Making a Non-Toxic Life – Part 3: Going Deeper: Hair Care

So you have an overall plan and some resources to use. Here are some things to do in further support of a non toxic life specific to hair care. We don’t know very many people who can do all those things. The point is to consider and incorporate what you can. Every little change brings incremental benefits to your health, and the health of those around you.

Use unscented products or products scented with essential oils. The terms Fragrance or Parfum mean chemical blends. Essential oils have qualities that can help scalp health.

Use a mild shampoo. Avoid shampoos containing anything Lauryl or Laureth Sulfate.

shampooingShampoo as infrequently as possible. Even the mildest shampoo strips oils. If you have dry hair, you don’t need more drying. If you tend toward oily hair, frequent shampooing creates a cycle in which the scalp increases production of oils in response to every wash. Then you feel like you need to wash more often!

Keep conditioner off your scalp and wash it off your body. Conditioners are true chemical soups, and any way you can avoid letting it in through your skin will help.

Instead of conditioner use Frizz Tamer on ends, or a Vinegar Rinse for detangling. Then use an oil treatment bi-weekly for deep conditioning. Commercial conditioners give great short term results, and you may need that. But over the long haul, they are damaging to both you and your hair. If it’s possible to do without the chemicals, you’ll benefit.

When you buy hand made products direct from the maker, you can also avoid chemical preservatives. (Herbaliz of course!)

Herbal Vinegar Hair RinseComb or brush out hair from the ends up. If you start to the top of your head and pull down, you create snarls. For some people, starting at the ends and moving the brush up an inch at a time can eliminate the need for a detangling product.

Avoid hair spray and styling products, if you can. If you can’t, use as little as possible and be sure to read the labels to find the least toxic option.

Surrender to the hair you have and find the best style it can provide. Coloring, permanents and straightening all have negative side effects. And all kinds of hair can be beautiful. We know not everyone is willing or able to do this, and that’s fine- it’s our hair!. Seek the “least bad” versions of products or methods for doing these things. But not doing them at all can save time, money and improve your health.

Even doing one or two of these things can make a big difference.

Building a Non-Toxic Life: Part 2 – Resources

These are just a few of the resources that may be of interest.

The SkinDeep Database—Want to find out if your products are safe? Look up a product by name. Look up an ingredient. The database contains information about possible health concerns, which products contain it, and other names the ingredient may go by. Pick a category (toothpaste? shampoo?) and peruse product ratings.  Search by company. (Search for Herbaliz. We rate!) Their parent site ewg.org can help you detoxify beyond body care.

The Happy Healthy Home: 30 Ways to Live Healthier At Home is an ebook compiled by FilterBuy. It is downloadable as a PDF. It has health and wellness tips from top experts on personal health and home environment. It’s an easy read and a great guide to help people focus on how to prioritize where they want to start their wellness journey. (Herbaliz is mentioned on page 72 by the author as a go-to source.)

A page on the Herbaliz website called “Ingredients to Avoid” can be helpful if you decide to go the route of eliminating a particular toxic ingredient, or just use it as a reference. It lists toxic chemicals commonly found in body care products and tells you briefly a bit about why they are used and what problems they can cause.

If you feel that you need a personal touch, there are actually people who can visit, assess your house, recommend priorities, and suggest options. Michelle Berkley, of Pure Products We Love, will work with you on a personal basis. She will examine what you are being exposed to through an in-depth evaluation. (See Herbaliz on her products page.) There are others as well, all over the country.

Social media also gives you the opportunity to stay abreast of green space folks who make “clean green” their point of reference. On Twitter, check out @cleanmamablog and @groovygreenlivi. On Facebook, we like The Healthy Home Economist as well as The Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Visit our Links page for even more resources.

For all body care needs we recommend Herbaliz of course!

Building a Non-Toxic Life – Part 1: Prioritizing

Every so often I get a call from a person who is completely overwhelmed by the discovery that their house and their lives are filled with toxins. This encompasses cleaning products, laundry detergents, furniture, and of course…personal beauty products.

They want to eliminate the toxins from their lives but don’t know where to start, or how best to prioritize. Panic has set in, and they are on the verge of throwing everything they own out the window! Of course doing that is not practical, economical or ecologically helpful.

Some planning is in order. Here are some suggestions for how to start.

Change whatever you are running out of now. It’s much easier to investigate and make changes one item at a time.  It’s easier to develop a research process that works for you and less wasteful this way as well.

Pick whatever may bring the next biggest reward. Toxicity runs on a continuum, so not everything may need to go, and some changes will reap greater benefits than others.

  • If there are young children in the household, focus on products that they use. Developing bodies and brains are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of toxins.
  • Switching to unscented laundry products can have a huge impact for everyone in the family, since clothing, sheets and towels come in contact with your skin 24/7. “Fragrance” includes thousands of toxic chemicals.
  • Change your body lotion or any product that you put all over your body. We, of course, suggest Herbaliz creams and lotions! They not only have no toxins, they also include herbs that work to improve your health.
  • Changing shampoo and hair conditioner can help, especially if you wash your hair in the shower, because the products will rinse over your whole body. Hair conditioners are among the most toxic body care products.

Other thoughts to help break the process down into manageable bites include making one change a month or picking one toxin to focus on.

The important thing is to not get so overwhelmed that you don’t do anything.

Coming months will be about resources and more specific actions that can help you reach your goals. In the meantime do one thing!

A Great Month for the Environment

This April, lots of eyeballs were on the environment.

April 22 was both Earth Day and the March for Science. On April 29, crowds of people gathered in Washington, D.C., and around the
country, to show their support for keeping the planet healthy and alive. The 2017 People’s Climate March once again proved that there is growing awareness of the choices we face.

honeysuckleWorking with flowers and herbs, I am particularly in tune with the beauty and importance of nature. Our culture has become overwhelmed with toxic chemicals, to the extent that it has permeated food, household products, and the items we use for personal care. When I go into my garden, I feel an immediate connection with the plants, insects, and birds that are a part of an interrelated system of life.

Globally, resources continue to diminish because we are not thinking ahead.  Species are vanishing, rainforests are under threat, and extreme weather events indicate there is a growing shift in the climate situation. 2015 was the warmest year on record.

Herbaliz is proud that every product we make is free of toxic chemicals. We know that what you put on your skin is absorbed into your body and impacts your health.

It’s clear that we all must play a part in moving the needle towards sustainability. Together, we can all generate a change that will benefit ourselves and future generations.

The Controversy Around Talcum Powder

I have recently been asked by customers about whether I am familiar with the news stories about potential connections between talcum powder products and ovarian cancer.

It is well documented in the public domain that numerous lawsuits have been filed against the mega giant Johnson & Johnson. These cases have alleged that particles of talcum powder have been found in the ovaries of women with ovarian cancer. Women were using one of three products by Johnson & Johnson: Talc, Baby Powder, or Shower to Shower.

The items were purchased for the purpose of “feminine hygiene.” Women were looking for the benefit of absorbing moisture and preventing rashes, as well as dusting their diaphragms with it. It turns out that the use of these products in the genital area shows an increased risk for epithelial ovarian cancer.

How much of a risk? Depends on what doctors’ comments you read, or what jury is sitting on the case.

Why add this to your worry list? Our Herbal Silk Body Powder contains certified organic cornstarch and arrowroot instead, so you don’t have to be concerned about its safety. You can achieve the results you seek without the dangers of talc.

Labels Are Important

In today’s fast moving world, labels serve as an announcement to customers. They are a short-hand way to describe a brand and who they are.

The labels we use on our products have an artistic representation of plants and botanicals, the basis of our products.

We also have a grouping of logos under our social media tools.  These reference certifications by key groups in the environmentally active health and beauty industry.

Herbaliz is a certified business with Green America, which stands as a stamp of recognition for “environmental sustainability and social justice.”

There is a cruelty-free icon which signifies Herbaliz is in a searchable database compiled by Peta. It confirms that we do not test on animals. (Ugh. Do companies still do that?)

We have signed on to the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, which is under the umbrella of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The Environmental Workers Group (EWG) features the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, which lists eighty-eight of our products. Our scores all hit the Number 1 category: the “Low Hazard” rating. When you click on those products on our website, we also have their rating listed. The goal behind this database is to clarify the safety of common synthetic ingredients and chemicals used in body care products.

The SkinDeep ratings often show that “data is limited.” The data to which they refer is in scientific studies done onchemicals. Little study has gone into real botanical ingredients because they have been used without negative side effects for hundreds of years.

Herbaliz is allowed to post the “Truth in Labeling” seal because we follow all the criteria set out by The Natural Ingredient Resource Center (NIRC).

Please check out these links to learn more. This is our way to let folks know:  who we are, where we stand, and how we strive to be an active part of the larger environmental community.

It’s a way of saying to you that it is possible to do business and do the right thing.

Thanks for your support in making the world a better place!

Thanksgiving: Appreciating the Natural World

While Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to take a deeper look at what we can connect to beyond a table laden with food.

As a person who is intimately involved with plants and herbs, I have a strong respect for the special gifts that come from our earth.

Sage being wonderful in stuffing...The Thanksgiving story I was taught back in grade school was greatly oversimplified. I didn’t learn much about the Indigenous tribe, the Wampanoag, who helped the Pilgrims survive. They were well established in the Massachusetts vicinity and had a full comprehension of their environment and believed in an interdependence with the natural world.

Through observation, they monitored the patterns and cycles of animals, plants, and weather. Their philosophy was to live in harmony with nature and to respect the interconnection between all living things.

Native Americans used crop rotation and irrigation methods before the arrival of the Europeans. For them, a key belief was to take only those parts needed when they were harvesting plants. There was an understanding that elements had to be left to regenerate growth for the following year.

An intuitive comprehension of “sustainability” and working in partnership and harmony with the surrounding ecosphere was key to the Indigenous way of life. (It still is, as Native Americans are leading the national fight as water defenders against intrusive fossil fuel pipelines.)

Our planet faces the challenge of pollution, an overabundance of toxic chemicals in our daily lives, and the exploitation of natural resources with little thought about future generations.

yarrowHerbaliz wants to take time out to give thanks to the unlimited varieties of vegetation that are available to us from aloe to yarrow.

I also want to express my appreciation to the customers who share our philosophy, and are doing their part to support a positive way of interacting with the planet.

So on Thanksgiving, take time to have a quiet moment to reflect on the beauty of our natural habitat and all that it gives to us.

Halloween Hobgoblins: Toxins in Your Personal Care Products

October has always been a time to look forward to falling leaves, crisp air, and the fun of Halloween. Yet this month, I have other scary things on my mind beyond witches and ghosts.

Extreme weather has brought Hurricane Matthew, which has battered and devastated people from Haiti to the United States. Closer to home, I continue to be concerned about the multitude of toxins in our environment, homes, and products. I am encouraged though by the initiatives that grassroots activism has pushed through.

A recent example is the new Chemical Safety law signed by President Obama in June of this year. In addition to correcting shortcomings in the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), one of its key goals is to foster greater “public transparency for chemical information.”

Ingredients to Avoid CardOn the Herbaliz website, we have a page devoted to Toxins to Avoid, a topic I feel strongly about. (We also offer a wallet card listing chemicals to steer clear of.) Some of these substances are better known culprits than others. Yet, too many still show up in allegedly “natural products.” Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, is most frequently used in soaps and shampoos. Ethanolamine compounds (DEA, MEA, TEA), when absorbed through the skin, accumulate in body organs and have been linked with an increased incidence of kidney and liver cancers.

That’s more frightening than a witch’s curse! When you see ghouls, vampires and Darth Vaders walking around on Halloween, you know they are the bad guys.

Unfortunately, there are individuals in the beauty and cosmetic industries – lurking in the shadows – who still implement the use of cruel experiments on animals to test their products. To fight this, three members of Congress (not wearing costumes!), Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Don Beyer (D-VA), Joe Heck (R-NV) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), are backing The Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2858) which “prohibits testing cosmetics on animals.”

Puppy with pumpkinsHerbaliz is sharing the Humane Society petition to encourage action in contacting local law makers on this bill. It’s easy: a phone call, an e-mail, and a shout out on Social Media will do the trick.

Happy Halloween!