Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

Today, I'd like to go over some of the ingredients to avoid while pregnant.  Since over 60% of what we apply to our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream, what expectant moms use is really very important.

I remember being concerned about what to eat (or not to eat) while I was pregnant. As much as I love soft cheeses and coffee with caffeine, I eliminated them from my diet from the get go. At that time, it was recommended by my doctor. I was careful about skin care, but there is just so much more info these days.

Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant

As wonderful as essential oils are, some really need to be avoided while pregnant. As someone who studied aromatherapy extensively, this can be a tricky subject because there ARE so many benefits of essential oils, but there still is research out there suggesting many should be avoided, so I would err on the side of caution, especially during the crucial first trimester.

Here is a great link from the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists. They, in fact, recommend avoiding all essential oils during the first trimester and I do agree with this.

Essential Oils to Avoid in Pregnancy (source)
•    Arnica (homeopathic is fine)
•    Basil
•    Birch (sweet)
•    Bitter almond
•    Boldo leaf
•    Broom
•    Buchu
•    Calamus
•    Camphor (brown or yellow)
•    Cassia
•    Cedarwood/thuja
•    Chervil
•    Cinnamon
•    Clary sage
•    Clove (bud, leaf or stem)
•    Coriander
•    Costus
•    Deertongue
•    Elecampane
•    Fennel
•    Horseradish
•    Hyssop
•    Jaborandi leaf
•    Juniper berry
•    Melilotus
•    Mugwort
•    Mustard
•    Nutmeg
•    Origanum
•    Parsley (large doses)
•    Pennyroyal
•    Pine (dwarf)
•    Rosemary
•    Rue
•    Sassafras
•    Savin
•    Savory (summer)
•    Tansy
•    Thyme red (large doses)
•    Tonka
•    Wintergreen
•    Wormwood

Other Ingredients:

Neem Oil -- Neem has been shown to cause damage to the forming kidneys of babies in the womb.

Tea Tree Oil -- In pregnancy, this has been linked to hormonal issues and abnormal development in boys.

Oxybenzone -- This is found in many different sunscreens.  In pregnancy, this ingredient has been shown to cause hormonal issues.

Nanoparticles  -- The more and more I study nanoparticle technology, the more concerned I become. There needs to be more regulation of this one. In pregnancy, I recommend that you err on the side of caution.  In a 2011 study, research revealed that nanoparticles caused pregnancy complications in mice. (source). These are found in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide--opt for pressed powder makeups over loose. Nanoparticles in loose minerals are much easier to inhale and have dispersed in the air. You will also find nanoparticles in some sunscreens.

Salicylic Acid -- Also called BHA or beta hydroxy acid, this is a wonderful oil soluble ingredient to get deep into the pores, help ease inflammation and for the treatment of acne-- unless you are pregnant. Since this ingredient is in the aspirin family, it needs to be avoided. 

Oral salicylins (like aspirin) have been shown to cause birth defects and increase bleeding problems. While there aren't concrete studies yet on topical salicylic acid in pregnancy, since we know there are great risks taking the oral form, these need to be avoided in skin care. You will also want to avoid white willow bark while pregnant. This is a natural form of salicylic acid and is often found in organic and natural skin care products. (white willow bark source)

Retinoids -- Oral retinoids, such as Accutane, have been shown to cause birth defects. While less is known concerning topical forms of vitamin A, it is recommended by the experts to avoid them while pregnant. Look for these names on labels--
Differin (adapelene)
Retin-A, Renova (tretinoin)
Retinoic acid
Retinyl linoleate
Retinyl palmitate
Tazorac and Avage (Tazarotene)

Phthalates -- No one should be using phthalates, but they may be especially harmful for pregnant women.  In 2005, there was a study conducted at the University of Rochester by Dr. Shanna Swan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showing a "significant relationship" to the presence of higher quantities of phthalates present in a pregnant woman's body and changes/altered genitals of boy babies. (source)

Phthalates are often components of artificial fragrances and in many nail polishes. Look for DBP or dibutyl phathalate on the label. Unfortuntately, this is not legally required on labels when it is in fragrance. Avoid artificial fragrances.

Formaldehyde Releasers -- Look on your labels for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and quaternium-15. These all release formaldehyde. These have been linked to cancer, as well as having neurotoxic effects. The worst thing you can do -- get a Brazilian Blowout. These contain around 10% formaldehyde and are carcinogenic. No one should get one of these, especially pregnant women. It is not worth the chance to you or your unborn baby.

Parabens -- Many people think parabens are okay--that there isn't enough research out there to call them a real health threat. While I do not believe in being an alarmist, I would NOT use parabens on my kids, nor would I use them while pregnant.

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 11 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.”

Being pregnant is a wonderful journey. Don't stress over the little things. Enjoy it -- and be healthy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Help! I am breaking out!

Of all of the skin care questions readers have asked me over the years, "What can I do about my acne?" seems to be the most popular. I have been very fortunate never to have personally battled acne, other than the very rare hormonal zit that will pop up and last a day or so. As a teen, I did get a couple on my forehead from time to time, but I am really lucky never to have had to endure what so many women and men have to battle each day.  When I was working outside the home, acne was probably one of the greatest concerns I saw with clients and customers. 

Battling acne can have such a profound effect on a person's self esteem. I sometimes think people do not realize that. Acne is visible and if it is severe (or when it leads to acne scars), it can drive people to want to seek hope in every "miracle" product and treatment out there.  


First of all, let's dispel some myths about acne. Do you remember being a teenager and being told that chocolate and greasy foods trigger acne? That is not true. People also would be given the advice that if you had acne, your face wasn't clean enough. So many people over-cleanse in the attempt to remove the "dirty" oils that people often think cause breakouts. Just because you have acne doesn't mean your face isn't clean. That is another myth.   


People with acne have pores that become blocked with sebum. This trapped oil eventually develops bacteria and results in breakouts. One can have different kinds of acne from the sore red pimples (inflammatory) to blackheads & whiteheads (non-inflammatory and AKA comedones) and the little white dots called milia.   


There are some steps that I recommend to treat acne safely and gently:  

1. Cleanse with a gentle cleanser without fragrance or even essential oils. Part of the problem is that people wash their faces with harsh, detergent cleansers with the hope of drying out the acne. This is not what will happen. Fragrance may also be contributing to those breakouts. Plus, you don't want to get the essential oils or fragrance in your eyes. My current facial cleanser, the Egg White Face Soap, is a bar from Humboldt Soap Company. I will be telling you in a separate post this week why it is AWESOME! I do not have acne, but the ingredients make this a safe choice for acne prone skin. Try it, dolls!

2. You also will want to gently remove any traces of cleanser with a very gentle and natural toner. The best is SUPER affordable! It's Dickinson's Witch Hazel! I use this on my own skin and recommend it for yours.

3. Next, you need to exfoliate. I don't recommend manual exfoliants such as scrubs for those with severe acne. The most effective oil soluble exfoliant is beta-hydroxy acid (BHA or salicylic acid). There are many skincare products with BHA on the market now. Just be careful to choose a concentration of 1% or 2% based on your particular skin type. Please note that pregnant women should NOT use this ingredient.  You have to "de-gunk" those pores or you will never get rid of the acne. Be patient, it may take a good 2-3 weeks to see any changes. A good option is Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore Refining Treatment 2% BHA.

4. Now, one area where there is debate can be whether or not to use benzoyl peroxide to disinfect the skin. My answer is a very quick and certain NO. This is not a safe ingredient. Just look at its rating on the Cosmetics Database. Did you know that BP is actually 70% benzene and 20-30% Toluene? (Source: US Dispensatory).

I do not believe in being an alarmist, but I do not think think BP should be your first line of attack.I highly recommend Perfectly Posh The Purifier Skin Stick as a spot treatment.

5. Moisturize. Jojoba oil is an option I recommend for mild acne. While some people don't always have the best results with jojoba, I have seen it work wonders. Jojoba Oil is wonderful for the skin because it mimics your skin's own sebum, drawing excess oil out. Jojoba oil is pure and it is natural. I use only 100% pure and organic golden jojoba oil. This oil is hydrating without being greasy. It will not promote acne or aggravate an existing case of acne. You can buy this in many grocery stores or online venues with natural products.  Another moisturizer I adore for acne-prone skin is Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel. Note that this is NOTHING like the original lotion, which absolutely stinks, in my humble opinion.


Patience is needed when it comes to treating your acne. Trying something two or three times isn't going to work. You really need to stick with your routine for a few weeks. It may take that long to start getting rid of that acne. I know it is hard, but regular and consistent use is imperative.  I am also going to say that if the acne is severe with no signs of improvement, that a trip to the dermatologist may be needed. There are some prescription options out there that may ultimately be the best choice for you if nothing else works.   


For those with mild acne, there are some at home remedies you can try.   A simple green tea & vinegar toner recipe:  

Get a sterile bottle or jar.   Boil some distilled water (at the grocery store you can find a gallon for under $1) and pour 1 cup of water into a mug. Add 3 green tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes. Remove bags and cool for until it's lukewarm.   Pour into a sterile bottle or jar. Add in 2-3 T. of apple cider vinegar (I prefer raw and unfiltered, but any will work), a squeeze each of lemon juice and honey. Shake to combine. Store in fridge.   Use daily after cleansing.   

Acne Scar Help:  A concoction of tomato paste & cucumbers  It sounds a bit like a vegetable salad, doesn't it? With daily use, this duo can help to fade acne scars over time. How does it work?  Cucumber is extremely soothing. Possessing toning qualities, applying cucumber can help to calm and revitalize the skin. We all know how cucumber slices applied to the eyes can reduce puffiness, right? The same effect works when mashed cucumber (or by simply applying sliced cukes) is applied to the skin. 

Cucumbers can reduce inflammation and help to fade acne scars with regular use.  I like to combine this with antioxidant tomatoes. For this, buy a small jar of tomato paste at the grocery store. I think tomatoes are one of the most underrated skin foods out there. A recent study in Great Britain showed that regular consumption of lycopene-rich tomatoes (specifically paste) can help protect skin from UVA damage as well as prevent premature aging. The tomato paste also helps to absorb excess sebum.

In addition, when combined with cucumber, slight skin lightening can occur. This is how the cuke-tomato cocktail can help to treat and fade acne scars.  When starting out with this all-natural treatment, I'd try a patch test first (as with any product). If it doesn't irritate, start with a small amount daily. Apply to cleansed skin and let sit for 10 minutes or so. Rinse with tepid water. You should start to see results within 2 weeks of regular use. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New Shower Staples: Ava Anderson Review

I recently had the chance to try several products from Ava Anderson. I shared a photo of the BB Cream on my face a couple of weeks back--I wear this on weekends or when I feel I just want a little color to even out my complexion. I will be reviewing the Baby Wash & Mascara over the next couple of weeks, but today I would like to take a look at my three favorite Ava Anderson products-- the Shower Gel, Shampoo and Conditioner.

I have been using these exclusively in my hair since they arrived and I really am enjoying these products.


One of the problems I have with natural shampoos is that most of them leave my hair feeling greasy. It is almost as if there is a film left behind. Other than a couple standouts, my hair just doesn't look clean after using them. This product is an exception.  While the shampoo doesn't lather up with a head full of suds (which is okay), my hair is left feeling clean and silky, but not oily.

My color doesn't fade and seems more vibrant when I use this shampoo.  In fact, compared to my other favorite natural shampoos, this one works best at keeping my hair looking shiny with lasting rich brown color.

I love the ingredients in this shampoo.  There are so many wonderful ingredients, such as horsetail, aloe vera, panthenol, radish root, and more.

I also have to say that this shampoo, compared to other "natural" shampoos, has far more natural botanicals and less fillers.  It really is a lovely shampoo and I highly recommend it.


The conditioner from Ava Anderson is also quite lovely!  It leaves my hair feeling silky smooth without being weighed down.  I need a dime sized amount of conditioner with my medium length wavy bob and find that it is nourishing. Coconut oil, aloe, rice bran, peppermint and lemon balm -- and many other beneficial ingredients are found in this conditioner, which has quickly become a favorite of mine.

I love that this leaves my hair feeling like I used a high end salon formula. The quality is outstanding.

This is really nice! It is lightweight, lightly foaming without containing sulfates, and makes your skin feel nice and clean without it feeling stripped.  I feel like my skin is really cared for with the aloe vera, sunflower oil, lemon & lime.  The light aroma, courtesy of  natural essential oils makes me feel awake in the morning. This, like all the other Ava Anderson items, is free of SLS, parabens, and ingredients many people avoid.

The Bottom Line:

Green beauty fans will love the ingredients in these products. Your hair will look shiny and bouncy, while your skin will feel pampered. 

To Purchase:

Holly Petrie is who I recommend! She is extremely knowledgeable about green living and natural products. She is an Ava Anderson consultant and you can shop with her at

Friday, March 27, 2015

New Launch from IT Cosmetics -- Special Price on QVC TODAY only!

I love IT Cosmetics. I have been a fan since I tried my very first product -- Celebration Foundation -- and I cannot get enough of their brushes.

Earlier this week, the beautiful folks over at IT Cosmetics sent me the new CC+ Your Way to Radiant Skin Five Piece Collection. It launches TODAY on QVC at a stellar price! It is on QVC as I write this, so go check it out!

Times on the air today are 12am, 9am, 2pm and 9pm (EDT).

I was so excited to see how gorgeous the boxed collection is -- it really is perfect for gift giving. I will be back next week with reviews after I have had a chance to try everything out, but the two products of the 5 I have tried are fabulous.

What is in the Today's Special Value?

  • Your Skin But Better Anti-Aging Full Coverage Physical SPF 50 CC+ Cream Illumination
  • Anti-Aging Vitality Face Disk
  • Heavenly Luxe Radiance Wand Brush
  • Luxe High-Performance Anti-Aging Eye Shadow Trio in Pretty in Spring
  • No-Tug Dual Airbrush Eyeshadow Brush
This collection has a retail value of $172 and with the special is less than $60! Did I mention that this is on EASY PAY?

Check it out. You won't be disappointed in the quality of IT Cosmetics by Jamie Kern.

*Disclosure: I received the collection at no cost for possible mention on the blog.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Favorites: New from Jamberry

Sharing some of my latest Jamberry Nails manicures --or jamicures -- as they are often called. More than 100 new designs launched on March 1st and I wanted to some!

The Rose Gold Sparkle, shown below, is not new. However, the accent wrap with it is the new White Stripe.

Have you jumped on the Jamberry bandwagon yet?

I've been a consultant (a Team Manager now with a team of 157) since 2013. I launched my biz on 9-6-13 with a Facebook party and have never looked back. The journey has been life-changing in so many ways! From all of the amazing friends I have made across the country to my customers to the feeling of empowerment to the financial benefits, this company is truly special.

When I joined the Jamberry family (and it is), there were 9000 consultants. There are now over 100,000! If you love beauty products, are thinking of doing something FOR YOU, want to make money & help others feel pampered, then you may not want to talk to me more about Jamberry.

Shoot me an email and we'll chat about what Jamberry might mean to you.

Take a look at some of the new designs below--

Rose Gold Sparkle and White Stripe
Smitten and Tungsten Sparkle
Pixie and Amore

I cannot get enough of the new designs. They are absolutely STUNNING, ladies! Check out my site today at

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Everyday 5 Minute Makeup: Favorites from drugstore to high end


Today was a lovely day. It was spent doing some brainstorming for a new writing project I am working on, having coffee at Stir at I-Square with a dear friend, and trying out some new products for the blog.

First of all, do you see how shiny my hair is here? I think I have found one of the best shampoos ever. I have only used it once, so I will be following up, but it made my hair feel so soft, silky & amazing. The conditioner is a dream, too.

Have you heard of Ava Anderson Non-Toxic before? My friend, Holly Petrie (consultant #6132), is a consultant and I cannot speak highly enough about her. Next week, I will be doing an in-depth review of the products, but I did just want to share what I am enjoying so far.

What do I have on this cold, but sunny Thursday? Everything here took me less than 5 minutes to apply.

 I am wearing the new Ava Anderson BB Cream in Ivory. I have it on over Benefit That Gal Primer, Urban Decay The Naked Concealer in Light Warm and under e.l.f. Studio High Definition Powder.

I swept a bit of bareMinerals Clear Radiance over my face and my lipstick is Mary Kay True Dimensions Lipstick in Mystic Plum. Looking for a consultant? Jenifer Beldue is stellar!

As an aside, I have not been a Mary Kay fan in YEARS. In late 1994, I started selling the products from my dorm room. That is when the kit was a boxy pink bag and consultant had to wear skirts or dresses. I remember wearing a fuchsia bucle blazer from the Limited for my dorm Mary Kay parties. Back then, all of the packaging was pink. That only lasted until I started working freelance for Lancome. I have to tell you-- the company has REALLY stepped up its game. A friend gave me a lipstick (seen above in the picture) and I just ordered some other things from my consultant, Jen. This lipstick is better than my beloved Cargo lipstick. It is creamy, long-wearing, and I just LOVE how it makes my lips feel.

On the brows, I have on Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow in Soft Brown, with the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette. I curled my lashes with the Tarte Eye Lash Curler and put on two coats of black Ava Anderson Mascara, which is REALLY nice! It reminds me of the one from Honeybee Gardens. I set my makeup with Perfectly Posh I've Been Set Up! Setting Spray. Get all your Posh from my friend Cassandra.

Do you have any new favorite products to share? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reclaim your skin's youthful glow

One of the biggest skin concerns of women as we age is that loss of radiance. As we get older, cell turnover starts to slow down dramatically. One of the effects? Dullness. Don’t fret because I have searched high and low to bring you my favorite products -- from drugstore to high-end. Let's get your glow back!

First things first: before you start buying “brightening” makeup products, you have to make sure yourr skin is in tip-top shape. When it comes to achieving a brighter skintone, exfoliation is going to be your #1 priority.

I have had many women sitting in front of me in my chair to get their makeup and skin care done over the years. My own frustration is the curious look I have received when I ask, “How often are you exfoliating?” Friends, you MUST exfoliate!

Dead skin cells accumulate on the skin. It’s just something that happens to us all. However, you can exfoliate the skin to slough off the dull, flaky cells. Unfortunately, many people skip this step and try to remedy the problem by slapping on more moisturizer. You cannot moisturize away dead skin cells-- you are only trapping them in with your skin creams.

My first face scrub was St. Ives Apricot Scrub back when I was a teenager. Looking back, I cringe, as this product had nutshells and a heavy artificial fragrance. Nut shells are harmful to your skin, as they can cause it to be scratched or even tear. 

Another popular ingredient in exfoliants are plastic microbeads-- Polyethylene beads. These hurt our ecosystem. Besides, do you really want to rub plastic beads into your skin?


Here are my favorite products for glowing skin:

Splurge: Foreo Luna -- I much prefer this cleansing tool to the popular Clarisonic for hygienic purposes. The T-sonic technology removes dead skin cells (I use mine with my Exuviance facial cleansing creme). Here is my original review of the Foreo Luna. I use the pink Luna for sensitive skin and I have been using it for almost two years. $199
Bargain: The Makeup Eraser facial cloth is will exfoliate your skin nicely without a more expensive facial cleansing device. I recommend using it in a gentle circular motion with your favorite creamy cleanser. $20

Splurge: Exuviance Daily Antioxidant Peel CA10 gets stellar reviews on the Ulta website with good reason. This is, without a doubt, the best one step at-home peel I have ever used. It contains 10% citric acid, arginine & more  and leaves skin dewy and radiant. $65
*ALERT: This product will be part of Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty TOMORROW (3/18) and will be 50% off for one day only!
Bargain: Avon Anew Clinical Retexturizing Peel is an affordable, yet effective, alternative to higher priced products. There is glycolic acid, camellia, honey, algae extract and wheat germ in this popular product. Need a consultant? I recommend one of my friends, Melissa Marcellette. Enter her name at checkout. $22 (on sale now for $14.99)

Splurge: Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum has achieved holy grail status for this skin care product junkie! Infused with antioxidants Vitamin A, C & E, as well as grapefuit extract, marine botanicals and polyhydroxy acids, this serum has made a noticeable impact on my almost 40 year old skin. It is really, really amazing. A little goes a long way and I have seen an impact on this pesky brown spot that I have from childhood sun exposure. I cannot say enough about Vespera! $75
Bargain: Avalon Organics Age-less Illuminating Serum is another winner in my book. I blogged about  this in November, comparing it to a $220 product from Tata Harper. The Avalon was, in my eyes, far superior. If you are on a budget or just do not splurge on skin care, give this one a whirl. You will not be disappointed. $20

Splurge: Clarins Bright Plus HP Brightening Repairing Night Cream is a rich, yet silky, night cream with Raspberry and Alchemilla extracts, as well as potent Vitamin C. There is also Sea Lily Extract, which is grown exclusively for Clarins in Brittany. $69
Bargain: Boots Botanics Complexion Refining Light Night Cream is more proof that you can find high quality products on a shoestring. If your skin is more acne-prone or oily, please do not hesitate to try this product. It contains willow bark extract, which is a relative of salicylic acid, to unclog the pores and exfoliate the skin. Additionally, it contains antiseptic Rosemary. $13.99 -- ON SALE NOW for $5.60 on the Boots website!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Best Facial Cleansers

Best Bar Cleanser

Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap Rose Clay Facial Bar is incredible. I think I first tried this bar about 6 or 7 years ago. It is a fabulous value at $6 for a high-quality facial bar. This is NOTHING like a bar of Dove or Irish Spring. It is real handmade soap. It contains olive oil, coconut oil, wheat germ, rose clay and more. There are no synthetic fragrances and it makes your skin feel oh so smooth!

Best Cleansing Wipes

Philosophy Purity Made Simple One Step Facial Cleansing Cloths are ideal for travel and for those of you who sometimes skip removing your makeup before bedtime. I do not think that wipes should be used exclusively in place of cleanser, but these are super handy for travel and those late nights when you consider hitting the sheets without removing your makeup.

Best Drugstore Cleanser

Boots Expert Sensitive Cleansing Lotion is affordable, gentle, fragrance-free and rivals department store brands. I buy this one at Target and highly recommend it for those whose skin needs some extra TLC. It sells for under $5, typically. Right now, though, on the Boots site is is under $2!

Best Gel Cleanser

Yes to Cucumbers Daily Gel Cleanser is free of sulfates, petrochemicals and parabens. It is packed with beneficial ingredients, including green tea and cucumber. I would recommend this one for oily to acne prone skin types. Note that this does contain fragrance.

Best Exfoliating Cleanser

Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser features gentle sugar crystals and sloughs dead skin cells without harsh beads or nut shells. Colloidal oat flour, calendula and seaweed extract are also present in this product, which I recommend for normal skintypes.

Best Creamy Cleanser

This is the one I use. You'll find it on my bathroom counter as I type this. As I get older, the more I prefer a milky cleanser. I highly recommend Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme. It feels ultra luxurious, is creamy & is among the most gentle products I have ever used on my face. It is soap free, dye free and removes makeup, to. You can tissue off or rinse (which is what I do). I love the fact that is contains Polyhydroxy acids to help improve skin texture. This feels similar to two other creamy cleansers I have adored over the years-- from L'Bri and Clarins -- I just see a much greater difference with this formula.Hypersensitive types will adore this, as it contains chamomile, aloe and cucumber.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday's Green: Spotlight on Rosemary

Today on the The Beauty Blogger, I'd like to talk about a natural ingredient that is highly beneficial in  so many different ways: Rosemary.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a water-loving evergreen shrub and the oil used in skin care is extracted via steam distillation from the flowers on these shrubs.

In natural skin care, Rosemary can help to alleviate puffiness and treat acne -- as well as various forms of dermatitis. I particularly like this oil for acne care, though, because it contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

It also has many wonderful properties for the hair and scalp. Rosemary is invigorating and many believe that it can promote hair growth, making it a natural alternative to harsh chemicals applied topically to the scalp.

Rosemary doesn't just help the condition of your skin and scalp. Did you know that Rosemary Essential Oil also helps to keep bugs away? That's right! It's a key ingredient in Badger's eco-friendly, kid safe Badger Anti Bug Balm. This is the product I trust to use on my children.

Other worthy products containing this fabulous essential oil:

Avalon Organics Rosemary Shampoo has wheat protein, chamomile and vitamin E and helps add life to limp locks. It's budget-friendly, too.

Shea Terra Organics Rosemary & Herb Facial Steam Syrup is a lovely at-home spa treatment to help you feel pampered. If you are acne prone and would like to help get some of the "gunk" out of your pores, this is a safe bet.

I have been telling you about Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap now for seven years. I still have yet to find a better bar of handmade soap--in fact, there is no need to look anymore because I am a Nan Fan! Try her Herbal Rosemary soap-- it's a great bar for kitchen use and for gardener's work-roughened hands.

I first told you about the next product nearly three years ago on this blog -- it's the Therapeutic Blend Body Oil from (seed). I am as smitten with it now as I was then. This is a truly light oil. It isn't going to leave a film on your skin.  I love how it sinks right into my arms and legs and leaves my skin feeling like silk. It contains beneficial essential oils such as peppermint, ginger, rosemary and clove to help ease muscle soreness and help you feel invigorated. Tip: This even helps my husband's aching back.

What are some of your favorite products containing rosemary? Share in the comments section below.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The chemical free beauty sham

"Our products are CHEMICAL FREE!"

"And you can feel safe knowing that our skincare products are all free of chemicals."

"No chemicals!"

The above quotes were found by me on Facebook today. Just today -- and just on pages I am connected to. More than meriting an eye roll or sigh from me, it goes deeper. The claim of "chemical free" is making natural beauty and skin care companies lose their credibility.

In fact, it has made me shy away from products I have used in the past because I truly believe that false claims, lack of understanding when it comes to ingredients, and  gimmicky ad copy is to the detriment of the entire natural products industry. And I really believe that consumers are catching on.

Let me set the record straight. Guess what? The idea of "chemical free" is a bunch of bunk. When you see a company saying "chemical free", put your guard up. Either they are trying to mislead you or their sales staff is just completely unaware of what constitutes "chemical free" -- water is a chemical, friends. Water. H20. Find your friends Hydrogen and Oxygen on the Periodic Table.

Today, I saw a product on Etsy for a "chemical free" toner. Guess what is in this product? Vinegar.  

Wikepedia Commons

Acetic acid (above) and water make up vinegar. They are both chemicals. I was in Ulta yesterday doing freelance work and was engaged in conversation with a woman who told me she only uses "chemical free" skin care, makeup and hair care. She told me how she uses Arbonne -- you know, the "chemical free" line preserved with Phenoxyethanol. Then she proceeded to spray herself with Philosophy Amazing Grace perfume and walk over and buy some Bare Escentuals. I am not insulting BE. I actually use a few of their products and mention them here. For those who believe mineral makeup is chemical free, this is the chemical compostion of Mica, the key ingredient:

XY 23410(OH, F) 2 with X = K, Na, Ba, Ca, Cs, (H 3O), (NH 4); Y = Al, Mg, Fe 2+, Li, Cr, Mn, V, Zn; and Z = Si, Al, Fe 3+, Be, Ti

Those essential oils you are using because you "don't do chemicals" are -- CHEMICALS. I saw someone post on Facebook the other day talking about why you need to buy Young Living Essential Oils. And why is that? It is because they are "essential in any chemical free lifestyle". Did you know that the typical essential oil contains over 100 different chemical compounds?

I do not know if I am becoming more jaded, but I think one of the reasons I have chosen to go much more mainstream is because of the false claims and mass hysteria caused by many in the natural products community. Before I started researching more and more balanced articles and studies that were peer-reviewed and based in science, I admit that I completely fell for many studies and scare tactics.  Maybe it was because I was a new mom, was worried about health issues or lost my dad to cancer that I wanted to find something to blame for it. And that makes ME -- and any other green beauty blogger -- part of the problem, too. That is why I cannot be a "green beauty blogger"anymore and am just a "beauty blogger."

Yes, there are horrible ingredients in the beauty industry. Lead in certain lipsticks, phthalates, 1,4 dioxane, triclosan and hydroquinone are among them. Do you know what is bad, too? Products with mold and staph or those sold to you without lab challenge testing.

I once read an article that the "chemical-free" movement can be compared to Jenny McCarthy and her uninformed, misguided claims about vaccines and autism or Food Babe and her influence without science or a background to substantiate her claims. I used to scoff at that, but no. Science is more credible than fear.

Chemicals aren't the enemy. Harmful chemicals are not a good thing. I know many will not or do not agree.

I am not completely cynical, though.

There ARE brands doing it right.

These are the brands who have never made claims that are simply not true. Ones who do not say "chemical free" and ones who preserve their natural products effectively are the ones I will always love and recommend. You can, indeed, use more natural products if you so choose. Just choose wisely.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Give yourself an instant eye lift

Have you been looking as tired as you feel lately? The Beauty Blogger to the rescue!


Begin with some pampering.

The first item is a definite splurge, but these beauties truly work. I am completely smitten with Exuviance Intensive Eye Treatment Pads. Full disclosure-- I freelance for this brand -- but I am in love with their skin care. Come see me at Ulta TODAY until 4 in Henrietta, during the day in Hamburg (Buffalo) Friday or until 4 this Saturday in Webster and I will show you why I love them so much!

Kick back, put your feet up and apply the eyes pads underneath the eyes. Close your eyes and just let them work their soothing magic.

Treat eye area with an eye cream.

You need a separate eye cream. Case closed. The skin under your eyes is thin and delicate. The eye area is also sensitive to certain ingredients found in many face creams. I use and recommend Perfectly Posh Impish De-Puffing Eye Serum. This contains caffeine, peptides, Coenzyme  Q10, and cucumbers and is just $19. This is a clean and green product. Get yours from my friend Cassandra, who is a stellar consultant. {Paraben free}

Prime time

Apply a lightweight eye primer such as Too Faced Shadow Insurance Primer. This will help your shadow stay on all day by creating a smooth canvas for your eye shadow. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, too. {Paraben free}

Select the right undereye concealer.

Cargo Jet Leg is a great dupe for Yves St. Laurent Touche Eclat Radiant Touch and will save you $12. Plus, it contains light diffusing properties to instantly brighten, White Lupin Extract, peptides and antioxidants, so you will be treating the skin while camouflaging dark circles and fine lines. {Paraben free, artificial dye free}

Choose your shadows wisely.

My go-to eye shadow palette is the It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Palette. I have been a fan of It Cosmetics since they sent me a package introducing the line to QVC. The products are formulated with women with aging concerns in mind. Their eye shadows have the ideal texture -- they are not choppy, they apply smoothly and feel like butter. No creasing -- a must -- and staying power are also what I love about It Cosmetics. Their shadows are infused with acai, green tea and anti-aging peptides, which I am so happy about. {Paraben free, cruelty free & fragrance free}

Brighten your eyes without drops.

Use a white eyeliner to the inner rim of the bottom lashline. This will make the whites of your eyes appear brighter. I recommend the $3.49 NYX Slim Eye Pencil in White Pearl. My eyes are a bit more close set, so I do lightly apply the white pencil to the inner corner where my top and bottom lash lines meet.

Make your eyes look wider and lifted with liner.

Ladies-- if you are 40ish, please stop applying black liquid liner to the top and bottom lashes Please, just stop. Actually, people in general need to just stop this right now. I reviewed the Au Naturale Eye Liner Pencil right here yesterday. There are none I recommend more. {Vegan, cruelty-free and paraben free}

Curl your lashes.

 Did you know that by simply taking a moment to curl your eyelashes that you can make your eyes look wider, brighter, and younger? This is an often-overlooked step in the morning beauty routine, but it can make a huge difference in the appearance of your eye area. Curl your lashes every morning and then sweep on two coats of a jet-black volumizing mascara. I just replaced my Shu Uemera Eyelash Curler with the Tarte  Picture Perfect Eyelash Curler. I like the Tarte even more! 

Pick a good mascara.

Sweep two coats of jet black masara on the upper lashes. A budget-friendly (although not green or natural) mascara that I am swooning over now is Avon SuperExtend Winged Out Mascara. Truly, this is one of my favorite mascaras and it is AFFORDABLE! If you need a consultant, I recommend Melissa Marcellette. Type in her name at checkout! 

Don't forget to your eyebrows.

Picture a beautiful painting–a stunning piece of artwork needs to have a beautiful frame. Nothing less will do. Now think of your face as that piece of art. Your eyebrows are like picture frames. Having well groomed brows will showcase your entire face and play up your features. See a brow specialist to have your brows shaped professionally and then you can do the upkeep at home. In Rochester, I recommend Brow Biz at the corner of Long Pond and Ridge. Look for an eyebrow kit with wax-based products to define and groom your brows each morning when you do your makeup. My top pick is Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade. For reference, my shade is Ash Brown.

Need an afternoon pick me up?

I always carry the Caffeinator Skin Stick from Perfectly Posh in my makeup bag. This shea butter-based stick contains lemon essential oil, caffeine, sunflower seed oil, cocoa butter and more. I apply it gently around the eye area to give an instant, temporary visible pick me up. It is AMAZING. {Paraben free, all natural}

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday's Green: Who makes the best eye liner?

Let's talk about natural eye liner today. I cannot tell you how many different eye liners I have tried over the past - gulp - 25 years or so. As I get older, it is trickier to find an eye liner I truly adore.

Here is that I look for in an eye liner:

1. It must have a smooth and soft texture.
2. It must not irritate my eyes.
3. It must not smudge during the day.
4. It must perform well in heat and humidity.
5. It must apply without ease--no tugging.

My favorite eye liner is a natural one without talc, bismuth oxychloride, parabens or fragrance. It is non-nano and cruelty-free.

I am happy to say that my #1 eye liner is a super clean and green one. You will NOT find better ingredients and even the strictest ecobeauty lover will approve. This makes me happy because it performs very well. This is the *only* eye liner I can wear without smudging. Even my "smudgeproof" Cargo Swimmables, which doesn't budge on really anyone, would smudge by the end of the day.

This does not smudge, applies with ease, does not irritate my sensitive eyes and removes well with my eye makeup remover (which is actually Badger Unscented Sensitive Balm).

What is in Au Nature Eye Liner Pencils?

Ingredients: Organic castor oil, mica, wildcrafted euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, organic simmondsia chinsis (jojoba) seed oil, castor wax, iron oxides, kaolinite, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oleoresin

Color Selection

I wear Coco almost daily. This is the perfect shade of brown for my eyes. Many browns are drab, but this is rich and is absolutely beautiful. You will find Au Naturale Eye Liner Pencil shades: Coco, Amethyst, Meadow, Deep Sea, and Night (which I also own).


The eye liners are $18 each. This is very competitive among higher end liners.

The Beauty Blogger Rating: A+


I have tried several products from Au Naturale. The company is the creation of Ashley Prange and is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. If I could recommend only ONE ecobeauty brand to you, it would be Au Naturale. I use their lipstick and lip gloss and adore their creme concealer. Find Au Naturale at