Thursday, 10 July 2014

iHerb Haul

Oh, iHerb, how I love you. My wallet does not, unfortunately, so I have a somewhat strained relationship with this site.

IHerb is what I would consider a natural product drugstore (read: heaven). You can find all sorts of products from vitamins to essential oils to makeup from brands like Weleda, Acure, Pacifica and Hurraw- all at discounted prices! Product variety and low shipping costs make it a one-stop shop for many beauty essentials. IHerb also offers promo codes for first time shoppers (use the code BUY123 for an instant $10 off your first purchase of $40 or more, or $5 off smaller orders) and has a reward system in place so you can earn points for use on future orders.

I placed an order on some Hurraw lip balms, Acure's argan oil, Sibu's seabuckthorn oil, and a Heritage rosewater.

Hurraw! lip balms are infamous in the natural beauty world for being high quality and moisturizing. They're vegan, raw, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, soy free, shea free and nontoxic. I was impressed by the ingredients and had my eye on the balms for a while, but I couldn't bring myself to spend $6-8 for them on Naturismo and other sites. Luckily on iHerb they're between $3.37-$3.82. I picked up the vanilla one, the cinnamon one, and the chai one. I adore the fun, bright packaging, the sleek shape and the delicious flavours. I'm thinking these will become staples in my collection and I can't wait to try more!

Acure, to my delight, sells 100% pure USDA certified organic argan oil. Argan oil is seen as a "liquid gold" multitasker that can be used on the face, nails, hair or body. It's rich in fatty acids, vitamin e, and proteins, which enable it to fight lines, minimize and heal scars, repair imperfections while at the same time restoring hydration, texture, elasticity and tone. I do wish it was in a darker bottle to prevent the oil from deteriorating and I was a bit disappointed mine came with a pump instead of a dropper as I prefer the latter, but I'm still very excited to hop on the argan bandwagon and reap this precious oil's benefits.

Sibu's seabuckthorn oil contains very active ingredients which are seen as potent anti-aging and healing components. I was persuaded to buy it by Beauty by Britanie's glowing review of it where she explained it can reduce redness, help with acne, rosacea, dermatitis, and help with other skin conditions. I thought I'd give it a shot, as I am prone to red, uneven skin and acne scarring so I'm hoping this will help.

Heritage rosewater can be used as a body spray/perfume, a toner, air freshener, you name it! I purchased it with the intention to use it as a toner because of the divine scent and the countless benefits of rose flower oil. It feels very fresh and the scent leaves you very relaxed and soothed. At $6.52 you can't go wrong!


Saturday, 14 June 2014

How To: Know If A Beauty Product Is 'Safe'

Navigating the beauty world is hard enough when there's so many brands and products to choose from. Never mind try to make Eco-conscious decisions! If you're entering the organic/natural world and have no clue where to start I thought I'd compile a list of tips and information so you have a foothold, and don't make the same mistakes I did.
(This post is very long-winded so I'd recommend you just read the general statements and only the details if you want more information or don't understand. Future posts will not be this text-heavy)

Tidbit #1: Never rely on a company's claims
Now that people are becoming more educated about what's harmful to their bodies, there's demand for a natural product market. Many companies are now claiming to be "all natural." That would be great, if everything they said was true. The integrity of a company is not always what it seems however, because companies commonly use a marketing technique called green washing. 
A company can portray itself as a 'green' company by using natural slogans, images, and claims. For example, REN skincare has created their image to be a safer alternative to other products by excluding parabens, mineral oil, dyes, etc. One of their supposed company values is "purity." However, they actually use a preservative called Phenoxyethanol which is not natural, and not very good for your body. (Rated 4 on ewg- irritation and organ system toxicity concerns.) While they didn't actually claim to be all natural, the image of the company leads you to believe their products are good for your body, which is not wholly true.
Another example is when a company includes potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate in their ingredients with the notation "food grade preservative." This is to disarm the consumer into believing these preservatives are safe to use. However, potassium sorbate is rated a 3 on ewg and sodium benzoate can transform into benzene, a known carcinogen, in the presence of vitamin c under certain conditions. (Note: while benzoic acid is found naturally in low levels in some fruits, sodium benzoate is synthesized in a lab)

Tidbit #2: Natural does not always mean safe 
Im sure you've heard this before: "only use products with ingredients you can pronounce." I thought this rule was logical, and abided by it when I first came into the natural beauty world. So I was floored when I learned that maybe something sounding so natural, even being natural, could also be as harmful as a chemical. 
Take Japanese honeysuckle extract, for instance. It seems pretty innocuous but it actually acts similar to parabens in the sense that it is an estrogen- mimicker (high levels of estrogen in females lead to cancer.) Another example is grapefruit seed extract, because it undergoes a chemical extraction proses where it's treated by  hydrochloride acid and ammonium chloride which results in contamination concerns for this ingredient. 
So always do your research on an ingredient! Just because it sounds natural, doesn't mean it's safe to use.

Tidbit #3: "Extracted from essential oils" doesn't mean what you think
Typically, when a truly natural extract is made, plant matter is let to steep in a solvent such as water (as in making tea), in alcohol (like the vanilla extract you'd use in baking), or in glycerin (like with many herbal supplements you'd find at the health food stores) to extract the plant's beneficial or desirable compounds, whether it be a flavor, smell, or antioxidant. It's a minimum step process that doesn't involve other chemical processing.
However, you need to be careful when an ingredient is "extracted from essential oils" because sometimes that means taking the ingredient out by a chemical process, which means it's no longer in it's natural form. Choose companies that don't use chemically modified plants
(Note: If the ingredients say "naturally occurring in essential oils" that's ok— it means it's still in natural form)

Tidbit #4: Always read individual ingredient labels for each product
When we find a product from a company that meets our  standards, as humans we tend to place trust in the company/brand and associate all of their products as being safe. This is a total warp of the truth, because all products have different ingredients, so you must analyze each product individually. Just because one product's ingredients are good does not make all of the brand's other product's ingredients good. To get information about ingredients or a product,  you can search it up on ewg's 'skin deep' website.

Tidbit #5: When buying loose powders, make sure they're not in nano-particle form 
Nanoparticles are chemical objects with dimensions of 1-100 nanometers. An ingredient completely harmless in ordinary form can be dangerous as a nano particle because it acts completely different. In particular , watch out for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The danger: many experts believe that some nano particles can penetrate the skin and enter circulation systems. Furthermore, nanoparticles do not dissolve in either water or oil, so once absorbed they are very difficult for the body to expel. You can find more information at this website:
Some of the risks to note are:
• Nanosized zinc oxide is toxic to colon cells even in small amounts.
• Autistic disorders, epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease have been linked to nano-titanium dioxide.
• Studies in mice showed that nanoparticles caused chromosomal damage, DNA breaks and inflammation

Tidbit #6: Avoid (artificial) fragrance
This is so very important, and something overlooked by many.  Try to find products scented with essential oils.
Fragrance is dangerous because it can be a cocktail of 3,000 ingredients, none of which have been tested for safety. Under the name "fragrance/parfum" no individual chemicals must be disclosed. Environment canada has expressed concern with bio accumulation of synthetic musk which settles in fatty tissues, which raises the long-term  hazards. Unlisted fragrance ingredients can cause athsma, migraines and allergies..
For more information, visit

Tidbit #7: Ecocert doesn't make ingredients safe
You may have seen companies claim to be "Ecocert certified"
Ecocert is a organic certification foundation, which sounds like everything they allow would be safe, right? Wrong! Ecocert is still better than conventional ingredients because it won't allow the major recognized toxins, but little things slip under their radar, like sodium benzoate, for example. I'm not saying don't trust Ecocert, I'm just saying don't skip checking the ingredients list just because a product is "Ecocert approved"

Tidbit #8: Don't settle on a product
What I mean is if there's a product with rave performance reviews, but it has one or two ingredients you're not too happy with, don't buy it. This was one of my major mistakes when I began switching over to natural products. I would find a product that everyone was raving about, and I bought it without investigating other options because I thought no other safe products were available that would live up to the performance. But there are so so so many pure brands and lines out there, so don't settle for anything except the best ingredients.

Tidbit #9: Don't put anything on your skin you wouldn't eat! 
It only takes 26 seconds for something on your skin to be absorbed into your body. When you eat something, you intentionally put it into your body, and it will later be excreted. With cosmetics, you're putting the chemicals into your body too (so you're essentially eating them!), but the only difference is they can build up in tissues if they're fat soluble, and can transform and denature once in contact with your organs. So if you wouldn't want to eat mineral oil, why would you put it on your face where it will be transported into your body?

Misconception #1: The cosmetics industry is regulated
I just wanted to raise this to your attention, because many people to believe that there's got to be someone who is preventing harmful ingredients from being sold to consumers. False. Cosmetics do not have to be approved by the FDA, so anything can go into them (expect a few banned ingredients). Just to get a sense of the scale of the issue:
In Europe, 1,100 chemicals from personal care products. In contrast, just nine chemicals are banned from cosmetics in the United States and Canada.
That means that of the millions of chemicals available, all except 9 are 'allowed' in beauty products in Canada and the US

There is obviously a spectrum of extremes that you can sit on for deciding what products to use. The "rules" included above are very picky, so you can choose to follow all of them, some of them, or none. It's up to you to decide what you're ok with entering your body.
I would recommend following all of them, because the standpoint I take is "why would you want to put toxins in your body when's there's so many other safer alternatives?" To me, it makes no sense to use products that are detrimental to your health or even carry the possibility, because there are options and alternatives . If an ingredient has negative health effects like cancer and you buy a product containing it, in essence you're 'paying for cancer' which seems illogical. Even if an ingredient has supposed health concerns that aren't yet confirmed I'd stay away from them  because in regards to ingredients, I'd rather be safe than sorry
Organic and natural products also carry benefits, because they help your skin instead of harming it. I myself have experienced a clearer, brighter complexion since making the switch in my makeup and skincare, and would encourage you do to the same.



Disclaimer: some of the content in the post is taken from other websites, which I have listed. None of the links are affiliate links