Windows to the Soul

Maybe you’ve thought about switching from your regular drugstore brand eyeliner to something a bit more natural, but you’ve been concerned about the cost. I’ve seen “all-natural” eyeliners run as high as $30-40. That’s just way too much to spend on one little pencil.

Well, let me offer a solution to your problem. I heard about Physician’s Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Eyeliner from the plethora of positive reviews about it online. It’s the little pencil with the long name that, apparently, works remarkably well. I decided that, even though I usually prefer to try smaller, organic brands, I’d test out the popular well-known brand just this once—if for no other reason than the eyeliner’s $ 7 price tag. I was more than pleasantly surprised with the results. It glides on smoothly and wears great. I prefer it in the color Black Woods.

Need more reason to make the switch? Check out this ingredient list comparison. 

Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner. Cost: $7

Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Ozokerite, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Polyethylene, Phenyl Trimethicone, Candelilla Cera (Euphorbia Cerifera {Candelilla} Wax), Tocopherol, Sorbic Acid, BHT, Methylparaben, Propylparaben. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide, MICA, Black 2, Ferric Ferrocyanide, Carmine.

Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Eyeliner. Cost: $7

Ingredients: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Mica, Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Squalane, Oliva Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Your Feet Will Thank You

Have you ever seen the As Seen On TV product Heeltastic? The one that promises to be the final solution for cracked, dry heels? I bought this after I was disappointed by several other products promising to make my feet smooth and ready-to-go for summer flip-flops. After trying Heeltastic for a few days I must admit my feet were softer. Then about two weeks into using it I noticed they were slowly returning to their normal cracked and dry state. This so-called “miracle cure” was definitely not a permanent solution to problem heels. At least not mine. After Heeltastic failed me, I just assumed that there was no solution for me. If a product made specifically to fix calloused heels didn’t work on mine, it wasn’t likely I’d find a product that would. But, thankfully, I was wrong.

Rocky Mountain Soap Company, a great all-natural beauty company headquartered in the Canadian Rockies has accomplished what I previously thought was impossible. Their Foot Butter made with cotton seed oil, cocoa seed butter, carrot root extract and a host of other good-for-you ingredients, actually works.

When I first started using it, I assumed it would be similar to Heeltastic in that it would work for a while in the beginning but my feet would eventually return to their cracked, dry state even while continuing to use it. To my surprise, the reverse was true. The first week or two that I used it, I only noticed a subtle difference. Then about eight weeks into using it, I looked down at my feet one afternoon and was a little taken aback. They were almost as smooth my 7-month-old baby’s feet. They looked better than they ever had. I immediately wondered what I was doing differently…then I remembered…I’d still been using Rocky Mountain Soap Company’s Foot Butter. The stuff lived up to its promises. It works much better than Heeltastic. In fact, it works much better than anything else I’ve tried. I’ve not had a single crack or callous since I began using it. My feet are completely soft. Just click on the Testimonials tab on this page of their website and you’ll see that I’m not alone in my amazement at how this product was able to solve a previously unresolvable problem. I’ve since tried other products from this company and had great experiences with all of them. Their deodorants work…their lip glosses are great…they’ve created an all-around exceptional brand. You have to assume that anyone who’s figured out how to permanently fix dry heels might know a thing or two about making high-quality, effective beauty products.

Pool Party

If you’re headed to the pool this month, don’t pack your drugstore brand sunscreen from last summer. Instead, throw it in the trash and buy an all-natural sunscreen such as the one from Soleo Organics.

Studies show that the chemicals found in sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in the blood stream.  And the main chemical in 90% of all sunscreens just happens to be octyl methoxycinnamate…which kills cells in mice, even at very low doses. Numerous other ingredients found in most common sunscreens have also proven toxic, (such as oxybenzone–a hormone disrupting chemical).

Replace your old sunscreen with one like Soleo that uses zinc oxide to reflect and scatter UVA and UVB rays. Soleo is full of non-toxic ingredients that are so safe I’ve been using it on my 2-year-old whenever she plays in the backyard:

Ingredients: zinc oxide 22.3%, vitis vinifera seed oil (grapeseed), helianthus annus seed oil (sunflower), capric/caprylic triglyceride, vegetable oils, candelilla cera, cera alba (beeswax), macadamia ternifolia seed oil, theobroma grandiflorum seed butter, camillia sinensis leaf extract (green tea), anthemis nobilis flower extract (roman chamomile), lecithin, carthamus tinctorius seed oil (safflower), cucumis sativus fruit extract (cucumber), tocopheryl acetate.

Bronze Babe

I have never been big on sunless tanners. A girl I knew in elementary school was one of the first people to get into the whole sunless tanning craze. She was known for being orange. I can still see her splotchy hands now. So maybe I subconsciously associate the practice of sunless tanning with her…and I’d prefer not to look that unnatural. But I also don’t want to lie in the sun at length and promote premature wrinkles. That’s why I decided to give sunless tanning a shot this summer. Naturally, I wanted something as pure and organic as possible, so I went with Lavera’s Glow & Go Gradual Self Tanning Gel. I put some on over my moisturizer in the morning and left the bathroom, totally forgetting about it. That last sentence is more important than it may have sounded. I totally forgot about it. In other words, I didn’t smell it every other minute all day long like I have with other sunless tanners in the past. That’s not to say that it was completely odorless. When I put it on I smelled just the faintest aroma of DHA (the compound in all self-tanners)—but after it was on, it didn’t morph into an unwelcome intruder all day long.

Apparently I didn’t look at myself in the mirror at all after I put it on because I remember a few hours later my husband came home, took one look at me and said, “Wow, when’d you have time to get so tan?” I walked over to the mirror. I looked like I just got off a cruise ship. Better still, I was brown, not orange. The stuff works.

Self-tanners (whether deemed “all-natural” or not) are made up of DHA and erythrulose—two natural ingredients that react with the amino acids of the skin to create a darker skin color. From what science has found, these two ingredients are harmless, often having been derived from sugar beets. So the main ingredients in most self-tanners aren’t the problem; the problem is all the unnecessary parabens, fragrances and other dangerous synthetics often added to them. For instance, look at this ingredients’ list for Jergens Natural Glow Daily Facial moisturizer and note the ingredients in bold:


Lavera’s ingredients’ list, on the other hand, is full of products you can pronounce that won’t harm your health. And they use natural oils to mask the obnoxious DHA smell instead of some kind of cryptic “fragrance.” Take a look at their ingredients’ list:

Organic jojoba oil, calendula, aloe vera and rose water. Water
Grain Alcohol*
Dihydroxyaceton (DHA)
Sodium Lactate
Sunflower Seed Oil*
Xanthan Gum
Castor Seed Oil*
Calcium Sodium Borosilicate
Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Extract*
Aloe Vera Leaf Juice*
Rose Flower Water*
Lavander Flower Water*
Camelia Oleifera Leaf Extract*

At $24 a bottle, I think it’s worth it for the amazing tan you get. I’m officially hooked.

Soap for the Soul or A Morning Shot of Tequila


If your shower contains a bar of soap with the words Dove, Dial, Irish Spring, Ivory or Lever 2000 etched into the center, it’s time to make a change. Maybe you’ve used the same brand for years and can’t even conceive of what I’m suggesting. Well, if you need some motivation, start by reading this. After you’ve decided to give all-natural soaps a chance—which I really hope you will—navigate over to the Biggs & Featherbelle website to check out their selection of bar soaps.

I love when smaller brands specialize in one type of beauty product because it often means they really know what they’re doing in that particular area. And bar soap is most definitely the Biggs & Featherbelle specialty. With choices like Granola Bar, Handle Bar, Beach Bar and Lemon Bar, you can immediately tell they’ve “raised the bar” when it comes to all-natural soaps. And if you don’t believe me, just read these testimonials.

The sisters who started Biggs & Featherbelle began melting and pouring their own soaps to give to friends and family and later realized it was something they wanted to do full time. One thing I especially love about this company is their artful packaging. Having worked in the magazine industry for years, I have a real appreciation for their eye-catching design and creativity.

I currently have their Tequila Bar in my shower and I absolutely love it. It contains a blend of saponified oils including coconut, sunflower, palm, soybean and macadamia nut. My morning shot of tequila truly invigorates me everyday. It smells great and works better than any drugstore brand ever has.



At only $4.99 each, the Biggs & Featherbelle soaps are well worth the knowledge that you’re not rubbing chemicals all over your body to kickoff your beauty routine. So go do some bar hopping today!

The Best Deli in Town

If you know anything about me, you already know I’m a huge proponent of raw/natural foods. I have my certification in plant-based nutrition from Cornell and have taken half a year’s worth of “cooking lessons” from an all-raw chef. So it only makes sense that I would be extremely attracted to The Body Deli from the moment I laid eyes on their vibrant colored website brimming with fresh fruits and H2O. But what I wanted to know was whether or not my lust for their clever marketing would turn into a love for products that actually worked. I was so smitten while reading their ingredients lists, I thought there was no way I’d find depth beyond my instant attraction. It seemed too good to be true. However, after trying several products from the The Body Deli, I’m happy to say…this beautiful brand actually has the brains to match.

The Body Deli products are made with “fresh, uncooked superfoods.” It simply doesn’t get any better than that. Why wouldn’t you want to feed your skin and hair the same nutritious foods you feed your body?  Some of The Body Deli products are so fresh, in fact, that they actually have to be refrigerated. And no, it’s not just a silly marketing gimmick, (although it may look that way when you’re staring at a glass case full of refrigerated beauty products.)

Whenever I hear about celebrities who are diehard fans of this or that beauty brand, I usually discount it. But with The Body Deli, I didn’t have to because the celebrities who’ve embraced them are already known for their all-natural approach to health and beauty—women like Alicia Silverstone, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson. In other words, they’re serious about this kind of stuff.

The first product I tried was the Blueberry Fusion Scrub, and yes, as many of the women in the testimonials proclaimed—it smells amazing and, better yet, my skin looked immediately smoother after just one use.

My pores were smaller and more refined. It’s not a miracle potion of some kind, but it is definitely an exceptional facial scrub. The reason it works so well is because it uses all natural lactic, malic and citric acids to remove dull, dry skin cells, revealing brighter skin texture. Here’s the part I love most: The ingredients include such things as wild blueberry puree, acai berry puree and pomegranate juice. Which sounds exactly like the ingredients I put in my Vita-Mix to make a smoothie yesterday. I can confidently say there is no other beauty brand willing to be this pure and innovative when it comes to what goes in their products.

I also tried their Radiance Enzyme Peel, which contains therapeutic grade Manuka honey, known for its skin healing benefits.

The ingredients’ list for this peel reads like the back of a Probiotics bottle at your local health food store, (L. Acidophilus, L. Bulgaricum, L. Leichmanni, etc.). Other ingredients that got me borderline giddy included kale juice, beet juice, spinach juice and goji berry. The peel worked well, revealing a brighter complexion. It may not be the best choice for those with acne-prone or sensitive skin, however.

The only negative thing I have to say about The Body Deli is really not negative–it’s just the downside to all things truly natural. Just as I’d have to pay a whooping $8 for a 4-pack of organic bell peppers at the grocery store instead of $4 for the regular, pesticide-laden ones, so too does this purity come at a higher price. The Blueberry Fusion Scrub is $36, (which is still not too bad when compared to some high-end brands), and the Radiance Peel was recently marked down from $48 to $38. So while I may not be able to outfit my entire bathroom with The Body Deli anytime soon (as much as I’d like too), for a beauty splurge, this is most definitely the freshest way to go.

Bubbles Galore

Until about a month ago I hadn’t taken a bath in probably 15 years. But when we recently moved into a new house with a pretty awesome bathtub, I figured I’d better take at least one bath. One led to two which led to three and pretty soon I was on a hunt to find a great bottle of bubble bath to complement my new pastime. But here’s what I didn’t want in my bubble bath: a bunch of chemicals. If I’m going to be in the bath for at least 20 minutes…and have every square inch of my skin exposed to the ingredients, it could not be something like Philosophy’s Vanilla Birthday Cake bubble bath–with a smell I love but ingredients I hate:

Water (Aqua), Tea-Lauryl Sulfate, Ppg-2 Hydroxyethyl Cocamide, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycol Stearate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Fragrance (Parfum), Polyquaternium-7, Peg-150 Distearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzotriazolyl Butylphenol Sulfonate, Buteth-3, Tributyl Citrate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Propylene Glycol, Yellow 5 (Ci 19140), Red 40 (Ci 16035).

This list prompted me to seek out an all-natural bubble bath, and I came across one from Soaptopia made with pure Essential Oil of Australian Eucalyptus. I poured a little of it in the tub, and watched the bubbles start to form. The bubbles kept coming and kept coming and kept coming. It was crazy. I’ve never seen so many bubbles in all my life. It looked like the kind of bubble bath you’d see in a movie. The bubbles were almost two feet high. I had to take my arm and shovel some of them down into the water so they didn’t completely engulf me. But I’ve got to admit, it was kind of cool. I felt like my two-year-old daughter. I was absolutely amazed by a tub full of bubbles.

All that to say, if you want a lot of bubbles…Allota Bubbles from Soaptopia most definitely lives up to its name! And the ingredients aren’t scary like the ones above. Soaptopia likes to call their products 100% JUNK FREE which I really like. Their bubble baths are sugar-based and contain ingredients such as organic dandelion, Vitamin E, Sweet Orange Blossom and Tea Tree, Borage and Olive Oil. So go light a candle and fill up the tub. If you want “allota” bubbles, try some from Soaptopia. Just remember that a little goes a long way.

Help for Troubled Skin

I am constantly getting emails from readers asking about which all-natural and organic products are best for clearing up acne. This is where I have to be honest and say that I have yet to find an all-natural product line that totally clears acne. But here’s the thing: I do know of a set of products that will clear up acne for’s just that they happen not to be 100% natural. This is perhaps the only time in which I am going to recommend a set of products that isn’t totally natural because acne is an issue in which effectiveness in eliminating the problem is absolutely essential.

So if you’ve tried everything under the sun to clear up your skin but nothing has worked, I can promise you there’s hope. You’re not going to find your solution at another dermatologist’s office. You won’t find it by purchasing the miracle 3-step system you just saw advertised. And you’re definitely not going to find it in an Internet e-book that promises you clear skin in three days. You also won’t find it in a natural home remedy—like taking copious amounts of vitamin B12, slathering your face with coconut oil or making a mask of crushed up aspirin (any of those sound familiar?). You probably could find it if you eliminated all sugar from your diet, and ate only raw plant foods from now on–but what are the chances of that actually happening?

So where can you turn for a solution to troubled skin? The answer: A little business you’ve probably never heard of in San Leandro, California. It’s called Face Reality Acne Clinic and it’s owned by Laura Cooksey. Laura is not a dermatologist. In fact, she was a massage therapist who had tried everything to get her skin clear. Finally, when she was 35-years-old she met an esthetician who told her what to do to clear up her skin. She did what the esthetician told her to do, and, lo and behold, it worked. She decided right then and there that she too would become an esthetician to impart her skin-clearing secrets to others plagued with bad skin.

Face Reality has a system that will help anyone get their acne under control in about 6-12 weeks. And the breakouts will never return. I know this because I haven’t had a single breakout in four years…beginning about three months after I first used their skincare products. I didn’t have terrible acne, but I had those monthly hormone-related flare-ups that the dermatologist told me simply “could not be avoided.” Well, I’m happy to say the dermatologist was wrong.

Face Reality is a real bricks-and-mortar business. But you don’t have to live in California to benefit from their expertise. In addition to the clients they see in-house, they also take long-distance clients through a program you can access on their website.

Read a collection of Face Reality client reviews here if you still don’t believe clear skin is possible.

Also check out the Face Reality Blog for a lot of useful information. With the proliferation of Internet sites claiming to have a “miracle acne cure” (if you just pay them $40!), I thought this recent blog post from the Face Reality staff was especially helpful:

Acne Free in 3 Days!! Secret Acne Cure!! Clear Skin Overnight!! NOT.

I see these ads every day and I have to laugh.  The old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  And in this case, it is also true.  One cannot possibly get their skin clear in just 3 days (or overnight) because of one little-known fact.

Acne takes up to 30 to 90 days to form.  A pimple that you see today probably started as a microcomedone up to three months ago.

This is why it takes about three to four months to see your skin clear up.  Three months worth of acne is going to surface, even when you are using the perfect acne regimen.  That regimen is keeping the NEW micromedones from forming, so you won’t see them surface 3 months from now.  So, just because you are seeing some breakouts doesn’t mean that your regimen (if you are on the right set of products) isn’t working.  These are lesions that got a “foothold” in the pore as a microcomedone before you started using products.

Another issue that arises in acne home-care protocol is that you need to take into account the skin’s ability to adapt to product.  You cannot start out with a regimen (albeit perfect for your acne type/skin) and just keep it the same.  Your skin will adapt and start to form acne lesions again.  This is why you need someone who can coach you through the process of getting clear.  Knowing when to bump your regimen up a notch and when not to should be left in the hands of an experienced acne specialist.

So, don’t waste your money on the false promises out there (and they are EVERYwhere!).  Go to a tried-and-true acne clinic that will give you all the facts and support you need to get your acne under control.  And know that your acne will not be under control the next day…..

In Love With Lip Balm

If you don’t already know why you should always use a 100% natural lip balm, read this post first. But if you already know how important it is to use something natural on your lips, what you may not know is which brand to choose when faced with an ever-increasing selection of “natural” lip balms in the cosmetic aisle.

Unfortunately, a lot of  these lip balms aren’t quite as natural as they claim. For instance, take a look at the ingredients’ list for Revlon’s Beyond Natural Lip Tint:

Octinoxate (7.5%)Inactive Ingredients: Trioctyldodecyl Citrate, Bis Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate 2, Petrolatum, Triisocetyl Citrate, Paraffin, Ozokerite, Polyethylene, Tocopheryl Acetate, Chamomilla Recutita Flower/Leaf Extract (Matricaria), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Citrullus Vulgaris Fruit Extract (Watermelon), Pyrus Malus Fruit Extract (Apple), Persea Gratissima Fruit Extract (Avocado), Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Mother of Pearl, Quartz, Topaz, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Squalane, Parfum (Fragrance), Benzyl Benzoate, Limonene, Citronellol, Linalool, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Citral, Caprylyl Glycol, 1, 2 Hexanediol, May Contain (+/-): Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499), Red 6 Lake (CI 15850), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850:1), Red 33 Lake (CI 17200), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Carmine (CI 75470)

Hmm…doesn’t look beyond natural to me. (Remember, that last ingredient Carmine comes from crushed up beetles!)

On the other hand, a lot of truly natural lip balms that actually do have good ingredients often don’t taste all that great. (Some of them also have a strange consistency or wear off about two minutes after application.)

Fortunately I’ve found a brand of lip balm that earns five stars across the board when it comes to ingredients, flavor, texture and longevity.

I’ve already talked about how impressed I was with the all-natural deodorant from In Love With Bodycare, but I’m quickly learning that this particular line has a lot to offer than just deodorant.

These lip balms are some of the best tasting, all-natural lip balms I’ve found. I keep the honey vanilla flavor in my bathroom and the latte and dark chocolate truffle flavors in my purse. All of them are so delicious that I simply can’t get enough of them. I’m constantly re-applying them throughout the day. (And the dark chocolate truffle looks amazing on my lips!) The really good news about this is: When I do happen to lick my lips, I’m only ingesting these six, safe ingredients:

Coffee bean infused coconut oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, roasted hazelnut oil, jojoba oil, wheat germ oil.

Perhaps the best part about these lip balms is, unlike some brands that think an “all-natural” label gives them the right to charge $8 a tube, these cost right around $3.50, which makes them a total steal. They’re definitely worth stocking up. I’m thinking of getting one for each room in my house!

All of That In One Little Pencil?

If I could only use one beauty product a day, it would probably be eyeliner. I don’t ever leave the house without at least a little bit on my upper lids. In years past, I was always on a hunt for the perfect eyeliner–one that would stay put and not disappear before dinner. I would often walk into Sephora or Ulta and say to a salesclerk, “Show me the eyeliner that stays put the longest.” Then I’d pony up whatever amount of money it took to purchase the little black or brown pencil she showed me. As a result, I practically needed a separate drawer for all the eyeliners I accumulated over the years. Most of them are still sitting in a little basket in my bathroom closet. I can’t seem to toss them out because I know how much I have invested in them. There are eyeliners from Lancome, Stila, Sephora, Laura Mercier, Urban Decay, Clinique and many, many more.

Because eyeliner is used on such a small portion of the skin, I had never bothered to investigate the ingredients. But once I did decide to look into it, I was pretty amazed. For instance, I owned Stila’s Kajal Eye Liner in onyx (black).

Stila’s Kajal Eye Liner (Onyx) Ingredients:
Isohexadecane, Octyldodecanol, Polyethylene, Microcrystalline Wax \Cera Microcristallina\Cire Microcristalline, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax\Candelilla Cera\Cire De Candelilla, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Lecithin, Caprylyl Methicone, Lauryl Methacrylate/Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Citric Acid, Propylene Carbonate, [+/- Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Aluminum Powder (CI 77000), Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Carmine (CI 75470), Chromium Hydroxide Green (CI 77289), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140)].

Holy cow! Enough chemicals for you?

After seeing a list like that I decided to seek out an all-natural eyeliner…even though I was very leery of whether or not something natural could actually stay put all day. I researched for a while and finally settled on the chocolate shimmery eyeliner from 100% Pure cosmetics.

After a day of wearing this eyeliner I was utterly impressed. It actually lasted longer than all the other eyeliners I’d tried. By 10 p.m. I looked in the mirror and was amazed that I still had a clear brown line across my eyelids. This was a new experience.

Now let’s look at the ingredients in this eyeliner and you tell me which one you’d feel better about rimming your eyes with every day.

100% Pure Chocolate Pigmented Shimmery Chocolate Gel Eye Liner: Black Tea, Dark Cacao Pigment, Aloe Vera Gel, Rose Hydrosol, Candelilla Wax, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Red Wine Resveratrol, Extracts of Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, Goji Berry, Acai Berry and Goldenseal, Peptides of Snow Pea, Black Rice and Hibiscus, Vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate), Vitamin E (a-tocopherol), Rice Starch, Mica, Japanese Honeysuckle Extract

Most of the ingredients sound good enough to eat! So even though I recognize that I’m not using copious amounts of eyeliner on my skin each day, I figure there can’t be any harm in sticking with an all-natural alternative over something laden with literally 50 different chemicals. Especially when the safer eyeliner looks great, is good for me and actually lasts all day long.