Francey pants sun protection (Day 97)…

June 5, 2007


Despite what the T-shirt says, pale is not the new tan. But I’m pretty sure, last time I checked, skin cancer wasn’t the new tan, either. The compromise, then, for a freckle-susceptible white girl like me is to get my sun in small doses and wear an SPF-15 lotion, maybe a little eco-bronzer for good measure.

I’ve been hearing some bad things in the organic grapevine about suntan lotion — like how synthetic UV filters don’t properly absorb the rays, not to mention all the lovely parabens that usually appear in the ingredients list — which sucks, because I get totally high on the smell of Hawaiian Tropic.

But I can’t just not wear any protection and lurk in the shadows all day. So I went poking around. And where better to poke, really, than Paris? I know, it’s not exactly local, but this Mary Cohr Pur Environnement brand sounds so great, and not just because the label is written en français (but I won’t lie, terms like bronzage lissant make me feel pretty special).

All their products are GMO-free, derived only from renewable plant species and of course not tested on animals, and the suntan lotions are entirely mineral-based, naturally protecting against the full UVA/UVB spectrum.

I got mine at this holistic spa/yoga studio/naturopath clinic/eco-boutique in Toronto, 889 Yonge, while under the influence of an Ayurvedic head massage. It wasn’t cheap, but I’ll mostly be using it on my face and décolletage, if you will. I might, however, invest in another cheaper natural brand like Lavera for when my pale ass is in the Middle East in the middle of July and I’m reapplying every seven minutes.

A soapbox worth preaching on (Day 95)…

June 3, 2007

soapboxThis Radius soap holder is 100% recyclable, made “on high efficiency electric injection molding machines” (I have no idea what that means, but they apparently use 75% less energy) and holds a bar of Kiss My Face pure olive oil soap perfectly.

See, I’d finally made it through my craptastic Alba body “wash”, and was looking for a different brand. Then I remembered one Thistle reader (I think it was GreenYogini) saying she loved this bar soap and used it not only for her body, but her face and hair and teeth (OK, maybe not teeth).

But I was hesitant: ever since I was a teenager I’ve been a body wash devotee because I love how it foams up and doesn’t leave a sticky residue. However, now that I no longer have a petroleum pouf and am using natural products, there’s not much lather to be had anyway.

In the end, despite my dislike towards that “squeaky clean” feeling, I decided to give bar soaps another try — after all, they do get a bit foamy, and come in less packaging (sometimes none, in fact). Plus, even if I purchased a bottle of body wash and refilled it, I’d still be refilling it from another, bigger plastic jug that would eventually have to be replaced. And finally, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it requires more energy to manufacture the wash as opposed to the bar.

So as you can guess from all this sudsy rhetoric, I’ve now switched to bar soap, and am adjusting rather well. The only thing I didn’t consider was that I’d need something to carry it in when I go travelling, hence the Radius holder above (except mine’s pink), found at a local health food store for under $5, which, even with the cost of soap, still amounts to less than most body washes. I think this officially qualifies as a win-win-win — and possibly another win — situation.

Eyeshadow detoxing (Day 94)…

June 2, 2007


When it comes to making myself pretty (read: semi-presentable), I do as every girl does and ask, “What would Audrey do?” — referring, of course, to Audrey Hepburn. Usually, I come to the same conclusion: I need another black dress, a swoopy updo and Chanel, Chanel, Chanel.

While most designer labels are overpriced, I do think the House of Miss Coco makes fantastic eyeshadow, so it’s with some reluctance that I’ve made the switch to the more natural Sante Kosmetics brand. Made with certified organic jojoba and chamomile extract, asbestos-free talc and packaged very minimally in tin, it’s hardly luxe and doesn’t have quite the same shimmer.

However, the shades in the “Terra” set work perfectly with my complexion and my eye colour, which I most often describe as “pee-poo” but is more technically something like “light brown to hazel”.

I’ll still use what’s leftover of my Chanel if I’m going to something fancy … like, you know, a company BBQ … but for day-to-day use, my lids are getting defined a little more naturally.

Oh, and P.S. that headline is meant to be a play on shadow boxing, in case you were wondering (but most likely you were all like, ‘whatever, another stupid headline’).

The zit remedy (Day 85)…

May 24, 2007


I realize that headline caters strictly to fans of Degrassi, but I couldn’t resist. At least the cartoon above, courtesy of the snortingly hilarious Natalie Dee caters to pretty much everyone, unless you’re some perfect, zit-free being, in which case I want nothing to do with you. Just go. Go!

Yes, the sad reality of life is that acne is much like that weird guy from accounting with the stain-resistant khakis who’s always the last one to leave the party: You can’t help but sigh and roll your eyes when it shows up, and when it’s still lingering by the empty keg at 2 a.m. you just want to squeeze his head until it pops.

Even if I clean my face regularly, eat tons of healthy crap and try super hard to be stress-free, I still get zits, usually at the most inconvenient times and even more inconvenient places (my personal favourite is right between the eyes).

Treatment up until now has consisted of trying to mentally will it back into submission and Oxy, but both have led to disappointing results. In fact, sometimes I think this stuff actually makes the zits bigger. Then, I checked the expiry date on the bottle, which might explain things: it was March, 2003 (what can I say, it lasts forever; it could probably even withstand a nuclear bomb).

I had to throw it out, not really because it was expired but because it was completely ineffective. Of course, zits are ineffective too, but they don’t seem to be getting ready to leave any time soon. So I went looking for an alternative. I’m slowly getting better at remembering that the words “natural” and “organic” don’t necessarily mean the product is toxin-free, and I’d already put a couple things back on the shelf after seeing all the parabens and stuff I couldn’t pronounce in the ingredients list.

Then I came across Dr. Burt’s Herbal Blemish Stick, which admits to being only 99% natural — I’ll forgive that one percent of evil — and contains safe stuff like willow bark, juniper, calendula and tea tree oil. It stings a little, which I like, and while it doesn’t zap the suckers into oblivion, it does seem to work better than the Oxy. I also like that it comes in a glass container rather than plastic.

Crappy shampoo-poo (Day 70)…

May 9, 2007

shampooI ran out of my beloved Kiehl’s protein concentrate shampoo yesterday and was so saddened, I felt like I should be holding some sort of memorial service for all the hard work it put into my frizzy, knotted tresses over the past six months. Alas, I just shed a silent tear and threw the empty bottle into the recycling bin … then realized afterwards that I probably should have taken it to my local hippie store to refill with natural suds from the bulk bin.

But I also don’t want to buy a full 11 ounces of something only to realize it sucks (see: Alba body wash episode from March). So I got a trial-size bottle of Avalon Organics lemon clarifying shampoo and figured if it worked I’d go back and get the big bottle.

It smelled delish, and I recently had great success with the same brand’s deodorant, so my hopes were high. But then I read on this party-pooper health website that Avalon’s shampoos score a pathetic yellow — or “moderate concern” — on the toxin scale, due to what they deem potentially harmful impurities (whatever) and some ingredient classified as a “penetration enhancer” (eeew).

Still, penetration be damned — if this was good shampoo and it was mostly natural, I was sticking with it. So I tried it out this morning. Unfortunately, once again, I’ve found that a lack of chemicals seems to necessitate a lack of lather. It may or may not be doing the job, but either way, it just doesn’t feel right when I can’t make my hair go in that foamy up-twist like the pretty girls do in the commercials.

Does anyone have any favourite natural shampoos? Ones that don’t have any penetration enhancers? Feel free to comment below. Of course, from now on I’ll only buy natural, organic shampoo, but I don’t think I’ll be staying faithful to the Avalon brand.

A greener shade of bronze (Day 68)…

May 7, 2007

Spring has finally sprung, which in Canada means it’s time to dig out that crumpled pair of shorts and musty T-shirt, forgo ironing in favour of a good shake or two, and, if you’re as white as I am, proceed to blind innocent passersby with the paleness of your arms and legs.

Splurging on bronzer is therefore entirely justified in my books as a necessary means of preventing damaged retinas and loss of vision. However, most bronzers are full of those chemicals, dyes and other potential toxins listed as tongue-twisting ingredients on the back of the bottle (sodium lauryl sulfate, dihydroxyactone, parabens) but euphemistic promises on the front (long-lasting, streak-free, glowing).

So because I’m a sucker for euphemisms, especially when it comes to skincare products, I found myself in the drug store, scanning the rows of lotions and potions in various shades of brown, picking a few up, checking my wallet and letting my vanity beat my sanity to a bloody pulp with visions of shiny J.Lo skin. But just as I was about to cave in, my birthday arrived, and my sister came to the rescue with an all-natural bronzing powder from Ecco Bella.

As the company says, it comes in a recyclable paperback compact (no refills, but I’m not going to be picky) and is made with “aloe, vitamin E, green tea and our exclusive flower wax coated pigments” — all words I understand (though I’m not entirely sure what flower wax is). I’ll mostly just use it for my face because it’s a powder, but I’m officially making the switch from synthetic fake tanning to natural fake tanning.

Does that even make sense?

Not bound to cotton rounds (Day 66)…

May 5, 2007

Sometimes I think the female species is more responsible for overflowing landfills and excess waste than their male counterparts — at least when it comes to females like myself, ie. recovering product junkies who have an 18-step bedtime regimen involving brushing, flossing, sometimes mouthwashing, one moisturizer for hands, feet and elbows, another for arms and legs, lip balm, a few hair brushes, etc. When it comes to my face, I’ve always used those little cotton rounds to remove my makeup, then used a face wash, toner, night cream, and if I have any zits then some ointment for that, too.

High maintenance? Maybe. But I’m cutting down on at least one step by not buying any more cotton rounds. Instead, I’ll use a facecloth. This will require a bit of extra water, but not much, and considering the little pads are made with bleach and come wrapped in plastic — even the organic ones come in some sort of disposable packaging — I think it’s the more environmentally sound thing to do.