Category Archives Health
Parabens. They are a very controversial, commonly used synthetic preservative found in everything from eye cream and body scrubs to children’s allergy and cough medicines. Some people think parabens are OK–that there isn’t enough research out there to call them a real health threat. I think otherwise.
In the September 1, 2011 edition of Carcinogenesis, researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center released their findings showing that both BPA and Methylparaben at even low concentrations found in humans have negative health consequences such as an increased breast cancer risk.
It also went on to mention the ever-increasing male breast cancer rate, which is another alarming trend. These findings are quite similar to an older study on parabens from about 12 years ago. In this compelling study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, parabens were linked to breast cancer as they have shown to be hormone disruptive and lead to tumor growth.
I am the mother of boys. What really made me take notice of this issue was a July 2002 article in the Archives of Toxicology. According to Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.”
When I read about that study, I vowed never to use a product made with parabens on my children. So many children’s products contain parabens and to think that I could be rubbing a lotion on my boys that could alter their reproductive systems and have grave consequences to them later in life was very upsetting to me.
Parabens have been proven to penetrate the skin. As we already know, it’s estimated that more than 60% of what we apply to our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. We already know for certain that parabens fall into this group. What is so alarming is that parabens have been shown to mimic the hormones in our body. This is really a big deal. With so much research linking parabens to estrogen-driven cancers, why are companies still formulating with them? There are much better alternatives out there.
Even if you ignore these studies, you do not want to use parabens anyway, even if there was no link to breast cancer.
Methylparaben has been linked in several studies to premature aging. So while you’re buying your $70 anti-wrinkle cream that is formulated with parabens, keep that in mind!
As always, label reading is a must. Look for these ingredients on your labels. If you see them, remember that they are parabens:
Proper preservation of your body care (and other personal care product) is crucial. Without it, the integrity of the formulation is at risk and you develop serious infections from using improperly preserved products, including Staph. However, with many safer options on the market, parabens are not worth the risk.
I have been thinking about food allergies quite a bit lately, as the little boy next door was recently diagnosed with a milk allergy.
I have shared here before that my own son, Nicholas, was severely allergic to milk and egg whites until he was about four years old, requiring us to carry an EpiPen with us everywhere we went. When I was talking to the mother of the little boy about her son’s allergies, she said she didn’t even think about the ingredients in skin care containing milk products. Many products do, though, and this can pose a problem.
I remember the guilt I felt as a mother once I found out that my son was, indeed, allergic to cow’s milk. In addition to vomiting and hives, Nicholas had eczema. Being a person with an extensive background in skin care, I noticed his eczema right off the bat. I did what I believed to be best at the time. I slathered a natural lotion made with buttermilk all over his skin. And I did it several times a day in an attempt to treat his condition. My pediatrician had suggested a product filled with petrolatum, which I wasn’t fond of applying since it is essentially crude oil. I wanted something natural, something better.
I did this because the natural lactic acid and probiotics in buttermilk can be highly beneficial as a natural eczema remedy…unless, of course you are allergic. In fact, if you were to look up natural ingredients to treat eczema online, buttermilk and other dairy products are some of the most common recommendations.
I vividly remember my Nick’s eczema getting worse and worse. We soon found out from an allergist that Nick’s issue was a milk allergy (egg whites, too). That is when it became so clear to me that what we apply to our skin can have a major impact to what happens INSIDE our bodies. Think of it like this — sometimes your skin reacts to the way you feel on the inside. If you are super anxious or nervous, your skin may rebel and you will break out in hives. Flip it around–if you do something to your skin, it can impact how you feel internally. I know some people debate the claims often heard about 60% of what we apply on our skin gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
I was one of those people who doubted that because there was only anecdotal evidence. My opinion quickly changed after I saw what applying milk ingredients to my milk allergic son’s skin did to him. Once the allergy was diagnosed and I stopped applying milk-based ingredients to his skin (and stopped feeding him dairy), his eczema significantly improved.
I keep hearing about more and more people developing food allergies. I am one of them. For years, I have enjoyed clam bakes each summer. I loved clam chowder, linguini with clam sauce, and clams casino as an appetizer. All of a sudden, at the age of 38, I developed an allergy to clams last summer. It was sudden and no one knows why. It can just happen. I was rinsing clams before I steamed them and my arms started itching. I thought nothing of it and then I steamed them. I put them on my plate and started eating them, only to develop hives and a swollen tongue. I was having an allergic reaction. I thought it was just a strange coincidence, so I attempted to eat clams again. I had another reaction. Adults can develop food allergies, just as children can.
While there are no skin care products that I know of containing clams (how odd that would be!), when you have an allergy to soy, gluten, dairy or anything else that may be in your skin care or beauty products, you may find that applying these products will trigger the same reaction you experience when you eat them.
At (seed), every product with the exception of the hand scrub is dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free. Our hand scrub is dairy-free and gluten-free. Providing you with natural, safe products matters to you and matters to us.
If you have food allergies, pay very close attention to your ingredients. Everything from body wash and shampoo to conditioner and body lotion potentially has ingredients that may be derived from the very food ingredients you are allergic to.
Father’s Day is June 15th. Let’s talk about men and the sun today.
Thinking of my own husband’s habits, he really does not care about ingredients. He will run to the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk and it he sees a giant colorful bottle of shampoo, he will return home with it, provided it was on Shopper’s Club savings at Wegmans AND marked “25% more free.” He is the same way with sun care. While I scour the aisles and study ingredients listings intently, double checking my own knowledge with the Skin Deep mobile app on my phone, he grabs anything that is in a big bottle and says SPF 30.
And he rarely applies said sunscreen. He tans very easily and he really believes that if he gets a tan that his skin is protected from burning. In fact, I believe he rolls his eyes when I discuss UV damage. I can be lighthearted about it and poke fun at him, but truth be told this is an issue I am very concerned about.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, men or more likely to develop skin cancer than any other form of cancer. Men are also less likely to apply sunscreen and avoid the sun than women.
Why is that? Is it that, as women, we are concerned about skin aging caused by the sun more than me? Or is it the lack of sunscreen advertising targeting men? Just looking at the magazines on my coffee table, I see several ads for sunscreen showing cute babies and small children at the beach. I see ads talking about sunscreen being used to prevent wrinkles, but I am not seeing any ads about men using sunscreen.
This is something that needs to change
We have a male friend who hits the indoor tanning bed twice a week. He says he wants to look good on the golf course. At a Memorial Day picnic, I made a comment about skin cancer and he said that, “Hey, no one has ever died of skin cancer.” Statistics prove this to be untrue.
Sun care tips for men
- Avoid peak sun hours of 10am to 4pm
- Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen even on cloudy days
- Be sure sunglasses have UV protective lenses
- Wear a hat
- Make an appointment for a skin checkup. Only 21% of men regularly get skin exams. These are saving lives.
Small steps may lead to big changes
I am not saying to nag your father, husband, brother or sun. If you have natural mineral sunscreen on the shelf, he will be more likely to use it. If you are applying your own sunscreen, offer some to him as well. Getting the man in your life in the habit of wearing sunscreen may be life saving.
Coming next week
What’s next on the (seed) blog? We will clear up common misconceptions about oil and the skin. Stay tuned!
Water. We drink it, bathe in it, swim in it, cook with it and wash our clothing, cars and dishes in it. Did you know that water may be the cause of your skin itching and dryness?
When our skin is dry or itchy, we tend to apply more moisturizer because we believe that a lack of hydration is the issue. In reality, we may be failing to address the root problem — the pH of your water may be the true culprit.
What is pH?
The pH (potential of hydrogen) scale measures whether something is an acid or a base (alkaline). Pure water has a pH factor close to 7. This is considered neutral, meaning it is neither acidic nor alkaline. In a perfect world, all water would have a neutral pH, which would be ideal for the skin. We know, though, that the water of pH can actually vary.
Skin care troubles arise when our skin’s pH gets disrupted
Normal adult skin has a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5. This slightly acidic pH is a result of the carbon dioxide in the air and our own acid mantle. The acid mantle is a protective layer over our skin, which is comprised of our natural sebum, sweat and healthy flora.
Our skin’s pH can be disrupted — and that is when skin conditions can arise. If our skin’s pH gets too high, bacteria develop and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are more likely to occur. Sometimes, it is a matter of an infection that affects our pH. Other times, it’s in the products you are using. Skincare products, for example, have their own pH. An alkaline cleanser can strip away the natural moisture from the acid mantle and wreak havoc on your skin.
Your water might be the source of your itchy and dry skin
While pure water has a pH of 7, it’s important to remember that this can vary wildly. You’ve more than likely heard the term “hard” water. Hard water is alkaline and a common problem. Our water sources are often full of calcium ions, iron and magnesium. Other minerals are commonly present, as is chlorine.
Those trace minerals build up. If you have a hard time keeping your tiles clean because of “soap scum” or find that your cleansers are not lathering well, it is often because of hard water. This creates a vicious cycle — you’re not getting that lather, so you add more products. You rinse it all off, but because of the hard water, a residue is left behind. In addition to the minerals being left on your skin, soap and other ingredients get left on the skin. The end result is flaky, itchy, dry skin.
What can you do if you water is too alkaline? Simplicity is the remedy. All too often, people treat their dry and itchy skin with over the counter cortisone creams. This is not a good idea as the ingredients may be absorbed through your skin and into the bloodstream. A better option is to treat the skin with an extra gentle moisturizer such as (seed) Fragrance Free Body Cream.
There was a great article in the recent edition of Be Well Philly on ways to help treat allergies without using potentially harmful medications. I was super excited to see the article mention eucalyptus and peppermint!
I have had seasonal allergies for most of my life. I also have been on prescription allergy meds for many years. My son, Ben, also has really bad allergies. I do not want to see him go down the same path of years of being on allergy medication. He is 9 and they seem to get worse. I have been exploring our options.
We already have found that a Neti pot is very helpful to our cold symptoms. This is also on the list for treating allergies.
The reason I was excited to see the article mention eucalyptus and peppermint is because both of these natural essential oils are found in (seed) Decongesting Blend Body Oil. Of course, we do not make any medical claims, however, I personally have found great relief using this oil to treat my cold symptoms. I recently have been under the weather and I realize that it is another case of my spring allergies in full swing. Instead of starting up my prescription, I have been trying some natural remedies. One of them has included applying our Body Oil each night and massaging it into my skin for aromatherapy.
The article recommends eucalyptus to help clear the sinuses and nasal passages. They like peppermint oil to help with breaking down mucus and for helping with stuffiness, which is thanks to the menthol present in peppermint oil.
Nick, my ten year old, told me that he read about Acupuncture being used to treat allergies. I am a HUGE needlephobe, but I would really love to hear reader feedback on whether you have found allergy relief this way.
I do also have been following #4 on the Be Well Philly list, which is to consume a bit of local honey each day. I buy mine at local farmer’s markets. I love Davis Honey from Cayuga, New York I buy this raw honey at the Rochester Public Market. When you consume local honey, it is believed that your body will eventually work up an immunity to pollen!
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Did you know that there are five miraculous fruits that can significantly improve the overall appearance of your skin? Whether it is skin dryness, dullness, flaking, blotchiness or uneven tone, these common skin complaints can cause the skin to lose some of its beautiful glow. You may notice that your skin’s texture is even on the rough side.
No worries–all you need to do is head to the produce department of your local grocery store or to the nearest farmer’s market and you’ll be able to reclaim that healthy, youthful clarity your skin once had.
When it comes to skin radiance, all you need to remember is that fruit is your friend!
1. Pineapple gives a healthy glow.
Pineapple contains an abundance of bromelain. Bromelain is special enzyme that gently exfoliates the skin. Other skin care benefits of pineapple include improving the appearance of acne scars, neutralizing free radicals, and an increase in both luminosity and hydration. Skin will often look more clear, even fresher.
2. Get rid of dead skin cells with papaya.
Papaya is rich in papain, another skin-benefiting enzyme. Papain contains a large quantity of Vitamin C, which will ultimately give skin a a brighter, healthier look.
Papaya also will help aid the cell renewal and turnover process, which helps the skin slough away dead skin cells.
3. When life gives you lemons…
When you think of lemons, you don’t often think of skin care. Lemons, though, can greatly improve your skin. Not only can this acidic fruit help to lighten brown spots, but lemons can give a natural glow.
A word to the wise — as lemons are high in acid, the juice can sting broken or irritated skin. Ouch! You can help prevent this by diluting the freshly squeezed lemon juice with some water.
4. Berries are powerful brighteners!
Strawberries contain more Vitamin C than a plump, juicy orange. Salicylic acid is also present in strawberries, making it even more beneficial to the skin. Why? Salicylic acid can reach into the pores and help “unclog” them. This can help purge milia, whiteheads and blackheads as well. Strawberries are one of the best natural brightening ingredients for improving the appearance of dull skin.
5. An apple a day keeps dullness away.
Not just any apple will do when it comes to getting your glow back. Green apples are best because they are very rich in Malic acid. Gentler than other acids such as Glycolic and Salicylic acid, Malic acid encourages cell turnover without irritating sensitive skin.
It can also help to gently fade sun spots, even out blotchiness, and help eliminate fine lines. The result? An instant, youthful glow.
Eat your fruits!
Clear and glowing skin are synonymous with being the picture of good health. You can easily get that radiant look by adding the above five fruits to your diet. Not only will the appearance of your skin show a gradual improvement, but your overall health may improve as well.
The other day, I was at the grocery store waiting to pick up a prescription. While I was waiting, I decided to browse the healthy and beauty aisles. As I passed the (seed) products, I strolled down a bit and started to look at some other products. My day job as a freelance beauty writer often involves writing ad copy and site content. One of the tasks I have been doing is writing what you see on bottles and jars of facial products. Those few words can make or break the sales of a product. If you don’t capture someone’s attention right off the bat, chances are they will not try the product. As someone who is passionate about natural ingredients, something that really bothered me during my stroll down the body care aisle was the number of brands using the lure of natural to get you to buy.
“With real shea butter”, “with 100% natural ingredients”, “with natural emollients”, and the like are slapped across labels up and down the aisle. This is just not cool. Why? If the claims were accurate, it would be great. To the consumer just starting out with better ingredients, though, it is confusing. If one goes only by the claims on the front of the bottle, you’re tricked into thinking that the product is good for you. Unfortunately, this is not the case with so many products.
Let’s look at some examples:
I found a very popular body lotion with oatmeal and shea butter. In a large font, it says “100% Natural Ingredients”. To the unsuspecting customer, you would think that this is a NATURAL product, perhaps even 100% natural. The reality, though, is that this is NOT a natural product.
The ingredients are– Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Mineral Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Urea, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Avena Sativa (Oat) Meal Extract, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ceteth 10 Phosphate, Dicetyl Phosphate, Carbomer, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetearyl Glucoside, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Yellow 10, Red 40, Blue 1
So, yes, it contains she butter and oatmeal (albeit an extract), but it also contains petrochemicals, urea (from animals), silicones, artificial colors & fragrances and phenoxyethanol. They neglect to mention that while a miniscule portion of the lotion contains natural ingredients, that this is FAR from natural.
Another example of mis-using “natural” is a product with the word Naturals in the title. It claims it can relives stress because of the lavender, ylang-ylang and chamomile in it. Good stuff, right?
Here are the ingredients of this “natural” lotion– Water, Glycerin, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Petrolatum, Isopropyl Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour (Oat), Sodium Chloride, Benzyl Alcohol, Fragrance
This one was REALLY misleading. If aromatherapy benefits are made, there should be essential oils. There are NO essential oils in this lotion. None. The lavender, ylang-ylang and chamomile are just FRAGRANCE OILS. Synthetics. Nothing therapeutic. There are petrochemicals, silicones, and aside from the water and oat FLOUR, this is just a bottle of synthetic ingredients packaged up as a soothing, natural body care product.
Consumers are being mislead because companies know that the natural health & beauty industry is hot. People want healthier products and the market has grown exponentially. What irks this natural beauty enthusiast is that companies are taking advantage of your interest in natural. They are putting labels on that give a natural vibe — images of leaves, the color green, pictures of honey pots, aloe plants, etc., when in reality the recipes are the same as they always were.
Being an informed consumer is everything. You deserve better. If you are shopping for a natural product and spend your hard earned money on it, you deserve to come home with a NATURAL natural product, not a faux natural.
When we tell you that our Relaxing Lavender product has lavender, it really does contain NATURAL lavender–real lavender, not something dyed to be a lavender color or a lab-created fragrance made to smell like the real deal. And when we tell you our products are natural, you can be confident that all (seed) Body Care products are indeed 100% natural.
Don’t be duped. Read the ingredients listings. Ask questions. Know what you are buying.
Today, I’d like to talk about an ingredient we use in many of our products here at (seed): Coconut Oil.
I’ve been a huge fan of coconut oil ever since it nearly erased a chronic skin condition I have on my upper arms called Keratosis Pilaris. You may know someone who has this condition, or you may suffer from it yourself. It looks across between red a rash and red goosebumps. I once read a few years back to apply it topically to the affected areas and, sure enough, it really helped me. Ever since that point, I have sought out products with this ingredient.
Skin Care Benefits of Coconut Oil:
There are many skin benefits of coconut oil. In fact, you will find Coconut Oil in our hand scrub, hand cream, body cream, body lotion, and body oil. That’s how much we like it!
Coconut oil is rich in something called Lauric Acid. In fact between 40-50% of coconut oil is actually Lauric Acid. This is a very promising natural treatment for acne. Not just for acne, coconut oil works on dry skin and on skin with eczema and flakiness.
Did you know, though, that there are many other uses for coconut oil?
I’d like to say that I used to be skeptical about some of the other uses. First of all, I used to cringe when I heard people talking about using Coconut Oil for cooking. It goes against so many things you’ve heard about from traditional practitioners because it being a saturated fat. I used to think I’d get clogged arteries or that it’s make me gain more weight or make my blood pressure go up. That is what my internist told me, too.
From my own experience, when I use coconut oil in cooking, it is easier to lose weight. Dr. Oz recently has been talking about the benefits of coconut oil and one of the ones he mentioned is weight loss. He mentioned also how it can treat everything from skin conditions (which we have known), ulcers, and more. In fact, just a couple years ago, Dr. Oz was also skeptical of this oil and then decided to do more research. He now speaks of it regularly on his show.
*It is said that Coconut Oil can help prevent fatty deposits in the liver.
*Coconut Oil is used by many people now to help control diabetes.
*Coconut Oil is used by naturopaths to treat pancreatitis symptoms.
*Many believe Coconut Oil helps your bones absorb magnesium & calcium more effectively.
*Anecdotal evidence shows Coconut Oil can help prevent tooth decay.
More on that last statement– within the last couple weeks, a well-respected Chicago dentist, Dr. Jessica Emery, came out with a statement on the Ayurvedic pratice called Oil Pulling and advocated its use. Oil pulling involves swishing unrefined coconut oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes per day without swallowing it. After you have swished it around, you spit it out. It is believed that you can remove some of the bacteria and toxins from your mouth that way. Blog posts on the subject have gone viral and almost all of my friends have tried it now and swear by. I am on day 5 of oil pulling. My personal observation– my teeth feel much cleaner. I personally am seeing a bit more whiteness. I drink tea, coffee, and red wine, so this is noticeable to me.
How about you? How do YOU use coconut oil?
Yoga. I cannot get enough.
I have done yoga in the past, but it was through a community ed type of program in a bright school gym. It was neither relaxing nor enjoyable.
Fast forward several years– Vinyasa Flow Yoga. One word: AMAZING.
A few weeks ago, I enrolled in an introductory class at a local yoga studio. The class is in the evening and it is done in a peaceful, beautiful studio. The room is very dim and it is also heated–between 85 and 90 degrees. It is warm and comforting. The heat makes it easier for you to move while you are practicing yoga for 75 minutes.
I have been experiencing many benefits of yoga in these few weeks.
1. Better sleep
I walk out of yoga at 8:45, get home around 9, and then I change shower and change. Yoga gives me healthy cravings, so I have an apple with sunflower seed butter spread on it. I then chat with my husband, check my email one last time (I really am working on unplugging more), and then head off to bed. Normally, I toss and turn. After yoga, though, I fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. I sleep through the night and wake up feeling, well, AWAKE. It’s a great feeling.
2. No more achy muscles
I have carpal tunnel and sometimes there is a pain that shoots up my arm–it can be like an invisible cable pulling between by shoulder and wrist. This has improved since I started yoga. My muscles all feel very well stretched and never uncomfortable ad tight. My body feels stronger and more flexible.
3. My skin looks better
With this form of hot yoga, I work up a sweat. Sweating is a form of detox to help shed toxins. Since I have done yoga, my skin looks even healthier.
4. An improvement in emotional health
I am one of those people with a racing mind. I have a hard time sitting still. I am not one of those people who can sit, say “Om”, and be one with my self. HOWEVER, I spend the entire 75 minutes focused on my breathing and fluidity of my movements. Am I worried about the dishes to put away? Homework papers to sign? Work to accomplish? Nope. This 75 minute mental break is a really wonderful thing!
5. I can balance on one foot!
Maybe it’s silly, but I have never been steady on my feet. At my first class, we learned the Tree Pose. This involves standing on one foot while resting the other foot on you thigh. I nearly toppled over! I can do it now for a long period of time. Small steps…but I am proud that I can start something new and really embrace it!
How about you? Have you tried yoga? What benefits have you experienced?
Have you heard of Horst Rechelbacher? You may be unfamiliar with his name, but you no doubt have heard of the company he founded in 1978, Aveda. Mr. Rechelbacher lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last week. He was 72.
Today I’d like to talk about Mr. Rechelbacher’s legacy–and to speak to you about why he has been called the “father of safe cosmetics.” Mr. Rechelbacher’s passion and determination inspired me back when I started questioning ingredients. I did so much reading up on the hows and whys of his passion for safe cosmetics ingredients. In doing so, I considered him (and still do) one of my role models.
In 1978, he dared to try something different. No other companies in the US were talking about herbs and plant extracts. Mr. Rechelbacher’s mother was an herbalist in Austria and he became fascinated by nature and our planet. While he never finished school–in fact, he didn’t go beyond fourth grade–he had passion and a true belief in causes he championed. At the age of 14, he was working as an apprentice at a hair salon and later went on to become a stylist in Rome.
He later settled in Wisconsin and would be injured in a car accident. After the accident, he became interested in Ayurvedic medicine. That is when he renewed his passion for herbs. He began experimenting with ingredients and started crafting hair care products in his kitchen sink. He continued to utilitze nature’s gifts of food, plants, and herbs in his creations which eventually catapulted into Aveda– which began as a two employee company and ultimately sold to Estee Lauder in 1997 for $300 million.
Mr. Rechelbacher was very concerned about the ingredients being put in our personal care products and he set out to raise awareness. When he was formulating his own products, he would actually drink a small amount in front of people so they would see that that were safe enough to put in your body.
In 2004, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics was born and Mr. Rechelbacher helped to finance it. Janet Nudleman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund says, “Horst was in many ways the father of safe cosmetics. He took action to address the problem long before most of us knew there was anything to even worry about.”
I think that anyone who has a passion for healthy ingredients and safe cosmetics really owes much of this widespread awareness to the efforts of Mr. Rechelbacher. Here at (seed), we talk about the concept of “looking for better” when it comes to ingredients in body care products. I can’t help but to think Mr. Rechelbacher was looking for better years ago–and that he truly has inspired company owners and natural products enthusiasts across the globe to demand better.