Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cold & Flu Season Arrives Early

Newspapers are reporting that colds and flu season have an early start this year..both in the U.S. and Canada. I can't argue with them - I myself have a cold. eScential Wellness can't cure your virus, but it
can provide temporary relief from some symptoms! First off - make sure you eat well, in spite of all of the holiday offerings, and get enough sleep, regardless of holiday partying. Wash your hands often, and avoid people who are ill. Most importantly, keep your hands away from your face, so that virus are not transferred from your hands to entry points in your body - your nose & eyes. Try Bandit's Blend to provide almost instant relief from a sore throat. Make sure to cover your tongue with a kleenex, as it does not taste yummy! But the anaesthetic effect of clove oil reduces scratchiness within a few minutes! Steaming with Bandit's also relieves congested sinuses. For bedtime relief, soak your aching body in a tub of water treated with Bath Salts for Headaches & Headcolds. The steam carries the essential oils into your nasal passages and sinuses, and your skin absorbs them, too. Definitely a bonus for a good night's sleep!
Have a Merry, Healthy, Holiday!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's time for EcoMarket!

Held in downtown Toronto -
This Wednesday, Nov. 21, join like minded people who care about what they put on their skin and attend EcoMarket. Vendors there will have products available for you to purchase, for yourself and/or for friends and relatives. Gift giving season is coming! Give the gift of healthy beauty. All vendors support Environmental Defence's Just Beautiful Campaign and are free of their "Toxic Ten" ingredients. Here's a link to read more about it:
Stop by the eScential Wellness table and say "Hi!"
See you there!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Holiday Scents

A long time ago, people often used a variety of methods to scent their homes. Without the benefit of central air heating, fires were the only form of heat in a dwelling. Even when well ventilated, the air was often less than fresh smelling. During the holiday season, when visitors were received, the more prosperous homes had a variety of holiday traditions. One was to make "pomanders" to freshen the scent of their homes. They would use a fresh orange - a rarity in Europe in the winter - and stud the fruit with cloves. A ribbon was tied around this, and the pomander could be hung in a room, or, left in a bowl to scent the area.
   In addition to the orange and clove scent, there was often a flurry of baking. The kitchen would be redolent with the scent of baking ingredients such as vanilla, and cinnamon, as special treats were prepared to welcome guests, and, for the family.
  We have come to associate the scent of orange, cloves, and cinnamon with the holidays.
   eScential Wellness continues this time honored tradition by offering their Foaming Hand Soap in Jingleberry fragrance only around this time of year!! Anytime after Thanksgiving is fair game. Enjoy this seasonal scent from now until the New Year.
After washing your hands, the orange/cinnamon/clove scent will linger on your skin. Nice to know that cinnamon and clove are powerful natural antibacterials, too! No need to use an anti-bacterial soap containing triclosan; which is one of the "toxic ten" cosmetic ingredients!
  Read labels - make sure your soap is non-toxic. A hazardous antibacterial compound called triclosan is now an ingredient in many household and personal care products such as soaps, cleaners, cosmetics, clothing, and even toys for kids. You might think triclosan can protect you from harmful bacteria, but research has shown that, in fact, plain old soap and water cleans just as well.   And, antibacterials, such as triclosan in soap, are not harmless. Triclosan persists in the environment, mixes with other chemicals to form more toxic substances, and contributes to the growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics and causes a range of human and ecological health problems.
  The American Medical Association in 2000 said that “there is little evidence to support the use of antimicrobials in consumer products” and that given the risk of bacterial resistance, “it may be prudent to avoid the use of antimicrobial agents in consumer products.” There is no reason to believe the situation is any different in Canada.
  Washing your hands with regular soap and water is a great way to reduce illness. Using a mild castile soap with glycerin (like the soap in eScential Wellness products) will protect your hands from drying out.
  Be safe! Be clean! And enjoy the holiday scent!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Self Improvement is just a Sniff Away!!

Researchers at Northumbria University in England recently found that 4 scents boost your mind and mood. The study leader, Mark Moss, said "Essential oils are potent and positive. We found these scents can act like therapeutic drugs." 

The 4 magical scents are:
Peppermint ~ Improves alertness, and may help you remember important facts more easily
Sage ~ people exposed to the scent of sage performed better on memory tests, AND reported feeling happier!
Lavender ~ Moss says that studies show lavender is very soothing. It calms anxiety and may help you fall asleep faster.
Rosemary ~ When tested in the lab, Moss found that rosemary improved both reaction times, and, the concentration of people within sniffing distance.
Scent is a powerful influence on mood!

Of course, these 4 scents are not the only fragrances to affect mood. Although generalizing, people usually find lemon a "clean" smell, and cinnamon and clove are commonly associated with the holidays.

Aromatherapy works in several ways: there is the chemistry behind the essential oils, a technique that eScential Wellness uses to formulate products that work. For example, alcohol is a disinfectant. When you realize that tea tree oil has a high alcohol content (perhaps as high as 40%) you can appreciate why it has such good disinfecting properties.  However, aromatherapy also works on the limbic system of the brain.  The limbic system is joined to the parts of the brain that control blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, stress levels and hormone balance. This is why smells so often conjure up emotions. In fact, the limbic system is often referred to as the "emotional brain."
Consequently, odors often have deep emotional effects...and can even affect how our bodies respond.
Helen Keller once said, "Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived."

Put the power of scent to work for you!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More Petroleum Jelly Alternatives

The second most common use for petroleum jelly is as a barrier on our precious infant's bottoms. For babies, any toxic overload is magnified, because of their small size. Children are more vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals than adults. Their immune systems and central nervous system are immature and still developing, which means their bodies are generally less capable of eliminating toxins. As well, children have roughly double the skin surface of adults per unit of body weight, so a child can absorb proportionally more chemicals.

Well, one possible alternative is to do nothing. This is actually a fine plan. Washing baby well with each change, and changing baby as quickly as possibly when needed, may actually be a great way to avoid diaper rash.

However, some babies just seem to rash even with the best of care. When choosing an alternative product, take your handy list of "the toxic ten" with you and verify that your chosen product is free from all of them. Again, it all comes down to taking the time to read the label. Harmful ingredients include:  PEG, TEA, DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, parabens,  1,4-dioxane, fragrance, petroleum jelly, coal tar colours, ammonia, propylene glycol, mineral oil, sodium lauryl sulfate. There is no need for a scented product, so, I would avoid all added scents.

You might try using a natural oil, or blend of oils, such as sweet almond, peach kernel, grapeseed, or coconut. Preferably, you would use a certified organic oil. This will leave a thin film of protection between baby and diaper contents. These oils are also nutritious for skin.

My personal favorite is to use organic shea butter. In it's natural state, shea butter has the consistency of cottage cheese. It melts at body temperature. If the weather or room it is stored in is cool, it will be harder. Regardless, a small scoop in the hands, when rubbed together, will melt the shea and it can be applied to baby. It forms a water resistant film, yet allows the skin to breathe. It is very moisturizing, and is renowned for its skin softening properties. Shea is virtually unscented. For infants, even essential oils are unnecessary, and, should be avoided in all infant products.
eScential Wellness is currently developing a Baby Bum Butter, a vegan product made with organic coconut oil, organic cocoa butter and organic shea butter. There may be a faint coconut odor, but, this is inherent in organic virgin coconut oil and/or a faint chocolate aroma from the cocoa butter. These are not added fragrances. Look for it soon on the website,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

As promised: alternatives to petroleum jelly!

The most appropriate alternative will depend on what, exactly, you were using the petroleum jelly for in the first place. One of the most frequent uses is as a lip gloss. Because lip products are ultimately ingested, it would be wise to treat your lips to a moisturizing, lip healing, and non toxic lip balm, instead. There are several reputable brands around...but, read the label!!! Lip balms are not  all created equal, and, it is up to you, the consumer, to do your homework. Verify that they have a complete ingredient list, and, check that none of the "toxic ten" are in it. (Read one of my previous blog posts to see what the "Toxic Ten" are.)

There is one brand out there, whose name is practically synonymous with lip balm, that has earned this excerpt from Natural Skin Care reviews:  "--------- lip balm contains 11 chemicals that have not been assessed for safety in cosmetic formulas by the C.I.R. These chemicals are:Saccharin, MINERAL OIL, Camphor, White Wax, Saccharin, Flavors, Carnuba Wax, Arachadyl Propionate, 2-octyldodecanol, Polyphenylmethylsiloxane 556, Wax Paraffin, D&C Red #6 Barium Lake"

Camphor has the added problem of drying out your lips...which, of course, makes you reach for more lip balm...great for product sales, not so healthy for your smoocher.

Environmental Defence conducted a study that found:

  • "The highest levels of arsenic (70 ppm), cadmium (3 ppm), and lead (110 ppm) were all found in lip glosses, something which could be ingested
  • The product containing the highest level of lead was Benefit Benetint lip gloss, at 110ppm, over 10 times higher than the 10ppm limit set out in the Health Canada Draft Guidance on Heavy Metal Impurities in Cosmetics. This same product contained 70ppm of Arsenic, which is over 20 times higher than Health Canada's recommended limit of 3ppm." 

    To read the complete study, click here:

    Of course, look for a lip balm that uses organic ingredients. Then you can be assured that ingredients are free from pesticide residue, and, that they are not genetically modified (non-GMO.)

    All lip balms can be checked for safety on the web site I find it easier to access this site by going to your home page, and googling Skin Deep. Then, click on the products link. If you look up Burt's Bees 100% natural Lip balm (Honey) you'll find they rate it at a number 3 - moderately risky for toxicity.

    Course, goes without saying that all 7 of eScential Wellness lip balms are organic, and toxin free. 

    It may take some work on your part, but, consider it time well spent. 
    Next post: what to use to protect baby's bottom. :-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Petroleum Jelly & Alternatives

Today I was asked about using petroleum jelly. In summer, many people use it as an inexpensive lip gloss, and, summer often heralds the arrival of new babies...Petroleum jelly is often associated with use on baby's bottom.

Petroleum jelly is a by product of the petroleum industry. It’s a leftover residue created during the refining of crude oil, and consequently isn’t a sustainable resource. There is some controversy as to whether or not the commercial form of petroleum jelly contains any contamination. This apparently depends on what form of refining has taken place. In Europe, the full refining history of the product has to be known so that you can verify the substance from which it was produced is not carcinogenic. If it meets these criteria, it is acceptable for use.

 Here, however, is a quote taken directly from Dr. Oz's website:
" Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of oil drilling, and when you spread it on your lips, you end up eating it, which is essentially the same as drinking gasoline. Add up the amount of lip gloss the average woman uses (and consumes) over a decade, and it equals 7 pounds. The European Union has banned many petroleum jelly products, and experts are concerned they could be linked to cancer. Women with breast cancer have twice the levels of hydrocarbons (substances found in petroleum jelly) in their breasts than women who haven't had breast cancer."

There are several other reasons to avoid using petroleum on your skin. For one thing, it forms an inpenetrable barrier. You may think this is a good thing, but, not necessarily. It disrupts the body's ability to eliminate toxins through the skin. Although the jelly makes the skin feel more comfortable, it does not, in fact, contribute in any way to moisturizing or healing the skin. It slows cellular regeneration, which can damage collagen, elastin and connective tissue and accelerate the  aging process. Being water repellent, and not water soluble means it is difficult to remove. It can build up on the skin, and attract dirt & bacteria. It may cause breakouts, or cause irritation.

Stay tuned for the next blog: What to use instead??

Friday, May 11, 2012

Environmental Defence Canada

Did you know Canada has it's own "watchdog" group that brings public awareness and media attention to various issues important to Canadians? It's called "Environmental Defence." 
They describe their mission as hoping to "inspire change by connecting people with environmental issues that affect their daily lives in their homes, workplaces, and neighbourhoods."
Part of Environmental Defence's efforts are directed at the beauty, personal care and cosmetic industry. It's called the "Just Beautiful" campaign. This particular campaign, one of many which they promote, has as it's goal:
"to help push Canada to ban the known-to-be-harmful ingredients in our products and demand full disclosure of what’s in the products on Canadian shelves. We’re asking the federal government to ban the worst substances and make sure we know all of the ingredients in our cosmetics so that we can all be Just Beautiful."

To be a supporter of the Just Beautiful Campaign, a company must agree to two essential promises:
To avoid the use of Just Beautiful's "Toxic Ten" ingredients, and
To provide full disclosure of all ingredients used in their products.
eScential Wellness is proud to be listed on the Just Beautiful Campaign website!! All of eScential Wellness products do indeed meet the above criteria. Look for the Just Beautiful logo on the website ( as well as on eScential Wellness' Facebook page.
For more information on the Just Beautiful Campaign, for a list of their "toxic ten" ingredients, and, to see what other companies make products that are "good for you!" please go to their website, at:
Look beautiful, and, be healthy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Green Living Show, Toronto, 2012

Although apparently running for 5 years, this was my first experience visiting the Green Living Show. It contained all sorts of ideas/products to consider making your  immediate world, and the larger environment, safer, cleaner, greener. I saw many displays of the requisite alternative energy sources (solar panels, electric cars), organically grown meat and produce....and the area of my personal interest, clean personal care and cosmetic products.

The 2 exhibits that were of most interest were the Adria Vasil booth (author of "Ecoholic") and the booth for Environmental Defence. Adria Vasil has a new book out (as of April 17, 2012) called Ecoholic Body. In it, she identifies the "Mean 15" toxins commonly found in personal care products, and, supplies you with truly good-for-you brand name alternatives  Adria provides a printable, wallet size list of the "Mean 15" on her website,

Next up is Environmental Defence. Although this particular organization inspires change in all environmental issues, they have a sub-division called the "Just Beautiful" campaign. They will promote companies that sign a pledge saying their products are free of the "Toxic Ten" ingredients. eScential Wellness has already been recognized, unofficially, as meeting this criteria, so, look for their promotion of eScential Wellness products soon!! "Just Beautiful" offers a great, downloadable pdf file pocket guide to Personal Care products. You can download it here:

As always, reading labels is your best defence against applying harmful chemicals and products to your body. Many products that incorporate the words "pure," "clean," and "natural" are anything but. Become an informed consumer, with help from Adria Vasil, and, Just Beautiful!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Southern Ontario has basked in summer-like temperatures for the last few weeks...which has inspired me to get into Spring Cleaning, perhaps a bit earlier than last year.

Air inside our homes can be more toxic than outdoor air, believe it or not. Due to improved sealing around windows and doors, our "airtight and energy efficient" homes retain whatever we use in them. Avoid chemical cleaning products. This is easier said than done, as commercial products are not required by law to list their ingredients. Instead, formulations are considered "proprietary" information, and are allowed to remain "trade secrets." I find it interesting that even so called "green" cleaners may tell you what is NOT in a product...but seldom states what IS in the product! And many of these so-called "natural" or "eco-friendly" products contain warning icons, that suggest corrosion, flammability, or some other toxic reaction.

The Ontario Lung Association has some tips on how to clean, yet, improve the air quality in your home.
*Make your own furniture and floor polish by mixing one part lemon juice with 2 parts of vegetable oil
*Use a tablespoon of vinegar in the automatic rinse dispenser in your front loading washer, instead of synthetic fabric softener. This has the added benefit of keeping the "musty" smell out of your washer
*Remove mould in the bathroom with a solution of baking soda and water
*Pour vinegar into toilets and let stand overnight as a disinfectant. Swish clean with a brush.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review ~ There's Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon

Sometimes, it seems like everything we touch, apply, and live with is just a Bad Item. Gillian Deacon has a look at the products we use on our skin, everyday. Cosmetics, shampoo, deodorant, hair dye....a broad spectrum of personal care.

I love that she names names. Singling out the offenders allows us to easily avoid toxic ingredients. She also addresses many of the brands that we have been led to believe are good for us: Seventh Generation, Burt's Bees, Avalon, Kiss My Face. The Cosmetics and Toiletries association has no mandatory guidelines on what is considered safe. She explains to us how these products are "greenwashed." That is, made to look like they are good for you, natural...but are, in fact, NOT good for you. The word "Natural" means absolutely nothing Lead is, in fact, natural, but you certainly wouldn't want to apply it to your skin!!!

The bottom line is that your best defence is to become an educated consumer. Read labels. Take a copy of David Suzuki's "Dirty Dozen" toxins list with you to the store, and see if any ingredients are in the product. Compare similar items: for example, Johnson and Johnson's baby shampoo (regular) is the identical formula to J&J's "organic" baby shampoo. Of course, the price is significantly higher on the "organic" product.

Do not despair!! The redeeming grace about this book is that Deacon provides accessible, viable alternatives in every category. While citing "losers" she also cites "winners." Again, by using brands we are familiar with and that are accessible to the average consumer, we can make choices in what we apply to ourselves without a lot of research.
Too bad Deacon didn't review eScential Wellness products. :-)
They would more than make the cut. None of Suzuki's dirty dozen here!!
Enjoy the read. It is not at all can breeze through the book quickly, or, just read chapters that are of interest to you.