natural living

Child’s Play – Naturally Clean

I’m a new mum and have a son Luke, who is now 5 months old. While I’m shopping, I find myself lately looking at the back of packaging to see what the products are made of (or what’s not in them)… sulfates, YES. Parabens, NO. Fragrance YES, chemicals NO! …..

As a chemist, I have to giggle when I see the words “Natural”, “Organic” and especially “Chemical Free”, as my definition of these words are vastly different to the creators or marketers of these brands, but this is a conversation for another Blog!

What I do love however, and support totally is the philosophy or “story” behind many of these brands. Everyday mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents etc, using children and nature as the inspiration of many new and exciting skin care brands.

What I appreciate even more, especially because I’m a cosmetic chemist, is the difficulty in creating products that are totally “Certified Organic” and developing them to look, feel and smell appealing.

One particular brand that has achieved this successfully is “LITTLE INNOSCENTS”. What a great name, great colours and “scents” to match… The green Hair & Body Wash Liquid was my favourite. It smelt so refreshing and Luke didn’t mind it either!

So their philosophy is to provide a totally 100% certified organic skin care range for babies and toddlers, especially if they have sensitive and problem skin. This range claims Hypo-allergenic and “suitable for even the most sensitive skin types”, however I didn’t really see anywhere on the product or the website that the products were professionally tested on sensitive skin. The range does have a fun look and minimal ingredients, which I am a BIG fan of!
Beware …. Some essential oils, although “natural”, […]

Calendula Petals

The petals of Calendula Officinalis  are a beautiful addition to any cosmetic kitchen because of their bright, life-affirming colour and their beautiful rich green floral aroma (their fragrance is definately floral but it has a strong herbalness to it giving it a green rather than flowery heart).  Ancient apothecaries cite Calendula as a treatment for many conditions of  ill health  including wound healing, suppression of muscular cramps,  managing infection and repairing of  chapped skin.  However, we just love the fact that it makes our bath bags smell and look great!

Lush – Personal Care Play Time!

While in the city this week I was lured into Lush by the dizzying array of odours, colours and weirdly shaped personal care objects.  Lush has always been a bit of a favourite of mine as back in the days when I first started out in the cosmetics industry they were one of my customers.  In fact, one of my very first trips ‘on the road’ as a rep was to Lush’s  workshop in Poole, Dorset.  The office was a huge mass of brain-storming posters, Dr Martin’s boots and multi-coloured hair.  These guys had and still have a spunky, try-anything once kind of attitude and I like that in a company! 

Anyway, back to this week and I was on the lookout for new ideas!   I was not disappointed. 

Natural Hair Dyes: Caca Henna treatment. 

So, the last time I put henna on my blondish locks it turned a rather “Sainsbury’s”  (English supermarket) shade of Orange. This wasn’t too bad as I was a uni student at the time but the look was hardly going to catch on.   Fellow blondies may also find Henna a bit too ‘red’  but for anyone with brown, auburn or black hair this may be just what you are looking for. 

Henna is sourced from the plant Lawsonia Inermis, a plant who’s essential oil  contains over thirty six different chemical components (as identified in a research paper published in the Journal of Essential Oil Research.   In addition to that it contains a chemical called Lawsone or 2-hydroxy-1, 4-napthoquinone and it is this that enables us to use henna as a dye for anything that contains protein. 

The Lawsone reacts with the protein found in both skin and hair to produce a long-lasting stain. This time taken for the stain to develop can be […]

Children of the Revolution – One Skin, One Planet.

Rachel Carson is often credited as the voice that started the environmental movement with the launch of her book  ‘The Silent Spring’ in 1962.  That was 46 years ago and the only thing that has changed in that time is the environment. The situation has worsened as our lifestyle choices, the ever swelling mass of humanity and its global consumerist culture cut deeply into this place that we call home.  With everything we do playing a part in our overall “carbon footprint” or “ecological impact”  it is not surprising that many of us become overwhelmed and then paralyzed into inaction believing that no one person can change the world.  While that may well be true, what is also true is that when we dip our toe into the environmental pool, the ripples that we create are far reaching. And if we all dip in a toe or two,  we have the power to create a global Tsunami of positive energy. Now I want to be a part of that!

About once every five or six weeks I facilitate a workshop for the Watershed in Newtown covering the in’s and out’s of natural personal care. The Watershed is a hub of sustainable living information and runs a whole range of workshops from how to set up your own worm farm to how to make your own skin cream. I love being a part of such a positive and active organization and love meeting the people who come along to be inspired or to share their stories.  I am passionate about the planet that we call home and wanted to share my story with the Realize Beauty readership – especially as my story involves cosmetics!

I have been […]

The Essence of Life – Essential Oils

Our poll this week is about essential oils.  Plant essenses and oils have been used in traditional medicine and personal care  throughout history. Today they can be found in the form of natural actives in mass market cosmetic products, as fragrance ingredients, as flavours and blended in oil bases for massage.

Share your essential oil experiences with us and take part in our weekly poll –  Our favourites are Rosalina, Tea Tree and Tasmanian Lavender – Find out more about our favourite oils here.

Nitrosamines – Where they are and where they are not!

The internet is great. You can post what you like when you like and in no time at all you have created for yourself an urban myth. No need to worry that you are not a chemist or toxicologist or doctor or anything, post a good enough story and people will believe you!

Where they are not.

Well I am happy to be proved wrong but I can’t see ANYWHERE that Sodium Laureth Sulphate or Sodium Lauryl Sulphate are in any way shape or form Nitrosatable surfactants. I doubt that many will believe this because typing “nitrosamines” into google gives you over 327,000 hits.  In that mass of data are a frightening number of articles sighting SLES and SLS as dangerous due to their propensity to form nitrosamines.

As a chemist I have dug around on this one. How can SLS or SLES be Nitrosatable and create nitrosamines? They don’t even contain the element nitrogen in their structure – look for yourself on the wikipedia SLS entry.  Nitrogen is not even used in the manufacture of either products so it would even be hard for nitrosamines to be present as contaminants. Dioxane yes, nitrosamine NO.

Now, it is true that some surfactants are nitrosatable. A patent listed on Free Patents Online: Chemical compositions for inhibiting nitrosation reaction in toiletries and cosmetics outlines which surfactants could react to form nitrosamines. Here is an extract:

” Nitrosatable surfactants include anionic surfactants such as the triethanolamine salt of C12/C14 fatty alcohol sulphate, triethanolamine salt of lauryl ether sulphonate, triethanolamine/diethanolamine salt of dodecylbenzene sulphonate, triethanolamine/ diethanolamine salt of cetyl phosphate, triethanolamine salt of dioctylsulphosuccinate, sodium-N-lauroyl sarcosinate, sodium-N-methyl-N-alkyl taurate, and sodium-N-octadecyl succinamate; amphoteric surfactants such as cocoamphocarboxylglycinate and cocoamidopropylbetaine; nonionic surfactants such as tallow […]

A Bare Behind – Caring for Baby Naturally.

For anyone who has experienced the joys of bringing home your little bundle of love you know that where baby goes, smelly stuff soon follows.

Should I avoid Parabens?

What is the deal with parabens? Will they give you cancer? Why are they used anyway?

A Quick Toothpaste History

What is in YOUR toothpaste? What are the big issues? Find out more and then make your own.

Essential Oils Can Irritate

Essential oils can irritate the skin when they have been in contact with the air. What does Realize Beauty think about that?