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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


Body, Brainy, Cocktail Chatter, Health News

Origins of Common Food Names

March 25, 2013

Photo1Thanks Julie Fritz for helping us with these fun facts to round out our month of nutrition.

Ever wonder where your favorite snack got its name?  Curb your appetite with the trivia below.

*Did you know there is no real Betty?  Betty Crocker got its name because Betty was seen as an All-American name.  The last name was given from a company director.

*What drink was first introduced as a “snappy apple” carbonated beverage?  Snapple, of course!

*What is Canadian, oil and low in acid?  Squish these words together and you get canola oil.  The term was successfully created to combat the ugly name rapeseed, which is really where the slick substance derives.

*Could’ve had a V-8?  You bet!  This combination of tomato concentrate, water and eight vegetables makes up the original cocktail base.  Beets, celery, lettuce, carrots, parsley, watercress, spinach and tomato- I know you were wondering!

*Raise your milk glass to that Milano cookie.  Pepperidge Farms is the namesake of family property and the Pepperidge trees planted there.

Now you can enlighten your coworkers while standing around the water cooler!  Here’s a toast to invisible Betty and her delicious baked goods!  Too bad those unwanted lbs aren’t invisible, too!

Body, Health News, Nourish, Nutrition Advice, Nutrition Bits

5 Sweet Treats that Won’t Make You Stupid!

March 21, 2013
Fiickr: Field Notes
Fiickr: Field Notes

Fiickr: Field Notes

We all know that too much of any kind of sugar can put us as risk for obesity and obesity related disease but did you know that it might make you stupid too? According to a study conducted at UCLA eating a diet with too much fructose may interfere with memory and learning.

“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.”

Sources of fructose in the Western diet include cane sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener. The syrup is widely added to processed foods, including soft drinks, condiments, applesauce and baby food. The average American consumes roughly 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We’re less concerned about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants,” explained Gomez-Pinilla, who is also a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center. “We’re more concerned about the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup, which is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.”

None of us want to lose more memory as we age but sometime we just need a little something sweet.  We’ve asked Sloan Hemmer to share her favorite sweet treats. Here are her top picks to be consumed in moderation of course!

My first pick is the Think Thin Bars.  Most of them contain 0% sugar but do contain sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohol does affect blood glucose levels but not nearly as much as sugar.  The drawback is that in some people too much can cause excess gas and bloating.

Cacao Nibs are great because they are full of antioxidants and taste fabulous in yogurts and smoothies!

The next three products contain dark chocolate.  Remember if you are going to consume a product with dark chocolate, it needs to have 70% or more cacao in it for you to get the benefits of the antioxidants.  Dark chocolate is great because it is rich so you are much more likely to be satisfied after a smaller amount.

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!