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January 11, 2010

Skin care without herbs & fragrance

QUESTION:

I am sensitive to perfumes and herb oils so it has been quite the journey for me to find organic and suitable skin care line that i could use daily.

Five days ago i purchased Facial mist Rare Minerals from Bare Escentuals and i broke out in hives just after first use. That, unfortunatelly happens to me often.

Any suggestions? My skin is combination ( dry with oily T zone).

Thank you, Eva, California.

POSTED BY EVA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 10:49 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? What do you recommend from your experience? I use nothing more than handmade soap on my body and face.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


December 22, 2009

Nature Clean Lotion a Good Alternative?

QUESTION:

Hi there - I have found Nature Clean moisturizing lotion at my local grocery store but I am not sure if it is a good lotion. My knowledge of harmful ingredients is limited, so I don\'t know if it\'s okay or not. Here\'s the product info...

Made with Vitamin E and the extracts of cocoa butter and ginger root, this 99.7% natural Moisturizing Lotion nourishes and protects skin without leaving behind a greasy film.

The formula is unscented and exceptionally mild therefore it’s perfect for all skin types, including those with allergies or chemical sensitivities. Ideal for everyday use to nourish, protect and help maintain your skin’s natural moisture balance.

Both formulas have been created without any Petroleum Ingredients, SLS & SLES, PEG, Cocamide DEA, dyes, perfumes or any suspected carcinogens. It’s a Vegan product and has been pH-balanced.

Ingredients: WATER, GLYCERIN, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, GLYCERYL SYEARATE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, SQUALANE, COCOGLYCERIDES, CETYL ALCOHOL, ZEA MAYS (CORN) STARCH, THEOBROMA CACAO (COCOA) SEED BUTTER, ZINGIBER OFFICINALE (GINGER) ROOT EXTRACT, HYDROXYETHYL CELLULOSE, TOCOPHERYL (VITAMIN E) ACETATE, PANTHENOL, BISABOLOL, ALLANTOIN, FOENICULUM VULGARE (FENNEL) FRUIT EXTRACT, HUMULUS LUPULUS (HOPS) EXTRACT, ACHILLEA MILLEFOLIUM EXTRACT, MELISSA OFFICINALIS LEAF EXTRACT, VISCUM ALBUM (MISTLETOE) FRUIT EXTRACT, PHENOXYETHANOL (PRESERVATIVE), ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN.

Any insight would be helpful. Thanks!

POSTED BY ERIN :: MONTANA CANADA :: 2:38 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Whether or not this is a good alternative depends on what you are looking for. If you are primarily looking for an unscented lotion, then this is probably fine.

However, when I look at this list of ingredients, I first of all am seeing that none of the ingredients are organically-grown, and to me using organic skin care products is as important as eating organic food, as skin care products go right through your skin and into your body.

There are also a lot of ingredients with chemical names rather than natural names, like "glyceryl stearate," rather than "coconut oil." These ingredients may originate in plants, but they are not in their natural state.

Here's a little analysis of the ingredients.

WATER - could be any water with any pollutants, probably tap water
GLYCERIN - a byproduct of soap manufacture
CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE - derived from coconut oil
GLYCERYL STEARATE - another form of glycerin
CETEARYL ALCOHOL - a mixture of cetyl and stearyl alcohols. May be made from vegetable or animal fats--both would be considered "natural".
SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE - isolated from milk
SQUALANE - made from plant or shark liver oils
COCOGLYCERIDES - made from coconut oil
CETYL ALCOHOL - made from vegetable oils

The following ingredients are plant ingredients closer to their natural state
ZEA MAYS (CORN) STARCH
THEOBROMA CACAO (COCOA) SEED BUTTER
ZINGIBER OFFICINALE (GINGER) ROOT EXTRACT
HYDROXYETHYL CELLULOSE
TOCOPHERYL (VITAMIN E) ACETATE
PANTHENOL
BISABOLOL
ALLANTOIN
FOENICULUM VULGARE (FENNEL) FRUIT EXTRACT
HUMULUS LUPULUS (HOPS) EXTRACT
ACHILLEA MILLEFOLIUM EXTRACT
MELISSA OFFICINALIS LEAF EXTRACT
VISCUM ALBUM (MISTLETOE) FRUIT EXTRACT

PHENOXYETHANOL (PRESERVATIVE) - this is a glycol ether. Pretty toxic. Often used in paints. Not natural, but used in a very small amount.
ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN - derived from grains and plants, it is a presevative enhancer, known to be a skin irritant

It's not 100% natural or at all organic, but pretty good for a mainstream product sold in a mass market store.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


November 23, 2009

How Can I Remove Scent From My Hair?

QUESTION:

Help -- a new hair stylist "forgot" my just-stated request for 'no styling products' and slathered my hair with a perfume-containing lotion. Thirteen hours and seven washes later I am still ill from the odor and moreso from the taste left in my mouth. Anyone have ideas on how to get this tenacious fragrance out of my hair -- without hurting my hair or scalp any more than seven shampoos (with fragrance-free products of course).

POSTED BY LINDA :: MINNESOTA USA :: 6:17 PM
CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 14 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


November 16, 2009

ecodent dental products

QUESTION:

Hi Debra,

What is your opinion of EcoDent toothpaste? Is this a natural product and good for health - no additives, etc.?

Thanks!
Sarah

POSTED BY SARAH :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 11:52 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

First of all, Ecodent does not make toothpaste, they make tooth powders. I have used them and really like them--in fact I probably will be buying more very soon since I have been trying out some other tooth powders I didn't like.

I actually prefer tooth powders over toothpaste. Ecodent toothpowders contain minerals and herbs, no sweeteners or sodium lauryl sulfate.

All Ecodent dental care products are fine with me.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 9 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


November 12, 2009

Shampoo

QUESTION:

I am trying to find a good shampoo which is totally natural.

Some people recommended Aubrey but that product does not produce lather at all and my hair was stripping due to the friction.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

POSTED BY SRINI :: DELAWARE USA :: 11:55 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 33 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


October 16, 2009

toilet paper

QUESTION:

I appreciate this website so very much. It has helped to educate me about the things that make me sick. So thankful for all your very good information.

My question is that I have a "red and raw" irritation. The doctor had no advice for me once he ruled out infection. I have been trying to figure out the cause. I started wondering if toilet paper could do this to me. (That is where the problem is) We use some that we buy at Costco that is very white. The paper has no fragrances.

Could that be at least a cause of the rawness? I would appreciate any information or advice you can give me. Thank you so much.

POSTED BY DEBBIE :: NEW MEXICO USA :: 12:24 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Toilet paper could certainly be the problem. Even if there is no fragrance, the paper itself could be an irritant.

We use Scott 1000. I know there is recycled toilet paper, but I don't feel comfortable using recycled paper for this purpose. I don't know what toxic materials might remain in the recycled paper of that rough quality.

You could also use a bidet. This website has a little video that shows how a bidet works: www.biffy.com/.

And check out this blog for more discussion on toilet paper: ReNest: Green Alternatives to Toilet Paper.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 8 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


October 09, 2009

Zinc Ricinoleate in Deodorant

QUESTION:

Hi Debra,

Great site! Thank you and your community for all the excellent insight and advice!

I'm hoping you can help me with a question I have regarding natural deodorants.

I gave up using deodorants containing aluminum several years ago and have used several natural products since with varying degrees of success.

Recently Tom's of Maine created a new deodorant that claims long lasting 24 hour protection. The ingredients include Zinc Ricinoleate to absorb oder. Is Zinc Ricinoleate safe or is Tom's just replacing one unsafe metal(aluminum) with another(zinc)?

Thank you for your help!

POSTED BY 02138JEFF :: MASSACHUSETTS USA :: 5:19 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Tom's of Maine has a good explanation of zinc ricinoleate at www.tomsofmaine.com/products/ingredient-detail.aspx?id=27&name=Zinc, which is consistent with explanations I have found elsewhere.

"Zinc ricinoleate is a zinc salt of ricinoleic acid. The zinc source for the material is zinc oxide while ricinoleic acid is a purified fatty acid from castor seed oil, a vegetable oil obtained from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant."

It's not a toxic metal. In fact, many people have zinc deficiency and often take it as a dietary supplement.

As long as we are talking about deodorants, I stopped using deodorant of any kind about six months ago (maybe more). Not one person has recoiled from my body odor or mentioned it. While on our recent trip to Germany, my husband asked me, "Can I use your deodorant?" and I laughed and told him I hadn't been using deodorant for months! Now if HE doesn't think my underarms smell without deodorant, as close as he is to me, I think I don't need deodorant after all.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


October 06, 2009

Pumice Stone

QUESTION:

My husband told me this morning that he used my pumice stone on his feet. I'm not crazy about sharing personal items, like toiletries. Is a pumice stone one of those things that habor germs? And is there a way to clean a pumice stone or should I buy a new one?

PS I am new to this website and I LOVE it!

POSTED BY BONNIE :: GEORGIA USA :: 1:40 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? Any info on this?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 5 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Flat Tummy?

QUESTION:

How do you suppose we women could rid ourselves of this little bit of flab?

I am 5'2" and weigh in at about 140lbs. Most of that weight is in my thighs and tummy. I am 23 years old.

I love the book, Eat fat Lose fat, and have applied most of it to my daily diet (i.e., cod liver oil and coconut oil every day).

Thanks!

POSTED BY CHRISTY G. :: TEXAS USA :: 1:39 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers, what successful experience do you have with this?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 5 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


September 28, 2009

Lubricating jelly

QUESTION:

Does anyone know of a good substitute for KY jelly. I have MCS and it makes me itch after intercourse. With vaginal dryness I need to use something, but don't know what to do. I tried olive oil and it absorbed so fast that we could not keep reapplying that fast. Both my husband and I take antihistamines, so we are both dry.
Any sugesstions would be appreciated.
Thank you.

POSTED BY DEBBIE :: NEW MEXICO USA :: 11:10 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 37 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


hair dyes / tattoo dyes

QUESTION:

Hello Debra.

My husband & I love your web site, thank you for all the info and "words of wisdom".

I have two questions.

1. Do you know of a permanent hair dye that is free of perfumes and harsh chemicals, safe for MCS people ?

2. Do you have any information in reguards to the safety of tattoo dyes on people with MCS ?

Many thanks Debra!!!!

POSTED BY LOUISE :: WASHINGTON USA :: 11:09 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers, what are your recommendations?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 20 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Origins Products

QUESTION:

Hi Debra,
I recently went into an Origins store and the sales agent told me that they don't use any chemicals in their products so they are all 100% natural. I bought a couple of items that didn't have any chemicals listed in the ingredient list, but do you or your readers know if this is in fact true? I would appreciate any advice...
Thank you very much.

POSTED BY R :: MASSACHUSETTS USA :: 10:35 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Unfortunately, their website does not list any ingredients, so I can't look at all the ingredients lists. I know when they first came out, they weren't 100% natural, but I know they changed their formulas.

A lot of beauty product websites list their ingredients, so consumers can check out the products before they buy.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


August 19, 2009

Is mineral makeup dangerous

QUESTION:

I switched to mineral makeup because it contains fewer chemicals and synthetic ingredients. However, I have recently read that it is unsafe to inhale titanium dioxide and kaolin, which are common ingredients in mineral makeup. It is difficult to apply loose powder mineral makeup without inhaling some of the dust -- does anyone know if this is something to be genuinely concerned about?
Thanks

POSTED BY MGR :: FLORIDA USA :: 11:01 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

One thing that is important to keep in mind regarding assessing danger is how much of a potentially hazardous substance your are exposed to. Remember "the dose makes the poison."

A lot of the toxicity data that is available comes from safety standards set for workplace exposure, not consumer exposure. I've seen many products contain ingredients that are "dust hazards" in the workplace, but at home, we use so little there is hardly a dust hazard. Think of scouring powder, for example.

The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit for the workplace is 15 milligrams per cubic meter. Same for kaolin. All day long. You're applying your makeup for less than a minute.

Keep in mind that this is a dust hazard, it's a mechanical particle thing. It is the same for any dust. Mineral makeup isn't any more dusty than any other face powder or body powder or baking flour. It's all dust.

I'm not concerned about it.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 3 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


July 15, 2009

Are earrings safe?

QUESTION:

Hi,

Stainless steel cookware isn't safe; nickel makes me feel stressed and makes my eyes feel stressed. Is there nickel in earrings? Are metal/silver earrings safe? How about gold earrings? And how about gold earrings that are silver? I am thinking about stop wearing earrings and let the holes heal.

Is pearcing ear lobes a good or bad idea in terms of health?

Thanks

POSTED BY YH :: MICHIGAN USA :: 5:33 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

There can be nickel in earrings.

The toxicity of metals is a whole subject in itself, something that I plan to study more thoroughly after I complete my website redesign and restructuring I am in the midst of right now. They don't give off toxic fumes, however, they can be absorbed through the skin.

Metals can also affect health in ways that are not about toxicity. A friend of mine just recently told me about a necklace her husband gave her almost twenty years ago. She has worn it continuously since that day. She has had a lot of health problems. It turned out to be her necklace. It's silver or gold, I don't remember. She stopped wearing the necklace and her symptoms significantly improved.

I also seem to recall something about how piercing the body can affect energy meridians.

The body is a finely tuned instrument. Many environmental factors can affect it for better or worse.

If you think the earrings are affecting your health, don't wear them.

The only jewelry I wear is my wedding rings. Gold and diamonds. But I don't even wear these continuously. I like to wear them most of the time, but there are times when I take them off and just let my body be as it is in it's natural state.

I'll be writing more about metals in the near future.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


June 24, 2009

dental implants

QUESTION:

My husband is planning to get lower dentures and the dentist is going to use mini implants. I think they are made from titanium. Do you have any info on how safe this is? He is missing is bottom molears so he doesn't really have a choice as his bottom front teeth are starting to loosen and he needs to be able to chew! Thanks, JC

POSTED BY JC :: GEORGIA USA :: 6:59 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Titanium is considered a "bio-compatible" metal, used in many medical applications with a long history of being safe.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 6 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


June 01, 2009

Lanolin

QUESTION:

Hi, Debra!

I am really puzzled about one ingredient, which often occurs even in the most natural labeled products (mainly lip/ chap sticks): lanolin. Do you consider it a safe ingredient or not? (since it is never specified what kind of sheep they use as a source- I only know that they are not being harmed in the process)

I am not a vegan myself, but am concerned about contaminations or different tratments those sheeps might go through...

Thanks!

Dana

POSTED BY DANA :: FLORIDA USA :: 2:42 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Here's a webpage that explains about lanolin--what it is and how it is obtained--which is consistent with my understanding: Sheepish Grins: Lanolin.

You bring up a good point. "Natural" means only that the ingredient is or came from a plant, animal or mineral (not petroleum). But it indicates nothing about the purity of the ingredient. Natural ingredients can be grown with pesticides and may contain other contaminants. This is why the movement toward organically grown ingredients in skin care products.

I consider lanolin to be a safe, natural ingredient. Any pesticides that may have been used on the sheep are filtered out of the lanolin to make pharmaceutical grade.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


May 05, 2009

Eyebrow pencil

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a nontoxic or, at least, less toxic eyebrow pencil in a grey or brown. I've been using Logona, but it is difficult to apply smoothly. Any suggestions?

POSTED BY MARY :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 8:12 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't use eyebrow pencil. Readers, your suggestions?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 6 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


March 12, 2009

eco friendly face care and make-up

QUESTION:

Dear Debra and Readers,

Can anyone suggest some excellent lines for skin care that are non-toxic. I have explored many of the lines that are carried ion Whole Foods, but have not found anything that really works well and or doesn't make me red. Also, I would love to hear feedback on organic make-up lines, as I have not found a Line that I really love, yet, despite trying over a half dozen eco/organic lines.

Thanks,

POSTED BY SOPHIA :: NEW JERSEY USA :: 4:35 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 17 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


March 09, 2009

Swimscreen Skin Lotion

QUESTION:

Debra,

I posted an entry here several years ago about minimizing the impact of swimming in chlorinated water. Since then, at my doctors advice I stopped swimming in pools. This winter I just needed the water and the workout and have returned once again to the pool. I Love the exercise and how it energizes me and seems to reduce overall reactivity in my nervous and immune system. But the chlorine...

Currently I slather myself with my usual pure hemp lotion in the morning on days before I swim and then again before i get in the pool. I recently found this lotion on a swim wear site called Kiefer. I was told that it contained "surgical grade silicone" which made a seal. I don't know which ingredient that is or if surgical grade silicone is safe for people like us. I wonder what you think about it. Am I trading one toxin for another or does it seem worth it for the benefits? Here is the ingredient list

Kiefer Swimscreen Dermal RX Lotion
Ingredients: Deionized Water, UREA USP, Isopropyl Myristate, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, Trithanolamine 99% Carbomer, Lactic Acid, PVP (Hexadecene Copolymer), Silk Amino Acid, Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Imidazolidnyl Urea, Methyl Parben, Propyl Paraben, Benzalkonium Chlorine, Tetrasodium EDTA.

CAUTION: Do not apply to the soles of feet – Lotion is slippery when wet!
I await your reply
Fish out of water in Montague, MA

POSTED BY LUCY :: MASSACHUSETTS USA :: 8:52 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Well, this is an interesting concept.

My first thought is "makes a seal?????" The skin needs to breath. If this seal keeps water away from the skin, does it also prevent air from penetrating the seal? What about perspiration generated by the body? Can it get out though the seal? I'm just having a hard time visualizing the mechanics of this.

Without going in to analyzing each ingredient, I don't see an ingredient on the list that I recognize as silicone. PVP is a plastic and it's got three preservatives, among other petrochemical ingredients.

To answer your question simply, I'm not sure this is better than the chlorine.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


March 02, 2009

Healthy Gums from using essential oils

QUESTION:

I recommend OraMD instead of toothpaste. It contains only almond, spearmint, and peppermint oils. For too many years my dentist had me coming in for cleaning every three months because my gums had pockets. I finally got fed up and found OraMD through a Google search. I brush my teeth with it twice a day instead of toothpaste and my dentist no longer worries about my gum health at my six month check-ups. I've been using it for nearly five years now - proof enough to me that it works. My husband and teenage son go to different dentists and had the same results. Try it!
www.trustedhealthproducts.com
I am not affiliated with this company in any way.

POSTED BY JILL A :: NEW JERSEY USA :: 10:12 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

This looks like a good formula to me. I have a little bottle of peppermint oil that I keep in my medicine cabinet because my dental hygienist told me years ago to use peppermint oil to heal my gums. I rarely have gum problems now, but if I do, the first thing I do is floss thoroughly and apply the peppermint oil with a Q-tip. Any bleeding or soreness goes away in 24 hours.

So your experience is consistent with mine.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


January 30, 2009

Rigid gas permeable contact lens solution?

QUESTION:

Hello! Hoping that someone out there can recommend a nontoxic rigid gas permeable contact lens solution? The one I currently use is a multipurpose solution that disinfects and soaks. It's convenient, but I'm nervous about the chemicals in it.
Thank you!

POSTED BY ANNE :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 2:28 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Help with son's ADD

QUESTION:

My husband and I are looking for a homeopathic remedy for ADD. We want to find a product that contains nutrients that maintain normal brain stimulation levels. We are looking at a Focus Attention product that is all natural (from Nature's Sunshine). It is supposed to be taken with Flaxseed Oil. My son is 13 and we do not want to put him on Focalin or any stimulant.

POSTED BY LEE :: TEXAS USA :: 1:13 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? Any suggestions?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 9 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


December 16, 2008

Cornstarch powder in latex gloves

QUESTION:

Hi Debra:

I thought some of your readers may be interested in knowing that the presence of cornstarch powder in latex gloves can greatly increase the likelihood that one will become sensitized to latex. See this link: www.immune.com/rubber/nr3.html#latex

So if anyone uses latex gloves, they may want to purchase the unpowdered variety.

POSTED BY RMM :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 12:28 PM
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December 01, 2008

Is Chapstick safer than Lip Stick?

QUESTION:

You wrote in your book that lip stick is very toxic. How about chapstick? I don't have the packaging anymore, but it is so small that no ingredient is listed on the chapstick itself. What are some ingredients in chapsticks that are bad for people? I would guess that some are not too good for consumption. Mine taste like a very sweet tangerine or orange. I like the taste a lot, but of course, I guess no fragrance is better. Thanks

POSTED BY YH :: MICHIGAN USA :: 1:11 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Interestingly, ChapStick is labeled as a drug.

Active ingredients:
Padimate O 1.5%..................Sunscreen
White petrolatum 44%.............Skin Protectant

Uses
* helps prevent and temporarily protects chafed, chapped or cracked lips
* helps prevent and protects from the drying effects of wind and cold weather
* helps prevent sunburn
* higher SPF gives more sunburn protection

Inactive ingredients:
arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol, D&C red no. 6 barium lake, FD&C yellow no. 5 aluminum lake, fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, oleyl alcohol, paraffin, phenyl trimethicone, propylparaben, titanium dioxide, white wax.

Without going into an analysis of every ingredient, I'll just say that almost half of the product is petroleum, plus artificial colors and fragrances, and preservatives.

By contrast, here are the ingredient for their new ChapStick 100% Naturals Lip Butter, which is labeled as a cosmetic:

Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Jojoba Esters, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Flavor, Beeswax, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Lipids, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed (Mango Butter), Octyldodecanol, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil (Olive Butter), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil (Avocado Butter), Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil (Raspberry Butter), Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate.

I'd choose a 100% natural lipstick or lip gloss over the classic ChapStick. You can find them at your natural food store or on the Bodycare page of Debra's List.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Orthodonic work (braces) and safety

QUESTION:

Dear Debra,

I may need to have some orthodontic work done by the dentist, and wear braces for a time.

This is metal, plastic, and rubber in my mouth for an extended period of time.

There is a chance I may also need a retainer, too.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this in terms of health.

Thanks!

POSTED BY LISA :: ARIZONA USA :: 10:26 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I am not sure I am qualified to give an opinion on this as I have not thoroughly researched this. But I'll say this...

Whenever you have plastic or metal in your mouth for an extended period of time, it could leach into your body. How much or what effect it would have, I don't know. Readers, anyone have experience with this?

I do want to mention that in the 1930s, Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist, traveled around the world to study the diets of traditional cultures. Dr. Price had noticed that the children in his practice had dental problems that their parents did not--more tooth decay and teeth that did not fit properly into the dental arch, which were crowded and crooked. He subsequently studied "primitive" peoples and found that when they ate their traditional diet, they had all thirty-two teeth, perfectly fitting into the dental arch, and perfectly formed. When they began to eat a modern diet, they had dental decay and bore children, in the very next generation, with crooked and crowded teeth. This is well documented in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

Braces wouldn't be necessary if we ate foods in their natural state, not just additive-free, but as nature intended.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


November 03, 2008

Beet Juice DYI Makeup

QUESTION:

I must admit. I've been looking like a bit scruffy lately, but I refuse to use toxic makeups and threw mine all away this year when I learned the dangers. I have been frustrated b/c even the natural makeups have stuff that I can't pronounce. I'm just wary of everything at this point!

Online I found a few sites with DYI makeup, and figured out that beet juice is a colorant used in some industrial makeups. In a tiny jar I mixed beet juice with cornstarch until it reached a firm consistency. Let it dry overnight. It now is just as packed and caked down as regular blush in my little jar. I can sweep my brush over it, and it looks very natural on. It dyes my cheeks for a good while.

The big bottle of beet juice cost 3.50, and the cornstarch cost 1.50, for a grand total of $5. And this is enough to make it for everyone I know, and still have leftovers. Stocking stuffers, here I come! I am super excited, and wanted to share with you, Debra and any other of us girls reading!

POSTED BY P :: MARYLAND USA :: 4:04 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Thank you! Feel free to post more DIY makeups as you discover them.

I've found that you can just rub a cut beet on your lips for a nice red...

Debra :-)


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October 13, 2008

Dr. woods fragrance: natural or synthetic?

QUESTION:

I bought some Dr. Woods black Castille soap with shea butter. It says it is all natural, but "fragrance" (not essential oil or natural fragrance) is listed in the ingredients. It doesn't smell like a natural fragrance, and 2 emails to the company have gone unanswered. Does anyone know if it is a 100% natural product?
Thank you!

POSTED BY TC :: NEW JERSEY USA :: 5:27 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

"Fragrance" on a label typically means it is synthetic (made from petroleum). If the scent is natural, the label will list the essential oils used (i.e. essential oil of lavender).

Debra :-)


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Makeup Remover

QUESTION:

Hi,

I was wondering if anyone could recommend a natural eye makeup remover?

Thanks!

POSTED BY RBES :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 5:06 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I personally don't wear eye makeup except when I'm speaking or on television, and then I just wash it off in the shower.

Readers, your recommendations?

Debra :-)


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October 03, 2008

BPA in dental sealants

QUESTION:

Do you know anything about the plastic dentists use to seal kids teeth?
I heard that some dentists are using BPA free sealants. Are the others safe?

POSTED BY JG :: VERMONT USA :: 4:15 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Oh this is smart...just paint plastic on your kid's teeth to prevent cavities.

No.

BPA or no BPA, it's still liquid plastic going in a kid's mouth. I wouldn't do it.

It didn't take more than five minutes to find this medical article about the toxicity of dental sealants: Dental Sealant Toxicity: Neurocutaneous Syndrome (NCS), a dermatological and neurological disorder by Dr. Omar M. Amin, PhD

Abstract: Neurocutaneous syndrome (NCS), a newly discovered toxicity disorder, is described in light of our new understanding of its relationships with the causative agents included in the dental liners used in afflicted patients. NCS is characterized by neurological sensations, pain, depleted energy and memory loss as well as itchy cutaneous lesions that may invite various opportunistic infections. Components in the calcium hydroxide dental sealants Dycal, Life and Sealapex have been identified as sources of the observed symptoms considered compatible with classical sulfa toxicity. Sulfonamide and neurological toxicity issues are discussed, three case histories are presented and an outline of management protocol is proposed. Additional notes on zinc oxide, Fynal, IRM and Sultan U/P sealants are also included.

Brush and floss...I've never had one cavity.

Debra :-)


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September 30, 2008

Toothpaste Question

QUESTION:

I want to ask a question about tooth paste. Every morning while brushing my teeth, I would gag and sometimes even throw-up... This was horrible! At first I blamed it on my stressful life, gag reflex.. but now my life is not stressful, but this continues, and actually has gotten worse. I have tried all the 'Natural' tooth pastes and still the same thing. I now use only baking soda but worry that it might damage my tooth enamal. Any suggestions?

POSTED BY DENISE :: COLORADO USA :: 10:26 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


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September 26, 2008

Natural Face Lifts

QUESTION:

I saw in your recent email Q&A Blog the reference to the natural face lift offering from The Face Wrap.

This got me wondering regarding what other natural, non-surgical face lift options were available on the market.

This is the year that the fine lines seem to be surfacing on my face. It is time for me to do something about it and I really want to pursue natural options.

Unfortunately, the products I have tried so far are not working.

I would love to hear from the readers regarding their successful experiences and recommendations regarding natural face lift products or services.

Many thanks in advance!

POSTED BY STEPHANIE :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 4:53 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

OK. I already shared my experience at HEALTH, HOME & HABITAT #153. Readers?

Debra :-)


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September 15, 2008

Plastic resin in teeth

QUESTION:

Dear Debra, would you please give me your opinion regarding plastic/resin material for the chemically sensitive? Although my question may be a bit out of your area, I'd still be very grateful for your reply and opinion. The resin I'm questioning pertains to resin bonding material on my teeth---(I'm sensitive to plastics and after getting the bonding I developed an autoimmune disease). If you wouldn't recommend resin/plastic in the home, would it stand to reason one wouldn't want it in their mouth? I can't find much research on this, and my gut feeling is I should replace it with porcelein veneers. Thank you so much for any idea you would share.
Kate

POSTED BY KATE :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 2:54 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I agree with you. Porcelain.

Debra :-)


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July 11, 2008

nonplastic foot basin?

QUESTION:

Has anyone found such a thing? Stainless steel? Glass? Thanks for any help.

POSTED BY LILY :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 1:00 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


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July 08, 2008

removal of wisdom teeth

QUESTION:

My dentist wanted to remove my son's wisdom teeth before they came in. I didn't feel right about this, so I emailed a holistic dentist.

His response:

Dear Deborah, Conventional denistry promotes the early preventive removal of wisdom teeth. For that kind of thinking age 16-17 in boys. I personally feel the typical surgery usually carries too much risk, and believe in surgery only for infection and pain. My wisdom teeth were only half way in. they were removed. I miss them. My jaw joints have never been quite the same since i had the lower wisdom teeth removed.

Debra, people needs more than conventional dentists to make good judgements about their childrens health.

POSTED BY DEBORAH BARNETT :: TENNESSEE USA :: 12:23 PM
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June 16, 2008

Dental Floss

QUESTION:

There appears to be teflon coating on dental floss. Do you know if that is a health hazard? If so, are there any that are not coated with teflon?

POSTED BY LW :: VIRGINIA USA :: 11:37 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Well, I don't have any definitive studies on the health effects of Teflon on dental floss, but I would use one without.

Readers, any recommendations on this? Personally I don't use dental floss, but very skinny pointed toothpicks that seem to work better for me (my dental hygenist is happy with the results).

Debra :-)


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June 06, 2008

Lotions & Lip Gloss

QUESTION:

My lips get really really chapped. Typically, I use vaseline but have read that these products should be avoided due to petroleum. What do you recommend that is as strong as Vaseline?

Similarly, do you have any body lotions that you recommend. I am assuming that most of the ones on the market are also made with petroleum.

POSTED BY KK :: [email protected] USA :: 10:57 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

You can find lotions and lip gloss made from non-petroleum ingredients at natural food store and on the Body Care page of Debra's List.

There is a product called Un Petroleum Jelly that is sold at many natural food stores and online (just search for it), made from vegetable ingredients. Don't know if it is as strong as Vaseline.

Personally I don't use much of either product. I've found that by using filtered water in my shower, my skin doesn't get dry.

Readers, what do you recommend?

Debra :-)


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June 02, 2008

mineral makeups

QUESTION:

What do you think about mineral makeups? I have sensitive skin and rosacea and am looking for a good foundation that is not harmful to my body. Any suggestins?

POSTED BY P.S. :: MICHIGAN USA :: 10:58 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I think mineral makeups are fine. There are now a number of different brands and I haven't checked the ingredients on all of them, just read the labels and make sure they are pure minerals and don't contain any harmful ingredients.

Debra :-)


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May 28, 2008

How to Naturally Disinfect a Toothbrush?

QUESTION:

Hi,
I was trying to figure out a way to NATURALLY and NON-TOXICALLY disinfect my toothbrush. I've seen things out in the market $$ that steam or use UV rays to kill the bacteria. However, I'm uncertain as to how 'natural' they may be, or if there's any possibility of unwanted chemicals or side effects from those methods?

I've heard of hydrogen peroxide with water in a cup. I have also tried a few drops of Agrisept with water to swish my toothbrush. I'm just unsure regarding cross contamination in using the same cup of water for several days? Or which method is the best?

I want the healthiest most natural way to go about this. Any suggestions or recommendations?

Thanks kindly.

POSTED BY WENDY :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 11:15 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I'm not familiar with all the toothbrush disinfectant machines, but UV rays and steam will kill the bacteria without any side effects I know of. In hospitals, they sterilize the instruments used during surgery in an autoclave, which basically is a chamber for using pressurized steam.

I would suggest that you can just use boiling water, because boiling water is the standard method for killing bacteria in questionable water supplies. Just pour boiling water over the brush, or "cook" it in a pot of boiling water. For the purpose of killing bacteria for drinking water, the instructions are to bring the water to a rolling boil and then letting it boil for one minute. This is sufficient to eliminate harmful bacteria.

Debra :-)


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May 19, 2008

fragrance, chemical and botanical-free shampoo

QUESTION:

I am chemically sensitive and have a few botanical allergies, and I have not been able to find a shampoo that I can use without side effects. Has anyone found a plain shampoo without fragrance, without the laureth and lauryl sulfate, and without such herbal additives as chamomile, patchouli, lavender, or marigold? Thanks.
-Christina

POSTED BY CHRISTINA :: OREGON USA :: 12:36 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


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April 29, 2008

Eyeglass lens material

QUESTION:

Hi Debra,

I've read many of your answers to questions about the safety of plastics, a hot topic these days.

I think the material used often for eyeglass lenses is either polycarbonate or high index plastic.

In addition, teflon or other based coatings are used for scratch proofing, anti-reflective coating, or UV coating. Frames are often made of plastic or have some sort of coating on them.

What are your thoughts on the safety of such materials sitting so close to one's face all day?

Do you wear glasses personally? And, if so, what kinds of materials have you used for yourself?

Thanks.

POSTED BY LISA :: AZ USA :: 12:04 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Yes, a lot of plastics are used for eyeglasses.

The thing to remember about polycarbonate is that the concern is not outgassing, but leaching into food and water from contact. Since our skin does not contact the eyeglass lens, I don't believe there is a problem with toxicity during use.

I do wear eyeglasses. Just reading glasses I buy at the drug store. I buy the type with metal frames, not plastic. At the moment I am wearing a pair with metal sides and frameless lenses. Sometimes the metal sides make my skin break out in a rash, but others don't. Seems to depend on the brand and quality of the metal.

Plastic eyeglass frames, though, are not particularly toxic. Look for frames made from zyl (zylonite, or cellulose acetate). It is actually a plant-based plastic that is made from wood pulp and has been in use for decades.

Other frames are made from propionate, a nylon-based plastic that is hypoallergenic and nontoxic.

Debra :-)


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March 10, 2008

Safe ear plugs

QUESTION:

Can you suggest safe ear plugs? I have found ones made of polyurethane, silicone, or memory foam. There is a wax/cotton ear plug but it does not sound very comfortable. Thanks.

POSTED BY DONNA :: FLORIDA USA :: 3:31 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


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March 06, 2008

Sensitive Teeth

QUESTION:

I have very sensitive teeth and have been told to use a non-alchohol mouthwash and sensitive toothpaste. Well, all the sensitive toothpastes I can find have nitrates in them. Even just using them once a day has caused severe migraines for me. My mouth hurts though! What can I do? Any nontoxic products out there that work very well at stopping the pain and stopping more gum recession? I am sure if I were to ask the pharmacist he would recommend a prescription for toothpaste with extra fluoride. I am sure this isn't good either. Help...Thanks!

POSTED BY JOHANNA :: MO USA :: 2:03 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? Any recommendations?

Debra :-)


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February 25, 2008

ethnic hair

QUESTION:


As an african American female it is very hard to find natural products that suit our hair type. Do you have any recommendations of hair products?

I am trying to stay away from hair relaxers and want to grow my hair natural. What is an alternative for relaxers?

POSTED BY SISSY :: NEW JERSEY USA :: 7:06 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I found a website called nappturality.com that says it is a "resource for the style and beauty of Natural Black Hair...the place to find photographs, Black natural hair journals, websites, forums, information and links about the care, maintenance and politics of natural hair. Natural napptural hair." You have to sign up as a member (free) to get into the site, so I didn't check it out, but you may find what you are looking for there.

You also might take a look at Carol's Daughter. Their tag line is "beauty by nature" and the product descriptions give a lot of natural and even organic ingredients that the product contains, but there is no full ingredient list, so I can't tell you if the products contain any unnatural ingredients. Therer's also African Wonders, which is similarly uninformative about their ingredients on their website.

There are also a number of books on the subject at amazon.com. Textured Tresses is one of them, other will come up under "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought".

I have no personal experience with this, so this is the best I can do. Could you respond and let us know if any of these give you what you need?

Readers, any suggestions?

Debra :-)


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January 20, 2008

Organic Physicians Formula makeup

QUESTION:

Hello, do you know anything about Physicians Formula new organic makeup line? Is it safe? Here is the list of ingredients for their organic veil:

MICA, ZEA MAYS (CORN) STARCH*, MAGNESIUM STAERATE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, KAOLIN, ORYZA SATIVA (RICE) HULL POWDER, GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE, CARTHAMUS TINCTORIUS (SAFFLOWER) SEED OIL, GLYCERIN, GLYCINE SOJA (SOYBEAN) OIL*, OLEA EUROPAEA (OLIVE) FRUIT OIL*, SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED OIL*, CINNAMIC ACID, CITRUS GRANDIS (GRAPEFRUIT) FRUIT EXTRACT, SODIUM LEVULINATE, TOCOPHEROL, WATER. MAY CONTAIN: IRON OXIDES, TITANIUM DIOXIDE.

*PRODUCED FROM ORGANIC FARMING

POSTED BY JANE :: MISSISSIPPI USA :: 9:09 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I went to the
Physician's Formula Organic Wear website. I looked at the ingredients and found that their products contain anywhere from 11 to 84 percent certified organic ingredients.

To answer your question, I don't see any ingredients on that list that I would call unsafe.

Debra :-)


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January 17, 2008

Emu oil

QUESTION:

What can you tell me about emu oil? My massage therapist swears it helps arthritis pain and when I search the internet it sounds like it is also great as a skin lotion. Is there anything to it? It seems expensive on line and I haven't found it locally yet.

POSTED BY GRANDMA KAY :: VIRGINIA USA :: 5:22 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I probably can't tell you anything you haven't already read on the internet.

Emu oil is made from the refined fat of the Emu, a bird native to Australia. It has been used for thousands of years by the Australian aborigines for the treatment of burns, wounds, bruises, and as a pain reliever for bone, muscle, and joint disorders. It is frequently used to soften skin and found in ointments for dry cracked heels. Studies have shown that Emu oil aids in reducing scar formation in healed burn wounds, can help muscle sprains, and can relieve arthritis due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Readers, anyone have any experience with this?

Debra :-)


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January 14, 2008

Unscented Soaps

QUESTION:

I had been using Clearly Natural Unscented Soap (glycerin based) without any problem for a year. Then there was a change in the product that has been denied by the company, but it is definitely a different product.

What kind of gentle, unscented soaps are out there? What are others using?

Thanks.

POSTED BY LW :: VIRGINIA USA :: 12:40 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I personally can and like to use handmade soaps with natural fragrances, so I can't recommend an unscented soap I use, but I'm sure you'll get many responses!

My general recommendation is to check out the websites that sell handmade soaps at Debra's List: BodyCare: Skin: Handmade Soap. Many of them sell unscented soaps and since they are all handmade, you can talk with the people who are making them and find out what's in them.

Debra :-)


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December 11, 2007

dry scalp

QUESTION:

I don't if the dandruff question posted earlier applies, but my scalp has been dry, and flakey with white flakes. I was using some shampoos from the natural section of the store but i think it made my scalp more flakey. How can I bring more moisture or oil to my scalp so there's not a bunch of little white flakes in my hair and my scalp doesn't feel so dry?

POSTED BY VSIC4 :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 2:37 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I suggest you try the remedies at Q&A: Dandruff Treatment.

Debra :-)


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December 04, 2007

good, safe lotion for dry skin?

QUESTION:

I have had poor luck with body lotions, trying to find one that is completely scent free (so many have a masker smell) and does not have any ingredients that would be harmful when absorbed into the body.

I am chemically sensitive and want to avoid buying more products only to find that they are still slightly smelly or have toxic ingredients. Someone told me recently, that Sophia Loren uses straight olive oil on her face and body to keep dryness away. I don't want to resort to that!!!

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Ruth R. Wisconsin

POSTED BY RUTH RUDDOCK :: WISCONSIN USA :: 1:11 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


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November 27, 2007

Skin Moisturizer with Sunblock?

QUESTION:

Hi everyone, I am looking for a recommendation of a facial moisturizer with sun protection. Some of my favorite brands make these, but their safety ratings leave a lot to be desired - seems that many efective sunblockers are toxic, and many "green" sunblockers don't actually do much. I have found good sunblocks on the EWG site, but I'd love a one-step lotion with sunblock for my face. Any suggestions?

POSTED BY KRISTA C :: MASSACHUSETTS USA :: 11:10 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? Your recommendations?

Debra :-)


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November 20, 2007

Glyercerin

QUESTION:

Dear Debra,
I can not find any information on Pears glycerin soaps, how beneficial or harmful it is to use them. I am confused about glycerin. Should I avoid glycerin soaps such as Pears?

POSTED BY JOAN CHRISTENSEN :: FLORIDA USA :: 3:30 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I went to the website for Pears Soap, which says it is a natural soap that has been made for almost 200 years. "It contains high quality skincare ingredients like glycerin and natural oils. Pears Soap is especially made to take care of even sensitive and delicate skin, cleansing thoroughly, yet gently and rinsing clean.It is hypo-allergenic, contains a mild cleansing formula and no colorants."

However, they don't give any ingredient and their Contact Us page was "not found" so I can't tell you anything about the ingredients.

If you go to a store and look on the label, and post the ingredients here, I'll comment on them.

Glycerin itself is fine to use. It is actually created by the soapmaking process. Industrially, it is usually skimmed off and used in lotions and the soap is sold without it. Most handmade soaps contain their natural glycerin because it is not removed.

There's no need to avoid glycerin soaps, but watch out for the fragrances and other ingredients which might be added.

Debra :-)


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November 13, 2007

Sensatia

QUESTION:

Hi Debra,

I have another question about a maker. There is a maker called Sensatia (www.sensatia.com) from Bali, Indonesia. Could you tell me if you would recommend products from that company?

Thanks.


POSTED BY JOAN :: INDIANA USA :: 8:14 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Looks good to me. I like that they list all their ingredients and even show pictures of the soap being made. These are definately "all natural" products.

The only thing for me, though, is that while they say they use organic ingredients, on the ingredients lists they don't specify which are organic. It's also not clear if they are 100% organic. It also doesn't say they are certified organic. So these are my reservations.

I want to be clear that, personally, I am looking for the most organic products possible, so I'm pretty picky. But there is a whole spectrum of products that are better than the worst, most toxic, unhealthy products, and it's better to use any one of those "better" products than the worst products.

These seem to be "much better" than most. They may even be exquisite. But all I have to go on is how they present themselves in their own website description.

Debra :-)


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Toothpaste and Nature's Gate

QUESTION:

Hi Debra,

Could you recommend to me some choices for natural toothpaste?

I found some with Nature's Gate called Nature's Gate Organics Peppermint Whitening Toothpast with Flouride 5 oz. for $6.99. Also comes in Raspberry flavor. Do you recommend Nature's Gate products?

I did not see this company in you list.

Thank you.

POSTED BY JOAN CHRISTENSEN :: INDIANA USA :: 8:06 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

If you haven't already, I suggest you read the post on this blog Q&A: Tooth Soap, which talks a lot about toothpaste and other methods of cleaning teeth as well.

Just because a company is not listed on Debra's List doesn't mean it's not a good company. I have many websites waiting to be added, as I only have so many hours in the day... :-)

That said, I just took a look at the Nature's Gate website and right away there was a "red flag"--the statement "blending nature and science to benefit you and the Earth". This generally means that the products are not 100% natural. That "sciene" part usually indicates the presence of man-made artificial ingredients.

Now I want to say some things here about these products, but I don't want it to sound like I am picking on Nature's Gate. These points apply to many so-called "natural" products.

You asked about toothpaste. I looked at the ingredients for Creme de Peppermint Natural Toothpaste, which is fluoride-free and contains baking soda. Both good. Also some natural flavorings, some herbal extracts, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Now sodium lauryl sulfate is one of those not-quite-natural ingredients that comes from a natural source, but is processed with chemicals. So it's not, per se, 100% natural, but is considered natural by the natural product industry because it's source is a plant ingredient. It's about like adding pesticides to a plant, which is still considered natural to the natural products industry. Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) is no longer considered safe and is being removed from many natural product formulations now. So, no, I wouldn't put this toothpaste on Debra's List. The best ingredient in this toothpaste is baking soda, so why not just brush your teeth with baking soda?

I also took a look at their new "organics" line. Now, if you look at the organic bodycare products on Debra's List, you'll find that most of the ingredients are organically grown. Nature's Gate "Organics" Lavender & Aloe Nourishing Conditioner for All Hair Types has only one organic ingredient...the lavender. The rest are those not-quite-natural "science" ingredients.

I actually think this is mislabeled. This amount of organic ingredient wouldn't qualify it to be a certified organic product by USDA food standards, yet they seem to be able to get away with using the word "Organics" in the name.

Though Nature's Gate has been one of the old standby brands in natural food stores for years, there are more natural and more organic products available.

All that said, they are better than the standard supermarket brands, so it would be a step up to choose Nature's Gate over brands that are not natural at all.

Almost forgot to recommend a toothpaste! Personally, I use baking soda or various SLS-free tooth powder when I get bored with the toothpaste. There is also lots of good tooth care information at Natural Dentistry.

Debra :-)


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November 05, 2007

Safe Hair Removal

QUESTION:

Is electrolysis a safe method of hair removal? I like the idea of the permanence of it.

POSTED BY SUSAN H. :: ARIZONA USA :: 5:18 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't know of any reason why it wouldn't be safe.

There's no toxic exposure, except perhaps a swab of alcohol. I don't know about electromagnetic fields and electrolysis.

The only thing is that you want to make sure the needles are sterile and the person who does the procedure follows the standard rules of hygiene so there are no infections.

Debra :-)


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November 02, 2007

How can I remove nail polish safely?

QUESTION:

Hello, I have just recently become aware of all the toxins that are in everything around me and have since stopped using all products that are not natural. But I have polish on my toenails and I do not know how to remove it without toxic removers. Does anyone know how I can safely remove the polish? If there is not a safe way to do this would it be better for me to just let my nails grow until all the polish is gone or should I get it off as soon as possible with polish remover?
Thanks!

POSTED BY JANE :: MISSISSIPPI USA :: 10:21 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I'm glad to hear you are giving up toxic chemicals!

There are two dangers to nail polish.

One is the fumes from the polish when you are applying it.

The other is that it forms a coating on the nail that prevents the nail from breathing, leading to nail damage.

If you have some nail polish remover, I would probably go ahead and use it one last time--outdoors with good ventilation--and remove the polish. Sometimes part of the transition off toxic chemicals is to use them one last time to be done with them.

Debra :-)


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October 17, 2007

Aveda

I want to make a comment about Aveda, which was sparked by reading an ingredient list on a bar of Aveda soap and also by a post I received today in which the reader wrote, "I think of Aveda as safe, natural and cruelty-free..."

I have mixed feelings about Aveda, and have for years.

They are doing many great things. Their website talks about using green ingredients (and explains what they mean by that), wind power, and their commitment to the environment, yet their products also contain ingredients that don't belong in a natural product.

While staying in a "green hotel" recently, I picked up the bar of Aveda soap in the bathroom that was offered to me as a guest. The wrapper was 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Good. It said it was "made with pure aroma from organically grown plants". Good. But it also contained many other ingredients that were more akin to a supermarket soap than a natural soap, such as propylene glycol, fragrance (usually this means artificial, and actually, no organic essential oils were listed on the ingredient list), trienthanolamine, tetrasodium EDTA, and Yellow 5. I didn't use this soap. I pulled my bar of natural soap out of my travel bag and used that.

To their credit, I see that Aveda is rethinking their ingredients and phasing out things like parabens and EDTA (you can read their ingredient policy at http://www.aveda.com/pdf/ourmission/
ingredients_policy.pdf
). I admire the direction they are going.

But the fact remains, at this moment there are Aveda products on the shelves that do contain some less than natural ingredients.

I'm not objecting to the fact that these products contain these ingredients, but rather to the fact that Aveda strives to have an image of being completely natural and eco-friendly. On their website, for example, they do not give the full ingredient list of their products, only the "key" green ingredients.

Contrast this with a company like Lush, for example, who sells products containing similar ingredients, but clearly indicates via color coding which ingredients are "natural/organic" and which are "safe synthetics" (see an example of this at http://usa.lush.com/cgi-bin/lushdb/062?expand=Soap). Lush is perfectly clear about their ingredients and they don't pretend to be a natural product. Lush products are also thought of by consumers as "natural" products because they are fresh and have some natural ingredients. The difference is that Lush doesn't promote their products as being natural.

I haven't recommended Aveda products over the years for this reason, and still won't add them to Debra's List. But I'm keeping my eye on them, because they are moving in the right direction.

Debra :-)


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October 16, 2007

Dandruff Treatment

QUESTION:

Hi,

I'm wondering if anybody knows of an effective natural treatment for dandruff. I'm not talking about dry scalp- I'm talking about a severe scaly flaky fungal scalp problem. My husband has this problem and was using Nizoral shampoo for a long time, both prescription and OTC (the active ingredient is Ketoconazole, an anti-fungal).

The Nizoral helps a lot. The problem is that I can't tolerate the fragrance, and I am a little concerned about the safety of Ketoconazole (which I've researched). Therefore I'm looking for alternatives.

Additionally, some of the alternative or more natural shampoos I've seen contain sulfur ingredients, which I am very allergic to, so we probably better steer clear of those, too.

If it makes any difference, my husband has sensitive, fair, oily skin (prone to acne breakouts), and shares this scalp/skin situation with a couple of his family members (a genetic link perhaps). I'd appreciate any suggestions!

Thanks! Katie in CA

POSTED BY KATIE :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 7:33 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? Your suggestions?

My husband has dandruff off and on, and when he does, he simply eats more raw vegetables and it goes away. So perhaps dandruff is a signal from the body that something is amiss and needs correcting, rather than cause to use a toxic consumer product.

Debra :-)


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October 11, 2007

color-care conditioner and shampoo

QUESTION:

Hello,

I color my hair and I am wondering if anybody has found a more natural color-care conditioner or shampoo that ACTUALLY WORKS and helps to preserve colors. I already know of some more chemical-filled ones that do work but I'm trying to get away from those. I've tried more natural ones but they're not that great.

Thanks for any ideas!

POSTED BY MARIL :: OREGON USA :: 10:22 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


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August 21, 2007

Burt's Bees products

QUESTION:

What is your opinion on Burt's Bees hair care and body products? I've begun to switch to Burt's Bees since I want products that are more natural, and have already bought a toner, deep cleansing creme, and a body lotion. I am happy with these products so far and I plan to purchase shampoo and conditioner this week. I noticed this company is not on "Debra's List" and am wondering why.

Thank you,
Danielle

POSTED BY DANIELLE :: OHIO USA :: 3:28 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

First, just because a company is not on Debra's LIst doesn't mean it isn't good. I'm adding links as fast as I can, but there are still more to add. For cosmetics, I'm focusing on the companies that have organic ingredients, since personal care products are absorbed into the body through the skin even more quickly that food ingested.

Burt's Bees is a good "natural" brand, but not all the products are 100% natural and none of the ingredients are organic. One thing I like about their website is they tell you the exact ingredients and the percentage that is natural (mostly 90-something).

Given my limited time and space, I won't be adding them to Debra's List because of lack of organic ingredients, but they would certainly be on the list if I were including "natural" personal care products.

Debra :-)


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August 09, 2007

My Tooth Powder Safe?

QUESTION:

Hi, Debra ~ I have been intrigued by the discussions about using tooth soap. I have been using Revelation Tooth Powder for some time and I am wondering if any of these ingredients might be harming my teeth: "Calcium Carbonate a naturally occurring mild abrasive, Soap from vegetable sources only, natural Brazilian Menthol, pure Wintergreen Oil."

I love the way plaque no longer forms on my teeth, even overnight, but I don't want to use anything that may be harmful in the long run.

Thanks for your insightful and reliable information!

POSTED BY SUSAN HUNT :: ARIZONA USA :: 2:33 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

This list of ingredients looks fine to me. Notice it is just soap with a little calcium (the same type as in dietary supplements, and flavoring. This is very similar to tooth soap.

Debra :-)


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August 06, 2007

Gentle body cleanser?

QUESTION:

A bit personal to ask this, I know, but I am looking for an extremely gentle cleanser for the genital area. Everything I have used burns so badly! We only use "natural" soaps without the harmful chemicals. Thanks!

POSTED BY SUSAN :: ARIZONA USA :: 4:53 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

It's been my understanding that only rinsing with water in the shower is needed.

Debra :-)


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July 31, 2007

Natural Sunscreen

QUESTION:

SUNSCREEN: I get some sun everyday and then cover up rather than slather up (with sunscreen!) - but I think I may have found a safe, natural sunscreen for when needed: Mexitan. I was looking at Greenlight (magazine) and checked on one of their biodegradable sunscreens' ingredients. Mexitan has Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide and Inactive Ingredients: Sunflower Oil, Green Tea Extract, Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, Lanolin, Tocopherol Acetate(Vitamin E), Eucalyptus Oil, Ascorbyl Palmitate(Vitamin C)

I had questions about when the minerals (titanium or zinc oxide) are too small to be safe, and can enter your tissues and bloodstream if too small,and noticed Mexitan's website asserts they have no nanoparticles. Here is Mexitan's reply:

Thanks for your question. It is one we get a lot these days with people concerned about nanoparticles. The short answer is that Mexitan does not contain any nanoparticles.

The technical aspects of our stuff is as folows. The titanium dioxide and zinc oxide used in Mexitan is micronized (NOT nanoparticles), with a coated variable particle size greater than 100nm but less than 500nm. (Nanoparticles are considered to be less than 100nm in size). This allows our sunscreen lotions to be more cosmetically appealing compared to coarser particles. The protection is less visible, yet remains on the skin's surface.

....Thanks for your interest.

Eric Allen
Owner
www.greenboatstuff.com

POSTED BY FRAN :: TX USA :: 10:02 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

This looks pretty good.

Over the weekend my husband and I went kayaking and needed some sunscreen so our skin wouldn't burn being out in the sun on a three-hour trip. We had to buy whatever we could find at a chain drug store and were pleased to find Neutogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion. It also contains titanium dioxide, though the inactive ingredients are not natura, and it is unscented. It went on white, so no nanoparticles. While not the best, it was nice to know there was at least a better choice at the drug store!

Still, I want to caution that there are some health concerns about titanium dioxide so I suggest using it as needed, and not just applying it every day. Better to block sun with umbrellas or clothing or stay in the shade when you can.

Debra :-)


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July 11, 2007

contact lens solution

QUESTION:

is there a contact lens solution that is preservative and chemical free?

POSTED BY A.N. :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 9:59 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers, what have you found?

Debra :-)


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July 08, 2007

Dove soap not fragrance free

QUESTION:

My wife is sensitive to many chemicals and plastics. Until recently she has tolerated Dove soap, the one that is for sensitive skin, which states "fragrance free" stated on the label. She has not tolerated the soap for the last two or three months and finally contacted Dove to complain. Dove customer service stated they now use a masking fragrance in the soap.

I am writing just to inform readers, this soap is no longer suitable for anybody that needs to avoid fragrances.

Mark

POSTED BY MARK :: OKLAHOMA USA :: 2:13 PM
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July 02, 2007

Any natural products for bleaching or dye-ing hair?

QUESTION:

Debra,
Does your book Home Safe Home include natural products I can use to bleach or dye my hair? I am a 52 year old natural blond whose hair has darkened and begun to gray. Consequently, I get my hair highlighted and colored every 8 weeks to lighten & brighten the color. But I want to stop putting chemicals in my body this way! Any suggestions or resources would be appreciated.

Jerri Jetter
[email protected]

POSTED BY JERRI JETTER :: NJ USA :: 1:47 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

My book Home Safe Home has some do-it-yourself natural formulas for hair coloring, but I would suggest checking our the Natural Hair Dye website. They carry all the safer hair colors and can advise you on choosing one. All they do is nontoxic and natural hair color.

Debra :-)


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Curly Hair Products

QUESTION:

Hi,
I'm making the switch to non toxic products and I am trying to find styling products for curly hair. Has anyone found products they like?
Thanks

POSTED BY ROSE :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 12:32 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


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Fragrance Free Hair Styling Products

QUESTION:

Dear Debra:

I would first like to tell you how much I appreciate your web site and blog and all the hard work you put into it.

My problem is regarding hair styling products. I have had trouble finding a gel or lotion to use to remove the frizz from my hair so I can style it smooth or wavy/curly without frizz. I have tried an assortment of products from Whole Foods and Cooportunity but nothing works. Most of the time the things that could work have too strong a fragrance. I am also allergic to soy so that eliminiates many possibilities.

I would also like to know if you or any of your readers know of a styling iron (flat iron) that has low EMFs.

Thank you,


Lyn

POSTED BY LYN :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 12:32 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


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June 25, 2007

using natural progesterone cream for hair renewal

QUESTION:

You recently wrote that your husband starting using a natural progesterone cream for hair loss (Q&A: Natural Hair Restoration) and it had helped. I have also been losing my hair for approximately six years. It is very thin but i am unwilling to use rogaine or other products on my head. Could you tell me if he used it as directed and how long before he noticed a different in his hair. Thank you so much for all the helpful information you provide.

POSTED BY JOAN E FLETCHER :: NORTH CAROLINA USA :: 10:18 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Here's my husband's response...

Dear Joan,

I used the natural progesterone creame on myself where my hair was thin. About 1/4 teaspoon/day at first. After about three months I went to 1/4 teaspoon/week to maintain the hair that had grown.

Larry Redalia
The product he uses used to be called Best Gest. It has now been renamed to Moisturizing Cream #1. It has the exact same ingredients. The website for Nature's Botanicals, maker of the product, is currently down, but the product is available and can be ordered by calling 800-203-9668.

Debra :-)


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June 22, 2007

Teen developes natural product line...

QUESTION:

Debra,

I don't think I remembered to send you info on this young woman and her products. I saw her on Oprah one day. At 12 or 14 she got a bad hair product, felt she could do better, and went after it. Her parents encouraged her interest and scientific approach as she ordered herbs and natural products and learned her craft.

She just celebrated her Sweet 16. I haven't ordered anything yet. Here's Jasmine Lawrence's website: www.edenbodyworks.com

Nancy

POSTED BY NANCY :: TEXAS USA :: 12:34 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I didn't see any ingredients on the website, so I can't evaluate these products for their naturalness, but they claim to be. If anyone tries them, let us know.

Debra :-)


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June 06, 2007

ivory bar soap

QUESTION:

Hi, I like the mildness of Ivory bar soap but can't find any ingredients listed on their package. I called the company the representative took so long trying to find the ingredients and from the info she gave me, it seemed all natural. Can you give me more info, any parabens, etc?

POSTED BY JOAN COPPINGER :: GEORGIA USA :: 5:03 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I found the list of ingredients for Ivory soap on a handmade soap website. Here's what they have to say:


Sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate or sodium palm kernelate, water, sodium chloride, sodium silicate, magnesium sulfate, and fragrance. (This information is from the Material Safety Data Sheet prepared by the Proctor & Gamble Company.)

Sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, and sodium palm kernelate are all natural soap compounds produced from tallow, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil, respectively. Magnesium sulfate is also known as Epsom salts and sodium chloride you may recognize as common table salt. Sodium silicate is also known as soluble glass or sodium silicate glass. While the amount in Ivory soap is probably too small to be of concern, sodium silicate is harmful if ingested and in it’s pure form can cause burns through skin or eye contact. Of all the mass produced commercial soaps that this writer has examined, Ivory is closest to an all natural soap with a minimum of additional chemicals. Of more importance to the consumer could be what isn’t in Ivory soap. Notice that glycerin is missing from the list of ingredients. This cheapens the soap and removes one of the natural moisturizers for the skin.
I would just add that I have no reason to believe that the fragrance is natural.

I would agree with this writer though, that if you are not going to purchase an all-natural handmade soap, Ivory would be the next best choice.

Debra :-)


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June 04, 2007

Glycerin

QUESTION:

Hi,

I'm trying to find a way to contact Ruth Winters re: her 'Consumer Dic...cosmetic ing.' because she mentions that 'glycerin' moisturizes by pulling water from the lower layer of dermis, and I am confused because it is in even the most natural products I have come across.

Has anyone found sun protection, soaps, or creams that don't have glycerin? Is there an alternative to this ingredient?

I tried her brainbody.com website, e-mailed the addresses given, and recieved failure notices from all the addresses. Does anyone have other ideas for contacting Ms. Winters to verify that I understood her definition correctly?

Thanks everyone for your help,

Gwen

POSTED BY GWENOVEAVE :: BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA :: 3:27 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't know how to contact Ruth Winter, but here's more about glycerin...

Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to your skin. Glycerin is a natural, sweet-tasting, colorless by-product of the soapmaking process. Commercial manufacturers remove the glycerin from soap and put it in their more profitable lotions and creams; handcrafted soap retains it's glycerin.

Glycerin is a good solvent, which may be why it is used so widely. Many ingredients can be dissolved into glycerin more easily than into water or alcohol, and glycerin itself can be dissolved into water or alcohol, but not oil.

Glycerin is also highly "hygroscopic" which means that it absorbs water from the air. if you left an open bottle of pure glycerin exposed to air it would take moisture from the air and eventually would become 80 per glycerin and 20 percent wate. Because of this hygroscopic quality, pure, 100 percent glycerin placed on the skin may raise a blister, since it is dehydrating. Diluted with water, however, it will soften your skin.

Now, I did also find some sources saying that glycerin pulls water from the lower layer of dermis as well. It may be that the glycerin, having this quality of attracting water, pulls from the lower dermis as well as the air.

Not being a cosmetic chemist, I don't have a definitive answer to this, but perhaps a reader will enlighten us...

Debra :-)


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Natural Deodorant

QUESTION:

I need some recommendations for a good natural and/or organic deodorant. I have been using Tom's of Maine Long-lasting, and though it works great for some, now that summer has hit, it is not working as well for me. Anyone have any suggestions that have worked well for them? Thank you!

POSTED BY DEBBIE T. :: TARR FAMILY :: WWW.TARRS.COM :: OHIO USA :: 2:26 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

See Fragrance-free Deodorants and Deodorants for Teenage Son.

Readers, any other suggestions?

Debra :-)


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May 14, 2007

hair removal

QUESTION:

Dear Debra,

What do you know about the Finally Free Permanent Hair Removal System? It uses radio frequency waves to kill the hair at the roots. Do you think it would be a safe way to get rid of unwanted facial hair?

POSTED BY CVD :: MICHIGAN USA :: 3:10 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't know anything about this particular product, but..readers, how do you (women) safely remove unwanted facial hair? The best method I've found is the Finishing Touch Personal Hair Remover. Yes, it's one of those cheap infomercial gadgets, but it really does work very well! And it is inexpensive, easy to use, nontoxic, painless, and hair actually grows back lighter and softer.

Debra :-)


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April 24, 2007

Where to find essential oils & how to make recipes with them

QUESTION:

There are lots of products made with essential oils, but what about making my own products? I've found some books to help me get started, but I don't want to buy my oils from just any supplier on the web. Do you have any companies to recommend? What I should I look for to make sure I get the quality I need for making anything from beauty treatments to household cleaning products? I know I should find oils that are therapeutic grade for making treatments to go on my skin, but are these food grade, too?

If you know of any books or websites on how to make your own natural remedies & recipes that you would recommend I'd appreciate that, too. And the sources don't have to include just essential oils as ingredients-- I'd love to learn all the "grandmother's recipes" like what to mix with avocado to put on my hair!

POSTED BY DIANA S. :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 5:44 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? What is your experience with this?

Debra :-)


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April 03, 2007

Safe self tanners?

QUESTION:

I recently read an article in Alive magazine (a Canadian publication that promotes healthy living) that states that using a self-tanning lotion is preferable to baking in the sun. I can see why baking in the sun might not be a good idea, but is there such a thing as a safe self-tanning lotion?

POSTED BY TWIG :: ONTARIO CANADA :: 10:31 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

To answer, I'm going to give you an excerpt from my e-book Debra's Guide to Choosing Natural Sun Protection...

SUNLESS TANNING LOTIONS

I've been asked about using sunless tanning lotions as an alternative to sun tanning to get that "healthy glow."

I can understand a desire to have a summer tan. Growing up in California, just as soon as it was warm enough, I would be out on my patio in my swimsuit with my suntan lotion—not sunscreen—suntan lotion to get my skin as dark as possible as fast as possible. I didn't know then that a suntan is a sign of skin damage.

I still think that a little tan looks healthy and nice in the summer, even if scientific facts prove otherwise. But I no longer sit out in the sun, attempting intentionally to damage my skin.

The only active ingredient approved by the FDA for use in sunless tanning products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is a colorless sugar that interacts with the dead cells located in the upper layer of the skin. As the sugar interacts with the dead skin cells, a color change occurs. The effect is temporary, because as the dead cells naturally slough off, the color fades, disappearing within a week unless the lotion has been reapplied.

Is DHA safe to use? The Environmental Working Group's "Skin Deep" website (http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep2/) lists "0" health concerns. The MSDS sheet for this ingredient also lists no health effects from skin exposure beyond the possibility of mild irritation.

The Skin Cancer Foundation (http://www.skincancer.org) says, "[Using sunless tanning products is] a lot more healthful than a suntan because...getting a suntan breaks down the DNA in skin cells, but using self-tanners causes no such damage. At worst, sunless tanning products present a minimal risk of irritant or allergic reactions.

If you want to give your skin a darker tan color naturally without going out in the sun, try this concoction:

HOMEMADE NATURAL SUNLESS TANNING LOTION

1. Boil 3/4 cup pure water and brew strong tea with 3 black-tea bags.
2. Put 1/4 cup tea into a blender with ¼ cup lanolin and ¼ cup seasame oil.
3. Blend at low speed.
4. Add remaining tea steadily.
5. Spread sparingly on your skin (try a patch in a hidden spot first to test the color).

Debra :-)


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February 01, 2007

Resources for Finding a Holistic Dentist

QUESTION:

If you are looking for a holistic dentist, you can contact the following associations to find a holistic/biological dentist in your area:

www.toxicteeth.org/

www.talkinternational.com

www.mercuryfreenow.com/freeservices/find_dentists.html

www.iaomt.org//findmember.cfm

www.holisticdental.org

www.dentalhelp.org/AABD/index.cfm?fuseaction=showdocs

I cannot personally vouch for some of the dentists that may be on these lists. One would have to call and interview them as to their treatment philosophy.

Not all biological or holistic dentists are the same. There are extremely wide differences in philosophy, training, protocols, materials and procedures. The one common denominator is that none of them place amalgam fillings. But all similarities end at that point.

Here are some questions to ask when considering a holistic dentist.

· What precautions do they take when they remove mercury (amalgam or silver) fillings? 

· Do they do root canals or implants? (we don't recommend these)

· Do they believe that a metal-free mouth is the ideal? 

· Do their crowns contain metals or porcelain that has aluminum in it? Do they make metal-free crowns and bridges? Sculpture FiberKore is a metal-free, biocompatible crown material that we like.

· How do they clean out a socket after they remove a tooth? Do they remove the periodontal ligament, unsound bone and any infection?

· Do they use homeopathics?  

· Do they do any kind of test for anesthesia and dental materials?

· Does their hygienist do fluoride treatments? (we don't use fluoride)

Visit our web site, www.SaveYourTeeth.com to see our protocols, which may suggest other questions you'll want to ask.

POSTED BY CARY GOULSTON :: NATURAL DENTISTRY :: WWW.SAVEYOURTEETH.COM :: FLORIDA USA :: 4:17 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Thanks, Cary. Readers, this is from the office of my holistic dentist, Dr. Ray Behm, who I know personally and trust. I would follow this advice when choosing a holistic dentist.

Debra :-)


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January 29, 2007

Deodorant for Teenage Son?

QUESTION:

I have difficulty tolerating any kind of fragrance and the problem is, I have a teenage son that will usually only use Right Guard deodorant. Initially, he did use unscented Mitchum but as he got older, found that it was not effective enough for him-he is a very hygiene conscious person and showers often too.

I have explained that these products aren't good for you. He has tried various natural deodorants from the health food store and applied them alone and with baking soda to absorb odors but he breaks out in a rash or it causes a burning sensation. This has been a real conflict between us.

Any suggestions from yourself or readers would be greatly appreciated.

POSTED BY ANNE :: OREGON USA :: 2:53 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I'm hoping my readers will have an answer because I don't have any experience with this, not having a teenage son. But you're not the first person who has asked me this.

Is the baking soda irritating to his skin? Try mixing it with some cornstarch and see if that helps. Have you tried a deodorant stone?

Debra :-)


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January 17, 2007

Bisphenol A Exposure from Plastic Mouth Guards

QUESTION:

I am pregnant and have been reading a lot about the danger of bisphenol A exposure to developing fetuses (e.g. recent San Fran attempt to ban this chemical from baby products). This chemical is found in polycarbonate plastic among other places. I am concerned because I grind my teeth and wear a polycarbonate mouth guard nightly. I worry that BPA may be leaching from my mouth guard and harming my unborn child. I have spoken with numerous dentists but none were that knowledgeable on the subject. I contacted dental labs but have not been able to find a “toxin-free” alternative material from which the guard can be made. I also have not been able to find any research about the risks of wearing mouth guards during pregnancy. 

Unfortunately I need to wear my mouth guard or risk breaking my teeth. Do you have any insight or advice for me?I am pregnant and have been reading a lot about the danger of bisphenol A exposure to developing fetuses (e.g. recent San Fran attempt to ban this chemical from baby products). This chemical is found in polycarbonate plastic among other places. I am concerned because I grind my teeth and wear a polycarbonate mouth guard nightly. I worry that BPA may be leaching from my mouth guard and harming my unborn child. I have spoken with numerous dentists but none were that knowledgeable on the subject. I contacted dental labs but have not been able to find a “toxin-free” alternative material from which the guard can be made. I also have not been able to find any research about the risks of wearing mouth guards during pregnancy. 

Unfortunately I need to wear my mouth guard or risk breaking my teeth. Do you have any insight or advice for me?

POSTED BY MIRA :: OREGON USA :: 8:16 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

It can be confusing to make decisions about exposures to toxic chemicals of all kinds because in a addition to how toxic something inherently might be, "the dose makes the poison," meaning, how much you are exposed to and the frequency of exposure determines the toxicity in your body more than the inherent toxicity of the substance itself. Salt, for example, is essential to life, but can be deadly if too much is eaten at one sitting.

Bisphenol A is known to have negative health effects (read all about them at Our Stolen Future: Bisphenol A). According to Our Stolen Future, "Research over the past decade has established that BPA alters cellular function and disrupts developmental processes at exquisitely low levels, far beneath EPA's current 'reference dose' for the compound, and at levels to which many people are exposed daily, in the US and other countries."

Bisphenol A has been most highly publicized for it's presence in clear and colored transparent polycarbonate plastic, because of the popularity of using this plastic for water bottles. Bisphenol A leaches from polycarbonate as the plastic ages. The rate of degradation depends on how the plastic is used. If exposed to acid or alkaline solutions, or heated, the rate of leaching increases. When you wash water bottles in a dishawasher and reuse them, for example, that process accelerates the leaching. Therefore, a new plastic water bottle would leach less bisphenol A into the water than one that has been reused many times.

It's likely, though, that you are being exposed to bisphenol A from many other sources. It is also used to make the resin that lines metal food cans to prevent the metal from contact with food. Some estimates approximate that 80% of metal food cans are lined with bisphenol A resin, and it's not on the label. Another reason to eat fresh food.

Bisphenol A is also used in the manufacture of epoxy resins and other plastics, including polysulfone, alkylphenolic, polyalylate, polyester-styrene, and some polyester resins. It is also used as a fungicide, antioxidant, and a flame retardant, in the making of rubber chemical, and to stabilize polyvinyl chloride.

It is used as a plastic coating for children's teeth to prevent cavities and to make plastic food containers, refrigerator shelving, baby bottles, micro-wave ovenware, eating utensils, and returnable containers for juice, milk and water. You might also be exposed to bisphenol A in adhesives, false teeth, nail polish, compact discs, and other common items.

I've learned from my past study of plastics that soft plastics leach more than hard plastics, so a bendable plastic water bottle would leach more than a hard brittle item made from polycarbonate, such as a blender container. So I would think that your dental device would leach less than a water bottle, but since you are wearing it for hours every night, that increases the exposure time and regularity.

The only way to know for sure what the danger is would be to have some kind of laboratory test to see how much bisphenol A leaches from the device in the presence of saliva over an 8-hour period. Ask your dentist and see if you can find out the manufacturer to see if they have any such studies.

I don't want to say it's OK to use this, since I'm not 100% sure, but on the other hand, you may be being exposed to more bisphenol A from other sources.

If it is necessary for you to use this device and there are no other alternatives, you might want to do some other "detox" things to offset this chemical exposure, such as drinking more water, more exercise, eating more raw vegetables, and other things that tend to cleanse chemicals from the body.

Debra :-)


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October 17, 2006

Tooth Soap

QUESTION:

I've been reading about the detrimental effects of brushing with toothpaste. The glycerin inhibits the teeth from naturally re-enamelizing and flouride has many health dangers.

In Dr. Gerard Judd's book, Good Teeth, Birth to Death, he mentions brushing teeth with bar soap in his recommendations for healthy teeth and gums.

But most of bar soaps contain ingredients that I would consider toxic also. Can you recommend a bar soap that would be a safe soap to use as a tooth soap?

POSTED BY DEBRA M :: KENTUCKY USA :: 5:09 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I had never heard of brushing your teeth with soap until I received this question, but apparently there is something to it. There is now an actual soap designed for dental hygiene called Perfect Prescription. It is made from saponified coconut, palm, and olive oils (all edible) and essential oils of peppermint, cinnamon, or spearmint. They also sell a tooth brightener made from calcium.magnesium and baking soda (which you can easily mix up yourself at home).

I don't see any reason health-wise not to use this dental soap, but I also don't have enough information or experience to recommend it.

What I do want to say about this is that one should NOT use ordinary bar soap to brush their teeth! (I read one account where a woman was using Dove, of all things!) Most bar soaps contain many artificial ingredients that should not be ingested and can also coat teeth.

If you want to try brushing your teeth with soap and don't want to spend $20 for a jar of tooth soap shreds, try a plain, unscented olive oil soap, which is sold at most natural food stores.

For years, I personally have preferred to use various tooth powders, which do not contain either glycerin or fluoride or any of the other bad toothpaste ingredients. And baking soda has been recommended as a healthy dentifrice for years.

But I'm going to look into this soap thing. Will let you know if I find there is something to it.

Debra :-)


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October 16, 2006

Shampoo with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

QUESTION:

Whats your opinion on the AFM Safechoice Shampoo for a person with MCS since it does contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate and MEA? Thanks Sandy

POSTED BY SVW :: WASHINGTON USA :: 5:00 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

The challenge for people with MCS is to find products that are both nontoxic and unscented. And the difficulty is compounded by the fact that each individual has their own sensitivities, so what's perfect for one person with MCS may not be right for another.

Here's a comment on the safety of SLS from Annie Berthold-Bond, my long-time friend and author of Home Enlightenment. I agree with her assessment.

If you have MCS and have used this shampoo, tell us how you like it.

Debra :-)


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October 13, 2006

How bad are blonde highlights?

QUESTION:

Hi,

I do own your book, Home Safe Home, and I did read the part on hair coloring. But here is my dilema:

My teenage daughter desperately wants to add highlights to her hair. She is one of those girls who wants to be fancy all the time, and wants nail polish, lip glosses, and things of those nature. I am constantly telling her how awful these things are and subsequently don't allow her to use any toxic things. ( I have found some non-toxic lip colors).

I know she misses out on using "fun" things and I would like to let her 'just once' try the highlights. I know they are bad, but would it be the end of the world, (or her life) to allow one application of highlights on her hair? And is there one that would be somewhat safer than any others? I guess I'm just wondering if doing that one time is too horrible or would she be ok?
I used to use the box kinds with the caps that you pull hair through (back when I didn't know anything about toxic things) and I thought maybe the cap would keep the bleachy chemicals off of her scalp somewhat. I obvioulsy don't want to do anything that will harm her in the long (or short)run. I was just hoping maybe there is something that isn't too harmful?

Thanks for your time.

POSTED BY J. KELLY :: MINNESOTA USA :: 3:20 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

It's OK with me for you to let your daughter get highlights in her hair. Now don't be shocked, but I get highlights in my hair occasionally.

So I asked my hairdresser what to recommend, since whatever she used on my hair had no odor.

She said, "First, most people don't realize that when you get highlights the coloring product doesn't touch the scalp at all, so none of it is absorbed through the skin like regular hair dye. I use Farouk products for highlights. These are well known and used in many salons."

She said it is ammonia-free. I couldn't find out the ingredients, but I can tell you the highlights I got had no odor and didn't touch my scalp at all. I had no reaction and was very happy with the end result.

Would love to hear from others about successes with highlighting or hair colors. Readers?

Debra :-)


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October 09, 2006

Natural Treatment for Nail Fungus

QUESTION:


Debra,

My daughter is 6 and has terrible eczema. It effects her nails, which have become fungus and makes her skin peel off around her finger tips. Also in the inner arms is bad.

Do you have any recommendations for nail fungus so I can avoid a toxic chemical or medicines, she is so young?

Thanks
Ali Roberts

POSTED BY ALI :: PENNSYLVANIA USA :: 6:47 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't have any personal experience with nail fungus, but it's a good idea to use natural remedies as the FDA has warned that anti-fungal drugs have been linked to severe liver damage and death.

There is a long list of possible natural cures posted at Earth Clinic: Cure Nail Fungus--everything from apple cider vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to tea tree oil and coconut oil.

If anyone has successfully used natural rememdies for nail fungus, please respond to this post and let us know what you did.

Debra :-)


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September 22, 2006

Facial Brown Sun Spots: Non-Toxic Natural Remedy?

QUESTION:

With all the various cosmetic companies out there, and with all the chemicals in the products. I was wondering if anybody had run across :

1) A cosmetic line that they found to be effective and good for MCS people.

2) A specific product or home remedy that has worked well for brown sun/age spots on the face. I have tried lemon juice, but it seemed to worsen the situation.

Would appreciate hearing your experiences, input and recommendations!

Thank you very much.

POSTED BY P :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 3:56 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers...?

Debra :-)


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September 19, 2006

fragrance free deodorants

QUESTION:

Hi Debra, Thanks for all your useful information...I am looking for a deoderant that is fragrance free. The ones I have looked at even though they claim to be unscented have either a fragrance or masking fragrance and the ones at the health food store are with an herbal or essential oil odor, so do you know of any that are truly fragrance free? Thanks Sandy

POSTED BY SVW :: WASHINGTON USA :: 3:17 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Aside from using baking soda, the purest deodorant products I know of are made by Deodorant Stones of America.
They made deodorants products from pure potassium alum (there's a difference between aluminum and alum "without the addition of chemicals, fragrances, oils or alcohol". It comes in a stone, stick, spray, roll-on, and powder. It is marketed under several brand names, including Thai Crystal, Pure & Natural, Crystal Orchid, Nature's Crystal, and Nature's Pearl.

Readers, please let us know what unscented deodorants you use and like.

Debra :-)


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Non-Toxic Mascara Recommendation?

QUESTION:

hello,

i'm looking for a non-toxic mascara that WON'T MAKE MY LASHES DROOP. my lashes are relatively thin, and anything heavy will cause them to droop in a heartbeat. is there such a forumula?

would appreciate a recommendation.

thank you!

POSTED BY WT :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 6:08 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

My lashes are thick, so I've never experienced this. Readers...?

Debra :-)


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September 11, 2006

Organic Manicure and Pedicure

QUESTION:

I got a number of requests for these recipes (offered on the post Nontoxic Nail Polish), so with Debra's kind permission I'm putting them here on the blog. Once you experience the nourishing quality of these treatments you will find it hard to go back to a salon with all of their harsh chemicals. Yours in good health and pampering - Mary Anne in Los Angeles

ORGANIC MANICURE

Put a small dab of organic oil (sweet almond, olive, grapeseed,
jojoba, hemp, whatever) on each cuticle to soften. Shape the nails with an emery board, then genty push back the cuticles with an orangewood stick. Soak hands for 10 minutes in a quart of warm organic, whole (4% fat) milk. Rinse and dry the hands, scrubbing the nails and cuticles with a small nail brush if necessary. To finish, put a dab of organic vitamin E oil on each nail and polish with a nail buffer (the old-fashioned, "grandma" kind covered with chamois, not the square spongy kind sold in beauty supply stores as a "buffer" but is really an abrasive surface).

This is really softening and nourishing for both hands and feet. If you have rough or dry skin that needs a little extra help, before the milk soak you can add a gentle massage with fine, exfoliating facial scrubbing grains (Avalon Organics makes a good one), or make your own scrubbing grains by using any of the following recipes:

* a tablespoon of fine-grained organic sea salt mixed with enough organic oil to make a thick paste; add in one or two drops of lavender essential oil (soothing)

* a tablespoon of organic sugar mixed with oil and a drop or two of sweet orange essential oil (soothing)

*a tablespoon of used, organic coffee grounds mixed with oil and a drop or two of peppermint essential oil (invigorating).

Feel free to substitute any essential oil(s) that you personally like. After the soak and before the nail buff you can also include a hand (or foot) massage with organic lotion if you want, but do it as a relaxing extra treat - you won't need it for the sake of adding moisture to the skin. Of course you can always go on and add polish to the nails, but then the manicure will no longer be organic!

ORGANIC PEDICURE

This is a really good recipe for feet with thick, tough, rough, dry, flaky and/or scaly calluses - and it really works. Follow the directions above, but soak the feet for 15 minutes in a small tub or basin filled with 2 cups of organic apple cider vinegar and enough hot water to cover the feet. Make the water as hot as you can stand it. Make sure you specifically use apple cider vinegar and not some other kind of vinegar. At the end of 15 minutes, vigorously scrub the calluses with a salon-grade pumice stone; the dead skin will roll right off. Then rinse and dry the feet. For extra dry or flaky skin, after scrubbing and drying the feet you can slather them with organic oil or lotion and wrap each foot in a hot, wet (but well rung-out) towel and relax for 10-15 minutes with your feet up. You can also slather the feet, put on cotton socks and leave them on overnight.

POSTED BY MARY ANNE STERN :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 2:53 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Thanks, Mary Anne. I actually had it on my list to research a natural manicure and pedicure, so I appreciate your sending this.

Debra :-)


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September 04, 2006

Nontoxic nail polish?

QUESTION:

I am looking for a non toxic nail polish that will come off without the toxic regular nail polish remover. Do you know of any that are reasonably priced and truly non toxic, meaning if you ingested them it wouldn't be harmful?

POSTED BY T. S. :: NORTH DAKOTA USA :: 1:26 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't know of one. Does anyone else? If you know of one, click below on "POST A COMMENT" to respond.

Debra :-)


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August 21, 2006

Temporary Hair Coloring

QUESTION:

Could you advise me re: a temporary hair coloring for gray now that Aubrey Organic has discontinued their gel coloring.

Thank you.


POSTED BY J. F. :: USA :: 2:30 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Try contacting the Natural Hair Dye website. They specialize in natural hair color. They should be able to advise you on this.

Also type "hair color" in my on-site search engine. Additional sites that sell natural hair color will come up.


Debra :-)


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July 25, 2006

Safety of Acrylic Dental Device

QUESTION:

I grind my teeth very badly and have had many problems with it recently. So my dentist made me a plastic acrylic molded tooth guard to wear every night on my bottom teeth. I still grind against it but it stops the teeth from hitting together. Once I got it home though I began to wonder whether having a piece of plastic in my mouth every night was any better than just grinding my teeth. Do you know if this stuff would be bad for us to have in our mouth every night? Thank you!

POSTED BY J. O. :: COLORADO USA :: 12:00 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I asked my natural dentist, Dr. Ray Behm at Natural Dentistry, to answer your question and here is his reply:

Grinding on a piece of plastic is definitely better than grinding on your own teeth. Teeth grinding makes them shorter, which can create effects throughout the body, including headaches, fibromyalgia, etc. There is a type of dentistry that is making a fortune by "opening up the bite." What this means is that by crowning each tooth in the mouth, they are lengthened back to the length the patient had in his early 20's. That is the optimal length for looks and optimal function of the TMJ, head sutures and indirectly joints and function thought the body. Also grinding wears away the enamel, making the teeth more prone to decay, including at the gumline.

The only downside on biting on a piece of plastic would be if it were not a biocompatible material. Non-holistic dentists do not recognize that many of the materials they use are actually toxic. The best thing would be to be tested for the material, either through a serum compatibility test, or take a sample of the material to your chiropractor or nutritionist, and they can test it either by muscle testing or with an EAV machine.

We have found that many people who grind actually have a parasite situation in their intestines. Through the connection of the energy meridians, they create the effect of grinding at night. So we handle grinding by having the person do a parasite cleanse.

I would just add that while I am not in favor of plastic, sometimes using plastic is the lesser of two evils. Go to the Holistic Dental Association website to find a dentist who can help choose the most compatible tooth guard for your body.

Debra :-)


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Natural Hair Restoration

QUESTION:

My question is for my husband. He is in his early 30's and is showing signs of balding. I can't help but wonder if it's more than just genes. He has been around a lot of chemicals and metal dust in his work environments. Do you have any recommendations for him? Maybe a heavy metal detox? Thanks.

POSTED BY T. S. :: ARIZONA USA :: 12:00 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

My husband has been balding too. He has been using a product called Moisturizing Cream #1 that he gets from Nature's Botanicals (if website is down call 800-203-9668 to order) and it actually works! His hair is growing back!

This isn't a gimmick product from a television infomercial. He started using it after a woman we know told us the product restored her thinning hair. Today she has a full head of thick beautiful hair.

I do think a detox would be a good idea for him as well if he has had a lot of chemical exposure.

Debra :-)


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July 11, 2006

Facial Hair Bleach

QUESTION:

I am wondering if you know of any non-toxic facial hair bleachers. All of the bleachers that are found in stores contain toxic chemicals. I would appreciate any input that you might have on this.

POSTED BY F. C. :: SOUTH CAROLINA USA :: 12:00 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I would suggest using just plain hydrogen peroxide, though I've never tried this myself. Since women use it to bleach their hair, I assume it would work on facial hair too.

If you want to remove facial hair, the best method I've found is the Finishing Touch Personal Hair Remover. Yes, it's one of those cheap infomercial gadgets, but it really does work very well! And it is inexpensive, easy to use, nontoxic, painless, and hair actually grows back lighter and softer.

Debra :-)


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June 13, 2006

Fragrance-free hairspray

I ran a request for fragrance-free hairspray from a woman with MCS who needs to use hairspray and her favorite brand she has been using has been discontinued. I myself don't use hairspray, so I have no personal experience. Click on COMMENTS for more responses.

A number of fragrance-free websites carry unscented hairspray made by Magick Botanicals. This hairspray is unscented, but it does contain plastics. Free & Clear Perfume Free Hairspray is another popular brand sold on many websites.

What I've found is that most of the fragrance-free hairsprays are still made from petrochemical plastics (PVP on the label).

One reader wrote, "Thai Crystal Deodorant Mist doubles as a good hairspray!" It's 100% natural and unscented.

Another reader wrote, "I use the "old fashioned" hair spray--corn syrup that has been boiled in water. It works like a charm, has no scent (unless you choose to scent it), and is a very natural product. You might be able to use honey as well, but I haven't tried it."

Ah ha! This last suggestion prompted my memory banks to dredge up an article I wrote on making your own hairsprays in a newsletter I published in 1986 (twenty years ago!). Here's the text of that article...

Have you been eyeing those fabulous hairdos in all the fashion magazines and wondering how you can get your hair to stay in place without using a plastic resin based hairspray or mousse?

We took an assortment of natural potions and our friend Sara Harris down to the beauty salon at I. Magin in San Francisco to see if expert haircresser Jeannie Taylor could work with our natural hair preparations and create a look identical to what is possible with hairspray and mousse. "I'm amazed," she said. "These hold as well as any of our superhold hairsprays and mousses."

There are three basic formulas you can use. You'll have to experiement with each one to determine the correct proportions for your hair, depending on the amount of hold you need. For each formula, the stronger the soluition, the stronger the holding power., but more is not always better as they can all get very sticky. State with the proportions given, and add or dilute from there.

GELATIN HAIR GEL

Dissolve one packet of unflavored gelatin in about 3 cups hot water. Let cool and apply to dry or wet hair, then blow dry into place. This will hold your hair in whatever position you dry it, so be careful! Jeannie liked this formula the best and suggested that it be diluted even further into a hairspray. Using geletin has the added advantage that it actually gives your hair more body, and even fine hair will stay in place for days after the initial application. This might simply be used as a hair conditioner, too.

LEMON HAIR MIST

Chop one lemon (or orange for dry hair) and place in a saucepan. Cover with two cups of hot water, bring to a boil, and simmer over low heat until only half remains (this will take about an hour). Cool, strain, and pour into a fine spray bottle. If desired, add one ounce of vodka as a preservative, otherwise, store in the refrigerator. This works well as a spray and will keep your hair in place while still leaving a soft feeling. Jeannie used the lemon spray after styling our hair with the gelatin. "The water in the lemon mixture reactivates the dried gelatin for a firmer hold," and our hair stayed in place for the rest of the day (even through wind and rain!)

HONEY HAIR SPRAY

Dissolve 2 to 5 teaspoons honey in about 1 cup of warm water. We didn't try this one in the salon, but it's easy to make and may be just right for your hair.

ATTENTION MEN! These formulations aren't just for ladies. We've heard good reports about men using them too!

Debra :-)


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May 06, 2006

Safety of titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and iron oxides

QUESTION:

I've recently found some cosmetic powders mostly made of cornstarch and iron oxides. Are iron oxides just as bad as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide? After reading about these ingredients in your e-book Debra's Guide To Choosing Natural Sun Protection I'm wondering if iron oxides are just as bad.

Thanks! Thanks also for the e-book!!! It's great info!!!

POSTED BY R. R. :: GEORGIA USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Iron oxides are used in almost 2,000 cosmetics products. I don't know how they are processed, but they are naturally occurring minerals in Nature. I was once driving through the deserts in the Southwest and stopped to look at the colored rock by the side of the road. They had so many colors I could see how they could just be ground up to make cosmetics.

The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website says only that they are concerned that iron oxides have not been assessed for safety. I have not heard of any concerns about the health effects of iron oxides over the years.

Contrast this to the fact that the same source says titanium dioxide is a suspected human carcinogen and zinc oxide is known to be an immune system toxin and a respiratory toxicant, and may present risks to human reproduction and development based on limited data, and I would say iron oxides are much safer. I don't see any reason to not use them.

Debra :-)


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April 04, 2006

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

QUESTION:

Can you tell me about Sodium Laureth Sulfate? I know labels often say it is "derived from coconut", but is it really a natural ingredient?

POSTED BY J. P. :: IDAHO USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

To answer your question, here is an excerpt from my book Home Safe Home about natural ingredients bold added.

The word natural, as it relates to consumer products, is meaningless, since every consumer product is made from the natural resources of the earth. Because there is no legal definition, natural has been both overused and misused on many product labels.

Natural is commonly used to mean that a product is made primarily of renewable resources, as opposed to man made ingredients derived from nonrenewable resources. The basic substance or material used to make the product is found in nature instead of being manufactured from petroleum and is therefore thought to be more compatible with the human body and the entire ecological system. Materials generally thought of as being natural are those plants, animals, and minerals that appear wholly formed in nature such as cotton, wool, or salt, or ingredients derived from plants, animals, and minerals such as lavender oil, gelatin, and baking soda.

The main drawback to the term natural is that it gives the illusion that the product is "of nature," and therefore absolutely acceptable and harmless to our health. In fact, most "natural" products are natural only in the respect that some part of the product exists in nature, that it is not completely made from petrochemicals.

Natural products are rarely completely natural in our modern world of processing, petrochemicals are almost always used with the natural materials when making a "natural ingredient." More accurately, most "natural" substances and materials might be called I'm coining a new term here "hybrid natural" basically of nature, but grown or processed by industry with added petrochemicals. Virtually all products being currently marketed as natural are really hybrid natural.

One excellent example of a hybrid natural ingredient was described by Philip Dickey of the Washington Toxics Coalition in an article for Green Alternatives magazine May/June 1992. He specifically wrote of a coconut oil surfactant used in natural cleaning products, but the same principle applies to all so-called natural ingredients.

This detergent is called linear alcohol ethoxylate...The alcohol from which this surfactant is made is similar to the ethyl alcohol we know from beer and wine except it has more carbon atoms...They are arranged in a straight line, hence the term linear alcohol. This alcohol called lauryl alcohol can be manufactured from either coconut oil or petroleum. Let's pretend that our alcohol came originally from coconuts...

Lauryl alcohol is not a surfactant. To make it function as a surfactant, we have to build on a hydrophilic, or watersoluble, structure...In an ethoxylated alcohol it is done through a chemical reaction with a highly toxic and carcinogenic compound called ethylene oxide, distilled from crude oil. During this process, called ethoxylation, carbon atoms from ethylene oxide are progressively added to one end of the coconut-based structure until a hydrophilic chain of the desired length is reached. At this point the surfactant can be though of as part vegetable, part petroleum...a hybrid [italics mine]. The ratio varies, but often near 50/50.

In general, when you find ingredients that you recognize, such as “lemon” or “cotton,” the products will be relatively safe.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate is also produced via ethoxylation. Ethoxylated surfactants may be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4- Dioxane dioxin, as a by-product of the manufacturing process. Carcinogens are considered cause for concern even at very low levels.

The Australian government has determines the main risk for the general public for dioxin exposure is from consumer products containing dioxin as an impurity. Dioxin contamination has been found in these common household products: shampoos 50-300ppm, dishwashing liquid 3-65ppm, baby lotion 11ppm, hair lotions 47-108ppm, bath foam 22-41ppm and other cosmetic products 6-160ppm.

I'm not going to comment on whether or not one should or shouldn't use products containing Sodium Laureth Sulfate. There is a lot of controversy about this which you can read by typing "Sodium Laureth Sulfate" into any seach engine.

My only point here is that even though Sodium Laureth Sulfate is "derived from coconut oil", it's not what I would consider to be natural in the sense that it is in the state in which it occurs in nature.

Debra :-)


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January 24, 2006

Low-EMF Hair Dryers

QUESTION:

I was looking for a hairdryer with low EMF and found one on the internet which I ordered. I think it may have been just a regular hairdryer that they covered with metal and their logo. It was through a company called Angellite. Have you heard of them? Do you know of any reputable companies that make low EMF hairdryers?

Many thanks.

POSTED BY B. A :: CALIFORNIA USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I asked certified Bau-Biologist Mary Cordaro, who has much more experience than I with EMFs, to answer this question. Here is her reply.

"I'm only familiar with one unit, the Angelite, which I've tested, and is indeed very low EMF specifically for the AC magnetic field. The others may also be okay, but I've never tested them with my gauss meter. Any company who claims that their unit is low EMF should provide test result documentation, saying what they're measuring for and how.

"There are several types of EMF's. Most companies making low EMF products are concerned only with AC magnetic fields, but a very few are also concerned about AC Electric fields. The AC Magnetic Field is a type of EMF present when current is actually present and running, so an appliance or unit would need to be switched on to be tested, as opposed to simply being plugged in. The AC Electric Field is present when a unit is simply plugged in, whether or not the unit is turned on. I'm not sure but the Angelite might also be making their unit so it's shielded for AC Electric Fields as well, which would make it even better.

"If I were to purchase a hair dryer, I'd see if I could find one with low EMF's, both AC magnetic and AC electric, and ask for documentation. If a unit is manufactured for low AC Electric Fields, all the wiring would have to be a special type called "shielded cable". This is not just the plug, but the entire cable inside and outside the unit, and sometimes even parts of the motor.

"As far are whether or not it's important to use a Low EMF hairdryer, here's my opinion:

  • If you are electrically sensitive, then yes.
  • If you using a hairdryer professionally, for several hours a day, definitely.
  • If you are weak, ill, or pregnant, it definitely couldn't hurt to avoid high EMF's as much as possible.
  • If I had a small child who felt they had to use a hair dryer frequently, I'd get a low EMF unit.

"HOWEVER, for most of us who use hair dryers, holding an appliance for a few minutes each day is probably not a big issue. I'm more concerned about longer term exposures, such as sitting at a computer all day or in other sources of high EMF's for several hours a day. The biggest concern is long term exposure during sleep, when we are most vulnerable, and need to eliminate contaminants of all kinds in order to regenerate and heal. There are so many other potential sources of EMF's that pose longer term exposures, that I'd rather see someone invest in a meter or better yet, an inspection, to diagnose and eliminate those bigger, longer term exposures, than an appliance that's used only a few minutes per day.

"That having been said, here's the approach I took, personally. I located and eliminated all longer term exposure sources of EMF's AC magnetic and high frequency everywhere,  then in the bedroom AC electric, as well as both DC magnetic and DC electric fields. For shorter term sources, my bigger concern is energy use. I don't like that I use a hair dryer because it takes precious energy to run it, especially since motors can potentially use a lot of current. So I looked for one that would dry my hair FASTER, which cuts down on the time I'm exposed to high EMF's as well as the energy it consumes. I bought an ionizing unit, because it seems to work faster and doesn't dry my hair out like regular units. I'm totally against ion generators used for cleaning air, though, just want to make sure I say that. Although I'm certain it's not shielded, so the AC electric levels are high, I got lucky accidentally:  the ionizing unit I bought is low in AC magnetic fields to boot. Lastly, I try to avoid using a hair dryer unless I have to, meaning, I have to look more professional or dressy. I just wasn't happy using a low EMF unit that would take more time and thus more energy to use, and would also wreck my hair.

"Even if you hold a conventional high EMF dryer at arm's length, you are still exposed because you're holding it. As long as it's in close proximity to any part of your body, that part of your body is exposed. If you hold it a few inches from your head, you may not be exposing your head, but you are certainly exposing your hand and arm. The drop off rate also varies, depending on how the unit is manufactured. Anything with a motor will have potentially high levels, though, that's the important point, so the drop off rate for some units might not be just a few inches. It all depends on the unit."

I'm in agreement with everything Mary said, and I have some additional comments.

If you want to purchase a hair dryer advertised as low-EMF, they are available on these websites:

  • folica.com - Chi Ceramic Ionic Hair Dryer, "A lightweight quiet professional dryer that utilizes ceramic technology, negative ions, far Infrared and low EMF Electromagnetic Field for healthier and shinier hair."
  • LessEMF.com - "This unique dryer with six foot hose allows you to stay far enough away from the motor to reduce electromagnetic exposure to acceptable levels."
  • lowemf.com carries the Angelite Hair Dryer.

Myself, I just get a great haircut and let it dry naturally. But I live in Florida, where the weather is warm most of the year and I can do that. I do own a hairdryer, but, like Mary, I only use it occasionally--mostly for professional appearances.

If you have the type of hairstyle that requires styling with a hairdryer and brush every morning, consider switching to a simpler hairstyle if you don't want to spend around $150 for a low-EMF hair dryer.

Debra :-)


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November 02, 2005

Natural ingredients in personal care products

QUESTION:

I read that a person should avoid castor oil in personal care products in Terressentials' Healthy Person's Guide to Personal Care Ingredients.

Castor oil is in many organic and natural cosmetics. Could you let me know what you think.

Thanks.

POSTED BY A. F. :: OKLAHOMA USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I have read their website pretty thoroughly and have a link to Terressentials on Debra's List. I really admire their dedication to the purity of their personal care products. They only use ingredients that the USDA permits in certified organic food, and every single ingredient is certified organic. They don't make cosmetics, however, so if you want to wear cosmetics, you'll have to choose from those that are available.

I looked at their website again in response to your question and found that they recommended avoiding castor oil because "castor beans yield the biotoxin ricin." So I looked up ricin to find out how toxic it was.

It turns out that ricin is one of the deadliest natural poisons on earth, BUT ricin is removed from the oil. So it's not likely that one would be exposed to ricin by using a cosmetic product.

This puzzeled me. Surely Terressentials must know that ricin is removed from the oil. So I called Terressentials and Diana Kay--who co-founded the company with life parther James Hahn--explained why they don't recommend castor oil.

Diana has survived cancer and is now chemically sensitive. She is concerned not only about the health effects of product ingredients when you use them, she is concerned about the toxic pollutants that are going into the environment during manufacture. She calls this "second-hand pollution" because she likens it to second-hand cigarette smoke--it's a by-product of the process that causes harm to others. We don't see this pollution when we buy personal care products in pretty packaging, but it's there...even in so-called natural and organic products.

For Diana, an ingredient has to be sustainable and supportive to life from beginning to end. That's why she and Jim will only use certified organic ingredients in their products. "Our personal choices DO affect others in a major way, and it can be a matter of life and death." They have done a lot of research on the manufacturing effects of personal care ingredients and that is what their recommendations are based on in their guide to ingredients.

As far as castor oil is concerned, she acknowledged that the danger is not in the using of castor oil, but rather the effects it has on the rest of life and re-reading her website, I did see that she didn't say castor oil was toxic--she said "castor beans yield the biotoxin ricin.". I'll let her tell it in her own words excerpted from her website

For decades castor oil has been a part of the folk medicine repetoire. The oil has been used as an industrial lubricant, lamp oil, hot compress, laxative, body care product, etc. The plant material, stalks and leaves, when dried after a harvest are a highly potent allergen/sensitizer and cause severe, disabling allergic asthma in workers who handle the material. The mash that remains after the oil has been pressed or solvent-extracted is toxic to many animals. The majority of castor oil that is produced today is produced in the Middle East, India and Africa. Curiously, there are no significant scientific studies that can strongly document skin healing properties or other therapeutic effects.

There are two interesting things that can be reported about this oil: 1 it has never been used as a food for humans and 2 when you type the words "castor oil army ricin" into the search engine "google," there are 1950 results linking to the potential use of ricin a deadly component of castor beans being used in biowarfare terrorist attacks to kill US citizens and many listings for our government's and the military's concerns about ricin's ease of manufacturing and the virtually unlimited quantities of castor beans available for processing ricin.

For an enlightening report on castor beans and ricin production visit this article from the Harvard Independent magazine titled "Iraq Sharpens Weapons Disguise."

So while castor oil may not affect your health directly, it produces manufacturing pollution, and harm to workers and animals, not to mention it the toxin could be used against us in biological warfare.

I asked Diana if she knew of any cosmetics that didn't contain castor oil, and she said no I found castor oil in all the cosmetics on Debra's List, too. Her greater concern, however, was titanium dioxide, which is even more common in natural cosmetics. This is not a natural mineral, but rather one that is highly processed, requiring a lot of energy and producing a lot of pollutants. More on manufacturing...

We also discussed the even larger issue of women feeling the need to wear cosmetics at all. Neither she nor I wear them. I only wear cosmetics when professional appearances require that I do, and even then I remove them immediately after the appearance. It's all tied up with how we perceive beauty. I'm fortunate that my husband would prefer to look at my face without makeup. He actually screws up his nose and won't kiss me when I have it on. That's a pretty good incentive not to wear it!

So, it's not a simple question with a simple answer. There's much more to explore about the world of natural cosmetics, which is on my list to do.

In a world where there is so much that is harmful to health and the environment, it's important to not lose heart. Yes, most products are not perfect, but many are better than others. By supporting those better products and continuing to push for products that are even better, we do have an beneficial effect on the marketplace.

As to whether or not you should wear cosmetics containing castor oil, that's a personal choice. At least now you know what it is and why Terressentials has chosen not to use it. The most natural cosmetics available contain castor oil and titanium dioxide. If you choose to wear cosmetics, that's the best that's available right now. If anyone finds cosmetics without these ingredients, let me know.

Debra :-)


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October 18, 2005

Are these products really natural?

QUESTION:

My friend has introduced me to a company that is supposed to be natural. They have skin care and cosmetics. She is so head strong about this. She knows I am working hard and trying to get healthy and stay away from chemicals and toxins. I'm trying to eat organic, and I have a long way to go, and I would be happy if what she says about this company being natural is for sure. Could you help me? [Name of company deleted]

Thank you.

POSTED BY M. H. :: FLORIDA USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I went to their website and here's what I found, or more accurately, what I didn't find. I didn't find any ingredients lists for their products. What they listed were the natural "key ingredients." These key ingredients, though natural, could be mixed with other ingredients that are very unnatural.

My experience has been that companies that have truly natural products include complete ingredients lists and often have glossaries to explain exactly what their ingredients are and what function they perform in the product. With so many all-natural and even organic bodycare products available now see the Debra's List bodycare page, there's no need to use products that have mysterious ingredients.

[After I sent her the above reply, she responded with a list of ingredients from the label of a bottle of their foundation make-up.]

I looked up the sources of each of the ingredients see chart below. You can see they are hardly natural. Note that five of the ingredients all the parabens near the end are all preservatives made from petrochemicals. The parabens are frequently used in so-called "natural" products, but are not of plant, animal or mineral origin. I tried to linked each ingredient to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database, which tells the toxicity of the ingredient, but the links wouldn't work. You can go to their website and type any ingredient in that you would like to look up. Ingredient source information is from Ruth Winter's A Consumer's Guide to Cosmetic Ingredients.

As you read this, keep in mind that most of the ingredients from natural sources are derived from those sources--they are not in their natural state. To my mind, the further we get from ingredients in their natural state, well...the less natural they are.

I've marked the ingredients made from petrochemicals with an asterisk *. I'd say this isn't a natural product.

Debra :-

  ACTIVE INGREDIENTS:  
  Titanium Dioxide naturally occurring mineral
  Octinoxate not in book or database
     
  OTHER INGREDIENTS:  
  Water natural, but may be contaminated with chlorine, fluoride and other water pollutants
  Isododecane not in book or database
  Cyclomethicone derived from silica, a naturally-occurring mineral
  Dimethicone derived from silica, a naturally occuring mineral
  Talc naturally occurring mineral
* Nylon-12 a petrochemical plastic
  Sorbitan Sesquioleate derived from plants
* Butylene Glycol
made from petrochemicals
  Dimethicone Copolyol derived from silica, a naturally occuring mineral
  Quaternium-18 Hectorite derived from plant cellulose
  Isononyl lsononanoate made of unspecified alcohol and acid
  PEG-30 Hydroxystearate derived from natural materials treated with chemicals
  Glycerin a natural by-product of soap manufacture
  Silica naturally occurring mineral sand is silica
  Sodium Chloride salt processed to remove 82 other minerals, leaving only the sodium and chloride
  Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract herb
  Daucus Carota Sativa carrot Root Extract herb
  Larrea Divaricata Extract herb
  Rosa Canina Fruit Extract herb
  Ginkgo Biloba Extract herb
  Tabebuia Impetiginosa Bark Extract herb
  Triticum Vulgare Wheat Germ oil herb
  Stearic Acid made from animal fat
* Phenoxyethanol made by treating phenol with ethylene oxide--both petrochemicals
  PEG-40 Sorbitan Peroleate derived from natural materials treated with chemicals
  Polysorbate 20 // derived from coconut derived from coconut
* Propylene Carbonate derived from petrochemicals
  Aluminum Hydroxide aluminum is a naturally occuring metal
  Tocopheryl Acetate vitamin E
  Retinyl Palmitate derived from coconut
  Xanthan Gum cultured from plants
* Methylparaben
Ethylparaben
Propylparaben
Butylparaben
Isobutylparaben
parabens are all derived from benzoic acid, which is made by the chlorination of toluene, a petrochemical derivative
  Trisodium EDTA a processed salt, not in it's natural form
  Iron Oxides naturally occurring rust

Debra :-)


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October 04, 2005

Natural Bristle Toothbrushes

QUESTION:

I am in Australia and find a need for toothbrushes for my 2 year old son, also for my sister. My son has allergies to not only plastics but soft silicones ie: teats, flanges, bottles that have been sealed with silicone. All foods have to be made from scratch.

I would love your help in finding a wooden toothbrush with natural bristles, not nylon some companies seem to think this is a natural product. Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.

POSTED BY J. A. :: AUSTRALIA USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

There are actually a number of natural bristle brushes available. These two would be best for your son, as they have wood handles instead of plastic: Caswell Massey and Squeaky Monroe.

Other websites sell natural bristle toothbrushes with acetate handles. The first time I saw this and read that it was "natural and biodegradable" I thought they were wrong--acetate is a plastic. Well, I looked it up and found that while it is manmade and it is a plastic, acetate is a specific type of plastic--called cellulose acetate--made by introducing the acetyl radical of acetic acid commonly known as vinegar into cellulose from wood-pulp and/or cotton fibers. This combination produces a tough, clear plastic that is used to make a wide variety of household products, including frames for eyeglasses.

Other websites that sell natural bristle toothbrushes include

Classic Shaving, eDentalStuff.com, and HomeDental.com. These dental sites carry natural bristle brushes not because they are natural, but because "they remove plaque better than any other conventional brush in the world."

Internatural carries Fuchs German toothbrushes that have a patented replaceable-head design. This allows you to replace the bristles regularly without disposing of the entire toothbrush.

Debra :-)


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June 28, 2005

Pollution in Beach Sand?

QUESTION:

I hear so much about polluted beaches. I was wondering if I should boil or somehow sanitize beach sand I bring home before I use it to soften up my feet.

POSTED BY S.W. :: WASHINGTON USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

All beaches are different in terms of their level of pollution. Here in Florida where I live, we have a lot of beaches. They test the water regularly and we get beach alerts if the local regulators find that pollutants go to levels high enough to cause illness.

I'm not particularly concerned about sand. It's siting out in the hot sun all day. The sun is a natural disintectant.

I go to the beach all the time and walk on the sand and swim in the water. I'm not concerned about it at my local beach. Learn more about the specific area where you are collecting your sand. Certainly there are polluted beaches, but not all beaches are polluted.

Debra :-)


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April 05, 2005

Unscented Talcum Powder

QUESTION:

I have MCS, and have been unable to find unscented, fragrance-free talcum powder Note the apparent redundancy, since many products that are labeled "unscented" actually contain fragrance, sometimes appearing in the Ingredients list only as a chemical name. I would like to find a source for a safe no mica talcum that has no added fragrance. Can you help?

POSTED BY N.M. :: ARIZONA USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I could only find unscented talcum powder one place: Birch Hill Happenings. The owner says that it is "100% pure" to the best of her knowledge. It is imported from Australia.

Talc is considered safe enough to be used as an ingredient in nearly one thousand cosmetic and bodycare products. In the past, there has been some question about its safety. It is often stated that talc contains traces of asbestos, however, eighty-five samples of talcum powder studied from 15 countries found that the main detectable mineral impurities were chlorite, mica, carbonates, quartz, and feldspars. Purity varied from 47% to 93%, with powders from Germany and USA having the highest quality. Products from Chile, France, Andorra, Portugal and Colombia were the lowest.

Dr. Hauschka products website FAQ states:

Talc is an inert mineral with no inherent toxicity. Concern over talc safety relates to its association with asbestos. Talc itself is not asbestos; however, some talc deposits contain another mineral, tremolite. In rare cases tremolite can occur in a fibrous crystalline form that can be classified as asbestos.

Since 1972 government-mandated testing and certification assures all talc used in cosmetics is tremolite-free. Today, cosmetic talc meets current FDA specifications and purity standards. The talc in Dr.Hauschka Decorative Cosmetics is certified tremolite-free in accordance with Federal regulations.

If you have concern about the safety of using talcum powder issues of scent aside, here are some talc-free alternatives:

Capricorn Soaps Silky Fairy Dust Herbal Body Powders. "An all natural base of arrowroot powder to which we add natural clays, organic herbs and essential oils."

Bath and Body Naturals Natural Body Powder. A body powder made with corn starch, arrowroot powder, clay and oat starch.

Also, you can just purchase plain cornstarch or arrowroot powder and use that.

Debra :-)


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January 25, 2005

Hydrogen Peroxide Safety

QUESTION:

Read this article: An Apple A Day Does Keep the Doctor Away...Like the apple info but noticed how the researchers used hydrogen peroxide to induce similar environmental challenge of exposure to free radical stress. Thought about my 15 year old daughter who uses hydrogen peroxide dabbed on her ear holes....

POSTED BY L. G. :: CALIFORNIA USA ::


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Interesting article.

Your question brings up an important concept regarding how to determine toxicity.

Your daughter is probably using a very small amount of hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and keep her ear holes from getting infected. So the choice here is to use hydrogen peroxide or some other bacteria-killer or risk infection, which would cause a greater problem.

It's the nature of hydrogen peroxide to damage bacteria--that's why we use it. To kill one thing bacteria to preserve another ears.

Remember that whether or not an exposure is toxic to you is based on the inherent strength and toxicity of the substance, frequency of exposure, amount of exposure, method of exposure, and one's individual tolerance for the substance. Hydrogen peroxide is known to be safe and effective in small amounts for a variety of health uses. We don't know how much was used in this experiment and the length of exposure required to cause the cell damage. Enough table salt--which is vital to our health--can cause cell damage enough that it was traditionally used as a preservative to prevent food from spoiling.

I'm not worried about your daughter using hydrogen peroxide on her ear holes.

Debra :-)


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January 05, 2005

Natural Gel Socks

QUESTION:

I have extreme mulitple chemical sensitivities MCS. My foot doctor urged me to get "gel socks" for my foot atrophy. Are you aware of any "gel socks" which are safe?

POSTED BY J.W. :: FLORIDA USA :: 2:50 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

For those of you who are not familiar with gel socks I wasn't, they are socks lined with a moisturizing gel for people who have extremely dry skin on their feet such as diabetics. Typically gel socks are made from a blend of about 50% cotton, plus nylon and about 4% spandex for stretchability. The moisturizing gel is made from Mineral Oil and various plastics, including styrene, the plastic used to make styrofoam.

Mineral oil and plastics are made from petrochemicals. I don't recommend mineral oil lotions for this reason, and also because mineral oil tends to dry the skin, rather than moisturize it.

Just at the last minute, as I was working on this newsletter, I stumbled over some cotton H2O Plus Gel Therapy Socks with a lining of "antioxidant green tea, healing vitamin E and natural oils of jojoba, avocado and olive to improve skin texture and suppleness," but that was all the info that was given and I don't know if that's the complete ingredient list.

You can also make your own natural gel sock treatment by applying oils or lotions you know you tolerate, then slipping on Cotton Moisture Socks. This homemade treatment has been around for a long time. You can also do the same thing for your hands by applying lotion and wearing a pair of cotton gloves.

Find organic and natural lotions at Debra's List/Bodycare and more cotton socks at Debra's List/Textiles.

Debra :-)


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