What’s in Your Body Wash?

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When was the last time you checked the ingredients on the back of your favorite body wash or hand soap? If it wasn’t recently, you may want to take another look.

Just last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned some over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body wash products, saying they’re no more effective than soap and water and could actually cause long-term harm. This affects around 2,100 products or roughly 40 percent of the over-the-counter antibacterial soap market that contains any one of the 19 ingredients that are part of the ban.

As an avid antibacterial user, I’ve been cleaning out my cupboards and replacing these products with natural and organic items. After all, what I put in, on or around my body isn’t just affecting me anymore; I want our son to grow up happy and healthy, too.

So after scouting out options for washing up safely, I’ve got a few new favorites I wanted to share:

Lavido Intoxicating Body Wash ($24 via Lavido.com)

True to its name, this body wash has a deep, musky scent that is mysteriously addictive and will add a luxurious feel to your regular shower routine. Maybe it’s the distilled Patchouli and Vanilla Oil extracts, or it could be the purified mineral-rich waters from the Sea of Galilee, which have been used since Roman times for their healing and recuperative powers. Either way, I can’t get enough of this body wash.

Scientific Organics Citrus Kombucha Body Wash ($44 via emerginC.com)

Kombucha is the latest yogi health-drink craze, so why not see if it does as much good on the body as it does in it? Said to help improve skin tone, moisture and radiance, this body wash is formulated with fermented tea, grape stem cells, aloe and spirulina — a veritable “super-food” cocktail for skin in need of some TLC. Science aside, I love its energizing scent and the fact that it’s 100 percent natural.

Art Naturals Anti-Fungal Body & Foot Wash ($18 via ArtNaturals.com)

Natural Oils have been used for centuries due to their antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties. This body wash just so happens to be the best of both worlds: Not only does it contain a powerful, yet gentle blend of Tea Tree, Jojoba, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Rosemary Oil to help aid common skin conditions, but it also effectively removes dirt, excess oils, fungus and bacteria. Put simply, it’s a morning shower must-have.

Have you made the move to all-natural skincare products — why or why not? 

Treating Winter Skincare Woes

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about pregnancy so far it’s that there are a lot of constants — fluctuating hormones, escalating excitement, random discomforts and exponential expansion, just to name a few. Oh, and the fact that just when you think you’ve got things figured out, your body will throw you for a loop.

Case in point: Schizophrenic skin.

I’m pretty good about trying to meet my daily quota of water to keep the inside of my body (and Baby H) hydrated. But despite Portland’s nonstop-soggy climate, the humidity in the air wasn’t enough; our cold winter weather was still managing to wreak havoc on my now-sensitive skin (read: dry patches and red blotches on my face, along with chapped hands from frequent hand-washing during cold & flu season).

Since so many skincare ingredients are no-nos for preggos, I went in search of a few new products that would not only be safe, but also ultra-nourishing. I ended up revamping my regimen with the following, which I wanted to share in case you’re experiencing similar skin maladies this season:

Remove Makeup: Wipe face gently with Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes with Cotton Extract to remove dirt, oil and makeup.

Cleanse: Massage Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser into damp skin fro 20 seconds, then rinse with warm water to hydrate and help balance skin.

Moisturize: Apply Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk to clean, slightly-damp face (morning and night) to mend freaked-out skin.

Treat: Slather on good ole Mentholatum Ointment for chapped lips and Farmaesthetics Hand to Heel Softening Salve on cracked hands, heels and ashy elbows.

Prevent: Alternate Farmaesthetics Nourishing Herbal Cream with The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter and Booda Butter to keep belly itchiness at bay and help prevent stretch marks.

Pamper: Spritz pillow with Earth Mama Angel Baby Morning Wellness Spray for aromatherapy effects, soak swollen feet with Farmaesthetics Field Lavender Solar Salt Mineral Bath, soothe tense muscles with Farmaesthetics Deep Lavender Rub and ease anxiety with Farmaesthetics Lemon Balm Remedy Oil.

Note: As it turns out, Farmaesthetics has a special New & Nursing Mothers Gift Set, which effectively kills many birds with one stone (i.e. ALL the Farmaesthetics products mentioned about are included), so I’d suggest checking it out.

Not only because you can sample a smorgasbord of products at once, but also because all six formulations come in convenient travel-sized containers — perfect for babymooning or in your hospital bag!

What are your best tips for treating winter skincare woes? 

Back to Basics: My Favorite All-Natural Skincare Products

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Welcome to your 30’s, where it’s possible to have both pimples and wrinkles at the same time. And don’t even get me started on what pregnancy hormones do when thrown into the mix. 

You know what that means, though? Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t just limited to what you put into your body (nutrition) or how you keep it in shape (exercise); it’s also about developing a strategy for keeping its largest, most protective organ — aka our skin — in tip-top shape.

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So I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a total junkie when it comes to beauty products. Maybe it was watching my mom do Miracle Whip facials and mayonnaise hair conditioning treatments when I was a kid, but you name it, and I’ll try it on the quest for smoother skin, shinier hair or a dewier glow.

And while I typically don’t discriminate against ingredients (I know, I know…but I have yet to find a natural deodorant or shampoo/conditioner that actually works), I’ve done a 180 with Baby H on board these past few months.

The last thing I want to do is expose him/her to harmful chemicals, regardless of how small the amounts may be, so I’ve been on the hunt for the best all-natural (or as close as possible) alternatives. Here are the current favorites on heavy rotation in my routine:

Step 1: Remove Makeup

At 99.1% natural, Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($6) supposedly remove makeup, cleanse and tone in one easy step, leaving skin clean without the need for rinsing. But I prefer to use them as a first line of defense in removing even the most stubborn makeup without irritating skin.

Step 2: Cleanse

Made with 100% Certified Fair Trade ingredients, I first spotted Alaffia EveryDay Coconut Cleansing Face Wash ($13) while shopping at Whole Foods and decided to give it a whirl. Because it’s all-natural, it isn’t quite powerful enough to remove heavy-duty makeup or waterproof mascara on its own, but works well in conjunction with the Burt’s Bees towelettes.

My friend Corey also shared some Arbonne Calm ($123 for the full-sized set) samples with me because the line is not only free from the usual chemical suspects, but it’s also made up of naturally-derived and food-grade ingredients that do not contain fragrance or color. I’ve been using these mostly while traveling a) because they’re travel-sized and b) because dry airplane air can wreak havoc on skin, but the products have lived up to their name.

Step 3: Tone

After years of using harsh toners that would leave my skin feeling stripped and tight, I’ve learned my lesson and now take a gentler approach with Scientific Organics Spirulina Toner ($30), which adjusts pH, removes dead skin cells and prepares skin for better product absorption. Best of all, it’s made of pure, potent botanicals instead of chemicals and has a minimum of 70% organic ingredients.

Step 4: Treat

Because some of the best anti-agers (retinols) are a no-no during pregnancy, I’ve adopted Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($34) as my new treatment of choice. It’s got eight “actives” or ingredients with known antioxidant and skin rejuvenating properties and none of the bad stuff, so I can help reduce the effects of photoaging and not feel guilty in the process.

And when I want to have a “spa moment” but don’t have extra time or cash for a facial, I turn to BioRepublic Eco-Friendly Sheet Masks ($5 each) which is are ultra-soothing facial masks infused with natural cucumber extract, plant collagen and vitamin E. I’ll pop one on during an evening TV show, and in 20 minutes stressed out skin feels soothed and rejuvenated.

Step 5: Moisturize

I’m been a big fan of Acure Organics Night Cream ($18), which I found at the local Pharmaca and used for about four months with great results (they don’t call it “nature’s nocturnal miracle” for nothin’). However, the scent became a little too much thanks to the association with the first trimester queasies, so I’ve been looking for something new that would still do the trick for tired skin.

Enter Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk ($38), which is my new multitasking best friend at bedtime; not only is it made of 100% natural ingredients that are certified organic (as indicated), but the lavender smell helps me relax as I drift off to sleep. Plus, it’s got one of the all-time best skincare ingredients — Calendula — which is an ancient remedy for healing wounds (as well as a diaper rash treatment that my sister swears by).

Step 6: Remember the Body

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also include some skincare items for the benefit of your body, as well (because hello, pregnancy bacne)…

Case in point: Pura Naturals Peppermint Volcano Soap-Infused Active Slice Sponges ($9 for a 3-pack), which are awesome, patent-pending soap infusion sponges that will cut your shower time in half. They’re infused with ground pumice and a bunch of rich extracts and oils — all great, yes — but what makes them really cool is that they’re created from renewable plant materials and the manufacturing process actually removes carbon from the atmosphere, so every purchase is akin to buying a personal carbon offset.

And, finally, no skincare post that references pregnancy would be complete without mention of something to keep the dreaded itchy belly at bay. My two favorites are Booda Butter ($14) and  The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter ($34), both of which smell like cocoa and immediately give me a chocolate chip cookie craving each time I apply them. But they’re also smooth without being greasy and mild enough scent-wise to be used all throughout pregnancy.

Which natural beauty items are on your must-have list? I’d love to hear which products you swear by! 

Combatting every athlete’s ‘dermy’ little secret: Dry skin

Source: David Brinley/Runner's World

Source: David Brinley/Runner’s World

Sun. Sweat. Wind. Chafing. Chlorine.

We talk a lot about the benefits of a good workout, but we often overlook the toll that training can take on our skin.

That dryness, tightness and cracking  is not only painful, but it can also leave you prone to infections. And let’s face it, when I’m trying to stay on top of our already-jammed training schedule, the last thing I want is to end up sidelined by an issue with my epidermis.

But don’t worry; you don’t have to be left high and dry. Dermatologists say there are plenty of ways to find relief by implementing a few simple changes to our daily lives.

“Keep your baths and showers short and make sure you use warm, not hot water,” says board-certified dermatologist Stephen P. Stone, MD, FAAD, professor of dermatology and director of clinical research, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield. “Switching to a mild cleanser can also help reduce itching, and be sure to gently pat the skin dry after your bath or shower as rubbing the skin can be irritating.”

Dr. Stone shares a few more tips to relieve dry skin:

1. Apply moisturizer after getting out of the bath or shower. Ointments and creams tend to be more effective than lotions. Slather it on while skin is still damp to seal in moisture.

2. Read ingredients on skin care products. Deodorant soaps, alcohol-based toners and products that contain fragrance can irritate dry, sensitive skin. I look for more natural skin products with fewer ingredients to help reduce flare-ups.

3. Use a humidifier to add much-needed moisture to the air. Bonus: It also keeps nasal passages and sinuses from drying out; otherwise they won’t produce enough mucus or the mucus becomes too thick and can’t drain, making germs more likely to cause infections.

4. Wear soft fabrics that breathe, such as 100 percent cotton. If you want to wear wool and other rough fabrics, wear a soft fabric underneath. I break this rule while training (synthetics wick sweat better), but try to follow it otherise.

5. Don’t skimp on hand washing, which can remove harmful bacteria and viruses — especially at crowded gyms! If you need to wash your hands frequently, moisturizing hand sanitizers are a good alternative.

6. Apply hand cream after each hand washing. If more relief is needed, dab petroleum jelly on your hands before bed. If your hands are frequently immersed in water, wear waterproof gloves to help protect them.

I’d also add a few sport-specific tips of my own to the list:

7. Stay sun smart. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so slather SPF on all exposed areas — not only to keep skin from drying out, but also to help prevent skin cancer problems later.

8. Get rid of that ‘chlorine cologne.’ I recently interviewed Karen Allard, creator of the TriSwim product line, who spoke about the importance of removing chlorine molecules from skin post-swim.

9. (Don’t) show some skin. Combine cold temperatures and low humidity with long hours of exposure, and you’ve got a recipe for windburn. Protect delicate skin by wearing layers, and on harsher days, consider face masks, gloves, arm warmers, etc. to shield yourself from the elements.

10. Prevent potential problems. We all have those special hot spots that form from constant rubbing and chafing during long runs and rides, so lubricate skin ahead of time with products such as Ruby’s Lube, TriSwim and BodyGlide.

How do you minimize the damage to your skin during workouts? 

DIY Beauty: Lavender hand salve

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Much to our dismay, weather reports continue to call for seriously Siberian-like temperatures this winter. And while everyone knows to bundle up and keep supplies on hand, many of us aren’t shielding our skin properly from this sub-zero weather.

Enter Indie Lee, eco-chic lifestyle expert and founder of the all-natural namesake skincare line, with a soothing salve recipe: Avocado oil is a great source of natural hydration, non-greasy beeswax dries quickly, while lavender-infused oil provides a calming scent that you won’t mind slathering all over hands, heels and elbows.

Indie Lee DIY Lavender Winter Hand Salve:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup dried lavender flowers
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (can also use olive oil)
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons beeswax pastilles (or grated beeswax)

Instructions:

  1. Pour avocado oil and lavender flowers into glass measuring cup or saucepan and heat slowly over lower heat. Once mixture is warm, remove from heat and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. This will allow the lavender oil to infuse.
  2. Once this has had time to sit, pour the mixture into a glass cup or bowl through a cheesecloth or fine strainer to remove the majority of the lavender flowers.
  3. Create your own double boiler by placing a few inches of water in a saucepan and place the cup containing the oil into the pan of water. Warm this slowly over low heat until the water simmers. While you wait for the water to simmer, add the lavender essential oil and beeswax to your oil.
  4. Let this mixture sit in the simmering water, and stir until the beeswax has melted completely.
  5. Pour liquid salve into a pretty jar or container, allow it to cool, and voila — you have your own all-natural hand salve that can keep your skin soft for up to six months!

What do you use to protect your skin from harsh winter weather? 

DIY HAND SALVE

DIY Beauty: 7 tips for preventing chapped lips this winter

Source: Daily Star

Source: Daily Star

We may have avoided the Polar Vortex here in the Bay Area, but there’s one winter workout challenge that can creep up regardless of geography: chapped lips.

That’s right, you can thank all that dry air and lower temperatures for completely zapping lips of moisture, and since the skin on this part of your body doesn’t secrete any oils, it’s always more susceptible to drying out.

But there are a few precautions you can take to help prevent that painful tenderness and cracking this season; kiss Cheilitis (that’s doctor-speak for dry, chapped lips) goodbye by doing the following:

Source: Prevention

Source: Prevention

1. Resist the urge to lick. When it comes to moisturizing, saliva is only a temporary solution; it has a drying effect when it evaporates, plus it contains digestive enzymes that can irritate lips.

2. Hydrate from the inside. Cold weather amplifies the dehydrating effects of sweat loss during workouts, so it’s important to rehydrate skin by drinking ample amounts of water. Not sure how much is enough? Do a quick urine check: It should be light in color, almost like lemonade.

3. Hydrate from the outside. If you’re cranking up the heat, it’s important to also infuse the surrounding air with moisture. Run a humidifier in your bedroom to help prevent lips from drying out while you sleep.

4. Slather on a protective barrier. Keep lips soft and supple with lip moisturizer. I keep a steady stream of balms, glosses and sticks in rotation (mostly because I’m always losing the little buggers), but right now I’m using Miracle Skin Transformer’s Lip Rewind  in “Love” ($24). Shea butter and coconut oil hydrate, SPF and Vitamin E protect, and I like the pepperminty flavor and menthol tingle — plus, $5 of every purchase goes to the Children’s Action Network, a national non-profit dedicated to finding loving families for waiting foster children.

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5. Stay sun-safe with SPF. Those rays are still strong, so it’s important to protect from dehydration and damage with a sunscreen-enhanced lip balm (see above). For maximum protection, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends a minimum sun protection factor of 30.

6. Cover up with clothing. When the weather’s particularly harsh, take care to cover the delicate skin on your face with a lightweight, form-fitting material, such a scarf or face mask. Not only does it help to warm the air you breathe, but it also defends against severe cold and chapping from wind.

7. Think before you drink. It’s tough when the tendency is to want to curl up with a hot toddy, but try to limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine consumed, as these drinks are particularly dehydrating to skin. Instead, try a warm cup of tea or hot cider, both of which will warm your belly without parching your pout.

How do you keep lips from drying out during winter workouts?

DIY Beauty: Peppermint lip scrub

Source: Jessica Beautician

Source: Jessica Beautician

If harsh winds and frigid temperatures are leaving your pout dry and in need of some serious smoothing, a scrub can help you kiss chapped skin goodbye this season.

But skip the chemical-laden, store-bought versions; instead try this simple, all-natural recipe from eco-chic skincare expert Indie Lee, which is the perfect way to nourish lips while leaving them kissable (hello mistletoe!) this winter.

Indie Lee’s Total Lip Service Scrub

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Tbsp. raw cane sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 drop peppermint oil

Directions: 

  1. Combine sugar and honey in a small bowl
  2. Mix in peppermint for a refreshing scent
  3. Use to buff and polish lips by putting a small amount of scrub on fingertip and gently rubbing on lips in a circular motion
  4. Wipe (or lick!) off remaining scrub, and follow up with a lip moisturizer

How do you adjust your usual beauty routine during the winter months?