Category: Green Queen

Safe Cosmetics Database

Authors Note: This article was written in 2010 and updated Sept 2013, and since then I’ve learned even more about the safety of our cosmetics. Specifically, the Safe Cosmetics Database. Something worth noting is that “hypoallergenic” makeup doesn’t mean much. It just means that the ingredients in the product do not generally cause a reaction in most people. Regarding the safety of mineral makeup because it’s “natural”… well, scorpions are natural, too. You going to rub one all over your face? The point is this: YOU, and only YOU, can determine what’s important to you in cosmetics. For me, I’m Vegan, so I recently switched most of my makeup brushes to synthetic fibers (in LOVE with Cozzette, if your interested). But, I despise mineral makeup. Use the information at hand to make your own choices about what cosmetics work for you.

A while ago, I was forwarded an email inquiring about lead-based lipsticks. You know how you get those chain emails where everyone is worried about a health or public safety concern and it’s the same email that’s been circulating for like, years? That’s what this was. Only, it was true.


The government, at best, loosely regulates the cosmetics and body care industry in Las Vegas. Loosely, at best.

Read that twice, girls and boys who want to be girls.

The stuff you shellac on your face and body every day really hasn’t been approved by a safety commission or regulatory group. Maybe some things kinda sorta get watched, maybe there’s some basic idea’s about what you can’t put in cosmetics, but it’s so loose and so unregulated that it really doesn’t matter. No one really cares if the emollient in your body lotion is a known carcinogen. I suppose you would, if you knew, but as most of us aren’t chemists we are none the wiser.

Cue hero music, enter the Environmental Working Group (EWG)

The EWG is a wonderful organization who has taken the liberty of collecting the very information that we are not privy to and putting in an accessible place so we as consumers can go and get an unpleasant education about our beauty products. By visiting their website Safe Cosmetics Database, you can look up the various goodies in your makeup bag and see how they rank on their comprehensive Hazard Scale. The scale rates cosmetics from 0, being the most benign  to 10, being toxic sludge. It also includes in their crafty little ranking why that particular cosmetic was ranked as such. Case in point: My new favorite mascara, Lash Hugger by Tarte. Let’s see how it looks to EWG: Not bad. Not bad at all. Get’s a 4, which is pretty low, so that’s a good start. I know that the tube itself is made from recycled aluminum, which is a bonus. Still has hazardous ingredients but on a scale going up to 10, it’s pretty mild.

I try to go through this process every time I make a new purchase. It doesn’t always happen. If I need a product and there are no other options, I won’t look it up in the database because if I’m going to have to buy it regardless, why torture myself. If there are multiple options available, I always compare products through the database. You should do the same. Do that with your cosmetics NOW so that you know what to refill and what to change next time you run out of something. While your there, make a donation. It doesn’t have to be crazy, five or ten bucks is plenty. But these people are going to save our asses if we let them so let’s fund our own education.

Another thing that fascinates me about all this is that there are some cosmetic lines that are actually banned in the UK for toxic ingredients. So, it’s OK for us American girls to slowly slaughter ourselves with our own vanity because ignorance it bliss? I don’t think so. I’m not going down without a fight.

And when you hear me pull out the soap box, just remember: There is no real government investment in regulating the cosmetic industry.

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Sophie the Green Beauty Guru

Everyone is trying to go green these days, but this lady has it down! Sophie Uliano is the author-turned-blogger of Gorgeously Green, the ultimate website for every woman getting her natural beauty on. Recently, (seriously, like, yesterday) Sophie launched The New Gorgeous, keeping her signature bright style in tact but lacing her content with new experts and new info. Boho chicks, unite!

I’ve blogged here and there about going green, and yes I do use cloth napkins, but I got nothing on Sophie. When I read her book back in 2008, I was able to get about a third of her eco-friendly lifestyle down before I tapped out. Thick with hair, skin, beauty, and body tips, this bible of green beauty could literally transform your every day habits. Included at the end of each chapter there is a wonderful hand print with the 5 things you must know regarding that particular subject. When your learning something new, simplicity is best and that was a super easy way to retain the wealth of information she covered!

The New Gorgeous website is chock full of beauty tips, healthy recipes, and lifestyle changes for the new green girl. Bonus points: Sophie also does product reviews and has an Open Sky store, making shopping for your new favorite things a cinch! (If you’ve ever tried to shop for natural makeup sequestered in the corner of your local Whole Foods, you why this is a good thing!)

Cheers, Sophie!

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Kitchen Beautician: Emergency Facial

It was Friday night and 5 days away from my next facial, and my skin just looked terrible. I was having some breakout, plus was feeling dry and rough- not the way I wanted to start my Saturday! Even if I had wanted to, I couldn’t move up my facial appointment because I knew the weekend was jam packed and that was no time to be dealing with all the havoc a great facial can wreck on your skin.

**Heads up Ladies, a GREAT facial WILL make you break out! It get’s all that gunk out of your skin, not to mention professional products usually singe the top layer to reveal the new skin underneath. This is all wonderful… THREE DAYS after the facial. Do not get a facial the day before a big event!**

Story starting to sound familiar? Ever had that happen? Here you are, like a good woman you have all your appointments lined up and just days before you see your guru your suddenly wishing you had made your appointment for three and a half weeks, instead of the usual four.

I needed a pick-me up, something to get me feeling smooth and glowy without the unavoidable down-time a true professional-grade facial brings on. Good thing I’ve got a trick or two in my kitchen! I’m a huge fan of going natural and organic when I can, so I’ve got quite the collection of books on home-made skin care recipes. They are mild enough for my emergency facial, but strong enough to perk up my face before a long weekend. Consider this your go-to for a facial emergency when the powers that be keep you from your aestheticians bed for a few more days.

Step 1) Cleanse your face

I always have two parts to cleaning my face: First, I remove all my makeup with a wipe. I just can’t help being grossed out by the idea of dumping face wash on my face and making a brown sloppy mess when I’m supposed to be cleaning! It’s like trying to mop your floors and not sweep first. Then, go in with your cleanser and warm water. Spend at lease 3 minutes massaging your cleanser into your skin, and don’t forget your neck and hairline. Pat dry.

Step 2) Steam

Those steam machines in your spa make a big difference! The reason why they are used is because the gentle, hydrating heat of the steam opens up your pores, allowing whatever goodness your about ready to use on it to penetrate deeper. I love a good home-made steam, even if it’s not facial-day. In a heat-proof bowl, microwave approx 5 cups of water. I like to add a few sprigs of mint and some rosemary from my yard. Place bowl in front of you, drape a towel over your head and bend over the bowl but do not let your face touch the boiling water. Steam for your face for 3-5 minutes.

Rosemary and Mint Facial Steam


Step 3) Make your mask

One of my favorite masks is super easy, super effective and nearly always in my kitchen: Oatmeal and Milk Mask. The oatmeal works as a mild anti-inflammatory, soothing any sensitive spots on your face. It also helps draw out impurities in the skin as it dries, for an even deeper clean. Milk is one of the holy little wonders of the kitchen, and way over-looked: milk contains lactic acid, which in much stronger concentrations is used in dermatologists offices for intense exfoliation. Lactic acid is a chemical exfoliant. For you crunchy moms out there, next time your baby doesn’t finish their sugar-free natural baby cereal, take a spoonful of it and smear it on your face. You and your kid will look alike, and you’ll get a quick facial while they are giggling at you.


Oatmeal and Milk Mask

Recipe: 1/4 cup oats, coarsely crushed with a mortar and pestle or with the bottom of a heavy glass. Add milk a few teaspoons at a time till it forms a thick paste. It should look like breakfast!

Apply to the face and neck, then grab your favorite book and chill out for at least 10 minutes. Be sure to protect your hair if it’s not your wash day!

One of my finer looks…

After about 10-20 minutes, the mask will have started to dry. It’s easier to remove if you gently wipe your hands over your face to remove the bulk of the oats. Follow by a good rinsing. That milk does wonders, you’ll notice right away how much smoother your skin is!

Step 4) Tone

I’ve only found two toners that I like: Witch Hazel and Obagi. Most toners contain such high concentrations of alcohol that it totally wipes your skin out of any moisture and leave’s it shiny and tight- that is NOT healthy skin, healthy skin is soft and supple and has some natural oils to it. In this case, I used witch hazel, the perfect ending to my natural facial. I’ll talk more about Obagi in another post.

Witch Hazel, the perfect gentle toner


Wet a cotton ball with toner and apply to the face and neck.

Step 5) Moisturize and Protect!

You should always follow up every cleansing with moisturizing! Allow me to repeat: Always moisturize after cleansing! There is one time and one time ONLY when you do not moisturize, and that is when you are on a specific skin-care regimen that a professional has designed for you. And by professional, I do not mean the ads in beauty magazines. Going to bed? Skip sunscreen. Going out? SPF 30 or more, please!



Amelia C

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