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      Nanoparticles in Sunscreens

      Nanoparticles in Sunscreens

      Nanoparticles in sunscreens.
      The topic of nanoparticles in personal care continues to heat up. Firstly nanoparticles or nanomaterials are particles of extremely small size with the purpose to improve their intended applications. One nanometer (nm) is one-thousandth of a micrometer (m), one-millionth of a millimeter (mm) and one billionth of a meter (m). To put that size in perspective, 1 nanometer is roughly 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

      One of the obvious concerns with regards to nanomaterials in personal care products is that their size allows them to penetrate the skin and enter into the bloodstream accessing organs and tissues. To compound this concern, there are virtually no studies that indicate the safety of these materials once they enter the body.

      In the case of sunscreens, using physical reflective block UV filters like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide creates a white caking or heavy feel on the skin. With these ingredients now available as nanoparticles, the lotion can be a more smooth and silky feeling. Zinc Oxide is often referred to as a natural mineral present in the earth’s crust however, most zinc oxide used commercially is produced synthetically. The other misleading claim for nanoparticle zinc oxide and titanium dioxide was that they were more effective in their ability to block UV rays than their counterparts, a claim that has been proven not be true.  

      With relation to nanoparticles in sunscreens, it would appear the risks far outweighing the benefits. I believe that environmental and public interest groups are wise to demand government and industry complete testing and approval of nano-containing products before commercialization, not just for human health but also for their environmental impact.

      Ingredients of Concern

      Ingredients of Concern

      DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)

      These three ingredients are commonly found today in our personal care products.
      TEA, DEA, and MEA are amino alcohols used in personal care as emulsifiers, thickeners, wetting agents, detergents, and alkalizing agents (pH adjusters).
      Often they are used in combination with fatty acids to convert acid to salt (sterate).

      Stearate can form the base a cleanser. Monoethanolamine is produced by reacting ethylene oxide with aqueous ammonia, the reaction also produces diethanolamine and triethanolamine. In my previous post, I discussed the ethoxylation process using the known toxic carcinogen ethylene oxide.

      It is my understanding that monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, and triethanolamine already have limitations for use in personal care in many European countries due to an increase in the incidence of liver and kidney cancer.  Best to avoid wherever possible.

      Probiotic Supplementation reduces infant eczema up to 60%

      Probiotic Supplementation reduces infant eczema up to 60%

      Recently I learned of some great research that was conducted in the Netherlands via Dr Mercola’s website regarding the treatment of infant eczema otherwise known as atopic dermatitis. I have mentioned this treatment option in a previous post based around advice for managing this troubling skin condition. This research confirms that by using specific probiotic bacteria strains (Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactococcus lactis; Ecologic((R)) Panda) the likelihood of infant eczema could be reduced by up to 60%. 

      As I also mentioned in my previous post, there is also a strong genetic predisposition to eczema, if one of your parents has eczema, you have a 40% chance of inheriting the same condition. If both parents has eczema you have an 80% chance.

      Now if you, your spouse or both of you suffer from eczema and you are planning a family, it would be recommended to investigate this preventative treatment option. It is important to note that this study was done on high-risk children by administering pre- and postnatal supplementation (Both mother (prior to birth) and baby received the probiotics).

      Tamanu Oil

      Tamanu Oil

      Tamanu Oil - Calophyllum inophyllum

      If one did not know much about tamanu oil, one drop on the skin would give a rich and luxurious feeling with wonderfully hydrating and softening properties. If you intuitively sensed that this oil has a bio-compatibility with the skin, you would be bang-on. Highly regarded in Pacific island folk medicine, the oil has been topically applied to treat just about everything you can imagine related to the skin including cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites and stings, abrasions, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, anal fissures, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema, herpes sores, and to reduce foot and body odour.

      The tamanu plant (Calophyllum inophyllum) is native to South East Asia and Polynesia, with much of the commercial production coming from Tahiti and Fiji. Tamanu is a member of the mangosteen family, this is a thick tree with cracked dark greyish brown colored bark. The leaves are shiny rugged and elliptical, with the tree producing a striking white perfumey flower to be followed by a large nut with green outer fruit (apparently tastes like an apple). 

      The nut of tamanu in some way reminds me of olive fruit in that both cannot be consumed or used without some processing. Amazing how someone at some point figured out these processes to obtain these incredibly valuable agricultural products.

      The process to make tamanu oil requires cracking open the nut and drying the kernel for approximately 1-2 months where it turns from a blond colour to a deep chocolate brown with a visible sticky greenish yellow coloured oil trickling out. The kernel is then cold pressed to make tamanu oil.

      The pressed oil has a luxurious rich feel with a slightly nutty pleasant smell. That sense of luxury does come at a cost though, considered an expensive oil for good reason, only 5kg of cold pressed oil is produced from 100 kg of tamanu fruit! 100 kilos is the amount the average tree will produce annually.

      What is really cool about tamanu oil and the reason I recommend it especially for use with acneic skin conditions is that apart from having anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, restorative and regenerative properties, it is also great carrier oil absorbing quickly in the dermis with no oily residue left on the skin surface.
      Some of Tamanu oil bio-active properties are believed to come in part from a unique fatty acid called calophyllic acid.

      1,4 Dioxane and Ethoxylation

      1,4 Dioxane and Ethoxylation

      1,4 Dioxane is getting much publicity lately as this known carcinogen was even found in some natural personal care companies products.

      What is 1,4 Dioxane? 1,4 Dioxane or just Dioxane in the industrial manufacturing world is used in solvents and as a fumigant in the automotive coolant. The fact that this chemical appears in personal care is of particular concern because it is believed to be a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, and respiratory toxicant.

      Of equal concern is that 1,4-Dioxane is not biodegradable, does not readily bind to soils and is the number one leading groundwater contaminant. It is a byproduct of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide. As mentioned Dioxane is a byproduct of the Ethoxylation process in cosmetic manufacturing, an example is the ethoxylation of sodium dodecyl sulphate to form sodium laureth sulphate, a foaming agent used in toothpaste, shampoos, and detergent.

      How can we avoid this chemical? The Organic Consumers Association is the US recommends reading ingredient labels and avoiding products with indications of ethoxylation, which include: "myreth," "oleth," "laureth," "ceteareth," any other "eth," "PEG," "polyethylene," "polyethylene glycol," "polyoxyethylene," or "oxynol," in ingredient names.