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.

 

 

 

Got dirt?

Have you ever thought about composting? I hadn’t either until a few years ago when I realized how easy it was and how much waste I could save from the landfills. Why should you give a fuck? Because our food scraps make up around a third of what we throw away, and keeping that waste out of landfills frees up space and lowers the release of methane (a greenhouse gas). Add to that the fact that food scraps really aren’t waste at all! They are awesome, nutrient rich material that can be used to help your plants grow. Compost will lock moisture in the soil, keep away diseases and pests, reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and encourage beneficial bacteria. In a nutshell, it’s food for your garden.

Since we are mostly plant-based over here, we go through an enormous amount of compostable food scraps. When we re-did our kitchen I insisted on building out a compartment under our sink where we could house a great little compost bin like this. There I would collect food scraps. 

Then, we bought the mother of all outdoor compost bins (sort of like this one) which took no less than 2386 hours for my husband to put together. He was really loving me during this time (see exhibit A). When he finally finished, we stood in awe of the greatness. Even if our compost was shit, our process was on point.

Exhibit A

About a year and a half has gone by. I have saved hundreds of pounds of waste from our landfills. My biceps have grown bigger and stronger from turning our compost bin. And nothing makes me feel more green than when I march from my indoor bin to my outdoor bin with my little bag of waste. But guess what… my compost is shit.

Until a few weeks ago I honestly didn’t care. I figured my garden was growing so amazingly well (wink, wink) that I really didn’t need to add anything to it. So what if my compost sucks, I am saving the world and the world is more important than my compost being perfectly perfect. One day once I figured out the right ratio of green to brown I would open the bin and my perfect mixture would appear. That was my story and I was sticking to it.

But the following text from a friend change it all. For sake of anonymity, let’s just call my friend “Betty.”

Here’s how it went down:

 

 

I spent a few minutes looking at the web site and price tag and quickly decided my gloppy sub-par compost was just fine. I wasn’t going to spend $350 on something I didn’t need.

A little while later that little person on my shoulder showed up and said “don’t you want to just try it?” “Wouldn’t it be kinda cool if it worked?” “Don’t you want to share this information with your friends?”  And just like that, guess what just showed up on my doorstep a few days ago? My husband was once again pumped…or something.

At first inspection I was intimidated. For someone who wants nothing more than a kitchen without clutter I wasn’t quite sure where this thing would go. I hadn’t planned for this to be a part of our space…and this life changer isn’t exactly small. But, I needed to take one for the team (that’s you guys – you’re my team) so I unboxed the thing and got rockin’.

The FoodCyler promised to deliver odorless, ready to use fertilizer in an energy-efficient way in less than three hours… and I was counting on it. It seemed too good to be true when traditional compost can take weeks or months to create. But, I am here to tell you this thing actually works. The process is really simple. You fill the container with food waste, lock the top into place, and press the start button. The machine is quiet, it’s easy, it shuts itself off… and the end result is a soil amendment I can take right outside and shake onto my garden. Oh, and there is NO ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. If you factor in what you might spend for a nice indoor and outdoor compost bin and compostable bags – the cost difference isn’t far off.

I played around with places to put this thing and determined that it really didn’t have to go in the kitchen. As luck would have it, we just recently moved our upright vacuum out of our laundry room closet because we got a smaller, sleeker Dyson (which I am also in love with). That move freed up just the right amount of floor space for the FoodCycler.  Just goes to show – where there’s a will there’s a way.

Do you want to make some usable dirt too? Shop here and use the following codes for 25% your order:

foodcycler25usd – save 25% off FoodCycler (USD)

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