Getting Your Manicure and Staying Non-Toxic Too

Photo credit: VampyVarnish.com

Going to the salon for a mani/pedi is one of the ways I like to relax and unwind. But worrying about toxins in the nail polish that is used can really be a buzzkill. A while back, chemicals in nail polish, specifically dibutyl phthalate (DBP), were linked to birth defects in future baby boys. Finally, the big nail polish companies have caught up and created a distinction called “3-Free.” That means that the polishes are free of DBP, toluene and formaldehyde. These chemicals have all been linked to ailments from headaches and dizziness to more serious conditions like cancer and reproductive issues.

Here’s a great article from All Lacquered Up that breaks it all down. Basically, DBP is a plasticizer that’s used to prevent chips and cracks, toluene is a solvent that makes nail polish easy to apply and formaldehyde makes the finish tough and resistant, but is usually not found in polishes so it’s less of a concern.

The author of the All Lacquered Up article says she’s not sure these chemicals are bad for you, but I say why take the chance?

Popular salon brands like CND, Essie and OPI have 3-free bottles. All the Essie polishes with a blue label are 3-free, as are green-labeled OPI bottles.

If you want to chose a polish made with even fewer chemicals, try brands like butter LONDON, Aquarella or Honeybee Gardens. There are even some brands for kids like Piggy Paint, so you and your little ones can look polished without the fumes, toxins or worry.

Easy Tips for Buying Organic Produce

Apples rank #1 on the "Dirty Dozen" list

One of the biggest reasons most people don’t buy 100% organic is because it can really drive up your grocery bill. So, like many, I end up having to make choices when it comes to organic vs. conventional. The area of the grocery store with the most choices tends to be the produce section. The one rule I almost always follow is that I buy conventional produce if the fruit or veggie has a skin that I remove before eating, like bananas or oranges. Yes, the pesticides could seep through, but if I’m going to draw a line, that seems like a good place to start. Otherwise, I try to buy organic. But even then, I wonder if it’s really worth higher price.

Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group makes grocery trips a little easier with their annual list, “The Dirty Dozen.” They list the 12 fruits and veggies that they found to have the highest levels of pesticides. If you’re going to buy organic, these are the choices to make in the produce aisle. The top five are:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
You can find the entire list here. And an explanation of how those foods made the list here.

The EWG also has a list of the “clean 15.” These are the fruits and veggies least likely to test positive for pesticides. That means they are ok to buy conventional. The top five are:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Onions
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
Click here for the full list.
The list is too long to commit to memory, so I like to bookmark either this page or the page linked with the entire list and pull it up on my iPhone when I get to the grocery story. That way I don’t have to guess and I know I’m getting all the benefits of fresh produce sans the nasty chemicals.

Best of BlogHer ’11

I had the opportunity to attend the annual BlogHer conference in San Diego recently. On top of meeting lots of wonderful bloggers and sitting in on inspirational seminars, I got a chance to check out the BlogHer Expo. The Expo was filled with companies introducing their products. Most were mommy-blogger oriented, but I found a few that really stuck out and wanted to share them with you.

Scotch Magic Greener Tape 

While tape might come to mind when you’re thinking of going green, Scotch is changing that perception with their Greener Tape which is made with plant-based adhesive and film. The refillable dispenser and tape core are both made of recycled plastic also. The best part – this version of the popular Scotch product makes the same iconic sound when you rip the tape, and it works and costs the same as the original.

Michael Angelo’s Natural Line 

I really like eating hot food for lunch and nothing is more convenient than a frozen meal. The taste of those meals usually leaves a lot to be desired. Now there’s Michael Angelo’s natural line. The frozen meals don’t contain any preservatives, and have all-natural ingredients, some of which are organic. I got to try a sample at the expo and thought it was pretty good. I don’t think I’d take one to work for lunch every day as the sodium is still a little high, but for days when I’m in a hurry, I’d love to have some of these meals in my freezer ready to go.

Coffee–Mate Natural Bliss Coffee Creamer 

I have to admit, I stopped by this booth more than once for a sample of this coffee creamer. I really liked the vanilla flavor and was impressed when I turned the package over and found that it was made with only four ingredients: Nonfat Milk, Heavy Cream, Sugar and natural flavor. Because it’s a real dairy product, you have to keep it refrigerated, but the creamy sweet taste is worth it.

Boiron’s Arnicare Gel and Oscillococcinum

The names might be hard to pronounce (Oscillococcinum?), but Boiron’s products are some of my favorites when it comes to relieving common ailments. I love that my local drugstore, Duane Reade, carries the brand and even before the expo, I had many of Boiron’s products in my medicine cabinet. They are all homeopathic, so I feel safe taking them. The Arnicare Gel contains arnica and is a topical cream used for muscle pain, bruising and swelling. I used it on sore legs one night and felt better pretty quickly. The Oscillococcinum is to ward off flu symptoms. I’ve had good luck with this remedy also – so much so that I have stared to look for the Bioron alternative to traditional brands when I’m buying OTC medicine.

Benefits of Organic Wine

Written by: Lora Moncheck

Organic Wine Section at West Point Market

Lately I have been on an organic food kick.  And I figured if I am going to eat organic I may as well drink organic as well, and that includes alcohol.  It wasn’t very easy for me to find the organic wine.  I searched my local grocery stores and couldn’t find it anywhere.  I finally found it at a specialty food store near me called West Point Market in Akron, Ohio. They didn’t have a big selection but I did have a few options to choose from.  Trader Joe’s is also another store that has a decent collection of organic wines.

To be a certified organic wine, it has to be made from organic grapes which are grown with no pesticides.  However, natural wine is wine that is grown with organic grapes and does not contain sulfates or one that has less than 10 parts per a million naturally occurring sulfates in it.

The bottle I chose was called Our Daily Red from California.  I prefer sweet red so this was a little bitter for my liking, but still good. The smell and taste was the same as other conventional wines I’ve had in the past.  It also only cost $10 for the bottle, which I didn’t think was a bad deal at all. In fact, all of the bottles were priced around $10 – $20.

If you have ever read “Skinny Bitch” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin you’ll know they rave about organic red wine.  It is filled with antioxidants, cancer-fighters and helps prevents heart disease.  Since organic wine is seemingly better for you, not overly priced and tastes no different, I can’t see why I wouldn’t continue to by it in the future if I can find it.