The Truth Behind the Label

As consumers we are getting so much savvier, aren’t we? Many of us are practiced at reading food labels, but now we have to read our personal care and cleaning product labels too. We are very familiar with healthy, real food ingredients (eggs, corn, butter, oil), but product labels? Do you know if Arginine is a safe ingredient or not? Is it a plant or a chemical? And why should you care?

This may seem obvious, but think about it for a minute. Many of the ingredients that you slather on your skin — your largest organ — are absorbed directly into your bloodstream. And the most common of those are proving to interfere with your endocrine system, while other are allergens and carcinogens. (These are no bueno. Endocrine disruptors wreak havoc on your metabolism, fertility, waistline, diabetes, thyroid health, balance of immune system and propensity towards autoimmune diseases).

You may be wondering how in the world these ingredients make it into the marketplace? Frankly, the skincare industry is like the wild west. 1938 was the last time a major federal regulation was passed. That’s over 80 years ago!! Since then we’ve had a robust era for creating chemicals, deemed the Chemical Revolution. Thanks to this innovative era, over 80,000 chemicals have entered everyday products and most of these ingredients (an eyebrow raising 80%) have never been tested for safety. These ingredients are in our everyday products (the U.S. has only banned 30 ingredients, compared to the EU who’s banned over 1400). Many of these harmful, yet unbanned ingredients are in the everyday products we buy from drugstores or department stores and even our dermatologists.

If the available research proves these ingredients unsafe for people in the E.U., I’m pretty confident they are not doing anything helpful for your skin or your waistline, thyroid health, or long term cancer outcomes. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger. These are some of the environmental toxins pulling that metaphorical trigger.

Your skin is your largest organ and a direct pathway to your blood and through it all other organs, cells, and even fat tissue. Many of the most harmful ingredients in these products are fat soluble...they attach to any little bit of fat you have and tell your fat cells to grow bigger and multiply. So cruel, right? If you aren’t shedding those pounds, you also aren’t releasing those toxins. Double unfair! They continue to multiply…as you continue to get fatter.

It’s a dirty, rotten cycle. You are playing russian roulette with your products.

Because it’s been over 80 years since a major law has passed, there are gaping loopholes. For example, cosmetics can be labeled “natural,” “sustainable,” and nearly any other word that comes to mind without containing ingredients that accurately meet those descriptions. Products certified as organic can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients, depending on the certifier. “Safe” is not a standardized term, either. The FDA’s Office of Cosmetics (the agency that is in charge of regulating all cosmetics) does not define safety. That's how carcinogens and other harmful ingredients can be in our products -- because they haven't been banned.

How to avoid harmful ingredients in your skincare products:

  1. Be your own advocate!

  2. Learn how to spot dozens, if not hundreds, of common ingredients you want to avoid

  3. Find a few beauty brands you can trust.

  4. Double-check your label reading skills. I rely on rankings in the Healthy Living database by The Environmental Working Group (EWG). They rate common beauty products on a scale of 1-10. You’ll notice several brands that are marketing themselves as “natural” have products that rank 7-10 on the hazard scale. I aim to choose products that score 3 or less.

Because I’m committed to safety, I used to assume that meant that my products wouldn’t work as well either. Maybe my lipstick wouldn’t be as bold or my mascara would not stay in place all day. When I discovered that my all natural, organic products from Whole Foods were not nearly as safe as I thought they should be, I was grateful to find a company that would do the hard work for me. I stumbled upon Beautycounter and was sold when I discovered that they have the most rigorous ingredient screening process, and don’t settle for anything less than high-performance products. I’ve used Beautycounter’s products for 6 years now and it’s one of just a few brands I would recommend to my friends and family.

BONUS TIP: For the next few days, shop Beautycounter Friends & Family Sale for 15% off!

Beautycounter’s Ingredient Screening Process

Greenwashing and What 5 Popular Terms on Beauty Products Mean

Mother’s Day Gifts Tailor-Made for the Conscious Consumer

Mother’s Day is upon us. For many, this holiday is very painful. It can also be a time filled with joy. 

Fun fact: Mother’s Day was founded in 1914 by Anna Jarvis, a childless aunt of many nieces and nephews.  

If this day brings you pain, know that you are loved and do what you need to do to take care of yourself, like reach out to a friend or take a day for yourself. You may enjoy this article in Huffington Post called, Sometimes Mother’s Day Hurts. 

If this is a day filled with joy, then I bow to you and the ways you are celebrating motherhood. Scroll below for some creative gifts for the women in your life.

It’s my hope that all the maternal women in children’s lives - all the aunts, great-aunts, godmothers and women in general who offer their love to children not-their-own —  are remembered this Mother’s Day.

7 Gifts Curated with Health and Happiness in Mind ❤️

Now let’s be honest, most of you reading this are women. If you see something below for yourself, share it with someone or go ahead and treat yo’ self! You deserve it.

For the Woman Who Needs a Spa Day:
She’ll love the simple indulgence of a Balancing Spa Set and Chakra Balancing Bath Salts

For the Woman Who Spends Her Days in Heels:
She’s been jamming her toes into tight spaces for too long. Let them get out and stretch with these Yoga Toes.

For the Woman Who Has Health Goals (or challenges) on Her Mind:
She’s busy caring for everyone else. Show her you care with this simple yet effective 10-day clean eating jumpstart. Email me for details and take a peek at some info here.

For the Book Worm:
Treat her to a fabulous book about a fabulous woman: Becoming, by Michelle Obama.

For the Multi-tasker Who Applies Makeup on the Run:
She will love this customizable makeup kit that provides flawless beauty in under 5 minutes.

For the Woman Who Has Everything:
Get her the gift she doesn’t know she needs — a blue light blocking screen protector for her phone. Help protect her eyes and her skin from blue light damage.

For the Beach Bum:
Treat her to the best when it comes to sun protection with award winning sunscreen, pretty nails (polish) without the toxins, and a sun hat with spf.

Most importantly, have a wonderful day and treat everyone you see as though it’s their own special day.

xo,
Emily

Clean Beauty Swaps

We all know what it feels like to fall in love with a product, only to discover that it’s being reformulated or just terrible for you. I know that the process of switching skincare lines can feel traumatic for some. Some people are VERY resistant to give up their tried and true favorites. My clients have been thrilled with the results after switching to Beautycounter!

Today I want to help make that change simple for you. Beautycounter’s line will WOW you! Truly. The performance is unparalleled and these are among the safest products on the market. You can feel good about using it on your own skin, your baby’s skin, and your pregnant belly. No warnings here.

For your perfect skincare match, take the skincare quiz and receive a 10% discount on your order. If you are looking to clean up your makeup bag, see my top swaps below.

1. Bare Minerals Tinted Moisturizer —> Beautycounter Dew Skin with SPF

2. Benefit Hoola Bronzer —> Bronzer in Dune

3. Drug Store Maybelline Mascara —> Volumizing Mascara

4. Tarte Eye Shadows —> Beautycounter Eye Shadow

5. Bare Minerals Blush —> Beautycounter Blush

6. Random Brands of Foundation —> Beautycounter Tint Skin Foundation

7. Mac Lipsticks —> Color Intense Lipsticks

8. Glossier Boy Brow —> Beautycounter Brow Gel

9. Random Make Up Removers —> Eye Make Up Remover and Make Up Remover Wipes

Clean Living 101

One of my favorite ways to clean my house? House plants!! House plants purify the air inside our homes and make it less toxic. Adding more plants (especially spider plants, peace lily, snake plant, and Boston fern). House plants are a simple tool for clean living. 

Although the concept of clean living is simple — it’s choosing to be an informed, conscious consumer when it comes to the toxicity of the foods you eat, the products you use on your skin, in your home environment, and the environmental footprint of these choices — it’s not necessarily easy to know where to begin.

For me, this journey started in high school with a focus on recycling and treading lightly on this earth (yes, I’ve been a minimalist since before it was trendy). Then I started paying attention to the food I was eating. I continued to learn and gradually upgraded my dietary choices. Later, I got interested in “greening” my cleaning products and skincare products. 

These days, I’m paying a lot more attention to endocrine disrupting chemicals (you should be too!). Honestly, raising teenagers just fuels my fire to reduce our exposure to as many of these chemicals as possible. Yet, as clean and green as we are, we still have some cleaner swaps to make. It’s about progress, not perfection. Am I right?! 

Some of you have asked me to share my tips for getting started with clean living. I’m going to give you my super simple approach below. For more actionable items, join my free 10-day challenge to get my specific swap recommendations.

Clean Living How-To:

  1. Reduce your exposure to things that may be harming you, like endocrine disrupting chemicals

  2. Support your body to be its healthiest, including a healthy endocrine system, nurturing health at the gut and cellular levels, while minimizing inflammation

If you want more information or a simple guide for certain clean swaps, join the Come Clean in 2019 group, where you can also dive deeper with the 10-day Clean Swap Challenge (starts April 1).

Let’s Talk About Sex

Let’s talk about sex. And fertility. And the fact that sperm count is on the decline. Even though men have waaaaay more sperm than they will ever need, if the decline continues at the same rate, a study suggests men may lose the ability to reproduce entirely. Within a generation!

Total sperm count is down 60% since 1973! But, low sperm count isn’t the only side effect of poor semen quality. Men with poor semen quality have a higher mortality rate and are more likely to have diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease than fertile men. Testosterone levels are dropping too, meaning that men are becoming, well, less male.

Curious what the culprit is? It’s a disruption in the development of the male fetus in the womb, which is caused primarily by the increase of chemicals in the environment. In other words, prenatal exposure to endocrine disruptors. I’d call out phthalates as the worse of the worst, and read below to discover where they are lurking.

5 common sources of endocrine disruptors:

  1. personal care products (soap, shaving cream, deodorant, after shave, beard oil, nail polish)

  2. drinking water

  3. food storage and packaging

  4. cookware

  5. cleaning products

Are You Sick of Being Sick?

A friend asked a simple question last week that really got me thinking. We had just finished our barre3 workout (my favorite workout studio btw), and she asked if my kids are sick less often now that they are older. This got me thinking...

No, but they were never really sick when they were younger either. It’s not luck. 

I've always paid attention to boosting their immune systems when necessary.

This got me wondering, though, about people’s understanding (or misunderstanding) about the immune system. Everyone seems onboard with the flu shot, but beyond that I wonder what you are doing to help your immune system be strong and resilient?

It’s true that there are innumerable factors corroding your immune system on a daily basis. In short, your air, water, food, perfume and personal care products contain a host of hidden, hazardous chemicals, that are dragging your immune system down, and interfering with your overall health, energy and mood.

But, what’s the cure? Beginning next week, some colleagues and I are going to break it down. During the Fall Immunity Challenge, we’ll be sharing our top strategies for building a robust immune system for your whole family. 

5 Tips for a Simple + Safe Detox

5 Tips for a Simple + Safe Detox

I’m sharing my top 5 Detox Strategies, because the rate at which you detox is extremely important! When detoxification happens too fast, toxins can turn into free radicals, which leads to disease and rapid aging. That’s certainly not why you are detoxing! Let’s do this right — safe and effective!

4 Simple Ways to Make Your Home More Green

I was shocked when I learned that house dust is terribly toxic! I knew it was a sign that I hate to dust, but I never thought it was contributing to ill-health. Studies of house dust (the not-so-cute dust bunnies!) show that it is loaded with pesticides, flame retardants, lead, PFOAs, and phthalates.

We can reduce these toxins and make our homes and the air inside our homes healthier with some simple changes. Below are 4 of top offenders we can switch up to make for a healthier home. 

Tips-for-Making-Your-Home-Eco-Friendly-1-1.jpg

4 Simple Ways to Make Your Home More Green

  1. Swap your laundry detergent and dryer sheets for fragrance-free, plant-based detergents and wool dryer balls. 
  2. Swap out your non-stick cookware (coated with PFOAs) for safer solutions: stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron.  
  3. Take off your shoes. Shoes carry incredibly high amounts of bacteria and 90-99% comes off on our floors. Think about everywhere you’ve walked today. You likely stepped on chemicals from lawns, bird droppings, and a public bathroom, to name just a few. 
  4. Swap out your cleaning products and personal care products for safer solutions that are free of fragrance, phthalates, phosphates, chlorine.

What’s one healthy swap you can start today?

Is Your Sunscreen Protecting You?

It won't be long until we're sitting at the pool or by the beach again. The good news is that sunscreen has gotten a lot safer in the past decade. The bad news is that a whopping 75% of sunscreens tested by the consumer watchdog Environmental Working Group still offer inadequate protection and/or harmful ingredients, including retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone.

Some new regulations passed by the FDA have banned false claims like “waterproof” and “sweatproof”. Don’t be duped by false marketing claims, of which there are many in the skin care industry!

My FAVORITE sunscreen is endorsed by the Environmental Working Group, safe for kids, adults, and coral reefs! Find it here.

Packing your swim bag doesn’t need to cause you stress, though. Here are some guidelines:

  1. The convenience is unbeatable, but avoid spray sunscreens due to proven inhalation risk and inadequate coverage.
  2. Go for mineral-only sunscreen featuring zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
  3. Avoid sky-high SPF claims, which do not offer superior protection.
  4. Choose both UVA AND UVB protection.
  5. Avoid Vitamin A in the form of retinal palmitate, a common sunscreen additive thought to actually increase skin tumors and lesions.
  6. Avoid Oxybenzone, which is linked to hormone disruption and potentially to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer.
  7. Avoid the ingredient “Fragrance”, which is often used to mask the chemicalized odor of sunscreen. Fragrance is a very dangerous ingredient in any skin care product.  

Here are all of the sunscreens recommended by the Environmental Working Group. Among them, THIS is my favorite brand. The lotion and stick both give excellent protection, glide on easily, won't leave a pasty, white, or chalky residue. Plus, you’ll love the light, fresh scent.