Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions for 2009

Another year is nearly upon us. And I'm often still saddened at how often organic and/or natural products are inaccessible or too expensive for most of us. I read various "green" websites and always get that sinking feeling in my stomach when they are recommending a $90 face cream, or $45 underwear. Having said that, buying an expensive item is not necessarily going to be off the radar. One thing I am going to try to do this year is to really think about what I am buying, and perhaps spend a bit more. Especially on clothing. So here are my green New Year's Resolutions:

1. Only buy ethical clothing. This may be organic, fair trade, US-made, vintage and/or recycled. I am definitely caught too often by the allure of low priced non-organic clothing that is produced in the far east. Is this doing anyone much good? Even if the jobs are good for the workers, they are paid minimal wages, and have to deal with all the chemicals that the fabrics are processed with. This will involve spending more per item, but hopefully it will be a frugal choice over all because I will buy fewer items. That's the plan anyway.

2. Cut out some of my non eco-friendly hold-out habits, provided I can find good alternatives. Swiffer sweeper, I'm looking at you. And little plastic disposable flossers. And not always having a reusable bag in my purse for those impromptu purchases. And I'm sure there are many others.

3. Stop frivolous purchases of "stuff" that I just don't need. Just because something is cute, and on sale, does not make it good for the planet. I resolve to go home, research it on the interweb, look in the house to see if I already own something similar, and then buy it only if I still want it after that.

4. Keep up with the reviews. Sorry I have been slacking a bit of late - I will try to do a minimum of one per week, if not more.

5. Learn how to make at least one "green" thing from scratch, and then make and use it regularly. This might be exfoliator, or a cleaning product, or even bread.

What are you going to do to go more green this year? Any tips or hints that I should adopt too?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Review: Kiss My Face Whitening Toothpaste

I've resisted reviewing toothpastes up to now. I just couldn't get inspired by them. I mean, JASON makes one that tastes really great (Powersmile) but it doesn't contain fluoride and my teeth always start hurting after a while of using a non-fluoride toothpaste. And then Tom's of Maine makes lots of toothpastes that are often fairly reasonably priced. So I would usually whatever variety of Tom's was cheapest, and would use both a non-fluoride and a fluoride containing toothpaste at the same time, alternating them randomly. But I found that the bacteria in my mouth must have got used to Tom's of Maine (or something) because it wasn't doing me much good on the breath-freshening front.
I saw the Kiss My Face toothpaste on special offer at Whole Foods, in a "buy one, get one free" deal. So I snapped up a couple of tubes to try them out, even though I would normally never pay $5.99 for a toothpaste.
First of all, the color. This stuff is bright green. And although it foams up to a white color fairly quickly, as it starts out, it I have to say, it's a bit weird at first to be brushing green stuff on your teeth. Then the taste. When I first tasted it, I thought it was far too sweet. It didn't taste like toothpaste at all, but rather that you're applying candy. Or perhaps dessert. But then the minty-ness hits, and it's a very pleasant herbal minty taste, so I got over my thoughts on it being too sweet fairly quickly. More importantly, it's a long lasting mint taste, so your breath feels like it stays sweeter for longer. And, after a few uses, the sweetness was no longer odd, but refreshing, and tasty too!
Surprisingly, I haven't had any tooth sensitivity issues since using this toothpaste, and I've been using it exclusively to see if I'd get that familiar "ouch, I need some fluoride" feeling. Many people think that fluoride in our water and our toothpastes is contributing to thyroid issues, so I do try to limit my intake as much as I can. However, I don't want to be without teeth as an older person, and I do have some enamel quality problems with a few soft spots that can get sensitive, so I flip flop on this issue. I must say though, if I can get good results without extra chemicals, then I think that's the way to go. The pain just hasn't come, though, and I've finished one whole tube now, so it's clearly doing something different from the other non-fluoride toothpastes I have tried.
And finally, efficacy. It's a bit hard to say how effective a toothpaste really is, apart from on fresh breath issues. I don't know if it's actually helped keep my teeth whiter or not. But I'm pleased to say that my dentist told me this morning that I've been doing an awesome job with brushing lately. I also cringed less when he was using the long pointy torture device to check for cavities, so I think some of my sensitivity issues have really lessened quite considerably.
I checked the price of this on the internet, and it seems to be in a broad range from $3-something up to $6-something. One comparison site showed a general price drop this month, so it could be that the price is coming down but not all retailers have caught up.
I'm going to surprise myself here and give it the full 5 stars. I really like this!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Review: Physician's Formula Organic wear Concealer

I'm so glad that I didn't review this concealer quickly. I bought it and used it without too many problems for a while. It didn't sink in to my skin much, so required a lot of rubbing so as not to look obvious. But it seemed to do its job adequately. I was, if not pleased, at least not displeased.

And then the stick broke off.  I mean, the actual concealer, not the holder part of the stick. I wasn't even doing anything - just trying to smudge the darn thing into my face. It obviously wasn't a solid enough formula to put up with everyday usage. I pushed the stick back into the holder and decided I would continue using it anyway, although of course it became a bit more difficult to use, so I used it less and less.

And then I dropped it, and the stick dislodged again. Again I pushed it back in to the holder. Again I tried to keep using it but it got annoying, so I put it aside for a month.

Today I went to use it again, and as soon as I took the top off, the smell of rancid grease hit me. It's gone off!!  I've had this less than six months. Now, OK, I accept that organic items have either no preservatives or fewer preservatives than their chemically-laden counterparts.  So I try not to horde them, and try to pay attention to "best before" dates. But to have something give up the ghost on me in less than six months is really quite annoying. Not to mention, nasty.

So, I'm sorry, Physician's Formula, this one is a dud. I still like your tinted moisturizer and wear it every day, along with your powder foundation. But the concealer? No stars for you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Feeling content

It's Cyber Monday, the time of year when online shopping is supposed to be crazy, and I have been getting plenty of emails with discounts that I have been checking out. The emails included $15 from my formerly favorite cosmetics/skin care specialty store - you know the one - it's sometimes referred to as "Disneyland for girls." Anyway, I went off to scour the natural and organic skin care and makeup lines, thinking that I might splurge on something. And I have to tell you, nothing appealed. I did not want to buy anything.

The reason? I'm pretty darn happy with my current skin care routine. Which is a complete first for me, I must admit. After jumping from product to product for decades, always trying to find the next latest and greatest product, usually a moisturizer, I have no desire to change. Not even for a more expensive product line. I'm shocked at myself.

I think most of the accolades have to go to Burt's Bees Radiance Night Creme. I started off hating it, and gradually revised my opinion upwards as I kept using the jar and started seeing results. Now I'm half way through my second jar, and I feel that my skin is all sorts of glowy, and yes, radiant. It's smooth and moisturized and just feels very soft and dewey. And all for $15 a jar! So I have revised its star rating upwards to five stars. Now, sure, I don't look 20 again, but then again, I don't need to look 20 again. I just need to look as good as I can.

The other things I am using are:

Juice Organics Brightening Cleanser - a good all-around cleanser that does a nice job for me.

Lavera anti-age sunscreen and Physician's Formula Tinted Moisturizer. I found both of these products to be adequate when I used them separately, but nothing to get excited about. However, now I am putting a squirt of each onto my fingertips in the morning so that they mix together as I apply them, and I am really liking the mixture. The Lavera is a bit thick for my liking, and the Physician's Formula a bit thin, so together they do a really nice job. The scent of the Lavera, which is slightly minty, is also nicely uplifting.