By Natural Advocate | May 14, 2013 - 10:07 am - Posted in Herbal & Natural Beauty, Toxins

While the main concern behind many lipsticks was that several brands – popular brands too – contained shocking levels of the toxic heavy metal lead, it seems there may be more metals lurking in our lip balms, lip glosses and favorite lipsticks.

This is why I stick to only my all-natural lip balm! I use it WAY too much (several times a day) to be exposing myself to toxins at that level. I’d say I apply my lip balm about twenty times a day at LEAST.

This means that if I were applying a toxic mixture with heavy metals and other highly toxic chemicals to my lips this many times a day, I’d be both ingesting it through my mouth as well as absorbing it through my skin via the lips –a double whammy if you will of toxic absorption.

The typical metals that can be found in most brands tested include aluminum, which as you know is a huge concern in deodorants and antiperspirants as well, cadmium, chromium and about five other metals that registered at levels high enough to cause concern. Especially for the many women who are heavy users of these products.

These metals are often found in lipsticks, stains and glosses that are tinted so that they can retain their color longer, or have a better pigment. However, there are natural stains that can accomplish this just as well without exposing you to the same toxins.

While you do have to keep in mind that these metals are also found in nature and you come in contact with them through the foods you eat, it’s still important to remember that topically applying them is a little different. Ingesting them orally at least means that they go through the digestive process and are somewhat neutralized this way through the acids and processes.

However, when you apply something to your skin (your lips are skin too, and are actually more sensitive than the rest of your skin) it absorbs in full potency, and isn’t broken down as efficiently by the body. This is precisely why such high traces of metals, parabens and other toxins like phthalates and artificial fragrance constituents are found in such high levels in the urine and organs of women and men.

Women are a little more prone than most men to test higher because we are of course the bigger consumer of the health and beauty products that typically contain these types of contaminants.

Aluminum has been linked to a variety of health issues, including various types of cancer and alzheimers among other concerns. Chromium has been linked to stomach lesions and various types of bowel and stomach cancer. Lead is very toxic to the brain and organs, and is even more toxic to children since their bodies are still developing, so any of these types of products shouldn’t go anywhere near a child.

The best way to avoid these toxins is to buy all natural lip products. Preferably products with absolutely no preservatives, no artificial fragrances or flavors and labeled as not having any toxic metals and by-products as mentioned earlier. Typically this means shopping online or in a specialty health store for your products, but that’s better than the alternative, especially if you love using lip products.

 

By Natural Advocate | February 25, 2013 - 8:16 am - Posted in Herbal & Natural Beauty

Nanoparticle technology has been quite the boon for the personal care industry (and possibly even the food industry) because it produces particles of ingredients in barely detectable, easily blended sizes. It makes for better textures, not whiteness when products like sunscreens are spread and a whole host of other seemingly desirable cosmetic effects. However, it also causes some potentially serious health concerns.

The problem with nanoparticles is that the take particles that normally would not be able to travel to areas and cells of the body that they shouldn’t, and they make them super-absorbable. This means they can absorb into the skin and beyond barriers into cells within the body as well. If the ingredient is naturally toxic to the human body, this would of course be of immense concern.

You essentially take a totally inert, unharmful ingredient, such as titanium dioxide, which is a great natural, physical barrier type of sunblock that never absorbs into the skin and into the blood stream, and you make it so that it can absorb into the skin and beyond. The ingredient may normally be safe because it just sits there until it is either washed off or flushed out of the body via natural waste elimination.

This can be done with a lot of ingredient types now. Just recently, it was reported that Dunkin Donuts is using nanoparticle titanium dioxide in their powdered donut topping. Not sure why you would ever want to use an ingredient like that on food, but it was found through testing to contain nanoparticles of the ingredient.

This is concerning since it has the potential to penetrate areas of the body it normally would just be flushed from or simply bypass. While nanoparticle technology is certainly handy to the aesthetics part of topical skin products for better looking coverage, it certainly doesn’t offer any health benefits.

This is an area of research that is really starting to grow now, and the public is becoming aware, so look for more on the subject as more is uncovered and consumers become more aware of the potential hazards this modern day convenience may pose to their health and well-being.

By Natural Advocate | August 5, 2012 - 12:12 pm - Posted in Herbal & Natural Beauty

After knowing that baking soda was a natural deodorizer, I began to research if salts were also a natural deodorizer since baking soda is hard to completely dissolve in water, whereas salt almost completely dissolves in a small amount of water. I wanted to find out for a recipe I was using for a deodorant, and since the baking soda tended to just sink to the bottom of the water and get pasty without ever really mixing into the water, I wanted to see if salt would be a better choice.

Sure enough, mineral salts, sea salt and regular table salt can work well as a natural deodorizing agent. However, I’ve unfortunately personally found that baking soda works a little better in this arena.

You have probably seen natural deodorant crystals and “rocks” that use minerals and mineral salts as their main claim to deodorizing the underarms and other areas of the body. That is because they contain naturally antibacterial properties, and body odor is caused by just that – bactrerial growth.

It is particularly pungent in areas of the body that are not exposed to light or air – hence the reason that our nether regions and our underarms are so prone to additional body odor.  The underarms are both dark and wet because we perspire there. There are a large number of sweat glands clustered near the underarms, and it is a primary conduit to us ridding our body of built up toxins by sweating them out.

It is for this reason that I don’t believe coating the underarms with things like aluminum and prescription grade masking agents is good. You are basically blocking the sweat glands, and this in turn prevents your body from getting rid of the excess salt and toxins that build up in the body.

Sea salt is a viable alternative to baking soda as a natural deodorizing agent, however it requires a little more salt than baking soda to get the same results.  It’s a great, cheap alternative to helping rid the body or the house of odors.

See a helpful page on this topic of natural deodorizing products here http://www.herbalnewsmagazine.com/natural-deodorant/

By Natural Advocate | July 20, 2012 - 10:13 am - Posted in Herbal & Natural Beauty

Rosemary is a very popular herb to cook with. I personally love to throw some of the hard little spikes into my pork and beef roasts and they are particularly savory when paired with a nice brining on a whole natural chicken, particularly when it is slow cooked.  Yum, I’m making myself hungry here!

While most people consider rosemary to be an herb to cook with, there are actually some really excellent ways to use this herb topically on your skin and hair to resolve some common complaints and skin conditions. One of them is one I’ve had for years now. Ever since I started producing oil in my early teens, I’ve had problems with oily skin and with acne and bacteria.

Rosemary essential oil is a great way to fight bacteria but also to help clean up and break apart sebum both on the skin and the scalp beneath the hair.  It is also a great remedy for dandruff because it helps to clarify the scalp.

However, I have found that if I formulate my natural shampoo with too much rosemary it tends to result in a dry look for the hair itself, so it’s probably best to dilute it down a lot of make sure it is only used on the scalp directly and not so much on the hair.  It is also a very pungent smelling essential oil, and probably very taste specific.

I’ve found that adding too much to a shampoo makes me smell like a wet dog who has been dipped in flea dip (my mom used to do some dog grooming when I was a kid, and that’s the best way I can describe the odd smell – at least what I feel is an odd smell).

Other great natural topical antibacterial agents, while we’re on the subject, are lemongrass (also good at cleaning up oil and neutralizing sebum), lavender and tea tree oil. Most essential oils actually have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties to begin with, it’s just that some have more potent properties than others.

A little bit of rosemary oil really does go a long way.  It’s a very concentrated and potent oil that has immense capabilities at neutralizing bacteria, as well as breaking apart surface oils, so use it sparingly at first then figure out how much works for you for your purpose.  Be sure to see our previous story on other uses for rosemary.

 

By Natural Advocate | July 3, 2012 - 4:21 pm - Posted in Herbal & Natural Beauty

In a surprising move, the FDA is making manufacturers who use widely accepted nanotechnology in their body care products to test the nanoparticles used for safety to the human body.  There has long been a lot of suspect safety issues in these tiny particles that are used in products from body lotions to deodorants and sunscreens to soaps and other products.

Many of the particles are shrunk down to such tiny sizes that they are easily absorbed by the skin and no longer stay on the “top” where they are harmless.  It is mostly due to consumer demand for products that are more uniform, or that do not turn a person white when applied.

A good example is sunscreen. Many sunscreens you may notice, do not turn you white any more because the companies that make them turn the once-harmless sunscreen ingredient zinc oxide or titanium dioxide into particles that are so small they cannot even be detected by microscopes.

This may not turn your skin white any more, but the disturbing part is that now these microminerals are easily absorbed into the skin where they can become active in the blood stream and can cause issues by accumulation in the organs and more important the brain.

They have shown a disturbing display of being able to collect in the brain and cause brain cell death when they reach toxic levels.  Companies are only required to list the ingredients on their labels, they are not required to disclose that they are shrunk down in size to nanoparticles.  So really, you should like sunscreens that turn you white!

Other ingredients like chemicals and minerals can also be shrunken down in size in order to accomodate consumer demands for better application.  This is NOT a good thing.  Many lip balms with scunscreen contain these nanoparticles as well, and they have been linked to accumulating in the brain and causing cell death as well if they use this nanotechnology.

In short, it’s a good thing the FDA requires more testing on these nanoparticles. However, you still need to use your own diligence and research whether your skin and body care products are using safe ingredients.


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