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Better Choices -- 5 Tips For Fresher Air At Home,Steam Your Skin With Herbs
April 30, 2008

What's In This Issue:

  • Clean Up The Air In Your House With These Five Tips
  • What's In The Fridge Skin Care:
    Steam clean your skin with herbs.
  • What's New On NLW.

  • 5 Tips For Cleaner, Safer Air In Your Home

    On some levels I think I am lucky to be someone who is sensitive to fragrance. What started out for me as simply having to avoid certain perfumes has turned into eliminating most fragrance products from my life.

    I now avoid walking down the cleaning products aisle in stores, perfume departments are out and I breath as little as possible when I am around gardening departments where pesticides are sold. If I do need something I plan my moves, get in get out.

    I say I am lucky because for years before I even knew that fragrances and other things we inhale from products could mean exposing myself to all kinds of unhealthy chemicals I have avoided using many conventional products and either made my own or carefully shopped.

    Studies have shown that our indoor air is polluted by the many different products we use everyday. Harmful chemicals in these products are being inhaled or absorbed into our skin.

    On an NLW blog, dated April 24, I brought up recent findings by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) about the high levels of toxins being found in our pets many of which are thought to come from products we use in the home and if our pets are susceptible what about our kids and us.

    A mish mash of chemicals and even a rather benign sounding word like fragrance can pose a hazard even for those who are not sensitive to chemicals and fragrances. Fragrance in products is typically petroleum based, often contains phthalates and is a frequent cause of allergens.

    How about doing a different kind of spring cleaning and start ridding your house of some of these products.

    I offer these 5 tips to healthier air and products around your home.

    Cleaning Products

    Have you ever read the ingredient list on your favorite cleaner, doesn't matter which kind, floor cleaner, dish washing or bathroom. If it is one of the conventional brands you probably will see a long list of chemicals and the word fragrance and let's not forget the warning labels that are found on many of our cleaning products. Can you do better than a product that says POISON, DANGER or CAUTION?

    We are accustomed to thinking of certain fragrances as clean but it is possible to get that clean smell by using safer products and even making some of our own products and you'll save some money in the process.

    Making your own cleaning products is not difficult. A few simple ingredients and you will have just about any kind of cleaner you need. If you have lemons, vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide you are well on your way to cleaning your home safely. Add in castile soap (Dr.Bronner's is my favorite) and you are set to go.

    I came across this great article by Katherine Humistan, newsletter writer for the Willy Street Co-op, that provides some great information about cleaning products and recipes for cleaning for the home. Check out the Willy Street Newsletter.

    Vinegar is one of the safest and most inexpensive products we can use to clean, kill germs and deodorize around our homes. For some great tips check out Vinegar Tips

    Air fresheners

    It has long bothered me commercials for air fresheners with people spraying the air and then inhaling deeply. Sure your air smells good temporarily but what the heck is being inhaled into our bodies.

    The NRDC issued a paper last September about their concerns for air fresheners. They stated:

    "Air fresheners have become a staple in many American homes and offices, marketed with the promise of creating a clean, healthy and sweet-smelling indoor atmosphere. But this September 2007 issue paper shows that many of these products contain phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) -- hazardous chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems. To protect consumers, government action to conduct more thorough tests and enact basic measures to limit exposure to phthalates is urgently needed."

    Read the full report at the National Resources Defense Council

    Air fresheners using safe ingredients and fragranced with essential oils are a much safer alternative. Cleaning with lemons or creating your own cleaning products with essential oils provide plenty of air freshening.

    An air freshener to try is one available at Green Earth.

    Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener

    Both of these products usually rely on chemical fragrance to scent their products. It's possible to choose conventional brands that are unscented although the safer alternative is to choose a brand like Seventh Generation for it's all around safer ingredients.

    Fabric softeners are known for their fragrance. Some are so well known that as soon as you get around someone who uses a certain brand you know it right away and we have all come to think of it as being clean.

    I have to admit there is something pleasant about putting on a clean shirt with a soft clean fragrance to it. That can be easily accomplished by choosing fabric softeners fragranced with natural plant and essential oils. Seventh Generation, Ecover and Mrs. Meyers all offer naturally scented fabric softener.

    Natural fragrance does not mean no allergies some of us may need to avoid all fragrances. Seventh Generation also covers this with a line of cleaning products that are unscented and this brand has become more readily available locally at stores like Target.

    Hair Sprays

    You have just finished making yourself gorgeous for the day. Just a final touch up to your hair and a quick spritz of hair spray.

    OK, hold your breath. Here are the ingredients from a popular brand of hair spray found at most stores. This particular brand is labeled an 8 for hazardous by The Skin Deep Database.

    Glycerin; Amodimethicone; PEG-12 Dimethicone; PVP; Propylene Glycol; Hydrolyzed Silk; Tocopheryl Acetate; Niacinamide; Biotin; Panthenol; Ascorbic Acid; Polysorbate 20; Cetrimonium Chloride; Trideceth-12; Cetylpyridinium Chloride; Polyglyceryl-3 Distearate; Polysorbate 60; Myristic Acid; Palmitic Acid; Stearic Acid; Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride; Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids; Ceramide 3; Avocado (Persea Gratissima) Oil; Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate; Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterol; Alpha Glucan Oligosaccharide; Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate; Butylmethoxydibenzoyl Methane; Triethanolamine; Disodium EDTA; DMDM Hydantoin; Benzophenone-4; Fragrance (Parfum)

    I know some women are very particular about the hold offered by their hair spray and unfortunately there are not very many choices for a safer hair spray. This is probably one area where chemicals and polymers work well but there are some brands to try that will let you breathe safer and some of them can be found on Be Well Stay Well.

    At the very least take a little more care when spraying, have your kids and pets out of the room until the mist settles.

    Dry Cleaning

    Clean clothes from the dry cleaner with a little something extra. A strange chemical smell that it turns out is not good to breathe. A chemical called perc is the problem. For years it has been the only solution to dry clean our clothes. The EPA now considers it a possible carcinogen with several states looking to phase it's use out.

    There aren't any easy answers here. Green dry cleaning has been popping up here and there around the country but since there are no government standards safeguarding claims for being green some businesses have been found to claim green or environmentally friendly to attract those of us interested in being green while not making changes needed.

    When you do find a green dry cleaner talk to them and ask them how they clean the clothes and see if they convince you they are indeed environmentally friendly.

    Green choices do exist but are not everywhere.

    Green Earth Cleaning uses liquid silicone and is thought to be safer for us the environment. Check for licensed cleaners at Green Earth Cleaning

    Liquid Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is preferred by many environmental groups but as yet very few cleaners offer this. Check with Find CO2 and see if there are any locations in your area.

    The third option is wet cleaning using special computerized equipment. This may not be good for all fabrics but it is being considered the best environmental choice but once again not very many cleaners offer this.

    Check out No Dry Clean to help you find a wet cleaner or other type of green cleaner that might have set up shop in your neighborhood.

    Another possibility is to carefully wash your own. Labels only list one form of cleaning. Some fabrics can be safely washed if you do a little research first. For some suggestions read this article from Care 2

    Alternately buy as little as possible that has to be dry cleaned and when you do make sure to air your clothes out before bringing them in to the house. This will at least help keep the fumes away from your family.

    Not all of us will be interested in making all these changes but at least you are informed and if you make even a few changes it helps clear the air around your home so everyone right down to our four legged kids will breath healthier.

    What's In The Fridge Skin Care:
    This Month It's Herbs

    Herbal Facial Steam

    I have been using quite a few herbs lately and someone had mentioned an article about using herbal tea bags for facial steaming. I thought that's a great idea so here are a few suggestions for using different herbs.

    A good facial steam can give your complexion a boost with very little cost. 5-10 minutes or so over hot water with just a few herbs or essential oils helps unclog pores and boost circulation.

    Preparation is easy bring a few cups of water to a boil add about 1 tablespoon dry herbs or 2 tablespoons fresh herbs and let steep for a minute or so. If adding essential oils do so after steeping. No herbs just bring water to a boil and add a few drops essential oil and it's ready for use.

    Drape a towel over your head and get comfortable. Rinse with tepid and then cool water.

    Any skin type can benefit from steaming but is not recommended for those whose skins are very sensitive, inflamed, very broken out, dealing with infection, rosacea, sunburn or has many visible small blood vessels. Some herbs trigger allergies so use with care if you are sensitive.

    Steams For Oily Skin:

    Oily skin can benefit from steaming once a week for up to 10 minutes at a time.

    Best Herbs, Herbal Tea Bags or Essential Oils:
    chamomile, calendula flowers, rosemary, sage, lemon or bergamont, fennel, lavender and marigold

    Steams For Dry Skin or Mature Skin:

    Dry or mature skin benefits from steaming about 1 no more than 2x a month for no more than 2 to 3 minutes at a time.

    Best Herbs, Herbal Tea Bags or Essential Oils:
    parsley, borage, lavender, geranium, lemon verbena, elderflower, rosemary and carrot oil.

    Steams For Normal Skin:

    Normal skin benefits from steaming about 2x a month up to 5 minutes.

    Best Herbs, Herbal Tea Bags or Essential Oils:
    lavender,lemon balm, rose petals, spearmint, peppermint, chamomile and rosemary in a half and half mix

    New Additions to NLW Website

  • I continued to add information to natural anti aging with a look at natural anti aging ingredients that have been found to be the most effective along with information about which natural anti-aging products are available that use these ingredients.
  • Being someone sensitive to hair color but also wanting to use the safest, cruelty free products I tested a new hair color called EcoColors and wrote a review that may help some of you.
  • One of the first things I do before I try some products is to read the reviews from other women. Help us out. If you have used either mineral makeup or natural hair color and would like to share your experiences please write a review. It's easy to do.

  • Blog Action:

    This past month in the blog has seen info for Earth Day, April Sales, ideas for spring cleaning and the EWG report about toxins in our pets.

    If you have not signed up for my blog yet, check it out at NLW Blog and see if it's for you.

    Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I won't know unless you tell me. I'd love to hear what you think. Just reply to this e-zine and let me know. If you like this e-zine and think a friend will too, do me a favor and pass it on.

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