Sunday, 30 October 2011

Skincare Chemicals to Avoid: 1,4-Dioxane


I dont know if anyone has noticed, but it has been a little while since my last post on the nasty chemicals we should try to avoid in skincare. So lets try to take a peek into what is really going on in our products behind the branded facade.
Today's victim is 1,4-Dioxane, a clear liquid that dissolves in water. It is usually used as a solvent in chemical processing. For example, it is used in things like adhesives, cleaning and detergent preparations, varnishes, polishing compositions, and after all this it is also used (wait for it!...) in cosmetics and deodorant fumigants. 
People can be exposed to this chemical through inhalation, oral (food/water consumption) and dermal contact through the use of contaminated products such as cosmetics or shampoo. 
1,4-Dioxane is considered to be a probable human cancerogen. It has been shown to easily penetrate skin. In addition, 1,4-Dioxane is listed as an animal cancerogen by the National Toxicology Program. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics highlights that perhaps using one contaminated product once in a while may not cause serious harm, but considering how many products we use each day and every day, it all adds up... 
You may think: well that does not sound very pleasant, I shall avoid it! The problem is that 1,4 Dioxane is actually a by-product, it is formed as an impurity in the manufacture process of alkyl ether sulfates or other ethoxylated substances used in products like cosmetics, detergents and shampoos. The process of ethoxylation involves adding ethylene oxide (a known canerogen!) to other chemicals in the product to make them less harsh. The funny thing is that because it is a contaminant by-product, 1,4-Dioxane does not have to be listed on the ingredients list, so it is quite hard to know whether it is present or not. In terms of personal care products, it is reported that it is likely to be present in products that create suds, like shampoo, bubble bath and some soaps. It is reported that high percentages of all products from these categories contain 1,4-Dioxane. Horrifyingly, an independent test in 2007 revealed that many popular brands of children's bubble bath and body wash contained the chemical. 
It is possible for companies not to produce 1,4-Dioxane. For example, they can vacuum-strip it from the ethoxylated product or just not do the ethoxylation process by using non-harsh ingredients from the start. It is not allowed to ethoxylate under organic standards. So if you purchase a certified organic product, it should be safe to know that it does not contain 1,4-Dioxane. It is also possible to search for products that contain no known impurities on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Lip Colour Variations: RMS and Ilia Beauty

I found that the most difficult thing about getting new natural and organic products instead of the 'dirty' ones is that many of the brands are only available online. So, that makes  it a bit difficult in deciding on the right consistency of a cream, but even more difficult in deciding on the suitable colour when buying make-up. 
So I decided to do a little post on the colours of my favourite brands, RMS beauty and Ilia

RMS beauty Lip2Cheek:
I was in love with RMS Lip2Cheek in Modest for a while now. I was not too afraid of buying it online, as it seemed a soft dark pink colour that would suit pretty much everyone. I was however quite intrigued by their Rapture colour, it seemed to be an intense, dark, almost brick-red colour. But how can you  be sure, and how will it look on you? I got a sample of Rapture, and it is truly a very deep dark red colour. Initially I thought I would not be able to wear it. What is good about RMS products however, is that you can play around with how much you put on. With Rapture, you can dab a tiny amount on your lips and it will give life and warmth to your lips, apply another sweep and you will get deep, dark red evening look. 
Then I thought, well I really like Modest, but sometimes it would be nice to add more depth to it. Easy! Just add/mix up Modest with Rapture (depending on what effect you would like to create). Here I have a photo of Rapture on its own at the top, followed by Modest, and then about 50/50 mix of the two:

RMS Lip2Cheek in Rapture, Modest and mix of the two

No matter how hard I try to get an accurate picture of the real colours it never looks quite right. This is as close as I could get it. It does look similar, maybe Rapture is a little more brick-red and Modest is a little bit more 'dark pink'. 
If you are more interested in a lighter, more pinky and less intense lip colour, check out the lovely RMS lip shine in Bloom: gives your lips a little bit of a sheer pinky glow:
RMS Lip Shine in Bloom

Ilia Lipsticks
Finally, if you are looking for a real wonder-product, check out Ilia lipsticks. One sweep gives you a little bit of colour,  while moisturizing and nourishing your lips. And a few more sweeps provide an intense and beautiful stain. I have Ilia in Bang Bang, and when you open it it is bright red. I put one layer on in the day just to moisturize my lips, and then if I want more colour, just sweep some more on! So, it is a moisturizing lip tint and a proper red lipstick all in one!
Ilia in Bang Bang
The above colours show the difference between just one sweep (above) and a few. The real colour is a little bit more scarlet red than what it came out on the picture. I hope it was useful anyhow, despite all the 'but the real colour looks more...'.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Apodea Body Emulsion for overall skin softness

Apodea Organics is an Italian brand of natural high-quality products that combine many  active ingredients: honey and propolis are important components of the line. The company was founded by the Rossi family, who started the line with the now best-selling propolis balm. They then extended their  line and developed more products that contained their key ingredients: honey, propolis and beeswax mixed up with a selection of other lovely natural ingredients. Propolis and honey have well-known moisturizing, anticeptic and healing properties. Most of the bee-produced ingredients of the products are made on Apodea farm in Umbria, Italy. The bees are truly looked after: they fly freely around the wild plants, no harmful pesticides are used on the farm, bees wings are not clipped and they are never fed with sugar solution. 
All Apodea products are free from GMOs, synthetic fragrances and colouring, propellants and are never tested on animals. The whole range is approved by Detemer International certification, which have a separate certification for bee-based products. They provide stringent guidelines about how the bees must be kept and how the products must be made. For example, it prohibits wing clipping of bees, the wax cannot come in contact with any thinners or solvents etc, honey extraction must not exceed 35 C, any pollen substitutes are forbidden... and these are just a few examples of the strict rules that apply!

Apodea was kind enough to send me a full-sized bottle (125 ml) of their Body Emulsion. Upon opening the package I found the lovely matte glass bottle with a pump. It came at a really good time, as I was out of body moisturizer. As advised, I have been using the emulsion on slightly damp skin after a shower, and I must admit the result has been fantastic. The cream is dark creamy-yellowy colour and is quite light, not super rich. You need to rub it around for a bit for it to get fully absorbed, but it does not take long at all. I usually have normal skin, but perhaps due to approaching winter, central heating etc, my skin was on the dry side the last few weeks. In all honesty I was very impressed by how it performed: my skin was silky smooth and soft. I especially liked applying it to my hands, they became deliciously soft! I would not say that the emulsion has a strong aroma: it has a subtle smell of healthy propolis/honey balanced by other ingredients with an addition Sicilian lemon oil. It does leave a pleasant scent on your skin, not over-powering at all, and I really liked it: smelt very natural. 
Overall, I cannot stress enough how impressed I was with this delicious body emulsion. It is suitable for all skin types: not too rich for oilier skin, but fantastically moisturizing, enough for dry skin. I am now very keen to try out their other products, I think their best-selling propolis balm will be my first purchase! Apodea Organics can be ordered from

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Antipodes Organic Avocado oil & Rosehip

As you may know, I think avocados are absolutely amazing for overall health and skin. I included them in my post about food for skin, and my favourite moisturizer is Pai's Avocado and Jojoba cream for normal skin. However, even though avocados contain healthy Omegas, great antioxidant properties and Vitamins A, D and E, it is not that easy to find a skin product based on avocado.
So, I was thrilled to see a lovely natural brand Antipodes have a few avocado-based products. There were very kind to send me a full-sized Avocado oil and Rosehip to try out and review. I was delighted to see a company use the full potential of avocado oil in its pure and unchanged form and have now been using it for over two weeks. Before I go into the details of this product, let's hear a little bit about the company itself. 
Antipodes is a company from New Zealand. They carefully select and use the bioactive native plant extracts for their skincare. Their products are certified organic with AsureQuality Ltd, which is the leading provider of food safety and bio-security in the southern hemisphere. As we know, it is important to know the standards of each certifying body. For a product to be certified organic by AssureQuality, it has to contain 100% natural ingredients, and 70-95% of them have to be organic, with strict criteria on all the remaining ingredients. The thing I was most impressed with in Antipodes products is their ingredients lists. Yes, it is important that they are organic and natural. But what sets it apart from others further is the interesting, exotic and exciting ingredients combinations that the company formulates. For example, the use of avocado oil is present in great many of their products. It is anti-aging, rich in nutrients and antioxidants, and mega-hydrating. They further use interesting and unusual ingredients in their skincare, such as vinanza grape (improves skin elasticity), kiwi seed (tissue repair & hydration), manuka honey (anti-wrinkle), totara (great anti-bacterial activity), kowhai flower (moisturizing), chamomile, carrot seed among many impressive others!
I used the Divine Avocado Oil & Rosehip for about 2 weeks, mostly in the evenings after cleaning my face and before moisturizing, you just need a couple of drops for the whole face. It has been amazing for my normal skin. The oil is light yellow colour, does not have a strong scent. It consists of a combination of pure avocado, macadamia, jojoba, rosehip, jasmine, and orange oils. The combination of these oils is said to be collagen-boosting, helping to reduce appearance of lines, and scars. It is also recommended for blemishes and sun-damage.  Since using the oil my skin appears more fresh and glowing, even when tired. It feels like you are feeding your skin when using this oil. I have noticed that even if blemishes broke out, using the oil made them heal and disapear much quicker. Even though this oil is suitable for all skin types, I think it would also be especially great for dry skin, as it is very moisturizing and nourishing. Overall, I found this a great oil to use in addition to a moisturizer to give the skin that extra nourishment,  particularly great for the coming winter! 

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Multitask! RMS raw coconut cream

Did you ever wish that you would not need so many products in your barthroom cabinet? No separate bottle for a moisturizer, one for body cream, one for make-up remover, one for eye make-up remover and so on... it could just go on forever.
Well, not sure if it can substitute absolutely everything, but RMS raw coconut cream can definitely free up quite a bit of space! As you may know already, Rose-Marie Swift, creator of RMS beauty, developed her make up range to create non-toxic, natural, organic, raw products. Keeping ingredients raw is very important, it means that the precious ingredients such as plant oils are cold-pressed and never heat- or chemical-treated. I went on about the magic Un-cover up (concealer/foundation in a little pot that lasts months and months) and the amazingly natural Lip2Cheek colours here.
The raw coconut oil comes in a lovely matte white jar, in the style of all other RMS products: simple, no loud and bright labels. The consistency of the oil changes with temperature. It is in quite hard form at cool room temperature and below. When it is like that you kind of have to scrape it out with your fingers, and it will melt between your fingers. As it is cold in my house all the time, whatever the weather outside, I usually have the oil in this shape. However, in the summer I went to a warmer climate (which incidentally was in a more northern place) and the coconut cream did become liquid. It is advised that if it melts you can pop it in the fridge, but I actually found it easier using it in a more liquid form. 
So, what is so great about coconut oil? Well, as I mentioned in my healthy oils post, coconut oil is very moisturizing, and very easily absorbed through skin, therefore not leaving a oily residue. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral, which makes it great for acne-prone skin. 
Now the uses of coconut oil: there are so many! My favourite use of the oil is for make up removal. The great thing is that you can use in on eyes as well, it is gentle but effective enough to remove all make up and dirt. I just melt a bit on my fingers, and rub it around my face and them remove it with a cotton pad. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer, especially for dry patches, like elbows, heels and legs. It can be used as a hair treatment: put some oil on the ends, leave for 30 mins or overnight and wash out; result: beautiful moisturized hair. Some report coconut oil being used as a deodorant too. In addition it can be used as a eye cream, massage oil, lip balm, hair gel/style, to relieve skin problems such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema, acne treatment, for healing of scars, treatment of bug bites... And unlike some other oils it smells absolutely delicious! Not bad for one little pot?!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Tata Glow

I have recently been sent a sample of Tata Harper Rebuilding Mosturizer with my previous purchases at Being Content in London. It was a little pot, although somewhat bigger than other samples I've had. I wanted to give this cream a try as the lovely and small yellow-green tubes caught my eye. I did not have high expectations, as I thought, what could be new?
Well, I have to admit, hands down I have not been so impressed with a beauty product in a long long time! I have been using the small pot for about 5 days now, and still have some left! 
In all seriousness, after a day of using the moisturizer, my skin, which had a rough patch last week, was looking glowing! I don't think I ever had that before. The moisturizer is dark creamy colour, not too think, just glides on your skin, and literally soaks in, without leaving a residue or leaving your skin wanting more. The fact that I needed the tiniest amount of cream for my whole face shows just how concentrated the product is. That took my worry about the small size of their product bottles far far away. I've read some reviews on the internet saying that the aroma of the product (made from natural oils and extracts) was over-powering, but I did not find this to be so at all. It has a light refreshing natural scent. The product is 70.23% EcoCert certified organic, 100% natural. It includes some delicious ingredients such as mango butter, aloe leaf juice, calendula flower, rose water, willow bark extract, alfalfa flower, borage flower, witch hazel among many others. 
Tata Harper realized the potential harm of nasty chemicals in our everyday skincare after her stepfather was diagnosed with cancer, and his doctor gave him instructions not to use most of his existing products due to their chemical content. So, that was how the idea for creating a natural luxury line was born. Tata grows many of her ingredients right on her 1,200 acre farm in Vermont, where everything is handpicked and the products are made on site in small batches to keep things fresh and natural. All of the work on the products, including formulation, packaging, marketing and distribution are carried out in-house, which is so rare these days, even for a natural brand. The aim of the line was to make a luxury skincare brand which is also 100% natural and non-toxic, so that women do not have to sacrifice their health to have beautiful youthful skin. 
Tata carried out research on the ingredients for 5 years before launching the line. She traveled around the world meeting world's best botanists, chemists and different experts. Through her quest she collected some of the most exquisite and beneficial ingredients the earth has to offer to develop the brand's own formulations from scratch. 
The line consists of Regenerating cleanser, Replenishing cleanser, Refreshing cleanser Hydrating Floral Essence, Rebuilding moisturizer, Repairative moisturizer, Rejuvenating serum, Resurfacing mask, Restorative Eye cream, Revitalizing Body oil, Strengthening body lotion and some aromatic treatments. I would really love to try out the face mask and one of the cleansers.
In some ways unfortunately, these lovely products come with a rather high price tag. For example, the moisturizer that I tried  out costs £80. Of course it is really expensive, but no one would think of accusing La Prairie for making their products expensive, because they are a well-known luxury brand. But Tata Harper is also a luxury brand, as to use handpicked, home grown exquisite ingredients costs money, there is no other way around it. So if you are looking for an amazing natural product that delivers, and can afford it, I think these products can definitely deliver the promised Tata Glow

My little sample