Is Your Makeup Safe? Introducing Beautycounter

BCbeautyimageI was shocked to learn that cosmetics companies are allowed to use known toxins – ingredients linked to cancer, reproductive issues and hormone disruptions – without telling us.

I’ve been a long-time food label reader, and when I had my kids I became aware of the dangers of oxybenzone (found in most sunscreens). It was only after my cancer scare a year and a half ago (more about that some other time) that I started becoming more aware of the ingredients in beauty products – shampoos, lotions, lipsticks, eye shadows, moisturizers, you name it.

Kidscounter Bath CollectionI already knew there was a link between serious health issues (asthma, learning disabilities, cancer, infertility) and our exposure to certain chemicals (plastics, exhaust fumes, etc). What I didn’t know is that companies are allowed to use ingredients proven to be extremely harmful in the products we put on our bodies. Every. Single. Day. Formaldehyde in our baby shampoo, lead in our lipstick, neurotoxins in our lotions and perfumes. Unacceptable!

IMG_9718 (1024x910)Enter Beautycounter, a cosmetics company devoted to progress. Beautycounter has banned more than 1500 ingredients (the EU bans 1300 and the US? just 11), setting a new health and safety standard. Each product batch must pass strict internal testing guidelines before being put on the market (and yes, they have scrapped production batches that didn’t make the cut).

Take a look at The Never List, a list of ingredients you will never find in Beautycounter products (and the reasons why).

BCcollectionI spent two months testing their products and am happy to report that they look great, feel great, smell great and best of all, they perform beautifully. Organic coconut oil, shea butter, calendula, fruit acids and flower extracts are just some of the awesome good-for-you ingredients used in the line.

I’m so proud to be involved with this great company as one of their consultants. To learn more or to shop, visit:

I will be offering specials and giveaways from time to time on the blog, so stay tuned!

Mom’s Winter Coat – Part II (Photos of Mom)

Momcoat2 Momcoat3Yay! Mom was able to find a couple photos of her in the blue coat (and that’s me in the yellow parka). I wish they were a little more focused, but they’ll do. I’m guessing these were taken in Germany, or perhaps Switzerland.

I’m liking her boots, the leather purse and that candy-cane scarf. I may have to do a blog post about my mom and her 60s/70s fashions. The next time I go to Hawaii, I’ll dig through our old albums and see what I can come up with.

IMG_9445Re-posting the shot of me for comparison.

Mom’s Winter Coat


In our backyard with Sam.

My mom bought this coat in 1971 or 1972 (although she thinks it was probably the former). She, my Dad and my sister were living in Germany at the time (I wasn’t born yet) and were visiting relatives in upstate New York. One day my cousin Kathy suggested a shopping trip. Perhaps there was mention of winter sales, the details are sketchy.

CoatInsideMom didn’t remember at which store she purchased the coat, but the tag tells us: Sears, Roebuck and Co.  The label also reads, “Sears Jr. Bazaar” which means it was part of the store’s junior line. My mom was in her late 20s or early 30s, so that totally makes sense. Plus, she’s 4′ 11″ and I’m not sure how many stores back then had great petite selections.

The top of the label reads, “clean by furrier method only.” An online search gave me somewhat confusing and vague results, but it appears that this phrase indicated not only how to clean the item (a type of dry cleaning, or perhaps simply dry cleaning), but also that the item was made of faux fur.

CoatCloseWhen I brought the coat home from our to Hawaii last February, it was in a sad state. The lining was fading and had separated from the main part of the coat, the pockets were ripped, the cuffs on the sleeves were starting to fall apart and the suede was getting spotty (I’m assuming due to the humidity).

I had the coat repaired by a local seamstress in San Francisco (she did a great job) and after a wipe-down by me, most of the spotting was gone or barely noticeable. It still looks rough around the edges, but it fits me perfectly and is fun to wear. I feel a little self-conscious wearing it around town because I prefer to go unnoticed. But I hate thinking about the coat sitting in the closet ’til my girls are big enough to wear it, so I’m going to try and put it on more often.


Top 10 Non-Toxic Products for Body and Home

I’ve been loving making lists lately (and you’ve been loving them, too, from the comments and emails I’ve been getting), so you’ll be seeing more on the blog this year.

This month I give you my top ten non-toxic picks for body and home – the start of a new year is a great time to re-evaluate our health and our environmental consciousness. Every little decision you make matters. Whenever you replace a harmful or potentially harmful product with a safe one, you are (even if in a very small way), helping to make the world a better place!

1)   Beautycounter All Over Sunscreen –  $26.00
When I learned a couple years ago that oxybenzone (the active ingredient in most sunscreens) was a potential hormone disruptor, I started using sunscreens with a zinc oxide base. Every brand I tried had a similar issue – a thick, white pasty consistency that was hard to apply (especially on the kids – they are squirmy!) and made us look like ghosts.

Not this one. Beautycounter’s lightweight sunscreen is smooth, creamy and goes on like a dream. And no white streaks! Safe for the entire family.

Please note: not all zinc oxide sunscreens are safe to use. CVS Pure & Gentle Baby Sunscreen, for example, contains BHT, a likely carcinogen, hormone disruptor and may cause liver damage. Definitely do not want that on baby.

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant - Cedarwood & Juniper
2)  Schmidt’s – Cedarwood + Juniper Natural Deodorant – $12.00

When I first saw my friend Susan, co-founder of Butch Basix, putting on this product, I was like… what are you doing? Turns out, it’s a deodorant you apply with your fingers. Sure, it takes some getting used to, but it’s a vegan, cruelty-free, propylene glycol-free, paraben-free and phthalate-free product. And it works!

It has a nice earthy scent that’s not overbearing (I’m very scent sensitive) and it comes packaged in the cutest reusable Butch Basix logo bag. If you can’t get over the application process, they also carry natural deodorant sticks.

Ology Bathroom Cleaner Spray Peppermint

3)  Ologoy – Bathroom Cleaner – $4.99

I love this cleaner as an alternative to Clorox, Lysol, Soft Scrub and other brands that contain bleach and other harmful ingredients. It smells wonderful (peppermint) and leaves countertops, sinks and toilets shiny-clean.

I must admit that when I need heavy-duty cleaning, I still use a couple drops of bleach and water (like the time I had to clean the workers’ bathroom after the remodel. Oy). Available at Walgreens.

16 oz Dish Soap – Further Glycerin Soap

4)  Further – Dish Soap – $17.99

This natural soap for dish washing is derived from the making of biofuel. The company picks up used vegetable oil from restaurants and then processes it in their warehouse. The biofuel goes into cars and the glycerin goes into their soaps.

If you’re not into spending $18 on dish soap (I bought Further as a new-kitchen welcome gift to myself), there are a bunch of less expensive options out there. I like Ecover, available at Whole Foods.

Color Sweep Blush Duo - Tawny/Whisper

5)  Beautycounter – Blush Duos – $36.00

Beautycounter makes it on the list again, this time for their powder blush. Before finding Beautycounter, I knew some cosmetics were safer than others, but was unaware how little the industry as a whole was regulated. Beautycounter has banned over 1500 ingredients (the U.S. only bans 11) and all product batches must pass a strict heavy-metals testing process before being put on the market.

These beautiful blush duos (there are three) deliver just the right amount of color for a perfect flush. I love how you can use just one shade, or layer the two shades or blend for a third option. Each compact contains porcelain flower extract, known for its antioxidant and moisturizing properties.

6)  Shea Moisture – Baby Head-To-Toe Wash & Shampoo – $8.99

A few months ago, I looked at the ingredients on the back of my Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and freaked out. The bottle I had purchased over the summer included the ingredient quaternium-15, a substance known to cause cancer in humans. Johnson & Johnson was supposed to phase out this ingredient (among others), but it obviously did not happen yet.

I found a much better alternative in this two-in-one shampoo and body wash. It has a pleasant scent, suds well and the kids don’t complain if it gets in their eyes.

7)  Babyganics – Stain Remover –  $4.99

This plant-based stain remover has never met a stain (in our house) that it can’t get rid of. No parabens, fragrance, sulfates or chlorine. The only weird thing is that it doesn’t spray very well (it only comes out in a stream) which can be remedied if you water it down (weird, but true). Available at various drugstores and Babies R Us.

Seventh Generation™ Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent - Free and Clear (100 oz)

8)  Seventh Generation – Laundry Detergent – $11.69

There are lots of great non-toxic detergent options out there. I’ve tried a bunch (including Trader Joes, which sadly did not clean that well), but always seem to come back to this Seventh Generation formula, which is biodegradable. I always get the Free & Clear, since my kids and I are sometimes sensitive to scents. Available at Target and various drugstores.

Jazz it Up

9)  Piggy Paint – Nail Polish –  $7.99

This polish was developed by a mom who wanted a safe nail polish alternative for her two young girls. These cute water-based polishes contain no toxic chemicals; they are free of formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, Bisphenol A, ethyl acetate and acetone. They are also low odor, so you don’t have to worry about the kids getting dizzy on chemical fumes.

dogshampoo (736x1024)

10)  Mutt Nose Best – Hypoallergenic Shampoo – $15.99

Our pets deserve to be toxin-safe, too! When we were in Northern Michigan this summer, we popped into a local pet supply store, looking for a biodegradable shampoo we could use in the lake. We found Mutt Knows Best and it worked great. Free of parabens, sulphates, alcohols and DEA.

Butch Basix T-Shirt Contest – WINNER!

Gals sporting TshirtsCongratulations to Marisa, my contest winner for my first giveaway! Marisa has won a sexy Butch Basix tee. San Francisco makes her thinks, “romantic, mysterious and delicious.” I agree! Thanks so much for playing. I will host more contests here in the future – check back often!

*Winner was chosen at random via

Bracelet Envy: the Apex Bracelet

I’m not a jewelry person. I like the idea of jewelry, but whenever I put a necklace on, for example, it always comes off before I leave the house. However. I’ve been eying this gorgeous bracelet from Young In the Mountains since last Fall. I’ve even gone so far as to email the designer (who used to live in San Francisco – it’s a sign!) to ask whether she could custom make one for my ridiculously skinny wrist (she can).

I’m in the process of trying to convince the logical part of my brain (which is most of my brain) that I need (yet another) going away present. And double-arrows? I mean, come ON. Think of all the symbolism that can be applied to my life right now!

Apex bracelet

Photo credit:
(the photo shoot was done near my house – another sign!)

But alas, $245 just isn’t in my budget. Neither is $20. Anything that isn’t food or a utility or a bill, gets kicked to the curb. (Drinks with friends don’t count, because a) drinks are food and b) I consider that a necessity as part of the moving process.)

So for now, I must be content with admiring it from afar. But she will be mine one day. Oh yes, she will be mine.