The Superstar Skin Hydrator You May Not Know About

Rosehip OIl is quietly becoming a superstar of the skincare world.

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Rosehips are the seeds of the rose plant. They are traditionally grown at high altitude in places such as the Andes where the air is fresh and clean.  After being cold-pressed the oil remains full of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids.  Its vibrant orangey-red colour is evidence to the inherent beta carotene and lycopene. These are the same compounds that make some brightly coloured vegetables an integral part of healthy eating.

Apparently ancient Egyptians and Mayans were in the know and used rosehip oil for its healing properties, however, it wasn’t until recently that it made some waves in the beauty world via the media. Some very beautiful and very famous people were recently quoted touting Rosehip Oil as an integral part of their skincare regime including women AND men.

The claims of these beautiful people are not surprising when you read the results of studies conducted regarding its befits to skin. In the 1980’s, both the University of Santiago and University of San Marcos, Lima, Peru studies concluded rosehip oil was effective in:

  • regenerating skin
  • reducing scarring (from burns, surgery and acne)
  • reducing wrinkles
  • reducing sun spots.

Other benefits of using rosehip oil include:

  • it is a ‘dry oil’ it so it sinks quite quickly into skin without a residual greasy feel
  • it is a great source of all-trans retinoic acid (aka trentinoin), and so much more gentle than its harsh, synthetic cousin Retinyl Palmitate
  • it has a neutral scent (no scent of rose) making it particularly appealing to men who don’t want flower-scented skincare
  • being 100% oil, it does not require a preservative system so you can buy organic rosehip oil with no added preservatives…so rare in the beauty product world

There are many brands and options when searching for rosehip oil.  Look for organic, cold-pressed (means chemical solvents are not used to extract the oil) and 100% rosehip oil…with no fillers or additives of any kind. A good brand will have the oil in an amber glass bottle to shield the product from light as it is photosensitive. And the oil should have a gorgeous orangey/red hue to it…testament of the inherent carotene and lycopene.

My favourite rosehip oil comes from Canada’s Cocoon Apothecary.  After meeting the owner, Jessica, I am assured of the detail she pays to quality and sourcing 100% cold-pressed, pure, exceptional quality oil.  Cocoon Apothecary’s 100% Organic Rosehip oil is available online at Sessabel (ships coast to coast in Canada) and online also directly via the manufacturer.

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Petroleum Jelly As Skincare: The Bad and the Ugly.

Petroleum Jelly is a staple in many beauty routines.  And for that reason alone, I went with the flow a long time ago, trusting that it must be a good choice. I have since used petroleum jelly for everything from lip gloss to skin ‘cream’, hoping that it was what some claimed it to be; a cheap yet effective hydrator. Cheap yes…effective hydrator.. not so much and when I found out the very ugly side to petroleum jelly the ‘cheap’ was no longer so inviting.

The Bad

Petroleum Jelly is a by-product of  gasoline production. Strangely its origin as a residue left over in the refining process of crude oil really never occurred to me.  It is not ‘green’ nor natural in any way and comes with a host of potential concerns.

One such concern is that it can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to David Suzuki, studies suggest that exposure to PAHs, including skin contact over extended periods of time, is associated with cancer.  And it is on this basis, the European Union classifies petrolatum, a carcinogen restricting its use in cosmetics. And to make matters even worse, PAH’s are known to cause skin irritations. So just because it is allowed to be used as skincare, I started to figure…it doesn’t necessarily mean it should be.

The Ugly

Drinking Gasoline! The famous Dr Oz once caught my attention when he likened using petroleum jelly on lips being comparable to drinking gasoline. Oh my! And to add insult to injury there are many who claim that using petroleum jelly on your skin does it no benefit in terms of skin health. It is said to slow skin’s cellular regeneration, potentially damaging collagen and elastin, ultimately contributing to the appearance of older looking skin. Thoughts of sagging, drooping skin started to hit home and gone were all petroleum-based skincare products from my medicine cabinet. The Bad and the Ugly trumped any possible good.

Giving up on petro skin products altogether gave way to new-found alternative plant-based skin soothers, hydrators and glossers. Some of my favourites include:

For Lips: I now like dabbing my lips with 100% pure organic argan oil such as this one by Canada’s Cocoon Apothecary. It soothes lips, looks glossy for a bit and, no there’s no ‘eating gasoline’.  And to carry in my pocket or purse for myself or my young daughters, I like Keeki Pure & Simple Lip Shimmers or Consonant’s Organic Lip Conditioner. Made of organic plant oils and beeswax, these give shine and hydration to winter-weary lips. And bonus… as compared to petroleum-based lip products…the plant-based ones for some reason last so much longer. Woot!

For Face: Cocoon Apothecary’s 100% organic plant oils are so incredibly nourishing that I use them on my lips and on my face. Choose either Rosehip and/or Argan oil with no fillers, no synthetics and no harsh preservatives. Read about these oils to see how using them is associated with glowing, beautiful skin.

And I love Consonant’s HydrExtreme Skin Hydration Booster. Two plant-based ingredients (and nothing else!) give skin the best hydration with no oiliness. Love, love, love. This product won the Canadian Beauty Innovation Award in 2012, so clearly I feel am in good company!

For Body:  I find the hydrating effect of Graydon’s Green Cream is nothing short of fabulous.  I use it on any dry areas including my face.  Made with cold-pressed green broccoli seed oil, avocado oil and chlorophyll, it sure beats the idea of refined gasoline on my dry parts. I can’t help but liken it to eating broccoli vs. refined, processed foods. Mmm.. Salad for the skin!

For Hands: My skin loves the hydration of Ella’s Botanicals Magic Balms.  Made mainly of olive oil and shea butter, these balms give extremely de-hydrated hands a serious hydration fix in either Lavendar or Clementine scents. And at $15 for a wee tub that lasts a very long time, no wonder this Toronto-based company has trouble keeping its Magic Balms in stock.

If you have any petroleum-free beauty products you would like to share, please do!  I tend to favour local companies making great quality products but love to try new products. So bring on the suggestions!

5 Best Family-Friendly ‘After Sun’ Products

Now that summer is finally here and is accompanied by sun drenched days (Yippee!), I amMuskoka chair reminded of the need for after-sun products. My own experience has proved that some of these can be very hard on sensitive skin and that in many cases, conventional after-sun products don’t cut it.

I found out the hard way that conventional ‘after-sun’ was not going to work for us. One day, when I applied one to my young daughter’s skin, she screamed AND cried, ‘Get it off. It’s hurting me’!!

I had assumed the product was safe for her uber-sensitive skin as it was from a ‘natural’ products company.  Apparently, not so.  I checked the label after the screaming subsided, to find after aloe, were listed a few synthetic chemicals.  Clearly not suitable for sensitive-skinned kids. I then researched to find truly soothing products that would not cause us upset when applied.

As I hear so often that many parents identify with my need for only the most gentle of products, I am sharing my new fave, better-than-conventional skin soothers:

Dr. Robin For Kids Daily Moisture

  • Size/Price: 6 oz/177mL $16.00
  • Main Ingredients: Shea Butter, Safflower Seed Oil, Coconut Oil
  • Why We Love It: Dr. Robin is a pediatric dermatologist and developed her line of products for sensitive or eczema-prone kids.  She is also a mom of three wee kids. And Dr. Robin’s Daily Moisture works well on winter-weary skin too so if you have some left over at the end of the summer…lucky you!
  • Buy Here or Here

COOLA Body Lotion Bars

  • Size/Price: 2.75 oz./78g $22.00
  • Main Ingredients: Shea Butter, Beeswax, Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Vitamin E
  • Why We Love It: Easy to apply. It is a bar of soothing, hydrating ingredients that you simply pick up like a puck and rub on skin. Older kids can apply themselves.  And we found it difficult to waste product.
  • Buy Here or Here

COOLA Radical Recovery After Sun Lotion

  • Size/Price: 6oz/180 mL $36.00
  • Main Ingredients: Sunflower Seed Oil, Aloe Vera Juice and delicious-smelling flower and citrus oils AND many ingredients are organic.
  • Why We Love It: Works so well AND smells so good! It comes in a tube large enough to do for the whole family for the entire summer season.
  • Buy Here or Here

Ella’s Botanicals Magic Balm

  • Size/Price: 62g/2oz $15.00
  • Main Ingredients: Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Beeswax and delicious-smelling oils of lavendar or tangerine depending which scent suits your fancy….Ella makes two Magic Balms. She says Lavendar is her best-seller but we are partial to Clementine.
  • Why We Love It: Soothes skin sooo well and we love that Ella is a person not just a brand name and a mom herself. Ella is a hometown favourite where I live for moms looking for all natural products for their kids.
  • Buy Here or Here

Consonant Unscented Hydrating Body Lotion

  • Size/Price: 8.5 oz/ 250 mL $22.00 OR 17 oz/ 500mL $42.00
  • Main Ingredients: Organic Aloe, soothing Sunflower Seed Oil and hydrating Coconut Oil.
  • Why We Love It: We love most products by this award-winning Canadian cosmetic company and this product is no exception. Unit for unit Consonant gives great value especially as many of its ingredients are certified organic.  We love that the larger format with a pump makes easy to use on squirming kids.  In fact we find it great for the whole family!
  • Buy Here or Here

I know there are lots of fabulous products I haven’t discovered yet. If you have a favourite , please feel free to share as I would love to hear! I do tend to favour local products as well as products that are standouts in their category no matter where they hail from.

Here’s to Happy Summer Skin!

Five Ways to Detox For A Healthier 2013!

My Top Five ways to DETOX inside and out for a healthier 2013!

1) Get your sweat on!  Whatever it is you like to do, sweat a little everyday.  My personal fave is yoga…it does wonders for stretching and strengthening AND body sculpting. And if you have never tried yoga, you may be surprised how it can work wonders for weight loss. Trust me. And if you have tried yoga and want a change, try a class in the heat or a vinyasa (power) yoga class for extra challenge.

2) Watch what you eat.  In 2013 it’s not about just losing weight, it’s about being healthy.  Watch your intake of processed sugars, grains and of course hydrogenated fats. We all know this but many of us, yours truly included, may need a little nudge to be reminded now and again. And if its weight loss you seek, of course by eating healthier, that can be a definite benefit for many. I plan to start 2013 ‘healthier’ by doing a 10 Day Detox in January. I am doing this as a way of figuring out how to eat healthier for myself and for my family.  This DETOX can be done on-line where I spend alot of my time AND comes with recipes…as a mom I love that taking part in this detox sounds so easy!

3) Choose less-industrialized foods aka the ‘back to the farm’ approach. In 2012, my family continued along the path of getting food from local farmers where we could.  Living in the centre of a massive city, we did this by buying meat from butchers who had cultivated relationships with local farmers. We liked that we could ask which farm our dinner came from and that we ate ‘natural’ meat as compared to mass factory-farmed stuff.  The bonus for us was that we were not at risk when the countless issues arose in 2012 of E.Coli in mass-processed beef. Supporting small, local farmers made us feel good as we don’t want to live to see the day where all food is mass-produced. We took the same approach with our veg and fruits getting weekly or bi-weekly local organic produce delivered to our door from Front Door Organics. Some of the best tasting veg. I have ever had.  My kids agreed, voraciously eating the organic produce. Woo Hoo!!

4) Watch what you put on your body.  Toxins are plentiful in oodles of body lotions, shampoos, deodorants, face creams and serums.  You can’t really detox inside and forget what you are putting on the outside of your body.  Think of how a nicotene patch works.  The chemicals you put on your body sink in. So best to ditch toxic preservatives such as parabens, methylisothiazolinone, and the like (read: too many to list!). And plant based skincare is always safer and works better than petroleum-based. If you are not sure what you have in your medicine cabinet, look for ingredients on labels such as cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, petrolatum and mineral oil to confirm if it is petroleum-based or not.  Lots of companies say they are natural and aren’t 100% natural so best to check for yourself. Consult a trusted source such as Environmental Defence Canada for ingredient no-nos. And shop at a ‘nice retailer‘ such as Sessabel.

5) Be aware of toxins in your environment and try to reduce where you can. If you didn’t read newspaper headlines in 2012 about toxins in everyday items such as cosmetics, clothes, carscouches and crib mattresses, be sure to. I know that its not easy to make changes in all cases  as toxins have become ubiquitous in so many industries. But even a few changes in the right direction will help. The more people who know the scoop and make informed decisions by speaking with their wallets, the better.  Hopefully we collectively change the culprit industries for the better someday soon.

Here’s to a Healthy (and Happy) 2013!

Retailers: Naughty or Nice?

I read a post today which made me think.  And when something provokes thought I like to share.

Yesterday in the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families blog, a study was posted where retailers were ranked in terms of their commitment to cosmetic safety. To me it is not important whether you necessarily shop these particular retailers or not but that we all understand that some retailers are diligent and care about what they stock and some are not.

In this particular study, Whole Foods came out on top.  No surprise as they have a long list of substances they won’t allow in their products and suppliers must comply or go elsewhere.  They even make this list public so consumers like you and I can check it out and know their policies. Kudos!

If you don’t shop any of the retailers noted in the study…not important.  There are retailers making a difference everywhere. Our job as concerned consumers is to find our own local best options. Take for instance Terra20 in Ottawa.  They have adopted the Whole Foods style list of ingredients they will not stock. This includes such dastardly ingredients as dibutyl phthalate (so none of this), BHA/BHT (so no Desitin baby cream), formaldehyde-releasing preservatives ( so no Johnson and Johnson Baby shampoo), parabens (so no Philosophy), and no Sodium Laureth Sulfate (so definitely no Kiehl’s Gentle Baby Wash or Aveeno Baby). Terra20 provides a great model for other retailers to follow.

So this Season you can determine yourself if your retailer is naughty or nice and make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to shop there. Essentially you need to be a warrior for your own health.  And don’t forget you are the customer so if you are not happy with something that is being stocked at your local retailer, don’t be shy TELL THEM.  If enough of us remind retailers that consumers care about the ingredients they are putting on their bodies, the more of them will take note and offer cleaner products.

And take a look at this petition The Campaign for Safe cosmetics has put together asking retailers to take their customers health seriously. You can sign it here if you wish.

Happy conscious shopping!

Junk Food For the Skin

I call it junk food for the skin.  Cosmetics made with petroleum-based ingredients including BHA, BHT, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, paraffin, petrolatum, parabens (all types), diazolidinyl urea, PEG chemicals, and products ending in ‘methicone’ or siloxane.

Not only are many of these ingredients toxic and once rubbed on your skin, go directly into your body (think how a nicotene patch works..) but they do nothing for your skin heatlh.

Cheap and mass-produced, petroleum products used in cosmetics are ‘filler’ products.  So to add insult to injury, these products are not only unhealthy they are also actually inert and offer skin no benefits.

It took me a while to figure this one out.  In my twenties, I would part with my rent money for expensive petroleum-based department store cosmetics.  I was taken by the fancy packaging and the women made-up to match who gave me the sales pitch.  My fault, I know.  I hadn’t yet learned to question what I was putting on my skin or to read labels.

Now a little older (read: fine lines/crow’s feet) and a little wiser, I can no longer afford a product not to do wonders on my skin.  Many beauty experts will tell you (unless of course they are on the receiving end of deep-pocketed companies) that these products clog pores and make drooping and saggy worse as inert synthetic ingredients offer no benefits.  I know there are many serums and creams based on vitamins, and even algae to help reduce wrinkles and reverse the effects of time.  Read many of these labels and you will find as I did, a significant amount of petro-chemicals with a very minute amount of the ‘age erasing’ ingredient all for a significant price.  As father time is marching on and my life no longer affords cosmetics where the packaging costs more than the product inside, I have switched to all-natural skincare.

The best options in skincare hands-down are the less processed, plant-based products. I love products that contain just a few ingredients and NO preservatives linked to ill health.

I love Organic Argan Oil for anti-aging and serious hydration. And Organic Rosehip Oil great for fighting wrinkles, sun damage and scars as it contains high levels of naturally occurring antioxidants. And I love  the mother of all skin hydrators, HydrExtreme an innovation, that caused the beauty world to take note earlier this year.  I love the benefits that entirely plant-based skincare lines such as Clinical Luxury by Nature, Consonant and Cocoon Apothecary offer…better hydrated skin and unit for unit they are usually less expensive than department store petroleum-based lines. Yippee!

If you think of skincare skincare as you do food, you may start to question using over-processed, chemical-laden, unhealthy ‘junk food’ skincare at all.

Remember you can check all the ingredients of your skincare at on the Skin Deep database and if you are not happy with what you are using, go natural!  Your skin, your health and your wallet may thank you for it.

Seven Fab Reasons To Go The Eco Beauty Market

I love all things natural and healthy.  Ever since I discovered some of the nastiest known chemicals  in my own kids shampoo, I became a warrior mom shunning the toxic stuff and trying to find new, healthier alternatives.  So needless to say, I am excited about the Eco Beauty Market coming to Toronto November 21, courtesy of Environmental Defence Canada.    Here are 7 fabulous reasons you may also want to attend:

1)  Something For Everyone. ‘Beauty’ in this case is not just lipstick.  There is truly something for everyone from baby up.  Tween and teen-inspired products from Keeki Pure & Simple. Plant-based ointments for babies and kids from Vancouver-based Thera-Wise (via Eco-Existence). And for anyone who wants to wear red lipstick and still be green, there will be lots of regular cosmetics without The Toxic Ten ingredients. Because absolutely nobody wants lead in their lipstick.

2) Information! Environmental Defence offers information on what you shouldn’t put on your body.  They have developed a handy little shopping guide which they make available for those who want to educate themselves on which ingredients to avoid.  And the you will find most of the vendors at the event are passionate sorts who will be happy to talk to you about why to use natural products vs. synthetic.

3) Samples.  In many cases, you will be able to touch, smell, and rub a little of whatever suits your fancy on your skin. Hint: Try the new Keeki Pure & Simple body lotions. Your welcome 🙂

4) Giveaways!  There will be lots of product giveaways (think ready-made Holiday gifts OR something for yourself) with proceeds of ticket sales going back to Environmental Defence. Whichever way you slice it, fun and so worthwhile.

5) Gifts!  With holiday season upon us, what a fab way to spend your money and give a special somebody a useful, non-toxic gift.  Many vendors will have ready-made gift packs. My faves for Holiday 2012 are the season’s uber-cute gift packs by Keeki Pure & Simple (water-based nail polish, non-toxic remover and organic lip shimmers) perfect for young girls and women on your Holiday list. As well as  the most fabulous boxed organic skincare sets (for both face and for body), by Consonant. I love Consonant’s line because it is safe, effective and popular among both women AND men (think ‘sharesies’ in the bathroom). And I hear Cocoon Apothecary will be launching a gift pack of its crazy-popular flower-based skincare line.

6) Location, Location, Location.  This event will take place smack dab in the middle of Toronto making it easy for those who want to come to walk, ride or take the transit.  Located at the Central YMCA Auditorium at 20 Grosvenor Street, the venue is accessible to thousands in downtown Toronto. And if you can’t make it, contact the vendors directly as most of them ship their products across Canada.

7) Sales proceeds in support of Environmental Defence. Support the great work Environmental Defence does on behalf of all Canadians. Specifically their Just Beautiful campaign educates Canadians about the harmful chemicals found in everyday personal care products along with safer alternatives. Voila The Eco Beauty Market!

Remember you need to RSVP for the event. Happy Eco Shopping!

Toxins in Toyland

With Holiday season in sight, the time is upon us for to be aware of the toxins lurking in Toyland.  If you just thought ‘its only October, its too early’, think again.  Stores are at this moment stocking items they are hoping you will buy for gift-giving. So parents read on as after reading my experience you want to arm yourself with some info before you go head first into Holiday buying mode at your local toy store.

My first experience finding toxins in kids products in a toy store was in a kiddie nail polish. My girls love nail polish so whether in the toy store or the Drug Mart, they oogle the fancy colours longingly. This is how we became aware of kids nail polish, Piggy Paint.  Piggy Paint markets itself as ‘all natural’ but take a read of the chemicals on the label and you will find one chemical that is a known neurotoxin. And these particular Piggies are crafty, they call the particular chemical, Neolone 950 on their label, a trade name for the more dastardly Methylisothiazolinone a known neurotoxin.

Now if Piggy Paint were to market its product as a ‘almost all-natural nail polish for kids with one chemical included that may adversely affect your child’s nervous system over time, would you buy it?  Clearly the company figured out we may not like their product if it were labelled as such. And so it goes in the world of cosmetics, why be up front when you can greenwash and get away with it?

So now I don’t trust many kids products in the toystore (let alone other in stores but more on that in a future post) and so I reguarly engage in ‘toy store research’.  I have since found a Hannah Montana lip gloss with terephthalate (an industrial plasticizer) AND parabens (linked to cancer) included, as well as Hello Kitty lip glosses with NO ingredients listed.  As a parent not sure which is worse but best to avoid both for safety’s sake.

Toxins are not just in cosmetic preparations in the toystore.  Plastics in general are also a serious source of health-affecting chemicals. Recently a mom, Lori Popkewitz Alper wrote an article on her blog about Disney lunchboxes and backpacks containing unsafe levels of phthalates.  These plastic-softening compounds are known to cause ill health affects in humans so why are they used in the manufacture of toys? You can have your say, as Lori has started a petition.  Want sign to it?  You will be in good company as 58, 513 people already have.  Case in point, there are toxins in kids products you may never have imagined.

So as I say, be a warrior for your own health.  Your kids will be better off without toxic toys AND just think by not buying them we are speaking with our wallets.  Stop buying and they will stop producing.

My favourite line of safe kids cosmetics is by Keeki Pure & Simple.  Water-based nail polish, remover, organic lip balms with a hint of shimmer for girls who want to be fancy.  No surprise, Keeki was founded by a mom who like many of us, just can’t bear an industry using our kids as chemical guinea pigs.

Keeki Pure & Simple available across Canada via Sessabel.  May your holiday season be SAFE and toxin-free.

***at the time of writing this post, Piggy Paint’s website noted the Neolone 950 on their website as an ingredient in their polishes.  They have since changed their website to remove the Neolone 950.  My bottle still contains Neolone 950.  If they have indeed changed their ingredients, please note that old stock will remain in people’s homes and in stores for some time.  Still best to read labels and exercise caution when dealing with toxins.

Burt and I Are Definitely OVER

Relationships are definitely fragile.   Over time, we become comfortable in a relationship and trust grows.   Even in the most trusting of relationships, something can happen that takes you by surprise and sideswipes you. This happened to me in my relationship with Burt’s Bees and as a result, we have parted ways.

Burt’s Bees touts themselves as a natural personal care company. And so as I trusted, I became an addict for Burt’s colour-tinted lip shimmers to soothe my consistently dry lips while giving a nice hint of colour.

Then the FDA published a report of conventional lipstick brands which were found to contain lead.  Burt’s lip shimmers were front and centre!  I was shocked by the news on Burt even more than I was at the other lead-laden lipsticks from Maybelline, L’Oreal, Cover Girl, and Revlon. I realize lead is a natural element so technically maybe Burt isn’t ‘greenwashing’ but as a known neurotoxin which can affect brain development in the unborn child among other things, I positively don’t want lead in my lipstick.

I researched and researched to figure out for myself that my initial reaction to avoid Burt and his products, was a sound decision. I read details which confirmed for me that the  jury’s still out among ‘experts’ on how much lead in a lip product  is ‘safe’. When this is the case, my opinion is it is best to avoid something.

One thing experts do seem to agree on is that lead accumulates in the body. So if you get a little here and a little there, the amount in your body becomes greater and greater.  And as I use lip balms oodles of times per day, my body was a prime candidate for this bioacculumlation of lead to occur.  So in the end, I have come to terms with my breakup decision.

The best options I have found  since for soothing dry, chapped lips are Consonant‘s Organic Lip Conditioner (no colour and oh so soothing) and Keeki Pure & Simple Lip Shimmers and Lip Balms.  The Keeki products are very popular in my house for my young daughters as they look a little ”fancy’ AND Keeki offers options with no colour and some with a little colour.  Both Consonant and Keeki products are rated among the best on the EWG’s Skin Deep database AND both are pledge companies with Environmental Defence Canada.  Now I feel I have safe options for lip care for every member of my family.

As these are both some of my favourite options in natural, worry-free products, they can be found on-line at Sessabel with delivery across Canada.