Saturday, May 21, 2011

Get Fabulous Feet

Now that the weather is getting warmer, more people are wearing their sandals.  It's time to get feet in beautiful shape.  I came across a wonderful article in Organic Spa Magazine, it has great tips and information for pretty summer feet.  I have reposted it below.

Be sure to visit Gifts From the Earth for our foot care special!

Conscious Care For Your Feet

Our feet keep us grounded to the earth’s energies while also taking us where we want to go. Ah, what faithful servants our feet are! It’s only fitting that we treat them with the care and attention they so richly deserve.

Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments. Virtually supporting the entire body, feet tend to hold or reflect the state of your mind and heart. If you don’t believe me, consider the seemingly endless foot metaphors to describe our moods and inclinations: When decisive, self confident, flexible, and on the move, we’re fleet of foot or quick on our feet. When immobilized, weak or wishy-washy, we have feet of clay or are dragging our feet. We get a foot up on our business competitors, and our dogs howl after a long day of rushing around. So put your best foot forward and consider the following ways to nurture your feet:

Warm Water Soak

Many spas provide a foot bath and scrub ritual as a prelude to any service. The root of this practice is found in the hospitality customs of ancient civilizations. To provide at-home TLC, try one of these warm water treats. Add Epsom or sea salts (natural exfoliators) to relax the feet and soften rough, dry patches of skin. Another option: add 1 to 2 cups of pure, organic pineapple juice to a footbath. The enzyme bromelain naturally sloughs off dry skin. Or, shower or bathe to soften skin, then scrub calloused areas with a mixture of 1 tablespoon sea salt and 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil. A pumice stone and gentle body wash also work. Rinse, towel off, moisturize, then don fluffy organic cotton socks.

Foot Massage

Massage encourages better blood flow, and it just plain feels good. When you release tension in your feet, your mind-body physiology follows. Use a small amount of certified organic plant oil or lotion with several drops of organic geranium, lavender, patchouli, or tea tree essential oil, all of which possess potent anti-bacterial effects. Distribute the oil or lotion through the hands. Briskly stroke the soles, then massage the rest of the feet with small strokes. Work toward the heel, and thus toward your heart to direct blood flow. Gently pull each toe outward from base to tip. Put on organic cotton socks, and it’s time for bed!

Let Your Feet Breathe

With about 250,000 sweat glands, our feet can produce up to 8 ounces of sweat a day. Don’t use harsh products that attempt to block foot perspiration — it’s your body’s way of eliminating toxins.

• Take a footbath using essential oils with toning, astringent, and antiseptic properties—like eucalyptus, juniper, lavender, rosemary, and tea tree. Add 2 to 6 drops to warm water. The toning properties firm foot skin tissue, reducing the amount of oil and perspiration excreted. The antiseptic quality helps with potential odor.

• Soak your feet in a bath that’s been infused with black tea. Brew 2 tea bags in 2 pints of water, then add 2 quarts of cool water. The tannic acid acts as a drying agent and helps prevent odor.

Keep the Blood Flowing

It’s a long way from your heart to the tips of your toes. But for healthy, comfortable feet, it’s important to encourage blood flow. Massage and exercise play important roles, as do well-fitting shoes! Don’t forfeit comfort for style or you may walk a painful path, possibly filled with bunions, calluses, plantar fasciitis, deformed toes, and various other potential maladies (including musculoskeletal problems!).

Foot Yoga

Exercise is essential for maintaining the mobility and flexibility of your feet. Foot exercises may also relieve soreness. Naturally, see a podiatrist where warranted. Here are a few exercises that can be done anytime:

• Rock back and forth from your heels to toes for several minutes.

• Try picking up marbles with your toes.

• Lay a towel flat on the floor, then scrunch your toes up on the towel and draw the fabric toward you.

• Roll your arches over a tennis ball, golf ball or rolling pin.

• Stand in yoga’s Tadasana or mountain pose often for its foot rejuvenating benefits. Lift your toes and spread open wide before planting into the earth. Also, there are now yoga sandals that have spacers that separate each toe. They’re awesome!

 Mary Beth Janssen is a highly respected beauty and wellness educator, certified mind-body-health educator for the Chopra Center for Well-Being, and the author of five books. To send her your questions, write to

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alchemy and Magic of Creating

The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings - Dave Weinbaum

Everytime I create a batch of luscious lotion or a batch of relax...honey scrub or any other product I am playing with magic.  Last week I got to use a new tool, my Ninja Pro blender. 

As I waited for my oils to heat, I poured in the de-ionized full moon water and the other ingredients and watched a new world being created in this beautiful new tool of mine.  I was filled with anticipation as to how it will work. Will the lotion be as lovely as always?  Until now I never had the opportunity to notice how the ingredients interacted with each other.  It truly is skincare alchemy.  I could write a whole story about the creation of each product, every time I make a product I am still amazed by the process. 

This got me thinking about how creating and new beginnings brings new freshness and lightness into the world.  It is the same when I find a new ingredient to work with.

The newest ingredient I started using is an oil called Meadowfoam Oil. 
Meadowfoam Oil is pressed from the seeds of Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba), a plant which received its name because of its resemblance while in bloom to the white foam blowing on the ocean. Meadowfoam is native to northern California, southern Oregon, Vancouver Island, and British Columbia.

Meadowfoam oil contains over 98% long-chain fatty acids, and also has higher quality triglyceride levels when compared to other vegetable oils. In addition, it has three long chain fatty acids that were previously unknown before its discovery. It also has amazing moisturizing and rejuvenating capabilities, is very stable, and may be utilized for many different purposes. 

When applied to the skin, it forms a moisture barrier and will assist the skin with preventing moisture loss. When added to lotions and lip balms, it will remoisturize dry or cracked lips and skin, and will make balms last longer. In summary, Meadowfoam oil has these beneficial characteristics:

•Moisturizes the skin
•Rejuvenates and adds shine to hair
•Ultra-violet protection (sunscreen applications)
•Non-greasy feeling, soaks into the skin easily
•Reduces wrinkles and signs of aging
•Blends well with other carrier oils
•Very stable, even under heat and air exposure
•Adheres well to the skin
•Binder, helps products retain their scent longer
•Stability extends product shelf life when combined with less stable ingredients

I have recently reformulated the Replenishing Vitamin Cream adding the Meadowfoam Oil to the has really supercharged this cream to moisturize skin and help reduce the signs of aging.

We are always on the look out for new ingredients to make our products more effective, in this way we have new beginnings and in turn enrich our customer's lives! 

So how did my batch of lotion turn out?  It was fantastic...smooth, creamy and luscious.  My customers loved it! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sweetness of Bees

While in the kitchen last night preparing dinner, I read an email from about the peril of the bee population and a cry for a global ban of one group of pesticides that could save bees from extinction (Avaaz is a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere). So I thought you all might be interested in what the Bee means to the Gifts From the Earth product line.  Bees provide our company with beeswax and honey granules (dried honey). These are 2 very essential ingredients in almost all of our products.

Beeswax is produced by the (female) worker honeybees. The wax is secreted from wax glands on the underside of the bee's abdomen and is molded into six-sided cells which are filled with honey, then capped with more wax. When honey is harvested, the top layer of wax that covers the cells, or the cappings, must be removed from each hexagon-shaped cell. Just to put it into perspective, one pound of wax requires the bees to consume about ten pounds of honey!

Beeswax works well in cosmetic products because of the “wax esthers” that exist in both beeswax and human skin and it is these compounds which help to bind and emulsify ointments, lipsticks and lotions. As a natural hydrating ingredient that increases essential moisture in skin, we use it in all of our creams and lotions to help retain natural skin moisture and in the relief of itching from sensitive skin.

Beeswax has an irritation potential of zero, and a comedogenicity rating of 0 - 2, which means that when formulated and used correctly in cosmetic formulations, beeswax will not cause a problem or clog the pores, but brings a host of very positive attributes, such as general healing and softening, as an antiseptic, and an emollient to cosmetic products. It contains elasticity and provides greater permanence on skin or lip surfaces.

Even after processing, it still remains a biologically active product, retaining some anti-bacterial properties and also contains some vitamin A, which is necessary for normal cell development.

Beeswax locks in moisture, fosters cells and protects skin from damaging environmental factors. It is a naturally nourishing moisturizer as well as being anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-allergenic and a germicidal antioxidant." According to, "Even after processing, beeswax still remains a biologically active product, retaining some anti-bacterial properties and also contains some vitamin A, which is necessary for normal cell development." In folk medicine beeswax was used as an anticeptic for wound healing and beeswax ear candles were used for ear wax removal. They are believed to be able to heal ear infection and improve hearing by removing the wax inside the ear.


Honeybees use nectar to make honey. Nectar is almost 80% water with some complex sugars. In fact, if you have ever pulled a honeysuckle blossom out of its stem, nectar is the clear liquid that drops from the end of the blossom. In North America, bees get nectar from flowers like clovers, dandelions, berry bushes and fruit tree blossoms. They use their long, tubelike tongues like straws to suck the nectar out of the flowers and they store it in their "honey stomachs". Bees actually have two stomachs, their honey stomach which they use like a nectar backpack and their regular stomach. The honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar and when full, it weighs almost as much as the bee does. Honeybees must visit between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to fill their honeystomachs.

The honeybees return to the hive and pass the nectar onto other worker bees. These bees suck the nectar from the honeybee's stomach through their mouths. These "house bees" "chew" the nectar for about half an hour. During this time, enzymes are breaking the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars so that it is both more digestible for the bees and less likely to be attacked by bacteria while it is stored within the hive. The bees then spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water evaporates from it, making it a thicker syrup. The bees make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax. The honey is stored until it is eaten. In one year, a colony of bees eats between 120 and 200 pounds of honey.

Honey is said to be a natural antiseptic due to its tendency to absorb the life-sustaining moisture out of bacterial cell walls. As such, we include it in our Mystic Seeds Scrub. Honey attracts the dirt from skin pores and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Which makes it a natural skin cleanser and softener.

I depend on these amazing little honeybees to provide my company with ingredients that make our products superior.  Besides what they do for me, the honeybee is a major component in our food system. We have no time to lose -- a recent study shows 96% of our four main bee species have been wiped out. Let’s build a buzz across the nation calling on the EPA to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now and send it on to everyone and we’ll deliver it to the top decision makers:


Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations and scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But increasingly, independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee killers. But, Bayer continues to export its poison across the world, and the US is one of its biggest markets.

We can no longer leave our delicate food chain in the hands of research run by the chemical companies and the regulators that are in their pockets. Banning this pesticide will move us closer to a world safe for ourselves and the other species we care about and depend on.

Thanks for taking the time to is so important to our future!


Marianne Wilson Stein


Friday, January 14, 2011

Water and Clear Skin

Water is the mother of the vine, The nurse and fountain of fecundity, The adorner and refresher of the world.

Charles Mackay - The Dionysia

Earlier this week I had a conversation with a customer who has been suffering from adult acne.  I met with Julie at a holiday fair before Christmas.  As we talked, I asked Julie what she did for her skin regiment.  She told me that she usually washed with a soap based cleanser, never used moisturizer or if she did, used an "acne formula" moisturizer.  Julie also told me that she used a liquid foundation that happened to be very old. 

First thing I had Julie do was throw out her old makeup.  Second thing I had Julie do was change her skin regiment.  I explained to her that the appearance of oily skin was mostly due to the fact that she was stripping the oil from her skin every time she washed with a harsh cleanser.  Then when she put her old foundation on, the bacteria in the foundation would find a way into her pores, thus causing her to break out.  This would repeat the cycle everyday.  I also told her to start using a moisturizer and to drink lots of water.

Back to my conversation with Julie earlier this week.  She reported to me that she stopped using her makeup, is using a gentle cleanser and is now moisturizing and her skin is looking fabulous.  She is also drinking lots of water.  

Julie is now using our Earthly Dreams Cleansing Oil, moisturizing with our Moisturizing Gel and has switched her foundation to our Loose Powder Foundation (which will be up on our website later this month).

A benefit of drinking water is to carry nutrients into the cells of the body. In addition to helping nutrients get into the cells where they are needed, the benefit of drinking water in adequate amounts also helps to keep the cells well hydrated so they can function properly and efficiently. Water primarily stimulates the circulation of blood, fluids, and the necessary elements inside our body. Additionally, it also controls and regulates the skin's natural balance.

If you have a hard time drinking plain water add a slice of lemon, lime or orange for a refreshing treat.  Or if you are cold, instead of reaching for that cup of coffee or tea, heat water and add a lemon slice.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Tree of Life

We live in the Pacific Northwest and winters are usually wet and cold.  This winter has been dry and very cold as a result skin dries out.  One way to combat this without moving is to increase the use of coconut in your life.  This post is long but the information is great!  Enjoy.  Need help finding a good organic coconut oil?  Let me know I have some waiting for you.

Every bit of the coconut is used. As a result, coconuts are called the “Tree of Life” and can produce drink, fiber, food, fuel, utensils, musical instruments, and much more.

The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. Early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means "monkey face" because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembles the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing."
The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers.

Coconut In Traditional Medicine

People from many diverse cultures, languages, religions, and races scattered around the globe have revered the coconut as a valuable source of both food and medicine. Wherever the coconut palm grows the people have learned of its importance as a effective medicine. For thousands of years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine.

In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.

Coconut In Modern Medicine

Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below and highlighted as related to skin:
  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.
  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
  • Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
  • Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
  • Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
  • Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
  • Helps protect against osteoporosis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
  • Improves digestion and bowel function.
  • Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.
  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
  • Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
  • Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
  • Reduces epileptic seizures.
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
  • Dissolves kidney stones.
  • Helps prevent liver disease.
  • Is lower in calories than all other fats.
  • Supports thyroid function.
  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
  • Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
  • Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
  • Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
  • Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
  • Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
  • Helps control dandruff.
  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
  • Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
  • Is completely non-toxic to humans.
See Research to read some of the published studies regarding the above mentioned uses of coconut products.

While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine.

Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and different from most all other fats and possesses many health giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.

Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth." That's quite a remarkable statement. What makes coconut oil so good? What makes it different from all other oils, especially other saturated fats?

The difference is in the fat molecule. All fats and oils are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty acids. The first you are probably familiar with, is based on saturation. You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Fatty acids consist of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system you have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).

The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA.

The size of the fatty acid is extremely important. Why? Because our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. So the physiological effects of MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from those of LCFA more commonly found in our foods. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are composed of LCFA.

MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so beneficial.
There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils.

Copyright © 2004 Coconut Research Center
The information supplied here comes from a variety of sources and authors and not every statement made has been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Is a coconut a fruit, nut or seed?

Botanically speaking, a coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, also known as a dry drupe. However, when using loose definitions, the coconut can be all three: a fruit, a nut, and a seed. Botanists love classification. However, classification of plants can be a complicated matter for the average person. Coconuts are classified as a fibrous one-seeded drupe. A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive) and comes from the word drupa meaning overripe olive. A coconut, and all drupes, have three layers: the exocarp (outer layer), the mesocarp (fleshy middle layer), and the endocarp (hard, woody layer that surrounds the seed).

The coconut we buy in the store does not resemble the coconut you find growing on a coconut palm. An untouched coconut has three layers. The outermost layer, which is typically smooth with a greenish color, is called the exocarp. The next layer is the fibrous husk, or mesocarp, which ultimately surrounds the hard woody layer called the endocarp. The endocarp surrounds the seed. Generally speaking, when you buy a coconut at the supermarket the exocarp and the mesocarp are removed and what you see is the endocarp.
Yet another interesting aspect of the coconut that has baffled scientists for over 200 years is where did it originate? Is it of Old World or New World origin? Scientists have used art, botany, entomology, etymology, folklore, fossils, genetics, and travel records to try to figure out where the coconut first appeared.

Odoardo Beccari, a renowned palm specialist from the early 20th century, suggests that the coconut is of Old World origin and more than likely came from the Indian Archipelago or Polynesia. To strengthen his argument, there are more varieties of coconut palms in the Eastern hemisphere than in the Americas.

However, some scientists (O.F. Cook , H.B. Guppy, K.F.P. von Martius,) argue that the coconut is of New World origins, having migrated westward across the Pacific.

 Other Interesting Coconut Facts

•When intra-venous (IV) solution was in short supply, doctors during World War II and Vietnam used coconut water in substitution of IV solutions.
•Botanically, the coconut palm is not a tree since there is no bark, no branches, or secondary growth. A coconut palm is a woody perennial monocotyledon with the trunk being the stem.

•Possibly the oldest reference is from Cosmas, a 5th century AD Egyptian traveler. He wrote about the “Indian nut” or “nut of India” after visiting India and Ceylon, Some scholars believe Cosmas was describing a coconut.
•Soleyman, an Arab merchant, visited China in the 9th century and describes the use of coir fiber and toddy made from coconuts.
•In 16th century, Sir Francis Drake called coconut “nargils”, which was the common term used until the 1700’s when the word coconut was established.

•It takes 11 -12 months for the coconut to mature.
•At one time scientists identified over 60 species of Cocos palm. Today, the coconut is a monotypic with one species, nucifera. However, there are over 80 varieties of coconut palms, which are defined by characteristics such as dwarf and tall.
•Coconut growing regions are as far north as Hawaii and as far south as Madagascar.

This information was derived from many sources from the Library of Congress.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Keeping me happy

My daughter went off to college in Philadelphia this past August.  I feel good about it...she is so happy and I miss her terribly.  This past summer before she left we worked together and had a lot of fun.  We hand painted floor cloths and boxes to sell at our local farmers market.  We even worked the market together and shared in our love of people and dog watching.  I write about this now because I am once again amazed at how the universe works.

The title of this blog post is "Keeping me happy", not keeping my family happy, not keeping my friends happy, keeping me happy.  I have been able to keep me happy through my creative expression.  I have always dreamed of being an artist, defining myself as an artist.   

Yes, I am an artist when it comes to creating luscious beauty...that is my art for nurturing others.  My painting and collage work is art for me...and bonus when someone comes along and purchases a piece that I created.  I have learned over the years to pay attention to the signs that are posted in front of me (well some are not quite so clear) and to listen for those signs as well. Katherine going off to college has given me the opportunity to become that artist. It is all about perfected timing and intuition.  I can't really tell you how it happens, all I know is that I get an inclination to do something or to see something differently and embrace what is coming over me.  When that happens things seem to fall into place and life offers wonderful possibilites.

What does this have to do with the Big Smoke Butter Nail Polish photo?  Everything!  My friend Yessica and I were out looking for retail spaces for our businesses to move into and we happened upon a great little boutique.  Yessica found a pair of sandals like the ones she used to wear growing up, and me, well, I found the nail polish.  Anyone who knows me knows that I never wear polish on my hands...yes, I get pedicures and love that luxury!  I use my hands so much for art and skin care that I just don't wear polish.  I just had to have this's like smoky eyes on my nails.  I still haven't used it yet, oh I will soon.  I am just happy for now being inspired by it.  The inclination will come and when it does I will know what to do...

What are you doing to keep you happy?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How the Safe Cosmetics Bill will Affect Natural Cosmetics

I have reposted below a blog post from Cindy Jones at  Her post was so concise and elegant explaining why we oppose the Safe Cosmetics Bill - HR 5786 that I thought I would share it with you.

Oppose a law that would put small cosmetics companies out of business! I know there are a lot of people here who don't sell cosmetics. Thank you for being here with us as a small business owner! If you like to use cosmetics with a high proportion of natural ingredients, know that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 will put your favorite natural companies out of business. Please take a moment to read and sign our Petition opposing this law. Here's the link: oppose safe cosmetics bill. You can leave your comments and questions here too. Thanks!

How the Safe Cosmetics Bill will Affect Natural Cosmetics

As you may have heard, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has recently introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, HR 5786. I’m sure you want safe cosmetics as everyone does so this bill probably sounds good. However, it has nothing to do with safe cosmetics and you can read this bill here.

I wanted to address what this bill would mean for the many small scale cosmetics companies like myself that already make safe, non-toxic and natural cosmetics; many of whom initially signed and now regret signing the Safe Cosmetics Pledge.

Plants such as herbs are tiny chemical factories making hundreds or thousands of biochemicals; many of which are beneficial to us, many others that have little or no effect on us, and a few that are toxic to us. Plants however have the tendency to balance these characteristics of toxic and non-toxic and tend not to be so black and white about it as we are.

Take for instance caffeic acid. This molecule is made in most plants including herbs such as rosemary, sage, and parsley. Caffeic acid and caffeic acid phenethyl ester are part of the shikimic acid pathway of plants that forms flavonoids, tannins, and lignin (wood). Caffeic acid is considered a carcinogen by the International Agency for Cancer Research appearing on its list 2B of “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. This is because of a few small studies showing that ingestion of high amounts of caffeic acid caused stomach and kidney papillomas (pre-cancer) in rodents. There is no data available regarding cancer in humans. You can read the summary from IARC here.

With just this information you may say, "of course, I do not want this chemical in my skin care products or in my food as I'd rather be safe". However, further investigation shows that caffeic acid is also considered an anti-carcinogen, an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory. As an anticancer agent it modulates many aspects of carcinogenesis including stimulating phase II enzymes to detoxify carcinogens entering the body and it stimulates cancer cell death, Topically, it can protect cells from damage caused by UV radiation (such as skin cancer). Many research labs are now studying its effectiveness as an anticancer agent.

Also found on the IARC list 1A of ‘known human carcinogens’ are things like jet fuel, gasoline, radioactivity and aflatoxins; things that would never go into cosmetics in the first place and are already prohibited as being toxic substances. However, there are other chemicals commonly found in natural cosmetics that are on various IARC lists of carcinogens. Here are some, followed by which list they are on:

coffee (2B), alcohol (1), eugenol a constituent of many essential oils (3), mate (Peruvian tea), kojic acid (3), d-limonene (3), microcystin (2B), microcystis extracts (3), progestins (and estrogens) (2B), quercetin (3), tannic acid and tannins (3), tea (3), theobromine (3), theophylline (3), vitamin K (3), stress and titanium dioxide (2B). Estrogen such as in birth control pills is ranked on the 1A list of ‘known human carcinogens”. Keep in mind that use of birth control pills is the number one contributor to the build up of estrogens in the waterways.

A few of these chemicals that I am personally quite fond of in my products include tea, tannic acid, theobromine, theophylline, vitamin K and eugenol. Tea such as green tea is rich in tannic acid, quercetin, theobromine and theophylline. Studies have found that the flavonoids in green tea can prevent signs of aging, inhibit formation of skin cancer and block damaging effects of UV light.

Vitamin K (phylloquinone) is of course an essential chemical necessary for human life and is necessary for blood clotting. Because one study showed that when injected into the peritoneal cavity it caused cancer it is on the list of 'carcinogens'. Vitamin K is found in many herbs and oils including parsley, basil and sea buckthorn oil.

Quercitin, a flavonoid found in many herbs, has been found to be anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is found in a wide variety of plants including tea, red wine, berries and herbs.

Microcystis is a blue green algae that produces microcystin. Although it is indeed toxic, it also contaminates some blue green algae extracts making it necessary to test these ingredients.

Kojic acid is derived from a mushroom and used in many products as a natural way to lighten age spots. Eugenol is found in many essential oils including clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil and bay leaf. These oils are commonly used in natural perfumery. Many herbs and vegetable oils are rich in phytoestrogens and progestins that are good for moisturizing the skin, providing antioxidants and giving skin that youthful look. Oftentimes these phytoestrogens are referred to as ‘nonsaponifiables’. Oils rich in phytoestrogens include olive oil, rice bran oil, soy oil, wheat germ oil, pumpkin oil, pomegranate oil, sea buckthorn oil, raspberry seed oil and the list goes on and on. If you use vegetable oils in your skin care products, regardless of whether or not they are organic, they may be prohibited by this bill because they contain phytoestrogens.

Because ingredients of vegetable origin are more complex than synthetic ingredients all of their components could not possibly be tested for safety leaving the only ingredients allowable in cosmetics to be highly processed and purified synthetic chemicals unfortunately.