Monday, December 7, 2009

Antimony: Friend or Foe?

Hello Kittens,
     Save the mention of ancient kohl eyeliner ingredients, this post isn't really about sustainable cosmetics. It's about antimony and safe toys, but I figure if you give a crap about what's in your makeup, you probably won't mind hearing about what your kids and pets could get their paws and mouths into as the holidays roll on and the new toys abound. More of such coverage is on Zen of Homekeeping, where this post originally appeared. XO Your Kitty.

     We've had real guinea pigs and hamsters. The idea of which, always proved to be more fun than the real thing. The former fling pissy hay and poo ("Don't eat the brown tic tacs," my son would say when we would find said poop far from the cage). The latter scatter, only to be found dead and shriveled in a duct somewhere. If this is not your hamster's fate and he or she lives to the ripe age of 18 months or so, you can expect a lifetime of wild goose chases through the house looking for them and wondering how they broke out of the plastic ball. I'm not really a rodent person.
     I am, however, a robot person, and the idea of a sweet little animatronic Mr. Squiggles who won't die or get lost of fling poo is suddenly somewhat appealing. I got all excited for nothing when I learned sometime around Thanksgiving what these were. By the time I got on board, the little bastards had sold out like Furbies or Cabbage Patch Kids. Then my mom got her hands on a couple of them, and now the news that they may not be safe! Here is my report:

     I woke Monday morning to the first snow in Indiana, and the report that Zhu Zhu pets may be unsafe due to high antimony content. Merideth Viera announced the news on Today, which basically amounted to the product’s manufacturer insisting the toys couldn’t even be imported into the US if the levels weren’t safe (oh, because that’s always carefully monitored and enforced – hello lead toys!). Then we heard about the throngs of shoppers clambering for these furry little f-ers, selling them for up to three times the retail price on Ebay.
     I happen to be expecting two of these toys any day now; my mother tracked them down in Florida. Your Kitty, half-mad with OCD over toxic chemicals to begin with, began fur-reaking out. What is antimony, why is it used, and are these hamster robots going to drive Spot bonkers and then kill him when he stalks and eats them?
     All the Today show reported was that antimony is used in flame retardants. Well, that’s all I heard anyway, before I dashed off to my trusty iKitty to begin a whole science project.
 Indeed, antimony is used in flame retardants, and it’s actually a naturally occurring mineral that has numerous purposes. In fact, it has been used since pre-Islamic cultures as a cosmetic! It can be mixed with fat to make kohl eye makeup.
Wikipedia cites “The most important use of antimony is as a hardener in lead for storage batteries.” It’s also used to treat protozoal infections (eeew) and to harden ceramic enamels and glass. It’s the sort of thing one would expect to find in electronics such as robotic vermin.
Initially, I decided the boys around here are all old enough not to put a toy hamster in their mouths, so it’s probably OK. But my obsessive thoughts wouldn’t leave it alone, and I worried about my pups (who attacked both the Roomba and Scooba floor robots, and now I'm back to manual labor). What if the dudes and dogs handle these things…will antimony rub off like lead paint chips and hurt them? I dug deeper.
Rather than paraphrase the rather disturbing effects of high doses of antimony, I’ll take the liberty of posting Wikipedia’s paragraph labeled, “Precautions:” (*I edited this a little for space and boringness relevance, but you’ll get the gist)
“See also: Arsenic poisoning
Antimony and many of its compounds are toxic. Clinically, antimony poisoning is very similar to arsenic poisoning. In small doses, antimony causes headachedizziness, and depression. Larger doses cause violent and frequent vomiting, and will lead to death in a few days…Antimony leaches from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles into bottled water, but at levels below drinking water guidelines…”
     Aw snap! One more horrible toxin to avoid. See, the thing is, maybe the amount of antimony contained in a Zhu Zhu pet is minimal and thus considered “safe” by toy industry standards. But what about the antimony that lurks in a Wii Remote, or an MP3 player, or batteries, or cell phones? What is the cumulative effect of all this exposure?
     And most importantly, what is the effect of chronic antimony exposure to a developing, pediatric brain? Over time, how can we expect children of the Digital Age to develop given the deluge of electronics in our ever-evolving culture?
So, that’s what I worried about today for about 3 hours. How did your morning go?!?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Suki Organic Eye Repair Balm: 2 Paws Up!

I wasn't familiar with Suki until my last foray at Beautorium. Though I've tried combo products before to "repair" my 37 year old eyes and lips, I have been less than enthused with Caudalie the results. This balm is the bomb! I don't know how I've lived so long with out this uber green skin care product! Made with carrot extracts and rose hips, it's really doing the job. I will say it smells a little medicinal, but you can rest assured there are no added fragrant dangers (such as pthalates). I get mine at Beautorium, because frankly I just like patronizing a truly sustainable store. I do recommend using a swab to remove it from its simple jar packaging. Because there are no preservatives like parabens to poison you, the bacteria from your fingertip could easily fester in your product. Eeeew.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, have a safe and peaceful holiday. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me here on Organic Orgy! - RevolutionOrganics125x125.jpg

Monday, November 16, 2009

All the Sustainable Shower Products I Currently Use

     As requested by one loyal kitten: my current tried and true excellent sustainable shower products, well loved and still wet from the last go-round a few minutes ago! Old favorites like John Masters Organics, of course. You've heard about them in previous posts. Forthwith, some new great things I have to share since uncrating my ginormous Beautorium order last week.
1. Red Flower's Nature-Lymphatic Phytopower Sea Cleanser & Masque (see photo below). They had me at "made with windpower." This very healthy, very effective cleanser can also dry into a masque. It's great, it's green and I love it!
2. Nature's Gate Pomegranate Sunflower Body Wash. I get this at, but I'm sure you can find it in a variety of places. Nature's Gate is a relatively common health brand. I've had it for months; the bottle is huge, and the price is sustainable, too!
3. Korres Lemon and Sage Body Scrub. Divine. A new favorite from Beautorium.
4. EO Lavender Bubble Bath. Also from  I trust my skin to nothing less than pure essential oils and vegetable cleansers. It smells like a million bucks, and is effectively aromatherapeutic. If you want to learn more about that business, head over to The Fragrant Muse. She has gotten me into a serious study of essential oils and their healing properties. I'm a changed kitten since I began incorporating REAL natural fragrances into my health and beauty routines!

Red Flower is "Biodynamic and free of dyes, parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals and synthetic preservatives. usda, wildcrafted, sustainably sourced and biodegradable,100% wind powered post consumer recycled (and recyclable) packaging where possible using vegetable inks, certified organic fruit, nut and flower oils." (

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Help At-Risk Children Explore Art and Creativity by Shopping!

January 2009: Last fall, I called upon family and friends of Innerspace Yoga to reach out to help at-risk children in the Indianapolis community. Thanks to your generous donations in class, our seven year old friend had a warm Christmas with many toys and new boots! Thanks to your abundant shopping through links on Innerspace Yoga and kitty:we also raised about $100 in advertising revenue, which bought materials needed for the art studio at St. Mary’s Child Center!

    One person bought her holiday stationery; another picked up a motherlode of Legos. Little bits added up and the children enjoyed new art supplies! The teachers requested a gift certificate to Michael's, where they could maximize their dollars. They loved it!

    Although I don’t really know who did what since Innerspace isn’t privy to your personal information, I thank you from the bottom of my heart....whomever you are! In the coming year, Innerspace Yoga will reach as many as 100 at-risk Indianapolis youth, spreading the message of peace, love and sustainability through the art and science of yoga. As always, I invite you to get involved with that effort. Namaste!
Update 11-11-09: This year, Innerspace Yoga will donate 75% of our advertising revenues between November 1, 2009 and January 1, 2010 to St. Mary's Child Center to purchase items from the wish list for the students' art instruction. To participate, just click on ad banners and hotlinks on any page in our domain - including this one. To learn more about the project and to get started, please visit our Seva Page on the Innerspace mothership site. You can also start now by browsing the Innerspace OM Shop at the bottom of this post.
     The products, brands, and artists advertised within the Innerspace domain are not directly participating in the Seva Project 09. When you click on their links, you are leaving us and going to them to become a customer (hopefully). Please enable your browser to accept cookies on these sites, otherwise your purchase won't earn revenue for us! Thank You so muchYour Kitty.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Natural Face Cleanser: a Guest Review

     I've been using Korres 3-in-One facial cleanser for the last month or so. Korres is a great natural brand, and I use several of their products. Last weekend, my aunt came from Chicago for an impromptu overnight visit. She likes to use any hand soap on her face, probably Dove or Ivory. She didn't enjoy the peppermint Dr. Bonner's castile and water mixture we use at the sink (it smells awesome and is the most sustainable multi-purpose soap EVER). The next day, she asked for cleanser. I gave her the Korres.
     "Jesus, is that shit slimy or what!" she exclaimed. I wonder if she curses when she is teaching language arts at the elementary school. "As for taking off makeup, well, it wouldn't remove a booger." That, my kittens, is what I call a guest review.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Eye Makeup Tips and Techniques

The fall and holiday makeup seasons are always my favorite because they are heavy on the eye shadow. In the 80s, when I began experimenting with cosmetics, I had a penchant for purple - and now it's back! What I didn't know at the tender age of 11 or 12 was that I didn't need eye shadow then. Not because a smoky lid and black eyeliner looks sluttatious on a tweener (which it does, of course), but because I had nothing to conceal - yet!
As we age, tiny lines and creases crop up where once smooth lids naturally glistened before becoming puffy hoods and bags. My heavy eyeliner is no longer a homage to the inner Goth; rather, I use the products in trompe l'oeil fashion to hide uneven skin pigments and areas that are beginning to look like crepe paper!
My friend Melissa and I used to apply our makeup on the bus, using multi-hued palettes and our fingers to match our eye makeup to our outfits. Not bad in a pinch, but the more mature eye needs precision instruments, and now I know swiping a finger across pressed makeup is just gross - even if it's your own finger in your own eyeshadow! If indeed you are guilty of this cosmetic sin, and you find your supplies caked with bumpy oil marks, you can scrape the top yucky part off the product with a razor blade and start over without necessarily having to trash the whole thing. Get a good set of brushes, and sin no more!
Yes, blue eyed beauties can wear azure colored shadows, and brown eyes can be accented with earth tones, but it is more important to match your make up colors to your own skin tone than your sweater. When I worked in fashion journalism, I had a Chanel artist tell me anyone can wear any hue, it's just a matter of intensity.
In cosmetic artistry, as in painting, light colors accentuate features, and dark hues make things recede. Therefore, if you have small lids you will only make your eyes look smaller and puffier by using frosty, pearlescent and pastel colors from lash to brow. Conversely, if you'd like to minimize the look of enlarging eyelids, you'll want to contour below the browbone with something darker than what you wear on your lids. Then blend, blend, blend!
Light colored eyeshadow can be swept into the inner corner of the lid to give you a fresh, wide-eyed look. Save the sparkly light shades for just under the eyebrow. And for the love of Kevin Aucoin, don't you dare put glitter on your lids if it's not Halloween and you are even one minute over 30!
When I am applying heavy shadow (which I do once or twice a week), I stick a piece of blotting paper under my lower lashes to catch the excess powder. I then apply my undereye concealer with a brush, only where I need it. Using your finger to blend concealer just sort of smudges it around, and applying it all the way around the lower orbit of the eye looks really chalky and gross. I also find that a concealer brush minimizes the pulling and tugging on this very delicate area. I personally use an actual paintbrush for this task, but I am posting a linked picture of some very nice vegan brushes for you kittens who are 100% cruelty free!

Friday, October 9, 2009

FTC Compliance for Bloggers Everywhere

This morning, Liberty Post pointed me to a new FTC rule. Because I care about lawful compliance (although, I like to think I can discern for myself what is and is not malarkey in the media, and likewise I strive to be honest in everything I publish), I am posting the Advertising Policies for the entire domain.
"Innerspace OMnimedia publishes a variety of blogs and electronic magazines celebrating and supporting conscious lifestyle choices." That's the mission. Here are the facts: We are a privately funded corporation. We want to bring sustainable culture to people in many ways, from traditional news features to essays and yes, advertising. We like to think we are uniting cool people with cool stuff when indeed our editorial content is appropriate for "stuff." The companies featured throughout the domain demonstrate an aspect of sustainability, whether they are purveyors of organic clothing, natural cosmetics, or yoga products. Whatever.
Innerspace OMnimedia chooses our advertising partners with discernment; sometimes a brand is featured because we ourselves use and endorse the products, and sometimes we feature ad banners from the aforementioned partners simply because we like the graphic effect. We pretty much do what we want when we want and we believe our readers are astute enough to know media is supported by advertising.
When a customer clicks on these visual elements, she might or might not be taken to a place with further product information or the ability to purchase said item. If she buys the item, Innerspace OMnimedia is given a commission. It's called "affiliate marketing." It's an aspect of media in the digital age.
During the holiday season, we sometimes run Seva Projects which take those commissions and distribute them to Indiana children's charities. During the rest of the year, those revenues keep the Mothership up and running. When readers' buying sprees go to charity, we are very explicit about run dates for the project, as well as who will receive portions of our revenues. In other words, you'll know about all the love you are about to spread by buying cool stuff!
As for consumer reviews (particularly on Kitty channels), your Kitty personally buys the products in question with her own funds, tests the products on herself, and gives a "transparent" and honest review. We do not review swag or samples. Your Kitty does not review anything she has not paid for herself; products posted in clickable links may or may not generate revenue, and exist mainly for the readers' convenience. Now you know. Thanks

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lethiferous Lashes: Is Mascara Making You Sick?

     I once read somewhere that women tend to be very loyal mascara consumers; many use their favorite brand for years. I'm not one of them. Though I have my favorites, I tend to try the latest and greatest. Among my favorites are the very inorganic, somewhat dangerous Dior brands.
Why, oh why do I insist on paying $20 -$30 for a tube of toxicity? Mascara theoretically touches nothing but dead lash ends ... Wrong! What about the product residue that ends up raccooning under my lids after a long day? What about the particles that invariably flake into my eyes? What about the stuff that washes down the drain after I remove my makeup? The problem with many mascaras is they're loaded with preservatives, namely parabens.
The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database lists 1195 products. Among the worst (0=no risk, 10=high risk of toxicity) are the following mascaras:
  1. Prescriptives Beyond Long maximum Length Mascara, rated 9 for numerous parabens, BHT and aluminum powder. If you're concerned about endocrine disruption, allergies, cancer or neurotoxicity, you'll want to avoid this product.
  2. Estee Lauder Lash XL, also a 9 for aluminum powder and parabens as well as benzyl alcohol, which can be allergenic and irritating.
  3. Cover Girl Lash Blast Luxe Shimmery Volumizing Mascara also scored a 9.
  4. Diorshow (boo hoo) got a 9 for all the reasons listed above, plus Fragrance. The product smells delightful, like roses. Too bad manufacturers aren't required to tell us their fragrance ingredients. They consider these formulations proprietary, but the EWG finds everything in them from pthalates to formaldehyde. Scary stuff...when ingredients aren't listed, I get worried.
  5. Cargo Texas Lash, 9. I'm not at all familiar with this product, but it also rated as a high hazard for its perfume content.
The good news is, among the nearly 1200 mascaras reviewed, there were many that pose little to no threat, with ratings between 1 and 3. Costal Classic Creations, for example, received a zero, making it the safest option in the database. I've never heard of this company, so I'd love some feedback from anyone who uses the products.
Cleure Moisturizing mascara received a score of 1; the only problem the EWG seems to have is the mica content. Mica is used in lots of makeup, and is occupationally harmful to the folks who make the products. It is also bioaccumulative, which means it shows up in our waterways. Again, I'm not familiar with the brand, Cluere Grace Products.
Jane Iredale PureLash Lengthening mascara rates a 2, and seems to have a lot of fans. I've used other Iredale products happily, so I am going to try this stuff soon.
Loreal Double Extend rated well with a 2. Now, I have to say Loreal makes some great mascaras. The Double Extend Beauty Tubes, however isn't one of them. I believe this high-tech product touted by lovely Linda Evangalista is too new to the market to have its own rating, but even if it ends up with an acceptable number (under 3 for me), I won't buy it again. It's a hot mess that tangled up all my lashes and flaked all over the place.
According to the EWG, the product Paula Dorf Cake Mascara actually contains thimerosal: that's right, mercury. Avoid at all costs, unless of course you are looking to be poisoned!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kitty's Kreative Blogger Award

Citizen Green passed on a Kreative Blogger Award to me today, and I am honored to share my 7 favorite things:

1. Watching my son do anything.
2. Walking in the garden with Hubbs.
3. Taking a nap with my pups. If there are no dogs in Heaven, I don't want to go there!
4. Yoga (I'm an instructor; you can see my main website here)
5. Going to rock concerts. The louder the better. Especially love the jam bands.
6. Traveling by car with my family, especially when we end up in the forests of the N. Pacific.
7. Buddhism.

Seven blogs I love:
1. Citizen Green: Home of "Stupid Plastic Crap," a series which helps to heighten our awareness of wasteful consumption of plastics as well as coverage of other great environmental topics.
2. Chinoiserie Chic: Style Redux 2's daily posts of Asian decorating inspiration.
3. Odi et Amo: everything fantastic under the sun.
4. Marinik's Blog: one woman's story of love and loss. Amazing grace.
5. The Fragrant Muse: learn the scientific and subtle properties of essential oils.
6. The Liberty Post: prolific coverage of cultural news.
7. Yoga Addicted: great insights on yoga for those who love yama and niyama topics!

I am grateful to have learned from each of these women, strangers in life but sisters in consciousness. Thanks, Citizen Green! Now, the deal is, I am to pass this award to the blogs listed above. I do so, and I hope everyone has a chance to check them out. Peace and Great Lipstick, Your Kitty.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Greenwashing Alert

Oooh! I am not happy with this morning. I clicked over to see what I want and what I need, and found a banner proclaiming, "Natural Makeup." I was pleased to see one of my former favorite brands, Urban Decay tossing their hat into the natural cosmetics ring. On this site, the product Surreal Skin is listed as a natural cosmetic, apparently because it's a mineral makeup. Guess what the first two ingredients are: parabens! Gross! Although some parabens are extracted from natural substances, they aren't good for you. These preservatives are thought to be irritants at least, and endocrine disruptors as well.
If you haven't checked out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database, you may want to grab your favorite products (and possibly their packaging) and start researching what you are putting into your body via your skin -- the largest organ you have. As for myself, I quit using powdered mineral make up. Despite flawless coverage, I got sick of the mess on my vanity and concerned about inhaling the dust. If it can travel from my bathroom all the way to the other side of the house (I was finding traces of it everywhere), then I'm not sure I want to breathe it in twice a day. It has to be coating my lungs as I swirl and buff away!
Just because a particular product is marketed as "green" or "natural" doesn't mean it is healthy, and we must be diligent in checking the labels of what we eat and slather on our bodies! A good rule of thumb is not to buy a product if the manufacturer or vendor does not list the ingredients -- they, like many companies probably have something to hide!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fall Deals on Natural Cosmetics

Fall Deals on Natural Cosmetics:
From, purveyors of such kitty-tastic green brands like Jurlique, Boscia, Caudalie, and more:
and also zippy service:
I love because I can combine products from so many hard to find natural brands. I have neither the time nor the inclination to drive all over the city trying to pick up staple items. Their website is slick and easy to operate.

As soon as I get this posted for you kittens, I'm hopping over to Beautorium to get my paws on some John Masters detangler. My darling cub is using it by the quart on his moptop! He is prone to allergies, rashes and itchy scalp. Coupled with his extreme tenderheadedness, combing out the ringlets is never a fun job for either one of us! I insist on 100% natural for him, and John Masters Organics fit the bill. I can combine shopping hair and moisturizers (you know how I love my Dr. Hauschka). Free Ship

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Great Natural Foundation and Blush by Korres

(Image above, Sephora)

Hello and Happy September, kittens! Just wanted to check in and tell you about my latest favorite natural makeup! First, however, I have to apologize for not posting recently on Organic Orgy. I've been working on the Kitty Mothership, as well as my two other blogs, Zen of Homekeeping and Shin-digs and Soirees (check my profile if you'd like to take a look).
Korres is a fabulous natural makeup brand. In the words of Sephora, "The goal of Korres was simple: To develop affordable skin, hair, and personal care products using essential oils, high quality herbs, and plant extracts, and to deliver safe and beneficial results without making false promises or using synthetic ingredients." Synthetic ingredients like yucky mineral oils, silicone, and other nasty chemicals are verboten.
Basically, if it says "Korres" on the bottle, I will use it. My favorite products include: Ginger and Vitamins SPF 10 Foundation (which is fresh, dewy, and seamlessly blendable), Korres blush (available in great neutral, modern colors), and Milk Proteins 3 in 1 Cleanser. These are all available at Sephora, including the local "convenience" counters inside Indy-area JC Penneys. Think I'll pop in later this afternoon to try out some of the eye shadows and mascara!

Monday, August 24, 2009

If You Like Organic Orgy, You'll Love kitty's "Zen of Homekeeping!"

I just can't control myself from branching out to spread the word about greenwashing and natural home products! At kitty's "Zen of Homekeeping" I'll be telling you everything I have learned and experienced in the world of green cleaning! You know how I do it! Brutal honesty about what we're inhaling, bioaccumulating and washing down the drain. Goodbye migraines and allergies, hello healthy cleaning! Peace and Love, Your Kitty!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Natural Beauty Deal

Aloha, kittens! As I plunge into football world, and the testosterone practically drips from the walls of my house (just cleaning up from the Madden 10 tournament last night - did I really bring in an entire team of dudes?!?), I wanted to pass along this link to get you a deal the next time you shop for your organic/natural beauty products from One thing I like about this joint is the availability of hard-to-find brands, like my beloved Arcona. I am soooo into it! Now get over there and love on yourself a little with some nice cosmetics!

Spend $75 on and get a $15 Gift Card! While supplies last.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Rant About Stinky Smells

     I come from a long line of perfume wearers, and I myself have a list a mile long of favorite scents. Smell is so evocative; I remember the scent of people long after I have forgotten more important things about them. I recall events, thinking of what perfume I was wearing at that particular time in life (Amarige by Givenchy on my wedding day; Elizabeth Arden's True Love the day Hubbs proposed; Lolita Lempika the day I became a Godmother, Clinique Happy the day I found out I was pregnant - and promptly became nauseated by that late 90's scent).
     So let me be clear: I love perfume ... it just doesn't love me anymore. I can't handle the fumes of colognes, eau de toilettes, dryer sheets, detergents, hairsprays, candles etcetera. Unless a scent is totally natural (ie: coming directly from the petals of a flower, essential oils, or real baked goods), I can't survive without getting sniffly, sneezy and itchy. Often, I'll get a migraine headache, and sometimes cloying smells will actually make me barf.
     About a year and a half ago, I began phasing out toxic chemicals in my life in hopes of managing my allergies, headaches, and endocrine/immunological problems. I found out that most synthetic fragrances in cosmetics, perfumes and household products are chock full of things that make my body go haywire. As I subtracted things, and greened up our home, I noticed many of my symptoms disappeared. 
     Now for my rant: does Abercrombie & Fitch want me to keep dropping hundreds in their stores, even in this crappy economy? I have a young man who insists on dragging me into this store, then proceeds to bat his big brown eyes at me as he makes off with a huge loot of overpriced leather flip flops, tight polo shirts and plaid shorts. He looks fantastic, but my oh my do those clothes STINK!
     A case in point: after school shopping there and practically taking one of everything in every color, I found myself with a throbbing headache. It wasn't the ridonkulous block rocking beats they're blasting in there. It wasn't the staggering bill. It was the smell of those damn clothes, which their employees feel compelled to douse every 10 seconds with their awful cologne!
     It's not enough to stink up the entire Fashion Mall. It's not enough to be bowled over by the smell inside the store. Once the motherlode of late summer fashions came into the house, the scent was overpowering. Even after I removed all the clothes from his closet and ran them through the wash, I could smell that awful cologne. His whole room smells like it now, and even he is sick of it. Why, oh why is this necessary?!?
     A friend told me the brand is trying to create a total sensory experience. Rather a total sensory meltdown. Maybe all the girls want to smell teenage cheapo cologne, reminiscent of their first date (Oye, who can forget God-awful Drakkar Noir or Polo Cologne - the smell of puberty in 1985), but enough already! 
     I've discovered one way around this quandry is to get the clothes from their website, shipped directly to the house in nice factory wrappings sans stink. But that's bad for them, because I am always more restrained from the confines of my office without brown eyes blinking up at me begging for just one more shirt!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Buyer's Remorse

     I want to like these products. But I don't. Well, for the most part, I don't. Let's just say I won't be adding them to my cart again any time soon. Let's begin from the left with the Juice Beauty SPF 30 Mineral Sheer Moisturizer.
     Pros: Readily available, works well to protect skin from the sun, easily recyclable in a glass bottle. Cons: It's expensive at about $29, works too well to grease up my skin,  and it's not nice on my face under makeup. I use it off-label, so to speak, saving it for my neck, chest and arms. I confess I used this last summer, as well and I'm only about three quarters of the way down into the glass bottle. Sephora now sells it in a tube instead, so that is an improvement. This is a product which scored relatively well on the Environmental Working Group's 2009 Sunscreen Guide, so it is better than many on the market. If your skin can handle the oil slick and you don't intend to put makeup over the sunscreen, it's OK I suppose. Meh.
     Next on my list of things I wish hadn't bought is Caudalie's Creme Contour. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? It comes in beautiful packaging, boxed, foiled and shiny. It's French and fancy. I love French and fancy. This stuff is OK. I thought it would be economical to spend over $50 on this product because it is packed chock-full with anti-aging ingredients, and it is formulated for eyes and lips: double duty. I want so badly to love it. But I don't. My sensitive skin gets little tiny pimples when I use it by my lips. Perhaps I should apply with a swab; maybe it's my fingers (doubt it, though because you know I wash my hands every five minutes and before I touch my face). My disappointment stems from its outrageous price more than anything. You'd better believe I will use it on my eyes till it's gone, but I don't plan to buy it again. I feel moisturized, but unprotected from Father Time.
     Cost brings me to the Alba Botanica Mango Moisturizing Conditioner. Although I don't often shop at Walmart, I found myself there after a friend told me our local store had been revamped. She said they had cleaned it up, reorganized and made shopping there a much more pleasurable experience. I stopped by and was excited to see a "natural beauty" section. I found the Alba conditioner, and thought it might make a less expensive alternative to my favorite John Masters Organics Honey and Hibiscus conditioner. At about $8.50, the Alba stood to save me about $20 over my preferred product.
     Alba gets some decent marks from the Environmental Working Group, but this conditioner clocks in with a rating of "5," which is right in the middle of the road. Better than a lot of products, but not as good as many. It seems as though the vague ingredient, "fragrance" is what concerns the EWG. See, "fragrance" is considered proprietary and therefore doesn't have to be broken down into its constituent parts. That means the delightful scent in question could contain gross stuff like formaldehyde fixatives and other gross stuff that can be toxic to our immune systems and inflammatory to allergy sufferers. 
     In my experience, manufacturers who merely list "fragrance" as an ingredient are probably using something yucky. When cosmetics companies use natural essential oils to fragrance their products, they are very proud to say so. And the cost of such products is going to be higher because essential oils are expensive. I like the smell of this Alba conditioner, but my foray into natural cosmetics began because I was constantly battling irritation, inflammation and headaches. Until Alba Botanica begins disclosing what's in their "fragrances," I'm not buying it again - even though this is a decent conditioner. In fact, I hopped over to the Beautoium (see sidebar above) to get the aforementioned John Masters

Everything's Coming Up Roses... and Vanilla!

     Hello, kittens. I've been remiss in posting my adventures in green cosmetology for you; I've had house guests who don't dig the blogosphere as much as we all do! I've missed you all and thought of you often as I stole moments at my Mac, but I never managed enough time to post anything other than comments on others' blogs. Rest assured, I've been diligently field testing natural cosmetics for your consideration, so let's get right to it, shall we?
     First, Lavanila's Healthy Body Wash. Love, love, love Lavanila Laboratories! This body wash is indeed la-la-lovely. I've used every precious drop of this 12 oz bottle of the "pure vanilla" flavor. Layered with the perfume of the same name, I smell like a delicious sugar cookie at all times, without overpowering others or giving myself a migraine. 
     Lavanila products do not contain anything toxic (click here if you want the complete low-down) such as parabens, pthalates, or sulfates. That means the products are safe for you and the environment once they rinse down the drain.
     They have a really cool interface on their website that allows you to search their ingredients for safety, efficacy and origin. The products are readily available on their site, the beauty warehouses, and QVC (did you hear that, Mom?). I have mine shipped with my monthly order. Lavanila is now making a natural deodorant, so I'll let you know as soon as I have tried it!
     I've raved on and on about Dr. Hauschka skin care. I can't live without Moisturizing Day Cream. According to the bottle, it "activates and balances." It also "enlivens pale, lifeless skin without leaving an oily film." Affirmative. It smells like roses, which to me smells like a million bucks. Further, it comes in a glass bottle which can be easily recycled. 
     Here's the only thing: it contains no sun screen. And that's a no-no-no! I use the product at night and wake up with a fresh happy face, which is the best foundation a girl can have. My dear Mextacy asked some time ago if I could recommend a good natural night moisturizer, and this is definitely it! Mex, darling, the cat is out of the bag: your Kitty uses day cream to sleep off the fuglies! Dr. H is a little expensive, but as is the case with all well made products, a little goes a long way. My 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles last every bit of 2 months. I will, however, be on the lookout for less expensive, more available options.  Until we meet again, toodles! Love, kitty.
UPDATE: If you're thinking of getting the Dr. H moisturizer, you'll want to buy from Beautorium (see the sidebar, above left). This particular product is half as expensive there right now as it is at! I just scored 4 free little Dr. H tubes and saved a bundle on my refill! Sweet!


Friday, July 24, 2009

Suds Up for Less Than $7 With This Karma Free Shampoo

Kiss My Face is a staple brand in the natural cosmetics movement. I've seen it around for at least 20 years; my parents' friend owned a chain of health food stores in our area when I was growing up, and her store shelves and bathrooms have always been stocked with the products. For those who want a truly natural brand that really works: behold! This one is fantastic. Lathers well, cleans without stripping color, and rinses safely to wherever your water goes, biodegradable and paraben free. A real winner at $6.22 for a sizable bottle. Smells fresh and clean, too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Again With the Arcona

Arcona's Tabula Rasa may just be the answer to my adult-onset acne. Basically, if I touch my face, I'm getting a zit. Sunscreens are really doing a number on me this summer, too. I am currently half-way through my first vial of Tabula Rasa (that's "blank slate" for all my non-Latin deciphering friends) and I am seeing vast improvements.  
I think it's really soothing, and it calms and heals inflammation that gone unchecked might otherwise erupt into Carbuncle City. Arcona directs you to squirt the product onto a swab, but I found too much of the valuable fluid was seeping into the cotton. Using my patented more is better approach to blemish fighting, I apply a squirt of Tabula Rasa to my clean fingertips and sweep it directly onto my icky areas. I get mine at Click on the image above if you want to learn more about this product, or Arcona the brand.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Finally: a Truly Natural Skin Solution


     You may recall my disdain for most exfoliants; you may have read my entire rant regarding plastic nanobits polluting our waterways once we rinse so-called microbeads down the drain. I have found the ultimate solution for facial exfoliants and its name is Arcona!
      In a season of sunscreens, lotions, sweat, garden dirt and bad behavior (summer in Indiana), Arcona's Raspberry Resurfacing Pads rescue this dirty girl twice a day, and my skin texture is better for it! With ingredients like tea tree oil and salicylic acid, congested skin clears up as the textured pads help slough off pesky top layers of dead skin and makeup residue.
     Arcona products are are "cosmeceutically formulated with pure, natural ingredients cold-processed in small batches to keep them fresh, active and super-effective,"  according to ARCONA products are formulated without petrochemicals, binders or fillers, parabens, SLS, perfumes, or dyes. Therefore, this product meets Kitty's approval for eco-friendliness and efficacy! Meow!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fabulous Organic Conditioner

I had to go find a virtual version of this product because my own container is mangled, and therefore unsuitable for a photo shoot. The poor thing is already on its way to be recycled, having suffered all manner of extractive tortures.  First, I twisted and wrung the tube to get every last bit. The next morning, I squeezed and cussed and managed to harvest a small daub, hardly enough to do more than my bangs. The day after, I relied upon magical thinking and came up short until I thought to scissor off the top and scoop out the very last bit of John Masters Organics' honey and hibiscus hair reconstructor. A must for kittens of every stripe, except Muffy who naturally grows perfect wig hair and therefore needs neither highlights nor flat irons. Meow!

Beautorium: Cosmetics Cloud 9!    

By their own definition, Beautorium stocks "carefully edited" product choices, "hand selected from the very best in natural and organic beauty from around the world." Beautorium picks the lines it carries according to criteria such as "Natural/Organic certification by the world's most reliable independent third party organizations." Indeed, with strong brands like Dr. Hauschka, John Masters Organics, Korres, Juice Beauty, and Pangea Organics, this joint is poised to become your Kitty's new natural beauty one-stop mothership! 

     Also, Beautorium aims for cruelty free and/or vegetarian products,  and "effective ingredients with proven benefits." Better yet, they list all the ingredients for all of the products they sell, in the event you are trying to avoid anything specifically in your formulas. Best of all, they don't skimp on the samples! Now get over there and do something nice for yourself now!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Beware of Greenwashing When Buying Cosmetics!

Nothing makes your Kitty snarl and growl like greenwashing. Greenwashing is what sheisty, shady companies (and industries, and governments...) do to sway modern consumers. By using slick PR campaigns and words like "natural," "botanical," or "eco-friendly," some manufacturers make caring, health-conscious and environmentally-aware people think that otherwise toxic/polluting products and practices are really "green."
Just because a product is labeled natural does not mean it's organic, good for you, good for the environment, or medicinal in any way. Botanical ingredients may have been grown irresponsibly with no regard for product purity; even certified organic ingredients can exist alongside toxic carcinogens and/or nonbiodegradable parts (yes, some of the stuff you use to exfoliate actually contains plastic bits).  
Take Archipelago Botanicals for instance. A nice brand, a luxey brand. Its attractively packaged bath, body and "aromatherapy"-type products line the shelves of fabulous boutiques and spas everywhere. According to one website purveying the brand, "Sunflower Oil softens and hydrates. Aloe Vera cools and calms. Vitamin E protects skin from damaging free radicals." Nice, right? And yet, there they are right at the bottom of the ingredient list where they often lurk: parabens. Parabens! Perish the thought! Skin-irritating endocrine disruptors are definitely NOT green!
That said, Archipelago doesn't tout itself as an organic, green brand. But some cosmetics emporiums who resell their lines do exactly that by grouping said products with so-called "green and natural" brands. I've seen it with my own eyes in a few boutiques. Many people don't think a few parabens to ensure product purity are a problem. After all, who wants moldy, spoiled products?
       Most people layer parabens (known most commonly as  methylparaben (E number E218), ethylparaben (E214), propylparaben (E216) and butylparaben) on several times a day, since the vast majority of cosmetics brands still use the toxic buggers.  If you have sensitive skin, the proclivity to develop tumors when exposed to estrogen-mimicking compounds, endocrine/metabolism problems, or you just plain give a crap what gets washed down the drain along with your body gels, shampoos, detergents,deodorants, and conditioners well then, parabens are a big, huge problem.
I think the single most helpful and influential website on the web is the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database. I consult it daily to learn what poisons are out there waiting to be consumed by a product whore like myself. Keep using the products in your arsenal until they're used up (unless of course you consult the database and find your lipstick or what-have-you is a level 10 offender!). It's never hip to waste good makeup or money. But when you shop to replace those former staples or get the hottest new thing, do so armed with knowledge.
If you're behind the movement but you don't have the time for research and unlimited resources with which to conduct your own product trials, then you can cull resources (including this blog) to get some good, honest information. Check the Skin Deep website or go to Organic Divas dot com. They only carry the very healthiest products for your and the environment (I have no relationship with them, aside from admiration). Further, they have compiled a list of the "Dirty Dozen" chemicals in cosmetics, which you can download and take along to the store. Genius! Just be sure to print on recycled/reused paper!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If You Like Organic Orgy, You'll Love Kitty's Shindigs and Soriees!

Yippee, kittens! I've added a new Blogger blog, Shindigs & Soirees. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, your Kitty worked as an event planner. I've done it all in every venue, from huge corporate Christmas parties to lavish baby showers. Golf outings, charity events (including a concert or two), a state university's homecoming (OK, well I was only on the Steering Committee, so I had help). My own wedding cost only $3000 in 1996. It was fabulous. I consulted on several other weddings as well, and I relate to every budget.
Surprise wedding? No problem. Santa party with guest-specific gifts for 34 children? Done. Baby shower on a budget? Got you covered. Naturally, I focus on sustainability and eco-friendly ideas. Of course I'd love to hear from you! No, I won't come facilitate your event. I'm just here to help you imagine and procure. Love, kitty.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Get Some Arnica Lotion for Your Medicine Cabinet

     I was first introduced to Arnica by my massage therapist, Amy. I bruise easily and I'm pretty much always inflamed in one muscle or another. Topically applied arnica acts as an anti-inflammatory and assists healing processes by facilitating transport of blood and fluid. Its thymol derivatives have been clinically shown to be good vasodilators of blood capillaries. 

     In other words, it speeds healing by "breaking up" bruises and adhesions by enhancing circulation. A relative of sunflowers, arnica roots have been harvested for centuries for their medicinal properties. 

I'm thrilled to see it bottled up by one of my favorite natural brands, Jurlique. In fact, I'm so sure of its quality, efficacy and eco-friendliness that I'm ordering it right now. 

Football season is just around the corner, and this is just what I'll need for Little Man!

         During the summer and fall, when he is playing hard and taking lots of hits, I also use Dr. Hauschka arnica compresses inside his ankle wraps! I’ve used various homeopathic preparations with arnica, but they often contain ingredients I don’t love so much, like parabens (perish the thought). I’m hoping this Jurlique lotion will emerge as the ultimate muscle rub! I’ll let you know!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Caudalie Cleanser Doesn't Disappoint

 Soap-free Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser (clickable, above) offers a travel size for $10. If you don't like it (doubt it), you can always refill the awesome little bottle with something you prefer - perfect for green divas who don't use polluting foamy soap. I thought it was great for controlling oil, and Caudalie is a really luxe natural brand. My skin felt sufficiently clean, but I did need to call in extra products to remove my eye makeup.
  It's made in France (where cosmetic safety standards are tighter than in the US), not tested on animals, and comes in easily recycled packaging: a trifecta of cleanser bliss. According to, products containing Resveratrol improve elasticity while increasing skin tone. Firm, full skin cells make your skin appear more youthful and radiant, as Caudalie skin care treatments significantly lessen the look of fine lines and wrinkles. (I pretty much paraphrased that from their website, but ever since I saw Dr. Oz talking about Resveratrol as an anti-aging weapon, I've been trying to cram in and pile on as many grape products as possible! I tend to agree with the hype on this one.)  Good stuff that won't disappoint!