Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Here are the top 5 things that I have discovered about myself over the years:

1. I no longer give a flip what people think of me. I am a recovering people-pleaser. I used to do myself a real disservice by being a "yes" person. Each time I said yes to something that made me cringe on the inside, I would be showing myself disrespect. As I get older, I say "no" more often and do not let any guilt eat at me. Life is too short to say NO to yourself by saying YES to everything else.

2. I FEEL and look better and am healthier at 40 than at 30. Ten years ago, I turned 30 suffering with pretty severe depression. My dad had just died at age 56 of pancreatic cancer, I had two under age 2 and was EXHAUSTED. I was overweight and eating to make myself feel better. I was not in a good place. I've shed the weight (literally and figuratively) and feel younger at 40 than I did in my twenties. It's all about loving and respecting myself (and my family) enough to be kind to my body.

3. I have always been my toughest critic. I am really hard on myself. I am working on this. No matter what I do, it is not quite good enough in my eyes. This one is a real work in progress. Stop back when I turn 50 and hopefully this will be a thing of the past.

4. Gosh darn it, though, I like me. I do. I think I am--as my big brother used to say--pretty SWELL. I like to make others feel good. I like to help people. Sure I am quirky, but like a fine wine or a block of cheddar, I get better with age. I am a much more accepting person, more forgiving. I no longer go through life holding onto things-- like they say in Frozen, you have to "let it go." I am more patient. Being a mom has helped with that.

5. Nothing is more important in this life than the people you surround yourself with. I know this. If people suck the life out of you, don't associate with them. Simple enough. My children, my husband, my family, my crazy group of friends who have become my other family-- they make my life complete. If you have people you can talk to, laugh with, whose shoulders you can cry on -- if you have people who truly bring you joy, then you are lucky. I am so fortunate. No amount of money, number of bylines or kudos or things of that nature could EVER measure up to what truly makes one rich -- family and friends. I realize that each day. My life is rich.

I have been enjoying some time off with my family the past couple weeks. I will resume regular posting after Labor Day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Myths and Truths About Preservatives

We've talked about "bad" ingredients in your skincare and beauty products before at length over the past 8 years here at The Beauty Blogger. You know the ones-- DMDM Hydantoin, Parabens, BHT, Formaldehyde, and about a dozen other ingredients I do not like to see in personal care products.

Today, I am taking a different approach. IS all-natural the BEST way to go in every situation?

The above product is one I received here for blog review. Upon opening, it had an "off" odor and mold.

The ingredients I would like to talk about today:

  • MOLD

I have been concerned about the ingredients in skincare products for years now. I have been writing about the issue for more than 8. For me, natural beauty is not just eco-friendly beauty products or sustainable packaging, but also SAFER ingredients. I am also the first to admit that my opinions have changed a bit as far as ingredients go. I used to rely wholeheartedly on the EWG's Skin Deep Guide, but years later, I have a different view point.  The EWG, in many ways, presents an alarmist point of view and doesn't get down to the nitty gritty and say that their rankings are all black or white--they do not say that there is a HUGE difference in an ingredient used at 100% concentration vs. 0.05% concentration. And, yes, there is a HUGE difference.

Admittedly, I have relied too much over the years on the EWG. One cannot rely solely on the EWG, just as people need to accept that effects can be cumulative, so caution and research are needed.

A couple years back, I was even thinking of changing my mind on using products preserved with phenoxyethanol as part of the ingredient makeup.  I was introduced to a brand with a natural "preservative" derived from a rare tree bark that may have broad spectrum protection. I was skeptical, but kept a truly open mind. I was avidly using these products and then, wham--3 months later, I opened my jar of furry, mold covered face mask. My face cream soon had beige lumps and an odor. 

I was willing to take a gamble and have an open mind.  And I was wrong.  My original feelings on broad spectrum preservation were only validated after experiencing rancid items, mold, and skin irritation. The real problem is not "parabens may cause cancer" or "propylene glycol is the same thing as anti-freeze" (it is not, by the way).

The real danger, I believe, is from what we KNOW FOR A FACT to happen: that improperly preserved products cause mold.  They can lead to serious bacterial infections. They may cause staph. We know this for sure. 

A few months ago, I received skincare products for review from a direct sales company with NON-TOXIC in its name. Within 3 months, half of them had developed visible mold. This line contains a plethora of products lacking effective preservation.

For the record, I am not in favor of products with parabens. They are too questionable for me.  But if it came down to it and I was offered a completely natural, homemade unpreserved skincare product and a mass produced cream with parabens and could ONLY choose one or the other, I would choose the one with parabens. And I do not say this lightly.

More research is needed.  I am hoping that we will know with absolute certainty whether parabens will cause cancer (right now, it looks like they do not, based on perr reviewed scientific studies) or whether formaldehyde releasers will make you grow three heads. Until that time, what we DO know, is that there is great risk with improperly preserved products. I have been very critical over the years of certain synthetic ingredients--but have always spoken about the need for preservation and product safety. 

More and more websites are popping up with stories of the latest "dangerous" or "toxic" beauty ingredient. What worries me, though, is that while everyone is happy to jump on the natural products bandwagon, they are not considering the possibility that they will be, with CERTAINTY, putting themselves at risk of having mold, bacteria, yeast, etc. in their products if they are using preservative-free ones.  This is not a better option than the alternative.

These are preservatives *I* trust to protect the the products I buy. I am not saying these are guaranteed to be 100% safe. No one can say that. There is not enough conclusive evidence to say that these ingredients will always be deemed safe, but that is the beauty of research & science. The below preservatives WILL protect your products from the nasties, but are healthier alternatives to parabens.

  • Phenoxyethanol when used with more natural preservatve boosters such as Ethylhexylglycerin a
  • Gluconoactone and Sodium Benzoate (Geogard)
  • Glucose Oxidase/Lactoperoxidase
  • Japanese Honeysuckle Extract (although, this is an ingredient not without controversy)

The biggest threat to your well being is buying products which are NOT properly preserved. I'd like to look at some preservation myths today.

MYTH #1: Grapefruit Seed Extract is an all natural preservative.

GSE is not all natural.  People often confuse Grapefruit Essential Oil with Grapefruit Seed Extract. The essential oil is all natural and is great for aromatherapy. Actually, the name Grapefruit Seed Extract is misleading. One would assume that GSE is pulverized grapefruit seeds. It is anything but. What is Grapefruit Seed Extract then? GSE actually comes from chemically-altered grapefruit seeds which have been treated with Ammonium Chloride via a chemical process. 

Does GSE preserve products in any way? Not really. Some people believe GSE may be mildly preservative, but research has consistently shown that it is ineffective and that it is actually the tainted chemical components used to preserve the GSE itself--including triclosanbenzethonium chloride, and methylparaben-that are doing the tiny bit of preservation.  In other words, a paraben-free business may be using GSE which actually might have parabens in it. Kind of defeats the purpose, no?

MYTH #2: Vitamin E and Rosemary Oleoresin Extract are all-natural preservatives.

Wrong again. These 2 ingredients are antioxidants. Antioxidants are good. They help fight free radicals.

When used in a product, it can help to protect your more sensitive oils from oxidizing and becoming rancid. It is NOT a preservative. I used to use ROE in my eye balm and sleep balm back when I was formulating --not to preserve (as there is no water & oil mixture to require a preservative) -- but to protect the oils.

MYTH #3: Herbal tinctures and extracts are natural preservatives.

When you see an ingredients listing and a product description indicating that the product is all-natural and preserved only with herbal blends, extracts, and tinctures, this is very misleading. What is not being revealed on the ingredients list is that it is only a "preservative" because some tinctures and extracts are preserved in butylene and propylene glycol. In other words, that "natural" ingredient used to "preserve" your product actually contains about 50-75% synthetic ingredients. Butylene and propylene glycol aren't evil either, by the way. They still won't preserve effectively.

MYTH #4: Grain alcohol is a safe, natural preservative.

No! Grain alcohol (ethyl alcohol) is NOT an effective preservative. While it is antibacterial, it would need to be used at a level of around 70% in the product to be effective. I don't know about you, but if I put a product with mainly alcohol on my skin, it would be drier than the Arizona desert in the summer time. Even if you would venture to try using it on your skin at such a high level, it will not protect against mold, fungus, and yeast.

Too much of a good thing?

Full disclosure-- I am not a filler fan. I hate needles. I believe in anti-aging skincare. I have very mixed feelings on the lengths people will go to in order to look younger. That said, I am not here to judge. It's YOUR face. If you want fillers, go for it!

Botox. Restylane. Juvederm. Chances are you have likely heard of these fillers.  Many of you have considered these treatments yourself. Perhaps you have already had them done.  Did you know, though, that injectable treatments can make your face look older?

Think about some of the Hollywood celebs who have had too much of a good thing--some of those ladies have had so much Botox that they can’t even move their eyebrows.

We seem to be in a never ending quest for the fountain of youth.  Injectable treatments can help turn back the clock, even if only temporarily.  Going to the dermatologist for fillers can be done quickly, often over the lunch hour.  The results are usually positive.  Those frown lines soften and you look more awake.  

Unfortunately, many women are unaware that getting regular injectable treatments such as Botox can make their skin look older. How can clinically proven anti-aging treatments like Botox make you look older?  Let’s look at the causes.

Muscle Atrophy

When we do not use muscles for an extended period of time, they begin to atrophy.  They lose strength. Muscle mass is diminished.  Have you ever broken a bone before and noticed a difference in the appearance of the broken area after the cast is removed?

A few years back, I broke my left leg.  I had a cast for several weeks.  Despite having regular physical therapy sessions while in my cast, the muscles were no longer being used the same way.  I wasn’t walking, running, or jumping.  When my cast was removed, my left leg was thinner than the right.  My left calf muscle lost its tone. There was a definite reduction in muscle mass.

When injectable fillers are used, the ingredients paralyze the facial muscles.  That is the reason people are often unable to furrow their brows or show expressiveness in their face.  The facial muscles are not being used.  If injectable treatments are performed repeatedly, these muscles may begin to atrophy. The result?  Skin sagging and loss of firmness-- the very things you are trying to avoid by having the injectables in the first place.

Patient addiction

I hate to use the word addiction because it seems so strong, but it really can apply to some people who have in-office procedures to combat the effects of aging. It can happen to any of us.  Have you ever had a skin care product you just loved, but the package insert said to use it only twice weekly?

I remember back in college, I had a facial scrub I adored. It made my skin feel squeaky clean and fresh.  The back of the bottle said to use it two to three times a week. I told myself that since it worked so well three times a week, the results would be even more spectacular if I used the product six times a week. So I did. I quickly learned overusing a product can have a negative effect. I soon began to experience red, irritated skin. Pores became clogged. My skin started to break out.  

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  The same applies to injectables. Many people love the results they experience after having these treatments done. They look more youthful.  They have an increase in self confidence.  What ends up happening is that these patients will often decide to have treatments done more frequently, believing that “more is better”.  When it comes to injectable treatments, though, less is more.

Repeated treatments at a frequent rate can make the facial features look unnatural--almost distorted.  When this happens, a much older looking face is likely.

How to avoid looking older with injectable treatments

  • Is your doctor heavy-handed with the injectables? Is he or she trying to get you to have more areas done or at a greater frequency? Find a new doctor. You want to be sure your doctor is well trained in performing these injections. If something doesn’t feel right to you, there is no harm in finding a doctor you are comfortable with.

  • Resist the urge to overdo it. Stick with the maintenance schedule recommended by your dermatologist. Having treatments done too often will only result in an unnatural look, which makes your face look much older.

Tell me about your experience with injectable treatments.  How often do you go in for maintenance?  Are you happy with your results? I want to know!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The 5 Best Bar Cleansers for the Face

Are you a cleansing snob?

Don't be! I want you to get that idea out of your head that bar soaps are bad. We have discussed this before at length. Bar soaps are good for your skin!

The cheap bars you buy at the store -- Dove and Zest come to mind -- are NOT real soap at all. They are bars made of beef fat and harsh cleansing agents and fragrances which tend to be devoid of any true skincare benefits. REAL soap contains natural butters, oils, vitamins and minerals to care for your skin.

A well-formulated bar soap can do wonders for your skin! Today, I am sharing the 5 best bar soaps for the face:

  • A couple of months back, I told you about Humboldt Soap Company Egg White Face Soap. Have you tried it yet? In addition to argan oil, crushed grape seeds to exfoliate, and egg whites, you will find olive & coconut oils. If have normal to combo skin, you will absolutely adore this bar! $7.50

  • Are you still using LUSH Coalface for your oily skin? Stop! I know it is popular, but there is a much better option. The LUSH contains sodium lauryl sulfate. The Perfectly Posh Gender Bender Chunk contains activated charcoal, silt (Dead Sea mud) and nourishing shea butter. When my t-zone is oily mid-summer, I swear by this. I also see an improvement using this on Nick's eczema.By the way, you will save money and get a better product with Gender Bender. The LUSH bar is $13.95 for 3.5 ounces. Gender Bender is just $9 for 7 ounces!

  • If you are hypersensitive or have flaky skin, Rosacea or other skin concerns, I recommend the Suki Sensitive Cleansing Bar. Enriched with colloidal oatmeal & shea butter, this bar is free of artificial dyes. $11.95

  • I cannot say enough about the Carrot & Goat Milk bar from Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap. It is positively delightful and ideal for mature, sensitive and dry skin types. There are no added fragrances of any kind and it is full of good-for-your-skin ingredients such as wheat germ oil, carrot puree, grapeseed oil, coconut oil and more. $6

  • If you are looking for a fragrance-free bar cleanser to treat acne, check out the Sibu Beauty Cleanse & Detox Sea Buckhorn Facial Soap. I love the fact that Sibu is another good company out there making sure that they are using sustainable ingredients. This bar contains organic Sea Buckthorn Oil, citrus peel, oat kernel flour and more. $6.95

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New issue of CosmoBiz

I have a new article in the August issue of CosmoBiz Salon, and it talks about taking care of our skin as we get older.

Take a look at the digital version:

Stay tuned, as I will have several articles in the magazine's September issue on the topics of hair, skin, makeup & nails. It is a fabulous magazine based in the Washington, DC metro area. It is truly a beauty-only magazine, which is right up my alley!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Have more sex, look younger?

Today we’re talking about the 5 greatest skincare sins.  Are you guilty of them?  Let’s find out!

1. You eat too much sugar.

Sugar causes the skin’s collagen and elastin fibers to break down. In fact, I recently wrote about glycation if you'd like to take a look. The result? Lines and wrinkles creep up more quickly. Before you take another bit of that Kit Kat or swallow another handful of M & M’s, head for your fridge and and grab some berries instead.  Not only are berries rich in antioxidants, they are also a sweet substitute for less healthy sugars.

2. You go to bed with your makeup on.

Big mistake, my friends. We all have had those nights. Perhaps you’ve been out too long with friends or maybe you’re just plain exhausted. Going to bed without thoroughly washing your face and removing your makeup is one of the worst things you can do for your skin.

Why? When you don’t remove your makeup, you are creating a breeding ground for bacterial growth. Your pores will get clogged and you’ll eventually end up with a zit or two (or three). Your skin will also look older. No one wants that to happen.  I didn’t even mention the possibility of infection caused by leaving on mascara all night that may get into your eyes. Just don’t do it. Take a couple of moments and remember to remove all that makeup. Let your skin breathe.  Your skin will thank you!

3. You’re not wearing suncreen.

The bulk of skin aging is caused by sun UV damage. Since we know that the sun will make your skin look older, why not commit to using sunscreen each and every day. You cannot control your genes, but this is one type of aging you actually have a say in. Plus, broad spectrum sunscreen can help prevent cancer. Don’t you think that this is reason enough to start wearing it?

4. You’re not having enough sex.

This is not a joke. Now in no way am I saying to run off and pick some random person off the street for this task, but did you know that research proves that having sex improves your skin?  Dr. David Weeks, of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, actually conducted a study for more than a decade just on this subject.  The results?  Women who were having sex regularly looked 7 years younger than the others in the study group. Have sex.  Look younger. What’s not to love about that?

5. You fill up on flour.

White flour is one of the leading dietary causes of acne.  The bulk of cookies, cakes, pastas, and cereals are high on the glycemic index.  In other words, these are the “bad carbs.” White flours are notorious for causing breakouts and inflammation.  If you are prone to skin swelling and acne, it may just be because of the white flour in your diet.

Are you guilty of the above 5 skin saboteurs? Whether it’s not getting enough nookie or getting too much sun, making simple lifestlye and dietary changes may dramatically improve the condition of your skin.

Monday, August 3, 2015

How to eliminate blackheads

Let's discuss open comedones today.

Say what? Okay, let's call it their nickname: Blackheads.

What are blackheads?

Blackheads and whiteheads are actually very similar. 

Both are what are called comedones, or a collection of dead skin cells, bacteria, debris and sebum (oil) that are now stuck in the hair follicles. Speaking of this -- you will hear people say the word pores nine times out of ten. I even say it. The terms are interchangeable. The medical term for pores is hair follicles.

Whiteheads are closed comedones. This means that the opening of the hair follicle is closed. With blackheads, though, the opening of the hair follicle is opened.

With the hair follicle being opened, the oil that is built up is exposed to oxygen and oxidizes. This changes the color to a dark brown. Contrary to popular belief, the black we see is not dirt. It is simply a result of that oxidation. The most common place for blackheads is on our noses, forehead and chin. They can appear anywhere on the body -- chest and back are other common places for blackheads to make an appearance.

How do you get rid of blackheads?

Exfoliation is the number one way to get rid of blackheads. There are two types of exfoliation --mechanical and chemical. Scrubs, washcloths, brushes, etc. are mechanical (or physical) exfoliants. These are not generally recommended for acne, as they are often irritating.

Chemical exfoliation uses ingredients such as Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids or even fruit enzymes. They often come in serums and peels. These are best for acne. Let's talk about the differences in these ingredients.

Alpha hydroxy acids are ingredients such as Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. AHAs are best for dry skin and sun damaged skin. They exfoliate only the top layer of the skin. They can also help improve moisturization.

  • My favorite glycolic peel is the Exuviance Performace Peel AP 25, which is a blend of glycolic and mandelic acids. This was created by the dermatologists who developed the glycolic peel (Drs. Yu and VanScott), so you can trust its efficacy!

Beta Hydroxy acid (such as Salicylic Acid) is the recommended exfoliant for oily skin, acne prone skin and oily skin Rosacea. It is anti-inflammatory and has anti-bacterial properties. More importantly, BHAs are THE ONLY chemical exfoliants that are oil soluble. All others are water soluble. This means that BHAs can penetrate the oil and unclog the hair follicles, whereas AHAs and mechanical exfoliants only can slough off that top layer.They do not get into the pore.

For blackheads, exfoliating with Beta Hydroxy Acid is a must. Of course, your skin's surface may see a superficial improvement using an AHA. It will look smoother and brighter. BHAs, though, can cut through the built up sebum and actually clean the hair follicles.

  • Perfectly Posh Spotless comes in a convenient 2% salicylic acid peel pad. I use these faithfully.

Friday, July 31, 2015

NEW at Seed Body Care

I have been a loyal (seed) fan for years. I have fallen in love with everything from their Healthy Hand Cream to Body Oil to Therapeutic Hand Scrub. When their Lip Oils launched last summer, I was thrilled to ditch the waxy lip balms I had been using for the super light, yet nourishing Lip Oils. I have both the Therapeutic (Peppermint) and the Smoothing (Vanilla).

There is a new lip oil in the collection and it just launched-- the Soothing Lip Oil. This oil is, like all (seed) products, plant-based. In fact, it is 100% plant-based, free of dairy, gluten, parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates soy, etc. It is also cruelty-free and vegan.

The new oil is completely fragrance and flavor free.

I had a chance to try this before it was launched and I love it! It contains moisturizing shea oil and provides lips with a truly silky, supple feel without greasiness.

Oh, and did I mention the other ingredients? This isn't your typical ho-hum lip care product. At just $5 for a generous sized glass roller ball container, you might be surprised to know that this gem is packed with amazing skincare ingredients!

  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Jojoba Seed Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Shea Oil
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • Rice Bran Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Raspberry Seed Oil
  • Vitamin E
I absolutely love this product, I apply it twice a day -- morning and night. I do not feel the need to reapply throughout the day, as it is chock full of pampering ingredients for the lips. Have you tried (seed) Lip Oil yet? The new one is divine! If I were you, though, I'd get their brand new Lip Oil Collection! You get all three lip oils for only $12.95.

Social Media & (seed)

While you're over on the (seed) website, check out their blog, which I write each week. Feel free to check out the company's Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook account as well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

3 Fast Fixes for Wrinkles

Are you considering making an appointment for Botox or other injectable fillers?  Ladies, before you do, let’s talk about other options.  The cosmetics industry has come far over the years, giving us some really fabulous temporary line and wrinkle fillers. While the visible results are not as long lasting, they are affordable and effective temporary alternatives.

So before you take drastic steps, spackle on a bit of filler. No, it’s not a permanent fix, but it will last throughout the day!

Here are the 3 best temporary wrinkle fillers:

Why I love it: Frownies are unlike other wrinkle fillers.  While others are topical skin care products, Frownies stick to your skin while you are sleeping. Naturally sourced kraft paper and a gentle gum adhesive allow the product to stick to your skin.  They essentially keep your frown lines and eye expression lines from moving, much like Botox does. I was skeptical before I tried them, but they really do provide a temporary line filling effect.  When used the night before a big event, I wake up with any lines smoothed and greatly reduced. These travel very well and can fit right in your bag if you are on vacation.

Why it works: We know that Botox works to paralyze the muscles from moving. Frownies work to prevent -- almost train -- the muscles from moving. While it is not an effect as dramatic as Botox or as long lasting, this product does smooth those expression lines and provides temporary results.

Is this one for you? This is a great concept for people who want to use a wrinkle filler without adding another skin care product to their daily routine. It works well for those who have a big event and want to look more youthful without the pain or commitment of Botox injections.

Why I love it: This does what it says it will do. If you are bothered by lines around the eye and mouth area and would like something to plump up the skin and diffuse the lines quickly, this is a great choice. When you apply it, skin feels tight and firm. A little goes a long way. I find this one to be more effective when it is only used on occasion, because the effect is more dramatic. I like this one if I have a special event to attend and need to see results quickly, even though they are quite temporary.

Why it works: This is a classic filler formula, as it is made with gentle film formers and silicones. Nylon helps to instantly tighten and fill in lines. These are basic ingredients, but they smooth the skin and help give a temporary firmness to the skin.

Is this one for you?  If you have a deeper line or wrinkle you are bothered by and would like to fill it in before you have pictures taken or have an important meeting, this one will be helpful. It can be used by all ages, but is more suited to those with oily skin.

Why I love it: I adore the fact that this product is free of silicones. Silicones are NOT dangerous or harmful to your health, but over time, they may make you look older. You dab it on and see a sublte, immediate effect.

Why it works: Two types of Hyaluronic Acid plump skin and Polymethyl Methacrylate, a benign resin immediately creates that "filled" effect.

Is this one for you? If you are sensitive to silicones or are on the dry side, I recommend this one to help see a temporarily plump, filled in appearance.

Looking for a longer-lasting fix?

Why I love it: If I had to choose only one temporary filler, this would be my favorite. This filler gives gradual, but more lasting results. I am NOT a patient person, but this one deliversreal results. Skin looks firmer and lines are smoothed over. It does so without dryness or flaking off.  What I like most is the fact that the Exuviance filler contains potent anti-aging ingredients, so the appearance of fine lines actually does improve over time.

Why it works: Exuviance is the best luxury dermatologist-developed skincare brand on the market. I have tried Perricone, Peter Thomas Roth, Murad, Dr. Dennis Gross and more, but Exuviance is top-notch. I am NOT affiliated--just a former happy freelancer! This uses Matrixyl, the patented Citrafill, and also includes NeoGlucosamine.

Is this one for you? If you are not on a budget and want a product to deliver long-lasting results which improve over time, head over to Ulta and grab yourself some Exuviance! Go to the Webster store and ask for Nina to help you out.
If you just have a couple of bothersome fine lines you’re trying to hide, temporary wrinkle fillers can be an effective alternative to injectable fillers.  Just remember that these are, indeed, temporary.  Once you stop using them, the lines will return to their annoying visible form.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Spotlight on Manuka Honey

We'e talked about Manuka Honey on the blog here before over the years, but I have never really shared my favorite products containing the ingredient with you.

Manuka honey is not your average honey sold in the squeeze bottles at the grocery store. This unique honey actually comes from bees who feed on the tea tree plant. Manuka honey has been shown to boost collagen levels in the skin, neutralize free radicals, stimulate circulation, and increase skin elasticity. Think of it as the anti-aging honey for your skin. 

Like other honey varieties, Manuka honey is antibacterial. While the traditional clover honey you can readily buy at the grocery store has very limited antibacterial abilities, research shows us that Manuka is both antibacterial and antibiotic (please do not think that means you can have a spoon of it to replace a trip to the doc for antibiotics for illness).

Manuka honey contains an abundance of a compound called methylglyoxal  (MG). The amount of MG in this honey makes it truly beneficial. Look for products with the label "Active Manuka Honey" or pharmaceutical grade for the best quality. 

I have several products with Manuka Honey I have tried & tested and can wholeheartedly recommend. 

The Beauty Blogger's Manuka Honey Favorites

Perfectly Posh Honey Dip Chunk is my *MOST FAVORITE* bar of soap on earth. I am so happy I found it. It has a rich and sweet creamy honey aroma (phthalate-free fragrance) and is fortified with Green Tea,  The chunk bar is HUGE, weighing it at 7 ounces.  This indulgent bar is triple-milled and the honey (from New Zealand)  has been certified for pharmaceutical use. Best. Honey. Soap. Ever.

Great Barrier Island Bee Co. Manuka Nourishing Body Lotion is my most favorite honey lotion. It is lightweight and non-greasy and sinks right into the skin, drenching it in moisture all day long. This lotion from Dermstore also contains luxurious royal jelly.

Ardency Inn Modster Manuka Honey Enriched Pigments  are really lovely! These shadows are as smooth as satin and are formulated with Manuka honey. It makes for an ultra creamy -- but not cakey -- shadow. Find them at Sephora.

Ultra sensitive skintypes will adore the Miracle Skin Transformer Skin Soothing Creamy Oil. It contains both licorice root and Manuka honey, making this THE PERFECT product for dry skin Rosacea sufferers.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Toxic Trend: Skin Lightening

Skin whitening has been going on in Asia for centuries, tracing its days back to ancient Japan and China. To many cultures, having a porcelain, milky complexion represents beauty and nobility.  Historically, the story was that the poor women who had to work in the fields and were exposed to the sun had darker skin, while wealthy women were able to stay indoors, keeping their skin pale.
Women in this part of the world often feel immense pressure to have pale skin.  For example, surveys show that more than 75% of men in Malaysia equate pale skin with beauty.
The quest to achieve white skin has a long history and continues today, even though research shows us that the ingredients used in skin whitening are dangerous–even deadly. In fact, according to Global Industry Analysts, the skin whitening industry may be a $76 million a year industry by the end of 2015.
Ironically, in the United States, women with a glowing tan are often viewed as more beautiful or more healthy.  We know that this extreme is dangerous as well because tanning caused by UV exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer and premature aging.  The opposite is the case for many women in Southeast Asia who are literally dying to have milky white skin. 
 From using products with toxic ingredients to actually putting household bleach on the skin, many women are truly desperate to achieve this beauty ideal. I first became aware of this "trend" 15 years ago. I remember it clearly, as I was doing the makeup of a beautiful bride on a chilly May day. We had done a practice run weeks before and I found it peculiar that she was unhappy with her flawless, slightly olive skin. She kept telling me, "I want your color skin." I was uber pale. Porcelain, to be more accurate. She said that she would be beautiful if she had white skin.
A typical skincare cream cannot lighten or whiten the skin. There are specific ingredients in these products which are potent enough to be able to alter the melanin in the skin. The products are called “skin bleaching” creams with good reason: the ingredients are strong enough and harmful enough to alter the color of your skin.
Hydroquinone is one popular ingredient used in skin whitening creams. It is now under great scrutiny by the FDA and is banned in the European Union, Japan, and Australia amid concerns that it may cause cancer.
Mercury has also been found in multiple skin whitening products.  Over the past two years, creams around the world have been tested, revealing high levels of mercury.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”  In addition to kidney damage, mercury can cause psychological issues, damage to the nervous system, and even death.
Glutathione is now being used intravenously to whiten the skin.  While this ingredient is often used in nutritional supplements to help with metabolism, there have been many warnings about Glutathione being injected into the bloodstream.  The FDA has warned that glutathione used to whiten the skin can cause severe abdominal pain, kidney damage, and thyroid damage.
These are not the only ingredients used to whiten the skin.  Heavy dosages far above the recommended level of Kojic Acid and Azelaic Acid are commonly used and are linked to cancer.  Steroids are used by women in their quest to achieve what their culture deems the sign of real beauty, causing a whole host of side effects.
Until women begin to accept — and love — the skin they were born with, the epidemic of skin whitening will continue.  Changing a society’s perception of beauty and educating a population on the risks also are needed to bring about real change.
Skin whitening may be an age old tradition, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t deadly.