November 26, 2008

Pumpkin-Based Beauty Products for Fall

In light of Thanksgiving and my borderline obsession with pumpkin (Starbucks is killing me by selling those pumpkin loafs...), I'm serving up my fav pumpkin-containing products this week. What are yours?

A little background: Pumpkin is high in vitamin A, which increases skin cell turnover, reducing fine lines and acne.   And because it's a natural source of vitamin A, it doesn't cause the redness and irritation that Retin-A, Differin, or retinol serums often do. So here they are:

Eminence Organic Skin Care Pumpkin & Orange Masque. This hydrating and brightening mask is so deliciously scented that you'll want to gobble it up. Pumpkin extract promotes skin renewal, fresh orange juice boosts the skin with vitamin C, honey moisturizes, and vitamins A, C and E protect against free radicals. The challenge is to apply it to your face and not eat it. $48 at

MyChelle Dermaceuticals Incredible Pumpkin Peel. Read review here.

Desert Essence Pumpkin Hand Repair Cream. This affordable best-seller is one of the top natural hand creams. Its impressive ingredients include vitamin-packed pumpkin seed oil, licorice extract (which helps lighten age spots) and hydrating jojoba oil. $9.49 at and Whole Foods

November 20, 2008

Winter Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Came across this slideshow on FitSugar highlighting 7 antioxidant-packed winter foods. Thought I'd pass it on for those of us who worry about eating healthily during the holidays and miss our summer berries. I was happy to see cloves on the list—here's to making a big batch of wassail!

November 13, 2008

New Satellite Image of Brown Clouds over China

Pardon this off-topic post. I have coal-fired plants on the brain and am feeling hopelessly frustrated.

Before going to bed last night, I read an article in Time about activists protesting the construction of a new coal-fired plant in Virginia—which will emit 5.3 million more tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year. (A 2007 report from the U.S. Department of Energy listed 151 new plants in the planning stages.)  I then awoke this morning to see this awful image in the New York Times of brown smog clouds above China, which has been building two coal plants every week.

What we seem to be tortoise-slow at understanding—or we would've acted much faster; we always do when something directly affects us—is that CO2 sucks for our health. From the Times article, "U.N Sees New Pollutant Threat":

"For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates that 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and kitchen stoves fueled by twigs."

"'The impacts on health alone is a reason to reduce these brown clouds,' he said, adding that in China, about 3.6 percent of the nation's annual gross domestic product, or $82 billion, is lost to the health effects of pollution."

Yes, the world's population is out-of-control and there's a massive demand for cheap energy. But I'm still shocked that new coal-fired plants—the dirtiest, worst polluters—continue to be built and that we've moved so slowly to mandate cleaner alternatives.

Having a new president and, hopefully, an administration, who don't pork-barrel with the energy industry should help enormously. But everyone must be a little anti-coal activist. Use natural sunlight during the day. Turn off your computer at night.  Don't buy the McMansion.  Turn down the thermostat a couple degrees. Incentive: You'll save money on your energy bill and will have more hydrated skin and hair this winter. Thanks for your help.

To learn more about the construction of coal plants in your area, visit here.

November 7, 2008

The Best Non-Drying Foaming Cleansers

It's a widely known fact in the beauty industry that Americans are obsessed with foam: foamy cleansers, foamy shampoos, foamy body washes. European and Asian women traditionally have used cleansing creams and oils, which don't strip skin like our detergent-packed washes. Not us. If it don't lather, it don't work!

I've read the articles that say that lather doesn't equal clean, it just equals lather, and that the best way to combat oil is with oil. I've tried best-selling oil cleansers, like Lavantine's and Shu Uemura's. But the heavy, un-clean feeling I was left with plus break-outs a few days later made me run for my Aveeno Ultra Calming Cleanser (a sudser that I used in my pre-green days).

Luckily, there are now lovely soap-free foaming cleansers that thoroughly remove makeup and dirt without drying. Here are the best natural ones on the market in my opinion.

For Dry/Normal Skin: John Masters Organics Rose Foaming Face Wash. This light latherer employs mild surfactants to gently cleanse, aloe and linden flower (an antioxidant) to soothe, and steam-distilled essential rose oil to rejuvenate. $19 at Whole Foods and

For Oily/Acneic: Aveda Outer Peace Foaming Cleanser. InStyle recently named it the best cleanser for acne-prone skin, and I concur. Oat amino acids exfoliate without harshness, salicylic acid treats blemishes, saw palmetto extract reduces DHT-thus-oil production, and tamanu oil moisturizes and heals. Has a refreshing herbal-medicinal scent. $25 at Aveda concept salons and
Runner-up: Clinique's Acne Solutions Foaming Cleanser

For Combo Skin: Evan Healy Tea Tree Gel Cleanser (click for review). I've gone through three bottles the past year. It's my all-time favorite cleanser.