Entries from June 28th, 2012

June 28, 2012

6 toxic ingredients to avoid in your natural beauty routine

When’s the last time you studied an ingredients list?

If your answer revolves around preparing dinner, you’re probably in the majority. That’s because we care about what we put in our bodies; it should taste good and be healthy.

But what about what we put on our bodies?

The ingredients that go into our beauty products are just as important to our health and well-being. What we put on our skin is eventually absorbed into our bloodstream, meaning that we are essentially “feeding” ourselves every time we apply beauty products.

sunday riley ingredients list

{Look for ingredients that you can actually recognize, pronounce, and, um, make you hungry, such as this showing from a Sunday Riley product.}

If you’re not hungry for ingredients commonly used in engine degreasers and other harsh detergents, remember to scan your beauty products for these common ingredients to avoid.

I’ll be adding more ingredients/updates to this series, too, so please feel free to share your insights in the comments section!

And, while I try not to get too preachy on the blog, this is just a great read for why I choose the products I choose — it’s not all perfect, but I at least try to avoid the following ingredients not only for health reasons, but for quality reasons.

I shouldn’t be paying top dollar for conventional, “high-end” products that use the same ingredients as engine degreaser!

Parabens

Preservatives, particularly parabens, lengthen products’ lifespan and help kill bacteria.

Parabens, such as ethyl-, methyl-, butyl- and propylparabens, can cause skin irritation and are known hormone disruptors. This means that these ingredients can interfere with the natural cycles of the endocrine system, which regulate your body’s hormones.

In particular, parabens have been shown to mimic estrogen, a hormone that is linked to the development of breast cancer.

These are the easiest toxins to avoid. Many brands are now formulating paraben-free products, so be sure to scan the label to see if these have been excluded.

Propylene Glycol

Glycols find their way into beauty products, particularly moisturizers, because they can deeply penetrate the skin. Not shockingly, glycols are easily absorbed into the body, and overexposure can lead to kidney and liver damage.

More shocking, though, is the fact that propylene glycol is also used in products such as antifreeze, paint and floor wax — things you typically try not to get on your skin.

Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium laurel sulfate, or SLS, is responsible for those rich, foamy lathers we are so accustomed to in our shampoos, body washes and soaps.

SLS is also responsible for the heavy-duty cleaning power of engine degreasers, car wash soaps and garage floor cleaners.

Unless you’re constantly covered in engine grease and are made of steel, you probably don’t need to be exposed to SLS on a regular basis.

Sodium laurel sulfate has been shown to irritate skin and cause permanent eye damage in young animals. Studies have also indicated that SLS may weaken the immune system, especially within the skin, and can maintain residual levels in the heart, liver, lungs and brain.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Similar to sodium lauryl sulfate above, sodium laureth sulfate can cause skin and eye irritation and may contain the carcinogen dioxane. This cheap ingredient is used for sudsing purposes — think shampoos and soaps — but do you really need the risk of all these irritants to “feel clean?”

No, you shouldn’t. Look for sulfate-free products to ensure you’re ridding your body of both SLS and SLES.

Phthalates

Phthalates are everywhere — in toys, food packaging, water hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants, adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hairspray and shampoo.

Wait, hairspray and shampoo? Really?

Phthalates are the source of all sorts of problems, and even the EPA, which is definitely not perfect, warns about the risk that phthalates pose to the body (and children’s bodies!) — so why are they still in our personal-care products?

Fragrance

As harmless as it may sound, “fragrance” is a catch-all term for a number of ingredients — often undesirable, unnatural chemicals — that cosmetics companies do not have to disclose due to an FDA loophole

The Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973 requires companies to list ingredients in cosmetics, but explicitly exempts fragrance. This is because fragrance can be considered trade secrets, meaning companies don’t have to reveal the exact ingredients used.

However, research into fragrance reveals that toxins such as phthalates, which are linked to hormone disruption; allergens and sensitizers; neurotoxins; and synthetic musks make up the ingredients behind the simple word “fragrance.”

Fragrance is a tricky one. I’ve tested/used/loved several products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient, and it’s truly a judgment call you have to make when choosing healthier alternatives.

  • Does the brand use several other natural or organic ingredients?
  • Is fragrance the only red flag, or are there other toxic ingredients in its company?
  • Is fragrance listed higher up on the ingredients list (which means it is in a greater concentration), or is it near or at the bottom (meaning it is a lower concentration)?

What ingredients did I leave off the list? What ingredients do you try to avoid?

And, for the $64,000 question: Why do you buy “high-end” cosmetics and beauty products that contain these cheap ingredients? What’s keeping you from switching to naturals?

June 27, 2012

beauty scoop | yes to tomatoes blemish clearing facial towelettes

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I get my sweat om on with my friend Kirsten at the yoga studio. Because I have a 30-minute drive home afterward, I make sure to bring a facial cleanser to use after class to freshen up before my commute.

I tried a pack of cleansing wipes before, but unfortunately, they were loaded with toxins. This time, I’ve wisened up a bit and chose to pick up some convenient and inexpensive Yes To Tomatoes Blemish Clearing Facial Towelettes at Walgreens for $7.99.

yes to tomatoes blemish clearing facial towelettes

{I bought these Yes To Tomatoes Blemish Clearing Facial Towelettes at Walgreens for $7.99 a few weeks ago and swear by them. Photo Courtesy Yes To Tomatoes}

You may have seen this brand, part of the Yes To Carrots line, at Walgreens before. I’ve been familiar with the brand for several years and have tried and loved several of its products. I appreciate that this brand keeps its pricepoint accessible for everyone, is readily available at Walgreens and packs high-quality, certified organic ingredients in its products.

Some of the great ingredients in Yes To Tomatoes Blemish Clearing Facial Towelettes include organic tomato fruit extract (such a yummy smell!), red tea leaf extract, witch hazel, watermelon fruit extract and red pepper fruit extract.

However, the active ingredient is salicylic acid (the blemish-clearing part), so if you have known allergies or sensitivities to this ingredient, think twice about how a 1 percent addition will affect your skin. I will also point out that Yes To Tomatoes Blemish Clearing Facial Towelettes also contain “fragrance,” a mystery ingredient that could be a cover for different types of non-natural ingredients (trade secrets) that could affect sensitive skin — but I haven’t had any issues!

I chose Yes To Tomatoes Blemish Clearing Facial Towelettes for its portability and paraben-free formula. And while these are disposables (see my review of a sister product, Yes to Cucumbers Natural Glow Facial Towelettes), they’re made with biodegradable, responsibly sourced fabric (that is Forest Stewardship Council-certified), so I don’t feel as bad wiping my mug down with these sturdy cloths after class.

We’re a convenience-oriented society, and I’m glad to see a brand putting out a product that is both convenient and responsible.

What do you take with you to the studio or gym? How do you feel about convenience products that require a bit more packaging or are disposable? What’s more important: Healthier ingredients or minimal packaging? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section!

June 26, 2012

taco tuesday | el camino real | kansas city, kansas

Though I live in Kansas, I work in Missouri and spend most of my time eating my way through the great Kansas City lunch spots.

However, every once in a while, I’m able to border hop during my lunch hour and chow down on some legit Mexican food just across the state line.

I used to make regular trips to El Camino Real with my former coworker when I officed a bit closer to the Kansas-Missouri border. We’d hit up a simple little spot in downtown KCK that made my mouth water every time we walked in and took a seat.

El Camino Real, located on North 7th Street just past Armstrong, is a tiny little taco shack that boasts big flavors. When you walk in, you’re greeted with the smell of fresh corn tortillas and the sight of a huge slab of pastor-style pork and pineapple.

el camino real tacos kansas city kansas

{El Camino Real's tacos are damn near perfect.}

While I have tried an assortment of tacos from El Camino Real, I always come back for the pastor-style tacos. They’re always seasoned to perfection, and if you’re lucky, you get some generous bits of pineapple in your taco — talk about sweet and tart meets spice!

These tacos have inspired me to begin pinning some great taco seasoning recipes to recreate pastor-style tacos at home.

But that won’t keep me from my next visit to El Camino Real. Who wants to come with?

June 25, 2012

beauty scoop | ilia tinted lip conditioner

Let’s just be real here: Orange is not an easy color to pull off.

But this year, with the emergence of coral as a go-to color for clothes, nails and lips, orange-ish has become a little more attainable for women of all skin tones.

I first started to notice coral begin to take off in the blogosphere when Emily continually wore and swore by Maybelline’s Coral Crush lipstick. I’d be a cheat if I told you I immediately found a natural alternative and looked the other way when it came to Maybelline.

Nope.

I bought it.
I tried it.
I liked the color.
I hated the chemical taste.
I had a reaction.

After my first reaction (I’m pretty sure my sensitive lip skin was thinking “what the hell?”), I knew it was time to toss the lipstick (hey, I’m still making over my natural beauty bag) and search for alternatives.

My search ended at ILIA.

ilia beauty tinted lip conditioners

{ILIA carries tinted lip conditioners that offer a wash of color and moisturizing nutrients for chapped lips. Photo Courtesy ILIA}

While researching cosmetics for a freelance beauty story, I contacted ILIA for samples, and they generously sent three of their beautiful tinted lip conditioners for me to try: Bang Bang, a cherry red; Blossom Lady, a rose pink; and Shell Shock, a bright coral. The tubes retail for $24 a pop — comparable to department store prices sans the irritating toxins.

While this brand as a whole has earned prime real estate in my ever-overflowing beauty bag, I find that the shade I reach for the most is Shell Shock. It’s the perfect everyday shade of coral that feels luxurious on my lips without overpowering neither my face nor my senses.

kimberlyloc ilia tinted lip conditioner shell shock

{"Shell Shock" by ILIA is the perfect shade of coral that flatters all skin types and tones. Photo By the Teacher Man}

And, thankfully, no reaction thanks to the amazing list of natural and organic ingredients, including:

Organic Castor Seed Oil, Organic Jojoba Seed Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Sesame Seed Oil, Organic Cocoa Seed Butter, Vitamin E, Pomegranate Seed Extract, Grape Seed Extract, Orange Fruit Oil, Jasmine Oil

I’m looking forward to bulking up my lip color collection with more ILIA staples (Arabian Knights and Nobody’s Baby are on my list, thanks to Spirit and Sophie) as I continue to detox my beauty bag.

It’s been a long, painful process (blog post detailing it to come!), but thanks to all the natural, inspiring beauties out there, I’m finding some of the best natural and organic beauty products on the market.

See what other natural beauty buffs love ILIA!

Please tell me: What are some of your favorite natural and organic cosmetics staples? Or, if you have yet to detox, what products are the most difficult for you to part with and why?

June 20, 2012

natural beauty buff | sophie, the clean beauty blog

“The Clean Beauty Blog was created to fill a gap in the beauty blogosphere: It fuses the wholesome ethos of wellness blogs and natural and organic beauty sites with the sophistication, style and trend-based focus of conventional beauty websites and magazines.”

I read a lot of blogs. From style to foodie to beauty, my inbox gets flooded with several daily updates from my favorite bloggers in my favorite topic areas.

When I saw an email with the cheerful subject line “Hi there!” from The Clean Beauty Blog in my inbox late last month, my eyes widened. One of my favorite clean/natural/organic beauty bloggers, Sophie, wrote to compliment me on my blog and see if I’d be interested in doing a fun feature on her site (be sure to head on over to her blog to see my current beauty picks!).

Um, yes! yes! yes!

Now it may not seem like that big a deal, but you have to understand: I have a lot of online blogger crushes. Sophie may be one of my top beauty crushes because we share such a similar ethos when it comes to using natural beauty products that are both sophisticated and stylish.

And to have your beauty crush write to you and want to work with you on a feature is pretty much the equivalent of being asked to prom by your crush.

(OK, maybe not, but you catch my excited drift.)

I was even more excited to pore over what this natural beauty expert from down under uses on a daily basis. Some of her picks are familiar to me, while others make me giddy to Google.

As usual, I’ve starred the items that I also use and love.

On Sophie’s Bedside Table

sophie the clean beauty blog tata harper lotus wei bedside table

{Sophie keeps moisturizing eye cream from natural beauty favorite Tata Harper on her nightstand in addition to an aromatherpy treat from Lotus Wei to help her drift into dreamland. Photo By Sophie, The Clean Beauty Blog}

Tata Harper Restorative Eye Cream

“This is my go-to eye cream — it keeps the eye area plump and fresh and seems to be keeping fine lines at bay. I also love its zingy fragrance, which is great to wake up to in the morning! This one rotates between the bathroom and my bedside table, and it seems to travel with me…”

Lotus Wei Quiet Mind Serum

“I’ve always been a bad sleeper, so I love massaging a little of Lotus Wei’s Quiet Mind Serum into my feet and dabbing it onto pulse points before going to bed. It is quite amazing how effective it is at helping me to quickly drift off to sleep.”

sophie the clean beauty blog trilogy everything balm shizen lip hydrating serum

{When it comes to overnight moisturizing, Sophie’s got it covered from head to toe. Photo By Sophie, The Clean Beauty Blog}

Trilogy Everything Balm

“I always keep an ‘everything pot’ next to my bed — great to massage into cuticles, chapped skin and dry heels before going to sleep. Trilogy is a brilliant Australian brand (their rosehip oil is a cult bestseller), and the Everything Balm is my current favourite, as it’s super moisturising yet absorbs quickly, and I find the scent relaxing for bed.”

Shizen Lip Hydrating Serum

“As it’s winter here in Australia, my lips are in need of an extra boost of hydration and protection. At night I smooth a drop of this magic serum (a little goes a long way!) over lips to deeply nourish my lips and leave them soft, smooth and soothed. Made with a lovely blend of sweet orange, lime and lemon myrtle essential oils, I’ve even popped a few drops of the serum into a bowl of hot water to steam my face!”

sophie the clean beauty blog beauty bag

{I love the texture of Sophie’s sapphire-blue clutch. Photo By Sophie, The Clean Beauty Blog}

Inside Sophie’s Bag

“I picked up this clutch from a chain store for about $20 — it’s surprisingly spacious and fits all the essentials, and the bold color works well with almost anything!”

sophie the clean beauty blog ilia lip color ikou headache rollette

{Sophie carries only the beauty essentials in her clutch: a gorgeous lip color and some tension relief. Photo By Sophie, The Clean Beauty Blog}

*Ilia Pure Lip Care in Nobody’s Baby

“I love all of the Ilia Pure Lip Care colors, but I always keep Nobody’s Baby in my purse. It’s the perfect nude and a quick swipe makes you look and feel instantly polished and groomed.”

Ikou Headache Rollette

“Ikou is a beautiful Australian brand — all products are handmade in the Blue Mountains, and they also have a day spa, which is out-of-this-world natural luxury. I always stock up on their rollettes when I visit — they are essential oil blends to target headaches, to relax, and to sleep. The headache rollette lives in my handbag and does wonders to soothe tension headaches.”



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