Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sun Smarts



Each year as we head into summer, I talk about sunscreen and the importance of its use. The EWG released their latest sunscreen recommendations and I am happy to see my favorite sunscreens on the list again!


Top 10 Sunscreens of 2012

That said, as much as I admire the work done by the Environmental Working Group when it comes to cosmetics and skin care safety, I get worried when their sunscreen information is released each year because I personally feel it can create unnecessary fear and confusion.

The first time I experienced this feeling was in 2010 when there was a big hoopla about whether sunscreen was safe or not.  Read more here.  I find myself concerned about their new piece called Sunscreens Exposed: Nine Surprising Truths.  This was recently released on their site and I am very worried that when people read it without doing further research that they will have a belief that sunscreen won't help prevent skin care when we know that it, indeed, does.

If you are looking for a good, safer sunscreen the EWG has a great of some wonderful sunscreens.

Click here for the list.

My personal favorites are on this list once more.  Here are my 10 most recommended sunscreens and all make the EWG list (in alphabetical order). ALL of my recommendations, as always, are PARABEN FREE:

Aubrey Organics Natural Sun SPF 30+
Badger Unscented SPF 30
California Baby Everyday SPF 30
EcoLogical Sunscreen SPF 30
Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35
Erbaviva Sunscreen SPF 15
Goddess Garden 92% Organic SPF 30
Honest Sunscreen
Jason Natural Earth's Best Organic Sunblock
Jason Natural Sunbrellas


Right now, I am finishing the Badger Unscented. Jason Natural Sunbrellas (easily available at Wegmans) is another staple for my boys. Looking at the ingredients and price per ounce, though, I think that Goddess Garden is actually the best buy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Amazing Base is Truly Amazing!

If you have been a regular reader for the past nearly five years that Chic & Green has been around, you know I can be extra tough on higher end brands. I regularly state that you do not always have to spend more money to get a better products, because that is something I truly believe. When I write reviews of items that aren't super duper affordable, you know I am extra critical.



I recently was sent some items to try from a company I've purchased from before, Jane Iredale.

I've been a fan of the line for a couple of years, having splurged on both the liquid and pressed foundation before.  I am also a fan of mineral makeup in general.  When I was approached about trying this product, I was happy because I love the brand, but figured I'd be writing a review that said it's not worth the splurge.

 I was sent the Amazing Base SPF20 Loose Mineral Foundation in Bisque. First of all, Bisque is just the perfect shade for my complexion.  It tones down the ruddiness and looks completely natural.

What really impressed me off the bat before I even applied it is the fact that this product is recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation.  It also has earned stellar reviews across the Internet.  I honestly thought that I would like this, but not anymore than I like my loose foundations from Everyday Minerals and Alima Pure.  I was wrong.

You see, there is an SPF of 20 in this. Normally I would scoff at this and think that the protection isn't adequate enough in a cosmetics product.  I regularly use a mineral-based broad spectrum sunscreen.  However, as it gets warmer, my skin gets more oily.  On Saturday, I skipped the lotion sunscreen and just used this powder.  I was truly amazed because I made a MAJOR skin care blunder that goes against every bit of skin care advice I have ever given.

Saturday morning, I was in a hurry to get the boys ready for their opening day of baseball. Ben had a morning game and Nick had an afternoon game.  I slathered them in sunscreen (right now it is Jason Sunbrellas for them) and was running out the door, got in the car, and realized I didn't apply sunscreen to my arms and legs.

After sitting out in the bright sun all day, I could feel my skin get hotter and sensitive to the touch.  My upper chest area, arms and lower leg area under my capris got burned. Even the tops of my feet were affected--you can see the pale skin from under my sandal straps and the pink where the skin was exposed. Lovely.

Amazingly, when I got home my face and neck (where I applied the Jane Iredale Amazing Base SPF 20) were completely unaffected by the sun.  No change in color at all.  It protected my skin all day long.

Even more impressive is the fact that I was feeling hot and sweaty in the 85 degree heat with the sun beating on me and my makeup stayed put all day long without tackiness, stickiness, running, or color oxidation.  The makeup also felt lightweight, as if I was wearing no makeup at all.

This makeup is truly fabulous.  The ingredients are wonderful and the product is free of dyes, oil, talc, or harmful preservatives. This is water resistant, so it'll come in very handy all summer long.  It is also recommended for even the most sensitive types of skin, such as those with rosacea or eczema.  The best part for me, though, is the proven (on me) effective SPF 20 to guard against UVA and UVB rays.

I also would personally label this as a treatment makeup because it is chock full of skin-benefiting ingredients such as plankton extract, algae, and pomegranate extract.

While this isn't a budget product by any means (it is $42), it really is a product that serves multiple purposes.  It can be your makeup, facial sunscreen, finishing powder, etc. all in one swoop. Will I repurchase this when it is gone? Without a doubt, yes.  This will be a splurge I allow.  You see, I spend so little on skin care since I use super affordable, yet effective natural products that I can apply that savings to something fabulous from Jane Iredale.

I have a couple other things from them that I will review soon, but I just had to tell you about this one after seeing how it protected my skin over the weekend.

This is going to be my staple foundation.  On a letter grading scale, Jane Iredale Amazing Base SPF 20 earns an easy A+.  I have been impressed by many products over the years, but this one really stands out as a product that I truly believe in and can recommend to all beyond a shadow of a doubt.

One last thing I need to mention--something else that is worth noting is that when you receive an order from Jane Iredale, you'll receive your package adorned with a sprig of fresh cut lavender.  That adds a really unexpected touch!


*I was sent this item at no charge for review.  All opinions, as always, are my own.











Thursday, May 17, 2012

Purple!

Well hello there, readers! I apologize for this brief hiatus. I've been busy over the past couple days on a work-related project and with gardening. I love this time of year--flower planting, mulch spreading, etc. It's a time when everything starts to bloom and the sun shines....

I love to mix up my colors. I have lots of pinks from my azaleas and petunias, yellow snapdragons, red geraniums, and more. My favorite flower color this season is purple. I have a hanging basket with deep purple petunias and some purple pansies planted.

I have purple on the mind today and would like to share some Purple Love with you:




Etsy Purples

Monday, May 14, 2012

{beauty on a shoestring}

I have never been one to say that you need to spend lots of money on beauty products. In fact, it is something I have wrestled with for years.

Back in the day when I was working full time in the cosmetics industry, I was a star seller. I sold several hundred dollars (thousands during gift with purchase or holidays) in skin care and cosmetics with each and every shift. I always exceeded my goals and could turn a simple cleanser purchase into a 6 item purchase with ease.  That was when I was too young to know any better, quite frankly. I was, in many ways, a robot in terms of memorizing what I was taught at training and how to push that $70 bottle of Fruition Extra (the hot seller at the time; and it was that price all those years ago) to customers. 

Sure I used the high end stuff.  I received it in my gratis. All of the companies gave us products to use.  What was I using on my own skin, though? I'd do kitchen skin care....banana masks, sugar and olive oil scrubs, etc. mixed in with the expensive stuff.

And, do you know what?  It works.  Affordable skin care is truly just as good as the pricy stuff and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

I think that's one reason I sold my own line at such affordable prices (under $20). I wanted to provide a good value for the money--good products and prices which were fair for all of us.

If you want to spend the extra money, then by all means, go for it.  If you are a budget savvy gal or are just trying to cut costs, know that you can spend very little money on your beauty routine and still look great. I have recently gone back to my tried and true super natural routine. I don't like to spend more than I need to and my skin has improved even more since I went even more natural with fewer ingredients.

A friend recently asked me what I was using. You see, I have been selling 100% Pure and was using it all. Then I started going back to my own trial and error with super duper affordable, natural products that are less expensive and my skin has responded really well. I just can't justify spending $19 on a toner or $32 on a lotion when there are options out there that are just as good or better for less. That is not to say 100% Pure isn't great. It is. I will still probably continue to buy a few things even if I am no longer going to be selling it.  I just don't feel right saying that you need to spend that money if there are more affordable options--especially if I am not using the line much anymore myself. That just wouldn't be right.

SO, this is what I am currently using and am super happy with--


budgetbeauty1




  • For facial cleansing, I use the oil cleansing method. You can use a blend of natural oils or just plain extra virgin olive oil. Right now, I am using straight grapeseed oil. It is $4.99 for a 16 ounce bottle at Wegmans! I use this to get my makeup off, then I follow with Aunt Nancy's Carrot & Goat's Milk fragrance free bar ($6).
  •  I love toners, but some of them are ridiculously overpriced. I recommend Witch Hazel Distillate. You can get a large 8 ounce bottle for less than $10 that will last months and months. It is an alcohol and fragrance free product that soothes, cools, and removes last traces of residue from cleansing or environment.
  • I am currently using Reviva Labs Firming Eye Serum. It has DMAE, alpha lipoic acid, and is gentle! It is under $11 and is full of lovely ingredients which rival $75 creams.
  • And I am madly in love with a new to me night cream. It is also $11 and will last me several months. The brand is called Orjene Organics and the product is CoQ10 Olive Vitale Age Recovery Night Treatment.  This is toxin free and contains so many great ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, CoQ10, Olive Squalane, and a host of vitamins! You really need to try this one, ladies (and gents)! It sells for $10.69!
  • For the body, I am also using Aunt Nancy's soap in the shower and I follow with coconut oil to moisturize my arms and legs.
  • My AM moisturizer is my sunscreen. While this is the most expensive skin care product I am using at $15.95, it is definitely the most important! I use Badger Unscented SPF 30 under my makeup. A good SPF is the best anti-aging product there is.
  • I eat lots of berries. There are so many great antioxidants in them and they will help brighten your skin, naturally.


Friday, May 11, 2012

{Bargain Beauty}

I love cucumbers for skin care. There's something so calming and cooling about putting them on tired eyes when you're giving yourself a facial.  Did you realize that cucumbers actually are very beneficial in skin care -- and not just on puffy eyes? 

Cucumbers are rich in a natural silica.  This is essential to supporting skin's connective tissue. Large amounts of Vitamin C are also present in cukes, which surprises many people since we typically associate vitamin C with oranges and other citrus fruits.

Cucumbers also possess another ingredient that we don't often hear of.  It's called Caffeic Acid. Caffeic acid is really a fabulous ingredient in skin care because it is a potent antioxidant. And if the name sounds a bit like caffeine, you're right.  Caffeic acid is found in coffee beans, too!

When you use products with cucumber, your skin will look brighter & more radiant.  Sensitive skin types will adore cucumber because of its ability to soothe red and irritated skin.  I often recommend that those with painful cystic acne use gentle cucumber products to help ease inflammation.

Here are some fab cucumber finds--ALL ARE UNDER $10!

cucumbers for skin care



CSI Vivid Eyes Cucumber Eye Cream
Shikai All Natural Cucumber Melon Body Lotion
Natural Grooming by Herban Cowboy Vegan Aftershave Balm in Carrot Cucumber
Skin Organics Cucumber Sage Calming Mist
Blum Naturals Eye Makeup Remover
Kiss My Face Cucumber Deodorant
Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes (unlike most "Yes to" items, these are synthetic fragrance-free)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

8 Bits of Randomness



1. I am a baseball nerd. I know it may shock you, but I've got the Sportscenter app downloaded to my tablet and my settings pointed to Yankees updates. I am such a fan of pitcher Andy Pettitte that I waited on the phone for over two hours on Friday to get tickets for his triple-A rehab start here in Rochester. I was so excited to see him at the game--the same way the boys would be if they were to see R2D2 walking down the street....I even collect Andy Pettitte baseball cards :)




2. I think I've found my favorite K-cup flavor! It's Green Mountain Island Coconut and it is soooo good!




3. I sing in the car...loudly. But only when no one else is listening, of course.




4. I am unashamedly liberal. I also love our President.




5. Even though I am a complete and total girlie girl, it wasn't always that way. I used to play in the mud, collect matchbox cars, and even had a subscription to Motor Trend when I was a kid, thanks to my grandfather, who was in the car business for decades.


6. I am SO OVER my low carb phase! I cannot stand to look at another egg or even my favorite food on earth--cheese! I couldn't take it anymore. The other night I hightailed it to Wegmans and stocked up on loads of fresh fruits. Oh my goodness, how I have missed fruit! Strawberries, Granny Smith apples, blackberries, blueberries, welcome back to my life!



7.  I am finishing my last bar of Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap! I returned to my beloved Carrot unscented soap not long ago on my face and my complexion is even brighter. I just ordered three more bars--Carrot & Goat Milk (an awesome facial bar), Creamy Peppermint Chocolate Swirl, and a new one--Raspberry Wheat Beer!


8. News! Loubird Handmade, my line of jewelry, is now available at Peppermint on Park Avenue! I just took over some pretty little baubles for Tanvi's gorgeous boutique. Peppermint is open Monday through Saturday.




Monday, May 7, 2012

Safe Ingredients for Moms to Be





With all of the topics I have covered here on the blog, I can't believe I've never posted about ingredients safety for moms to be.

Today, I'd like to go over some of the ingredients to avoid while pregnant.  Since a percentage of what we apply to our skin may be absorbed into our bloodstream, what expectant moms use is really very important.

I remember being concerned about what to eat (or not to eat) while I was pregnant. As much as I love soft cheeses and coffee, I eliminated them from my diet from the get go. I was careful about skin care, having switched to Burt's Bees (which was one of the only options at the time), but didn't really think about the other things at the time.

There's just so much more research and information out there these days.

Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant

As wonderful as essential oils are, some really need to be avoided while pregnant. As someone who studied aromatherapy extensively, this can be a tricky subject because there ARE so many benefits of essential oils, but there still is research out there suggesting many should be avoided, so I woul err on the side of caution, especially during the crucial first trimester.

Here is a great link from the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists. They, in fact, recommend avoiding all essential oils during the first trimester and Chic & Green does agree with this.

Essential Oils to Avoid in Pregnancy (source)

•    Arnica (homeopathic is fine)
•    Basil
•    Birch (sweet)
•    Bitter almond
•    Boldo leaf
•    Broom
•    Buchu
•    Calamus
•    Camphor (brown or yellow)
•    Cassia
•    Cedarwood/thuja
•    Chervil
•    Cinnamon
•    Clary sage
•    Clove (bud, leaf or stem)
•    Coriander
•    Costus
•    Deertongue
•    Elecampane
•    Fennel
•    Horseradish
•    Hyssop
•    Jaborandi leaf
•    Juniper berry
•    Melilotus
•    Mugwort
•    Mustard
•    Nutmeg
•    Origanum
•    Parsley (large doses)
•    Pennyroyal
•    Pine (dwarf)
•    Rosemary
•    Rue
•    Sassafras
•    Savin
•    Savory (summer)
•    Tansy
•    Thyme red (large doses)
•    Tonka
•    Wintergreen
•    Wormwood

Other Ingredients:

Neem Oil -- Neem has been shown to cause damage to the forming kidneys of babies in the womb.

Tea Tree Oil -- In pregnancy, this has been linked to hormonal issues and abnormal development in boys.

Oxybenzone -- This is found in many different sunscreens.  In pregnancy, this ingredient has been shown to cause hormonal issues.

Nanoparticles  -- The more and more I study nanoparticle technology, the more concerned I become. There needs to be more regulation of this one. In pregnancy, I recommend that you err on the side of caution.  In a 2011 study, research revealed that nanoparticles caused pregnancy complications in mice. (source). These are found in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide--opt for pressed powder makeups over loose. Nanoparticles in loose minerals are much easier to inhale and have dispersed in the air. You will also find nanoparticles in some sunscreens.


Salicylic Acid -- Also called BHA or beta hydroxy acid, this is a wonderful oil soluble ingredient to get deep into the pores, help ease inflammation and for the treatment of acne-- unless you are pregnant. Since this ingredient is in the aspirin family, it needs to be avoided. Oral salicylins (like aspirin) have been shown to cause birth defects and increase bleeding problems. While there aren't concrete studies yet on topical salicylic acid in pregnancy, since we know there are great risks taking the oral form, these need to be avoided in skin care. You will also want to avoid white willow bark while pregnant. This is a natural form of salicylic acid and is often found in organic and natural skin care products. (white willow bark source)

Retinoids -- Oral retinoids, such as Accutane, have been shown to cause birth defects. While less is known concerning topical forms of vitamin A, it is recommended by the experts to avoid them while pregnant. Look for these names on labels--
Differin (adapelene)
Retin-A, Renova (tretinoin)
Retinoic acid
Retinol
Retinyl linoleate
Retinyl palmitate
Tazorac and Avage (Tazarotene)

Phthalates -- No one should be using phthalates, but they may be especially harmful for pregnant women.  In 2005, there was a study conducted at the University of Rochester by Dr. Shanna Swan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showing a "significant relationship" to the presence of higher quantities of phthalates present in a pregnant woman's body and changes/altered genitals of boy babies. (source)
Phthalates are often components of artificial fragrances and in many nail polishes. Look for DBP or dibutyl phathalate on the label. Unfortuntately, this is not legally required on labels when it is in fragrance. Avoid artificial fragrances.

Formaldehyde Releasers -- Look on your labels for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and quaternium-15. These all release formaldehyde. These have been linked to cancer, as well as having neurotoxic effects. The worst thing you can do -- get a Brazilian Blowout. These contain around 10% formaldehyde and are carcinogenic. No one should get one of these, especially pregnant women. Formaldehyde is a KNOWN carcinogen--in other words, it has been proven to cause cancer. It is not worth the chance to you or your unborn baby.

Parabens -- Again, this is on our list of ingredient to avoid for everyone, not just pregnant women. Some people think parabens are OK--that there isn't enough research out there to call them a real health threat. I think that can finally be put to rest now with the most recently published study:

In the September 1, 2011 edition of Carcinogenesis, researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center released their findings showing that both BPA and Methylparaben at even low concentrations found in humans have negative health consequences such as an increased breast cancer risk. 

It also went on to mention the ever-increasing male breast cancer rate, which is another alarming trend. These findings are quite similar to an older study on parabens from about 8 years ago.  In this compelling study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology,  parabens were linked to breast cancer as they have shown to be hormone disruptive and lead to tumor growth.

I am the mother of boys. What really made me take notice of this issue was a July 2002 article in the Archives of Toxicology. According to Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.”


PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS















Burt's Bees has a line called Mama Bee, which was recently improved and is free of artificial fragrances. The products are quite lovely and are affordably priced.




I also highly recommend the unscented all natural soap bars from Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap. All can be used on both face and body.



Opt for a short and sweet ingredients list. Argan oil will make a lovely facial serum for you while pregnant--works great on the ends of hair, on nails and cuticles, and for a moisturizer too! I love the Argan Oil from 100% Pure.





Herbatint offers a healthy and safe hair color option free of ammonia, phthalates, alcohol, parabens, fragrance, etc. If you must use a color that touches the roots, go for this one.  Otherwise, I would opt for off scalp highlights if you really won't give up the color.




Opt for a pressed mineral foundation as opposed to loose unless the loose product is clearly marked nanoparticle free from a reputable company. I like the pressed powder foundation from   Honeybee Gardens.



Badger Unscented SPF 30+ is a non nano sunscreen and delivers broad spectrum protection.



(seed) Healthy Hand Cream is available in a fragrance free option and works wonders on the hands, feet, and dry facial skin. Locals, you can also find this one at Wegmans!



Lastly, we all want pretty fingernails and toes--try the safer nail polish alternatives on the market.  My top 2? Zoya and Priti NYC.  My current favorite shade is Zoya's Skylar, a pretty blue gray with shimmer.