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:
http://environmentaldefence.ca/reports/environmental-defence-guide-sunscreen

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!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Can What you Smell Affect How Much you Eat?

It sure can! There's been a lot of work on various scents, and whether or not they can be a useful tool in weight loss. How is it possible that scent could cause us to eat less? First, remember that how food tastes depends a lot on smell. It's a bit complicated....but identifying food is actually determined by smell and sight, rather than "taste". Scientific American published a great article on how this works, if you want an explanation.  (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=experts-how-does-sight-smell-affect-taste). 

There are specific scents that dull our appetite. Grapefruit, for example, affects the nerves that are below our consciousness, (called "autonomic nerves") and smelling grapefruit reduces both appetite and body weight...in rats, anyway.  (Read the study synopsis here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15862904) Other studies, involving humans, show that the smell of grapefruit may somehow affect liver enzymes to suppress appetite.

Peppermint scent also works. In 2007, a university in West Virginia did a study whereby participants smelled peppermint every 2 hours. The study looked at  hunger levels when the participants smelled peppermint, as well as when they didn't, in addition to how much food they actually ate and what was in the food (e.g., fat intake, caloric intake, vitamin and mineral intake, etc.) over a period of two weeks.
Results showed that participants who were exposed to peppermint consumed nearly 3000 fewer total calories from saturated fat, total fat, and sugar each week. That's about 23% fewer calories based on 1800 calories/day diet for 7 days. Participants also rated their hunger level significantly lower during peppermint inhalation.


Even Dr. Oz has cited this study...as well as supporting the smell of grapefruit as a tool in weight loss. (http://www.sharecare.com/health/weight-loss/article/curb-hunger-with-peppermint)

As in all things, individual results will vary. But here's the good thing: inhaling pure peppermint scent and/or grapefruit, ideally from an essential oil, can't hurt any! There are no side effects to worry about. Something to ponder with our holiday season fast approaching, and, the temptation to overindulge on rich food, or have second helpings!





Friday, September 27, 2013

What's the Phuss over Phthalates?

eScential Products are Phthalate free. So many aren't...why should you care? Phthalates act as fragrance extenders. They make scent last a long time, something we, as consumers, like. In Canada, you do not need to list phthalates on the label. But, as they are used as part of the fragrance cocktail, if the label says "fragrans," "fragrance' or "parfum", you can bet it has phthalates. Have you ever walked outside, and smelled someone's laundry...that whiff of dryer sheets so potent it drifts out into the great outdoors and can be smelled literally half a block away? Well...that's the persistence and power of synthetic scent. It is not a good thing.

If that's not bad enough, I recently watched a commercial for a new product that you add to your washer, along with your laundry detergent, to make the scent in the detergent extra long lasting. And let's not forget those pesky plug in fragrance products to make your room smell good.

There are many kinds of phthalates, but 2 commonly used ones (dibutyl phthalate and diethylhexyl phthalate) are rated a "10" by Skin Deep. They are considered an endocrine disruptor by the Environmental Working Group, as well as by Environmental Defence. They are toxic to the reproductive system, and normal development. They persist in the environment, and, show up in both blood and breast milk. They are linked with an increase in allergies and asthma in children. As children are so small, they are especially sensitive to the effects of phthalates.

Phthalates are found in anything scented. BUT...did you know, that they can even be lurking in products that are NOT scented? In Canada, if you add scent to a product not to make it smell pretty, but, strictly to mask the scent of the raw materials in the product, they do not have to list scent on the label. Even worse - if this is the case, they can label the product "Unscented"!!! No wonder it's hard to get a "clean" product!!

Phthalates are listed as one of Environmental Defence's Toxic Ten. Always read labels! Even the word "unscented" on a product is not a guarantee of being phthalate free. Search out cosmetic lines that actively promote "toxin free" products.