20130616_RiceMilk_00

DIY: Homemade Rice Milk

Making your own dairy-free milk is super easy and healthier than buying over-processed commercial milks found in supermarkets.  I’ve been experimenting with different types since I went dairy-free a year and a half ago, but have been unable to find an already made one that I liked.  Most of them are too watery and lack flavor, in addition to being loaded with refined oils, sugars and synthetic vitamins. So, I have been making my own which is is very easy and, most importantly, the results are delicious!

Homemade is better

Look at the label of any commercial rice milk and you will find not only rice and water but also a variety of other substances used to flavor and fortify it.  Among these are vitamin D2 as well as refined oils, and many times sugar.  Three things I don’t want it my milk, despite the propaganda to the contrary.

When it comes to vitamin D, D3 is the type that is produced by your body (and obtained from fish and lanolin), not D2 which is obtained from irradiated mushrooms. The later is the one that is almost always found in fortified products (I give you a hint why: cost). There are also studies showing that D3 is absorbed better and faster than D2.  As for refined oils, any oil that is not cold extracted (such as extra virgin coconut or olive) is a VERY processed product, subjected to high levels of heat, chemical solvents, and bleaches and deodorizers. Many natural and alternative medicine practitioners consider it a must to remove refined vegetable oils from a healthy diet as these promote inflammation and the formation of free radicals.

Irradiated mushrooms and chemical-ladden vegetable oils?  No thanks.  I for one would rather eat a more natural product. So here’s a quick recipe to make your own rice milk (I have also made almond milk and coconut milk and will share those recipes in coming weeks).

Step 1

Cook 1/2 cup of rice in 2 cups of water.  Add vanilla if desired. I used Lundberg’s Arborio for its high starch content and because it is sustainable and gluten free, and Simply Organic’s vanilla extract which is also gluten free as well as organic.

Let cool.

Step 2

Blend.  Initially it will be the consistency of porridge so you will need to add more water  until it reaches the consistency you prefer. [Some recipes I found online strained the milk after blending. I found this was not necessary.]

Step 3

Add flavors to taste: sugar, a pinch of salt, or cinnamon.  You could also fortify with your own vitamins if you with. Use in smoothies, cereals or wherever you would use your regular dairy-free milk of choice.

Have you experimented with dairy-free milks?  Which one is your favorite?

20130523_CrueltyFree

Behind the label: Is your beauty product truly cruelty-free?

Dazzled by the colossal advertising empire that supports the beauty industry (one of the largest industries worldwide) many people still have yet to realize many of the dirty secrets behind the products they buy. However, thanks to over 20 years of campaigning, many consumers have become aware of the animal-cruelty practices involved in cosmetic manufacturing.  Cruelty-free logos now abound, but do you really know what these mean?  Is your cruelty-free makeup truly cruelty-free?

Why cruelty-free

Every year hundreds of thousands of animals suffer and die in research facilities that test your beauty and household products, yet the tests they are exposed to are crude, subjective, and unreliable. In fact, an international study that examined the results of rat and mouse LD50 (Lethal Dose 50 is the amount of a material, given all at once, which causes the death of 50%of a group of test animals and is a way to measure the short-term poisoning potential of a material) tests for 50 chemicals found that these tests were able to predict toxicity in humans with only 65% accuracy (1).  Moreover, in the U.S. animal tests for cosmetics or household products are not required by law and in Europe and Israel they have been recently banned for cosmetics.  Although to market a product a company must demonstrate its safety, this can be done by using approved non-animal tests and combinations of existing ingredients that have already been established as safe for human use.

Cruelty-free certifications

Some companies proudly display environmentally responsible or animal-related icons on labels but many of these are legally meaningless.  Here are four legitimate ones and what each one stands for.

Beauty without bunnies (PETA) – Global

The weakest certification. All companies included on PETA’s cruelty-free list have only signed or submitted a statement of assurance verifying that neither they nor their ingredient suppliers conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products. PETA believes that a company that has publicly announced an end to tests on animals and states in writing that it doesn’t test on animals would face a public relations disaster and potential lawsuits if it was caught lying.  In reality, the manufacturing supply chain is very complicated and obscure, and tracking an ingredient back to its source can be very hard.  In addition, anyone who has witnessed the ongoing sweatshop and child labor scandals that have plagued companies like Nike since the 90s knows this is not foolproof. Furthermore, PETA will certify companies whose parent-companies test on animals (which means your money still supports animal testing–see below).

Leaping bunny (CCIC) – Global

Third-party certified. The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program administers the only third-party certified cruelty-free standard. The Standard is a voluntary pledge that companies and their ingredient suppliers make to clear animal testing from all stages of product development. All Leaping Bunny companies must be open to independent audits, and commitments are renewed on an annual basis. To become approved a company must no longer conduct or commission animal testing and must apply a verifiable fixed cut-off date–after which none of its products or ingredients have been animal tested.

Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF) – Australia

Very strict. Companies applying for accreditation by CCF must sign a legally-binding contract about their practices. The CCF standard requires the manufacturer, all its related corporations (if any), and its suppliers or anyone acting on its behalf to have either never or at no time within a period of five years immediately preceding the date of application for accreditation tested products or ingredients on animals. Unlike other lists of cruelty-free companies, CCF also has a strict policy on animal-derived ingredients. CCF will also not accredit companies unless all parent and subsidiaries are also accredited.

International Manufacturing Association against Animal Testing in Cosmetics (IHTK) – Germany

Very strict. To abide by the IHTK certification companies must make a legally-binding declaration that: (1) no animals tests are used in the development and production of the end product; (2) no raw materials are used which have been tested on animals after January 1st, 1979; (3) no raw  materials were used that required killing an animal (e.g. mink oil); and (4) the company has no financial dependence on other companies that carry out animal testings directly or indirectly. In addition, they must provide a detailed list of raw materials including the name of the supplier and must fully declare all ingredients on the packaging or catalog.

Do you know where your money goes?

Although the array of brands, products and colors at your typical beauty store can be dazzling, you might be shocked to find out that what seems like a hundred different companies is in fact just a handful.  And, even if a particular brand is cruelty-free, your money may still end up paying for the animal testing of its parent company.  Yes, buying a cruelty-free brand of makeup or a synthetic brush may feel good (and is a first step), but to be truly cruelty-free you need to look deeper.

Below is a list of the major beauty multinationals, all of which test on animals and/or sell products in China (please note this list is illustrative and not all inclusive):

Some of the companies above have only recently started testing on animals once more as they entered the very lucrative and fast growing Chinese market.  This is because Chinese law requires all finished cosmetic (including personal care) products sold there to be tested on animals first.  Sadly, these companies derive substantial amounts of their income from the Asian markets (e.g. 20% of sales of L’Oreal come from the Asia-Pacific region and about half of all business done by LVMH–Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, owner of Sephora– is done in the Eastern part of the world) so they are unlikely to pull out from China without a major financial deterrent.

Which is why the recent EU ban on animal testing could not have come at a better time. As of March 11, 2013, no beauty product tested on animals may be sold in the European Union (another very big market).  But how these two opposing approaches will be handled by companies still remains to be seen.  Shiseido announced it would stop all animal testing ahead of the EU ban, yet is still also present in the Chinese market.  This most likely means that products sold in one market are not tested, but those sold in the other market are.

So what should a consumer that cares about animal rights do?  Remain vigilant, read labels carefully and opt for small, independent, and ethical companies that choose to do what’s right for consumers, animals and the environment.  All the brands featured on this blog are not only non-toxic and mostly 100% natural and organic, but also cruelty-free (2) and many have chosen not to sell in China because of this requirement.  These are the brands I think you should support, and they are many.  Yes, you may not find them at your nearest “eye-candy galore” beauty emporium, but I can guarantee you that there’s more than enough to satisfy the most demanding consumer (and even makeup artist) out there without having to sacrifice your health or ethics in the process.

_______________________________
 
(1) R. Roggeband et al., “Eye Irritation Responses in Rabbit and Man After Single Applications of Equal Volumes of Undiluted Model Liquid Detergent Products,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, 38 (2000): 727-734
(2) Please note that up until recently I used and recommended products from Boots organics. Given that their animal testing policies are not up to par with the standards above, I have chosen to stop using their products and will no longer recommend their products either.  I regret the oversight.
20130519_PuckerUp

Pucker up! Lily Lolo lipstick and lip gloss review

The perfect companion to the eye-focused makeup trends for this Spring/Summer 2013 season, nude lips have been all over the runways as of late.  But you don’t need to go designer nor sacrifice health for beauty to sport this trend.  Here I present you two of my favorite lip products from Lily Lolo, one of my favorite makeup companies of late.

The makeup trends this season are all about the eyes: full eyebrows, bold eyeliner, and bright colors, all of which call for a muted lip. I am personally a big fan of glossy, nude lips and I am always on the look up for that truly perfect shade of nude and perfect glassy finish. I was impressed not long ago by Lily Lolo’s mineral shimmer, a product that does not cease to amaze me (mixed with moisturizer it turns into the perfect highlighter for fair skin).  I was keen to try more of their products so I ended up ordering their lipstick in Love Affair and their lip gloss in Peachy Keen.

Lipstick

  • Very creamy and moisturizing, it kept my lips from drying during the winter months.
  • The shade is a natural-looking shade of nude pink.
  • It comes in your typical plastic lipstick tube.

Lip gloss

  • Very moisturizing and lasting.
  • The shade is a nude brown color with a little bit of peach in it.  Very pretty.
  • The finish is wet and it does not stick.
  • It looks like the product has a bit of glitter when looking at it, but it does not show on the lips (I think it is on the tube not the product itself!)
  • It has a light chocolate scent, reminiscent of cocoa butter.  Yummy!

The performance

I have been using the two products for at least a couple of months and I am very happy with both.  I find them very moisturizing and I did not feel the need to apply lip balm under either of them (with some other brands I do).

I love the color of the lip gloss, which is one that I hardly find (neither orange, nor pink, it is truly very nude), as well as the wet finish it delivers.  It is also not sticky at all, a problem that many lip glosses have.  I find that it stays on for quite a long time, provided I don’t eat anything, of course. The only problem I have had with it is that the container came apart almost right after I got it.  I was lucky that a little scotch tape solved the problem, but I think it is something that Lily Lolo needs to address.

The lipstick I like because it is very creamy which is not always the case with lipsticks.  The color is pretty but sadly it is almost exactly the color of my lips so barely noticeable. They have added some more colors lately, however, including one in the “nude” category which was not there before, so I look forward to trying out more of them in the future.

However, most importantly these products are all natural which is quite important given the recent FDA report of lead in many lipsticks including Burt’s Bees (perhaps not so surprising given that the brand was purchased by Clorox a while back and that their products have become increasingly less natural since).

Lily Lolo lipstick in Love Affair on the left, Lily Lolo lip gloss in Peachy Keen on the right)

The verdict

I think both products are really good, and I am by now a very big fan of Lily Lolo as the brand is all natural, performs great, and is inexpensive for the quality.  In this case the lip gloss would be more of a standout product for me.  I like the shade a lot and the smell is the best of any lip gloss I have ever tried (a must for any chocolate lover!).  I also love the glitter-less, wet finish, which I have only found in more expensive brands. Both are nonetheless highly recommended.

The fine print

EWG rating:  2 (lipstick), 1 (lip gloss)

Where to purchase: Lily Lolo US or Lily Lolo UK

Ingredients:

Lipstick: Ricinus Communis Seed Oil, Mica, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Candelilla Cera, Lanolin, Isoamyl Laurate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, CoperniCIa Cerifera Cera, Cera Alba, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Talc, Maltodextrin, Rosmarinus OffiCInalis Leaf Extract, Tin Oxide, CI 77891, CI 77742, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 75470, CI 77499

Lip gloss: Ricinus Communis Seed Oil, Oleic/Linoleic/Linolenic Polyglycerides, Sorbitan Olivate, Cera Alba, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Aroma, Copernicia Cerifera Cera, Candelilla Cera, Mica, Tocopherol, May Contain: CI 77891, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 75470, CI 77742

Lily Lolo products are certified cruelty-free by PETA.

20130505_ArganOil_FEAT

Argan oil: Does it live up to the hype and is more expensive better?

Argan oil was almost unheard of outside of Morocco before 2001, but since then it has become one of the most expensive oils in the world, commanding about $300 per liter. Is argan oil the true miracle it is claimed to be and is the exhorbitant price charged by some companies justified? I’ve laid down my makeup brushes for a bit to find out.

Unless you have been literally hiding under a rock, it is almost impossible nowadays to not have heard of argan or Moroccan oil. Walking down the aisle of any supermarket or drugstore, dozens of products now proclaim to contain it, and claims abound as to its miraculous properties.  And, indeed, the oil of the argan tree, which is endemic to Morocco, has traditionally been used by the native Berbers for food and healing, including the treatment of burns, bruises and wounds.  However, no reliable research exists to substantiate the claims being made.

The science

Unfortunately, no reliable clinical studies have been done on topical application of argan oil and all claims as to its effectiveness are strictly anecdotal–all studies done to date are on consumption of the oil. However, we can look at the composition of the oil to try to see whether the anecdotal claims may have a basis in truth.

For starters, argan oil is high in tocopherols (vitamin E).  According to the Linus Pauling Institute, topical application of vitamin E is effective for protecting the skin against UV damage as well as combating and preventing inflammation. Furthermore, argan oil is also high in fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acids (Omega 6) which, as indicated on my post about rosehip oil, are proven to attenuate aging and regenerate human skin, diminishing expression lines, eliminating grooves and improving the appearance of scars as well as also playing a key role in the inflammatory response of the skin.  So, on this basis alone, argan oil should indeed possess many of the qualities that people anecdotally claim it to have and should prove an excellent addition to any skincare regimen.

Benefits are more than skin deep

Argan oil is not only beautiful from a skincare perspective but also from a humanitarian and environmental one as well.  Argan oil is a traditional oil of Morocco where for centuries Berber women have used it for food and healing.  The recent popularity and rise in prices has given these women a new source of income that has helped them become more independent and better provide for their families and the education of their children.

From an environmental perspective, argan oil has helped protect the endangered argan tree from the encroachment of civilization.  These trees prevent desertification and sustain a complex ecosystem. Fortunately, in 1998, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) designated almost 10,000 square miles of argan forests in southwest Morocco a UNESCO biosphere reserve, helping ensure continual reforestation and production of oil.

Should you spend more on argan oil?

From my research the answer would be no–as long as you are buying a 100% pure , fair-trade argan oil, of course (dilution with cheaper vegetable oils is common practice even for extra-virgin olive oil).

Most of the reputable companies I looked at claim that the oil they use is more costly as it comes from women cooperatives, is organic, and/or is extracted only from unbroken nuts.  From my research, these claims seem to be true…. but both for the cheaper ($12 per ounce) and more expensive ($36 per ounce) brands alike!

Here’s what I found:

  1. All companies I looked at (reputable, organic ones) source their oil from women cooperatives in Morocco where the nuts are cracked open by hand. The oil is then extracted either using stone grinders or mechanized methods (it seems many cooperatives now have mechanical systems as this is the most laborious part of the process and requires 10-12 hours of work to produce just one liter of oil).  Both methods seem to be equally effective with the mechanized one producing a cleaner and more stable oil.
  2. Production of argan oil is all sustainable and follows traditional practices which renders the oil 100% natural whether certified organic or not (although organic certifications are your only confirmation or guarantee that the oil comes from where they claim it does).
  3. Traditionally, the collection of the fruits from the trees was done by the goats who would consume the fruit and later excrete the indigestible nut intact.  It seems this practice, however, is no longer common as the goats harm the trees.  Collection is now mostly done after the fruit falls to the ground with the pulp being used for goat feed after processing.

The verdict

I personally would buy oil from a reputable company (preferably certified organic) but would not necessarily go for the most expensive brand based on these claims alone.  I have been using the Acure argan oil myself (in fact I just finished the bottle) and have found it to be very light, moisturizing, and easily absorbed.  In fact, it is one of the few oils that really works well for my frizzy, curly hair as it imparts a lot of moisture without weighting it down or making it greasy like other types of oil do.

I also tested the Josie Maran argan oil (which at about $28 per ounce is quite more expensive) and did not find it as nice as the one from Acure.  The consistency of the oil was much heavier, slimier, and left both my skin and hair feeling greasy. I will soon also be testing two other brands: SheaTerra Organics and Kahina and review those once I am done.

Will this replace my other oils?  Not really.  Given the results of clinical tests and the composition of the oil, I think rosehip oil is a much more potent and beneficial oil to use for the skin.  However, studies show that vitamin E and vitamin C combined are more effective than either alone to protect skin against UV damage so I would consider and recommend using argan oil in the daytime together with a vitamin C serum (which I personally find is excellent at increasing and maintaining skin’s firmness) while leaving the rosehip oil for night time use since vitamin A and sun exposure don’t mix well in any case (you can read more about this on my prior post on sunscreen).

You can buy Acure’s argan oil from their website or your local Whole Foods in the US.  Vitacost.com and iHerb.com both carry it as well and ship internationally.

Sources

Consumption of argan oil (Morocco) with its unique profile of fatty acids, tocopherols, squalene, sterols and phenolic compounds should confer valuable cancer chemopreventive effects, Khallouki, F and coll . Eur J Cancer Prev ,12(1):67-75. 2003

Vitamin E, Linus Pauling Institute newsletter, University of Oregon

Argania Spinosa, A guide to medicinal plants in North Africa, Center for Mediterranean Cooperation

Liquid gold in Morocco, The New York Times Magazine, November 18, 2007

Tree going goats threaten oil supply, Discovery News online, September 22, 2011

Huile d’argan – Maroc, TV5 Monde (video in French)

Processus de fabrication de d’huile d’argan au Maroc, Coeur de Foret and Forest People (video in French)

Pai and Weleda sensitive skin cleansers side-by-side

Which to choose? A comparison of organic creamy cleansers

When it comes to skincare, I increasingly believe that less is more.  Less scrubbing, less stripping, less peeling.  And, of course, less petrochemicals and silicones as eliminating those largely obviates the need for harsh cleansing methods in the first place.  So here are two of my most favorite organic creamy cleansers side-by-side: Pai and Weleda. Which one should you choose?

Pai Camellia & Rose Cleanser:  To indulge and pamper your skin

Pai is a relatively new brand from the UK (launched in 2007) that I like a lot.  Their entire line is very clean, is certified organic, and is also cruelty-free. Although they don’t particularly advertise it as such, the entire line is also gluten-free.  With a large celebrity following, it seems Pai can do no wrong.

The Camellia & Rose ceanser from Pai is one of their stand-out products in my opinion.  It is very creamy (nothing surprising considering the ingredients) to the extent that I would  consider it somewhere in between a milky cleanser and a cleansing balm.  It is quite thick and moisturizing which requires the use of a muslin or washcloth to be fully removed–doing it without works but leaves behind a film in my experience (but their muslin cloth is amazing and has me totally hooked!). The scent is sort of citrusy and luckily unobtrusive as I did not care much for it. It is best applied on barely damp skin as this substantially reduces the amount of product required to just one pump, instead of the 2 or 3 indicated on the label.

The good:

  • Very moisturizing and non-drying (there’s no alcohol or detergents among the ingredients) which makes it quite unique among organic cleansers.
  • Very soothing and well tolerated by sensitive skin.
  • Removes makeup well, including eye makeup.
  • Did not break me out or clog my pores.

The not-so good:

  • Much like a cleansing balm, I find it a bit heavy for year round (probably better suited to colder weather).
  • Very pricey at over $14 an ounce, so, for many, a luxury choice for moments of indulgence or true need.

Ingredients:

Aqua, camellia sinensis seed oil*, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil*, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil*, cetearyl alcohol, vegetable glycerine*, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter* , cetearyl glucoside, rosa damascena (rose otto) oil*, pelargonium graveolens (geranium) oil*, lavandula officinalis (lavender) flower oil*, litsea cubeba fruit oil* – may chang oil, mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin e), sodium lauroyl lactylate, sodium anisate, sodium levulinate, lactic acid, glyceryl stearate citrate. *Certified Organic.

Price: $50 for 3.4 ounces or $70 for 6.8 oz. ($14.70 per ounce or $10.30 per ounce for the larger size).

EWG rating: 2

Purchase from: Pai’s website or other organic online retailers such as Spirit Beauty Lounge or Naturisimo.

Weleda Soothing Almond cleanser: To soothe your skin year round

Weleda is a very well established brand with roots dating back to 1921. Weleda, named after the Celtic goddess of healing and wisdom, formulates its products using biodynamic farming methods (biodynamic farming goes one step further from organic methods by taking into account the rhythms of nature). Today they have 50 acres of these biodynamic gardens in Europe, South America and New Zealand, as well as rely on fair-trade partnerships to source the rest of the ingredients used for their products. All their products are certified natural by BDIH and Natrue, certified biodynamic by Demeter, and neither their ingredients nor products are ever tested on animals. Many of their products are also gluten-free.

The Weleda cleanser is truly a milky cleanser. It spreads with ease and dissolves quickly on contact with water.  This cleanser (unlike others in their lineup) has no essential oils in it so it is truly suitable for reactive skins including those that have undergone peelings or similar procedures.  Given its light and milky consistency, it does not require the use of a muslin or wash cloth to remove and is unique in that it cleans very gently yet does not leave any residue behind when rinsed (an issue with most creamy cleansers).  This makes it an excellent year-round (or in my case, warmer months, cleanser).  The scent is of almonds and very mild, and I personally find it very pleasant and preferable to citrus smells (which tend to remind me of household cleansing products) or floral ones.  And at $7 per ounce it is a high-quality, yet affordable choice (it is usually cheaper in Europe as well).  I also love the old fashioned aluminum toothpaste-like tube which is very environmentally friendly as aluminum is widely and easily recyclable. As with Pai, using this product on barely damp skin gives the best results as this cleanser will quickly dissolve into nothing if your face is wet.

The good:

  • Creamy yet light, it rinses totally clean.
  • Very soothing and well tolerated by sensitive skin.
  • Very good price/quality ratio.
  • Removes makeup well and does not clog pores.

The not-so good:

  • It dissolves in water very easily so it is best applied on dry or barely damp face or it won’t work.
  • It contains alcohol.

Ingredients: 

Water (Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glyceryl Stearate SE,Alcohol, Prunus Domestica (Plum) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid.

Price: $19.50 for 2.5 ounces (7.8 per oz.)

EWG rating: 2 

Purchase from: Weleda’s website, your local Whole Foods, or large online retailers.

Conclusion

We have two winners here, each catering to a specific need or budget.  Not only are the two products amazing, but so are the brands which are among the very few I can recommend wholeheartedly and without hesitation. I encourage you to keep both in mind when shopping and to go to their websites for more information.  Weleda, in particular, puts out a nice magazine with coupons twice a year.

Have you tried these?  Which cleanser is your favorite?

Everyday Minerals Jojoba Base

Quest for the Holy Grail: Everyday Minerals Jojoba Base

If someone had told me a year ago that I would end up using a mineral foundation again, I would have told them they were totally nuts.  My skin has become quite dry as of late and my attempts to go back to using powder products have more often than not ended up in total failure.  Powdery, cakey, settling into lines, who wants that?  But then…. along came this gem.  Have I found my holy grail?  Read on….

Not long ago I reviewed Lily Lolo’s mineral shimmer, a product I was very impressed with and which sparked once more my curiosity for mineral makeup.  I had to try more!  So, with lots of excitement I purchased some Lily Lolo foundation samples from their US site ($2 each with super cheap shipping).  Who would have known that a monster was unleashed.  Yes, I loved the Lily Lolo foundation, but…. how about this other brand that ladies are raving about?  Curiosity got the best of me and a few days later, 7 additional foundation samples, this time from Everyday Minerals (at 1 cent for all 7), were on their way to my door.

The foundation

Unlike most mineral companies, Everyday Minerals makes more than one mineral foundation formulation, including one of the most unique ones I have tried: the Jojoba Base.  What makes it so special is that this foundation is a mix of mica (a mineral) with jojoba oil, a combination that immediately sparked my curiosity.  The more I research and use oils, the more I like oils, so a foundation with jojoba sounded too good to be true.  Luckily it was not.

  • Everyday Minerals’ Jojoba Base is a powder foundation that behaves like no other, and literally melts into skin.
  • The coverage is light/medium and can be further built up.
  • The finish is airbrushed and satin.
  • It has no SPF and very little, if any, titanium dioxide.
  • It comes packaged in a plastic pot with a wide lid which makes it very easy to swirl the brush around.
  • The range of shades is limited but new ones are coming this summer.
  • The base is cruelty-free, vegan (Leaping Bunny & PETA), as well as gluten-free.

Everyday Minerals Jojoba Base in Shell Blanc and flat top kabuki brush

Performance

Although the range of colors is limited I was truly fortunate to find one that blended so well that even outdoors under the sun I could almost not tell where the swatch was–for those curious, the shade is Shell Blanc, a color for fair skin with warm undertones.  In fact, I realized throughout my quest that not many companies make warm shades for fair skin (one of my problems with the otherwise lovely Lily Lolo), so it is a plus that Everyday Minerals caters to those of us with light skin and yellow/olive undertones. Another thing I noticed while testing is that all foundations oxidize on my skin, in particular mineral ones.  Yet, while most foundations become either more peach or pink when this happens, this one instead became more… beige/brown. And thus, what initially looks a little too light, morphs to become my perfect shade.

But what has struck me most about this foundation has been the finish. While Lily Lolo’s is beautiful and very finely milled, it is still a little too matte and ever so slightly powdery… so I have to say that adding jojoba (which, btw, is harvested wild in Arizona) was a stroke of genius on the part of Everyday Minerals.  This foundation has no powdery feel nor finish, it does not cake, it does not settle into lines nor highlights imperfections; it just… vanishes.

The verdict

Healthy, light as air, perfect color match, beautiful finish…. in other words, holy grail!  And the cherry on the cake is the low price as well as excellent EWG rating. Lily Lolo, from what you can probably tell, would be my second choice and I thought deserved a special mention here too.

The fine print

Price: $14.99 for 4.8 grams or 0.17 ounces.

EWG rating: 1

Good Guide rating: 8/10 (for low-level concerns over mica and titanium dioxide)

Ingredients: Mica (CI 77019), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Esters. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).
Purchase at: everydayminerals.com (US), ecco-verde.com (EU), iherb.com (worldwide)
Is your skin also soaked in oil?

Toxic ingredients you should avoid: Petroleum derivatives

We would not think of slathering petroleum on our faces, yet that is what most people unbeknownst to them do.  Hidden in all manner of cosmetic and skincare products, petroleum derivatives are full of dangerous contaminants and can not only clog pores but also cause allergies and cancer.  A 1986 report by the National Academy of Sciences noted that 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum. 

Mineral oil, petroleum jelly (petrolatum), paraffin

Mineral oil and petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline) coat the skin, clogging pores and creating a barrier that prevents the elimination of toxins. They also block the ability of the skin to moisturize itself, perpetuating dry and chapped skin conditions.  These petroleum by-products also cause skin to age faster by slowing down cell turnover, and may cause photosensitivity (sensitivity to the sun).

However, the biggest danger posed by these chemicals is that they can be contaminated with toxic substances such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Studies suggest that exposure to PAHs — including skin contact over extended periods of time — is associated with cancer. For this reason the European Union classifies petrolatum as a carcinogen and allows its use in cosmetics only when the manufacturer can show that there’s no contamination present. Environment Canada classifies the substance as a possible carcinogen, possible mutagen and suspected environmental toxin. Furthermore, UCLA studies link high levels of exposure to mineral oils to increased mortality and incidence of lung cancer.

Danger:  Contaminants are never part of the ingredient list so you need to avoid potential sources such as these. 

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

You will see this family of chemicals listed by their entire name or the abbreviation PEG (e.g. PEG-4, PEG-100, etc.) The lower the number, the easier it is absorbed into the skin.

These chemicals are irritants and cause allergic reaction on sun exposure.  They are also penetration enhancers, meaning that any other nasty chemicals in a product that contains PEG will be much more likely to be absorbed into the skin.  This includes many of the contaminants that accompany PEGs which include ethylene oxide, 1,4 dioxane, polycyclic aromatic compounds (mentioned above) and heavy metals such as lead and arsenic.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies ethylene oxide as a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane as a possible human carcinogen. Ethylene oxide can also harm the nervous system and the California Environmental Protection Agency has classified it as a developmental toxicant based on evidence that it may interfere with human development.

Danger: Watch out, PEGs can be found in many natural formulas!

Volatile solvents (benzene, toluene)

Used in fragrance (not listed), nail polish, nail polish remover, and hair color, as well as the manufacture of nylon, artificial leather, and detergents.  These are harmful chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, neurological disorders and allergic reactions.  Benzene is a known bone marrow poison and has been banned in cosmetics by the European Union.

Danger: State investigators in California found that 50% of 3-free nail polish brands they tested still contained toluene.  Stick to 5-free brands such as Kure Bazaar which rates a low 3 in the EWG Skin Deep data base.

 PVP/VA copolymer and isobutane/methylpropane

Used mostly in hair styling products. Both are harmful when inhaled so watch out for hair spray, but otherwise neither one has been shown to be toxic.

Sources:

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

David Suzuki Foundation

Environmental Working Group

Organic Consumer’s Association

Treehugger