Archive | October, 2013

Toxic Tuesday: Spotlight on Formaldehyde

29 Oct

You probably know this one. Think back to grade ten biology class. That poor frog floating in a jar filled with. . . that’s right, formaldehyde. It is often used to keep frogs and other slimy things in jars because it is an excellent preservative. It is also commonly found in nail polish and hair straightening products. Most recently the US federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated the use of formaldehyde in these poplar hair products.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen; irritant to the skin and eyes, as well as lungs, kidney, stomach, and liver. It is also extremely toxic to the environment. . . I am sure our little amphibian friends can attest to that!

When formaldehyde-containing products are applied onto the skin and nails it can cause damage through absorption, however a more severe concern is the off-gassing that can occur particularly when the product is heated (e.g. hair straightening). According to the David Suzuki Foundation, most of the cancer research focuses on the risk caused by formaldehyde inhalation.

Warning: If you check product ingredient lists and do not see the presence of formaldehyde, you may also want to look for these other formaldehyde-releaseing preservatives:

Methylene glycol, Formalin, Methylene oxide, Paraform, Formic aldehyde, Methanal, Oxomethane, Oxymethylene, Timonacic acid, Thiazolidinecarboxylic acid

And for those of you who still love the look of pretty polished digits, but want to avoid being a science experiment, check out these formaldehyde-free nail polish alternatives.
– Seanna
How are you staying toxic free? I want to know! Share your comments below.
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Hands Off!

10 Oct

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“It is estimated that the average person touches their face between 3-5 times a minute.”

We all do it: stare at ourselves two inches away from the mirror, fussing and picking at blemishes, wrinkles, or whatever we find. Enough is enough. I am taking a hands off pledge, and I hope that you will join me!

By taking a pledge to not touch your face, you are accomplishing two things. First and foremost, you prevent disrupting the skin, which causes inflammation and introduces bacteria. You know what that means? Reddness, blemishes, and clogged pores. Secondly, you spend less time with your face pressed up to the mirror agonizing over what you deem to be less-than perfect skin.

Leave it be. Over time you will find that your skin actually improves because it is not being bombarded by your sticky fingers. You may also find that you will come to accept the imperfections because you don’t have them under a magnifying glass. I don’t always condone the phrase “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”, but in this case, I must agree. Leave the magnifying glass and bright lights to your esthetician and learn to embrace that beautiful face !

Take the hands off pledge and let me know how it goes!

– Seanna

Tumeric: Food or Beauty Product?

6 Oct

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Tumeric. I know what you are thinking: curry, curry, curry. And I will say, yes, tumeric is a common and delicious component of curry powder. It gives it the bright, yellowy-orange colour, but is not responsible for curry’s well known flavour and smell– that my dear friends is from cumin, fenugreek, and coriander.

“Tumeric’s almost magical anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and antioxidant properties make it a great ingredient for beauty rituals.”

This tuber looking spice is a relative of the ginger family and is native to India. A few years ago, it started getting popular within health circles as an oral remedy for gastrointestinal inflammation and pulmonory conditions, as well as for cancer prevention (read more about this here). As with most popular health trends, there is always a part of the world that has been using it long before the age of Dr. Oz and the internet. In this case, tumeric has been a cure-all medicine in India for thousands of years.

Tumeric’s almost magical anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and antioxidant properties make it a great ingredient for beauty rituals and many Indian women will attest to this. Tumeric facial masks have been a staple in Indian beauty arsenals for generations; used to fight acne and hyper pigmentation. Tumeric has also been popularly used as an Indian pre-wedding head to-toe body scrub.

Naturally then,  I knew I had to give it a try.

Tumeric Body Scrub

1/2 chickpea flour (a.k.a gram flour commonly found most bulk stores)

11/2 Tbs ground tumeric

5 drops of oil (almond or jojoba work well)

1-2 tsp of water

Mix all ingredients into a paste and gently rub over body using circular motion. Rinse with water – but be warned it makes a bit of a mess in the shower.

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The tumeric face mask uses the simple ingredients of chickpea flour, tumeric, and yogurt

Tumeric Face Mask

1Tbs ground tumeric

1Tbs ground chickpea flour

1Tbs thick yogurt

1-2tsp(s) of water

Mix into a paste, spread on face, let dry for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off, gently using the mask as an exfoliant. Follow up with a moisturizer or face oil.

Now, I must share my experience, because I will not publish anything that I have not tried and do not trust. After reading rave reviews and learning about tumeric’s ancient past, I was excited for the results. As I have shared before, my skin is quite sensitive and prone to reddness. After I spread the paste on my face and rinsed it off after 10-15 minutes, I was quite surprised to see that my skin had turned red and blotchy. Thankfully the redness subsided over night, but I definitely was skeptical after that. What happened??

As I shared before, there are many, many, many people who use tumeric face masks and get glowing results – my husband included (yes, I coerced him into trying the concoction, and he continues to use it!)

This is just a little lesson for myself, and for all of you natural beauties. Just because something may be natural and handmade does not mean it is meant for you. Our skin reacts in different ways, and an ingredient that may be a godsend to one person, my be god’s wrath to another. Always spot test when trying new products and do not believe everything you find on youtube or blogs (yes, I realize I am saying this ON MY BLOG).

I will leave you with that and I want to know, what is your experience with tumeric? Have you had fabulous results? Do you use it orally as a medicinal remedy? In your food? Let me know!

– Seanna

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