Au Natural Factual Friday: Jojoba Oil

I have to make up for lost Au Natural Factual Fridays, sorry! Today’s ingredient is Jojoba Oil.

Jojoba oil is a liquid wax derived from seeds of the Jojoba plant (simmondsia chinesis), a shrub that grows in dry regions of the southwestern US (Arizona and California) and in northern Mexico. Jojoba oil is increasingly used in makeup, skincare and hair products as a natural ingredient due to its emollient properties and similarities to the sebum produced in our own skin which makes it moisturizing.

Jojoba plant with seeds

The shelf life of jojoba oil is much longer than synthetic ingredients as it also has natural fungicide properties. Also used in its pure state, jojoba oil is a natural skin soother and can be applied directly to the skin to aid in acne, psoriasis, sunburn and chapped skin.

Pure jojoba oil is also a great natural hair product used for moisturizing, conditioning and smoothing hair. Some people believe jojoba oil can decrease balding as it also unclogs hair follicles, which may encourage the regrowth of new hair.

 Jojoba oil is known as a natural alternative to petroleum jelly and its nasty derivatives like cetyl alcohol. It’s a more sustainable alternative to petroleum jelly since it’s derived from plants rather than fossil fuel, plus there no whales harmed in the process! (And whale blubber isn’t included in your products.)

Some popular organic products which contain jojoba oil (of some form)as an ingredient:

Jojoba Oil- Popular Products

Have you used any products with jojoba oil as an ingredient? Would you use pure jojoba oil?

 Sources: WebMD, GNET, Ns Oils 

Take a look at this list of the top uses of jojoba oil, this company also sells pure jojoba oil at affordable prices: https://www.desertessence.com/top-10-uses-jojoba-oil

Green Beauties: Mandy Moore

Growing up, I always admired, Mandy Moore for her flawless transformation from a 90s teenybopper-pop princess to an indie/alt.rock singer to a comedic star on the silver screen. (I mean, who didn’t fall in love with her tear-jerking role in A Walk to Remember?)

Confession: I own all her CDs and probably know the lyrics to every single song…

She always seems so poised, down-to-earth and genuine in all that she does. I might also be more in awe of Mandy now as she’s also a professed fan of natural beauty!

Mandy Moore recently shared some of her beauty routine favorites with PEOPLE Magazine at a launch event she hosted in support of a new, clean skincare line called Beautycounter. The company website  features pages with the “Ingredients Glossary”, “Ingredient Selection Process”and “The Never List” (ingredients they never use) with everything clearly listed and explained. Pretty impressive!

In the interview with PEOPLE Magazine, Mandy listed RMS Beauty and Josie Maran as some of her favorite organic and natural beauty brands. Read the full article here.

5e0e938e-d344-4f05-94d1-3536707521c3wallpaper

I like that Mandy admits she hasn’t gone fully organic or all-natural but mentions she’s been increasingly active in using cleaner, healthier products in her beauty and skincare routine. It’s tough to be in the limelight (and also not, for us average folk) and commit to fully using all organic or natural products but everything is a process that you must be active and willing to pursue.

I respect everyone who is on this journey and it’s encouraging to see others, celebrity or not, who are becoming more beautifully green!

Is there a celebrity you admire who’s gone public with their natural or organic beauty routine?

Image sources: PEOPLE Magazine, Fanpop

Don’t Miss This: A Night for Green Beauty NYFW!

Green beauty bloggers and enthusiasts are abuzz about an upcoming event for green beauty during New York Fashion Week in September. Hosted by the botanical ingredient-based skincare line, La Bella Figura, “A Night For Green Beauty” will be a pop-up event at James Corbett Studio on September 4th, 2013. Attendees will be able to shop, mingle with leaders from the organic beauty industry and get pampered with organic beauty makeovers and tips.

Just look at the list of amazing beauty and skincare brands that will be featured below! I’m such a fangirl of all these brands but a few I’m most excited about are Kjaer Weis, One Love Organics, ILIA Beauty, Kahina Giving Beauty and Lina Hanson.

I first learned about this event from The Chalkboard Mag and am beyond excited to attend. Not only will there be top Organic beauty and skincare brands to shop from (many of which I’ve been lusting to try) but I’m sure I’ll feel starstruck as some of my favorite green beauty bloggers and industry leaders will all be there!

I’ll be the one who’s wide-eyed, happy and with an armful of products…hopefully I’ll see you there!

I’ve definitely penciled this in as a “TO NOT MISS” event on my schedule! Will you be attending?

Check out more details here.

Images from The Chalkboard Mag

MOOCs May Gain You an Online Master’s Degree

A couple months ago I took a routine trip via Greyhound (aka the bane of American public transportation) to visit my boyfriend. Although I deeply despise much about Greyhound buses, besides eventually getting you someplace for cheap, they’ve been great opportunities for people watching. On this particular trip, I listened as a girl sitting in front of me noisily chatted on her phone about how she was getting ready to go back to college.

I don’t mean to snoop, but sometimes I like seeing what type of websites other people frequent just because it’s interesting and might provide me with new sites to explore. The girl on the phone was contemplating taking online courses and suddenly became immersed with a page on her computer which read “MOOC List”. Curious to learn more (though I would’ve asked the girl if she hadn’t still been chattering away), I searched what this site was on Google and soon learned MOOC stood for “Massive Open Online Courses” and was a new educational and technological trend sweeping the nation.

“A COMPLETE LIST OF MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES (FREE ONLINE COURSES) OFFERED BY THE BEST UNIVERSITIES AND ENTITIES”

For perpetual students and curious intellectuals alike, MOOCs are essentially online (generally college-level) courses aimed at widespread interactive participation and are open to anyone with web access and a computer. Courses ranging from design, computer science, literature to philosophy and history are freely offered online to anyone with a web connection, a seemingly endless educational treasure trove.

MOOCs utilize traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets but what sets them apart from conventional pedagogy is the emphasis on providing interactive web-based user forums that creates a community for students, professors and TA’s.

The birth of MOOCs trace back to two years ago when Stanford University first offered a free open online course on artificial intelligence where 170,00 students enrolled. The concept soon caught on at other large universities and specialized schools across the nation with the perspective that MOOCs could be an opportunity to reach students wanted to pursue an interest or expand their knowledge but may not have had the opportunity to do so before.

Though nearly millions of people have enrolled and participated in many MOOCs since Stanford’s first course, there are a few things critics list when questioning if this new educational platform has made any profound change among the masses. Generally, MOOCs are single courses that offer no educational credit and do not lead to a degree. MOOCs are essentially, for learning’s sake. There’s nothing wrong with this concept, though it was researched that a majority of students who enroll in MOOCs often do not finish the courses.

Perhaps the concept of the MOOC is still not readily understood. As recent research has shown, many individuals who sign up for MOOCs seem to view enrollment (but not actually finishing the course) as a good way to spend free time. In one study, 90% of students “dropped out” of their MOOC by never completing the course.

Screen shot 2013-08-18 at 4.26.09 PM

In any case, Georgia Tech, which has one of the nation’s top computer science programs, has recently announced that the school is planning to offer the first MOOC-based online master’s degree program in computer science. Using MOOCs to gain an online master’s degree seems innovative and even more price efficient: Georgia Tech estimates the master’s program will only cost accepted applicants under $7,000 instead of the normal price of $45,000.

While Georgia Tech’s unique use of MOOCs will be interesting to watch out for, there are sure to be a few technological and maybe social bumps along the way. Many are hopeful that this first expedition in using MOOCs for gaining full degrees may signal a change in higher education and increase the reach colleges and universities may have in the future.

Georgia Tech has not yet released a specific application date for the MOOC-based master’s degree program, but expect to be opening up for applications sometime during Fall 2014.

What is your opinion on MOOCs? Have you taken any MOOCs?

Learn more about MOOCs:  The New York Times, Inside Higher Ed, Georgia Tech College of Computing, The Chronicle of Higher Education , MOOC List

In Progress: Relaxing and Renewing…

beachpic

My lack of posting is due to a much-needed vacation at the beach. Just a week away from city life, work and responsibilities.

My family and I are at one of our favorite beach areas in Delaware, sandwiched between the privacy of a small beach, boardwalk and a downtown area. Our days consist of relaxing on the beach, swimming, playing tennis, eating delicious seafood and enjoying each other’s company.

Being away from my normal environment and having more time to relax makes me realize that sometimes we all just need a break from our everyday agendas and remember what is important in life. Living at the beach for the week has made me feel connected to nature again; as the sand sifts beneath my toes, the sun kisses my shoulders, and the spray of the waves breathes new life to my body, I can focus on the bigger things in life.

I’ve had time to reflect upon my lifestyle and feel that living simpler isn’t all that bad. A few things: re-wearing clothes from the small bundle in my suitcase, not wearing any makeup except lip balm, eating smaller portions, being active everyday, buying only what we need, spending time away from electronics and spending time with each other….

Respecting the ocean and seeing the Earth’s beauty everyday fills me with happiness and energy, especially since I can share this with people whom I love. I anticipate each day: when the sun streams through my window, when we race to the beach with our blankets and chairs, curling up to read my books, splashing in the water and inhaling the fresh, salt-filled air.

I wish I didn’t have to leave the beach and that the only decision I’d have everyday would be which bathing suit to wear each morning…

Vapour Beauty’s Birthday Sale Today!

Happy Birthday Vapour Beauty!

The legendary natural beauty brand, Vapour Beauty is celebrating their birthday today and offering 15% off of all their products until Sunday, August 11th.

Shop the sale here: http://www.vapourbeauty.com/birthdaysale.asp

Trusted by many makeup artists and celebrities, Vapour Beauty is a leading brand in innovative, high-quality performing organic and natural beauty products. All their products have certified organic and 100% natural ingredients, are cruelty-free and use minimal recycled and recyclable packaging. Plus, Vapour’s foundation shades span a large variety (and a few more have just been added) so anyone ranging from  very fair to girls of darker complexions can find a suitable shade.

I have been wanting to try Vapour Beauty products for a long time and I’m excited to shop the birthday sale!

I’m lusting after the acclaimed, no-makeup-feel foundation, Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation and curious to try the Stratus Instant Skin Perfecter; a primer of sorts which Vapour’s website describes as “the original organic BB Cream…a 3-in-1 moisturizer, primer, and no-color foundation.”

Have you tried any Vapour Beauty products? Have any favorite Vapour Beauty products? 

This post is not sponsored, I just want to let everyone know about this great promotion!

FDA Releases Long-Awaited Standard on Gluten-Free Labeling

Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration finally introduced standards on labeling products regulated by the FDA with the term “gluten-free”. This long-awaited standard on gluten-free labeling has been augmented by the increase of individuals diagnosed with celiac disease. With nearly 3 million Americans suffering from celiac disease, a disease where individuals cannot process gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye, this seems to be an important regulatory milestone.

The published FDA guidelines define food and drugs with less than 20 parts per million of gluten as “gluten-free” and thus provides manufacturers with a specific standard to follow in regards to labeling products.  Here are the specific details which allow a product to be labeled as gluten-free by the FDA definition (as posted on the FDA website):

  1. an ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains
  2. an ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten
  3. an ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten

The new FDA standard for gluten-free labeling poses many interesting outcomes for both consumers and manufacturers. Many gluten-free advocates have applauded the FDA in their release of the labeling guidelines as there will now be a greater reassurance among the gluten-free community when purchasing food and drugs. It is also reassuring for food manufacturers to actually have a standard to use and to produce products reflecting upon a specific definition.

Gluten free

However, like other FDA standard guidelines, such as labeling products as organic or cruelty free, there are still many loose ends where manufacturers can misbrand their products and use the “gluten-free” labeling standard to their advantage disregarding a consumer’s health. For example, the FDA even declared that water, fruit, eggs or vegetables may be labeled “gluten-free” because they do not specifically contain any gluten. Hmm…

The new standard on gluten-free labeling applies only to voluntary labeled products regulated by the FDA and manufacturers will have one year after the rule goes into effect to comply with the new definitions.

What is your opinion on the new FDA ruling?

Sources (click for links): NPR,  Food Safety News, FDA News, USA Today

Images:  WikiMedia Commons Images and glup.

Au Natural Factual Friday: Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) & Sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES)

If you’re like me, an average 20-something-consumer trying to be healthy in the midst of false advertising, empty product promises and sneaky trade secrets, you didn’t question any personal care products on the local drugstore shelves nor truly thought about the ingredients because after all, if they can be sold to the public then they’re safe, right?

So very wrong, but my old mindset and educating myself on this topic truly showed me how social awareness is at a shocking low when it comes to knowing more about harmful ingredients in personal care products and why our government and brands we trust have ignored the facts and not taken sufficient action. Just accepting what is placed on shelves is not enough. Reading great books like No More Dirty Looks, listening to health experts and researching ingredients is an eye-opener.

I suggest everyone do their own research and self-education because it is not enough to just expect our lawmakers and billions of profit-seeking companies to control our consumerism. YOU can make your own decisions, so make some healthier ones.

Which brings me to this Friday’s Au Natural Factual: Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) & Sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES).

Queen Bey’s infamous locks: having hair like Beyonce’s is probably not a result of totally natural products.

Did you know that your scalp is the most absorbent part of your body? All of those hair products that you use to tame and clean your mane seep right into your scalp, into your bloodstream and most of those chemicals (though a percentage will be excreted) stay in your body for good.

Two harmful ingredients in many personal care products are Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and Sodium lauryl ether sufalte (SLES) and because they are so commonly used are often referred to as sulfates. These 2 sulfates are classified as surfactants or detergents (compounds which lower the surface tension between liquids or between liquids and solids) and are the 2 most commonly found sulfates in personal care products like shampoo and conditioner for their cleansing and emulsifying properties and because they are relatively inexpensive to use. SLS and SLES can be found in many other products that foam and cleanse such as, toothpaste, body wash, soap and exfoliators.

Due to their harsh penetration properties, SLS and SLES can strip hair and skin of moisture and are common eye, skin and scalp irritants and can also result in acne, rashes and canker sores. Sulfates are also endocrine irritants and can be a possible carcinogen after repeated and prolonged exposure. The biggest concern with SLS and SLES is that when blended with other chemicals (included in your personal care products), they can produce hazardous by-products. Two contaminants that can blend with sulfates and are of the most concern are 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide. 1,4 dioxane is a known carcinogen with research citing it is also toxic to the respiratory system and an irritant to skin, eyes and/or lungs. Ethylene oxide has also been classified as a carcinogen and more specifically, a developmental and nervous system toxin.

Like every chemical and the possible risks, we should try to avoid products with potentially harmful chemicals like SLS and SLES.

There are many good organic and natural hair products in specific, that do not include SLS and SLES in their formulation.

The more we use products with these chemicals, the more we are stripping and corroding our hair and skin of its moisture and natural state.

Avoiding sulfates can reduce your reliance on harmful aftereffects and will result in healthier, vibrant hair and skin.

I love the products the ladies of No More Dirty Looks list for hair that are sulfate-free and are good for your hair! Check out some of their ideas here

Sources: http://www.naturalnews.com/036334_sulfates_skin_hair.html

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—sodium-laureth-sulfate/

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706089/SODIUM_LAURETH_SULFATE/

http://nomoredirtylooks.com/

Red Apple Lipstick Eyeshadow Review

I’ve always been an eyeshadow-lover and before I learned about more natural makeup alternatives, it was always the product that gave my skin trouble. In particular, after regularly using a plethora of amazingly colorful, pigmented and chemically harmful products, I was on my way to the dermatologist with itchy and dry eyelids.

When I discovered I had eczema on my eyes, I vowed I’d find a healthier alternative to mainstream eyeshadows without sacrificing color pigmentation or quality. I was also on a hunt for a less wasteful option to eyeshadow palettes. How many empty or half-used clunky, non-reusable palettes did I have in my drawers? Let’s not go there.

And that’s when my constant web-surfing and online research brought me to the Texas-based company, Red Apple Lipstick. Though the company’s name highlight’s their gluten-free lipstick line, there is much more to Red Apple Lipstick than just their natural-based lip products. All Red Apple Lipstick products are 100% gluten-free. You’ve heard of gluten in food, but gluten is often used as a binding agent in cosmetics and is the source of many allergic reactions as well as gastrointestinal problems.

What attracted me to Red Apple Lipstick was that they offered gluten-free, mineral eyeshadow in individual magnetic pans (to be put in reusable palettes like the Z-Palette) AND they also offered pre-made or customized Z-Palettes featuring their eyeshadows. There are not many companies out there selling natural-based eyeshadows in refillable, reusable palettes nor in individual pans. I excitedly purchased 2 individual eyeshadow pans and 1 pre-made Z-Palette named “Autumn Harvest” which came with 4 eyeshadows. (I also purchased 3 lipsticks but will save that for another post.) I ordered during the July 4th holiday weekend where the company was offering a great 20%-off promotion and limited edition lipstick colors. They have frequent deals and are always offering bonus items with every purchase.

My shipment arrived in a timely manner and in quite cute packaging. The lipsticks were individually boxed and in a small canvas pouch with the Red Apple Lipstick logo stamped on it. The Z-Palette had simple, useful instructions on how to apply the brand’s eyeshadow as well as details about the ingredients. The eyeshadows themselves were securely packaged in separate plastic containers with small magnets to keep the pigments in place during shipment and were wrapped in green tissue paper. I received a free floral makeup bag with my purchase in which the eyeshadows and a bonus lip balm were packaged.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All eyeshadows are 100% gluten-free and contain natural ingredients like jojoba oil, shea butter and candelilla wax. Each eyeshadow product contains different ingredients so check the website for specific details.

The colors included in the “Autumn Harvest” palette ($56 including palette) I purchased were a neutral, brown-leaning selection: Iced Mocha (shimmery, light taupe), Violet Vixen (sheer gray-purple w/silver shimmer), Vamp (smokey brown-red) and Lucky Penny (metallic gold-copper). The other 2 colors I ordered for a pop of color in my palette were Midnight Lagoon (deep sea-green w/blue reflects) and the usually sold-out, Olive This Color (shimmery deep-green). Each individual pan is $16.75.

20130731_224734

Swatches (L to R): Iced Mocha, Vamp, Violet Vixen, Copper Penny
Midnight Lagoon, Olive This Color

Did the eyeshadows measure up? I was looking for great quality, pigmentation and ingredients that were better for my sensitive, allergic eyes. I was pleased with the color payoff from one swipe though most of the colors seemed to be sheerer than I expected. Perhaps the colors I chose were on the sheer side of the formulation. The good thing is that the shades I purchased are buildable in color. I found it took about 2 or 3 applications to the most visible pigmentation. The eyeshadows have a smooth, blendable texture and are not irritating to my skin. I did detect a small amount glitter fall out when applying, but mostly from the sparkliest colors (Iced Mocha and Violet Vintage).

I love the idea of choosing the colors I actually want to use as well as having the option to reuse my Z-Palette and purchasing more colors! Red Apple Lipstick has a variety of purchasing options ranging from a pre-made palettes containing 2, 4, 6 or 9 shadows, create-you-own palettes, or individual eyeshadow pans without a palette. Prices range depending on the option you select.

I would recommend trying out Red Apple Lipstick and I really like the eyeshadow options available as well as the fact that they are all created with natural, gluten-free ingredients. I will definitely be trying some more colors from Red Apple Lipstick soon!

What do you think about reusable eyeshadow palettes like the Z-Palette? Have you tried any Red Apple Lipstick products? What are your favorite natural or organic eyeshadows?

Check out Red Apple Lipstick here!

*This post is not sponsored, all products were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

My Birthday Wishlist: Beauty

Birthday Wishlist: Beauty

Guess what? My birthday is this Friday! I cannot believe it will already be August, the summer is just flying by and I am not ready to be one year older…okay maybe it’s not all that bad!

Of course I was easily able to round up some of the products I’m currently lusting after for my very own birthday list. Now if only I were to get all the things on this list…(Are you paying attention, family and friends? haha) Looking back, I could have been a bit more extravagant in my wishing but what can I say, I’m trying to be realistic even in my dreams…

1) Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Desired Glow, $54– I’m a lover of cream blushes and there’s nothing I love more than blushes that also double as bronzer. This beautiful suble tan is said to be perfect for light to medium complexions and is easily blendable, plus the ingredients are 95% organic and how could you not love the super-chic packaging?

2) Kjaer Weis Mascara, $38– Okay, I’m on a Kjaer Weis-kick but this mascara has been raved about by almost every beauty-loving eco-chick and is said to be lengthening, long-lasting and luxurious. As far as organic mascaras go, it is the “creme de la creme” and is also refillable (refills are sold separately) so as to avoid bacteria buildup. So cool!

3) RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Promise, $36– I’ve said it before but I love multi-use products and this RMS Beauty product is one I’ve been dying to try. The Lip2Cheek is a cream product that can be used as a lip or cheek tint. Promise is described as a “warm salmon with a subtle warmth” so I believe it’d be a great pop of natural color on my pale skin, perfect for the remainder of summer.

4) ILIA Beauty Tinted Lip Conditioner in Bang Bang, $24– I’ve been dying to try ILIA’s Tinted Lip Conditioners as my lips are normally dry and this specific product is supposedly very moisturizing and soothing. Bang Bang is a popular colors as it’s a beautiful, sheer red that is easily buildable.

5) One Love Organics Morning Glory Brightening Complexion Booster, $48- I’d really love to add some serums to my skincare routine and this One Love Organics serum sounds amazing. The claims are that it “counteracts dullness, puffiness, and unevenness with a intelligent combination of organic ingredients and omega acids. Plus, the zesty lemon peppermint scent provides a natural mood boost.” All the ingredients are soothing to the skin and are organic/plant based including Vegan-sourced Omega 3 fatty acids which “smooth lines and defend against environmental damage.” I also love that the skincare line partners with different artists and designers for unique, attractive packaging designs.

6) RGB Nail Polish in Pool, $18- I’m really more of a nude nail polish color kind of girl but there’s nothing like a beautiful pop of color and from a five-free* nail polish line like RGB (*Contains no Formaldehyde, no Toluene, no DBP, no Formaldehyde Resin, no Camphor). Maybe it’s the influence of the summer season but I’m loving this aptly named, bright baby-blue color in Pool. Perfect against tanned, summer skin whether lounging outside or out on the town. This is also from RGB’s Summer limited edition nail color line.

7)  Bdellium Tools Green Bambu brush set, $89.10- There is nothing more that I love than beautiful makeup besides beautiful makeup brushes. Not only are these brushes super cute (they’re green-colored!) but they are made from soft, synthetic, vegan bristles and sustainable bamboo handles. This set includes 15 professional-grade eco-friendly brushes for face, eyes and brows in a nice rollup pouch.

8) Pai Skincare Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, $50-$70 depending on size- I’ve been lusting over all the products from Pai Skincare as many beauty bloggers and makeup artists have raved about this organic, London-based skincare line that focuses specifically on sensitive skin types. I have very sensitive, reactive skin and am curious about this cleanser, a top-selling product. It’s recommended for all skin types but works specifically well for dry and sensitive skin. The formula is alcohol and detergent-free which maintains the skin’s natural oil balance and doesn’t irritate skin. It has hydrating properties, while replenishes the skin with Omega 3 and Vitamins A, B & E and also acts as an eye makeup remover.

9) Alima Pure Satin Finishing Powder, $20- I love the concept of mineral foundation, though I’m always hesitant to try it due to my super-dry skin (it has never been a fan or mineral or powder-based foundation). Alima Pure is one of the best natural, mineral makeup lines and I think their Satin Finishing Powder sounds just divine for setting my makeup. The powders come in 5 colors to suit most complexions and the names are just as pretty: Yuki, Keiko, Hanae, Ami, Sayomi. I also love that this product is free of many yucky ingredients: “no bismuth oxychloride (BOC-Free), no carmine(ci 75470-Free), no nanoparticles, non-comedorgenic (won’t clog pores), high pigmented”.

Have you tried any of these products? What’s on your current wish list?