Sunday, June 12, 2011

Things to Avoid in Skin Care Products

Last month, my post was about things that you want in skin care. This month, I am listing some ingredients you do NOT want in your skin care. Be a label reader!! You need to know what is in - and what is NOT in - your products. Here are a few to avoid:
  • Imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea: They’re used as preservatives to prevent bacterial growth (not fungi), but they’re also a relatively common cause of contact dermatitis.
  • Fragrances: They may smell good, but these little molecules are responsible for allergic reactions in as much as 14% of the population. Most skin care products don’t really need added fragrances. But without the added fragrance, some -- like soap -- simply smell like the fats they are made from. If fragrance is listed as "fragrance" or "parfum," your product contains phthalates. Phthalates are fragrance extenders. They make the smell last longer, and are inexpensive. Unfortunately, they are also known hormone disruptors. Remember: your skin is your largest organ, and absorbs whatever you apply to it. That's why nicotine and estrogen patches work. You do NOT want your skin absorbing phthalates! Look for products that contain natural scent only (like essential oils) or, are unscented.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate: It’s commonly used in shampoos and cleaners to create suds and is relatively safe, but longer contact time can cause irritation and dryness because the detergent strips the skin of lipids. It's true, soaps that are SLS free often do not lather as profusely as those with sodium lauryl sulfate. But they clean equally well, and are far kinder to your skin.
  • Mineral oil: Used as a base in some products, it may interfere with perspiration.
  • Monoethanolamine (MEA) and triethanolamine (TEA): They’re common pH stabilizers, but when they’re exposed to air, they form potentially irritating substances called nitrosamines. And they have a tendency to clog pores and create blackheads.
  • Toluene: This chemical solvent, which the EPA designates as hazardous waste, is found in many brands of fingernail polish. Toluene can cause headaches, eye irritation, and memory loss. Those won’t kill you, but if you don’t feel good, it’s worth experimenting to see if beauty products could be the source of your general blahness. There are well known brand names out there that are toluene free. Check the label!!
  • Dimethylethanolamine (DMAE): This common “instant facelift” ingredient in wrinkle creams actually does its work by causing cell damage and swelling. Sure, the wrinkles will go away temporarily (they also will if you’re slapped in the face), but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

8 Ingredients your Skin will Love

We all want to look after our skin....keep it healthy, and delay aging as much as possible. So here are some ingredients that have scientific backing you might want to look for in your skin care products:

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Vitamin B3
Vitamin B5
Vitamin E
Alpha hydroxy acids
Ferulic acid

Vitamin A helps to regenerate skin, especially after sun exposure.

Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant. Aging is affected by some genetic factors, and you do not have control over these. However, some aging factors you can control: sun exposure, life style choices, like smoking, and exposure to environmental pollution. Vitamin E can minimize aging changes due to these external factors, by "mopping up" harmful ions called "free radicals" that result from sun exposure and just daily living.

Vitamin C. Ultraviolet radiation can generate oxygen free radicals that cause aging of the skin. Vitamin C can act as a first defense, against some of these radicals (plasma/water-generated radicals). Vitamin E on the other hand, works against another type of radical; the fat-soluble radicals within the plasma membranes. It makes sense that Vitamin C and E are used together to defend against both types.
Collagen is a key component of most tissues. Vitamin C works as an essential factor for the normal formation,, maintenance and structural stability of collagen.

Vitamin B3. Your skin naturally forms a barrier to protect itself from the elements. As you age, unfortunately, your body becomes less able to manufacture this barrier. Vitamin B3 is shown to reduce and delay the decline of this ability. This means you make a better barrier, and protect your skin!

Vitamin B5 is present in every living cell. It is necessary for the production of coenzyme A, which is essential for cell metabolism.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids help to remove dead skin cells. The newer, fresher skin cells that are now exposed are more flexible than the old, dead cells. Your skin will be plumper, and more even in tone.

Ubiquinone helps with collagen formation. Collagen is the flexible scaffolding that your skin cells rest on. Collagen is what keeps your skin plump and firm. Ubiquinone also protects the skin from sun damage.

Ferulic acid improves the chemical stability of vitamins C and E. It is excellent for providing protection from sun damage, and may be involved in reducing the incidence of skin cancer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Wonder Oil

Every now and then, someone asks me, "If I were to buy only one essential oil, which one should it be?" At the risk of being cliche, it is lavender.
Lavender oil is an interesting, broad spectrum blend of chemical components. That being said, lavender contains two primary components that are responsible for its most famous properties: linalool, and linalyl acetate. The linalool is an alcohol, giving lavender its antiseptic properties. Linalool also reduces inflammation, and may enhance our immune system. The other component, linalyl acetate, also acts to help our immune system. Together, these two components in one oil provide a one, two hit against bacteria and virus. Linalyl acetate also provides pain relief, and acts as a sedative.
When purchasing lavender, make sure it comes from a reputable company - this company should be able to tell you exactly how much of these two ingredients are in a particular batch of lavender. Percentages of the chemical components in any essential oil vary from batch to batch, depending on such factors as the weather when that batch was grown...what was in the soil...whether or not it was harvested, transported, and stored properly, etc. It is very difficult to know whether your oil has been diluted in any way. It is tempting to dilute quality oils with cheaper oils so that the seller might make more profit. Price is typically a good indication of quality: if the price seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Once you own high quality lavender oil (organic, or at least, unsprayed, is always nice, ) what can you do with it? Well, I find lavender, first and foremost, indispensable for small burns. One drop, neat, on a small burn reduces pain, speeds healing, and can almost eliminate scarring. A drop of lavender on a kleenex and placed near your bed can help you sleep better. Lavender is primarily thought of as a "relaxing" oil. A drop in a car diffuser, or on a kleenex in the car, might make a stressful commute more enjoyable. Lavender oil mixed with distilled water, in a spray bottle, makes an excellent, non-toxic, all natural room freshener. Just remember to shake well before spraying! Finally, a drop of lavender on insect bites can reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Every home should own a bottle of lavender!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lousy Labels

The moral of todays blog is "Buyer Beware." This is probably not news to most of us. However, the TV program "Marketplace" recently did a show on the 10 worst labels. They were" bad" labels because they appeared deliberately misleading. One example is two shampoos, both by the same well known, large, manufacturer. If you read the ingredient list, you could see that they were, in fact, the very same product. However, one label said "Natural" and one did not. Of course, the "Natural" label was considerably more expensive. When asking the president of the Cosmetics and Toiletries Association how this company could get away with this, he said that there are, in fact, no regulations that govern when a label can tout the words "natural" or "organic."
When the companies were asked to elaborate on their ingredient list, they cited the formulas as "proprietary" and gave no disclosure.
The most offensive label was on Seventh Generation Organic Cotton Baby Diapers. They were more expensive than their regular diapers...but...would not disclose exactly how much of the cotton in the diapers was, in fact, organic. Get this - the diapers appeared to be a soft beige color, as if unbleached. Truth? The diapers were in fact bleached and then dyed to look more natural!! So, you think baby is getting this chemical free diaper...and are paying a premium for it...when in actuality, only the company knows for sure how much of the content is organic. Is bleaching and then re-dyeing a diaper to look unbleached misleading? You decide.
At eScential Wellness, there are no proprietary formulas. I will tell you exactly what is in every product. And, where listed as organic, I will, given a few days, be able to provide you with a certificate of examination by an independent third party, such as Oregon Tilth or USDA certified organic.
An educated, label reading consumer is my best customer.
Buyer, Beware!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quick Update on eScential Wellness Facial Serum

Please welcome the same, much loved product...Facial Serum...with it's new name ~ NaturOil!! Loyal users offered many constructive comments about the name, so, I have decided to re-name Refresh & Rejuvenate Facial Serum with a moniker better suited to its natural ingredients. NaturOil is now the original facial serum used by most people, with normal or combination skin. It contains aloe vera gel and must be shaken before use. True, I could have added an emulsifer to eliminate this step...but, the emulsifier would not enhance the way the product works in any would just make the product look homogenous. I felt skin is better served without this added chemical. After all, NaturOil is about making your skin look good...not about making the product look good!
If your skin is extremely dry, you may want to try Ultra Hydrating NaturOil. Same great formula, but, without aloe vera gel.
Please email me with any and all comments! Feedback helps me to make my products better!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oils on Your Face

Today's Hamilton Spectator carried an article entitled, "Oil up - your face will thank you" (link The gist of the article is that oils are GOOD for your face.
Well, on that point, eScential Wellness was ahead of its time. My best seller is my Facial Serum...a blend of 13 natural carrier oils, specifically chosen for their skin enhancing qualities. All of the oils are high in naturally occurring antioxidants, and/or GLA (gamma linoleic acid; a key component in cell wall structure.) All of the oils are light weight, easily absorbed, and do not have a greasy feel. For the majority of normal/combination skins, I recommend my Sheer Facial Serum. This is the original serum diluted with organic aloe vera gel. Aloe vera gel alone has been implicated in hydration, healing, and is a terrific anti-inflammatory. That's why it's so renowned for sunburns. In addition, there is speculation that aloe vera gel may enhance natural collagen production.
One thing the above article does not mention is that according to the book "Do it Gorgeously" by Sophie Uliano, "A major concern about commercial skin care products is that they can be full of all kinds of chemicals that actually have an adverse effect on the skin." Furthermore, almost the entirety of commercial moisturizer ingredients exist in the product to make it, the product, feel nice, smell nice, or keep it preserved. Not to improve your skin. The vast majority of moisturizers have very little, if any, active skin care ingredients. And, often, if there is some excellent ingredient promoted on the product, it is often present in such a small amount that it is not able to do any good.
eScential Wellness' Refresh and Rejuvenate Facial Serum has no less than 4% of any ingredient. As it contains no water, it needs no preservatives. Carrier oils, especially ones high in antioxidants, are naturally long lived. There is no added color, and, it is lightly scented with natural, plant derived, gas chromatograph tested essential oils.
Check out this article and book for yourself. Then check out eScential Wellness Facial Serum. Make your own decision.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Products for Spring 2011

I have used these winter months to develop some new items!
For all of us who are trying to watch our weight, I received some great news from Dr. Oz. Smelling grapefruit and peppermint throughout the day help us to eat fewer calories.....and feel fuller, longer! To make this easy to do, we now have "Food Craving Tamer," an inhaler that is as small as your thumb. Similar to the old Vicks VapoRub inhaler, you merely uncap this tiny dynamo to take several deep breaths of grapefruit, fennel, and peppermint essential oils. You will still have to resist temptation, but....this may make it easier to do. And, you may eat less when you do indulge. For further support of Dr. Oz' findings, you can read his book "YOU on a Diet."
It seems to me that a lot of people have trouble falling, and staying, asleep. Sweet Dreams! Sleep Mist to the rescue! This is an aerosol spray blend of lavender and roman chamomile hydrosols, with just a drop (literally) of each of those essential oils. Both of these oils are high in esters, which are sedatives. Simply spray a few spritzes in your bedroom, or in the general vicinity of your pillow before you retire at night. The hydrosols are very lightly scented. You may find any scent hard to detect, but, the fragrance will still help you off to a restful night's sleep.
Finally: three specialty glycerin soaps.All glycerin soaps are formulated using organic oils. My new formulation of Honey glycerin contains over 5% of actual organic honey!! Honey is a natural antiseptic, so, may be useful for blemished skin. And, honey is a humectant. This means it will actually draw and chemically bind water from the air to itself. Your honey soap is hydrating!
Everyone has read of the benefits of drinking green tea. Well, all those polyphenols and antioxidants are good for your skin, too. You will notice commercial skin products often tout the addition of (usually miniscule) amounts of these wonder additives. My new Green Tea Soap is formulated not with green tea extract, or, green tea tincture, but, actual Matcha Green Tea. Put the anti-aging goodness of Green Tea to work for your skin!
Finally, Calamine Soap. Made with 24% calamine lotion, and, French Pink clay, this soap is wonderfully soothing for all irritated skin. Make sure to take a bar to the cottage, where skin can be afflicted by heat rash, poison ivy, bug bites and the like. It may also ease itching from chicken pox and eczema.
Please let me know how you enjoy the new products, and, look for them on the website soon!