Archive | personal care products

MY Perfect Sunscreen: Goddess Garden Organics Sunscreen {Review}

This post is sponsored by Green Sisterhood  but, as always, the opinions are my own.

MY Perfect Sunscreen: Goddess Garden Organics Sunscreen {Review and Giveaway} #ggorganics {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

 

As a child I loved summer! We had a pool in the backyard and I literally lived in my bathing suit.  In the 1970’s and even in the early 80’s, we didn’t quite understand the dangers of the sun.  Sunscreen?  Yuck, that’s the white stuff you put on that looks and feels horrible!  Unfortunately, years later I am paying the price.  Wish we had Goddess Garden Sunscreens back then – great ingredients, great smell, great feel.

 

Why Am I Wishing For Better Sunscreen? 

It all started with a mole on my ankle that seemed to just appear one day.  I was pretty sure I didn’t have one there before.  Did I?  I had 3 children under the age of 5 at the time so I was too busy to notice. I was lucky if I showered regularly. I made an appointment with a dermatologist.  He said it looked completely normal, but since I was sure there wasn’t one there before we should biopsy it.  When the diagnosis came back as melanoma, I was shocked.  I am not your stereotypical skin cancer patient.  My skin is not pale and I have brown eyes.  I remember having a few sunburns as a child, only one particularly bad burn at age 10, but other than that, I tanned easily.

The next couple of months were a series of doctor’s appointments aimed at finding out the severity.  Luckily, we had caught it early and I would only need surgery.  Throughout these appointments, several doctors told me to stay out of the sun, wear protective clothing and hats and wear sunscreen year round regardless of the weather.  My children were also at higher risk and they should follow this advice as well.

Protecting ourselves from the sun is even more serious now.  However, the choices in sunscreens, thus far, have not been great in my opinion because of the ingredients and the hard-to-rub-on white mess most of the heavy duty sunscreens are made of.  I have been able to find better shampoo alternatives without questionable ingredients relatively easily but sunscreens are a completely different story for me.  Alternatives were not readily available when I was first diagnosed 7 years ago. So I used popular commercial sunscreens I found in local stores, figuring my family’s risk for skin cancer was greater than the side effects from the chemicals in them.  Or so I hoped.

This is why I was so excited when given this opportunity to try Goddess Garden Organics that are made with non-toxic, mineral and natural ingredients.  Its ingredient list looked extremely promising to me.  Had I found MY perfect sunscreen?

Now please remember, I am NOT a doctor, nor do I play one on my blog.  This is my story and my conclusions alone.  You should absolutely do your own research and choose the option that is best for you.

Let’s back up a bit and talk about how the sun damages our skin.

 

How the Sun Damages Our Skin

MY Perfect Sunscreen: Goddess Garden Organics Sunscren {Review and Giveaway} #ggorganics {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

The sun contains two major types of ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVB rays are also known as the burning rays.  UVA rays, the aging rays, penetrate much deeper and can cause more serious damage to cells.  UVA rays are able to penetrate clouds and are around even in winter months.  

In addition, the damage to your skin caused by exposure to the sun (both UVA and UVB rays) is cumulative.  Even tanning is evidence of sun damage.  Tanning is actually your skins attempt to protect itself from the sun.  Sun exposure can cause wrinkles, sun spots, sunburns, and cancer.

The best option is to avoid the sun during peak times and to use clothing and hats to shade your skin.  This is great advice, but you can’t avoid the sun ALL the time.  Sunscreens must be part of this equation.

 

Trouble Finding The Perfect Sunscreen

For years, I bought the sunscreen I was told to buy.  This was one area where I was not comfortable straying from my doctor’s advice.  I heard the word CANCER and freaked!   At the time, there weren’t many other alternatives that did the jobs I needed them to do – products that would protect my skin but not cause potential damage because of the ingredients.   I felt like I was choosing between tanning a bit or preventing skin cancer for my children!  Talk about Mom guilt!

As I did more research on personal care products, I really became conflicted.  I wasn’t entirely comfortable putting some of the chemicals on my skin and on my children.  But “family history of melanoma” loomed in my head.  

And in comes Goddess Garden  sunscreens, I was very excited!    

 

What I Like About Goddess Garden Sunscreens

MY Perfect Sunscreen: Goddess Garden Organics Sunscreen {Review and Giveaway} #ggorganics {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

  • According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), their toxicity rating is very low.

  • The sunscreens are very stable.  Sunscreens that are not stable can break down over time and with exposure to heat making them less effective.  Sunscreen stability was something my doctor’s stressed.

  • Goddess Garden uses a mineral sunscreen.  Mineral or physical sunscreens block and deflect the sun’s rays.  The alternative, chemical sunscreens, absorb the UV radiation and convert it to a small amount of heat.  Personally, I like the idea of reflecting as opposed to absorbing into my skin.  So does this doctor.

  • The mineral sunscreens they use, zinc and titanium dioxide, in all of their products are NON-NANO sized.  According to Goddess Garden, ” The average particle size is 120nm. The range in particle sizes is 100nm to 130nm. Most definitions of “nano-particles” are under 100nm.”  The issue here is that nano -particles, very small particles, could be absorbed into the skin and then the bloodstream and cause problems.
  • They are broad spectrum, meaning they protect against UVA and UVB rays.

  • Goddess Garden does not leave a whitish glow!

  • They smell and feel great!  They feel light and not greasy at all.  Can’t say that about many sunscreens!  This makes them very easy to wear all year long.

  • The other ingredients used are fabulous for your skin!  Among them are aloe vera, sunflower oil, shea butter and, in the facial sunscreens, Helichrysum essential oil!  This essential oil is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant which is great for anti-aging.

 

I have been using the Sunny Face Natural Sunscreen with SPF 30 daily.  It feels wonderful!  It is light, non-greasy, non-whitening, and feels very hydrating.  And oh did I mention the lavender scent!  I have replaced my morning moisturizer with this one.  By the way, I still have the occasional issues with breakouts and this has not caused me any troubles.

My children have been trying the Sunny Kids Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 and the Kids Natural Sunscreen Continuous Sports Spray SPF 30.  Great success!  They are easy to rub in and don’t feel heavy and greasy.  My children thank you, Goddess Garden!  I do not let them out of the house without sunscreen and they don’t fight me so much with these.

Personally, I feel like I have found a great product.  No questionable ingredients and it will do the job of protecting our skin from the sun.  I of course urge you to do your own research, talk to your dermatologist, and come to a decision that is best for you.

 

What do you look for in a sunscreen?

 

Savings

The Greening Of Westford readers will save $2 off purchases of Goddess Garden Organics  from May 1 through July 30.  Just use the discount code #GGOrganics.  

Giveaway

Goddess Garden Organics is also giving you a chance to win several cools prizes:

One GRAND prize (valued at $183) includes:

4 continuous sprays

1 facial sunscreen

1 kids’ pump spray

1 kids’ 3.4 ounce tube

1 adult 6 ounce tube

1 kids’ 6 ounce tube

Twenty people will receive a second prize of a 3.4 ounce tube of Natural Body 30 SPF sunscreen.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

25

Whipped Body Butter 2.0

 

Whipped Body Butter 2.0 - 4 easy ingredients.  {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

 

Whipped body butter 2.0 – why 2.0?  Well, this is a little step up from my simple 1 ingredient body butter.   When you first start out making your own products, the list of ingredients in some recipes can be so overwhelming and, for me, a show stopper.  I don’t want to invest a lot of money in several ingredients when I’m not even sure I’ll like them.  This is little step up and it’s worth it!  Plus the added ingredients are still very basic and can be used in many other recipes.

I love making my own beauty products.  I swear they work soooo much better than anything I have ever purchased.  Even better – I control what goes into them.  Not only can I make them free of toxins and other bad ingredients, but I can add ingredients that I find work for me.  Win – Win!  

Whipped Body Butter

 Ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut oil (like this ONE)
1/3 cup cocoa butter (like this ONE)
1/3 cup shea butter (like this ONE)
2 TBSP avocado oil (olive, jojoba or almond oil are all good choices as well)
1 tsp Vitamin E (optional)

Directions:

doubleBoiler

  1. In a double boiler, melt the coconut oil and cocoa butter. You will be whipping this later with a hand or stand mixer so use a bowl that will work.
  2. Add shea butter and let it melt. I find that if I heat shea butter too long or too hot, it gets gritty. It’s a soft butter and won’t take long to melt.
  3. Take off the heat and add Vitamin E (if using) and avocado oil.
  4. Put the mixture in the refrigerator or even freezer and let it cool. Mine took almost an hour in the refrigerator. You want it at a sort of a gel like state. Alternatively, you could place the bowl in an ice bath.
  5. Whip the mixture until it is soft and frothy and completely cooled. If it’s not starting to look like whipped cream, it may need to cool more.  Whip for about 5 – 10 minutes.

Whipping

Notes:  

  • Vitamin E is used as a preservative.  I always add some to anything I’m making just ’cause.  If you don’t have any, it’s not a big deal.  The other oils have a pretty long shelf life all on their own.
  • Essential oils could be added to this base as well.  This is your mix, so add whatever you like – lavender, grapefruit, rosemary….

Easy peasy, right?  

Are you gonna try this?

 

This post has been shared at Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural, Small Footprint Friday

9

Triclosan: What Is It?

Triclosan:  What Is It?  {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

Have you heard the word triclosan (tric-lo-san)?  Do you know what it is?

What Is It?

Triclosan (or sometimes triclocarban) is an ingredient added to many items with the intention of preventing or reducing bacteria.  The most common item you might find triclosan is anti-bacterial soaps.  But it appears in many other products including toothpaste, soaps, body washes, clothing and some cosmetics.

Is It Safe?

Honestly, the jury is out on this as it is with so many additives in our food and personal care products.  The testing just hasn’t been done.  For years, environmental groups have urged manufacturers and FDA to remove triclosan from products.  Their reasons, several studies have indicated that the repeated use of triclosan has been linked to hormone disruption and contributed to anti-biotic resistant bacteria.  

In 2010, FDA determined that triclosan in hand soap was no more effective against bacteria than washing with plain soap and water.  FDA also recently announced that they will be taking a closer look at anti-bacterial soaps.  According to the FDA website: “There are indications that certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA”.

 But until manufacturers remove triclosan from products, what can you do……

How to Avoid Triclosan

READ THE  LABELS of every kind of personal care product you have or want to purchase – toothpaste, soaps, body washes, deodorant.  Look especially closely at anything labeled  “anti-bacterial”.  Even some clothing and kitchen tools now contain triclosan.  If it is an ingredient, find an alternative without triclosan.

From FDA:  “Most antibacterial products have the word “antibacterial” on the label. Also, a Drug Facts label on a soap or body wash is a sure sign a product contains antibacterial ingredients. Cosmetics must list the ingredients, but are not required to carry a Drug Facts Label.”

The Environmental Working Group has a great database called skin deep.  It’s  is a good way to look for safer alternatives.  They even have an app!  

 

Are you concerned about triclosan?  Have you found safer alternatives?

0

Arizona-Inspired Hand Scrub – EASY!

Arizona-Inspired Hand Scrub - EASY!

As the weather gets colder, my hands start to feel like alligator skin.  Well, what I would imagine alligator skin to feel like since I am totally freaked out by any sort of reptile and could never touch one!  But I digress, back to my hands – rough, dry skin that catches on everything.  This hand scrub does the trick!  And it’s so easy.

A few years ago a friend of mine and I took a girls weekend trip to a spa in Arizona. It was lovely.  The spa had this wonderful scrub in the bathroom.  Our hands felt incredible after using it.  Every time we did I analyzed it, sniffing, rubbing, trying to figure out what was in it.

So here is my closest approximation to that wonderful spa scrub.

 

Arizona-Inspired Hand Scrub
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  3. 2 TBSP Apricot Kernel Oil (could substitute olive oil or almond oil)
  4. All of the ingredeints below are totally optional
  5. 1 tsp vitamin E
  6. 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
  7. 3 drops each lemon, lavender and rosemary essential oil
  8. 1 TBSP aloe vera gel
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients until combined completely
To Use
  1. Take a bit and rub all over your hands, rinse with warm water only, no soap.
The Greening of Westford http://thegreeningofwestford.com/

As much as I love the benefits you get from using several ingredients, it can be a bit much when you are just starting to make your own beauty products.   Start with a few key ingredients and build from there.  This recipe could be made with the first 3 ingredients only, even the first 2 honestly!  It will be a bit stiffer without a liquid oil (like olive oil), but coconut oil is a great moisturizer on it’s own and the sugar scrubs.

I think next time I’ll try using some real rosemary from my garden! 

As you add more ingredients to your arsenal, add to this recipe.  I’d suggest  Vitamin E  and one (or more) of the essential oils.  (disclosure: affiliate links)  They are easy to purchase and can be used in a variety of products.

By the way, wouldn’t this look so cute in your guest bathroom!

Easy Homemade hand scrub

 

Put this in a cute glass jar, label it, maybe a ribbon.  Voila!  Holiday gift!

Have any good tips for rough hands?

 

This post has been shared at Natural Living Monday

2

Walmart and P&G are Phasing Out Harmful Chemicals

 Walmart and P&G phasing Out Harmful Chemicals

 

This week, Walmart announced they will be attempting to minimize the harmful chemicals in their household cleaning, personal care and beauty and cosmetic products.  Beginning in January 2015, Walmart will require their suppliers to disclose, online, ingredients contained in products sold on Walmart shelves.  This is a HUGE step as none of these products currently are required to disclose their ingredient lists anywhere.  Walmart will also work to reduce the use of 10 “high priority” chemical ingredients.  The list of 10 has not yet been disclosed but Walmart assures Safer Chemicals Healthy Families that the 10 are on its list of the “Hazardous 100+”.  Another distinction is that Walmart will be working with suppliers to ensure the replacement chemicals aren’t just as bad.

Proctor &Gamble announced earlier in the week that it will eliminate triclosan and dibutyl phthalate from all of its products by 2014.  Triclosan and phthalates are believed to be hormone disruptors.

I am VERY happy with these announcements!  It shows that companies are listening to consumer concerns.  I constantly feel like I have to be a scientist to go shopping – is this made of PVC, what are the ingredients, is that one a safe one?  It has this certification, but does it really mean anything?  It is enough to make your head spin.  Fix it from the top!  If manufacturers and retailers can rid our shelves of dangerous chemicals, then I don’t need to worry, as much.  There are still plenty of other decisions I will need to make.  But trying to pick the hand soap that DOESN’T have an ingredient possibly adding to antibiotic resistant bacteria – yeah I don’t think anyone wants that.

This also covers the other shoppers who may not even be aware that their cleaning product or tube of lipstick could be harming them.  I was one of these consumers once, and probably still am in other areas.  I remember years ago, my children were small and I was just beginning to go green.  I started seeing “no growth hormone” stickers on milk.  I remember, clear as day, standing in the aisle of the grocery store with my 4 year old and 2 year old twins, just trying to get some milk and thinking “Did I need to worry about that?”  I had no clue what it meant at the time.

Say what you want about Walmart, but you can’t deny their reach.  According to Forbes magazine, they are the largest retailer in sales and the #24 “World’s Most Powerful Brand”.  If they rid their shelves of 10 dangerous chemicals, that is a significant drop overall. 

One thing that bothers me though is that I had a difficult time finding these announcements in Walmart or P&G press releases. Nor could I find it easily in main stream media.  If I missed it, please tell me.  I wish the companies and media saw this as more news worthy.

Let’s just hope they follow through and continue to do more!

What do you think about these announcements?

 

Photo used under Creative Commons by Walmart/Flickr

2

Easy Foaming Hand Soap

{The Greening Of Westford} Easy Foaming Handsoap

There was a time when you would place a bar of soap next to the bathroom sink for washing hands.  Somewhere along the way, that became a disgusting thought – “Use the same soap someone else has used??”  Ewww!”  Honestly, if it’s my own house I don’t mind so much but do feel a little weird elsewhere and forget that concept in a public restroom!  Plus that bar can get pretty slimy and gross – think kids playing with the bar of soap while washing their hands.

In comes liquid foaming soap.  Convenient, not as messy, and scents that can make you feel like you are on vacation.  On the other hand, there is the wasteful packaging, those scents contain Phthalates, anti-bacterial liquid soap most likely contains triclosan, and they are expensive!

So pick your reason for wanting to rid your bathroom of these liquid foaming soaps:

  1. Wasteful
  2. Potentially dangerous chemicals
  3. Expense

I’m not going to suggest we go back to the bar of soap, although that is an option.  I’m going to say,

Make your own!  
 
It is so easy.  The most difficult part, is finding a container you like.

Foaming Soap

It’s not special foaming soap, its the container does the foaming action  I tried ordering empty foaming soap dispensers.  They were difficult to find and expensive.  Buy one already filled with soap and refill that one when it becomes empty.  Whole Foods carries their 365 brand foaming hand soap for about $5.  Or if you have those pretty smelling ones lying around, keep them!

Materials

liquid soap of your choice (Castile or anything unscented and without triclosan)
water
container

Fill your container about a 3/4 with water, then fill the rest with your liquid soap.  (You might need to play with this ratio.)
Mix gently

That’s it!  You can add essential oils if you like for fragrance or extra cleaning properties.  Teat Tree oil and lavender work nicely.  Vitamin E or glycerin can be added for softening qualities.  It’s up to you.

Cost Savings:
This method costs a fraction of what it would cost to buy new foaming dispensers filled with soap each time. Plus don’t forget your other savings in terms of health and resources.

32 oz of Castile soap (at Bed, Bath and Beyond) is about $9.  You can make 128 oz of foaming soap from this.

Pretty smelling scented ones, on sale, are 5 for $15.  Even at this great price it would cost $45 for the same amount of soap*.

Do you make your own foaming hand soap?  Will you now?

*The math:

Each pretty smelling bottle contains 8.75 oz. and costs $3 (on sale)

128oz/8.75oz  =  15 bottles (rounded up to whole bottles)
15 * $3 = $45

This post has been shared at Simply Natural Saturdays, Your Green Resource, From the Farm, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

1

Why Conventional Deodorants Stink

Why Conventional Deodorants Stink {The Greening Of Westford}
Ah puberty.  That magical age where your body grows hair in weird places, your hormones rage and you start to stink!  Lovely!   In comes deodorant.  Probably one of the first personal care products you start using as a tween. 
 
But how safe are the typical deodorants/antiperspirants on store shelves?   There has been much about deodorant and the chemicals within, links to Alzheimer’s, breast cancer and the like.
 
The Problem
 
As with all other personal care products, they do not need to be tested before they go on the shelves nor do all the ingredients have to be disclosed.  Some of the chemicals found in  deodorant/antiperspirant are:
 
Triclosan:   Used as an antibacterial in many products.  It is thought to accumulate in our bodies and has been associated with hormone disruption.
 
Aluminum:  suspected to be linked to Alzheimer’s.
 
Parabens:  Mimic estrogen which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancer.
 
Once again, there is no conclusive evidence stating that deodorants/antiperspirants definitely cause problems.  But there isn’t conclusive evidence to the contrary either.  I’d rather be safe than sorry.
 
Sweating is Natural
 
We wear deodorant to stop the stink.  An antiperspirant to stop the sweat by blocking the sweat glands under your arm.  They are 2 separate things.
 
Your body is supposed to sweat.  That is one way we release toxins.  Ingredients such as aluminum block the pores to stop you from sweating.   Your underarms are home to a lymph node location.  If your body cannot release toxins from your underarms, your lymph nodes are right there to suck up the toxins.   This is one thing that can be difficult for people to get used to – that wet feeling under your arms.  Honestly, I don’t like it.  And on special occasions, I admit to wearing an antiperspirant. 
 
Changing The Routine
 
Personally, I think our bodies become dependent on deodorant.  Years ago, I found myself increasing my deodorant use and gradually moving toward the clinical strength deodorants because nothing seemed to work.  While using the clinical strength, I finally read the directions and it stated that I should put it on at night to be absorbed into my skin.  Something about that struck me as wrong.
 
I backed off and used a regular deodorant/antiperspirant, occasionally not wearing any at all if I wasn’t going anywhere.  Little by little I think my body adjusted.  A few years ago, I gave up the antiperspirant all together and went with just a plain deodorant.  It worked OK, but I found myself reapplying at the end of the days.
 
Finding a Natural Alternative
 
What I find difficult about deodorants is that each person’s needs are unique.  What works for one person may not work for another.  Some natural deodorants are downright expensive.  I really don’t want to be paying over $20 to try one then have it not work only to go spend another small fortune on something else that may not work.  All the while wondering if I am stinking out my friends!
 
About a year ago, Cheryl of The Whole Body Spa was experimenting with deodorant.  I had the pleasure of being a tester!!!!   I started using her version – cornstarch, baking soda, coconut oil and lemongrass essential oil.  It worked!  This is what I use all the time.  Now, it did take a little bit of getting used to because it comes in a jar and you rub it on with your fingers.  Honestly, not a big deal.  I think of it like lotion.  
 
You can buy this from Cheryl or look up recipes and make your own.  It is quite simple and inexpensive.
 
 
If you are not ready to take the plunge just yet, try these steps:
 
 
  1. Buy JUST deodorant, not an antiperspirant.   At least this way you are still allowing your body to sweat and release toxins.  And no Aluminum.
  2. Go scent free – fragrances usually contain phthalates.
  3. Avoid Triclosan and Parabens.
  4. You can check Skin Deep and Good Guide for health ratings on deodorants. 
 
For The Tweens In Your life
 
I gave some of the Whole Body Spa deodorant to my daughter recently as she is just starting to wear deodorant.  She has no preconceived notions about deodorant so she didn’t think twice about applying with her fingers.  My plan is to start all of my children off with natural products.  They won’t know the difference.
 
Have you made the switch to more natural personal care products?  What are your favorites or ones you find difficult to replace?
 
 
Top Photo By Don DeBold used under Creative Commons license

This post has been shared at Natural Living Monday, Small Footprint Friday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

4

Personal Care Products Primer

 
 
safer personal care products
As winter approaches, out comes the lip balm!  Not just for me, but the whole family.  We have it everywhere – bathrooms, backpacks, purses, cars.
 
Lip balms are just one of several personal care products each of us uses daily.  These include shampoo, conditioner, soap, makeup, deodorant, moisturizers and the like.  They get us clean, make us smell and feel good.  

Now for the bad news

  • There are no real regulations for personal care products.  Companies are NOT required to test for safety before they hit the shelves. 
  • All ingredients do NOT need to be disclosed.  This is especially the case with fragrance and flavorings.  You just don’t know what is in there.
  • Three common ingredients used in many personal care products have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption to name just a few.  These are parabens, phthalates, and triclosan.
  • Our skin is the largest organ on our bodies and is really good at absorbing stuff.  How many medicines now come in “patch” form?
 
Especially disturbing with lip balms as they are applied to our lips!  How much do you think you eat in a day? The more I learn about conventional products, the more I don’t like.  Bottom line for me – they have not been proven safe so I would rather be safe than sorry.  There are so many great alternatives that are easily obtained and very affordable.
 

How To Find Safe Alternatives    

So, how do I find these alternatives?  I go to Skin Deep and GoodGuide.  The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database rates more than 69,000 personal care products for safety.  GoodGuide rates over 175,000 items including toys, food, electronics and personal care products.
There are sooo many products out there and it can be very frustrating and confusing to weed through everything, finally pick a product only to get to the store and not find it on the shelves.  Take it one product at a time.  I also recommend downloading good guide’s app to your smart phone.  You can scan the bar code of the product while you are at the store and instantly obtain the safety data.  Not all products are in the app, but it helps.
 
If you are at the store trying to decide, keep these in mind when looking for any personal care product: 
1) opt for no flavoring/scent
2) Look for a short ingredient list you can read.
3) Avoid -parabens, phthalates, and triclosan for starters
 
Another thing you can do – use fewer products and/or use them less frequently.  Many hairdressers and dermatologists recommend washing your hair every other day (or less) so as not to strip your hair.
 

Homemade Options

There are also loads of homemade recipes online and here.  Try them out.  I am all about simple and easy DIY so no need for super special ingredients or lengthy methods in these.
 

Take Action

Do you think it’s unfair that you have to research personal care products yourself?  Feeling at times like you need a chemical engineering degree to make the decision on which soap to purchase?!  I do!  If products are being sold on store shelves, there should be some level of testing done to ensure they are safe.
 
Several groups are trying to shift the burden of proof to the companies that make the products.  To make the manufacturers prove their products are safe BEFORE they can appear on store shelves, instead of consumers having to prove they are harmful to get them OFF the shelves.
 
  1. Get educated at The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database.
  2. Tell your Senators you want them to support the Safe Chemicals Act
  3. Switch or eliminate ONE product you currently use.
 

Have you switched to safer personal care products?  Any you haven’t been able to switch?

This post has been shared at Tiny Tip TuesdaySmall Footprint Friday

2

Coconut Oil Does Triple Beauty Duty

coconut oil beauty treatments

Coconut oil is quickly becoming my FAVORITE ingredient in my beauty routine!  Yes that’s right.  Not only can you cook with it, but it is great for soooo many other things.

I have also found Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil which smells incredible!  If you like the smell of coconuts.  Which I do.  It’s $5.99 for 16 oz.

If you are looking for more natural replacements for body lotion, eye makeup remover and eye cream, I have ONE Do-It-Yourself product that will do the trick.  Yes, ONE

Coconut Oil Triple Play

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Coconut oil
1/2 tsp Vitamin E (optional)

Directions:

1. Place the coconut oil and vitamin E in a bowl.  Vitamin E oil is used as a preservative.  however, if you don’t already have some, don’t bother to go buy some.  Coconut oil has a pretty long shelf-life as is.   

2. Whip it (Whip It Good!  I couldn’t resist!)  with an electric mixer.

3. Whip until it is like whipped cream or frosting (about 5-10 minutes).



Place in a pretty (free) jar and you are done!  Fancy up the jar with a cute label and this would make a great gift!  I have actually had friends ask for it.

You could add essential oils if you like, but I like the smell of the coconut.  I have been told by the fabulous woman whom I go to for facials that coconut oil is excellent for your skin!

When I get out of the shower, I put this on my body as a moisturizer.

When I remove my eye makeup at night, I put a small amount on my eyes or on a small flannel cloth and wipe the make-up away.  A little remains which moisturizes that delicate skin around your eyes beautifully.

Not only is this better for your skin, but the price is unbeatable.  That $5.99 jar of coconut oil will last a year at least!

Now, the coconut oil may melt.  Mine did this summer.  But I don’t really mind using it in the liquid form.  It may harden in colder months and you’ll have to scrape at it a bit.  But it melts quickly with the warmth of your hands.  
Do You Use Coconut Oil for Anything?  What’s Your Favorite Use?

This post has been shared at Homesteading Link UpSimple Lives ThursdayYour Green ResourceHealthy 2day WednesdaysFrugal Days Sustainable WaysFrugal Tuesday Tip,  Works For Me WednesdayHome is Where the Heart isWhip It Up WednesdayTiny Tip Tuesday, Weekly Link Up Party, Natural Living Mondays, Wellness Wednesday

22

Sunscreens That Shine 2012



A Greene Westford column re-posted.


With the prices varying as wildly as the claims, you need to keep up to date on sunscreens.

The weather is heating up and the fourth of July festivities are upon us.  This is usually when people start to think about sunscreen.  Last year, Sunscreens That Shine talked about why the sun is damaging and how the chemicals in some sunscreens can be harmful as well.
Each year more research is done as consumers demand for more information on products they use every day.  In June 2011, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) ordered changes made to sunscreen labeling to attempt to clear up confusion over which sunscreens provided protection for both UVA and UVB rays and how long they lasted when you get wet.  Those rules were supposed to be in effect this month.  Unfortunately, the FDA pushed back the deadline for major manufacturers to December 2012.
These new regulations will help somewhat, but you still need to do your own research.  Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates many sunscreens for effectiveness and safety.  This year they rated over 1800.  EWG takes into consideration the sunscreen efficacy (how well it protects against the sun) and health hazard about equally – although in some cases it weights the efficacy higher.  Consumer Reports also rates sunscreens on their efficacy alone.  Did you know you can get access to Consumer Reports online databases through the J.V. Fletcher library for free
Oxybenzone ( a common ingredient in sunscreens) continues to cause concern.  Consumer Reports cautions “Oxybenzone may interfere with hormones in the body, and nanoscale zinc and titanium oxides have been linked to potential reproductive and developmental effects.”
As for sprays Consumer Reports states “Spray carefully. The FDA has said it is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens. Avoid using sprays on children, and spray sunscreen onto your hands to apply it to your face.”  
Most of the safest choices are only available online.  However, here is a list of some more commonly found sunscreens that still rate low on the danger scale.   I was able to find quite a few of these in Westford at CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.   Each product is given a value from 0 to 10, where 0 is the best (has the least harmful ingredients and protects against the sun) and 10 the worst. The number is parentheses is the EWG rating.
  • Elemental Herbs (1) – Available at The Whole Body Spa
  • Kiss My Face Kids SPF 30 Sun Stick (pink, blue, white) (1)
  • Coppertone Kids Pure and Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick SPF 50+ (2)
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (3)
  • Walgreens Baby Pure and Gentle Sunscreen Stick SPF 60+ (3)
  • Walgreens Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 45 (3)
  • Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50+ (3)
 
Coppertone must have reformulated since last year.  All of the Coppertone products listed last year were rated at a 3 and now are a 2, plus they made the EWG Best Sunscreen list.  Consumer Reports also rates Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 highly.
I used Elemental Herbs all last summer.  It worked great and didn’t clog my pores!
 
[Top Photo used under Creative Commons license by Robert S. Donovan/Flickr]

4

Mason Jar Blender


For a while now I have wanted to make my own moisturizing lotion.  The recipe I found needs to be blended in a blender.  OK, I have a blender, no problem right?  But the recipe includes beeswax.  Problem.  I know from making my own lip balm that beeswax is difficult to clean out.  I didn’t want my kids’ next smoothies to be waxy!  So I waited….

Then I started to see rumors on the internet about using a regular mason jar with your blender.  Really?  I have to admit I was nervous to try but this would solve the waxy blender problem.

Today I made my lotion AND used a mason jar with my blender!  

I’m going to say now that I am no blender expert.  This worked with my blender.  While looking into this, I did see references to broken mason jars, tipping blenders, and lost fingers!  
IF you decide to try this, please use your best judgement and be careful!



I used a regular pint sized mason jar.  The wide mouth jars are too wide.  My blender is an Osterizer 12 speed blender that is about 14 years old.

Mason jar blender


Step 1:  Remove the blade assembly from the blender pitcher.
Step 2:  Place whatever you wish to blend in the mason jar.



Step 3: Screw the blade assembly – gasket, blades and base – onto the mason jar.  Make sure it is secure.



Step 4: Put the mason jar onto the blender base.



At this point, I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous.  To be on the safe side, I covered the whole blender with towels.  In case it broke, I figured this would contain the glass somewhat.


Step 5: Blend.  I pulsed it a few times and ONLY blended on the lowest speed.  I also held onto the mason jar lightly just to make sure it stayed balanced.



Basically work in reserve to get everything out of the jar when done blending.

 
Take the mason jar and blade assembly off the blender base.



Unscrew the blade assembly.


This worked out REALLY well!

I love this method, since you could actually make something then store it in the same mason jar!
Have you ever done this?  Would you even try?


This post is part of Crunchy Betty’s Tuesdays Outside the BoxFrugally Sustainable, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

17

Luscious Lip Balm Made Easy

Lip Balm Made Easy {The Greening Of Westford}

I really like making my own products – whether it’s food, cleaning, or personal care products.  I like to cook and be creative and this feeds that passion.

Lip balm is so simple!  There are tons of recipes out there.  This is one that I made with my daughters and some of their friends.  It is girl approved!

The basics are really simple – melt a combination of oils together, add scents (optional), pour into a container.
You will use a combination of oils that are liquid and solid at room temperature.  The amount of each will determine the consistency of the resulting balm.

Basic Recipe

1 TBSP beeswax
1 TBSP coconut oil
1/4 tsp Vitamin E oil
scent (optional: try extracts you use for baking like vanilla, coconut or peppermint, essential oils, or honey)

Yields about 1/2 oz.

    Melting ingredients for lip balm {The Greening Of Westford}
  1. Melt the beeswax and coconut oil.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  Whatever you use, you may need to designate as “lip balm making” use only and the beeswax if difficult to clean out.  If you have a bowl you are willing to sacrifice, use that over a pot of simmering water (double boiler).  I sacrificed one of our many mugs.  I set it in a shallow pan of water.  You will need to stir the mixture.  An old Popsicle stick works great.
  2. Once the oils have melted, add Vitamin E and scent (if using).  
  3. Place in a container and cool.
Some Tips:
  • Vitamin E is great for the skin and acts as a preservative.  
  • Honey adds a nice creaminess to the lip balm.  If you use it, you will need to stir until the mixture begins to cool. Otherwise the honey will separate.  You will also need to reduce the Vitamin E slightly.
  • Once the lip balm has cooled,  test it out.  If you don’t like the consistency or want more scent, you can remelt the mixture and add whatever it needs.  For example, more peppermint oil for a better scent or more liquid oil to make it softer.  Go light on the liquid oils and scent at first.  It’s easy to add more of these later, but you can’t take it out.
Remelting lip balm to add more scent or make smoother {The Greening Of Westford}
Because these were in metal tins, I just dropped them into the hot water to remelt.  I wouldn’t try this with plastic containers.

Here is another variation that was popular with the girls.

Chocolate Mint Lip Balm

1 TBSP beeswax
2 TBSP coconut oil
1 TBSP coco butter
1/2 tsp honey or jojoba oil (or other oil)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp of Vitamin E
few drops peppermint essential oil or extract

Yields about 2 oz.

  1. Melt the beeswax, coconut oil and coco butter slowly.  
  2. Once the oils have melted, add peppermint oil.  Remove from the heat and add honey/jojoba oil, cocoa powder, and Vitamin E.  Stir until mixed thoroughly. 
  3. Place in a container and cool.
Sources for ingredients
Beeswax can be found at Debra’s Natural Gourmet, Nissitisett Apiary and online.  Make sure you get pellets.  Beeswax is extremely hard so it will be difficult to break off the correct amount if you get a big hunk.
Coconut Oil is available at most grocery stores, including Hannaford, Market Basket and Trader Joe’s.
Vitamin E can be found at any grocery or drug store.
Essential oils are available at GNC and online.
Extracts are available in the baking aisle of the grocery store.
Containers
Any small container works well.  I purchased small 1 oz tins online, but I also used old cosmetic containers and a contact lens case!  Baby food jars would be a little big and not extremely portable, but a good option as well.
Flavor options for homemade lip balm {The Greening Of Westford}
We tired vanilla, lime, coconut, peppermint, plain honey,and chocolate mint.  We loved them all!
Have you ever made your own lip balm?

21

Head Lice: Give Me The Pesticides!

A recent Greene Westford Column reprinted here.

If you are faced with this predicament, you might want to make a beeline for the pesticides. Take a deep breath and read on for some facts and alternatives that may make more sense.



My head starts itching at the beginning of the school year when the lice information sheet comes home. Approximately 6 to 12 million cases of lice occur nationwide each year.  Westford is not immune.  I have already heard of a few cases this year.
This is probably one area where you think, “I am not taking any chances.  Give me whatever will kill those things!”  I was right there with you, until I started to do some research. 
Permethrin and pyrethrin are the most common chemicals used to treat lice currently.  They are pesticides.   They are meant to kill live insects by attacking their nervous systems.  Do you think they know the difference between humans and insects?  Not sure I want to take the chance.
If you are still itching your head and thinking, “I still want the pesticide!”  Think about this. 
  • More and more evidence is showing that some strains of lice are becoming resistant to these pesticides. 
  • The pesticides only kill the live lice.  If the eggs are not removed and hatch, a second application will be needed. 
This information is also conveyed by the Westford Board of Health in their information sheet.
As yucky as they are, lice are not a health hazard and not responsible for spreading any disease.  The itching accompanying a lice infestation is caused by a reaction to the louse’s saliva.  Lice need a host to survive and for their eggs to hatch.  They cannot fly or hop.  They cannot survive on pets.
To Prevent Lice:
  • Remind your children not to share hats, scarves, personal hair care items, coats, anything that can come into contact with your head or hair.
  • Keep your hat, coat, etc away from others.
  • There are some that believe that lice do not like hair products.  Adding gel or hair spray could deter lice.
  • Wear long hair in a ponytail or braid.
  • It is believed by many that tea tree oil is effective in preventing lice.  Tea tree oil has natural antiseptic properties.  There are several tea tree oil shampoos on the market.  If you choose one of these, make sure it uses pure essential oils and contains 5 drops per ounce of shampoo.   
NOTE: Tea tree oil should not be used in pure form on babies, young children or pregnant women.  Consult your Physician first.
Alternative Treatments:
I am not a doctor.  I am a mom who does not want lice in my home.  I also want to protect my children from pesticides as much as possible.  If your child gets lice, call your pediatrician for treatment options.  I called mine.  They recommend a non-toxic method called the Nuvo method for treating head lice. 
This method uses Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.  Large amounts of the cleansers are used to completely drench the head and scalp.  The excess is combed out and the hair and scalp is completely dried with a hair dryer.  Drying the cleanser on the hair essentially shrink wraps any live lice, suffocating them. 
I have also heard of people using olive oil in a similar manner as the Cetaphil.  Again, the head is covered in large amounts of olive oil and left on overnight.
Both of these methods only kill the live lice.  Any eggs will not be harmed.  For this reason, it is recommended that you repeat these treatments 1 or 2 more times, at one week intervals, to kill any eggs that hatch and/or remove the eggs (nits).  Westford Public Schools have a “no nit” policy, meaning that your child must be checked by the nurse when returning and must be nit free.
These alternative treatments rely on suffocating the live lice and interrupting their life cycle.  No chance they will become resistant to that!  

This post is part of Frugally SustainableYour Green Resource and Home is Where the Heart Is.

4

Sunscreens That Shine

Last week I featured sunscreens on Greene Westford.  Here is the article re-printed from Westford Patch.

 

Summer is here!  Fun in the sun also means staying safe from the sun’s rays. However, it’s not as simple as avoiding sunburns. 
The sun contains two major types of ultraviolet (UV) rays – UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburns while UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause more dangerous cell changes such as wrinkles and skin cancer.  A sunscreen’s sun protection factor (SPF) tells you how effectively the product blocks UVB rays.  Currently there is no such label for UVA rays.
Most skin damage is the result of years of cumulative sun exposure. That is why doctors say it’s important to use sunscreen year-round.  It is especially important to protect children. Many doctors believe that melanoma (the most dangerous skin cancer) can be caused by severe sunburns before the age of 18.
 
The safest thing to do is to limit your sun exposure:  staying in the shade, wearing clothing, hats and sunglasses.  Sun guard shirts have become much more popular recently and easier to find.  I recently bought some at Olympia Sports in Westford.  You can find several online as well. 
However, this is not always possible.  A good sunscreen is still a must.   Not all sunscreens are created equal. While some may be great at blocking the harmful rays of the sun, the chemicals they use can cause some damage on their own. What to do now?  This is where I turn to the Environmental Working Group’s 2011 sunscreen guide
 
The EWG is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting people from toxic contaminants.  The EWG’s guide rates 1700 sunscreens based on how well they protect you from UVB and UVA rays as well as the ingredients used.   Each product is given a value from 0 to 10, where 0 is the best (has the least harmful ingredients and protects against the sun) and 10 the worst.
 
When looking for sunscreen, there are several ingredients to avoid such as Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), added insect repellent and especially Oxybenzone.
 
Oxybenzone is a synthetic estrogen which can interfere with our own hormones. There are studies that indicate Vitamin A absorbed into the skin may cause tumors to grow quicker, and if you need insect repellent, it’s better to add that as needed.  
Sprays, powders and SPFs above 50 should also be avoided.  Sprays and powders spread through the air and may not be safe to breathe.  SPF higher than 50 may tempt you to stay in the sun longer than you should.  Remember, UVA rays do not burn, but they are more dangerous overall than the burning UVB rays. 
 
Look for products that contain Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide or Avobenzone as their active ingredients.  Not only do these products better protect against the sun, but they won’t harm you in the process.
 
Most of the safest choices are only available online.  However, here is a list of some more commonly found sunscreens that still rate low on the danger scale.  The number is parentheses is the EWG rating.
  • Elemental Herbs (1) – Available at The Whole Body Spa
  • Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick SPF 50 (1)
  • Kiss My Face Kids SPF 30 Sun Stick (pink, blue, white) (1)
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (3)
  • CVS Baby Stick Sunscreen SPF 60+ (3)
  • Walgreens Baby Pure and Gentle Sunscreen Stick SPF 60+ (3)
  • Walgreens Sport Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 (3)
  • Walgreens Sunscreen SPF 45 (3)
  • Coppertone Kids Pure and Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (3)
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (3)
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (3)
 
I was able to find quite a few of these in Westford at CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.  Just remember to apply sunscreen before you go outside (15 – 30 minutes) and reapply as directed.

2

AVEENO PROMOTES HEALTHY SKIN AND A HEALTHY EARTH

Aveeno is on a mission to promote healthy habits with its Road to Healthy Skin tour. The tour will be in different cities throughout July, August and September to educate the public about the dangers of sun exposure and promote the use of sun protection. The Tour bus (a 38-foot RV with two exam rooms) will provide free, full-body skin exams by local dermatologists, free sunscreen samples, and you can drop off your empty AVEENO lotion tubes to be sent to TerraCycle! $0.02 for each tube collected on the tour will be donated to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about this until the tour passed Boston and Cambridge. But as a melanoma survivor, I still wanted to post this.

One day I noticed a mole on my inner ankle. Never remember seeing it before. I ignored it for a while. I’m a mom, who has time to call a doctor for yourself, plus I didn’t have a current dermatologist. You know. All the lame excuses we moms use. A while passes and I finally found a dermatologist and figured I should get it checked just in case. When I called in April 2007, the next available appointment was in August. As the receptionist checked other locations and for cancellations I debated “Should I tell her that this is an emergency? No, it’s probably nothing. I’ll wait.” Luckily, there just happened to be a cancellation for that Friday so I took the appointment.

At the doctor’s office, I told him that I noticed this mole a while ago and honestly had no idea if I had one there previously. Either way, it definitely was not this big. I would have known about it. So he took a biopsy. After about 2 weeks I hadn’t heard anything and was about to call. Meanwhile, still thinking “If I haven’t heard that probably means it’s nothing.” It was a Friday afternoon, right before Mother’s Day and the Dermatologist called. It was melanoma. The reason it took so long to get back to me – they sent the sample for a second opinion to an expert in Boston.

Lucky for me, we caught it early. However, I didn’t know that right away. For a month I lived with the fact that it might have spread to my lymph nodes. Melanoma runs the gamut in severity – it can be “nothing” all the way to , “let’s just make you comfortable” I did have surgery on my ankle to remove a large part of tissue in that area. I was on crutches for 6 weeks during the summer, with a 5yo and twin 3 yo!

I never thought this was a possibility for me. I am Armenian so my skin is not super pale. I have always tanned. Yes I did burn a few times as a kid. I guess that was enough for me. Now I wear sunscreen ALL the time, along with hats and clothing to cover more of my skin. And I avoid the sun completely when I can. So do my children.

The Environmental Working Group has a study on the safest sunscreens. To see the results, click here. This is a tricky one for me. I feel like in this case, my and my children’s risk of developing melanoma is greater than what might be caused by a risky toxin in sunscreen. I feel like my best defense is to avoid the sun and use clothing, umbrellas, and hats as protection instead of relying solely on any sunscreen. The sunscreen I do use is what several dermatologists have told me to use. I am hoping that I am not exposing myself and my family to something else. But you make decisions and trade offs all the time on what is best for you.

But back to Aveeno! I think what they are doing is fantastic. I love that they have teamed up with TerraCycle to upcycle their product tubes. They will also accept any brand of cosmetic or beauty tube. Should Upcycle It! add this brigade?

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