Tag Archives | 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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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Take the Bite Out of Summer


A Greene Westford column reposted.  This was originally posted in July 2011.



DEET vs. Disease: You may not need to choose.

Mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects are not a favorite come summer.  With the threat of West Nile virus and Lyme disease, not to mention the annoying itching, bug sprays are a must.  But the danger of some of the chemicals used in bug repellents may not be too comforting either. 
DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the most common ingredient in conventional insect repellents. According to research by Duke University, DEET can affect the nervous system and is linked with brain cell damage, behavioral changes and harmful interactions with some medications in laboratory animals.   
West Nile Virus and Lyme disease can be very harmful.  Although, according to the CDC, no cases of West Nile have been reported in New England this year, there have been cases in the past. Lyme is all too common unfortunately and can be dangerous if left untreated.
Adverse effects from DEET are rare while cases of West Nile and Lyme are much more common. That may lead you to think that the risk of DEET is worth the prevention of West Nile and Lyme. However,we still don’t know enough about the long term effects of DEET. Information is the key.  If you know your options and the risks associated with each, you can decide what is best for you and your family. At the very least you are aware and can reduce, if not eliminate, any dangers you fear.
When using a DEET product:
  • Mosquitoes do not like the smell of DEET.  Put it on clothes, not skin, to limit your exposure but still prevent mosquitoes.
  • Look for a pump instead of a spray to lessen the chance you will inhale the product.
  • Higher concentrations of DEET will allow the product to work for longer periods of time.  You can use a lower concentration and reapply more frequently, if needed.
  • Read the directions and follow them! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that as long as you use products with DEET appropriately, the there is no harm.
Natural Repellents
  • Lemon Eucalyptus oil has been shown to be as effective against mosquitoes and ticks as DEET with the added benefit of being a natural product. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Consumer Reports recommend lemon eucalyptus. A July 2010 Consumer Reports study rated Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus just as high as others with DEET. Lemon Eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years of age. You may need to reapply more frequently. 
  • The Whole Body Spa in Westford offers Keep Away Bug Spray which contains mix of essential oils. I have been using this with much success.

How do you keep insects away?

[Photo used under Creative Commons license by Adriadna]



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