Health and Beauty

Green Beauty

Since I was pregnant with my first child I began my ongoing research into green living which spans beyond food and is especially important when considering what you use on your skin and what you use around your home (ie. paint, home fragrances, cleaning products, pesticides…).  I am constantly searching for new ways to reduce toxicity from our every day life.  A lot of the toxicity that we are exposed to nowadays we can’t control, but for everything that we can control, I try to live as naturally as possible and I am confident that my effort is not in vain and that we feel and look healthier due to our everyday natural choices.

I am not a big make-up person but I love skin and body care products.  I am constantly in search of amazing natural and organic products that not only work but create a spa like experience from the comfort of my home and which I can use on a regular basis.  I could spend hours at Whole Foods checking labels and discovering new brands and I am crazy for local natural and/or organic beauty shops with new and upcoming brands.  Luckily, I come across more and more of these shops and brands during my travels so I am putting together some of my old favorites as well as my new discoveries.  I have learned through experience that you can’t always trust any product sold in ‘natural stores’ even when they claim to be natural and organic.  Different countries have different legislations regarding labelling products as natural and organic.  In some cases, for example, a product can be composed of 90% organic components (which is the condition for it to be considered organic in some countries) though the remaining 10% can have very toxic ingredients despite the ‘organic and/or all natural’ labelling.  I’ve bought shampoos at leading health food shops in Europe which were labelled all natural and organic though contained SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate, a known carcinogenic ingredient which can irritate skin and is linked to organ toxicity).

There is plenty to learn and read about natural and organic beauty if you are interest in finding out what is in your beauty products and how to understand product labelling.  I will add some useful links to the blog Resource Page if you re interested in further reading.  In a nutshell, here’s a comprehensive list on what you should avoid for the time being (this is not a complete list but covers most of the currently known toxic ingredients):

  • parabens
  • formaldehyde
  • phthalates
  • fragrance (artificial fragrance)
  • EDTA
  • 1,4 Dioxane contamination (compounds that include words like PEG or polyethylene glycol, laureths such as SLS and SLES and ingredients that include the word ceteareth)
  • Ethanolamines
  • Chemical sunscreens
  • BHA/BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene)
  • Coal tar
  • Hydroquinone
  • Methyllisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Toluene
  • Thimerosal (mercury)
  • Triclosan

Some of my favorite natural and organic brands are listed below and I would love to hear about some of your all time favorites too.  So please fill out the comment form!

  • Eminence: I have not tried a single skin care product that I haven’t loved.  I adore the texture, scents and specially the way my skin looks after using their products.  This is my go to brand during winter season. The Firm Skin Acai Moisturizer is my all time favorite night cream.
  • REN: Their Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is fantastic when I need a quick refreshed look or after a long flight.  I currently also use their Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk which removes even eye make-up while nourishing my skin and the Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial which renews your skin while you sleep.
  • Korres: Another brand that I have been using for years and have never been disappointed…  For winter time I love their Black Pine Firming, Lifting & Antiwrinkle Day Cream.  Feels luxurious and skin looks hydrated and plump.  I pair it with the matching eye cream.  I am also crazy about their deliciously smelling body butters.  Fig is my favorite!  Korres also has some lovely eau de toilette and perfumes.
  • Mountain Body: the most amazing all natural, botanical, handmade Honey Butter Cleanser, Mountain Balm, scrubs and Body Butters.  Truly the most effective and powerful natural products I’ve ever tried at a great price point!  There are several different botanical formulations and the pink grapefruit, lemon verbena, and lavender and tangerine are my favorites.  I haven’t come across a salt and sugar scrub that makes my skin softer and more hydrated yet!
  • The Burren Perfumery: love their hair care products, honey lip balm, natural floral perfumes, body lotions (Spring is my favorite) and essential oils
  • Voya: I adore the candle and body oil with powerful Irish seaweed extracts
  • Caudalie: love their facial serums and the Pulpe Vitamine, a lightly scented and textured lotion (serum like) which can be used over serum or on its own. Great for sticky summer weather since it  is light and easily absorbed.
  • Rodin: the award winning Olio Lusso is an amazing aromatherapy facial oil
  • Neal’s Yard: body oils are fantastic, smell great and don’t leave your body feeling sticky
  • Liz Earle: their SuperCream Moisturizer and SuperSkin Body Cream are fantastic and smell even better.  Skin feels tighter and super smooth and healthy even in the middle of winter!
  • Beauty Counter: just tried their Citrus Mimosa Hand Cream and love the shea butter formulation without the stickiness.
  • Estelle & Thild: I have been using their BioDefense Multi Nutrient Youth Oil for a year now mixed with my night cream to charge it up when needed.  Love the smell and the way it is absorbed into the face without much stickiness.
  • Neom: I have always adored their candles and diffusers when they were pretty much the only organic brand in the home fragrance market.  They have recently branched off into the skincare market and so far I have only tried their hand soaps and hand creams but have heard great things about the new perfumes.
  • Weleda: The whole family uses Weleda at our home so it’s a great brand to bring on holidays to cut down on the packing.  The Skin Food is a moisturizer that we can all use, the Sage deodorant is one of the few all natural deodorants that actually work, and we all love the Arnica Massage Oil to relieve tensions and sore muscles.
  • Susanne Kaufmann: The most luxurious and indulgent body butter I have ever tried.  It was a daily spa treatment for my skin.  My skin never felt so soft and firm…a real treat!
  • Alba Botanica: this is my go-to brand for safe and effective sunscreen and after sun that smells amazing, is easily absorbed and doesn’t give anyone’s sensitive skin the burning sensation that many other brands do. The Dry Oil Sunscreen is my absolute ‘must have’ sun product! Their Hawaiian Body Polish is another outstanding body scrub at a superb price with the most divine smell.  I also adore their Hawaiian Body Oil with kukui nut which brings me back many beach memories.

I’m looking forward to hearing about your favorite natural and/or organic beauty products.

Hope that you enjoy these as much as I enjoy using them. Stay healthy and indulge in your own spa like moment from the comfort of your home.