Oh the great lengths we will go…

When my dad noticed the lashes on a news anchor the other night – I realized that the lash obsession in our country had hit critical mass.

Gone are the days when women opt for lash curlers and a great mascara. As per usual, the beauty industry has taken it up a notch. Now those on the quest for longer and thicker can choose from fake lashes, lash extensions, a visit to a lash salon, drops, potions, serums or… wait for it… keratin treatments AKA lash lifts. Each of these treatments promise longer, darker, thicker lashes. None of them mention the potential risks.

Right near the top of my “things I give a fuck about” list is my vision. So you can bet your little tushy I will be letting no person come near my eyes with glues, potions and magic anytime soon. I can barely stand the feeling of getting my eyes dilated at the doctor once a year so I am in no rush to experience the unintended side effects of the next best eyelash thing.

If you’ve been following along this BETTER journey – I have told you once or a maybe a thousand times that the beauty industry doesn’t have to do much of anything to protect your health. Even if a company’s phones are ringing off the hook with complaints and reports of adverse reactions… they are not required to report or reformulate. Yes, your lashes may grow from some of these innovations – but you may also experience itchy, red eyes, dark eyelids, reduced eye pressure, iris pigmentation (AKA changing the freakin’ color of your eyes!), and unwanted hair in areas you don’t want it. No thank you.

Before you flip your shit… I am going to tell you what to do:

1. Look at the ingredients in the products you’re putting on your lashes. Look them up using the ewg skin deep database. It’s not rocket science people. LOOK. UP. YOUR. SHIT. Your potion may not be terrible at all (there are some products that are totally fine)… but you will not know until you do some research.

2. If you’re having lashes applied at a salon or going in for any other kind of treatment, ask what is going to be used. Find out the name of the glue. Get the ingredients. Then LOOK. UP. THAT. SHIT. I asked a local lash extension specialist for her formulas. She shared both with me. Both were not something I would want anywhere near my eyes. If I had to pick one over the other I would opt for the sensitive formula (sensitive be like – you may still be able to see in 6 months).

3. Now here’s the easy part. Listen closely. STOP. USING. THAT. SHIT. If there’s crap in your products don’t put crap on your eyes. Easy peasy.

Now here’s where we get to the BETTER part. I am going to share my secret, not so secret formula for longer, BETTER lashes. This magic will cost you a fraction of the price, it won’t cause any unintended side effects and it will leave your lashes stronger, healthier and hopefully a little longer, too. Here’s what you need:

1. Organic, cold-pressed castor oil

2. Q-tips

That’s all.

After washing your face in the evening (and removing your eye makeup if you are wearing it)…lightly saturate a q-tip with castor oil and apply it to the base of your lashes before bed. Voila! Done! Give it a few weeks and you should see increased strength and hopefully a slightly longer lash.
Castor oil has been used for years. It is packed with nutrients that encourage lash growth and has been shown to be fantastic for other eye ailments. It is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants and proteins which is why it is so helpful in encouraging hair growth.
Buy an organic, cold pressed oil. This will cost you a fraction of the price of other lash products and will promote health without the icky stuff.

Give it a try for a month and report back to me! I want to know what you think!!

My other picks for longer, BETTER eyelashes are these two mascaras and this gentle, non-toxic makeup remover from Beautycounter. An unintended and positive side-effect of using products like these is that your lashes will often become healthier as a result. Try these or one of the other safe products I have recommended in the past (here).

 


Attention Parents of Teenagers…

I remember one of the first times a boy drove me home from a night out together. As we pulled up my driveway and came to a halt, I may have taken more than 5 seconds to exit his vehicle when suddenly the front lights of my house started flashing on and off extremely fast. There was nothing wrong with the power that night. It was my mom. That was her signal for me to get the F inside my house and for said boy to get the F out of my driveway. Subtle mom…really subtle.

Fast forward to 2017. I am now a proud mom to 3 rapidly growing girls. Try as I might to hit the slow down button – they are aging at lightning speed. I know that strobe lights are in my future and I will worry just as my mom did when they are out past 8:15 pm. Even though I would like to think that as moms we hold the power… looking back on those younger years I realize there is only so much we can control. Curfew, dating advice and social media limits will be unchartered territory for me… but there is one thing I DO know about making the teenage years BETTER. It’s a dirty little secret that most parents don’t know about… and this time our girls aren’t trying to screw us…they don’t know about it either.

The little secret is hiding in your teenager’s bathroom.

Let me explain.

The average teenage girl puts 17 products on her body EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

You read that right. 17.

That means that on any given day your girl is exposed to about 200 chemicals through her personal care products like mascara, lip gloss and deodorant.

And why should we give a shit?

All of these chemicals are absorbed into her skin and bloodstream.

And?

And in case her emotional shifts aren’t enough of an indication – a girls body is going through enormous developmental changes during the teen years. From bone and brain function to hormonal system changes to metabolism… shit is getting real.

During this window of time, teeny tiny levels of hormones are what shape a girls development. So when little miss makeup kit comes in with her seemingly innocent dose of who knows what – it is easy for the body to interpret those chemicals as natural and change function accordingly. In the science world we call these shit disturbers “endocrine disruptors.” Suffice it to say they have just enough power to mess things up (think neurobehavioral problems, cancer cell growth and obesity).

Many teen girls are entering puberty earlier than they were a generation ago—in part due to childhood and in-utero exposures to endocrine disruptors. Early puberty puts girls at a higher risk for later-life breast cancer, and the shortened childhood has other implications including an increased risk of depression.

As a mom to three girls I give a lot of fucks about a lot of things… but I give an especially big one to making sure I do whatever I can to keep my kids safe and healthy. Given that teens also have a mind of their own, I am working to teach my kids why all this stuff matters. I’m hoping that when it comes time for them to buy their own products they will ask some of the same questions I am asking now.

Last summer there was a study conducted where 100 teenage girls were asked to discontinue use of products that contained certain hormone disrupting chemicals. The findings were crazy. After just three days there was a significant drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bloodstream. This study proved what many of us already knew to be true – the products we choose do make a difference.

So what’s an oblivious mom to do?

First of all, encourage your daughter to limit the number of products used. Less is more. If the things I mentioned above aren’t enough to make her care, you can tell her that the use of cosmetics can also cause skin damage and acne. 

Secondly, there is a free app from the Environmental Working Group that anyone can download. It is called “Healthy Living.” We can use this app to look up the products that we already have and get safety information on them. We can also search and scan labels for BETTER alternatives. Encourage your daughter to download this herself. It will take her 30 seconds to figure it out (trust me, I have tested this with many teen girls). Instead of you lecturing her on what is good and bad you will be giving her the tools to figure that out herself. More and more teens are seeking out companies that don’t test on animals. Remind your kid that companies shouldn’t test on humans either.

But your kid really does need some skincare and she wants to wear makeup too… What now?

Learning to take care of our skin is a normal part of growing up. Unfortunately, having acne is a very normal part of growing up too.

Here is my quick and easy guide to keeping skin clean and healthy.

First of all we should all be sure to:

  • drink enough water
  • eat plenty of whole foods

and

  • wear sunscreen every day

Kids aren’t really thinking about aging and wrinkles but good habits start early and sun damage is cumulative – which means it adds over a lifetime and shows up later in the form of  wrinkles, skin issues and cancers. A safe, mineral based sunscreen like this one is key. (For more on sunscreen safety click here).

Once teenagers start to experience oily skin or breakouts it is time to start cleansing every day. It’s easy to start with evening cleansing. This may be something to do in the shower. Face cleansers are better than soap because they are more gentle and less irritating. Things to keep in mind with cleansing:

  • make sure hands are clean
  • wash well around the jawbone and hairline
  • pat gently after washing to leave some moisture on the skin

Athletes may need to cleanse more often and might want to toss a face wash in their gym bag.

You’ve heard it before and you will hear it again. Tempting as popping can be… pimples should be left alone. Popping them can lead to marks, scars and irritation.

If your teen notices his/her skin feels dry, a moisturizer can be helpful. Skin needs hydration and nutrition and a good, clean product should give it just that.

Aside from these products (sunscreen, cleanser & moisturizer) there really isn’t much else that is needed for young skin. A clay mask is fun and a gentle exfoliator can be nice to use a few days a week… but more is not better when it comes to teens and skin care.

Here are my favorite product picks for teen skin.

1. Sunscreen: Non-nano zinc oxide based formula that I love because it is light, has a nice scent and rubs in clear.

2.Charcoal Bar: This bar contains activated charcoal, coconut oil and green tea and can be used on the body or face. It is perfect for anyone who struggles with breakouts or who tends to have oily skin.

3. Nourishing Cream Cleanser:Super every day cleanser for normal skin. Very hydrating and non-drying.

4. Nourishing Exfoliator: Can be used 2-3 days a week instead of cleanser. It is very creamy and gentle. The jojoba beads are used in place of harsh abrasive and toxic microbeads. Great for teens with drier skin.

5. Charcoal Mask: This mask contains charcoal, kaolin clay and peppermint. The charcoal draws out impurities and it exfoliates leaving the skin softer and clearer.

6. Nourishing Night Cream: This night cream is lightweight and non-greasy. It will help the skin stay hydrated and nourished.

7. When it comes to makeup, teenagers have their own ideas. But sticking with a safe line of cosmetics that is free of harmful ingredients but also contaminants like heavy metals is key. I love the way this Beautycounter makeup looks on women of all ages.

If you still think this whole clean beauty movement is a little overblown check this out. Alarming but not uncommon…and always BETTER to err on the side of caution.

For questions, skin-specific recommendations, to schedule a get together with your teen or any other information feel free to reach out! thebetterhave@gmail.com

 

People that Give a FU$K Club…

I decided that I should start a “People Who Give a Fuck” club. Here’s how it is going to go down:

I will be the President – cause I’m boss lady of course.

I don’t really know who VP should be. Maybe my husband since he has to live with me and go along with all of this stuff… but then again, if he is going to play this important role he will need to stop smuggling Gillette and Crest Toothpaste into our bathroom. Furthermore – he may not really want to be in the club… so I am accepting nominations.

Club secretary will be played by my client turned friend who we will call “Nancy” for the sake of anonymity. Nancy is a loyal follower, contributor and looker outer. She reads more than I do and probably knows more too. She will be a fine, fine secretary and one day she will probably want to take over this writing thing because, like I said, she knows more than I do.

Treasurer will be played by nobody because Lord knows ‘aint nobody making a penny writing a blog about trying to rid the world of pesticides and hand sanitizer.

Editor will be played by my epidemiologist friend who probably won’t be in my club since she has her own club that is bigger, smarter and more accurate than mine. But, she will still edit all my posts (with love) and keep me on the straight and narrow.

And finally, club committee chair will be played by “Margaret.” Margaret is another client turned friend who high fives me at every turn. She wants to share BETTER stuff with everyone in her life and she wants nothing in return but peace and love. The world needs more people like Margaret so of course she needs to be on this committee in a big way.

Finally there’s all of you… If you’ve read this far… CONGRATULATIONS! You’re in the club!

But seriously… should we start a club? 

Here’s what’s currently on my mind for club-like events and upcoming agenda items:

  1. Make snack time at school all about fruits and veggies. As the ding dongs and oreos go out the window, so too will the allergy issues that come with snack lists plus we will reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and help manage weight for our most important asset – our kids. If that’s not a win-win-win-win I don’t know what is. Last study I read said 93% of U.S. residents, including children, did not meet vegetable consumption recommendations. Insanity.
  2. Pesticides. Why can’t we be more like Canada where over 170 cities and towns have passed partial or full bans on pesticide use? I use safe stuff on my lawn but I am really longing for my neighbors and friends to get on board. Can’t we just pass a law??
  3. You know those places that have painting events? You go with friends for a glass of wine and some artistic outlet and leave with a painted photo of still-life that you will never actually hang. Maybe we should do one of those but we will make safer cleaning supplies instead. It would be something everyone could go home and use. Would this be fun? I tried to do this the first time I had an event for Beautycounter because I was so uncomfortable sharing products that people had to purchase. Found out people just wanted to purchase products. Nobody cared about my cleaning spray. But listen – it really is easy. I will do a demo soon to show you.
  4. Meditation for families. Can someone create an event that families can go to and learn how to meditate together? We know our kids need it… we know WE need it. Let’s do it!

And with that I’m off to get my kids from school (gasp!). The summer went too fast!

Meeting adjourned.