Friday, January 29, 2010

Cosmetic Chemicals Linked to Birth Defects

     Hello Kittens! In my endeavor to practice "extreme self care" in the new year, I'm afraid I have gotten behind on my blogging. Assuredly, however, you can count on your Kitty to keep testing and evaluating green and natural products on Organic Orgy and Zen of Homekeeping (just click my profile to access the blogs). I subscribe to Rodale news, which provides a lot of insight into healthy living and sustainable lifestyle practices. This morning I was shocked to find the latest research on toxins in cosmetics that are definitively linked to birth defects as well as lowered cognition in children.
     Today, the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives released a study which ties fragrance (for the body and home) and plastic-softening chemicals (phthalates) to behavioral problems and lower test scores in children exposed to the chemicals before birth. According to the Rodale article, 

"To figure out phthalate exposure, Mount Sinai researchers tested the urine of 188 expectant mothers during their third trimester of pregnancy for the presence of 10 specific phthalate metabolites. Then, mothers were interviewed one to three times while their children were 4 to 9 years old, answering standard questionnaires to assess their children's behavior and cognitive functioning. The researchers found that prenatal exposure to a group of phthalates commonly found in personal-care products like makeup, hairspray, perfume, body sprays, scented shampoos, soaps, and lotions was significantly associated with poorer scores for problems with aggression, conduct, and emotional control. Associations did not appear to differ between boys and girls overall, and the associations were stronger as with higher levels of exposure."

     Nasty phthalates are found in air fresheners, plastic products (like bottles and sippy cups), perfumes, and cosmetics. While I was pregnant about 11 years ago, I had to give up perfumes because smells made me nauseous but I certainly was ignorant about things that leach out of plastics (like frozen entrees in the microwave) and candles. The thing about fragrances is their formulas are considered proprietary so manufacturers don't have to tell us what's really in them. Unless your fragrant products are made from essential oils (natural perfumers like Pacifica and Lavanilla are more than happy to let you know), the perfume can contain all sorts of nasty chems like formaldehyde and phthalates. Gross! Check the labels on your home cleaning supplies, detergents, candles and so forth, kittens! 


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Worst of the Best

     My drawers, shelves and cabinets overflow with cosmetic products, all green and natural brands at this point save for a few Dior eyeshadows. By my account, I've spent about $800 in the last year trying stuff in the name of ecology and health. I've found winners, scads of them really, but there are some definite downers out there. To kick off 2010, allow me to list a few of the worst of the best: things I tried from brands I trust, only to find they are indeed sheisty products for one reason or another (price, formulation, efficacy or lack thereof, and/or bad packaging). In no particular order, here are the things I won't ever buy again - even though I love the brand.

  1.  Dr. Hauschka Facial Steam Bath: Unless you're running a spa out of your kitchen, this stuff is too much hassle to mess with. I don't use it enough for it to be gone by its expiration, and that's a problem with preservative-free cosmetics. If I really need a steam bath for my face, I'll just use essential oil over a boiled pot. If you are indeed a kitchentician or you run an actual spa facility, well then, go ahead.
  2.  Korres Milk Cleansing 3-In-One Cleanser: I tried so hard to like this product, because Korres usually makes me happy, I love multitasking products, and it's extremely convenient to pick up when I'm out and about. Then my Auntie came for a visit, borrowed it, and pronounced it to be "slick as shit." Well, you can read her guest review here. Needless to say, I just don't care for its slickery feel either. 
  3.  Jane Iredale Eye Gloss: Only use this if you like sticky eyelids that appear to be covered in fish scales. I love the idea of this product, but the formula is wrong. And it stings, too.
  4. John Masters Organics Herbal Cider Hair Clarifier & Color Sealer. Smells douchy. Actually douchy. It's nothing more than diluted cider vinegar with a few indiscernible essential oils thrown in. If you want to seal your color, use the vinegar from your pantry. Besides, diluting this from its pour-top container then applying it by dumping it over my head with a cup makes me feel like a puppy. And it's a pain in the ass. I don't care for the smell (had I mentioned that?!?) enough to do this except upon rare occasion. If I were to use it every few days (because cider vinegar rinses do indeed clarify the hair wonderfully), I would mix my kitchen vinegar with water (and maybe a little essential oil) and apply it liberally with a spray bottle before showering. Prepare to smell like the Bio lab. The John Masters Organics brand as a whole is marvelous, and I use just about everything else they make. But I won't make this $17 mistake again!
  5. Aura Cacia Shower Tablets: The idea is to put one of these eucalyptus or lavender tabs on the floor of the shower so you can reap the benefits of aromatherapy via steam. Totally ineffective. A cottonball soaked in essential oil would do better; these things totally dissolve within about a minute, and I couldn't smell anything but that nasty cider rinse I mentioned earlier. Instead, put a little of the oil (use only pure essential oils, please, otherwise the therapeutic benefit is nullified) into the reservoir of your vaporizer. Your lungs will thank you, and you'll hack much less. I swear this treatment helped my son overcome pneumonia last fall.
  6.  Lavera hair styling products. Great idea, totally ineffective in keeping my 'do did.
  7.  Caudalie Contour Creme Eyes & Lips was the former name of this $50 budget-buster. I thought I was being a recessionista by combining anti-aging for two parts of my face. A big fat Meh. They've repackaged this and renamed it as Pulpe Vitaminee Eye & Lip or something stupid like that. Either way, I'm not buying it again, but I still like Caudalie.