Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Safe Deodorants

Well...if we didn't sweat...we wouldn't need a deodorant, would we? Why do we sweat? First and foremost, it's the body's way of cooling off and controlling temperature. So we sweat when it's hot outside. In addition to cooling us off, sweating also is one of the few genuine ways of removing toxins from the body. In the book "ToxIn ToxOut", the authors try many things to see what actually removes toxins from the body. Ionic foot cleanses and internal cleanses do not remove toxins. Sweating, however, does. Sweating is good for you!

Sweat itself isn't the problem. It has no odor of its own. Unfortunately, the armpit is home to many bacteria, and, it is the bacteria that causes odor. When resident bacteria meet up with sweat, you get, well...bad smells.

Seems like an antiperspirant would be a good idea, right? Antiperspirants prevent sweating, which means the bacteria have nothing to interact with, and, voila! No scent! But as mentioned above, sweating is a necessary and useful function. We actually do not want to suppress sweating. Another problem is, our skin is the largest organ of our body and absorbs whatever you apply to it. You are not only what you eat, but, also what you apply to yourself. So in addition to sweating being a good thing, we prefer to avoid antiperspirants because the chemicals necessary to prevent sweating are, well...toxic.

Deodorants are probably a better idea. They don't attempt to stop sweating, but rather, to kill the bacteria that causes odor. No bacteria = no smell. Sometimes deodorants contain scents to cover up any remaining odor.

How to find a good deodorant? Well, here are some ingredients to avoid:

(1) Talc. It may or may not contain asbestos particles...no way of knowing. Asbestos causes cancer.
(2) Triclosan (one of the toxic ten!) It does kill bacteria, but also disrupts our hormones and endocrine system. It may accumulate in the body. It may also cause allergic reactions.
(3 )BHT, BHA and Parabens. These are all preservatives. The first 2 may cause allergies and have been linked to cancer. Parabens are even worse! We know they mimic estrogen in the body. Further research is needed, but, they have been found inside cancerous breast tissue. Until proven safe, always best to err on the side of caution,.
(4) Propylene glycol. It's a known skin irritant. 
(5) Phthalates. May be present on their own, or, be present but not listed because it's legal to not list them if they are part of the  (6) Fragrance. Over 3100 chemicals fall into the fragrance category...and none of them have to be disclosed on a Canadian label. Many are untested for safety. Avoid synthetic fragrance!
(7) Aluminum chlorohydrate. This is the chemical that actually stops you from sweating. So, you will find it in anti-perspirants but usually not deodorants. Aluminum compounds are neurotoxic.

What to do? Read labels!! Aim for a deodorant rather than an anti-perspirant, and check the ingredients list against Environmental Defence's Toxic Ten!

Do check out eScential Wellness' deodorant: 

Friday, August 8, 2014

10 Ways to Use Castile Soap

You're probably wondering what castile soap is...why it's special. Castile soap is a type of soap, not a brand. For example, think of the words "toilet paper" rather than "Cottonelle" or "Charmin." It is made of 100% vegetable oils and fats - no animal products. It is a true soap; not a chemical detergent, like most modern, commercial cleaners. This makes it biodegradable and very ecologically friendly. Did I mention that it's very affordable, too?

Incredibly versatile, it will replace a host of cleansers in your home. Here goes:

#1 - Laundry detergent. There are literally hundreds of recipes on the internet, if you google "homemade laundry detergent with castile soap." But why go to all that trouble? Just use it straight. As it is low foaming, you can use it in your front loading washer. You may have to tweak the amount before you get it right. Less is more. By the way, this soap is fantastic for doing baby's laundry, as it is so pure. Also great for someone who has ultra sensitive skin and/or allergies.

#2 - Use it for dishes. A small squirt will do it. Be prepared: as it does not have any form of chemical foaming agent, it does not produce froth and bubbles. But, it will clean your dishes just as well, and is gentler on your skin, your dishes, and the environment

#3 - Hand soap. Just fill your re-fillable liquid soap dispenser with liquid castile soap.

#4 - Glass and mirror cleaner. Take a spray bottle...fill it with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. Add 2 drops of castile soap. Shake well before spraying. 

#5 - Body wash. Yes! A squirt on a nylon scrubbie or sea sponge will actually produce a lovely foam. You can feel good about spreading it all over YOU and about it going down the drain.

#6 - Toothpaste. I know. We've been so programmed to like the commercial stuff that foams in our mouth and contains sooooooo many chemicals. But a drop on your toothbrush (I like peppermint scented) will clean your teeth well, and safely.

#7 - Safely, and economically, bathe your dog AND CAT!! Everyone knows cats are notoriously sensitive to shampoo and commercial soaps. As long as you use unscented castile soap, it's OK to use this economical alternative. I am biased...but because all commercial products have such a lengthy ingredient list, I dare say it is actually better for your cat than the overpriced commercial brands.

#8 - Make a soft scrub. Fill a spray bottle with water, about 25% soap and 75% water. If you have tough scrubbing to do, sprinkle baking soda, a mild abrasive, on the area to be cleaned. Spray with the soap/water mix until you get a slurry. Scrub away! Always do a test area on an unobtrusive spot to make sure that the baking soda is not going to damage the finish of anything.

#9 - Love this stuff for washing my floors. Perfect for vinyl or linoleum, but I have a lot of hardwood. The only thing you have to be careful with is not using too much soap. In a small pail of water, a tablespoon is plenty! Maybe even 1-2 teaspoons if your pail is small. This is extra nice if you have pets that walk on the floor, or, infants that are crawling. No toxic film left behind! No rinsing necessary. 

#10 - Washing fruits with rinds or veggies. Washing watermelons, canteloupe, cucumbers, peppers...always a good idea. Castile soap is mild and rinses off easily and cleanly. It will dislodge any bacteria and/or dirt if used with a small brush or even a cloth and some elbow grease. Safe for the fruit, for you, and the environment!

If you want to "customize" your soap, add a few drops of essential oils to it. Just a few drops will do! You can use lemon for that nice clean smell. I love a single drop of peppermint in floor wash water, or, to brush my teeth. Do NOT use one drop of peppermint per brush! Add one drop to 2 cups of soap.....stop this in a mason jar with plastic,screw on lid or other glass container. Orange is uplifting. Eucalyptus or tea tree smell a bit medicinal, are antiseptic, and can leave your bathroom smelling nice and clean.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Safe Sunscreen

I remember the days when no one had heard of sunscreen. In fact, people were known to slather on baby oil and go "bake" in the sun. Well. Times have changed!!

Now we know that ALL tans are BAD tans. The color changes that take place in our skin is actually an indication of sun damage. We also know that sun damage is the single biggest cause of skin aging. If that weren't enough, these changes in the skin are responsible for the increase in skin cancer. Add to that climate change and the decreasing levels of ozone in the upper atmosphere (which filter out harmful sun rays to some extent) and you have a recipe for skin disaster.

Fortunately, sunblock to the rescue! There are shelves and shelves of choices. How to pick? Latest research has shown that not all sunscreens are created equal. No surprise there, I guess. 

There are really two separate questions to consider. One is the actual "active ingredient" or sunscreen agent itself, and, the other is the lotion or gel base it is in. There seems some agreement on what constitutes safe and effective active ingredients. Mechanical blocks are best. Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide meet this requirement, and are considered "good" sunblocks. The particles in these 2 compounds are actually large enough to sit on the skin and deflect the sun's rays off the body. Unfortunately, this sometimes leaves a white film on the skin, which is quite annoying. But not all sunblocks with these agents do. You have to try them and find ones that go on invisibly. 

Some companies have decided to eliminate this problem by making the particles very tiny... they are called "micronized." Micronized particles are controversial, as there seems to be some question as to whether they are actually small enough to penetrate the skin and get into the bloodstream. Always safe to err on the side of caution and avoid micronized particles!

Now that we have effective and safe sunscreens, it is discouraging to see how many sunscreens put these into a lotion base that contains one, or more, of the toxic ten! Like all lotions, your sunscreen should be free of the toxic ten! Read labels! 

Environmental Defence has a 2 page download (free!) to guide you to which sunscreen agents are both safe and effective. Or, you can find the Toxic Ten list on my website, www.eScentialwellness.com. To download your free Guide to Sunscreens, click here:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What IS the definition of an essential oil??

For those of you who are really, truly interested in learning more about essential oils.....here is a great post from Dr. Robert Pappas about the origin, and exact definition of, an essential oil.

Dr. Robert Pappas is an adjuct professor at Indiana University, and President/Technical Director of Essential Oil University. He can help the non-chemists amongst us understand the chemistry behind essential oils. I found this a  fascinating little read, and, if you are really "into" essential oils, you will, too!

For the full article, click here:  https://www.facebook.com/notes/essential-oil-university/the-definition-of-an-essential-oil-and-why-wikipedia-is-wrong/10152588925928083

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Review: ToxIn ToxOut by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith

An appropriate sequal to "Slow Death by Rubber Duck." "Duck" was a book that explained how insidious toxins are...where they lurk in our environment (everywhere) and how they get into our bodies. And, unfortunately, often stay there. On subsequent book and talking tours, the authors were often asked, "How do you get the toxins OUT of your body?" They decided to answer this question in depth in this book, "ToxIn ToxOut....Getting harmful chemicals out of our bodies and our world." Anyone interested in greener living will appreciate the work and thought that went into this sequel. They investigate a half dozen ways that may help eliminate toxins from our systems: eating organic foods, bottled vs. tap water, perspiration, indoor air quality and the role big business has to play in cleaning up our world. Insightful is an understatement! With the current lack of political will to improve our toxic planet, it is up to a grassroots movement to produce change. As with "Rubber Duck" this book ends on a high note....citing 10 ways to easily, relatively inexpensively and without deprivation, decrease the level of toxins in YOU. I love the feeling of empowerment that knowledge provides!! Don't hesitate to pick up a copy of ToxIn ToxOut from all major book retailers, and set yourself up for a decreased level of toxic body burden.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Update and Re-Post of a Book Review - Slow Death by Rubber Duck

I am doing an updated, but re-printed, blog post. Why do something I have already done, you ask? Well, this is a book near and dear to my heart. It explains why I do what I do - make non-toxic personal care and first aid products. (See my website, www.eScentialwellness.com, to learn more about my products.) The reason I am re-printing this book review is because the authors have just come out with a NEW book, which I received for Christmas. It's next on my "must read" list and when finished, I'll review the new book. But for those who missed the first post, or need a refresher on the first book, here it is! Then you can rush out and buy the new sequel, "ToxIn ToxOut".

The 2 authors are Canadian...which is significant, to me, as I too am Canadian. I am going to cheat,  (but credit! ) here...I am going to lift the synopsis of this book directly off of the Amazon.com website. Not that I am too lazy to do my own summary, but....I couldn't have done it more succintly or better than they did. Here it is:  " Pollution is not only an abstract, distant problem seen in belching smokestacks and contaminated waterways; it’s also personal. Some of the most dangerous pollutants come from commonplace items in our homes and workplaces—shampoos and toothpastes, carpets and children’s toys.

To prove this point, leading environmentalists Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie conducted their own research by ingesting and inhaling a host of things that are part of our everyday lives. Using their own bodies as the reference point to tell the story of pollution in our modern world, they expose the miscreant corporate giants who manufacture the toxins, the weak-kneed government officials who let it happen, and the effects on people and families across the globe. This book—the testimony of their experience—exposes the extent to which we are poisoned every day of our lives."

For those of you with a keen interest in environmental toxins, this is a must read. The authors, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie are two Canadian environmental activists. The good news is that the book is a fairly easy read, humorously written, and not really fear mongering. True, the bulk of the book can be a bit scary, but, before you despair, the last part of the book provides you with simple things you can do to de-toxify your life. I finished the book feeling empowered, not depressed. Knowledge is power.

I confess that I did throw away my non-stick fry pans, and am now storing food in glass rather than plastic.
I have been using Dr. Bronner's soaps and my own glycerin soaps and products for years, anyway!!
If you have any inclination to be kind to yourself and the environment, read this book!
It is available at Chapters, Indigo, Coles, Amazon and your public library.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday Shopping & Scent

A previous post detailed how what you smell can affect what, and how much, you eat. But, did you know that scent can also affect how much money you spend when shopping??

Needless to say, retailers are often happy to take advantage of this fact. I receive a trade journal for retailers, and one article is subtitled, "How retailers can utilize scent to increase sales.'

Of course, the most obvious link comes from the fact that our sense of smell is linked to our emotions and memories, as all 3 of these are processed in the same part of the brain. Shopping is often an emotional experience rather than a financial one, or one we approach without feelings. Memories that scent conjure up can be very powerful.

A device (new to me) called a "scent cannon" can actually shoot scent into a retail environment at pre-determined intervals. One enterprising gas station in California used a scent cannon to project the smell of coffee around the gas pumps as cars approached. This resulted in an increase in coffee sales of 300%!!! 

Scents are carefully chosen. It's easy to eliminate scents that may contain petroleum derivatives, or alcohol, that may cause respiratory irritation, headaches or allergic reactions. Many stores choose "signature" scents that are designed to become associated with their store. Generally accepted as pleasant scents, like lavender, can  help create a positive mood in a retail store, and, increase the likelihood of you parting with cash. A positive mood also makes you more patient in a lengthy checkout line, and, if you smell the scent elsewhere, you may actually think of the store long after your shopping experience. 

Cinnamon scent seems to have a calming effect, and, citrus scents are mood lifting. 

One retailer actually uses a heavy scent so as to keep "older" shoppers, which they define as over 25 years of age, out!!!

Next time you're shopping, pay attention to what you smell. And, be mindful of sticking to your budget! Happy holidays!