Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Malignant Moisturizer?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: our skin is our biggest organ, and it drinks up everything we put on it.  I still feel that deodorant should be the #1 thing you "green" in your routine, but body lotion/moisturizer is a very close 2nd.  Just think of the area you cover with whatever you use to hydrate your skin…head to toe, or at least neck to ankle we'll say!  Skin is very thin, and whatever is in your lotion goes right into your bloodstream and throughout your body.  Think I am being over-dramatic?  Think about the patches used for medicinal purposes (pain, birth control, quitting smoking, etc.)…how do you think they work?  I know it is a bold statement, but I mean it, don't use products on your body that you aren't willing to eat!  Some argue that you would actually be better off eating toxic substances than putting them on your skin.  Dr. Joseph Mercola states, "When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body.  However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs."  Once again I want to stress that this is particularly important for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers…your baby absorbs and eats what you put in and on your body, and little ones are far more susceptible to toxins!

I will do my best not to bore you with too many descriptions and details of every toxic ingredient, but one that needs to be on your radar is: MINERAL OIL.  Mineral oil is petroleum-based (a byproduct of distilled crude oil).  The difference between the mineral oil in personal care products and what goes in your car is how refined it is.  (Just to jog your memory…remember the lesson on paraffins in my post about candles?)  There are varying reports and opinions on exactly how dangerous mineral oil is, but it doesn't sound so appealing to me.  I cringe to think about how much baby oil I slathered on my-teenage-self before passing out in the sun for hours (I am lucky I didn't overheat, because mineral/baby oil clogs your pores, too).  Thankfully I never used it on my baby!  Some popular mineral oil-based lotions (Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin, and Vanicream) have been found to significantly increase skin cancer development (at least in mice).  Please check it out for yourself to learn more: AND  Look into it for yourself, and then you decide.

I can't stress enough the importance of reading labels!  I suggest printing out a handy list like this one ( to take along with you when you go shopping.  Also, as I mentioned before, EWG's Skin Deep website is my #1 resource for checking the safety of personal care products.  There is also the Think Dirty App, which I am planning to download.  I have a perfect example of how lax I can be with all of this at times.  A year or two ago I was at Whole Foods doing my usual perusing when I spotted a new hand cream on-sale.  I smelled each scent and picked one or two I really liked.  I looked at the label, was pretty impressed with what I saw, and ignored the one or two ingredients I didn't recognize/couldn't pronounce.  The rest of it looked good, so I figured, "how bad could it be?"  We threw one in each of our cars and used them frequently on our dry hands.  One of them resurfaced the other day, so I started using it again on my Winter-hands.  Today I gathered it up with my other lotions for review and finally did the due diligence before I put it out there as a suggestion for you.  I was quite upset to find a pretty toxic ingredient (Ceteareth-20) in my wonderful "Nubian" hand cream after all of this time!  Ugh!  Had to say "good riddance" to that one!

My top lotion picks (L to R): 4 Desert Essence scents, Acure Unscented, Annmarie Gianni Body Oil, & Nourish Organics Lavender Mint
I think you get The WHOLE PICKture, so now for the part you have been waiting for…my suggestions!  My #1 choice for body lotion is…
*1.  Acure Body Lotion (7oz. for $9.99 [regular price]) - I have been using this one on my whole body, everyday, for quite a while now.  My favorite (especially when my skin is feeling sensitive) is the "cocoa butter + coq10 ultra-hydrating unscented body lotion."  One of the things I love about this lotion it how fast it sinks in, leaving not even a trace of greasiness.  That means you can rub it into your hands and instantly type on your computer, answer the phone, help your little one with their zipper, etc…  It is great for throughout-the-day use, and it doesn't stain clothing.  One drawback to this quality is that it doesn't seem to really heal the rougher skin patches, so I use something else for overnight repair.  The ingredient list is quite good, too (it gets a safer rating than Desert Essence from EWG).  I love the story behind Acure as well as their philosophy.  I find their products featured and on-sale at Whole Foods and other local health stores, and there are many websites you can purchase them from as well.  I use all of their shampoos & conditioners (review coming up), and as I mentioned in an earlier post I look forward to trying their facial care line in the future.

*2.  Desert Essence Hand & Body Lotion (8oz. for $9.99 [regular price]) - (Definitely NOT to be confused with "Herbal Essences!")  The closest thing I have had to a tie so far, it is hard to call this lotion my 2nd choice.  This lotion is very rich and creamy, which is not always the case with the more pure products out there.  It leaves my skin feeling very hydrated and happy…not greasy at all!  Most importantly it has an ingredient list you can feel pretty good about.  I have pretty much used every scent they make (including the "Pumpkin Spice Hand Repair Cream.")  When I am feeling particularly sensitive and irritated I go with the "Fragrance Free" variety, which is what I use the most.  I keep the "Bulgarian Lavender" next to my bed, because it is so soothing and relaxing, which is great right before hitting the hay.  My whole family loves the "Coconut Lime" scent, because it is so uplifting and fresh!  We keep it stashed in many easy-to-grab places around the house.  (Just remember, more fragrance usually means not as easy on your body.)  I find the price very reasonable compared to what I would consider their competitors.  I also discover it on-sale quite a bit at Whole Foods and the many online stores that carry these products.  RUN to the Desert Essence website now for 30%-off these lotions and their other gluten-free (another bonus) products ( - that makes the lotions $6.29 each, which is a steal, so stock-up!  (I also use their shampoos & conditioners, which I will be reviewing in an upcoming post.) 

*3. Annmarie Gianni Coconut Body Oil (100ml [roughly 3.4 oz.] for $29.95) - This is an absolutely amazing body oil.  It is very nourishing and healing for your skin and body.  I challenge you to find a more pure ingredient list.  It is the real deal!  The one drawback is the price.  When I was really sick I used it every day, but now it is more of a once-a-week (or a little more in the Winter) treat.  Use it right after your shower or bath (or even add some to your bath) to lock in moisture.  I like to use it after detoxing in the sauna, because I know my pores are even more open to drinking up whatever I put on my skin, so I want to make sure it is as pure as possible.  Sign-up on the Annmarie Gianni website ( for deals and other useful info!

4. Nourish Organic Body Lotion (8oz. for $11.99) - The verdict is still out on this one, because I am just getting to know the Nourish Organic brand.  Around the holidays Whole Foods had this lotion on-sale 2-for-$10!  I tried all of the "testers" and really liked most of the scents.  My favorite was the "Lavender Mint," so I bought three of them and one "Almond Vanilla" (which I gave away as a gift).  Knowing that I was about to write this post I opened one a few days ago to give it a try.  Unfortunately it smelled nothing like the tester be honest it smelled pretty unpleasant.  Also, after investigating the ingredient list two red flags popped up for me.  One of them is SDA 38B (denatured alcohol) which probably has to do with the grain alcohol in the lavender essential oil, but it is the second ingredient, so I want to be sure.  The other is the fifth ingredient, "glycerin."  It does not say if this is chemically derived or natural, and that makes a big difference.  I would assume with the story behind their company (and all of the seals they have obtained) that these additives are in the purest form, but I will be contacting them for further information.  I really want to like this brand.  They have a lot of great offerings!  The consistency and texture of this lotion is wonderful, and the scents that I tested in the store were awesome!  I think I just need to work a few things out with the company and then we can all move forward with enjoying the fruits of their labor.  Stay tuned on this one...

Shifting gears a bit, for lotion bars or balms I really love LuSa Organics and also highly suggest Badger and Flourish brands.  LuSa is a great, small company with wonderful values and purpose.  Their products are of excellent purity and quality.  The "Tea Tree & Mint" scent smells like Andes Candies, the "Lavender" is rich, sweet, and relaxing, and the "Lemongrass" is clean and uplifting.  They really penetrate to sooth and repair dry and damaged skin.  If you have never used lotion bars/balms, give them a try!  They are especially great for damaged Winter hands!

Other skin healing products (L to R): Mountain Rose Herbs Shea Butter, 3 LuSa Lotion Bar scents, Keys Redicare, & Dr. Bronner's Coconut Oil 
As I have mentioned, I have sensitive skin.  When I was a kid I had reactions to harsh detergents, and every Summer I would get a poison ivy rash (I mean like blisters and having to go on steroids) from head to toe just from looking at the plant.  Oh, and I could never wear earrings or any cheap jewelry, because it was the same thing (rashes and blisters).  Then I kind of found my groove and things calmed down…UNTIL I got really sick with this Lyme-auto-immune-whatever-you-want-to-call-it thing.  Since then strange rashes have broken out off and on.  Last Fall I had a massive one on my upper chest.  One doctor said "That looks like a reaction to jewelry" (though I had stopped wearing necklaces way before that), another said it looked like "mast cell disease" (an allergy/histamine thing), while another said that it looked like eczema.  I still don't know what it was, but it was SO hot and itchy!  The only thing that made it go away was Keys RediCare Insect Repellant & Therapy Spray!  I don't remember how I found this stuff, but it was a Godsend!  Anytime I see the slightest skin irritation I put it on.  It was developed for the search and rescue dogs (and people) suffering from skin rashes (from exposure to who-knows-what) during Hurricane Katrina.  The story behind this product and the entire company is AMAZING!  It's a must read:  Keys products are awesome, and I love supporting such a great company!

I also encourage you to try single-ingredient solutions for your trouble skin - Organic Coconut Oil (a little for your stir fry, a little on your leg), Argan Oil, or pure Shea Butter (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs).  Sometimes just the number of ingredients in a product make it challenging to figure out what is helping and what is hurting.  I really like straight coconut oil, but I have to be careful about what I am wearing, because it can linger on skin and stain clothes.  Even when something is "natural" remember that it might not be good for your body.  During my research for this post I learned that people who have latex and/or nut allergies can have an increased sensitivity to Shea Butter.  Just something to keep in mind.  I am always learning!  There once was a time when I was tricked into thinking things like buying "Jergens Naturals" was making the "healthy choice."  Now I recognize that the bottom third of their ingredient list is highly toxic, and maybe 1% is "natural."  I just want to raise your awareness and share the the products that I love, but you have to find what works best for you and your unique chemistry and lifestyle.

Next up for me (actually on its way in the mail as I type) is "Pai Comfrey & Calendula Calming Body Cream."  After that I am looking forward to trying some "Purple Prairie" and "Poofy Organics" lotions.  Keep an eye out for reviews in the future!  Wishing you healthy, hydrated skin all Winter…and beyond!

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