Mother Earth Living

Real Beauty

Tips and tricks for natural body care


4/14/2014

I love treating myself to at-home manicures. It’s a fun indulgence for whenever I have the time. Unfortunately, the effects of chemical-laden nail polish ingredients can be quite damaging on nails, as well as your health. Common nail polish ingredients include toluene, which helps polish brush on smoothly; formaldehyde, a hardener; and dibutyl phthalate, a plasticizer that helps keep polishes from chipping. This trio of toxic ingredients has been linked to nausea, allergies, thyroid disorders, reproductive problems and cancer.

If you apply nail polish, you will eventually have to remove nail polish. Nail polish removers are limited—store-bought products are either made with acetone or nonacetone. Either ingredient can be damaging to the nail, although acetone is the more harmful of the two. It dries out nails and has been linked to problems with the heart, lungs and liver.

Science has yet to catch up with our manicure habits, so it can be difficult to find a pretty nail polish that is safe and effective. But as the green beauty market expands, the closer we get to a better alternative. Thankfully, Scotch Naturals is one of those companies who are dead set on pushing the boundaries of the green beauty market.  

Sc

Scotch Naturals Nail Polish Ingredients

Scotch Naturals prides itself on being the nontoxic, eco-friendly alternative to the “three-free” solvent-based polishes on the market. Instead, the polishes are made from a water-based formula. With its wide selection of color options—43 as of right now—you are sure to find a color that works with your preferred palette. Let’s take a look at the ingredients Scotch Naturals employs.

water, acrylic polymer emulsion, +/- *CI 15850, CI 77492, CI 77499, *CI 77289, *CI 77891 (nontoxic colorants), and/or mica

Of the ingredients used, a couple of the colorants were flagged for moderate concern by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (3 to 4).

Scotch Naturals also offers a soy-based nail polish remover that works well on all nail polishes, not just the water-based formulas offered by their company. Here’s a breakdown of its ingredients, none of which raised more than a low concern (1) by the EWG’s cosmetics database.

methyl soyate, dimethyl adipate, dimethyl glutarate

My Thoughts

As a nail polish, this formula is still not perfect. The polish doesn’t last for very long—give it a day or two and it will start to chip or wear away. However, when you think of the alternative, this nail polish is absolutely amazing in that it is free of so many harmful toxins. Here’s what I did like about it:

+ It’s completely odorless. I couldn’t believe that no one noticed me trying the nail polish on at my desk when I first received it. Not even my husband, who loudly complains about toxic nail polish fumes, said anything when I used it at home.

+ The packaging is stunning. Maybe this shouldn’t be such a large factor for me, but I am a sucker for pretty packaging. Scotch Naturals looks chic and trendy, which is a standard I try to achieve.

+ The formula is super safe. Although there are other nail polishes on the market that are safer than more mainstream polishes (think OPI or Essie), this water-based formula is completely safe.

+ It dries fast. You still can’t dig into your purse right away, but after a few minutes, a small bump isn’t going to force you to reapply. However, the formula really doesn’t “set” for a couple of hours.

+ Scotch Naturals offers a great range of colors. I would love to see them expand this selection even more, but in the meantime this is a wonderful start. From Seething Jealousy, a rich teal green, to Stiletto, a vibrant pink-red, there are a lot of options.

In order to achieve a clean-looking manicure from Scotch Naturals, here’s what you need to do:

1. Remove any existing nail polish and shape as usual.
2. Add a drop of jojoba oil to each nail and buff gently.
3. Wash hands with soap and water to rinse remover reside and buffing dust. (You must do this, or the nail polish does not apply evenly.)
4. Apply one coat of their fortifying base coats.
5. Follow with two coats of polish, allowing one to three minutes in between coats.
6. Finish with their top coat for a high gloss shine.

Buy a Scotch Naturals nail polish for $15 each. Alternatively, you can choose the Cocktail Trio and stock up on three of your favorites, along with a deluxe top coat, for $48. The soy-based nail polish remover is $12. Buy Scotch Naturals online.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.



3/13/2014

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly bombarded with advertisements about products that will help me obtain more youthful skin. And why not—isn’t that what most of us crave? But as much as we want to believe in a magic cure-all to younger-looking skin, the truth is that it’s all up to how well we take care of ourselves (good diet and lifestyle choices). With all of this in mind, it doesn’t mean I want to stave off specialized body-care products. It’s good to treat your skin with healing oils or vitamins from time to time. Enter Youth Bloom Gel from Larénim Mineral.

Larénim Mineral is a natural makeup and body-care company started by Kristen Corcoran, who developed the product line after struggling with numerous irritable skin issues such as acne, rosacea and expanded pores. This natural beauty line includes a bevy of skin-healing serums as well as a full collection of natural makeup.

Larenim Youth Bloom Serum

Photo courtesy Larénim Mineral

Larénim Mineral’s Youth Bloom Gel Ingredients

This handy little serum is a blend of active ingredients designed to help minimize the appearance of dull, aging skin. Let’s take a closer look at each ingredient it uses.

aloe barbadensis leaf juice, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, citric acid, (lysolecithin, sclerotium gum, xanthan gum, pullulan), (propanediol, ornithine, phospholipids, glycolipids), (*lecithin, carnosine, tocopherol, silybum marianum fruit extract, *alcohol), helianthus annuus (sunflower) sprout extract (and) *sodium benzoate, pantethine, *potassium sorbate, polylysine, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract

Of the ingredients used in this product, only four were flagged for moderate concern by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: lecithin (ranks 3 to 4; contamination concern with nitrosamines, which ranks 6), alcohol (ranks 3), sodium benzoate (ranks 3) and potassium sorbate (ranks 3).

Two beneficial ingredients that stood out to me were the antioxidants milk thistle extract and sunflower shoot extract. Bright and spiky, milk thistle is best known for improving liver health. These same medicinal benefits may also help benefit the skin. Research from the University of Colorado Cancer Center show that milk thistle extract may protect against skin cancer and photo-aging induced by exposure to UV radiation. Another bright and cheerful flower, sunflower shoot energizes the skin and may delay aging, according to Mibelle AG Biochemistry. This formula is also loaded with amino acids and vitamin E to help boost dull-looking skin.

My Thoughts

As far as serums go this one was a wonderful treat for my skin. It wasn’t too sticky, as serums often are, as well as moisturizing. The cream consistency is a little thick and gelatinous, making it easy to apply. I have been layering it with one of my favorite moisturizers before bedtime, and while I haven’t noticed any major changes to my skin, I enjoy how it makes my skin feel and haven’t had any major breakouts since using it. Plus, this is a preventative product, so I was mostly concerned with how it made my skin feel. It blends well and it’s not scented with fragrance. Instead, it has a natural and light earthy aroma to it. Buy this serum for $26 online.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.  



2/20/2014

Showers tend to be a rushed part of my day, but every once in awhile I like to take my time and indulge in some luxurious spa products. Recently I’ve been indulging in a cute little body scrub tub from a relatively new company. The Orange Owl sells all-natural, handmade, vegan-friendly products without parabens, dyes, silicones, phthalates, sulfates, fragrance oils or petroleum products, according to its website. I discovered this fun little body-care company at last year’s Natural Products Expo West and was impressed with its array of lip balms, soap bars, body butters and body scrubs. I was fortunate enough to take home their Sun Shower body scrub and have enjoyed it immensely.

Orange Owl Sun Shower
Photo courtesy The Orange Owl

The Orange Owl’s Sun Shower Body Scrub Ingredients

First thing’s first, let’s go over the ingredients in this natural body scrub. Body scrubs by nature are simple to make on their own—grab a handful of sugar and pour a teaspoon or two of olive oil into your palm, and you’ve got an instantaneous body scrub. So when I’m shopping for scrubs I like to find one that uses luxurious ingredients not already in my pantry, but also not filled with harsh, unnecessary ingredients. Here is a full list of the ingredients in The Orange Owl’s Sun Shower Body Scrub:

Wildcrafted sugar, organic sunflower oil, organic vitamin e oil, baking soda, vegetable glycerin, colloidal oatmeal, *grapefruit seed extract, tangerine essential oil, grapefruit essential oil, spearmint essential oil, and patchouli essential oil

I double checked the safety of these all-natural ingredients and only found one mild concern, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: grapefruit seed extract (ranks 3), which had contamination concerns.

My Thoughts

My favorite part about this product (other than its adorable orange owl logo) is its energizing citrus scent. Infused with tangerine, grapefruit, spearmint and patchouli, this scrub is perfect for early morning showers when you need a burst of energy to help get you through the day. Plus, the scent is not overpowering. Citrus alone is a popular ingredient in body-care products for its high vitamin content and useful acids. It is also popular in aromatherapy as it is energizing and uplifting.

The scrub itself felt gentle while also being very exfoliating—especially on my rough patches of skin. It also had just the right amount of oil to it. At first, when I scooped some of the scrub out with my fingers, I thought the scrub would feel completely dry. But as you rub it on just the right amount of oil massages into your skin.

If you want to indulge in a 7-ounce jar of this citrusy scrub, buy it online or find it a store near you for only $11. The company also sells a Mocha Buzz, Summer Sorbet and an unscented Simply Sweet body scrub.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.  



2/3/2014

Although I have stockpiles of lotion on my nightstand, in my bathroom and at my desk, I am usually one of those people who find themselves out in public without lotion but with very dry hands; I depend on the selflessness of my friends to loan me whatever they have on hand. Finally I put a stop to this foolishness and slipped a new lotion into my purse—and I am so thankful that I did. I don’t plan on being without this great new find for a long time.

Benecos Natural Beauty’s Hand Cream for Happy Hands is perfectly sized for purses. The company, which is fairly young, offers reasonably priced and affordable beauty products as well as a variety of cosmetics. Among their natural cosmetics standards, products from this company must be sourced from a plant or mineral; the plant ingredients must be sourced from organic growth or wildly harvested whenever possible; packaging must be ecologically conscious; genetically modified, synthetic or petroleum-based ingredients are not allowed; and animal testing is not allowed. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the ingredients this hand cream actually uses.

Benecos Hand Cream
Photo courtesy Benecos Natural Beauty

Benecos Natural Beauty’s Hand Cream Ingredients

Benecos stays true to its ethical standards with this natural hand cream. Here is a full list of the ingredients:

aqua (water), helianthus annuus (sunflower) hybrid oil, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate citrate, glyceryl stearate, prunus amygdalus dulcis (almond) oil, calendula officinalis flower extract, arctium lappa (burdock) fruit extract, tilia cordata (linden) flower extract, rosa canina (rose) fruit extract, sambucus nigra (black elderberry) fruit extract, hypericum perforatum (st. john's wort) flower extract, urtica dioica (nettle) root extract, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, glycerin, sorbitan caprylate, tocopherol (vitamin e), *potassium hydroxide, ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin c), xanthan gum, sodium phytate, sodium salicylate, dehydroacetic acid, citric acid, fragrance (natural)

Looking through this last, I found that only one ingredient raised a concern—and a mild concern at that—with the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: potassium hydroxide (ranks 3).

My Thoughts

First things first: I love the bright and cheerful packaging. I am a sucker for pretty packaging, so let me admit that, yes…that’s the first thing that stood out to me. It’s girly, colorful and just tons of fun. I am also digging this price—it is only $7.50!

What’s more, this is a high-quality lotion, especially for the price. The consistency is just right—not too thick, not too thin—and it doesn’t leave my hands feeling greasy. Plus, the lotion is not overly scented. Most lotions I’ve tried recently have played with their fragrance a little bit too much. I swear…some have even left me smelling like Fruity Pebbles. So the very light herbal tones in this product were a refreshing change. I was also delighted to read the names of so many healing herbs in this blend, including St. John’s wort, nettle, calendula and burdock.

My hands feel well moisturized and ready to take on this crummy season. (Ugh, I am so over winter. Bring on summer!) If you want to toss this product in your purse, buy it online or find it at a store near you.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.  



1/17/2014

Every winter my skin becomes super dry, which is really no surprise. With winter comes low humidity, stripping our skin of its natural moisture and leaving it cracked and more susceptible to damage. So I am constantly slathering my face, hands and feet with some kind of moisturizer. Fortunately I found a great little tub of body butter from the Savannah Bee Company and I’ve been using it to hydrate my skin most of this winter.  

Located in Savannah, Georgia, this company manufactures a luxurious line of beeswax-based body-care products. I’ve tried a few of their other products, and while I enjoyed them they didn't impress me quite as much as this body butter. Rich and creamy, it’s everything you could ask for in a body butter—and it makes an excellent moisturizer for dry skin. Plus, it’s loaded with propolis.

Royal Jelly Body Butter
Photo courtesy Savannah Bee Company

The Benefits of Propolis

Propolis is essentially the glue that holds a beehive together—it’s a combination of beeswax and other secretions with resins from the buds and barks of certain trees. For centuries people have turned to propolis for minor skin ailments such as wounds and itching, as well as other illnesses including cancer, osteoporosis and tuberculosis. Today, old-school beekeepers have been known to chew on a piece of propolis to relieve sore throats. This may sound strange, but it makes sense based on the research—propolis has been shown to have antibiotic and antiseptic properties, and maybe even antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Savannah Bee’s Royal Jelly Body Butter

In this body butter, propolis is used to help nourish and moisturize the skin. The product is also full of royal jelly, a milky secretion produced by worker bees that is rich in lipids, amino acids and proteins; honey, a natural moisturizing humectant; and skin-softening beeswax. Here is its full list of ingredients:

Purified water, organic aloe vera leaf juice, isoamyl laurate, cetearyl alcohol, babassu butter, hydrogenated cocoglycerides, glycerin and raw royal jelly, glyceryl stearate citrate, cupuacu butter, cocoa butter, ethylhexyl olivate, d-panthenol (provitamin b5), sodium behenoyl lactylate, lauryl laurate, olive oil unsaponifiables, propolis extract, fragrance (“blackberry aromatic extract”), pecan oil, shea butter, natural beeswax, orange peel wax, chondrus crispus extract and glucose, sodium levulinate, kaolin (natural rose clay), natural alpha bisabolol, glyceryl caprylate, cetyl hydroxyethyl cellulose, sodium anisate, honey, allantoin, tocopherol (natural vitamin e), sea buckthorn fruit oil, and sodium phytate (naturally derived from rice bran).  

My Thoughts

What I like best about this body butter is how rich and creamy it is. I’ve been rubbing it on my feet every night before I go to bed, then putting on a pair of socks to trap the moisture—I don’t know if this actually does anything, but it’s what my mom always taught me and it seems to work!

Best of all, every ingredient listed in this product shows zero to very little (1) concern, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Its top-billed ingredients are sourced from bees, and the butter’s light berry scent comes from its naturally derived—not synthetic—blackberry aromatic extract. (My husband even noticed the fruity aroma!)

Do not use this thick product as an everyday moisturizer. As most body butters, this is best for areas of your skin that really need that extra dose of moisture such as heels and elbows. Thankfully it doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy, making it even more versatile than other body butters. If you want to keep this product on your nightstand, buy it online for $25.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.  



12/30/2013

Looking to splurge on a new organic skin-care system? I recently started using the ORGO 7 Serums by Organic to Green, which is a seven day skin regimen working to maintain a healthy complexion. If you’re a fan of skin serums, you will love this array of organic formulas.

First things first: What is a serum?

A serum is a lightweight, water-based formulation of natural ingredients. Unlike a facial oil, which is a concentration of pure plant oils (whether it be a single plant or a blend), a serum contains extra beneficial ingredients for the skin such as antioxidants, peptides and skin brighteners. More often than not, serums are brimming with anti-aging ingredients. Varying in texture, some serums should first be layered with a facial oil, cream or other moisturizer as serums can leave your skin feeling slightly sticky.

The best part about a high-quality serum is that most of the fluid is eliminated, leaving you with a high concentration of active ingredients. As such, most serums can cost a pretty penny (active ingredients are typically more expensive than thickeners), but when applied properly a small bottle can last for a long time.

ORGO 7 Serums
Photo courtesy ORGO Beauty

ORGO 7 Serums: Ingredients

This set of seven botanical serums from ORGO targets common skin deficiencies. It includes:

Sunday: Super Hyaluronic Hydration Serum
Designed to increase the suppleness and firmness of skin.
Ingredients include purified water, hyaluronic acid high molecular weight, hyaluronic acid low molecular weight, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Monday: Anti-Aging Multi-Peptide Serum
Designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Ingredients include seaweed extract, purified water, hyaluronic acid, acetyl hexapeptide-8, pentapeptide-18, dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate, acetyl glutamyl heptapeptide-1, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Tuesday: Youth Collagen Serum
Designed to boost the quantity and quality of collagen as we age.
Ingredients include chondrus crispus (seaweed) extract, purified water (aqua), hyaluronic acid, pseudoalteromonas ferment extract, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed soy protein, tripeptide-10 citrulline, tripeptide-1, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Wednesday: Botanical Stem Cell Serum
Designed to increase the longevity of skin cells and prevent wrinkles.
Ingredients include chondrus crispus (seaweed) extract, purified water (aqua), hyaluronic acid, malus domestica fruit cell culture, xanthan gum, glycerin, *lecithin, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Thursday: Antioxidant Plus Red Tea Serum
Designed to protect against pollution and environmental damage.
Ingredients include purified water, hyaluronic acid, red tea extract, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Friday: Oxygen Infusion Serum
Designed to help stimulate skin renewal and blood circulation.
Ingredients include purified water, perfluorodecalin, perfluoro poly methyl isopropyl ether, *isoceteth-20, *phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin

Saturday: Essential Protection Serum
Designed to protect the skin’s barrier.
Ingredients include cyclomethicone, octyl cocoate, dimethiconol, glycoceramides, ceramides, cholesterol

A few ingredients raise moderate concern (*) according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. These include phenoxyethanol (ranks 4), lecithin (ranks 3-4) and isoceteth-20 (ranks 3).

My Thoughts

I loved the variety of products in this set, my favorite probably being the Antioxidant Plus Red Tea Serum—it smelled divine. I also love that ORGO’s products are packaged in reusable glass. Plus, there are seven bottles of skin-beneficial goodies that can easily last you more than a year.

Although the serums are lightweight, my skin was definitely a little sticky after using each one. You will want to layer them with your favorite moisturizer, as is the case with serums in general. Also, you may only want to splurge for this product if you are worried about aging skin. Otherwise, a high-quality blend of more cost-effective facial oils may be suitable for your skin-care needs. Buy this skin-care set for $350 online.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.  



9/11/2013

Green Beauty Event
This year marked the first year of the green products beauty event A Night of Green Beauty.

This past weekend I was able to experience New York Fashion Week in all its girly goodness, as well as the fashion week kick-off natural beauty pop-up event, A Night For Green Beauty. Hosted by La Bella Figura and The Chalkboard Magazine, the green beauty event took place at the James Corbett Studio in the heart of the Flatiron District. It was so wonderful meeting enthusiastic green beauty bloggers and getting acquainted with the many fabulous green beauty brands.

A Night of Green Beauty Products

I’ve gone ahead and compiled just a handful of products that caught my eye at this inaugural event. Here’s hoping it becomes an annual event!

La Bella Figura Skin Aficionado 

La Bella Figura’s Skin Aficionado, $90

This brand new product is a harmonious blend of natural, healing oils, including passionfruit, tea tree and sacha inchi. Rich in plant nutrients and vitamins essential for healthy skin, this beauty product felt light and nourishing on my skin. I would love to incorporate it into my nighttime facial oil ritual.

One Love Organics Chia Whip 

One Love Organics’ Chia Whip, $28

Chia—what a surprising ingredient in a beauty product! This popular superfood is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and fiber, and excels at helping ease digestion. And while I was familiar with these healing powers as a superfood, I was curious about how it could be helpful in my arsenal of body-care products. Evidently, researchers have been investigating its skin benefits for awhile now and found that it may hydrate skin and alleviate itchy skin. I can’t wait to try this fragrance-free foaming cleanser.

May Lindstrom The Good Stuff 

May Lindstrom Skin’s radiance oil “The Good Stuff,” $110

I was probably the most enamored with this high-end beauty product, if not for its luscious scent then for the sexy glow it leaves behind on your skin. Infused with cocoa, rose, lavender, ylang ylang and mica—the mineral that gives this oil its glittery shimmer—this product is both illuminating and hydrating. Although it’s very pricey, I would consider adding it to my beauty shelf, using it sparingly for special occasions.

H. Gillerman Clear Mind 

H. Gillerman Organic’s Clear Mind Jaw Clenching Remedy, $48

This aromatherapy product caught my eye for personal reasons: my dentist is constantly telling me I clench my jaw at night. (I’m sorry doc! I’m not responsible for sleepy Gina! She has a sleepy mind of her own!) So I wonder if this essential oil blend would help me ease up on the clenching. Infused with lavender, palmarosa, vetiver, German chamomile and patchouli essential oil, this earthy roll-on EO blend may help relax facial muscles and relieve headaches.

Ilia Multi Stick 

Ilia’s Multi-Stick “I Put A Spell On You,” $34

What impressed me the most about this line of natural makeup is its wide selection of colors. This company makes beautiful lipsticks, lip crayons, lip balms and lip conditioners that all of the beauty bloggers I met rave about. However, I was most fascinated with their multi-purpose multi-sticks. As a pretty pale person, I am constantly looking for ways to illuminate my cheeks without having to soak up harsh UV rays. This tangerine multi-stick looked so great on my skin in the salon; I think it would also make an excellent addition to my makeup bag for the pending fall!

Are you familiar with any of these companies? Would you add any of these products to your beauty bag? Let me know in the comments below!


Gina DeBacker Headshot

Gina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.  





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