Blog, Health and Wellness, Uncategorized

Allergic Reaction

On Monday night I started to get an itchy, spidery, crawling sensation on my neck. I put some lotion on and went to bed. Tuesday morning, I woke up at 6a and headed immediately to the gym. When I wake up, I usually get ready in the dark so as to not disturb my still sleeping family. After I returned home for a shower (yes, my gym has showers, but I have a “thing” about showering anywhere other than home) that is when I noticed something was seriously wrong. I peeled off my sweaty workout clothes and discovered that the itchy, spidery, crawling sensation from the night before had blown up into a full-fledged hive-like outbreak! One look in the mirror and I was like WHOA!!!

Red spider-webby stripey splotches all over my torso, neck, and shoulders. So weird! None of it itched and I felt totally fine. Post-runner high was in full effect. Mood was great…However, I certainly looked like I had just gotten into a tussle with a tiger. I’ve had hives before, maybe 15 years or so ago and knew enough to take some Benadryl right away. I recall that the last time I had a random outbreak like this it resolved within a few hours. I am now on day #3 and this crazy condition just keeps evolving. It’s fading on my torso and neck, but now my fingers and elbows are victims.  I’ll spare you any pictures. Don’t feel like you’re missing out. There are plenty of awful ones available on the internet if your Google searching of symptoms and causes ever takes you down that path.

I did visit the Minute Clinic at my local CVS on Tuesday evening, but nothing conclusive was determined to be the cause. No fever, O2 levels good, heart rate and blood pressure were stellar. Most likely it was an allergic reaction to something, but what that could be is still TBD. One benefit of having a pretty healthy lifestyle and a chemical free home is that I can rule out a lot of possibilities. It’s not my organic-free-of-everything laundry detergent, face wash, body wash, shampoo, lotion, or cosmetics!

Current theories include a zinc supplement that I took for a few days leading up to this outbreak, ironically, to boost my immune system. Perhaps I kicked my immune system into overdrive and now it is in combat mode! Another theory is black lentils. I’ve never had a legume/peanut allergy before, and I’ve had my fair share of hummus or other lentil soups, so I’m not convinced, but on Sunday I had black lentils for the first time ever. They were SO good I had them for dinner on Monday night too. I was almost going to post a recipe blog about it, but maybe I shouldn’t! (Well, it’s still worth a mention…roasted sweet potato, black lentils, scallions, and celery tossed with olive oil, honey, and lemon juice.)


Could this be the delicious culprit??

It is such a mystery! I’m probably just allergic to work. It’s been a stressful few days. Think I could get an MD note excusing me for the rest of my, um, life?

Here’s hoping I can run tomorrow! This girl has a half-marathon to run in a few weeks! I don’t have time for this craziness.

Here’s to your health!



Beauty, Blog, Family, Health and Wellness, Parenting, Uncategorized

Oh, Baby!

Baby powder that is. I have had some in my girl’s bathroom up until this very morning. I just did not know. The product seemed so innocent…I mean, it goes on babies for crying out loud! What is more innocent than babies?! This product was literally found guilty- and Johnson & Johnson had to pay up. Check out this article from Time Magazine, Johnson & Johnson Is Just the Tip of the Toxic Iceberg, dated March 2, 2016 to learn more about the need for tougher safety standards and informed choice about safety of products in the cosmetics industry. To learn more about the $72 MILLION dollar lawsuit, check out this article from Time, Jury Awards $72 Million to Woman in Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cancer Suit, dated February 23, 2016.

If this information disturbs you, get curious! Learn more about product safety by visiting the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

If you want to take action, join a movement in asking Congress to Hold a Hearing on the Personal Care Products Safety Act. It hasn’t been updated since 1938!!

Your voice matters!


Beauty, Blog, Health and Wellness, Retail, Uncategorized

You know that feeling when you want to know the truth, but not really know…

I’ve been wrestling with that feeling ever since discovering the SkinDeep app I wrote about in How did I not know about this until recently? In sum, it’s a free App and provides information on the health & safety ratings of more than 80,000 products sold in the U.S. cosmetics industry. I’m in my late 30’s, college educated, and professionally employed. I like to consider myself “on top of things.” Yet, it was just six months ago when I learned that the beauty industry, an industry that receives a fair share of my discretionary income, is highly unregulated.

I am an avid label reader when it comes to what goes in my body. While I was pregnant with my first child I made a zealous effort to do everything by the book. After she was born, I continued the healthy habits and made the choice to breastfeed. Within a couple of days she started breaking out in little red bumps on her skin! The pediatrician recognized right away that my baby bundle of joy had a milk protein allergy. She recommended I forego dairy in order to avoid the allergic reaction, or switch to formula. I did what a sane thrifty person would do. Every bit of dairy was purged from my diet. The result?

  • clear skin for my baby (yay!)
  • increase in my grocery bill (maybe formula would have been cheaper?)
  • the realization that “milk” is in everything (including many “non-dairy” seeming items like breads, crackers, and cereals)
  • major weight loss for me (another yay!)
  • my sinuses cleared up completely (didn’t even know they were problematic)
  • a learning that reading ingredient labels is necessary

Even though I was (and still am) totally ept at reading labels for food items, I was oblivious to the importance of understanding and reading labels for products that go on my body, or countertops, tabletops, dishes, laundry, and the likes… I mean, we live in America right? Everything is regulated. Safe…

So, back to six months ago when my world was totally rocked when I discovered this was not the case. A friend of mine sells BeautyCounter and she provided me with a bit of education. If you’ve not heard of BeautyCounter, it is a newer (premium) cosmetics line dedicated to producing products that meet rigid standards. I’m talking well above and beyond what the FDA requires. It wouldn’t take much though… seriously. Take a guess. How many chemicals do you think are banned from cosmetics in the USA?

Here’s a cute picture of my cuddly kittens to look at while you make your guess…now scroll down and see how close you were to being right.

2.7.16 Cuddly2


The U.S. FDA has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics. In comparison, the EU law  bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects. Read more about that here.

Now I’m left to my own devices to educate myself and find out just what this means for me as a consumer. This is not just an issue for women’s health either. Men are using products with chemicals in them every day; face wash, body wash, shampoo, dish soap, laundry soap…well…some men use these products…right? Thankfully, I have a husband who actually does. Anyway-

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Valentine’s Day is coming up and a common gift is perfume. Now I’m like…how romantic…here’s your glass jar of sweet smelling toxin. I love you. Sorry if this gives you cancer someday. Ugh.

Here’s a couple of simple things I’ve allowed myself to learn. Like I said earlier, I want to know…but yet I don’t. I’m taking baby steps.

  • Fragrance free = nothing extra added to the product
  • Unscented = fragrance additive! (a scent used to mask unpleasant chemical smells)
  • Fragrances = chemical mysteries. Companies are not required by law to list all the chemicals in a product. They are protected by trade secret laws and only have to list one word: Fragrance.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is working hard to provide education on exactly what all this means for consumers. As I continue to learn information, or discover natural beauty alternatives, I plan to share. Right now I understand that fragrance-free is probably my best bet, but that I still have to read the whole label. Something I pride myself on is being very level-headed and intelligent. Not a reactionary or extremist. In college I took courses where I was asked to evaluate propaganda with a critical eye and I got A’s. I don’t want to be an alarmist. I just want to make informed choices and help others do the same! If you have any specific questions, or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not an expert, but I sure am I motivated learner.

To your health,


Beauty, Blog, Health and Wellness

3 Ingredient Natural Lip Scrub

My quest to find all-natural beauty product alternatives has taken a turn for the crazy. I can now eat my own lip scrub. Here’s why: I made it myself with ingredients from the pantry. Yes! Three simple ingredients that will moisturize, exfoliate, and soften.

What you need:

  • Olive Oil
  • Honey
  • Sugar

Instructions: Mix the olive oil and honey in equal parts. I just went with one tablespoon each to start. Next, add whatever amount of sugar strikes your fancy and fold gently into the honey and olive oil. The more sugar you add, the more exfoliant/gritty property you will feel.

Rub the product on your lips in a circular motion, resist licking, and finish with water or a mild facial cleanser of your choice. Your lips will be kissably soft and smooth. Chemical free, inexpensive, and delicious. I figure the total cost ended up being less than $1.00/ounce.

I found these adorable little containers at the Container Store to store my magical beauty potion. I must say that I am a little addicted to this scrub because it tastes good, smells good, and allows me to go without chapstick. I used to have to apply chapstick at night before bed, but the olive oil really conditions my lips well.

Let me know if you try this out and what you thought!

To your health,



Beauty, Blog, Health and Wellness

Coconut Oil as Eye Makeup Remover

I’m on a new kick since discovering the Skin Deep app I talked about in my last post. I am now on a quest to find products with excellent health ratings, and swap out my current products for those free from toxins.

I ran out of eye makeup remover this week, but didn’t have time to go to the store, or research very much. In a pinch I decided to try Coconut Oil to see if it produced the desired results. I am happy to report that my “in a pinch” solution can now be a permanent solution!

The mascara I currently use (yes, it has chemicals in it, but I can only be so good one product at a time) is a lash builder, lash thickener, lash 50x my lengthener. I love mascara. It’s also waterproof, which means that it takes some serious product to remove all the build up.

As a test, I put on at least 20 coats of mascara per eye, and then attempted to wash it off at the end of the night. Coconut oil has truly done the trick. I didn’t think it would, but it did. I applied it on the eyelid and around the eye as I would with the other product and then finished by washing with my normal face wash. The mascara came off just fine. No tugging, rubbing, or extra effort. I love that this option is significantly cheaper than official eye makeup remover, too. Trader Joe’s has a 16oz jar of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil for $5.99. I used to spend triple that amount on my eye makeup remover!

I encourage you to give it a try.

To your health,


Beauty, Blog, Health and Wellness

How did I not know about this until recently?

I found a new app to install on my iPhone and now I’m obsessed with it. The name of the app is called Skin Deep. It’s free in the App Store and provides me with information on the health & safety ratings of more than 80,000 products sold in the U.S. cosmetics industry. The app was developed by the EWG, “the nation’s most effective environmental health non-profit organization.” I don’t know if it’s the scanner that makes it so addicting or the fact that I am learning tons of new information about the chemicals found in everyday products that I use! What I am learning from my own research is that the U.S. federal government is lagging when it comes to regulating the cosmetics industry.

How it works: I can type in a product name (e.g. “Clinique” or “Philosophy”) and the database will pull info on all the products listed in the database for that brand.  The other option is to scan the barcode of the product I want to learn about, and if the product is listed in the database, it will pull the info specific to that product.

Once the product is located it will provide an overall rating for the product based on the health concerns associated with that products including: Cancer, Developmental/Reprotoxicity, and Allergens. If there are ingredients contributing to a high hazard score, it will specifically list those ingredients.

I took this app with me on a mission to the local Ulta on Friday evening. My goal was to find an eye makeup primer that had a positive health rating. I get the “greasy creasy” effect on my eyelids and eyeshadow tends to slide right off within a couple of hours if I don’t use a primer. I started with some familiar brands and was disappointed to see poor ratings based on the chemicals they contained. After about 20 minutes of scanning products I finally located a product from BareMinerals that had a score of “1” which is the best.


I sort of wanted to shout out to the store and tell every shopper in the store about the powerful tool I held in my hand. It feels good to be a consumer who is equipped with knowledge and can make informed choices about the products I purchase. Instead of being a weirdo in the store, I decided to write this blog post instead.

After I came home from the store I started scanning products I own at home. I made the choice to dispose of several items because I know I can do better for my health. When my baby girls were born I was obsessed with finding all-natural and safe products for their delicate skin. Why did I not think to take the same care and concerned approach toward my own skin?!

I’m thankful to the friend who guided me toward this information and gave me the option to take action as I saw fit. Check out the app and see what you think.

To your health-