Is Your Child Suffering From This Not-So-Well-Known Allergy?

Most of us are well-aware that tree nuts, dairy, soy, corn, seafood and other foods can cause serious issues to those allergic to them.  However it is not so well-known that harsh, synthetic chemicals can also cause serious allergic reactions especially in children.

I found out the hard way a few years ago, when I slathered my then 2 year old’s body in a big brand chemical-based sunscreen thinking I was protecting her. The result was frightening. Her wee body swelled and turned red from head to toe. Luckily in our case no swelling of the throat occurred. The medical doctors attending to her described the situation as a ‘hyper-allergic reaction’.

However, as many parents of allergic children know, you NEVER let your guard down. You arm yourself the best way you know how and are always on guard. With allergies you can’t assume what the ‘next time’ could bring.  I now live life avoiding chemicals in my daughter’s products that could be suspect in fear of a similar or worse episode.

I was happy this week when CBCHealth raised awareness of chemical allergies. Their article documented the case of an otherwise healthy 8 year old girl who had an allergic reaction to a synthetic chemical in a children’s product. The girl was having her mouth wiped constantly with baby wipes containing methylisothiazolinone (aka MI or MIT). The picture of the young girl causes me upset. Unfortunately her parents had no idea what was in the wipes and the issue synthetic chemicals can cause.

MI is a very commonly used preservative that has been on my personal ‘hotlist’ since my daughter’s episode (it was one of the chems making up the chemical stew that was her sunscreen that day).  You will find this chemical on Health Canada’s Hotlist of cosmetic chemicals…a list of the nastiest chems known to be used in cosmetics in Canada. And if you research MI, you will also find medical studies linking it to neurotoxicity. All good reason for any parent to avoid methylisothiazolinone in their family’s products.

Also according to the CBC article the girl’s allergy was initially mis-diagnosed as impetigo or eczema and she was prescribed steroid creams and antibiotics.  As the baby wipes were still being used, the prescription drugs did nothing to clear up her skin. Makes me wonder how many other kids may have been similarly mis-diagnosed? And how many parents are not aware of the potential issues caused to children from commonly-used synthetic chemicals? How many parents think their child’s eczema-like symptoms may be an inherent skin condition as this girl’s family did?

Once I my guard down. My husband took my daughter to a classmate’s birthday party when she was in kindergarten.  It was being held in the family’s backyard. Being mid-June, the mom hosting the party opted to slather the child-guests upon arrival in big-brand sunscreen (full of the same chemicals that caused our family grief a few years before).  I never considered someone else would put product on my child’s body. As my husband ran to the car to retrieve our zinc-based sunscreen, the hostess was insisting not to bother as she had enough for all. In my perfect world all parents would be aware that products other than food can cause serious allergic reaction.

I understand navigating chemicals is not everyone’s cup of tea.  Fortunately, I have the advantage of having studied environmental chemistry at university. Since my daughter’s allergic reaction I have delved deeper into researching everyday household chemicals, all health issues they are linked to as well as alternative products which do not contain controversial chemicals. And I now love to talk chemicals to interested parents in hopes of helping out. So feel free to ask!

Advertisements

The Superstar Skin Hydrator You May Not Know About

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

rosehip__74304.1343063463.1280.1280

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.

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!

K-I-S-S Sunscreens

KISS is an acronym for ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’. It was originally developed by the US Navy in the 1960 so to avoid unnecessary complexity in hope of increased success of any given system. Basically the ‘Less is More’ priniciple.

This methodology makes great sense to me when trying to explain the complex world of sunscreens and their chemicals. I am asked almost daily by people about what to avoid in sunscreens? And why? And what best is to use? And for kids?

Here goes:  What to Avoid In Sunscreens K-I-S-S Style…

OXYBENZONE.  Take note of that word and know that experts are now linking its use to endocrine disruption, photoallergic reactions, persistence and bioaccumulation.  This means not only can it pollute YOU but once in the environment it doesn’t break down potentially wreaking havoc on marine life. No two ways around it but to AVOID IT.

The Environmental Working Group notes these sunscreens use oxybenzone:

  • LaRoche-Posay Anthelios 60 Face UltraLight Sunscreen SPF 60
  • Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion Sunscreen SPF 30
  • Aveeno Active Naturals protect + Hydrate Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30

RETINYL PALMITATE. This skin-conditoning agent has been found by the FDA to produce free-radicals that can damage DNA and cause gene mutations when exposed to UV light. So why is it used in sunscreens and especially those for kids???  Well clearly Canadian authorities are onto it as in the last few days it has been reported that Health Canada is looking at putting warning labels on sunscreens that contain retinyl palmitate. Bottom line: avoid, avoid, avoid the brands that still use it in sunscreens.

And EWG reports these sunscreens use retinyl palmitate:

  • Banana Boat Baby Tear Free Sunblock Lotion, SPF 50
  • Arbonne Baby Care Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Almay Line Smoothing Liquid Makeup for Dry Skin SPF 15

SPRAY SUNSCREENS. Not only do they pose an inhalation hazard BUT the propellant used is often a form of butane, a fuel used in cigarette lighters.  Remember last summer, people caught fire after using Banana Boat Spray Sunscreen? If you find yourself saying, ‘but it is so easy to spray vs. rub’…give your head a shake…really is the risk worth it?

What To Use: Zinc and titanium dioxide or a mix of are the two mineral-based sunscreen ingredients that Health Canada recognizes as ‘natural products’ when it comes to sunscreens.  The only issue with zinc or titanium is if they are ground too find such that the particles can go into the skin.  Look for ‘No Nanotechnology‘ or ‘No Nanoparticles‘.

Caveat: ALWAYS READ LABELS.  It’s a good habit to get into.  When in doubt research your ingredients on-line. And don’t assume a brand or product name with a natural or healthy-sounding name is better for you.  Read and research always!

Happy and safe sunning everyone!

The Dark Side Of Baby Oil And Why You May Want to Avoid It

Conventional baby oil is made from mineral oil and fragrance. Mineral oil is sometimes called liquid paraffin (or Paraffinum Liquidum) as it closely resembles melted wax. You will find it listed by either name as an ingredient on product labels.

Mineral oil is a by-product of the petroleum industry, which translates to it is derived from crude oil.  Make no mistake, it is not environmentally-friendly nor baby-friendly. Pictures you may have seen of an oil spill in water gives a visual of the environmental part of the issue. As well, many believe that using mineral oil on your child’s skin is akin to wrapping the tot in plastic wrap as skin really can’t breathe properly when doused in petroleum oil. Worse, is that mineral oil is a suspected carcinogen according to some environmental experts and in recent years mineral-based baby oil has caused horrific, unspeakable injuries to at least one baby and death to  others.

So I am convinced that there may not be a more frightening ‘baby’ product available. As it is always best to know all the risks associated with a product so that you can make the best decision for your family, here are some details:

In 1985, a 15 month old boy suffered horrible injuries after he drank baby oil oil and inadvertently got some in his lungs.  The boy lived but is reported to live today in a state where he cannot move his arms or legs as they are stiff and spastic. He cannot speak and suffers mental retardation. A lawsuit ensued, the details can be seen here.

And in 2001, a 16 month old boy died in the US after swallowing baby oil and also getting some into his lungs.  According to this account, It took 28 days for the end to come, when he suffocated to death. Sadly, it was reported that doctors could do nothing to help him once the oil got into his lungs.

And in the news this past summer, a 14 month old girl in California died after ingesting baby oil. Reports of the tragedy, confirm the baby’s mother said that it took a split second for her daughter to get the baby oil and ingest it.  Little Mya Rose lived for a number of weeks then passed away earlier this month.

The bottom line was that the parents in each case claimed they had no idea that this product was a hazard to young children and thus, it was not treated as a potentially dangerous substance in their home.  I have to admit that when my kids were babies I had no idea either and had baby oil in arm’s reach of the change table. And even though it makes perfect sense that a child could aspirate on an oil, I had no real thoughts of the inherent danger either.

The early cases were apparently integral in putting in place laws regarding child-proof lids on products that could possibly injure children. However the danger still exists, so it is good to know that better alternatives exist to soothe your child’s skin without the potential risk of asphyxiation.

What’s the alternative?  For a baby’s behind, choose a good quality all-natural (non-liquid) balm made from soothing, plant-based oils such as olive and jojoba.  I like Ella’s Botanicals Magic Balm or Bottoms Up! Diaper Balm.  The Magic Balm has multi-uses for soothing all dry, irritated skin so is good for the entire family.  For a cream-based skin soother, I know tons of mamas who love the all-natural Original Sprout’s Scrumptious Baby Cream.  It definitely works well at soothing chafed skin and the scent is very close to the scent of conventional baby oil. Interestingly, the entire Original Sprout baby line seem to elicit almost a cult-like following by moms in the know. And for an unscented option,a good option is Dr. Robin For Kids Daily Moisture Cream. As it’s a great moisturizer developed by a doctor for children with super-sensitive or eczema-prone skin. And as the scent is  not specifically ‘baby’, it a good choice for anyone in the family to use. And a tube lasts a long, long time. Yippee!

If you have a personal favourite baby or toddler skin soother, feel free to let me know.  I always love to hear what other parents use on their wee ones skin. And please, please do pass this information along to anyone who may benefit from the info in hope this NEVER happens to another baby EVER.

7 Nasty Chems to Avoid in Baby Products

 

iStock_baby in bathBaby bath and body products often contain unsavoury synthetic chemicals just as adult products do.  I am often asked by moms wanting to avoid chemicals with a bad rap, what to avoid in their kids products?

First off, I don’t subscribe to the’ If its allowed to be used, what could possibly be wrong with it?’ line of thought. My personal rule of thumb is if there is even a suspected health issue I will not use it on my kids. I grew up in an era when my parents said over and over again about smoking, ‘We didn’t know’…Science can take decades to conclude ill health effects of products and take action so why wait?

Here are current chemical concerns in common baby and kid products that I choose to avoid:

1) Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservativess such as Quat-15, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin

I found Quat-15, in the shampoo my kids were bathed in by hospital staff when they were hours old. I have really never got over the fact that both my babies had a ‘christening’ of controversial chemicals, only hours out of the womb. 

2) Parabens are one of the most widely used preservatives in body care products. Parabens have been linked to ill heath effects, most notably with breast cancer. Some baby products are ripe with this stuff. So make sure you are aware of brands that still see fit to use such unsavoury ingredients in baby products.

3) PEGs (polyethylene glycols) widely used as thickeners, solvents and softeners. There are a number of types of PEG’s used in baby and kid products.  The issue science has found with PEGs is that they are often contaminated with toxic compounds such as ethylene oxide and 1.4 dioxane both possible human carcinogens.  So best to be safe and not use any products containing these compounds

4) Sodium Laureth Sulfate is basically an inexpensive detergent which makes bath/shampoo products bubble and foam up. David Suzuki and others tell us it is ALSO often contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane, again both suspected as human carcinogens. So as Sodium Laureth Sulfate is neither gentle on skin nor a safe option, better to avoid it. Check out baby shampoos currently using this.

5) Oxybenzone a very common sunscreen chemical.  Basically THE reason I gave up those conventional sunscreens when I had babies. Oxybenzone is linked to developmental, AND reproductive toxicity, and as if that’s not enough, also linked to endocrine disruption. So why do some products geared toward children still use it in baby sunscreens? And perhaps the most serious situation is by companies that claim to have at least one foot in the camp of natural or ‘better than’ products that use oxybenzone in baby sunscreens…. causing serious confusion in the marketplace.

6) BHT and BHA are closely related compounds which act as preservatives in moisturizers. These are also used as food preservatives most notably where kids are concerned in their breakfast cereals. Research has shown a link to messing up hormone function and both are sadly suspected as a human carcinogens. I find it unacceptable to find such nastiness in kids products at all.

7) Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone are widely used in shampoos and soaps.  As these are known neurotoxins, and are found in some kids products.   These compunds also used used in paper mills to control algae and fungus growth.  Yup, industrial chems. And be aware some ‘natural’ brands use these in children’s nail polish. So research your product ingredients to be sure you are getting something truly safe.

It is not so important what product or brand you use but that it is clean and offers no hint of potential health concerns.  And its good to note, ‘fancy’ brands are often no better. If in doubt, research and ask questions.

A great option to check what is in your products yourself is the Skin Deep database. It a valuable resource to check out ingredients in cosmetic and body care ingredients….even ingredients for which you may have sensitivities or allergies too. And if you find there is any suspected toxicity in an ingredient, of course you can research further.

I always like to say that we all need to become a warrior for our own family’s health. Only you can decide what level of risk you find acceptable where your family is concerned. And I take the stance that its best to figure out what level of risk is associated and then decide what I can live with. Nothing makes me crazier than someone trying to convince me about a particular chemical ‘It can’t be that bad or ‘Studies haven’t concluded…’  A ‘link’ to something horrible is enough to have me seek out alternatives where my family is concerned.

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!

No More Toxins In My Tub.

safe baby products, natural shampoo, toxic-free cosmeticsIn mid-August, 2012 a huge announcement came from one of the largest cosmetic companies in the world, Johnson & Johnson.  They announced they were phasing out harmful chemicals they use in their iconic Johnson Baby brand as well as their other brands Aveeno and Neutrogena.

Parents were shocked that a trusted cosmetic giant admitted such a dastardly deed.  Formaldehyde in baby shampoo?  Why?

But as parents, what to do with this information? Do we laud them for coming clean when other cosmetic behemoths such as  L’Oreal, Procter and Gamble and Avon have not made such a commitment and continue to use the same harmful chemicals in their formulations?  Or do we stop buying their products in disgust that a baby shampoo company ever stooped so low.

In my case, I was upset enough to get rid of the chemical-laden product in our shower caddy and swap for my well-researched, more natural alternatives.  And I will never go back.

In our case, switching to natural products allowed my daughter’s eczema-prone skin to heal and to be healthy without using topical steroid cream. AND my skin has never felt so healthy and hydrated. Yippee!

I have found benefits of using natural products that I had never imagined. Plant-based products don’t strip the skin of natural oils.  Plant-based moisturizers actually sink into the skin nourishing it vs. petroleum-based products which sit on top of the skin. And none of the ingredients in my natural products have ever been linked to cancer or ill-health.  And as far as I can see when authorities on pollution such as Environmental Defence Canada, tell us to avoid many of the synthetic chemicals I found in conventional body products, I believe that I am not only doing something good for my health but for the environment.  If these chemicals are that toxic, it makes sense to me that sending them down my shower drain may not be good for our waterways either.

So now I am a natural product convert. The Johnson and Johnson admission brought to light for me an issue in an industry and an opportunity to find healthier products for my family.

So now in my shower caddy you will find, my new favourite natural products. No more methylisothiazolinone, formaldehyde, or SLS lurking in my loo. My fave body wash for little kids has become  Dr. Robin For Kids.  My 7 year old and I love Clinical Luxury by Nature’s All Over Soap as it makes your skin and the bathroom smell like a spa.  My hubby’s fave organic cleansers are by Canada’s Consonant. Consonant Organic Body Wash in Citrus Bergamot and the Organic Foaming Face Wash. These are both now essentials in my home.  And my all-time favourite haircare (shampoo, conditioner, detangler) line for wee ones is Original Sprout. I have never seen such a cult-type following for a kids natural line as I have with this one….yet always more to discover! As these are some of my favourite better-for-you-products, you can find them on-line at Sessabel.