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Summer time and the living is easy. We’re outside finally enjoying this beautiful, joyful season on the beach, in the garden, and on long bike rides and walks so it’s easy to get carried away with the sunshine when we’ve been cooped up for so long. I was just in NYC and saw an ad that read, “Keep tanning. You look great in leather.” This is so true. You have to take extra care of your skin if you’re going to be outside. Always try to cover up, find shade and wear zinc or titanium-based (which are full-spectrum and safe) natural sunscreen and the second step is to practice after-sun care in order to rehydrate and reverse cellular damage that has occurred. The best way to do this is by applying natural lotions that contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Lotions are ideal because they have a water component that will cool and rehydrate the skin while the wax and oils will lock the moisture in. Natural carrier oils, essential oils and butters contain antioxidants that will repair free-radical damage and many of these ingredients also contain anti-inflammatories that will soothe redness and burns. If you have a sunburn, apply, apply and apply some more.

Cocoon Apothecary creates fabulous lotions made with organic oils and extracts and for the next week we are putting them on sale for 30% off so you can stock up for the summer!

Kahuna – Virgin coconut oil, macadamia nut, lemongrass, ylang ylang
Magic Bean – Cocoa butter, sweet almond, vanilla, coffee
Touchy Feely – Olive oil, lavender, rosemary (especially great for burns)
Purist Unscented – Olive oil

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Here is a link to my article on safer sunscreens from the current issue of EcoParent Magazine.

Page 1: safer sunscreen pdf

Page 2; safer sunscreen2 pdf

Let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

Bring Back the Parasol!

Bring Back the Parasol!

This is the time of year everyone is looking for sunscreen and I am sadly still behind on this. It’s not as easy to get an SPF rating but I am really hoping to launch something in 2015 *fingers crossed*.

In the meantime, I want to provide a few skin sun safety  tips to help you buy your sunscreen and keep protected this summer.

1. The best coverage is staying out of the sun or limiting your time in direct sunlight. Look for shade structures, bring umbrellas to the beach, use a parasol (we need to bring this accessory back into fashion) or find a tree.

2. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, neck and chest. It provides amazing coverage and doesn’t stop working after a few hours.

3. Find a good zinc or titanium sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. This is a non-toxic, full-spectrum (meaning it protects you from UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen that blocks the sunlight by deflecting it from your skin. Petrochemical sunscreens can be toxic, persistent and can cause inflammation on the skin. Avoid nano particle zinc or titanium though because it can penetrate compromised skin and there isn’t enough research about the effect of particles this size entering the blood stream.

4. I want you to be really careful about SPF ratings when you are using natural formulas. Often the addition of anti-inflammatory ingredients (e.g. aloe vera) are added to reverse redness and therefore it exaggerates how much coverage you are getting. SPF ratings are attained by testing the amount of time skin can be exposed to UVB rays before getting red. If you have ingredients that reverse this effect, it’s going to extend the time superficially. You will still be getting UVA rays that don’t have any indicator of overexposure until you have developed sagging skin from break down of elasticity. Just be cautious about these products and treat them like they’re SPF 15 rather than 30.

To read my full article on this subject, pick up a copy of EcoParent on Canadian newsstands now. Or visit www.ecoparent.ca for a subscription.

Feel free to share any of your favourite sunscreens below.

I hear so many customers tell me that they can’t wait to put our products on everyday because they love the experience. I know this has something to do with how great it feels on the skin but mostly, I credit the essential oils contained in our skin care for the good vibes. They are emotional tonics that can make you feel happy, relaxed and grounded. The way this works is that your sense of smell creates neurons that move along the olfactory nerve and end in your central nervous system. From there, it is processed in different areas responsible for memory, decision-making, sleep, anxiety and emotional reactions. When you smell essential oils, which are the essences of plants, you are taking in the psychologically therapeutic properties. The difference between smelling essential oils and smelling a synthetic fragrance with similar notes is that you are inhaling something medicinal rather than inert/toxic.

Being in nature creates feelings of well-being that are associated with many sensory experiences, with smell being a huge part of it. Aromatherapy is a way of connecting to the plant realm without even leaving the house. So slather and lather on those Cocoon Apothecary products and remember to take deep inhales while you’re doing it.

 

I’m a big believer that your emotions are connected to your health. I’ve witnessed it my own life and the life of others and have read many books on the subject because I find it so very fascinating.

Since I do skin care, I thought it would be interesting to post what emotions are connected to certain skin conditions according to Louise Hay, author and renowned expert on the subject. We all know that stress is one of the biggest skin agers so it makes sense that emotions can be connected to other skin issues. This doesn’t mean that if you have one of these issues, you’re guilty of having a negative emotion. There are many things that contribute to skin disorders such as diet, bad products, genetics and environmental toxins. This is just something to consider.

In general the skin is connected to protecting our individuality. Skin problems can occur from anxiety, fear and feeling threatened. Here are the more specific conditions and their emotional connection:

Acne – Not accepting self.

Blackheads – Small outbursts of anger.

Boils – Anger. Boiling over.

Eczema – Breathtaking antagonism. Mental eruptions.

Pimples – Small outbursts of anger.

Psoriasis – Fear of being hurt.

Sagging lines – Sagging thoughts. Resentment of life.

Whiteheads – Hiding perceived ugliness.

 

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Today is Earth Day, which is always a day that I like to step back and look at what Cocoon Apothecary is doing for the planet and assess where we can improve. Our main objective as a luxury skin care company, was to replace conventional petrochemicals with plant-based ingredients and to purchase only non-gmo (100%) and certified organic ingredients (with a few exceptions). This is no small feat and takes quite a bit of effort to source these ingredients, which are always more costly. From a traditional business point of view, this may seem crazy to people who focus on their bottom line but we are committed to keeping our values at the forefront and being a business that makes beneficial contributions to the planet rather than just making money.

I face making the right business decision for the planet almost daily. For instance, this week I had to order postcards for the Green Living Show and had them printed on a 100% recycled paper stock, despite the fact they are triple the cost of regular paper. Doing the right thing often comes at a cost and requires individuals and companies to look beyond their bank accounts or profit margins. It requires all of us to realize that we are a part of this fragile planet and we must care for it whenever and wherever possible. No one is perfect, we are all consumers because we have human needs but the world can handle a certain amount of ethical consumerism and there are many of us who are trying our darnest to get there.

Every time that you shop, you have the opportunity to support ethical, eco-friendly industries. We all need to learn to buy less and spend more on the right choices. Here are a few tips on how to be eco-friendly when shopping for personal care products:

1. Avoid oxybenzone in your sunscreen – One of the most popular sunscreen ingredients on the market is oxybenzone because it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It is responsible for destroying coral reefs around the world by bleaching algae. It is eco-toxic to our water systems and also considered a hormone disrupter within our bodies. Look for products with zinc or titanium dioxide for healthy, full-spectrum coverage.

2. Avoid triclosan – This ingredient is an antibacterial that has made its way into a disturbing amount of products, mostly hand soaps and sanitizers. It is another eco-toxic ingredient that is also a hormone disruptor in your body. It gets washed down our drains and enters our water systems creating problems for aquatic life because it doesn’t break down and therefore gets ingested. There is no reason to be polluting our bodies and ecosystems with this because studies have shown it soap and water is just as effective. Look for the work ‘microban’ in the ingredients list.

3. Avoid plastic microbeads – These tiny plastic beads are used so prolifically that they are polluting our Great Lakes. They are everywhere because they NEVER break down. They get rinsed down the drain from exfoliating cleansers or toothpastes and float around our water systems for a gazillion years or get swallowed by fish and end up on your dinner plate. Look for the word ‘polyethylene’ on the label.

4. Avoid petrochemicals – I don’t need to get into why petroleum isn’t a great raw material for this planet. We all know about the pipelines that burst and destroy eco-systems. Why we have allowed it to become a staple in our personal care products is a mystery to me. Do we need plastic on our skin? NO. It’s making people’s skin look terrible. I always say that you’re better off using nothing than this crap. Go natural! If you’re unsure of what ingredients are petrochemical, you can refer to this handy infographic.

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I get asked quite a bit about whether our products are safe to use during pregnancy because they contain essential oils. It is a valid concern because components of essential oils get absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin and can easily pass through the placenta to the developing fetus. The question is whether these components can be harmful or disruptive. Most essential oils are safe to use but there are a few that should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. According to Robert Tisserand’s book, Essential Oil Safety the following should not be ingested topically or internally during this time:

Anise, birch, carrot seed, cassia, cinnamon bark, cypress, dill seed, fennel, hyssop, myrrh, myrtle, oregano, sage, star anise, tansy, and yarrow.

There are others that are not as commercially available so I haven’t included them. All the essential oils used by Cocoon Apothecary are considered safe to use during pregnancy.

I have also been getting questions regarding the safety of using rosehip oil during pregnancy because of the vitamin A content. First of all, the concerns regarding vitamin A have to do with synthetic retinoids that are taken orally such as Accutane. They have been shown to cause miscarriages and birth defects. People have taken these studies one step further and have cautioned against using topical retinoids such as Retinol as well. There is a huge difference between transretinoic acid found in rosehip oil and the potent, synthetic versions that have inundated the anti-aging skin care market. It’s the same difference between taking Accutane and eating kale, broccoli and spinach (all contain retinoids). I have absolutely no concerns about pregnant and nursing women using rosehip oil on a regular basis and many women have found it helpful in preventing and reversing stretch marks.

If there is anything to be strongly concerned about, it’s the synthetic musks and phthalates commonly found in the fragrances that are in almost every chemical skin care product from hand soaps to facial creams (like the ones found in a typical mall bath shop). These toxic substances are found in the bodies of newborn babies!

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