It isn't easy being green - especially when you're urban and love Thai take out. But I'm sure gonna try.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things: General Moisturizers

Recently my aunt, who is plagued with dry skin, was shocked to discover her seemingly high-quality, not-cheap favorite hand creams were chock full of nasty chemicals. She asked if I could suggest some good more natural alternatives. I offered her my top three picks, and I'm going to share them with you:

1) Emily Skin Soother: Unscented ($13.99 for 1.8 oz): Developed by a New England acupuncturist and herbalist, this soothing cream is not certified organic, but only contains five ingredients. The soother goes on extremely easily making it perfect for very chapped and rough patches - especially on kids. The texture is a little slimy until it absorbs. I've used this on a baby's bottom and on problem eczema patches with great luck. A tub lasts a long time, and a little goes a long way. It's not my favorite for whole hands because it does take a little while to seep in, but it is great for dry patches and dry winter feet.

2) Terressentials Fragrance Free Moisture Cream ($16.99 for 4 oz): This 100% certified organic cream has only one ingredient: shea butter. I've slathered this stuff on my feet, my hands, and even my neck, and I've used in on my kids' bodies, too. It's a little thick for covering large body parts, like a stomach, but works very well for small areas. A little goes a long way and doesn't leave a slimy residue. This is one of my favorite hand creams. Pure butters (shea or cocoa, for example) can be altered by temperature changes during manufacturing, travel and storage, so don't be surprised if your container has a gritty consistency. Warm it between your hands, and it will soften right up.

3) Everyday Shea Baby Lotion ($9.99 for 6 oz): I'm a big fan of the Allafia company whose products are all shea based and are certified fair for life and fair trade. There are more ingredients in this product than in the others, but none of them phase me. I buy the unscented version, and find the consistency perfect for post bath or shower slathering. The cream goes on really nicely, and leaves very little sliminess or residue making it a great option for your hands, too. The price is quite reasonable for a large container (Whole Foods sells it for $7.99), but it goes quickly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Health and Beauty Shopping Cheat Sheet

People often ask me how I make my shopping choices. When I first started obsessing about which health and beauty products to buy, I would scan the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database vigilantly ... for hours ... days ... sometime months ... yes, I'm serious ... trying to decide which shampoo or face cream I would buy.

But as the months passed, and my bordering on OCD research habits sucked up more and more of my time, I began to realize that there were a few basic rules I could follow to give myself peace of mind without teetering over the edge of insanity. (Please remember these are MY rules, not some official guidelines.)

1) Just because it is sold at a health food store, like Whole Foods, doesn't mean a product is safe, natural, or organic.

2) Accepting rule #1, the odds are, the product is still going to be safer than one you'd buy at a conventional grocery store or pharmacy.

3) A product is only really, truly organic, if it is certified. Some certifications include: QAI, Orgeon Tilth, CCOF, G.O.C.A, and USDA Organic. Anyone can slap the words organic and/or natural on a product, but it means diddly squat. Many products that claim to be organic without the certification are full of chemicals. But if you're short on time, an organic certification is a pretty good bet safety-wise.

4) Given rule #3, however, all products don't have to be certified organic to be fairly safe. Sometimes products with certifications are more expensive, and there's an equally safe option for few dollars less. (See rule #5)

5) If you know what all the ingredients are on a label and the list is under ten items long, it's probably a safe bet. If it's under five items long, and you know what all the items are, you're golden.

One obsession down, 67 more to go....