Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wise Traditions: Sally Fallon Responds

I recently stumbled across a website produced by the Weston A. Price Foundation featuring a FAQ section with responses by Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, which I have mentioned before and which Jordan Rubin references in his books.

Fallon discusses a host of foods and health issues, including soy, supplements, the benefits of cod liver oil, sweeteners and concerns with raw dairy just to name a few.

If you haven’t read her book yet, reading her answers to some of these questions will give you an idea of her stance on nutrition.

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Making Kombucha at Home

You may have read my previous blog on kombucha, a raw, highly nutritious fermented drink containing naturally occurring vitamins, probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants, etc.

After a month of purchasing kombucha from the store, I am considering ordering a starter kombucha “mushroom” and making the drink myself at home. It only costs 20 cents a cup when made a home! Whereas, if you purchase it at a health food store, it usually costs $3.50-$4.00 per 32 oz. bottle

There are a number of places online where you can order a kombucha starter. Sally Fallon specifically recommends two websites:

I particularly recommend you check out the Laurel Farms website. Laurel Farms is the only place you get a starter kombucha “mushroom” and kit that has been approved by the FDA. Laurel Farms website also gives instructions on how to make kombucha at home.

The kombucha benefits are enormous. Read more.

One thing you may notice when purchasing kombucha, even the kind that contains 5% fruit juice, is the somewhat sour taste. But due to the added fruit juice in some versions sold at the health food store, the taste is quite palatabe, even delicious. My sister has made kombucha at home and commented on the extremely potent sour taste of the homemade version of the brew. However, if you mix it with a small amount of fruit juice, you can take the edge off of it quite easily.

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Soaked-Flour Breads

I have continued reading Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and have been attempting many of her recipes. For those of you who don’t know, Fallon’s bread recipes call for the flour to be soaked in yogurt, kefir or homemade cultured buttermilk (or water and homemade whey for those with milk allergies) for 12-24 hours prior to baking. (Many of these recipes are also referenced in Jordan Rubin's The Maker's Diet.

I made my first loaf of bread (banana bread to be exact) this way the other night. It ended up taking 2.5 hours to cook and I still do not think that it tastes banana-y enough. However, the bread is very moist and the texture is delicious. I have decided to alter the recipe the next time by adding an additional banana, as well as a ½-¾ cup of additional flour just before baking. I think this may help the flavor and the baking time.

In addition, I made her basic muffin recipe (adding blueberries for a blueberry muffin version) last night. After the long cooking time of the banana bread, I was worried that the muffins might take just as long also. So, after soaking the flour for 24 hours in water and whey, I added the rest of the ingredients (doubling the amount of maple syrup called for to ensure the muffins were sweet enough for my taste), then I added an additional cup to cup-and-a-half of spelt flour to thicken the batter a bit. (I like spelt flour best for baking.) Rather than taking 1 hour to bake as the recipe indicated, my muffins only took 30 minutes to bake. I’m sure that was due to the additional flour. The muffins taste fine, although they are a bit hearty and not as moist as the banana bread. In addition they are not blueberry tasting enough. Simply adding 7 blueberries on top of the dough just doesn’t cut it. The next time I make them, I’ll mash ½ cup of blueberries and add it to the batter, and add only ½ cup of additional flour at the end rather than a full cup. Then I’ll continue to add the blueberries on the top of the muffin dough prior to baking.

Soaked flour breads are much healthier for you than regular breads as they allow the flour to sour and ferment, giving it a natural ability to rise without the help of yeast or other additives, and breaking down the hard-to-digest qualities of the grain so that your body can more easily absorb the nutrients.

My next project will be attempting Fallon’s Sourdough Bread Start recipe, which calls for rye flour and takes 7 days to make. From there I’ll be able to use the starter to make real, old-fashioned sourdough bread. Sourdough starters can also be bought online (if you do not wish to take the time to make them yourself):

Sourdough bread can then be used not only for sandwiches, but also for other recipes like kvass and other healthy fermented beverages.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Maker’s Diet: How to Get Started

The Maker’s Diet is a 40-day plan to help reboot your body and make a lifestyle change in your eating habits. If you have read the book, you’ll know there are three phases to the 40-day plan: Phase 1 (restricted diet/cleanse), Phase 2 (less restricted diet/cleanse), Phase 3: how you will be eating for the rest of your life.

If you are healthy person and/or do not feel the need to lose any weight, Jordan Rubin suggests that you can simply start at Phase 3. If, however, you are suffering from an illness or condition and would like to do a cleanse to detoxify your body and/or lose weight, you should start with Phase 1.

If you have decided to start at Phase 1, then you should look at the list of foods at the back The Maker’s Diet that you are to eat during that phase and do your grocery shopping accordingly.

If, however, you would like to start with Phase 3 and simply slowly transition from the way you are currently eating to a Maker’s Diet lifestyle, here is a list of what I consider to be the initial essentials:

Distilled, Pure Water – If you get it at the grocery store, make sure it says distilled somewhere on the label at least. Some companies just label them “pure,” “drinking water” or “spring water." Some of these may be distilled, but not all of them are. So look with a savvy eye at what you're purchasing Better yet, find a pure water store in your area that distills and purifies its water.

Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - I order Wilderness Family's Extra Virginia Traditional Fermented Philippine Coconut Oil in bulk along with a group of friends. We purchase a case of 6 1-gallon buckets. Each is around $50. It lasts a long time, you can use it in all your cooking/baking, and the Wilderness Family brand tastes less "coconuty" than any other brand I've tried. If you're not interested in ordering from Wilderness Family, Nutiva is a decent brand that is cost effective.

Organic Unrefined Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Spectrum or Napa Valley is what I get – it’s unrefined and cold-pressed)

Organic or Free-range, Raw Cow’s Milk Cheese - Horizon now sells raw cow’s milk cheese. Organic Food Depot also offers raw cow's milk cheese - the brand name is Morningland Dairy. However, I purchase raw milk cheese through Quail Cove farms because it is a comparable price to the other brands, but more importantly it tastes so much better! They carry two good brands: Bunker Hill raw milk cheddar and Minerva signature raw white cheddar. Both are delicious.

Raw or Nonhomogenized Whole Cow’s Milk - from organically fed or preferably free-range, pastured cows – If you are hestitant to make the committment to raw milk (necessitating investment in a cow share if you live in Virginia), then your next best option is something like what Yoder Dairies provides. Yoder Dairies is located just off the corner of Princess Ann and Kempsville in Virginia Beach. If you live elsewhere, do a search for a local dairy in your area … make sure the cattle are not given hormones or antibiotics and there are no preservatives or additives in the milk.

Free-range Eggs - I get mine through Quail Cove Farms. They are the least expensive free-range eggs I've yet to find: 2.79 per dozen, and they're large and delicious. Yoder Dairies also carries free-range eggs from time to time. Organic Food Depot also sells local free-range eggs (Wilda's) for about $3.50 per dozen.

Organic Whole Milk Plain Yogurt (for smoothies – go here for a recipe) – Purchase plain, organic whole milk yogurt from pasture-fed cows. Seven Star Dairy is my favorite brand. It is available through Organic Food Depot. I purchase fruit (usually stawberries) seperately (enough for 2 cups), puree them in the blender, adding 2 Tbsp of raw honey and 2 Tbsp of pure maple syrup. I then add this to my plain, organic whole milk yogurt. This recipe makes the most delicious yogurt I've ever had--and without sugar!

Raw Honey - Obtaining raw, unfiltered, unheated honey is very important. However, as it is expensive, I have a few suggestions. If you and your family eat honey on toast, in homemade salad dressing or in anything else unheated, use a brand like Really Raw Honey, or something comparable like Honey in the Rough, or Al & Bea's Pure Honey (Elizabeth City, N.C.) Be sure this honey has never been heated and is completely unfiltered. Honey such as this is avaialbe through places like Organic Food Depot, some Vitamin Shoppe stores, and of course through local bee farmers. If your finances do not allow you to use raw unheated honey for cooking/baking, purchase something such as local unfiltered, raw honey (produced by Golden Angels Apiary - available through Organic Food Depot) which has never been heated above 110 degrees. While this is slightly heated honey, it is more cost-effective when baking wherein the honey will be heated anyway. One option for Virginians is Golden Angels Apiary raw, unheated, Tupelo, light and mild in 5 lb jars for around $20.

Sprouted Whole Grain Bread or Whole Grain Spelt, Kamut, or Sourdough Bread – Berlin Bread Factory is a good brand or Food for Life's Ezekiel Bread (although I like it better toasted). If you are like me, you may prefer to make your own bread, which is extremely cost-effective. I purchase organic wheat berries (grain) for anywhere from .52-.71 per pound, depending on brand and if I purchase in bulk. This is extremely inexpensive. I also purchase spelt berries (grain) as well for around $1.09 per pound. I also buy a variety of other grains including Kamut, barley, rye, dry corn, rice, etc. All of these items I get through Quail Cove Farms, which has the best prices on grain in the Hampton Roads area. I sprout the grain, dry it and grind it into flour for baking bread. If you don't wish to sprout your grain, you can also use it for soaked recipes. Sue Gregg's recipe books offer a number of usage options for whole grains using simple, everyday appliances such as a blender and coffee bean mill. If you do not have the time for this, try to stick to Ezekiel bread for the benefits of sprouted grains.

Other Sprouted Grains – hamburgers, burrito/taco shells, hot dog buns, etc. All of sorts of items are available in a sprouted-grain format through companies like Food for Life and Alvarado Street Bakery.

Pure Maple Syrup (organic or natural)—we buy ours at Costco in bulk, not organic but it’s still pure.

Organic Fruits and Veggies – Organic Food Depot carries an enormous selection of competitvely-priced produce. Many of their items are even less expensive than non-organic produce at other grocery stores like Farm Fresh and Harris Teeter, etc. For example, I have purchased organic green peppers for .51 cents each and organic red peppers for $1.51 each at Organic Food Depot. See my blog for the link to what fruits and veggies to buy organic.

Organic or Free-Range Meat - Organic Food Depot sells a wonderful local brand called Gryffon's Aerie. Their beef is the most delicious, free-range beef I've ever eaten. (I also sometimes buy the organic Naturals beef at Harris Teeter because it’s certified.) Another fantastic option is Trader Joe's, which carries a wide selection of free-range meats. (Just make sure the meat you’re getting is antibiotic free, hormone free and preservative/additive free.)

Organic or Free-Range Chicken - I buy chicken through Quail Cove Farms. They sell Amish-raised free-range chicken that is priced so well my friends can't believe it. Harris Teeter also sells organic chicken, but is it far more expensive than Quail Cove Farms.

Celtic Sea Salt - Available at both Heritage Health Food store and Organic Food Depot. Real Kosher Sea Salt via OFD is also a decent option.

Seasonings – Get rid of all seasonings in your cupboard that have sugar in them. Replace them with organic and/or natural seasonings as you can afford. Your seasonings should never say "natural flavorings" on the ingredient label. This could mean they contain MSG. The most cost-effective seasonings that I've found are available through Quail Cove Farms. You can buy them per cup or per pound. Either way, it equals a huge savings!

Organic, Unfiltered Juice - You want to purchase juice as close to raw as possible; not from concentrate. Harris Teeter, Farm Fresh or Organic Food Depot all carry not-from concentrate organic juice. Bionature is a good brand.

These are the major things you should start by changing. When my husband and I switched to eating this way, it was very costly at first because I wasn’t sure where to find the things we needed, and we ended up overspending simply from lack of information as to where to purchase things in our area. We do not have a Whole Foods in Hampton Roads, so I went to a lot of small, overprice health food stores in the area at first. When we found the Organic Food Depot and Quail Cove Farms, I was overjoyed. Then when Harris Teeter and Farm Fresh started carrying some organic foods, particularly Harris Teeter’s very reasonably priced ones, it became even easier to shop organically on a budget.

For those of you wanting to start eating according to The Maker’s Diet, don’t be afraid about the money. If you plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, you can shop and eat following The Maker’s Diet with only a small increase in your budget. For example, before switching to this way of eating, I had a budget of $100 per week for food for my husband and me. Now that we are eating The Maker’s Diet way, I spend about $115-125 per week. Overall, that’s only about a maximum one-quarter increase in my budget—-not bad considering how much better we both feel eating this way.

Here are a list of other things to add to your as continue to transition into Phase 3:

Make sure the nuts you buy are raw and organic – commercial nuts absorb a lot of pesticides. Before consuming, be sure to soak raw nuts and seeds in water/salt mixture (brine), then dry them in either a dehydrator at 115 degrees or on your oven's lowest setting (can take up to 9 hours). This is the only healthy way to consume nuts and seeds. (Flax seeds and sesame seeds when consumed in small amounts are the exception).

Switch from chips and processed snacks to some of the snack options I mention on my blogs about where to shop: organic dried fruit (no sugar added)—Harris Teeter and OFD, organic raw nuts (prepared as described above)—Harris Teeter and OFD, baked millet and flaxseed pita chips by Sami’s (via OFD), organic salsa—Harris Teeter and OFD, Lara Bars (via OFD), etc. A lot of these items are also carried at places like Whole Foods. Or you can make your own tortilla chips using natural corn tortillas (containing only corn, lime and water) from Trader Joe's - spread with organic extra virgin coconut oil and broil in the oven, then add sea salt.

Ketchup – switch to fruit-sweetened ketchup in order to avoid the high amount of sugar and high fructose corn syrup in commercial ketchups. Westbrae Fruit Sweetened Ketchup is what I get via Organic Food Depot, but I know that Whole Foods stores carry it also.

Organic Omega-3 Mayonnaise with Flax Oil – this is a product made by Spectrum. Switch to this in order to follow The Maker’s Diet list of healthy oils and fats. It’s delicious. Carried in many health food stores, Organic Food Depot, Whole Foods, etc.

Super Seed fiber powder by Garden of Life – for when or if you decide to go back and do Phase 1 of The Maker’s Diet. This is also good to have on hand for weekly cleansing during a day of fasting, etc.

Primal Defense Ultra by Garden of Life – time-release living soil and probiotic organisms for healthy digestion, I swear by these.

Cod Liver Oil – a very healthy supplement for natural source of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Be sure to purchase a brand that uses only wild cod so that mercury and other toxins are not present (i.e. Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil by Garden of Life, or Cod Liver Oil by Spectrum)

Organic Flax Seed Oil – do not cook with; instead use in homemade salad dressing, smoothies, and other things to give you healthy omega-3 fatty acids and living enzymes.

Kombucha – fermented Chinese tea drink (sweetened with 5% fruit juice) containing enzymes, amino acids, probiotics, antioxidants, etc. It’s a great substitute for soda if you’re used to carbonated drinks. I often drink this instead of juice as well – less calories. Kombuch is extremely healthy for you. The guava flavor is good and so is the mango.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

Finding Safety: Body Care, Hair Care, Skin Care, and Cosmetics

Are you fully aware of what types of chemicals are being absorbed into your body? Probably more than you realize! Not to mention what these personal-care toxins are doing to damage the environment. Men though they may use less personal care products over all, are subject to this commercial ingredient lunacy as well as women. Even babies are being born with high counts of toxins in their bodies.

Last fall I decided it was time to start switching over to more all-natural/organic personal care products. Many of you may want to do the same. But, with the host of companies trying to sell you on their brand of organic or natural items, how do you know what’s best?

After doing a year’s worth of research, trying various products, and using the Environmental Working Group’s sub-site Skin Deep (a personal care product rating system based on ingredients and known toxins) to determine what products have the safest ingredients and still work well, I have come up with a number of products that I love.

My biggest piece of advice? Check out the Skin Deep website above. It has a catalogue of not only gazillions of commercial personal care products and cosmetics, but also a number of organic and all-natural ones as well. Visiting this site will give you an idea of how products are rated and what ingredients to avoid. This is a fantastic place to start. Do a quick search to see how your products rate. Here is Skin Deep’s link to “what not to buy” due to very high-risk ingredients. Also, here is a link to their recent news reports.

Here is a list of ingredients I avoid:
Propylene Glycol
Artificial Colors (such as FD&C)
Hydroxyl Acids
Retinoic Acids
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Isopropyl Alcohol (made from petroleum)
Phthalates, Dibutyl Phthalate, DBP (on label: “fragrance”)
Fragrances (this does not include essential oils)
Mineral Oil in all its forms (see below)

Various Names of Mineral Oil:
Carnea 21
Hydrocarbon oils
Triona B
Bayol F
Crystol 325
Bayol 55
Primol 355
Primol D
Tech Pet F

It is important to ALWAYS read the labels—even for all-natural and organic products. Not all companies that advertise their products as all natural and/or organic actually avoid the ingredients listed above. So it is essential that you become aware of what ingredients to avoid. This will make your shopping experience much more efficient. I keep a list of ingredients to avoid in my wallet for when I shop (either online or in-store).

In addition to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website, there are plenty of other helpful websites:

One of these is Dr. Bronner’s. Not only does Dr. Bronner’s sell some of the most pure soap available on the market, but in addition, their website provides some wonderful information on how to read the labels of organic/natural skin and body care products. Make sure to check it out. (And you wouldn’t believe what some companies put in soap these days. Try switching to Dr. Bronner’s. It’s safe, it’s economical. You can get it in bulk. It’s available at most health food stores and through the Organic Food Depot)

If you are one of those people who needs convincing about switching your personal care products, view this article about the toxins and cancer-contributing ingredients found in everyday beauty products. I can’t believe the government can allow the use of some of these things.

Another great website is This website is a wonderful resource when scoping out what products are available and what products are safest. It provides a large list of options on alternative cosmetics and personal care products. Wonderful stuff!

Another fantastic website is Here you can read articles on the latest issue regarding organic food ratings, what to look for when buying organic food (how companies can trick you) and personal care products as well. You can even find a list of ingredients to avoid in personal care products and a survey you can submit to be a part of petitioning for healthier restrictions.

Without further ado, here is my personal-care list of Top Safe Favorites:


Meow Cosmetics
Pure mineral foundation powders, blush powders, eye shadow powders, eye liner powders. This company is at the top of my list. Check out their website. Need I say more? I don’t think so.

Ecco Bella
Ecco Bellas products are available through the Organic Food Depot online catalogue or via other sellers online. I endorse their lipsticks, lip glosses, eye liners, eye shadows, blush powders, face powders, concealers, mascaras etc., but I DO NOT purchase their lotions, skin care, liquid foundation and a few other products because they contain parabens (estrogenic chemical preservatives). Make sure to double check on this when viewing their webpage, but the last time I checked these few products were not paraben-free.

Real Purity
Wonderful blushes. My favorite is Pearl Mocha. They offer lots of other cosmetics and skin care that is safe and pure as well, even toothpaste! These products are also available through

Anise Cosmetics (Nail Polish)
What a find this has been! Nail polishes that are formaldehyde-free, phthalate-free and toluene-free. I can personally vouch for how amazingly healthy and long my nails have gotten since I stopped using highly toxic, commercial nail polish. Instead I use Anise nail polish a couple times a month. My nails no longer discolor when using their polish, and my nails no longer peel, break and chip so easily. For those of you living in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, you can get Anise nail polishes from DSW Shoes in Greenbrier, across from the mall. Otherwise, you can order them online.

Gabriel Cosmetics & Zuzu Luxe Cosmetics
I have not yet had a chance to try these products, but many of them look wonderful and have gotten good reviews from other consumers. Not all of the products are the safest on the Skin Deep rating list, but take a look and be sure to review the ingredients. You can also do an assessment of your own on the Skin Deep website be inputting the ingredients of a product not listed in order to see how it will rate. Gabriel and Zuzu offer skin care and cosmetics.

Jane Iredale Cosmetics
These products are especially made for women who have sensitive skin or who have undergone plastic surgery of some kind. Most of these products rate quite well. Again, be sure to check Skin Deep for ratings and look at the ingredients. (When visiting the site, click on “Jane Iredale direct” to view products.) My favorite Jane items are the daytime eyeshadow kit, the 24-karat gold shimmer kit and the lip liners. The lipsticks and glosses are nice too and have a 3 out of 10 rating.

Organic Makeup Company
Foundation, powders, lipsticks, lip liners, eye shadows, etc. I have tried their eye shadow liners, their lipsticks and their glosses, all which I love. Their products are available through and, as well as other websites. The latter site is also a good place to find other safe brands of cosmetics. But once again, read the labels. There are some products on that don’t rate as well as others and contain talc and other ingredients that are best avoided. Organic Makeup Company’s main site does not actually sell its products, but it does provide a wonderful guide of ingredients to avoid in cosmetics.

i.d. bare minerals
This is a mainstream, commercial mineral makeup company. As such, they do not post their product ingredients on their website (generally a sign that they are hiding something). Through doing some research, however, I found that ONLY their eye shadow powders, blush powders, and select foundation powders are safe, pure minerals. Some of their products are not completely pure such as Mineral Veil, as well as their lipsticks, lip glosses, mascaras, etc. The Mineral Veil, for instance, contains parabens (estrogenic chemical preservatives). So, if you choose to purchase product by i.d. bare minerals, make sure to read the label, or simply stick with the eye shadows and blush powders.

Honeybee Gardens
Nice products: lipsticks (not as few ingredients as Real Purity and some others, but still non-toxic), mascara, lip glosses, eye liners, eye shadow powders, etc. I have not tried any of these products yet. I have only tried their water-based nail polish and deodorant powder—neither of which I was thrilled with. However, I still plan to try their cosmetics, as many of their colors look wonderful. They also carry skin care products, I believe, but not all of them are as pure as other skin care products I’ve seen. Again, read the labels.

Afterglow Cosmetics
Powder foundations, powder blushes, eye shadows, powder eye liners, lipsticks, lip glosses. Afterglow has pure products. I have tried their powders, but not their lip products. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of their foundation powder and blush. However, I have yet to try their lipsticks, which, if you look at the website, look very colorful. However, of all the mineral pure companies, I prefer Meow Cosmetics.

Skin Care, Body Care, Hair Care

Trillium Organics
This is a recent find of mine, and I am in love with this company’s products, all of which are handmade. Organic body polish, organic body oil, organic body butter, organic body soap, organic face polish, organic perfume etc. All products are made with the purest ingredients. Their organic body polish serves as a body scrub in the shower and a moisturizer. The organic body soap contains pure saponified oils that gently cleans without being harsh. Their products are scented with pure essential oils. The most popular scent is pink grapefruit. I cannot say enough about how wonderful these products are. Their body soap can even be used as a shampoo. All of the oils and other ingredients used are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores.

Kiss My Face
Kiss My Face’s “Obsessively Organic” is a great skin care line. But I don’t use any of Kiss My Face’s products that are not in the “Obsessively Organic” line. The ingredients for "Obsessively Organic" rate between 0 and 4 on the Skin Deep site. Most of these products do, however, contain “organic water of ---” ingredients. So, according to Dr. Bronner’s informative website that I mentioned above, these may not be the purest organic products. However, they are relatively safe compared to their more commercial counterparts. I have been using Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic skin care (normal to oil) for almost a year and have noticed a substantial difference in the way my skin feels and looks. The most amazing product they offer is the Break Out Gel. This stuff clears zits like nothing I’ve ever used. It will even prevent and significantly reduce oral cold sores on the lips.

derma e
Derma e carries a variety of skin and body care products. They have a regular line and an organic line. Both are reputable. All products are paraben free. I usually supplement my organic Kiss My Face skin care products with a few anti-aging products from derma e. Their anti-aging products work well and include many of the same ground-breaking components found in commercial skin care lines, but with one key difference--derma e's products don't contain all the additional fillers, chemicals, and synthetic preservatives and fragrances.

Burt’s Bees
This company has achieved a lot of notoriety recently, even to the point that their products are now carried in many Rite Aid pharmacies and Wal-Marts. Most of their skin care products are safe, but always check the label nonetheless and search for the specific product of your interest on the Skin Deep Website to see how it rates. Not all of the Burt’s Bees products are the best choices, but many of the skin and body care products are very nice, especially the lemon butter cuticle cream and hand repair cream. Most of their skin care products are comparable safety-wise compared to Kiss My Face, but not all of them.

Giovanni Hair and Body Care
I love this company’s shampoos, hairspray, root booster, etc. Wonderful organic products. Do look at the ingredients. I know a few of their products contain parabens. You can purchase the hair care products at your local Vitamin Shop. All of their products (hair care and body care) are available via the online catalogue through Organic Food Depot for those of you living in the Virginia Beach/Chesapeake area.

Aubrey Organics
Aubrey offers great organic hair care. It is very pure. They pride themselves on providing truly pure, non-toxic products, while avoiding fillers that even some other organic companies/labels use. They also offer some cosmetics and perfume, none of which I have tried yet. But I have been very happy with their Clarifying Shampoo. Some of their products, as with most companies I suppose, contain a few too many ingredients for my taste, but on the whole they have very pure ingredients and rate between 0 and 4 on the Skin Deep website (with the majority of those ratings being 2 and 3). Some of their products do contain benzoates, so do look at the labels.

Aura Cacia
I can’t vouch for all of all of Aura Cacia’s products, but I do love their Pure Essentials Aromatherapy Spritz and their essential oils. The Pure Essentials Spritz can also be used as a perfume (I have not tried their actual line of perfumes yet). I am someone whose asthma flares up at the slightest commercial scent, and even some “organic/all-natural” ones, but this particular brand has given me no problems. The vanilla scent is my favorite. The spritz simply contains pure essential oils. Watch out for those ingredients, though. Some of their other products contain things I don’t want to use.

Other companies I have looked into but haven’t tried yet include:
EO and Terressentials.

Menstrual Care & Personal Lubricant

It’s important when getting rid of toxic products in your home to remember that commercial tampons and sanitary pads are not healthy, nor safe. The rayon used in commercial tampons and pads is bleached with chorine, creating dioxins (a toxic byproduct). And the cotton used in commercial tampons and pads is filled with insecticides and pesticides—not a healthy combo for sensitive regions. Here’s another link with more info.

Organic Cotton Tampons & Pads
One solution is to switch to organic 100% cotton tampons and pads. Here are some reputable companies: Natracare, Organic Essentials (this is not a direct link to their site, but rather to a separate seller), Seventh Generation. A number of these companies also sell organic cotton balls, organic cotton nursing pads, etc. In addition, the Organic Food Depot sells Natracare and Organic Essentials products via their online catalogue as well as a few in store.

The Diva Cup
Ladies, let me tell you the truth about this, while we’re on the subject. I am a convert of the Diva Cup! I will never go back to using tampons, organic or not. Do you want to experience a period that doesn’t feel like a period? You’ve got to try the Diva Cup. Not only is it economically and environmentally friendly, but also you can reuse it for a long time—one Diva Cup can last up to ten years! It’s made of silicone and is safe and easy to use. Check it out. Warning: after using the Diva Cup you may never try using anything else! Here’s a link to the least expensive seller of the Diva Cup that I’ve found online. The Organic Food Depot also sells it through their online catalogue.

Personal Lubricant
This is another important topic, although no one really discusses it. Ever think about what kind of ingredients are in those commercial lubricants? Well, let me just say it’s stuff we don’t want to be using! Take a look at the label on your KY Jelly or Astroglide sometime—whoa, there are a whole lot of toxic ingredients there!

Instead try Firefly (all natural) or Flutterby (organic), lubricants that feel better, last longer, don’t contain toxins and don’t dry out.


There are a number of aluminum-free deodorants on the market, most made by organic/all-natural companies. I have tried a lot of them, and the only one I’ve found that really works is Crystal. Their product comes in the following forms: rock salt, roll-on or spray on. The one that works for me is the roll-on. I have learned that in order for these products to work, you have to use a lot of them, sometimes even a couple of times a day. But at least you’ll be toxin-free in doing so! You can get them at most local pharmacies, some grocery stores and even Wal-Mart.

However the best natural deodorant that I have found yet is available through an online-based company called Oyin Handmade. Their deodorant, called Funk Butter, is handmade just for you each time you order, so it can take up to to three weeks for you to receive your products, but the wait is well worth it. Funk Butter is available in two scents as well as unscented. I strongly recommend the unscented. Their scented versions both contain fragrance oils rather than essential oils. The unscented version works just as well.

I hope this information has been helpful. Remember, become an expert label reader and know your ingredients! That is the only way to really keep yourself safe as you shop for these kinds of products. All of the information I’ve noted here is not necessarily the “hard and fast” rule for personal care products because companies can always change their products or the ingredients in their products. So again, become a savvy label reader and you’ll do a lot to keep yourself healthy.

Also, feel free to experiment by making your own skin care products and cosmetics. There are recipes on the web (Skin Deep’s campaign for safe cosmetics section has some as well as Really Raw Honey, etc.)

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