Beauty Products: Make The Change

Your skin is an organ. It sucks up every little bit of lotion and lather you put on it...and it goes straight into your blood stream. For those of you who haven't made the change to "healthy" soaps, lotions, lip balms, etc...please re-think your choice. I just cannot urge you enough to make these changes! It might be hard to switch out an item you've been using since Jr. High...but you just can't afford to continue using these products. Why? The U.S. has a beauty industry that is largely unregulated. Don't believe it? Check out "Not Just a Pretty Face" by Stacy Malkan. Here is a snippet from the book:

Lead in lipstick? 1,4 dioxane in baby soap? Coal tar in shampoo? How is this possible?Simple. The $35 billion cosmetics industry is so powerful that they've kept themselves unregulated for decades.Not one cosmetic product has to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration before hitting the market. Incredible? Consider this:

  • The European Union has banned more than 1,100 chemicals from cosmetics. The United States has banned just 10.
  • Only 11% of chemicals used in cosmetics in the US have been assessed for health and safety – leaving a staggering 89% with unknown or undisclosed effects.
  • More than 70% of all personal care products may contain phthalates, which are linked to birth defects and infertility.
  • Many baby soaps are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical 1,4 dioxane.

Go to Skin Deep before you purchase anything. Don't assume that just because it's on the shelf at the Target and it has a really cool "organic looking" package that it's good for you and your children. Packaging is meant to be mesmerizing...they want you to buy their products. But don't be fooled. Be a label reader! Look past the pretty bottle and really examine what you are buying.

I was looking for something tonight on the site and came across a few of these "favorites". They might not be your favorites after you read on...

Bath and Body Works Cucumber Melon Anti-Bacterial Soap

Suave Men's Shampoo

Blixtex Lip Balm

Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo

Do your research and choose items that have very few ingredients and that you can pronounce. That will narrow it down to just a few lines of now your choices are much easier! :) Go for Aubrey Organics, or a line of locally homemade items (one of my favorites is Prairieland Herbs...check out their Cheek Gloss!). Better yet...learn how to make your own products and you'll save money too!

Photo credit: Auntie P/Flickr Creative Commons

Local vs. Organic

Do you know where your food comes from? Do you know how many miles your apple traveled so you could crunch on it's juicy goodness? You should. I read labels like it's going out of style (was it ever IN style?). I want to know where my food is produced. I've been known to come home from the grocery store and look up the farm who has their sticker on my avocado.

Luckily for me, Montana and the surrounding states have a huge number of organic farms. AND, if it's not organic, it's local. BUT SARA! Aren't we always supposed to eat organic so we don't die a horrible pesticide-induced death? Well...yes. However, buying local has many, many advantages. I love going to the farmer's market and meeting the farmer's face to face. When I eat that delicious, red, tomato...I know who picked it. If the farm is not certified organic, I am able to just ask the farmer what they use on their produce. There were several vendors in Iowa at the Farmer's Market who were not certified, but did not use pesticides. You just have to ask. However, it's harder to call up the corporate farm in California what they used on their crops.

I started thinking more about buying local foods when I found the 100-mile diet site. It's radical and wonderful. I love my avocados and bananas a little too much to do it, but I love the concept. Last summer when we had a share in our local CSA, I experienced a little of what it might be like to eat 100% local and 100% in season. When the tomatoes were done, they were done. You better savor it now, because pretty soon, they won't grow anymore! Boo hoo! But it made me appreciate the food so much more. Someday, I would love to grow all of our food...canning and preserving along the way to sustain us through the winter. Oh, and I want to live in a sweet yurt. But that's another blog.

On my most recent trip to the coop, I was looking at salsa and I was disappointed because almost all of them were made by "big organics" (companies who are owned by a larger, nastier corporation...i.e. Boca, which is owned by Phillip Morris! Oh the horrors!). So I turned around and in the cooler, I found a yummy, bright red salsa made just a few miles north of town! It was not organic, but in that case, I would much rather support my local grower than Muir Glen...which is owned by General Mills. It also tasted so much better than the jarred variety.

I walked over to the bread section and I made sure to grab 2 loaves made locally by Wheat Montana instead of the Rudy's, which I used to buy. They aren't organic, but they have the ingredients I look for and no added sugars...except honey. AND, they are made right here. We also have a delicious bakery just a few blocks from our house called On the Rise...and I buy yummy crusty bread from them.

If I can't find something completely local, I go for the next best thing...the surrounding states. I will choose Oregon, North Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin over other states. Be sure to READ your labels! Every mile your food travels (a.k.a. food miles) to get to you is gasoline being burned and resources being used up. Most sources say that the average piece of produce travels about 1,200 miles to get to your plate. Yuck! I just don't like the thought of all my food traveling in a truck to get to me. I especially don't like thinking about buying food from other countries. How do I know that those organic grapes from Chile are truly organic...and who knows what kind of residues are on them from the trip. Call me paranoid. Just another reason to buy close to home or grow your own.

When we are thinking about going out to eat...we try to always think about where the restaurant is getting their food as well. We have a great Farm to Restaurant program here...and most of the places we support buy locally, and some are organic too. We have so many amazing local restaurants here...the food is so fresh and perfectly prepared. Living in a tourist town has it's perks.

To sum it up...buying local is tastier, better for your local economy, and great for your body. If you can find something that is local AND organic, life is good. KNOW your food. KNOW your farms. Where you put your grocery money is as important as your vote! Be informed about your food choices.


I love Ecolips lip balm. It is the BEST out there, hands down. And believe me, I've tried them all. Imagine my utter glee when I found out that a friend of mine is friends with the owners! She told me one day..."I have tons that I can give you when you need it". Oh the joy! So I filed that little piece of info away until today. I had been meaning to get lip balm for several weeks, but kept putting it off because I didn't want to spend money on it. Then I remembered my friend, gave her a call, and voila! I have new goodies for my chapped lips. And even though it would have been "allowed" on the Compact (under the health exception), it was great to get it for free!

They are environmentally friendly, organic, local (for me)...pretty much fabulous all around. They have a really great story and get rave reviews in the press. Check them out and get your own today!