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Beauty, Body, Health News, Health Prevention

How to Shop For Skin Care Products

March 27, 2013

With so much information out there on what NOT to put on our skin, there should be some simple rules when it comes to shopping for skin care, right? Well we went to our favorite skin care consultant for the answer.

What should we put on our skin? There’s a lot of talk about what to avoid when you’re buying skin care, but I actually prefer to look for what’s IN the products I’m buying. Still, when we know that the FDA only comes after skin care companies if there is a complaint, which means that more or less, any ingredient is OK, it definitely makes a “what to avoid” list desirable. While they are cracking down on certain claims, like anti-aging, no testing is required before putting a product on the market. That means it’s really up to you to. At least for now.

Generally, here’s how I shop:

– I start my search at natural skin care boutiques and natural foods markets, because many of them have policies about what they will carry. That usually eliminates some undesirable ingredients right there. Third party certifications like Ecocert and USDA Organic can also tell you more about what isn’t in a product, and these stores are most likely to carry certified products.

– If it contains artificial fragrance, or I can’t tell, I don’t buy it. I don’t wear them on my body, either. That’s a personal preference, but the research is out there, too.

– I buy from companies I trust. Does the brand seem authentic to you? Do you think they stand behind what they say? Or do their “natural” or other claims, such as fair trade, seem hollow? That may be all we have to go on for the time being.

– In general, I avoid or minimize my exposure to silicones (dimethicone is a common one). I think they’re less healthy for the body and the planet.

Below is a simple list of products to avoid, mostly derived from a wallet card for Pure Aesthetics, a green aesthetics school in Tucson, Arizona. You can get stricter than this, for sure (and most of the certifications do) but to clean up your products, this is a really good start.

Synthetic fragrances and colors

Sulfate surfactants like sodium laureth sulfate

Cocamidopropyl betaine and Coco betaine


Silicones – dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, etc.

PEG (polyethylene glycol), PPG (propylene glycol), butylene glycol




Diazolidinyl urea

Isopropyl myristate and Isopropyl palmitate


Polysorbate 20




-1BIO: The Skin Detective is a licensed esthetician who is now a skincare industry insider. Check our her blog at



EWG has a wallet card to help you shop:

I’m also a fan of the GoodGuide app. Just snap a pic of the product UPC for info:



skin care

skin care ingredients

green skin care


Beauty, Body, Health News, Health Prevention, Nourish, Nutrition Advice

Fitness Plateau? Check Your Plate

March 20, 2013
Photo by Jay Tamang
Photo by Jay Tamang

Photo by Jay Tamang

Sloan Hemmer (photo above) discusses the REAL reason you can’t seem to loose those last few pounds.

One of THE most common question/complaints I hear in my job as physical trainer is, “I can’t lose those last 5-10 pounds”.  Issues and frustrations you may be having with your fitness regimen most often, like 99.9% of the time, stem from your diet and not what you are or aren’t doing in the gym.

Here is the situation, you are dedicated, you workout and you workout hard.  You have been a good student and have stuck with it but you aren’t seeing the results you want. I can’t say it more profoundly than this, so I’ll put it in bold letters;) you are eating too much and possibly not eating the good stuff that will get you there.

Here are my tips for breaking fitness plateaus and dropping those last 5-10 pounds.

Eat Clean

This means drinking lots and lots of water, eating lean proteins, healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, lots and lots of fruits and vegetables of all different colors with all different kinds of texture, eating complex carbohydrates, nuts and seeds. DITCH most of the processed foods with refined sugars and eliminate white carbohydrates. . OK, don’t panic, you can slowly reintroduce small portions of your favorites, once you’ve lost the weight.


I can’t impress upon you how important this is especially if you have specific weight loss and fitness goals.  If you like to write, get a pen and paper and write down every morsel that passes your lips along with how much you are exercising.  If you are on the go, there are several great apps; my favorite is My Fitness Pal.It is convenient, doesn’t take much time and has a lot of great tools to assist you.

Set Goals

This is crucial to your success! Write them down and revisit them on a daily basis. This isn’t a hobby-it’s your life. Step up. Create a vision board with your desired weight – don’t stop looking at it –until you see it on the scale. Set  short-term goals (week/months) and long-term goals (1 year or longer).

Change it up

When it comes to your fitness regimen you won’t make the gains you want to if you are constantly doing the same thing. Change is important and change keeps you from getting bored. You might actually discover something you love to do and just never knew it!  Try a class, go outside, buddy up or incorporate interval training!


Medicine Cabinet Woes

February 14, 2013
Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 4.44.50 PM

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 4.44.50 PMIt’s time to beat bathroom clutter. If only for the moment when you’re up all night coughing and all you need is a quick swig of cough syrup. We love the advice of one of our favorite designers in a recent article — “Just because it fits, doesn’t mean it works” – so NO, you can’t store your necklaces in the medicine cabinet. Use it for the things you need – like cough syrup.

We have a simple four-step plan to keeping it clean:

1. Toss – get rid of medicine that has expired. The FDA has some great tips on disposal, such as “always follow any disposal instructions on the drug label and don’t flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless the information specifically says to do so on the drug label.” And take advantage of community drug take-back programs that let the community bring unused prescription drugs to a central place for a proper disposal. If you must throw the drugs in the trash take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter (FDA’s suggestion….) and place them in a sealed bag to prevent leaking.

2. Group – everyday items like razors and deodorant should be kept in the same area.

3. Keep it Small – don’t have a bulky Q-tip package taking up half your available room, use smaller acrylic containers to store items in the medicine cabinet.

4. Move – no, not your house, but breakable items like glass perfume bottles.

Is it time for a new medicine cabinet? Check out one of our favorites here.

Beauty, Body, Gorgeous, Health News

Moisturizers — What works!

January 29, 2013

Moisturizers do what their name says: add moisture. After all, the outer surface of your skin is more or less dead cells, and they need a drink to stay looking good! There are different types of creams, including heavier products that protect the skin’s surface, increasing water content of the cells beneath by preventing evaporation up through the skin’s layers. But a good day cream can be pretty light most of the year, unless you live in a super dry or cold climate. Your product should moisturize the skin’s surface after cleansing (which can be drying) and prep it for makeup..

Other things to seek out:

Anti-oxidants. Every product should have some good free-radical fighters because we’re exposed to so much in our environment. The innovation in natural ingredients takes advantage of the protective measures native to plants, but you can also look for things that provide A, C, and E, traditional anti-oxidants.

Pure, natural vegetable oils and butters. While most creams will need to contain some thickeners to give the product the texture we’re used to, products that don’t list natural oils fairly high up on the list seem like a waste of money to me. Some good ones: olive, jojoba, sunflower, argan, shea butter, and squalane, which is olive-derived.

Sunscreen. This is a tricky one. I like sunscreen best on its own or in makeup, because moisturizers with sunscreen can be irritating. But if the only way you’ll wear sun protection is if it’s part of another product, to simplify your regimen, by all means pick a product with at least SPF 15.

You may also see smoothing ingredients (aspen bark is a common one) and peptides, which signal body processes that support collagen and elastin, which you lose as you age. Smoothers are great in the a.m., when you’re about to apply makeup, but for my money I prefer peptides at night, when the skin is healing, so they can really do work.

-1BIO: The Skin Detective is a licensed esthetician who is now a skincare industry insider. Check our her blog at