5 Tips for Stressed-Out Moms

1. Sleep  “Sleep is not a luxury,” says Dr. James O’Brien, medical director of the Boston SleepCare Center in Waltham, Mass. “It’s a necessity for optimal functioning.” As a busy mom, it can be tempting to burn the midnight oil in an attempt to get things done, but cutting into your valuable sleep time will make it even more difficult for you to deal with all of the responsibilities that come with being a modern day mom.

2. Exercise  Unfortunately, for many moms, exercise is often one of the first things to go. Its often viewed as something you do for vanity purposes and when time is spent exercising, moms feel selfish and guilt. But, I’d argue just the opposite. Regular exercise is vital for good health. Exercise isn’t just for weight loss – it helps your mind, body and soul. Experiment with different activities (take a PiYo, Yoga, TRX class, put the baby in a stroller and jog around the neighborhood, swim some laps) to figure out what you enjoy.

3. Clean Up Your Eating  Packaged, processed food might be saving you a little bit of time, but that’s it. Your diet plays a huge role in how you think, act, feel, and respond to situations in your daily life. Give your body the fuel it needs to perform at the optimal level. Eat whole, unprocessed food – closer to its natural state the better. Choose an orange over orange juice, grilled tuna over tuna salad, baked potato over French fries. Think you don’t have time to make healthy food for your family? Make a meal plan for the coming week over the weekend and spend a few hours prepping the meals. And involve your kids in the process – it’s a great way to teach them the importance of healthy eating.

4. Ask for Help  Celebrity moms look rested and calm. Why? Because they have help. Lots of it – nannies, housekeepers, trainers, chefs, personal assistants. This isn’t realistic for most of us, but we can learn from this – having help makes life a lot easier. If you can’t pay for it, ask for it. Are there things your partner can take on? Can you budget for someone to clean your house once a month? Can you call on friends and relatives to help out?

5. Focus on the Things That are Actually in Your Control When you’re overwhelmed and stretched thin, it’s easy to take on every little problem as your own. You can’t clear up the traffic jam, change your bossestendency to give you projects at the last minute, or make a friend arrive on time for lunch. Instead, focus only on things that you have control over.

Naturalize Your Hair

by Amber Erickson Gabbey

Just like with cosmetics, household cleaners, and every other product you come in contact with on a regular basis, hair care products may be doing more damage to your health than you think.

On a short-term basis, some hair care products cause contact dermatitis or rashes on the skin due to the chemicals or other ingredients irritating the skin. While this is annoying, it’s not enough to make many people rethink their product use.

On a more long-term basis, the effects of beauty products are largely unknown. Many shampoos, styling products and dyes are known to contain unhealthy ingredients. Some of these ingredients cause cancer, endocrine disruption, or development issues, but how they interact with other products, the body, and your health is largely up for debate. With so many other environmental and occupational toxins, it’s hard to say for sure that your beauty regime is causing your health issues. What is known is that some products contain scary ingredients, and these products are applied directly to the body. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and just like it allows toxins and sweat to leave the body through the pores, it’s also capable of absorbing stuff. When you wash your hair or apply a product, those chemicals may be able to enter your body through the skin.
If you’re wondering how your hair care products rank, look them up on The Environmental Working Groups’ Skin Deep Database. Some of the well-known salon brands scoring high on the toxicity list include Bed Head, Redken, Biolage, and American Crew.

The good news is there are options. Just like with cosmetics and cleaners, companies are starting to listen to concerned consumers and offer alternatives. Even in beauty salons, where usually a select few brands are offered, natural options are out there, and this list is growing rapidly. Some of the more natural salon-level hair care brands to look for include Kevin Murphy, John Masters Organics, Surface, Deva, Davines Essential Hair Care, Verb Hair Care, All-Nutrient, OnestA, Neuma, Framesi (out of Milan, Italy), and DermOrganic. These brands include not only shampoos and conditioners, but styling products and chemical-free dyes.

The key to taking a more natural approach with your hair care is finding a salon and stylist who understands your hair care goals.

Know Your Options

We asked these awesome companies to send us samples of their green and eco salon products and I have to say we loved them all.  Thanks so much for the samples.  We will for sure be back for more! And if your salon doesn’t use the green option you prefer, take your own. You and your stylist should have that kind of relationship.

Verb is a family of smart, professional-grade hair care products priced within reach of every salon customer. Our salon-quality hair products are color-safe, free of harmful sulfates, parabens and gluten and are made in the U.S.A. without animal testing. Nothing bad, lots of good. More at verbproducts.com

ANTI.GRAVITY.SPRAY will now be produced as a non-aerosol product in a HDPE (high density polyethylene) bottle instead of the existing aluminum can. With a heritage based in an environmentally-friendly Australian philosophy, KEVIN.MURPHY is continuously looking for new ways to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint. KevinMurphy.com.au

DermOrganic® formulations are based around naturally-derived ingredients that replicate the elements hair and skin use inside to replenish, refresh and maintain their youthful vigor from the outside. The addition of Argan Oil in the Hair Care regimen (and Argan Extract in the Skin Care) provides additional benefits of Vitamin E and Linoleic acid to protect and moisturize. Dermorganic.com

John Master’s Organics Bare. This perfect, fragrance-free daily shampoo combines organic extracts of chamomile and white tea with jojoba oil to gently cleanse and keep hair in optimal condition. johnmasters.com

Healthy and Happy Nails

by Abbie Burgess

Living in a culture that embraces cleanliness and beauty, it’s no surprise that women (and some men) turn to nail polish to beautify their fingernails and toenails. Polishes come in every color imaginable, at a variety of price points and with brands geared toward everybody’s paint preferences. From gothic black to shimmery and pretty, many cannot imagine their nails without the color and sheen of a polish. Come sandal season, manicures, pedicures, and polish are the norm.

Sure, having beautiful nails is fun, but at what cost? The ingredients of nail polish are slowly being uncovered, and they pose a real danger.

The Dangers of Polish and the “Toxic Trio”

The three most dangerous chemicals in traditional nail polish are toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and formaldehyde. All three of these chemicals are considered dangerous toxins because they are known to cause health problems in humans. Exposure is possible through inhalation, but is also possible directly into the bloodstream through the nailbed.

Toluene is the same chemical used to make plastic soda bottles, paint products, and gasoline. According to the EPA, toluene toxicity from repeated exposure targets the central nervous system. Common symptoms include headache, fatigue, sleepiness, and nausea. Toluene is also linked to cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, and may cause reproductive problems like miscarriages. Death is possible with high levels of exposure.

DBP is what makes plastics flexible and nail polish strong and long-lasting. DBP may cause reproductive problems, such as birth defects and cancer. The European Union classifies DBP as an endocrine disruptor because they suspect it affects hormone functioning.

Formaldehyde, often used to preserve dead things, is used as hardener in nail polish. It is a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing chemical. It can also cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.

In 2006, as the “toxic trio” made headlines, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics began pressuring nail companies to remove thesechemicals. Several mainstream brands got on board and removed one or more of the “toxic trio.”  However, a 2012 report from the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of the Environment, the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, found that these three toxins are not only in many nail polishes, but trace elements of the toxins are found in many polishes labeled as toxin-free. The report concluded that just because it’s labeled toxin-free doesn’t mean it is.

While the “toxic trio” are the big, nasty chemicals to avoid in your nail polish, other ingredients, such as fragrance, dyes, and phthalates, can also cause harm. Fragrance is often made up of a chemical cocktail, but because it’s proprietary, companies don’t have to list the individual ingredients.  Fragrances and colors could be hiding a whole slew of toxic materials.

Beyond the clear dangers to health, nail products also pose a real environmental risk. Products that end up in landfills can leak their toxic materials, causing groundwater and soil contamination. Nail polishes are paint, similar to household paints, and must be disposed of properly. Check your local trash disposal centers for policies on disposing of household hazardous waste.

How to Go Toxic-Free

Luckily for consumers, in recent years nail polish compaines have responded to push-back and reformulated their products to contain little to no toxins. But, not all polishes are made equal.

If you’re concerned about the “toxic trio” in your nail products, start by checking the labels. None of the “toxic trio” are banned in the United States (although some are elsewhere), so they may be lurking even if the bottle says “toxin-free.” You can also check The Environmental Working Group’s online database, Skin Deep, to see how your favorite brand and hue stack up. Beware though, it’s often difficult to get all the details on ingredients, so the grade might not tell the whole story.

According to Skin Deep, some better options include Keeki, Layla, Sally Hanson, Acquarella, Zoya, Honeybee Gardens, Scotch Naturals, and Priti NYC. Of course, there are others. If you do your research, there are plenty of options out there. So don’t fret, you can have beautiful nails and be toxin-free.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says to further protect yourself from nasty nail products, make sure you buy less toxic brands, bring your own polish to nail salons, buff the nails rather than using polish or lacquer, limit how often you paint or just do your toes, limit polish exposure in children and pregnant women, and always use nail products in a well-ventilated space.

Another option is to forego the polish and embrace the beauty that is natural nails. If you do choose to continue adding color to your life, do your fingers and toes a favor and choose toxin-free.


Love This Stuff

So we have gladly tried all of the samples sent to us by these eco-friendly and awesome companies.  And I found that product lines don’t seem to cross over well.  One remover works great for its own polish but takes a bit more work with other polishes.  Some water based lacquers don’t smoothly apply to a different company’s base coat.
Overall, try all of these products but stay with in the same family for the best results.

Pirti NYC
Our Soy Nail Polish Remover is safe and eco freindly and smells great.  Available in lavendar, lemongrass and white blossom, they provide natural aromathearpy while removing nail polish naturally and safely.   Our remover is 100% biodegradeable and just soy!  The bottle is even recycleable.  One can be healthy and treat the Earth well by using this safe and effictive nail polish system.

PRITI NYC polishes are ALSO 5 Free & Vegan, completely non-toxic, and are free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and camphor – all known carcinogenic ingredients. These luxury polishes are fast drying, chip resistant, contain a UV inhibitor, and are extremely durable and glossy.  Bonus: PRITI Princess nail polish is perfect for the hands of your tiny fashionistas. pritinyc.com

Zoya Nail Polish has been free of formaldehyde and toluene from the very first bottle. Zoya’s founder, Zoya Reyzis, was very concerned about the health effects on salon staff and clients and insisted that her products be formulated without them long before health regulations required others to do so. Zoya is now proud to be a long-wearing, BIG5FREE formula that is free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, dibutyl phthalate and camphor.

Zoya also offers a checmical free nail treatment and remover system that smells good and works great. Zoya.com

Chick Nail Polish
Big 3 free means that our lacquers are as natural as they can be they and do not contain formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), camphor or resin. Chick is a nontoxic vegan-friendly nail polish line that comes in a super-cute color palette with names like  Hen House and Wild Rooster!  Chick’s formula is long lasting, chip resistant and a has a high gloss finish. You want your fingers to be fabulously flawless so we use a high end 398 strand flat brush for perfect coverage. chicknailpolish.com

Suncoat Nail Polish
Stylish shades that are long lasting, natural and non-toxic.  These colors are made with mineral pgiments instead of synthetics and are free of formaldehyde, toulene, phthalates, acetone, acetate, alcohol and FD&C colors.  This is the first water based, odorless, eco-friendly polish that is peel away.  That’s right, no remover needed.  Apply. Enjoy. Peel off!  Sweet!
If you want an eco-remover, try our non-toxic, vegan, gel remover that is made of soy and corn.  suncoatproducts.com

Scotch Natural Nail Lacquer
Making the change to non-toxic nail polish is one you won’t regret. Scotch Naturals is a safe and eco-friendly alternative to conventional polish. Our revolutionary water-based formula delivers long lasting, salon-quality results in a stunning array of sophisticated shades.

Our polishes contain none of the chemicals found in typical nail polish. We are “3 Free” as well free of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetone, and heavy metals. We are truly non-toxic.

Bonus: Looking for a great option for your little queen in training, check out the hopscotch line of kids products! scotchnaturals.com

HoneyBee Gardens
Watercolor Polish is our unique water-based polish is free from harsh chemical odors; no more nasty fumes! But perhaps best of all, there’s also no need for toxic smelly nail polish remover – this product removes with rubbing alcohol, vodka/grain alcohol or our Nail Polish Remover! Honeybeegardens.com

Is Your Lipstick a Hazard to Your Health?

Recent research has found alarming amounts of chromium, cadmium, and manganese in many lipsticks, with the concern that these ingredients could increase your chances of developing various diseases and suffering organ damage. With lipstick applied to your lips, you cannot help but take in some of it while eating, drinking, and other activities.

Researchers studied how much heavy metal was in over thirty-two best-selling lipsticks and glosses. Once that was determined, they predicted the degree of risk to consumers, considering what typical contact with those metals would be and comparing that to what standard guidelines list as safe amounts. The main culprits were manganese, aluminum, chromium, and cadmium. Unusually high amounts of cadmium (when adding the amounts found in lipstick and diet) can lead to kidney issues. This is of special concern to those who have existing kidney issues. And chromium, in large amounts, can lead to stomach tumors. Lead has also been found as a common lipstick ingredient in unhealthy amounts.

Some companies are making efforts to produce lipsticks with healthier ingredients, so it is important to do your research before you buy. But that may be difficult because these ingredients are considered “contaminants” and not “ingredients,” so they may not be listed on the label. Even contacting the manufacturer may not assure that you’ll get accurate information on what is in your favorite brand.

One suggestion is to cut back on how much lipstick you use. Consider wearing it only for those special occasions, or if you do use it every day, only apply it once each day. That will keep the degree of toxins you take in lower. Another idea is to contact the company that makes your favorite lipstick and let them know that safe lipstick is important to you. Check out the helpful website of Skin Deep Cosmetics where you can find more information on the safety of products you use: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

10 Food Practices for Perfect Skin

If you crave glamorous skin, your stomach may be just the solution you are looking for. Since skin condition is dependent on nutrient intake, it is crucial that you only eat what is good for it. When the body’s balance is off track, the skin is one of the first places to show signs of this. To establish a healthy skin-stomach connection, there are certain foods to avoid but a whole host of others that will leave your skin glowing, smooth, and wrinkle free.

1. Be Safe with Sugar

In a recent study published by the Journal of American Aging Association, it was discovered that those with high blood sugar levels appeared to look older than those with lower levels. How so? Well, as we all know, sugar can be detrimental for not only your teeth and weight, but for your skin, too. Too much sugar can cause inflammation and premature aging of the skin, a process known as glycation. The latter of these two conditions starts when sugar in the bloodstream hitches onto proteins and thus quickens the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end products). These end products go on then to stimulate enzymes within the skin that break off elastic tissue and collagen. Consequently, this deterioration leads to sagging, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. To preserve your skin, it is best to limit your intake of sugar as much as you can.

Foods that have had sugar added to them should be avoided, such as baked goods, sugary cereals, and starches. Those with naturally occurring sugars, such as fruits, are a much healthier source. Sugar consumption also correlates with sugar levels. For example, having a piece of biscotti each day with your tea or coffee for a week is much safer than polishing off a handful of biscotti in one sitting. When you consume a bigger amount of sugar at one time, it disrupts insulin levels. What this all boils down to is that sugar, as is preached with liquor and other indulgences, should be used in moderation.

2. Fun in the Sun

It is generally known that sunscreen is a must when engaging in prolonged exposure in the sun. However, new research has shown that Asian ginseng has proven to be beneficial in protecting your skin from the sun. According to the Journal of Alternative and Contemporary Therapies, ginseng lessens the amount of damage caused by UV light while upping the amount of exposure needed before a sunburn results. Although this herb can be taken by mouth or applied directly onto the skin, sunscreen is still recommended.

3. Pro Probiotics

Did you know that there is a very strong connection between what goes on in the stomach and what surfaces on the skin? When the stomach’s natural flora becomes unbalanced due to factors such as infection, stress, or antibiotics, your skin may become prone to problems such as wrinkles, dullness, acne, psoriasis, and eczema. This all happens when toxic bacteria in the gut seeps through the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and travels throughout the body and up to the skin. Inflammation then occurs, thus forbidding the skin to act normally. To prevent this bacterial imbalance, probiotic supplements and certain foods may be taken such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, and miso.

4. Try Prebiotics

Since we know that probiotics are microorganisms that maintain good health and improve the immune system, what then are prebiotics? Prebiotics are indigestible nutrients that promote the growth of good bacteria. As was mentioned before, skin problems can be directly related to problems with gut flora. To prevent this, eat prebiotic-rich foods such as bananas, whole grains, garlic, and onions. By stocking up on these foods, you will keep the lining of your gut constantly coated with good bacteria, therefore decreasing the chances that toxic substances will leak out and wreak havoc.

5. Sprinkle on Some Spice

Fight inflammation by adding anti-inflammatory spices such as cinnamon and ginger. Both these spices pack a punch of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that work to rid your skin of surface inflammation and facial puffiness.

6. Treat Yourself with Turmeric

In a recent study, it was discovered that when turmeric (also known as curcumin) supplementation is used either topically or orally, it increases photo protection in skin. To help prevent sun damage to your skin, add turmeric to your diet. The easiest way to do this is to cook with curry powder, as turmeric is a staple ingredient in it.

7. Omega-3s

Omega-3s are healthy fats that can do your skin a whole lot of good. Some of the richest sources of these fats are found in fish such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon. For those of us that are vegetarian or vegan, seeds such as chia and flax make for a swell substitute. By consuming omega-3s, you will not only moisturize your skin, but help protect it against skin cancer and sun damage. A single tablespoon of chia seeds or flaxseeds offers six times as much as the daily recommended amount of Omega-3s. These seeds enhance your diet by adding them to salads, smoothies, and oatmeal.

8. Be a Green Machine

The greener your body is, the better it will be for your hair and skin. To do this, eat alkaline-forming foods such as lemons, apples, pears, kale, parsley, and almonds. By eating these foods, you can prevent your body from becoming too acidic, which occurs when your diet is unbalanced. When this happens, alkaline minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium become leached, which in turn retards the body’s natural detox functions. As a result, skin irritation increases and fewer toxins are rid from your skin. To read more on the subject, check out The Beauty Detox Solution, written by Los Angeles nutritionist Kimberly Snyder.

9. The Power of Purple

When it comes to natural beauty, purple is the way to go. Those antioxidant-rich foods which are best for your skin belong to anything in the shade of purple. Produce such as purple cabbage, blueberries, purple potatoes, raspberries, and purple cauliflower all contain significant amounts of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that boost circulation. Healthy circulation correlates with improved skin, since increased blood flow carries nutrients necessary in creating new cells, elastin, and collagen.

10. Less Dairy

Two recent studies in the European Journal of Dermatology and the American Academy of Dermatology claimed that there is a positive correlation between dairy products and acne production. Since there are sixty plus hormones within a single cup of milk (organic or commercial), it is not a surprise then that some of those androgens (steroid hormones) can increase acne breakouts and sebum production. In addition, dairy consumption triggers the production of insulin, which is known to cause acne. For those that desire to go dairy-less, it is important that they supplement their diets with vitamin D, alternative sources of calcium, and other vital nutrients found in milk.