Month: April 2017

Life declutter: My switch to safer personal-care products

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If you’ve known me for more than 30 seconds, you know these things about me:

  • I’m on a mission to declutter pretty much everything about my life (physical, mental, emotional, financial, you name it). I started calling this journey #lifedeclutter, and I’m a bit obsessed with the idea. Not that you can tell it to look at my workspace, but I’m getting there. It’s a process …
  • I care about “clean” everything – clean environment, clean eating (I have my own definition of that, and it’s another area that’s “in process”), clean household, bath, cosmetics and skin care – everything.
  • I’m a researcher by nature. Or maybe by training (which came first …).

So, knowing those things, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear how wildly excited I was to discover the answer to my quest for cleaner skin care and cosmetics.

Without boring you with the details, I’ll just say that several years ago I went on the hunt for a brand that I could feel good about putting on my skin. I could never find one that was safe enough to justify switching from the major brand I have represented for nearly 18 years. Nothing ranked so much safer that I would want to give up that other brand in favor of it.

Until now.

Now, I’m thrilled to have found this new brand: Beautycounter.

SAFETY ADVOCATES

After researching “non-toxic cosmetics” and doing my due diligence – including a comparison of other products and brands with my longtime brand (using in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database) – the name Beautycounter kept popping up.

The clincher was that Beautycounter is actively pursuing laws for safer personal-care products.

In fact, 450 Beautycounter Consultants across the United States and Canada met with their elected officials in March, urging them to pass more health-protective laws on the beauty industry (there hasn’t been a major law passed in the U.S. since 1938). Here’s a 1-minute video that shows a few of the consultants talking about visiting their elected officials last month.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Many products – more than we will ever know – contain ingredients that are known or suspected to cause cancer, hormone disruption, skin conditions and other health concerns. You might think makeup and skin-care products are only skin deep or that “a little bit doesn’t matter,” but some of them absorb into your body, and the cumulative affect can create havoc on your health.

For me, it’s been a years-long and continuing process to clean up my household and my body … still a work in progress.

But when I know something is harmful, I can’t ignore it.

‘THE NEVER LIST’

Beautycounter has a Never List, “made up of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that we never use as ingredients in our products. This includes the 1,400-plus chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, plus additional chemicals where information screened by Beautycounter indicates a cause for concern.”

(I never saw that much concern by the makers and promoters of my old brand.)

This makes me happy, and I’m proud to represent (and use) a brand that’s concerned with safety and transparency, going so far as to advocate for more regulation in its own industry!

Founder and CEO Gregg Renfrew says, “My dream is for all people to have access to safer products.”

I feel good about putting Beautycounter products on my body, washing my hair with them, cleaning my face and prettying up with them. Bonus: They smell AWESOME! The smell-good comes from fruit extracts, so you might get a whiff of orange when you rub on the Citrus Mimosa Body Butter, or you’ll close your eyes and swoon at the scent of coconut oil when you use the Cleansing Balm on your face. Or maybe you’d like the heady jasmine of the Plumping Facial Oil. It’s all good.

No artificial fragrance, “chemical smell” or other scary stuff. Just pure, clean, amazing-smelling deliciousness.

Want to know more about the company? Click here for the rest of the story.

And click here if you’d like to shop with me or get more info. (Thank you in advance.)

What products or practices have you changed in the interest of your health or that of your family? Leave a comment to share. And please share the post. 🙂

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Tips for better sleep, Part 2

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In Tips for better sleep, Part 1, we talked about several ways we can make sleep happen. In the interim, I’ve been depriving myself of sleep to get some essential work stuff done. Go figure.

Let’s continuing counting sleep:

8. Make your sleep space cool, comfy and calm. Some would tell you that your bed is for only two things: sleep and (that other thing, if you’re married). They’ll tell you not to watch TV in the bedroom, not to do work while you’re in bed … and lots of other no-no’s. I love to read in bed until I get sleepy, but I don’t think that counts as activity; it actually helps me fall asleep. I’ve stopped reading on my blue-screened devices, though (see next tip). Some would argue that watching TV helps them fall asleep. If that’s you and it works, more power to ya. Just be sure the volume doesn’t wake you up later (better yet, set a timer to turn it off if your TV has that function).

Keep the thermostat in the 60s when you’re under the covers; you may have to experiment with the temp that’s best for you.

If you’re a light sleeper (as I am), you need a dark, quiet room. I wear a sleep mask, and I keep two fans blowing; one of them is really loud. The fans are strictly for white noise; I have them pointed away from my body.

For travel, I used to take a small fan with me, but I broke my favorite little fan a couple of years ago and haven’t found a replacement that’s loud enough; that was before I discovered the White Noise app for my phone. Ahhhhh.

9. Turn off (or dim) your screens at least an hour before bedtime. That “blue light” emanating from your devices disrupts your circadian rhythm and hampers sleep. Warm that blue glow to a golden one. On my computer, I use an app called f.lux, which changes the screen color depending on the time of day (toward bedtime, it also pops up a message that says, “You’re waking up in [x] hours”; an hour later, it updates me again). On my phone and tablet, I have the settings adjusted. If you don’t want to use apps, get some goggles (two of my sources in this post provide links to the same pair on Amazon – and, no, I am not an Amazon affiliate). This article goes in depth about the disruptive effects of artificial blue light.

Image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half, http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com
Image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half, http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

10. Use essential oils. Try lavender, vetiver or chamomile, or consider a blend of several oils. I get mine from Rocky Mountain Oils* (after doing research on quality and other considerations). I use the Tranquility blend from RMO; I rub it on my chest and the soles of my feet at bedtime. You can also diffuse these blends in your bedroom (I haven’t tried that yet) or sprinkle a few drops on your pillow.

*FYI, I’m not an affiliate of Rocky Mountain Oils; I just believe in the quality of oils and the customer service from this company, and they’re less pricey than those of the multilevel-marketing brands.

11. Take a nap when you need it. I take a nap as a routine. As I said last time, the conventional wisdom is that a short nap (what they used to call a “power nap”) is better than a long one. I maintain that it depends on the person and the circumstances. My blogger friend Jim helpfully emailed me a link to an article on the benefits of naps. It, too, recommends shorter naps but allows that longer ones can be beneficial:

“The longest naps – lasting about 90 minutes – are recommended for those people who just don’t get enough sleep at night. Since it’s a complete sleep cycle, it can improve emotional memory and creativity.”

I fall into that “people who just don’t get enough sleep at night” category. Hence my Sunday nap, in which the goal is two hours. #ilovenaps

Also, advice from Becca at my church: When you’re getting ready for a nap, treat it like you’re getting ready for bed. Get under the covers; just lying on top of the bed will not give you the maximum level of comfort you need for restorative rest. I told Becca she was “preachin’ to the choir.” I change into my nightgown, crawl under the covers, put my sleep mask on, turn both fans on and make sure my bladder is empty (sorry if that’s TMI).

12. Have a small, healthful snack an few minutes before bedtime. You heard that right; it’s OK to eat just before you go to bed IF you follow this guideline: Make it small, and include a good fat (organic nut butter, a small handful of walnuts) and a healthy carb (small piece of fruit or veggie). Skip the protein, as this can interfere with sleep.

Image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half, http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

13. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. You knew that one, though, right?

14. Consider natural supplements, and make sure they’re high quality. I take 400 mg of magnesium at bedtime. Here’s the one I took until recently, before I went back to this less-pricey one that I’m equally pleased with – it doesn’t contain fillers or other unnecessary ingredients. Another alternative is Epsom salt, which is magnesium sulfate. Please consult your doctor if you have a health condition such as diabetes or heart disease. Also, start with a lower dose until you know the outcome, if you know what I mean (magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer and can be used as a laxative).

15. Experiment with pillows; get a new mattress. I have a 20-year old neck injury, and over the years the pain and stiffness have had an increasing impact on my sleep. I can’t tell you what type of pillow is best for you, because I’m still figuring that out for myself. But consider that part of your problem may be your pillow. And if your mattress is old and saggy or lumpy – or full of dust mites, mold or other toxins – consider replacing it.

16. Deal with your allergies. Sinus pressure hinders my sleep much of the time. This is another area I haven’t quite got a handle on, so do as I say and not as I do.

17. Don’t let your pets sleep with you. This is another area where you should do as I say and not as I do. We’re way past training Pepper to sleep elsewhere. She’s old, blind and tiny, and she needs help getting onto and off the bed. She used to be able to climb the stairs to the bed, but since she fell off a few months ago, she’s afraid. And I’m not going to force her to sleep elsewhere and listen to her bark all night. (She already barks way too much during the night.) My dog is a head case. So … do as I say, not as I do.

Up next: As my #lifedeclutter continues, I have a new thing to tell you about. Heck, I’ll probably announce it on the Facebook page this weekend, so head on over there and Like the page, scroll through the posts and get to know how we roll there. While you’re visiting, share something about yourself.

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