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Posted by 04.22.14

Earth Day, created to raise awareness and appreciation for the globe’s natural resources, can teach us a lot about how natural products are good for you. Europe has lead the charge with its ECOCERT labeling for organic products in a clear and rigorous way, but the US has caught up quite a bit over the past few years and now savvy consumers can purchase paraben and phthalate-free products even in drugstore aisles. Now that’s something to rejoice at.

Here are some ways you can celebrate Earth Day with beauty products that work.

Jonathan Product Green Routine Silkening Styling Creme ($24)

Jonathan Product Styling CremePhoto Credit:

This beautiful plant-patterned  styling creme will not only give your hair style, definition, and hold, but will help you appreciate the benefits of natural ingredients. It contains shea butter, aloe vera, black cumin, and clary sage to moisturize and strengthen, and all this amounts to soft, bouncy hair with tons of shine. A special anti-inflammatory ingredient also makes this product ideal for those with itchy and dry scalps.

AHAVA Natural Sea Body Mud Mask ($16)

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The ECOCERT natural mud from the Dead Sea is one of my all-time favorite indulgences, next to a box of dark chocolate. A perfect mid-week pick me up for the face or for an added boost of hydration, this mud has a minimum of 95% natural ingredients, and at least 10% are organic. While mud is typically associated with cleansing, the Dead Sea mud is mineral-rich and helps with hydration and pH balance. This body mask is the ideal thing for a quick pick me up.

Herbal Essences “Naked Volume” Dry Shampoo

Herbal Essences Naked Volume CollectionCredit: Herbal

With “nude” makeup becoming all the rage (again), there’s no surprise that haircare has jumped on that bandwagon too. Herbal Essences, a brand that has always been about natural ingredients, has launched the “Naked” line, featuring a dry shampoo, shampoo/conditioner, souffle, and spritzer that will help your hair shine naturally (without the need for too many extra products). The Naked Volume Dry Shampoo is my particular favorite because it helps you get voluminous hair during the in-between washing days; plus, it doesn’t contain parabens—it’s as close as you can get to nudie hair.

Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar ($45)

Erno Laszlo

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This luxury brand, which was Marilyn Monroe’s go to skin care of choice, has a deliciously decadent yet 97% natural bar of soap: Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar. It is also infused with minerals from the Dead Sea, and exfoliates and refines skin as naturally as one possibly can.

Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Lotion ($9.99)

Alaffia Coconut LotionPhoto Credit:

Everything in the Whole Foods beauty aisle is fair game these days. They are imposing strict standards on what they will accept as natural (“We’re working to make organic mean organic in every aisle throughout our stores,” the company says on its web site). One of my favorite everyday finds is this rich coconut lotion that boasts broad spectrum UV protection from zinc oxide, as well as neem and papaya extracts. It’s just one of the reasons to shop there for beauty.



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Posted by 04.14.14

April has been designated Rosacea Awareness Month for good reason. The common but poorly understood skin condition affects more than 16 million Americans, yet most of them don’t know it. That doesn’t keep them from suffering from the condition, especially the emotional pain of a chronically red and/or sometimes broken out face.

In a recent survey of 1,675 rosacea patients conducted by the National Rosacea Society, 90% said that the condition’s effect on their appearance has lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem. Eighty-eight percent reported suffering embarrassment, not to mention a whole range of other negative feelings, including, frustration, anxiety, helplessness, depression, anger, and isolation. In fact, 52 percent of the respondents reported that they had avoided face-to-face contact because of the disorder.

Although the cause of rosacea is unknown, a vast array of lifestyle and environmental factors can trigger flare-ups, including sun exposure, hot or cold weather, wind, alcohol, and spicy foods.

“There are different versions of rosacea so each treatment is tailored to that patient’s needs,” said New York City dermatologist Lori Brightman. “But for all rosacea sufferers, you want to avoid triggers such as sun, alcohol ,extreme hot or cold weather, stress, spicy foods, fragrance or menthol, and hot beverages.”

In addition to trigger control, medical treatments range from topical creams and ointments to in-office light or laser treatments, depending on the severity of the condition. The different types of rosacea encompass subtype 1 (moderate to severe redness on the face), subtype 2 (pumps or pimples on the face), subtype 3 (thickening of the skin), and subtype 4 (watery or irritated eyes).

“Obviously, the redness is from ‘leaky, abnormal’ blood vessels so the best treatment would be to get rid of those faulty vessels,” said New York dermatologist Cheryl Karcher. She recommends treatment with Intense Pulsed Light or a KTP or Cutera Excel V Laser. “We also use BOTOX to decrease flushing by relaxing the muscles that dilate the vessels in both the face and chest,” she added.

For topical, temporary control of redness, many doctors recommend the newly popular prescription Mirvaso Gel from Galderma. “The new topical Mirvaso Gel is amazing for redness. Use it in the morning and it will keep redness away for twelve hours,” said New York City dermatologist Lisa Airan.

Oral and or topical antibiotics can be prescribed for the anti-inflammatory benefits—not their anti-bacterial action. In addition, topical sulfur based, azeleic acid, or antifungal-based medicines can help control the redness and pustules. “For some with severe cases of flushing/burning, oral cardiovascular medicine can help reduce the blood vessels from dilating,” Dr. Brightman said.

Many physician-dispensed skin care or cosmeceutical lines feature products specifically formulated to target rosacea. “Rosaliac AR Intense by La Roche-Posay is a light serum that is great for patients with oily-normal skin and wears well under makeup,” said Maryland dermatologist Valerie Callender, who is also president of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. For dry/sensitive skin, she recommends CalmPlex by SkinMedica, an emollient cream that can be used at night.

The ZO Medical® rosacea protocol involves products to control oiliness and breakouts. Cebatrol™ Oil Control Pads feature 2% salicylic acid and anti-inflammatory agents. Beverly Hills dermatologist Zein Obagi also recommends using ZO Medical’s Glycogent™ for rosacea prone skin, which is an exfoliation accelerator engineered to reduce inflammation.

Another popular choice is PCA Skin Anti-Redness Serum which contains aldavine, capparenols, and bisabolol to reduce inflammation, redness, and hypersensitivity. It also works wonder for relieving sunburn. Clinical results show a 50 percent reduction in redness over an eight-week period.

Exuviance by NeoStrata has just launched a new serum as well. Exuviance AntiRedness Calming Serum contains Canadian willow herb, tripeptide, and brown and red algae extracts to help calm redness-prone skin. Follow with Exuviance Ultra Restorative Crème, which relies on gentle polyhdroxy acids to soothe dry and easily irritated skin.

Even cleansing rosacea-prone skin must be handled with a lot of TLC. The gentle CLn Skin Care Facial Cleanser is formulated with glycerin and skin conditioners to wipe away dirt while soothing and helping skin retain moisture.

For covering up, mineral makeup, such as the Jane Iredale brand, treats red and inflamed skin gently and with titanium dioxide for UV protection. Omaha dermatologist Joel Schlessinger also recommends Phytomer CC Crème Skin Perfecting Cream, a blend of skin care and makeup that offers coverage plus broad-spectrum sun protection.

Although it can’t be cured, rosacea can be controlled. If you are dealing with mild redness, try over-the-counter treatments that contain green tea, licorice/licorice root extract, chamomile, feverfew, and mushroom extract for relief. And remember to stay out of the sun to minimize future UV exposure which also causes flare ups.

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Posted by 04.07.14

That innocent bystander on your sink—the hand soap—now is getting its due. Several brands are introducing beautiful varieties that now are on par with shower gels in their look and feel, and certainly in their ingredients. Since hands get extremely dry with repeated washings, hand soaps by nature tout “moisturizing” benefits like a Superbowl commercial. Here are some we love:

L’Occitane Verbena Cleansing Hand Wash ($20)

This pale yellow number is formulated with a vegetable base and is gentle enough to use on a baby’s hands.The sparkling lemony aroma of verbena gives cleansing hands that zing, and while it’s a pricier hand soap than most, it’s worth it for that non-cloying fragrance alone.

Softsoap Décor  Collection ($2.99)

LHS_Decor-CollectionPhoto Credit: Softsoap

While I’ve purchased nearly every variety of Softsoap for my house, including the honey versio,n which is ideal for my parched hands, the new Décor collection adds luxury to the sink for a fraction of the cost of more expensive options. The scents are upscale—Peony & Plum, Orchid Petals & Mint Water, and Wild Basil & Lime—and the transparent bottles with wallpaper-like patterns of  flowers make these rectangular bottles pop like bits of jewelry on the kitchen sink.

Diptyque Softening Hand Wash ($38)

DiptyquePhoto Credit: Diptyque

The brand that gave us Tubereuse candles and gorgeous coffrets indulges us with yet another way to enjoy fragrance. This amber-colored softening hand wash is aromatic, mild, repairing and comes in a hard to miss bottle. It is formulated with lavender water which purifies and comforts the skin and also features honey extract.

Disclosure: Softsoap samples were provided for editorial consideration by Colgate-Palmolive.

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