find out about the trade secret loophole. While manufacturers are required to list all ingredients used to make a cosmetic product, the FDA says it’s ok to exclude fragrance ingredients from the ingredient listing to protect the brand’s secret fragrance recipe from competitors. Manufacturers can simply use the terms “fragrance” or “parfum” instead.

Making things even more difficult is that many nontoxic brands also use these two terms to protect their secret fragrance blends. Usually a reputable natural cosmetics creator will note on an ingredient listing if their fragrance issues came from natural sources, like essential oils.

What’s the big deal with synthetic fragrance? These ingredients are what cause that headache-y, nauseated feeling you get when a scent doesn’t agree with you. But it doesn’t stop there. Synthetic fragrance is also linked to skin irritation, rash, dizziness, and asthma. They’ve also been found to carry an accumulation risk, meaning they build up in the body, and are linked to hormonal disruption and cancer.

Bottom Line

While you get familiar with harmful ingredients you want to avoid in cosmetics, start by checking for these two. Look for petro-ingredients like petrolatum, petroleum jelly, and mineral oil. When you see the terms “fragrance” and “parfum” on an ingredient listing, see if there is a notation as to the source of these ingredients. A brand’s website may also have information on their ingredient commitments.

Image :: McKinley Law at Unsplash

Clean Beauty Picks You’ll Love for January (and beyond)

Clean Beauty Picks You'll Love for January (and beyond)

It’s January! Doesn’t a new year always feel so good? Lots of goals set and good work to do.

I thought we’d kick off 2017 with a round up of good clean beauty items you absolutely have to have. We are stuck in the depths of winter, so of course skin hydration is key. A good glow-inducing skin smoother is also important right about now. Plus something to keep your system in check. Let’s take a peek.

Products You’ll Love for January (and beyond)

Goop Clean Beauty :: As you’ll be able to tell, I’ve been clocking plenty of minutes on goop.com. I bought the new book over the holidays, Goop Clean Beauty, written by the editors at Goop (that Amazon app makes it just too dang easy, I must say). It’s a green-beauty-meets-detox-tips-meets-healthy-recipes-meets-do-this-whole-clean-living-thing-your-way sorta read. Right up my alley. Get your hands on a copy asap.

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum :: Oh my goodness, I’ve wanted to try this serum forever. It gets tons of praise in the beauty world, not least importantly by my fave beauty editor of all time, Jean Godfrey-June. So, had to have. And it is just as good as everyone says. This serum contains some of my absolute favorite oils. Avocado oil has such a luxe texture and makes skin feel almost spongey it is so good at plumping. Nothing beats rosehip oil for anti-aging benefits, like brightening the skin, lightening dark spots, and softening lines and wrinkles. Sea buckthorn and turmeric are superstars at giving skin a lit-from-within glow. VD suggests a particular pat and press type method for applying the serum and now I do that with all of my facial oils. Love.

Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial

Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial :: Skin tends to get more sand papery in dry months. It seems like I need to exfoliate every few days right now. As always, don’t overdo the sloughing or you’ll end up with red, irritated skin. This is especially important when winter is already causing skin to become more fragile. I love this treatment because, while it does contain super fine granules, it is not a scrub. This baby uses fruit extracts to loosen and remove dry, dead skin cells. It’s seriously an instant facial. When I need smoothness and glow, I apply a nice layer, wait a minute or two, and rinse. That simple and no scrubbing necessary.

Ashwaganda

Ashwaganda :: I love Dr. Sara Gottfried. She’s a medical doctor who strongly believes in holistic medicine. Her book helped me get my hormones on track and I read pretty much anything she puts out. So, when I came across this article recently I had to check into some of this adaptogen. I wrote more on adaptogens here, and have always meant to get some ashwaganda in my life because Ayurveda loves this guy. It is said to help with both emotional and physical stress (sign me up), boost the immune system (a must for cold and flu season), and help to balance hormones (for sure, yes!).

Holiday Gift Guide (Wishlist) 2016

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

So, I talked with many people over the weekend who have their holiday shopping done.

DONE!

If you are like me, you still have a ways to go in the shopping department. The great thing about shopping online is,you have time to put together some great gifts in a snap. I have many, many beautiful green beauty treats on my list this year. All great for giving or receiving. And if you are reaaaaalllly late on the gift buying, I have one idea that is going to save the season for you.

Read on for…

Your Holiday Gift Guide (Wishlist)

KYPRIS Glow Philtre Mask

Kypris Glow Philtre Mask :: I am all about the glow this year. Ok, every year. But I totally feel you can head off that sulky mid-winter pallor if you start early. And one way to do that is with this gorgeous exfoliator. Kypris knows how to do beauty, so we can trust them. Plus, this slougher is gentle enough for all skin types. A true beauty treat.

Moon Juice Beauty Dust

Moon Juice Beauty Dust :: If you follow me you know I’ve been singing the praises of this beauty supplement far and wide. You know how you buy something and hope with all your heart it will actually give the gorgeous skin benefits it boasts? Only to be let down time and again? Well, this baby will not leave you out in the cold, girl. It really does make your skin look magnificent. I drink the stuff every day and would love to see it peeking out of my stocking.

Vapour + Shiva Rose Lip Gloss

Vapour + Shiva Rose Lip Gloss :: Want a lip color any woman on your list will fall in love with? I am head over heels for the new lip gloss from Vapour Organics. It’s a collab with green beauty guru, Shiva Rose, and it has a way of livening up your face in an instant.

Josh Rosebrook Ethereal Botanical Fragrance

Josh Rosebrook Ethereal Botanical Fragrance :: Maker of the incredibly satisfying organic skincare line has gone and designed a fragrance. It is said to conform to every person who wears it and has a warm airy scent. Plus the name is just so divine. Can’t wait to try.

Dr. Hauschka Rose Nurturing Body Oil

Dr. Hauschka Rose Nurturing Body Oil :: Nothing fancy, but feels so luxe. I promise this stuff delivers on soft skin big time. It is nourishing and my dry wintery legs are still smooth and silky at the end of the day after I use this delish body oil. No small feat. And it has the perfect, soft rose scent.

de Mamiel Winter Facial Oil

de Mamiel Winter Facial Oil :: I am obsessed with facial oils. I like several different brands and even mix up my own custom blends depending on my skin’s needs. The fact that de Mamiel has facial oils for every season is so utterly exciting. Who could resist?

Mullein & Sparrow Hydrating Face Mist Toner

Mullein & Sparrow Hydrating Face Mist Toner :: So love this product! It is a lovely scented mist that hydrates and soothes the skin, perfect for the dry days of winter. Made with rose water, which actually helps to soften and plump up the complexion. I spritz on my face, body, hair, sheets, coat, handbag…

The Universe Has Your Back

For the readers in your life :: I have a few suggestions. First off, if you have yet to read Gabby Bernstein’s latest The Universe Has Your Back do yourself a giant favor and buy it now. Get one for anyone in your life who could use some soul love. This book seriously changed my life, not even kidding.

The Little Book of Healthy Beauty

Next, for the green beauty lover or wannabe, Dr. Pina LoGiudice’s short but super sweet The Little Book of Healthy Beauty. This tiny tome offers up sound healthy beauty advice with info I’d never read anywhere else. So cool.

Hello Glow

And for the DIYer, give them a book that will keep them beautifully busy with Hello Glow.

Now, let’s say you have absolutely no idea what to get your sis, bestie, mom, boss, girlfriend, or other female in your life. I have the perfect idea and you can even do it last minute. A beauty box! Luckily, I had the chance to sample a few this season and here are the juicy details…

Credo Clean Beauty Discover Kit

Credo Clean Beauty Discover Kit :: Full of top brand name natural beauty samples. The online store’s debut kit featured de Mamiel, Tata Harper, Evolvh, Pai, Lovefresh, and Skin Owl. All stashed in a cute canvas bag that is easily tote-able. This kit is not available by subscription but any gal would be happy to know it’s heading her way.

Goodbeing Box

Goodbeing Box :: Another sweet surprise of green beauty swag. This is where my relationship with Dr. Hauschka Body Oil began. The box also contained Annemarie Gianni Rosemary Peppermint Body Wash, Osea Ocean Cleanser (which I’ve been using and love), and a pretty little Pure Ananda Loose Mineral Shadow. They also included a fun textured scrubber body mit by Daily Concepts that my daughter quickly confiscated. This box comes in several varieties and shipping options, including a month-to-month subscription.

Good Earth Beauty Box

Good Earth Beauty Box :: A fun and out of the ordinary beauty box. The theme for the box I tried was chocolate and it was exciting to open it up and have the yummy scent waft out. All items in the box are chocolate scented, including a bar of soap, lip scrub, personal fragrance, skin oil, and lip balm, all by Good Earth Beauty. This one also comes in a variety of box and subscription options.

Can A Natural Supplement Powder Make You Gorgeous?

Can A Natural Supplement Powder Make You Gorgeous?

Natural supplement powders are sort of everywhere right now. People are adding them to smoothies, juice, tea…even coffee has been known to get a dose.

But what are they and what will they do for you?

Ok. Supplement powders, the good ones anway, take the power of natural and organic plants and herbs, and blend them to do different things. Certain blends infuse you with energy. Others help you sleep. Some give you clarity of mind or beautiful skin.

Wait. What?

Yep, I said beautiful skin. Moon Juice makes a variety of supplement blends and my fave is Beauty Dust. I sampled the lot and, of course, it was the first one I tried.

What’s Beauty Dust Made Of?

Organic Goji :: An antioxidant powerhouse, these teeny berries are also good for toning down inflammation

Rehmannia :: Reduces swelling and the appearance of broken capillaries

Organic Schisandra :: Reduces inflammation, protects skin from environmental damage, and makes it look plump and supple

Pearl :: This beauty is full of calcium, magnesium, and amino acids, and is great at evening skin tone and promoting a calm mood

Organic Stevia :: So it tastes yummy

Unlike some supplement powders, Beauty Dust is a pleasure to use. I add it to both smoothies and tea (haven’t tried coffee yet, but I’ll get there) and it never tastes or feels weird.

Now what you really want to know. Does Beauty Dust make your skin beautiful? I’m going with Yep!

My first time with Beauty Dust was in a smoothie. I drank it down for breakfast and went about my morning. When I went to put on makeup I noticed that I really didn’t need concealer. I’ve worn concealer pretty much every day since my early twenties to tone down redness around my nose and cover up dark circles. Let’s just say, other than eyeliner and lipgloss, I don’t leave home without a dab of concealer. So, to not need it was something I definitely noticed.

A huge check mark goes beside the “evens skin tone” benefit of Beauty Dust. I also think it gives skin a nice glow. I need to try it out after a night of pizza binging and really put its anti-inflammatory skills to the test.

Am I still buying Beauty Dust? Yes, I am. Moon Juice has a subscription plan so you never have to be without your dust. It’s also available on Amazon Prime for those of you who roll like me and like to wait until you are practically out of something before buying more.

Bottom line. Beauty Dust is the real deal.

Your Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid Page…Free

Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid Downloadable

Hey, it’s hump day. How about some free stuff for your site, blog, or online shop?

The most requested item I get when starting a copywriting project with a new client is a new or refreshed ingredients to avoid page. A comprehensive list of harmful cosmetic ingredients is not only a great source of info for your readers and customers, but totally spells out your commitment to safety.

Yes, I know. These lists can be tedious to come up with. That’s why I am giving you mine. Yep, grab it today and copy/paste that sucker into your site, blog, or online store. Easy and oh so worth it.

Get your free Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid downloadable

Want a customized page? I can get you one of those too. Contact me for deets on creating just-for-you copy.

Now that that sticky little item is checked off your list, go have yourself a great day!

Shop Talk :: Product Descriptions That Make Shoppers Want to BUY

Product Descriptions That Make Shoppers Want to BUY

Shop Talk is a series on helping organic beauty professionals get their products into the hands of people who will love them, and share their message with the world.

I look at organic beauty websites. Like, a lot.

Not only because I am way into organic beauty, which I am, but because I write about organic beauty five days a week. Ok, sometimes six.

There are certain sites I go to constantly. Others I check in with once in a while. And then those that I want to like, but…don’t.

Why? It’s not the products they sell or the way the site looks (pretty beauty sites are a must!). It’s the words. Or lack of.

When you are looking at beauty products online, the experience is dramatically different than when you are shopping in real life. Duh, right? Hear me out here.

Beauty products are used on your face, your body, your hair…You want to know what it feels like, what it smells like, how it makes your skin (hair, nails…) look. Who doesn’t open up a sealed bottle in store if there is no tester? I’ll totally cop to that on the reg.

So, the only way you can know what the product is like, how it feels, looks, and smells IRL, is through the words that are on the website. No words? Disappointment to the max.

And sometimes the words themselves are disappointing. A too generic or just plain blah product description is not, well, descriptive. C’mon, we want the deets, here.

So, what I am urging you shop owners and product creators to do is get some super ripe and juicy product descriptions on your site, pronto. Customers want to know if a product is floral or herbal, or citrusy, or even unscented. Is it lightweight or ultra rich? Does it feel velvety or quenching? Does it smell like a single crisp, chilled rose or like a walk through the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden on a freakin’ 90 degree day in June?? They want to know. And, most often, they want to know before they’ll buy.

When I write product descriptions for brands or shop owners, I request samples of select products. Not the entire product line-up but certain items to get the feel of the range, so I can tell visitors what the product is all about. Not just what it will do for their skin or hair, but what the experience is like.

So, do your customers and yourself a favor. Can the standard (read: boring) product descriptions and get to know the products you sell, then tell the world about them. And, I promise, I’ll visit your site.

Have trouble putting those mouth watering words together? Have the words but no time to get them down? Lucky for you, words are my thang and I’d absolutely love to help you with some fresh, juicy, super shop-able product descriptions. Get in touch!

Image :: William Iven at Unsplash.com

4 Beauty Tips You Absolutely Have to Know

4 Beauty Tips You Absolutely Have to Know

I’ve always loved beauty products. From playing in my Mom’s makeup, to putting together my own style, to writing about it today…I’m into it.

But when you write about eyeshadow colors for the season, and how to use highlighter, and stuff like that day in and day out, you can get in a rut. Like, nothing new.

And then you stumble on something that is so good you can’t quit thinking about. And your fire is lit again.

Here’s what’s been lighting my fire lately:

1 Baby skin :: Sounds like something you want, right? Wait ‘til you see a pic of it! I came across this article while writing a story on facial mists and cannot quit thinking about it. The deal is, you give your face a light misting between each layer. So, moisturizer, mist, foundation, mist, powder, mist…you get the idea. I want.

2 The New Brow :: While brows have taken a slightly more demure turn over last year’s big and bold, definition is still definitely in. This can be tricky. How many bad brows have you witnessed in the past 12 or so months?

I found a trick in InStyle mag that works like a charm. You simply brush brows up, feather a line on the under side of brows (I give it the slightest of blends with a q-tip), and brush brows into place. It gives brows definition without looking overly filled in or mad scientist-y. Give ‘er a try.

3 Exotic Oils :: Facial oils have sorta been my thing for a long while now. I love ‘em and no one is gonna change my mind. But I recently came into a sweet little stock of facial oils I had never tried. We are talking Berbere, Tamanu, Marula, and Baobab. Exotic, oui? They are all mighty lovely and create super soft skin, but my face seems to be crushing hard on the Berbere in particular. I’d say run, don’t walk, to one of these babies.

4 Hair Game Changer :: And last, but not least, I’d like to share a life changing hair moment I had recently. My daughter, in attempt to get the most from a new hair conditioner we were trying, read the directions on the bottle. It appears you are supposed to squeeze the water from your sopping wet locks before applying your conditioner.

Oh. Em. Gee. Do you all already know about this? How many other daily life things have I been doing wrong forever? If you too are one who slathers her soaking wet hair in conditioner and wonders why she isn’t getting super soft locks, try this trick. If you’ve been doing this your whole life, take pity on my feeble mindedness.

Image :: Aki Tolentino at Unsplash

Shop Talk: Why It’s Important for Online Beauty Stores to Be Pretty

Why It's Important for Online Beauty Stores to Be Pretty

Shop Talk is a series on helping organic beauty professionals get their products into the hands of people who will love them, and share their message with the world.

Know why it’s important for online beauty store to be pretty? Other than the obvi, which is that a pretty shop is more fun to look at than a less attractive site.

Shows effort, yes. But what else?

The experience!

Ah yeah, we gals and guys who are into beauty love the feel of walking into a pretty little beauty shop. It is not just about the products stocked (thought that is why customers keep coming back!) it’s about the energy, the vibe, the whole package.

I recently wrote a story for EcoSalon on shopping organic brick + mortars in NYC. And most of the comments I received were centered around the gorgeousness of the shops.

Remember, when people shop online there are certain elements they miss out on. They can’t touch, apply, or smell the products. That’s where great descriptions and messaging come in, more on that in a minute. They also don’t get to experience the overall fun factor of physically being in a super cute shop.

The great news? This is so totally fixable. There’s no shortage of web designers out there creating beautiful sites. There are even templates designed just for women biz owners.

Like what you see here? I use Bluchic template Isabelle on OBS and had my header designed by How Sweet Designs. Very affordable and the look conveys exactly what I was going for…fresh + clean with a bit of glitz. If OBS were a store IRL, it would be all white with touches of gold and blushy pink, packed with the best organic beauty and tons of vivid information to help shoppers make their decisions. For reals, it might be a library or book shop since I’m more into the writing aspect, but for the sake of the theme here…

Now back to that messaging we touched on earlier. Sharing your products and message with people who come to your site is key. And it has to be done right. No clue where to begin? Check out these 3 things to keep in mind when crafting product descriptions.

Now you see why a pretty online shop is pretty important. Let me know if I can help. xxoo

Chemical Free Cosmetics :: Not All Bad

Chemical Free Cosmetics :: Not All Bad

I’ve seen a few articles lately and fielded some questions on the  whole chemical free cosmetics labeling issue. Following is my opinion on the subject. Feel free to love or hate.

Some green beauty experts feel labeling a cosmetic as “chemical free” is misleading because all ingredients, natural or synthetic, are chemicals.

Oh gosh. This reminds me of the kid in class who always (always!) had to pipe up when someone called white or black a color, and expound at length on why these two are not technically colors. We all already knew that, had heard it plenty of times, but still called white and black colors. Why? Because who says My new black dress is the perfect absence of light to go with my new shoes or I’m having trouble choosing the best shade of light for my bathroom.

Answer? No one.

Here’s the deal. We have to call them something. While I prefer the term “toxic” over “chemical” as a means to relay the harmfulness of certain cosmetic ingredients, I also get that people relate to the term “chemical”, so I use it often when I write about harmful ingredients. And toxic can be just as questionable. What constitutes a toxic cosmetic ingredient? Are all cosmetic ingredients on the avoid list toxic? … you get the picture.

Same with the term “natural.” Does it carry any true weight in terms of a safe product? Not really, but it is a term we use in the green (there’s another one) beauty industry. Natural Perfumes for Summer or Natural Makeup for Summer are better headlines than Synthetic Free Makeup for Summer. That last one is not going to get many hits and this means less good synthetic free beauty advice in front of eyes looking for healthy information.

We organic beauty experts have been making lists for over a decade now titled “Chemical Ingredients to Avoid”. Yes, we could easily begin calling them “Toxic Ingredients to Avoid” or “Toxins to Avoid in Cosmetics” or even “Unhealthy Cosmetic Ingredients.” That’d be fine with me.

But the real problem here is under regulation of cosmetics and personal care. We are on our own here, as consumers, and doing our best to protect ourselves from unhealthy junk, and purchase what’s best for us and our families.

Shooing shoppers away from products labeled “chemical free” entirely? I get the good behind this strategy and the desire to educate, but it is too soon for this. There are good, safe, high quality brands creating products they choose to call chemical free because it speaks to consumers. Is it sometimes misleading labeling used by less than safe companies? Yes. Always? No!

The best way to protect yourself from ingredients you wish to avoid is to familiarize yourself with potentially harmful ingredients and read ingredient listings.

Awareness surrounding toxic ingredients in cosmetics is much huger than it was a decade ago. This is good stuff. But, at least for now, I feel that shunning all cosmetics labeled “chemical free” is not only misleading to shoppers in general, but sort of like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Yes, right now words like chemical, green, natural, and even organic are tossed around without a whole lot of street cred. This not only makes it harder for shoppers to know they are getting a safe product (remember: never trust the front label!), but difficult for truly safe brands to market their healthy products.

We are on the right path. Read labels, follow brands you trust, and ask questions.

Image :: Neill Kumar at Unsplash

List Love :: Glorious Summer

List Love :: Glorious SummerSummer is my true love. It’s so casual and fruity and glowing.

How fun is it to buy new stuff for summer? Gotta have a new bathing suit and some fresh flip-flops. Maybe a cute dress or two. And then there’s the beauty. Mmm mmm.

Here’s what is hanging out on my shopping list for the hot season…

May Lindstrom Skin The Jasmine Garden :: Jasmine gets my attention every time. And dewy, glowing skin? For sure!

Lina Hanson Global Treasures :: You know how you put your heavy moisturizers away once winter disappears? And then you realize summer is parching your skin too? People, there’s pearl, gold, and coffee in this spectacular balm. It’s like a decadent dream come true for thirsty skin and I want it now.

Kypris Beauty Cleanser Concentrate :: You know the luxe oil brand, right? I love Kypris and I love cream cleansers. So, done deal.

Chocolate Sun Cocoa Fleur 2 :: You know how Chocolate Sun is one of the best nontoxic self tanners? You don’t? Well, you totally need to get some. I can’t wait to try this spray version.

RMS Beauty Eye Polish in Myth :: Solar seems the obvi choice for summer, no? But the sweet kinda lavender/kinda silver-y-ness of Myth has me all kinds of excited. Going to use on lids, cheeks, lips, collarbone…try to stop me.

La Bella Figura Beauty – Happy Therapy (Mood Booster) :: I’m thinking a new scent for summer. Gardenia, Coconut, Guava, and Rose? Maybe the ladies at LBF can read minds.

Now go play.