Bubble and Bee Lip Balm: As told by a recovering Blistex addict

Growing up, I was addicted to Blistex. After many years, I slowly weened myself off of the tingly chemical concoction. I’ve tried Burts Bees and a whole assortment of others, but my clear cut favorite so far is Bubble and Bee’s lip balm. I bought it last summer on a whim while shopping at Life Thyme Market in the west village. I already knew I trusted the company as a whole so figured it was a worthwhile purchase.

I have been enormously pleased with the lip balm ever since. I have the unscented kind and I’m intrigued to try some of the other interesting flavors, like peppermint-cocoa or coconut-lime.  In terms of application, it goes on smoothly and leaves a luscious layer of moisture. Furthermore, it stays on for hours! I put it on this very morning, took a long walk in the cold, and hours later, my lips still felt smooth. But perhaps my favorite part of all is the fact that it never clumps. I hate how other chapsticks will eventually form little residual white clumps. No such thing happens here!

CONS: none!

PROS: smooth, long-lasting, no clumps, feels great! Oh, and it’s a ZERO on the Skin Deep Database, as are almost all the Bubble and Bee lip balms. No harmful chemicals!

IN SUM: A total win!

Deodorant Follow-up: Bubble & Bee’s Pit Putty

After having read several positive reviews of Pit Putty, a deodorant by Bubble & Bee (a brand I already love thanks to their amazing chapstick), I added it to my “wish-list.” So when my Lavanila deodorant was running low, I thought it would be a perfect time to sample it myself. Many choices had to be made: deodorant versus pit putty versus spray, Spearmint & Tea Tree scent versus Geranium Lime scent versus Original scent, etc. Since I frequently email Stephanie (who is the founder of Bubble & Bee) with my chemical questions, I figured I’d ask her for advice. She suggested the Spearmint & Tea Tree Pit Putty.

The Pit Putty itself has a fresh smell, reminiscent of minty gum perhaps. I really like it. I also love how “safe” this product is. Given the communication I’ve had with Stephanie and her knowledgable responses, I trust Stephanie and her products tremendously and believe that she would never sneak in harmful ingredients or have misleading labels. The EWG site gives it a big, fat ZERO, which is quite a feat! There are only a few ingredients: Organic arrowroot powder, organic coconut oil, aluminum-free baking soda, organic spearmint essential oil, organic tea tree essential oil. That’s it! Nothing chemically at all!

The Pit Putty came with a special instructions sheet. The gist is that since there are no chemicals, it is very sensitive to the heat and needs to be stored in a cool temperature, otherwise the coconut oil (which is what is holding it together) will become liquid. If it does start to melt, you can always stick it in the fridge for a bit. Of course it just so happened to be an extremely hot stretch of NYC summer heat when my Pit Putty arrived. It was a bit melty at times, so I stuck it in the fridge and it hardened right back up.

The main issue I’ve had so far is that it tends to be slightly crumbly when I apply it. I know I’m not alone in experiencing this as the instructions sheet also addresses this issue. According to it, it tends to be crumblier when it’s hot. Also, when I started to apply it more gently than what I’m used to doing, it crumbled less.

I haven’t found the white residue to be a big problem. Sometimes there’s a bit of white on the top of my sleeve, but it doesn’t stain and I haven’t noticed it enough to be a major drawback (at least not yet). Sometimes, there are some tiny white crumbles on my skin after I put it on, but I simply rub it in better and it absorbs into my skin just fine.

In terms of effectiveness, I’ve found it to work quite well! Much, much better than Tom’s or some of those other “natural” brands that may or may not actually be so “natural.” In fact, earlier this summer, I bought Lafe’s Natural Deodorant Stick (Lavender) and did not find it to be even close to as effective (but it did roll on more smoothly and easily). Nontheless, in this summer heat and humidity, it did not do the trick.

CONS: I ordered it online during the summer, which required an additional “summer” shipping fee to keep it protected from the heat. However, I later discovered that Lifethyme in the West Village actually carries a handful of Bubble & Bee products. Next time, I think I’ll check out their selection before making a pricy online purchase.

Also, not always the smoothest application process.

PROS: Quite effective, and totally natural.

IN SUM: I’m very curious to try the other scents and types (maybe even a cream or spray, which would avoid the crumbliness altogether)! I definitely think Bubble & Bee is on to something very good here.

Sunscreen 101

Now that it’s full-fledged sunscreen season, I began doing research and learning about various types of sunscreens.

There are TWO types of sunscreens: Chemical and Mineral.

HOW DOES EACH TYPE WORK?

Chemical sunscreens work by penetrating into the skin and absorbing the UV light before it can penetrate deeply into your skin.

Mineral sunscreens work by physically blocking the UV rays. Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide are the two types of minerals that sit on the skin to physically block and reflect the UV light.

WHY CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN SHOULD PROBABLY BE AVOIDED:

  1. Chemical suncreen does not protect against UVA rays. (Only protects against UVB rays).
  1. Chemical suncreen often contains potentially harmful chemicals-
    1. OXYBENZONE: This chemical is usually a main ingredient. It absorbs into the skin and bloodstream, and can disrupt your hormones. This is a chemical to definitely try to avoid.
    1. PHENOL: EWG rated this chemical a 9, which is very high (aka BAD)! It is banned in several countries already, such as Japan and Canada.
    1. PABA: produces free radicals/DNA damage.
    1. VITAMIN A (RETINOL or RETINYL PALMITATE) – Somewhat recently, it has surfaced that Vitamin A, when exposed to sunlight, may speed up cancer and tumors. In other words, Vitamin A is photo-carcinogenic.

In the FDA’s 1 year study, tumors/lesions developed up to 21% sooner in lab animals coated in Vitamin A-laced cream than in animals treated in Vitamin A- free cream!!

MORE ABOUT MINERAL SUNSCREENS:

1.     Mineral sunscreen protects against UVA rays too (not just UVB rays).

2.     Mineral sunscreen is more stable.

3.     **However there are two less than ideal issues with Mineral Sunscreens:

a.     Because it is physically blocking the UV rays, the suncreen is thicker and more opaque. Therefore it does not rub in as well and might leave a white residue on your skin.

b.     A recent invention came about to counteract this. This invention is: Nano Particles. Nano particles are natural minerals that have been broken down into much smaller particles. The catch is that these nano particles will then absorb into your skin and flow through your bloodstream. Most likely this is not safe and therefore while picking out a mineral sunscreen, steer clear of nano particles.

**SUM: Therefore, ideally you would want a sunscreen with all of the following:

  • A Mineral sunscreen in NON-NANO particle form that also rubs into your skin well. (And I do enjoy that summery sunscreen smell, so hopefully it will have that too!)

It is difficult to find a sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. One helpful thing, however, is that instead of nano particles, there are particles called micronized particles that are safer. In size, they are somewhere between nano (super tiny) and regular mineral particle form (bigger), and therefore rub into your skin better.

 

Read more about sunscreen safety on the EWG site.

Kiss My Face Moisturizing Shave

For many years, I would just buy the cheapest shaving cream, which usually was the brand marketed to guys.  I didn’t give any consideration to what was actually IN it. However, more recently, I checked out the short list of ingredients on my Barbasol can. Here’s what I read:

Water, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, Isobutane (or may contain Butane), Laureth-23, Aloe, Diazolidinyl Urea, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propane, Propylene Glycol, Propylparaben, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

UGHH! Of the 10 or so ingredients, most are the VERY WORST chemicals …the ones most important to avoid (ie: TEA (Triethanolamine), Diazolidnyl Urea, Fragrance, Parabens, Propylene Glycol, SLS). I realized this cream is basically a combo of the most dangerous and harmful chemicals!!

I hate to admit that the shaving cream does work really well. Thick, foamy, and soft. But the last time I was in Whole Foods, I figured I’d investigate healthier alternatives. I picked out Kiss My Face’s Green Tea and Bamboo Moisture Shave. It had a mild scent, reminiscent of a meadow, which I liked, and came in an easy to use pump bottle. I spent awhile perusing the ingredient list, and didn’t find anything offensive, so decided to buy it.

The one ingredient of slight concern was the “Natural Fragrance” which I was confident was still “safe” since it said “Natural” before the word Fragrance. Just to be 100% certain, I emailed Kiss My Face and within 24 hours received a response that said: I can tell you that there are no unnatural ingredients in this product and there are no phthalates.

What’s interesting is that I looked up this product on the EWG site and all the Kiss My Face shaving creams on its database seem to be old and outdated. I clicked on one just for the heck of it and noticed a slew of “not good” chemicals. I guess Kiss My Face has modified and improved its recipes since EWG last rated them. That’s good news. Still, this is a brand where I remain somewhat skeptical.

In Sum:  This product works much better than soap. While it is not as thick (nor is it foamy) as mainstream shaving creams, it does an excellent job protecting my legs from razor bumps or nicks. It also moisturizes quite well, resulting in smooth and soft skin.

Stalkworthy: Vapour’s Siren Lipstick

A few weeks ago, I entered my name for a giveaway on my favorite blog, Product Junkies Rehab. The winner would get to pick 3 lipsticks from Vapour’s Siren line (EWG: 2). Each lipstick is $22 so this was a generous gift. Vapour is a makeup line that is 70% organic and uses natural minerals to color instead of FD&C colors or Lake colors, the latter of which is not even FDA inspected. Check out the Vapour website for much more information on their policies and philosophy.

A week later, I received the incredible news that I had won this giveaway!! I was ecstatic. There’s an intrinsic thrill in winning free stuff, plus I already knew I loved Vapour. Several weeks prior, I had bought a set of Vapour cover-up/foundations thanks once again to Product Junkies Rehab. I had read on the blog that Vapour was running a special so I seized the opportunity to try it!

I quickly surveyed my friends on colors and after much deliberation settled on Tryst, Ravish, and Tempt. Very soon after, I received my 3 lipsticks along with a handwritten card!!! Loved the personal touch.

Given the fact that I’m not a huge lipstick person, I don’t have an enormous basis for comparison. BUT, I can say that I’ve worn lipsticks that are dry and clumpy, which I really can’t stand. Vapour’s Siren line is not like that at all. It is moisturizing, light, and so smooth! No clumping AT ALL. It doesn’t even feel like I’m wearing lipstick. I love the colors too.

And now a short tale to illustrate the distinctive beauty of Vapour’s Siren lipstick. Please note: The following story is not exaggerated; it is 100% accurate.

Last night I went out with 2 friends to the Frying Pan, a bar on a boat. I was wearing either Ravish or Tryst (I think it was Tryst). The 3 of us made our way to the bar and as we joined the line, a guy came over to me. The following conversation ensued:

Him: Excuse me, please don’t think this is weird but my friend who is a girl saw you walk by and insisted I follow you to ask what lipstick you’re wearing because she was so struck by it.

Me: Wow!! (I proceeded to excitedly recount the whole story of how I had just won it). Please send your friend over here – I don’t think it’s weird at all! I love this!

…5 minutes later he returned with the girl who continued to compliment my lipstick. This whole incident was also incredible to me given that she spotted my lips/lipstick at night in the dark!

This story says it all.

100% Pure Coconut Body Scrub: “A Pungent Potion”

Ever since my friend Lauren told me about 100% Pure, I have become a big fan of this company. (In fact, I just received my 2nd order of products yesterday – which means more reviews coming soon!) 100% Pure is one of the few brands that I feel I can trust for the most part (more on this  later). This is in contrast to certain other “healthy” brands out there (ie Tom’s, Nature’s Gate) that I buy on a case by case basis depending on a product’s specific ingredients.

A few months ago, Lauren raved about this Coconut Body scrub so I bought it. Overall, I do like this scrub but probably less than Lauren does.

The Pros:

  • I love the way the scrub feels when you massage it on your skin.
  • It is moisturizing and my skin is very smooth afterwards. *But I believe this is mostly because it is a bit oily and does not rinse off well, so the residual oiliness makes my skin feel so soft.
  • The smell is sweet (although perhaps on the strong side)

The Cons:

  • The container is NOT easy to use, especially while in the shower where it’s even more slippery. It is a jar with a lid that has a lot of potential to drop/spill/make a mess.
  • The scrub itself separates so the oil and the granulated exfoliation stuff are not well blended. I use my finger to mix it together but it’s hard to get it to totally blend.
  • The smell is slightly too overpowering, although I’ve gotten several compliments on smelling nice/sweet after using.

In Sum: Despite the hassle of the jar, I do enjoy using this scrub and personally I like the sugary sweet smell. I also love the fact that there is no artificial fragrance or anything “bad” at all.

A Tale of Two Toners

Avalon Organic’s Vitamin C Balancing Facial Toner (EWG: 3), in its citrus orange bottle, conjures up images of a refreshing and revitalizing toner experience. Unfortunately, I have not found this to be true. I routinely use a cotton pad to apply the toner to my face after washing it. I’ve noticed that after this toner dries, it leaves a slightly sticky layer. Moreover, it sometimes feels harsh on my skin as I wipe, and causes a subtle stinging sensation. It has a mild citrus scent as well, which I’m not a huge fan of (perhaps because of my association of oranges with my fingers feeling sticky).

Lately, I’ve begun using 100% Pure’s Mint White Tea Tonique, which comes in a clear bottle with a simple white label. I must admit, the Avalon toner does come in an easier to use bottle. With 100% Pure, there is not easy lid/opening; instead, you must carefully twist the top off, which has more spill potential.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the Mint White Tonique. I don’t feel like it dries out my skin, nor does it tingle or sting. It is gentle on my skin, yet I feel like it gets the job done. It is so gratifying to see the dirt/makeup removed from my face and on to the white cotton pad!