Au Natural Factual: Burdock Root

Burdock is a biennial plant, also classified as a common weed, that is most recognized for its stout growth and leaves containing prickly burrs. Due to its ability to grow relatively tall, the burdock plant (scientific name: Arctium lappa) has deep roots that are brownish green in color. The root, leaf and seed are used to make medicine and are sometimes eaten as food. Burdock root extract is typically used in skincare and hair products. This herb is native to Europe and Asia though is naturalized throughout North America. In traditional Chinese medicine, the burdock root was commonly used to treat many illnesses.

Burdock contains chemicals that might have activity against bacteria and inflammation. Burdock root consists of  carbohydrates, volatile oils, plant sterols, tannins, and fatty oils which explain the plant’s healing properties. Burdock root has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and demulcent effects on the body and skin. In skincare, burdock root is added to many facial steams, cleansers, lotions, toners and salves. The properties of burdock root help effectively treat skin ailments such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. 

Burdock root is also used externally to treat painful joints, inflammation and often thought to purify the blood. Burdock root is also added to shampoos, conditioners and hair rinses especially for its beneficial effect on dandruff.

Recent studies have shown that burdock root also contains phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin, all powerful antioxidants. Various cultures believe eating the leaves or roots of the burdock plant help to cleanse the bloodstream, prevent cancer, to treat high blood pressure and other common illnesses and to keep the body healthy.

Burdock root has also achieved culinary recognition due to its many health benefits when ingested. The plant contains dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, amino acids and is low in calories. Common in Japanese and Korean cuisine, burdock root leaves can be strained for tea, root or leaves added to a soup or drink, or the roots are boiled and braised like a potato.

Sources: Amazing Herbs, Edible Wild Food, Pangea Organics, Web MD, Wikipedia     Images: Wikipedia

Au Natural Factual: Carmine = Bugs + Lip Color

cochineal-cactus image

Out of all the color options in a seemingly endless rainbow of lipstick, my favorite lip color has always been a tried and true, classic red. Look at most food products or cosmetics with red coloring and you’ll probably find “Carmine” or “Carminic Acid” in the ingredients. Also commonly listed as Cochineal, Cochineal Extract, Crimson Lake and Natural Red 4; carmine is a red pigment/dye derived from the scales of the cochineal beetle, an insect native to South America and Mexico.

Cochineal beetles are parasites that feed on cactus plants. The beetles are crushed to create the deep red pigment that you may find mixed in many cosmetics, food products and textiles. Carminic acid is highly concentrated in cochineal insects. Extracted from the insect’s body and eggs, the substance is then mixed with aluminum or calcium salts to make carmine dye, commonly used in coloring products and called, cochineal.

Traditionally, the Aztecs and Mexican Indians collected and used the powder of cochineal insects. The pigment interested the Spaniards who later exported the dried insects to Europe where the Europeans and the world became quite smitten with the bright, scarlet hue. Cleopatra was also an ancient beauty who favored using cochineal beetles to tint her lips red.

While the process behind extracting carmine may have a “gross” factor for some, it has been determined to be a safe colorant for humans and has only caused rare cases of allergic reaction. The EWG’s Skin Deep database lists carmine with a low score of 1 for toxicity.

After many complaints from consumers, in 2009 the FDA required any food or cosmetics containing cochineal to be declared on ingredient labels.
Recently, Dannon and Starbucks made headlines regarding their individaul use of cochineal for coloring in products. Like everything, consumers should use at their own risk based upon personal health and beliefs.

Here are types of products you may find carmine to be used in:
Food Industry – Frozen fish, meat, etc.
Beverage Industry – Soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, etc.
Alcoholic Beverages – Products with low pH requiring red or orange tones
Dairy Industry – Yogurts, ice cream and dairy based beverages
Confections – Candy, fillings, syrups, chewing gum, etc.
Fruit Preparations – Canned fruits such as cherries, Jams, Pulp, etc.
Cosmetic Industry – Dispersions close to eye area, eye shadows, lipsticks, etc.
Others – Ketchup, powdered drinks, dehydrated soups, canned soups, etc.   (Source: Gentleworld.org)

Images from Business Insider. Sources: Business Insider, Environmental Working Group, FDA, Gentle World, Huffington Post, NPRSnopes

Au Natural Factual Friday: Chia Seeds

Cha-cha-cha-Chia! I’m not going to be talking about those cute plant creatures that grow in a tabletop pot, but Chia seeds, the seeds from those plants.

Chia seeds have been all the health-food rage since it’s 2012 induction, dubbed as a super-foods supplement, chia seeds are super-nutrients that helps control hunger and enhance one’s diet. Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and are also considered a concentrated food as the seeds are loaded with antioxidants, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium and protein.

It’s no wonder why I couldn’t turn a corner at work without seeing ladies spilling this into their yogurts, mixing it into their drinks, or just plain munching on some seeds. And it seemed my own encounter with chia seeds was inevitable as I walked to work and health-food promoters practically threw packets of free chia seeds to me on the street. (Seriously.) 

A couple of these Chia Shots were thrown to me while walking to work…

Chia seeds are derived from a flowering plant known simply as the Chia plant (salvia hispanica) which are native to many areas in central/southern Mexico. The use of chia seeds date back to the times of the Mayans and Aztecs when chia seeds were also eaten as a staple food and believed to be an energy booster. It’s still used in Mexico today as a nutritious food source, ground or sprinkled into drinks or on food.

Not only are these super-nutritious seeds good to eat, they’re also a beneficial natural beauty ingredient. When chia seeds are cold pressed into an oil they have proven to do wonders for skin. Chia seed oil is very moisturizing and hydrating to the skin and can also calm redness due to a high level of vitamin B3, a natural anti-inflammatory. The antioxidants in the oil also help protect skin from free radical damage such as aging and UV rays. Since Chia seeds are rich in omega 3-fatty acids, as an oil, the acids aid in encouraging collagen and elastin formation, allowing skin to stay firm and supple.

Although I’m not hooked on Chia seeds in my daily diet, I think they are a beneficial health supplement. I’ve seen so many more natural/organic beauty products using Chia seeds or oil as an ingredient and I’d love to try some out in my skincare routine! Would you add chia seeds or chia oil to your beauty and health routine?

Products with Chin seed/Chia oil ingredients:

One Love Organics Skin Savior Waterless Beauty Balm

I received a sample of this balm with a recent order from BeautySage and I love it! It’s great to moisture the skin, remove makeup and a favorite use of mine: tame flyaway hairs! I think I’ll purchasing a full-size in the future. The One Love Organics skincare line mostly features Chia seed oil.

Annmarie Gianni Anti-Aging Facial Oil

The chia oil in this product is said to provide an ulta-glowing face and lots of hydration.

 

 

 

 

 

Foods Alive Organic Chia Seed Oil

Last but not least, pure cold-pressed Chia seed oil from Foods Alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources (click for links): Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics The New York Times Well + Good NYC Prevention.com Organic Authority 

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.

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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.

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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.