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

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!

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.

Air Pollution INSIDE Your Home

You’ll be surprised to learn that the air quality inside your home, even the cleanest home, is terribly polluted! In fact, the Environmental Protect Agency says indoor air pollution can be 50x worse, and even up to 100 times more polluted than the outdoor air of heavily populated cities like Los Angeles! The EPA has even ranked indoor air pollution among it’s top five public health dangers.   

Get my unexpected, even surprising tips to clean the air inside your home in the video below.

The Secret to Detoxing Without Food Rules

Is “getting healthier” one of your goals (aka losing weight, eating more vegetables, working out, sleeping more, more water, etc)? Odds are that one of these are on your list. 

Those of us in the over 40 crowd are focused on slowing the aging process, feeling good, and staying mentally fit. Whether you know it or not, many of the changes we make are in an effort to reduce our toxin load, so that our organs and cells, etc. work optimally to achieve these results. 

There are three primary ways that toxins can get inside us: ingestion, inhalation, and absorption. When we talk about chemicals in pesticides or plastics and food packaging, we're mostly talking about things we ingest. 

But absorption, and even inhalation, are major pathways. In fact, absorption is potent because we absorb chemicals into the bloodstream first, before they eventually make their way to the liver to be processed, if possible.

Absorption happens through the skin, which is our largest organ. Our skin doesn’t absorb absolutely everything that touches it, but it absorbs quite a bit. Imagine soap, lotion, sanitizer, shaving oils, gels, and creams, deodorant, body spray, and perfume. And while I wish I it wasn’t true, most of the products we find at high-end department stores and cheap drugstores are not well-regulated or tested for safety. Therefore, the amount of toxic chemicals that our skin absorbs is virtually unregulated.

A 2004 study by the Environmental Working Group found that 89% of 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the CIR, the FDA, nor any other publicly accountable institution. The FDA doesn’t require companies to test their products, or share safety testing if they do. In fact, according to the FDA, “...a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA.” 

So, we get to be the watchdogs. Now, I’m not a trained chemist, and odds are that you aren’t either. I wish we could trust the industry scientists and experts to be our watchdogs, but for the most part, their interests are quite different than ours. In fact, the personal care industry lobby pushes pretty hard to stay under the radar of regulations. 

Thanks to some extra pressure this past year, from environmental and human health organizations and Beautycounter, the FDA more than doubled the number of banned substances from 11 - 30. We’re a long way off from the EU who’s banned 1400 or Beautycounter who has banned 1500 from its products (Check out their “Never List” to know what’s best to avoid.) Small strides, but forward movement anyway. Here are the 19 that were added in 2016

Without geeking out too much on the safety of specific ingredients, there are a few things you should know in order to detox some harmful chemicals from your system. 

  1. Eating organic while slathering chemicals all over your skin, your largest organ, is cray-cray! 
  2. Women use an average of 12 personal care products containing 168 unique chemical ingredients every single day. Men use about 6, which contain about 85 chemicals every single day.
  3. Many chemicals used in personal care products are known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals, allergens, neurotoxins, and/or carcinogens. Really.
  4. Removing chemicals for just a few days greatly reduces their prevalence in your bloodstream. In fact, Good Morning America did an experiment testing just how long it took in this short segment.
  5. Start by avoiding ingredients listed as fragrance, perfume, parfum, and parabens. Here are 1498 other ingredients to avoid.

 


More about Beautycounter: 

Beautycounter (as in counter to the rest of the personal care industry and their lobbyists) is working hard in Washington to effect change. Beautycounter is moving the market by asking chemical companies to provide data on the chemicals they make and are truly pioneering the future of safe products.

It's a movement that has been so exciting and fulfilling to be part of! The caliber of passionate women (and a few passionate men) that I get to collaborate with has been the best surprise! And the ever-growing paycheck is the cherry on top. 

 

How to Have a Healthier Halloween...

... and still eat the candy

(for kids and adults)

Let’s be real. Who doesn’t want to dip into the Halloween candy? But none of us want the negative consequences of disrupted sleep, irritability, sugar cravings or addiction, immediate wrinkles and skin changes, belly fat, compromised immune function, and so much more. In fact, I’ve discovered the long list of side effects outweighs the momentary tastebud satisfaction. Yet, today I was looking for reasons to reach for the stash of Halloween candy my kids have collected this month from every. single. event.

When I eat sugar, I know it’s taking a toll, so I like to give my immune system a burst, balance my blood sugar levels, and help my skin. 

2 Ways to Boost Immune System

  1. Eat an extra serving or two of green vegetables. 
  2. Supplementation: Vit D, Probiotics, elderberry syrup (no sugar added)

2 Ways to Balance Blood Sugar Levels

  1. Eat a diet rich in low-glycemic foods.
  2. Pair high sugar intake with healthy fats (nuts, avocado, coconut fats, seeds) and protein to keep blood sugar levels from swinging.

2 Ways to Help My Skin

  1. Drink extra, extra water to counterbalance sugar’s pruning effects and to hasten its exit
  2. Use a charcoal-based skincare product to draw out the toxins. Choose one that has a moisturizing component, so as not to further dehydrate your skin from sugar’s pruning effects. My recommendation is Beautycounter’s Charcoal Cleansing Bar and Charcoal Purifying Mask

5 Essential Strategies for Preventing Breast Cancer

In the 1960s, one in twenty women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Today? One in eight women. It's estimated that over 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2015, according to The American Cancer Society.

These statistics, and the latest research, suggest environmental factors are driving cancer. In addition to environmental toxins, breast cancer risk has significantly increased due to factors such as poor diet, chronic stress, and sleep deprivation.

Terrifying as the statistics are, the good news is that you can implement a number of powerful, simple strategies to prevent and treat breast cancer! 

5 Essential Strategies for Preventing Breast Cancer

  1. Fool-proof your diet against cancer! I could write 10 tips on food alone. Below are the bare necessities:

    a) Up your intake of fiber. High-fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and whole grains such as brown rice and ground flax seed.

    b) Watch your sugar intake and keep it under 25 grams per day (6 teaspoons). Read your labels because it adds up quickly! Put bluntly: Every time you eat sugar, you increase your risk for breast cancer.

    c) Wine time. One glass of wine a day increases your risk of breast cancer by 40%  and 2 glasses may increase your risk by as much as 70%! If you enjoy wine, consider modifying your habit to no more than 3 glasses/week.

    d) Eat your greens. Your mom wasn't joking! Fruits and vegetables are the most important fuel we can put into our bodies to make a difference in terms of prevention and health! Aim for 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday and favor the color green over all of the rainbow's colors! Recommendation: I get the nutrition from an additional 30 different fruits and veggies everyday with Juice Plus+.
     
  2. Reduce your toxic load. The data is unequivocal and just keeps pouring in – many of the 100,000+ man made chemicals that have been introduced into our ecosystems and thus our body-systems cause cancer and illness. You can reduce your toxic load drastically by focusing on sources like your food and cosmetics. But don't forget about your household cleaners and furnishings as well. 

    In addition to what you put IN your body, focus on what you put ON your body. Your skin is your largest organ. Don't slather it with toxins. I only use Beautycounter’s products because they commit to 100% transparency and will never use any ingredient thought to have a link to health and safety.
     
  3. Outsmart your stress. You are never going to eliminate stress altogether, but you can certainly outsmart it. Whether you opt for meditation, yoga, deep breathing, massage or another de-stressor, find something that works for you and do it. Sleep is also essential. Go for 7-9 hours/night to stay ahead of stress.
     
  4. Supplement Wisely. I keep my supplementation pretty simple, because I fuel my body with high-quality foods. Below are essential supplements to help prevent breast cancer.

    a) Probiotic - Leading researchers at Cleveland Clinic discovered gut microflora influences cancer genes and your immune system. Tend your inner garden with gut-supporting probiotics.
    b) Juice Plus+ - Fruits and vegetables are the most important fuel we can put into our bodies to make a difference in terms of health and prevention. Juice Plus+ offers concentrated nutrition from 30 different fruits and vegetables.
    c) Fish Oil - A variety of studies have shown essential fatty acids to be beneficial; the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil —eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — are especially good. 
    d) Vitamin D - The widespread deficiency of Vitamin D is concerning because it plays an important role in many areas of our health. It contributes to bone strength, heart health, and cancer prevention.
     
  5. Master Your Movement. Studies show regular exercise can decrease your breast cancer risk, by regulating your insulin and blood sugar levels, your weight and your stress hormones. Find something that you look forward to each day and then get yourself some accountability  (running buddy, personal trainer, 30-day challenge, train for an event, etc).