Moroccan Green Clay: A Superfood for Your Skin!

BEAUTY AND SKINCARE, HEALTH & WELLNESS

Do you know what makes me feel so amazing? I love the feeling I have after a face mask. My skin always feels super detoxified, fresh, and firm. It’s my at-home facial experience that gives me a post-spa glow. I can’t help but feel that I have done something really good for myself after a face mask. Like “Damn Danielle, look at you doing face masks and flossing, maybe you do have your body ritual shit together.” But maybe I don’t…? Maybe this mask is toxic and I don’t even know it!

This week, I am going to find out in Part 2 of my skincare product evaluation journey. In Why Brands Who Lie About Being 100% Natural Can Kiss It, you discovered how labels and green beauty buzzwords can lead to dangerous misconceptions. Not everything labeled as “natural” truly is and unfortunately this means that you may think that you are giving yourself the best but you aren’t. Let’s continue as I compare two of my face masks, so you can have more details about what to avoid and what really is the good stuff!

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ArgaPur Argile Verte Masque Pour Visage 100% Naturel (ArgaPur Green Clay Mask for Face 100% Natural)

WINNER ArgaPur Green Clay Mask

I am wearing the ArgaPur Green Clay Mask in my featured image. I am pretty sure I purchased this mask in a Marjane Supermarket while living in Casablanca so it was super affordable. As shown below, I mix it with water and jojoba oil since I have very dry skin. However, on the bottle the suggested directions say to “mix a sufficient quantity with rose water to obtain a light paste. Apply the ARGAPUR Green Clay as a face mask (for mixed and oily skin types).”

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ArgaPur Green Clay Mask for Face 100% Natural and Arganour 100% Pure jojoba oil

This mask is smooth and goes on like a thick liquid rather than a grainy past or a gel. The texture depends on how much liquid you mix with the green clay powder. It dries in about 15 minutes and creates a tightening sensation in your skin. Once hardened, the mask can crumble quite easily so it can get on clothing or furniture.   I have never had a big issue with this staining clothing or making a mess. However, it is good to be careful to avoid any mishaps.

The Green Clay Face Mask Ingredients!

Ingredients on Label: Silica, Aluminum, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Sodium, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, Cobalt, and Manganese.

After perusing several websites, I finally landed on reliable sources French Green Clay and a cited article History and Benefits of Clay on Environmedica. I confirmed that the ingredients are in line with the natural mineral composition of pure Green Clay and there are no suspected unnatural additives. Also, Green Clay is part of the Illite Clays and has amazing healing and detoxifying properties such as relieving pain and inflammation, eliminating toxins in the body, purifying the digestive system, healing external wounds, removing heavy metals from water, stimulating the skin’s blood flow, and much more! I highly recommend you check out the linked pages to learn more. I am overwhelmed by the seemingly endless goodness offered by Green Clay, a real super(skin)food of the earth!

If you are interested in getting some Green Clay Masks for yourself, you can find this product along with many other certified organic products here! By visiting Argapur’s official website, you can find an assortment of my favorite Moroccan goodies like Argan Oil, Rosewater, and African Black Soap. An extra bonus of supporting this company is that you can contribute to the development of rural regions of Southern Morocco.

LOSER Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask

Origins Clear Improvement

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores

I have been using this product for years as it’s much more commercial and readily available in the US in department stores and Sephora. Until now, I trusted that Origins is truly “powered by nature and proven by science.” While the brand claims that the products are studied by more than 100 scientists worldwide, there are just way too many unpronounceable ingredients in the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask for my comfort or trust level.

I always purchased this mask on Sephora.com and will use it as my reference since my travel-sized bottle doesn’t have the ingredients listed. On the site, I found an interesting disclaimer that warns, “Ingredients listed may change or vary from time to time. Please refer to the ingredient list on the product package you receive for the most up to date list of ingredients.” So basically, you will not know what the ingredients will be until it has arrived at your house if you purchase the product online. Not liking this so far…

With 4160 reviews averaging 4.3/5 stars and Sephora’s boast that this mask is “the #1 face mask in North America in 2017” I am really hoping it isn’t toxic AF. For the sake of my time and your attention span, I will do a quick rundown of the top 10 ingredients.

The Scary Origins Mask Ingredients!

Ingredients: Water; Myrtus Communis (Myrtle) Leaf Water, Kaolin, Bentonite, Butylene Glycol, Montmorillonite, Polysorbate 20, Peg-100 Stearate, Charcoal Powder, Xanthan Gum, Lecithin, Peg-150 Distearate, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Sorbitan Laurate, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol Laurate, Simethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Trisodium Edta, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol

Healthy Ingredients:  

Myrtle Leaf Water: clears acne, balances hormones, boosts immune system

Kaolin: clay that nourishes, exfoliates, and detoxifies skin

Bentonite: volcanic detoxifying clay

Montmorillonite: clay that absorbs and detoxifies

Potentially Toxic Culprits:

Butylene Glycol: petroleum product that dries skin and used to keep products from drying out

Polysorbate 20: resulted in developmental and reproductive toxicity in lab Studies

Peg-100 Stearate: This one is bad enough that it deserves a block quote.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology, PEGs (including PEG 100 Stearate) can contain harmful impurities, including: Ethylene Oxide, known to increase the incidences of uterine and breast cancers and of leukemia and brain cancer, according to experimental results reported by the National Toxicology Program; 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen; PAHs, known to increase the risk of breast cancer; lead; iron; and arsenic (source). (“PEG 100 Stearate,” 2018)

Xanthan Gum: thickening Agent that can cause flu-like symptoms and intestinal issues

Lechtin: may be derived from animals and are not recommended to be inhaled or constitute more than 15% of a skincare product 

*Highly divisive findings require further research: Charcoal Powder

Conclusion

So there you have it, pure natural products like green clay in their raw form have more benefits and less risks than commercially produced “natural” products.  This is my story and these are my findings, but I would like to know what skincare or body rituals you do to feel amazing? Have you explored the ingredients in your products and found anything that has surprised you? Share your story. I would love to hear what you have to say!

Sources:

“8 Impressive Benefits of Myrtle.” Organic Facts, Organic Facts, 8 May 2018, www.organicfacts.net/health-    benefits/other/myrtle.html.

Annmarie Skin Care. “Ingredient Watch List: Butylene Glycol, Another Questionable Petroleum Product.” Annmarie Skin Care, Annmarie Skin Care, 12 Oct. 2017, http://www.annmariegianni.com/ingredient-          watch-list-butylene-glycol-another-questionable-petroleum-product/.

Annmarie Skin Care. “Ingredient Watch List: Polysorbate 20-It May Be Contaminated with Carcinogenic 1,4-Dioxane.” Annmarie Skin Care, Annmarie Skin Care, 12 Oct. 2017, http://www.annmariegianni.com/ingredient-watch-list-polysorbate-20-it-may-be-contaminated-with-carcinogenic-14-dioxane/.

“PEG 100 Stearate.” Honest Reviews of Anti-Aging Skin Care and Beauty Products, http://www.truthinaging.com/ingredients/peg-100-stearate.

Wells, Katie. “Health Benefits of Bentonite Clay | Wellness Mama.” Wellness Mama®, Katie Wells, wellnessmama.com/5915/bentonite-clay-benefits/.

Why Brands Who Lie About Being 100% Natural Can Kiss It.

BEAUTY AND SKINCARE, HEALTH & WELLNESS

No, that’s not my ass.  I have a few more squats and a few less tacos ahead before that’s me.  However, I figured this would be a representation of how I feel after 7 hours researching like I’m a member of the FBI just to find out what the heck is in a face wash.  Anyway, keep reading to see where this is all going…

Did you ever know that something is probably bad for you but you avoid knowing the truth? Do you steer clear of the gory details of the ingredients in your favorite junk food or perhaps that blue cocktail you sipped on the beach this summer? Well guess what, you shouldn’t hide. Ignorance may be bliss but not for long. When continually avoiding the health risks associated with different products, you are compromising the safety of your body. We only get one body (and booty) and we better treat her right. It is time to use skincare products that make you both feel and look good.

Considering this spiel, it is time for me to face up to my own skincare products. I want to be proactive and practice what I preach. So to be sure that I am not using products with The Top 5 Beauty Ingredients to Avoid, I purposefully marched into my bathroom to see what is lurking around in my products. After all, who am I to tell you what to avoid if I am using products that have those ingredients myself!

I am going to be honest here, normally I choose products that are pretty, smell good, and seem natural. However, I have never actually researched what exactly is inside the bottle. After a quick peruse, I found that my skincare items use the buzzwords:

100% Vegan

Cruelty Free

Sulfate-Free

Natural Beauty

100% Natural

100% Pure

Bio

Organic

100% Vegetarian

Non-toxic

After working in the marketing field, I learned that sustainability and organic products are a marketing trend. Companies use the above buzzwords as part of their marketing strategies to sell products and create a good brand reputation. I am sure you noticed that many well-established mass-market skincare and beauty brands have begun to include green beauty buzzwords. Whether they are actually to the benefit of the consumer or only there to persuade you that you are making a sustainable choice is up for debate depending on the product.  The important thing to know is that many of these buzzwords you may find on the market are not regulated in the US. As written on The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official website:

The law does not require cosmetic labeling to have FDA approval before cosmetic products go on the market, and FDA does not have a list of approved or accepted claims for cosmetics… Because FDA does not have the authority to approve claims before cosmetics go on the market, you may see cosmetics with claims that go beyond what the law permits.”

With this excerpt in mind, it is necessary to be conscious that there can be two different realities between what is on the package and what is inside the bottle. I am sharing which skincare products you would find in my bathroom right now. As I write this, I am not sure that they all would pass the Top Beauty Ingredients to Avoid Test but here goes nothing…

Broken down into categories, I have my essential oils, face wash, creams, and masks.

In part 1, I am breaking down the ingredients in my Essential Oils and Face Washes.

ESSENTIAL OILS

image8

From left to right: Difeel Tea Tree Essential Oil, Phyto Farms Aciete Almendras con Aloe Vera (Almond Oil with Aloe Vera), and Arganour Jojoba Oil.

√ PASS Difeel Tea Tree Oil Ingredients:  100% Pure Melaleuca Oil.

Melaleuca oil is the scientific name for tea tree oil. This stuff is amazing.  I use it to spot treat acne and it works well.  I feel good using this rather than an industrial pimple cream because I know it’s all natural.  I also had fungus on my toenail a few years ago and tea tree oil worked super well to get rid of it. Tea tree oil can be used for acne, dandruff, athlete’s foot, lice, and nail fungus. Beware it has a strong smell! It is earthy and fresh, not necessarily a bad smell but it may not be a smell you will particularly like either.

√ PASS Phyto Farms Aciete Almedras con Aloe Vera (Almond Oil with Aloe Vera in English) Ingredients: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Olus Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Extract, Tocopherol.

Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis, scientific for almond oil, is known for keeping skin hydrated and protecting from UV rays.  Olus Oil, a plant-based oil commonly used instead of mineral oils, is high in triglycerides and fatty acids making it a great moisturizer and emollient. It is hypoallergenic and safe for people with sensitive and dry skin. Aloe Barbandensis Extract, best known as Aloe Vera, has amazing healing powers for acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Tocopherol is Vitamin E and works as an antioxidant powerhouse fighting free radicals. I’d say this quadruple threat of oils could be my secret weapon against dry skin this winter!

√ PASS Arganour Jojoba Oil Ingredients: 100% Pure Organic Jojoba Oil.

I think I love Jojoba Oil the most because of it’s versatility.  It has so many amazing functions. The most impressive is the way it regulates your natural sebum production.  Sebum is oil produced by our skin and when it is produced in excess it can lead to acne.  The list of benefits for this oil is long. For a deeper look, I recommend reading this medically reviewed article 13 Reasons to Add Jojoba Oil to Your Skincare Routine.

FACE WASHES- All Natural, My ass.

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Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil and Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash

Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil with Coconut & Argan Oils Ingredients:

FAIL X Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Isoamyl Laurate, Polyglyceryl-2 Sesquioleate, Fragrance*, Polyglyceryl-2 Caprate, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol. * Natural Fragrance

Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash Ingredients:

FAIL X aqua, cocomidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium cocoyl sulfoacetate, sodium cocoamphoacetate, decyl glucoside, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, glycerin (vegetable), magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, glycol stearate, carica papaya extract, lemon bioflavonoids, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) water, citric acid, tocopherol acetate (vitamin E), panthenol (vitamin B), sodium PCA, allantoin, porphyra umbilicalis (nori) extract, garcinia mangostana (mangosteen) peel extract, camellia sinensis (white tea) leaf extract, sea algae extract, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, parfum (natural).

The highlighted ingredients marked in soft red are cause for concern.  I won’t go deeply into every detail but I will tell you that “fragrance” or “parfum” are unregulated loophole terms.  Fragrances can include thousands of ingredients that are not required to be disclosed by the company and some may be linked to cancer, reproductive issues, or be endocrine disruptors. You can learn more about the details on the regulation of the word “fragrance” and much more on www.safecosmetics.org.

The packages may be cute, but  these industrially-made face washes are not truly 100% natural. If they were, I doubt they would include a generic “fragrance” on their ingredients list. If you work for Burt’s Bees or Pacifica and can prove me wrong, please do.

To my #greenchiquegirls, I challenge you to look up the ingredients listed on your skincare products and let me know if they pass the test.  I also hope you’ll share your skincare hacks with the rest of the Green Chique community. See you next week with Part 2!

 

 

 

 

 

The Chemicals and Animal Products Hiding in Your Cosmetics

BEAUTY AND SKINCARE, HEALTH & WELLNESS

THE POWER OF CHOICE

As I get older, I have become acutely aware of the power of choice. I have realized that my decisions have long-lasting, powerful effects. I have already experienced this through my choices in career, relationships, and health. But what about my beauty and skincare rituals? How can I invest in my health and skin care in the most effective, realistic, and sustainable way? I have struggled throughout my life to find the right skin care solution. I tried it all: over-the-counter skincare, natural remedies, changes in diet, prescriptions.  I have been searching for an effective way to reduce the early signs of aging. Realizing that the decisions of today decide the future of tomorrow, I became committed to finding a solution that would help my skin mature beautifully.

In the end, I have learned two things: There is no real miracle product and to have wonderful skin, you must have wonderful habits.  I am still on the journey to finding the best all-natural, organic, vegan skin care regimen that works for me.  I have a few favorite products that I will save for another post and I will keep you updated with new products as I discover them.  As this search continues, I want to be a responsible and educated consumer.  This means that I need to know not only what to look for in my products, but also what to avoid.  

THE TOP 5 INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

Silicones: Silicones give our skincare products their smooth, silky texture. They provide a long-lasting wear and essentially coat the surface of skin. While silicones provide easy and smooth application of make-up, lotions, and cleansers, they have negative impacts on our heath and environment. Think of wrapping your face the entire day in plastic wrap. The natural production of oils and the excretion of toxins are blocked by a synthetic, plastic coating. The pore-blocking ingredient promotes a buildup of sweat. This leads to a buildup in the liver and lymph nodes promoting tumors. Think of silicones as a barrier in your body’s natural filtration system.

Parabens: Parabens are a group of the alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid. Some common parabens include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, and benzylparaben. These low-cost preservatives are commonly used in cosmetics, food, and toiletries. Parabens function solely for preserving products and preventing microbial growth such as mold, yeast, and bacteria. Though the United States continues the debate on the whether or not parabens are safe for use, the European Union unilaterally banned parabens. Considered as a potential risk to human health, parabens have been linked to metabolic, developmental, neurological, and hormonal disruption by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The estrogenic-like effects of parabens have been suspected to contribute to various cancers, especially breast cancer.

Mineral Oils: Mineral Oils are commonly known as baby oil, Vaseline, petroleum jelly, or paraffin oil/wax. This oil is a cheap colorless, odorless by-product of the distillation process in gasoline production. There are three major issues associated with mineral oils in personal care: toxic contamination, clogged pores, and ineffectiveness. Cosmetic-grade mineral oil though more safe than technical grade mineral oil, has been found to contain toxic contaminants. Like parabens, mineral oils are considered comedogenic meaning they block pores and cause blackheads. Though, on a superficial level, mineral oil traps moisture and reduces water-loss in skin, it lacks real purpose. Mineral oil actually slows down the skin cell development and skin rejuvenation that occurs every 27 days leading to premature aging. It is actually the very opposite of anti-aging, it is pro-aging. STAY AWAY!

Artificial Colors: These colors are commonly known as FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Green 3, FD&C Red 33, FD&C Yellow 5, and FC&C Yellow 6. “FD&C” stands for “Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics.” There are nine certified color additives approved by the United States Food and Drug administration. “F&C” are the only color additives allowed for drugs and cosmetics used for external application. These harmful additives are made from coal tar and contain heavy metals salts. When applied to skin, they can cause sensitivity and irritation and may cause acne breakouts. Since skincare and cosmetics remain on the skin for an extended time, the risks of artificial colors are increased. Artificial colors have been shown to lead to cancer, allergies, hypersensitivity, and tumors. During the manufacturing process of these colors, there is also risk of other dangerous contaminants detrimental to health. With a variety of healthy and natural color alternatives from plants and herbs, there is no need to take a risk on these color additives.

sheep shorning

Lanolin is acquired through sheep shearing and causes stress for the sheep. It is also a by-product of the meat industry. Photo credit: http://www.fibershed.com

Animal Derivatives: Animal Urine, secretions, hair, hooves, bones, ligaments, eyes, and spinal cords: the list goes on. There are so many animal derivatives hiding in your products under unrecognizable aliases. This topic probably could use its very own blog post but lets just give one example of the many horrifying ingredients hiding in your skin care—Lanolin. The waxy oil is used in soaps, moisturizers and other skincare products. Though the product has moisturizing properties, it also presents significant risks. Lanolin is extracted from the oil glands of sheep that live in unnaturally hot environments to induce sweat production. After a miserable existence of lifelong sweating, they are sent away for slaughter. Aside from the questionable ethical process of the lanolin manufacturing, there are dangerous health risks associated with the use of this oil. Lanolin is the sebum produced by the sheep’s sebaceous glands that remains on the fur and extracted after the shorning process. The oil can contain the pollen, dirt, feces, dust, and sweat of the animal. Not to mention, these animals are not farmed organically meaning they are sprayed directly with pesticides and eat inorganic and genetically modified foods. While there is a process to remove contaminants from the oil, Lanolin can legally contain 40 parts per million of pesticides as per the Federal Department of Agriculture in the United States. 

So there you have it, these are the top 5 ingredients to look out for in your skincare, cosmetics, and other personal items.  You are welcome girlfriends and boyfriends!