Sunscreen Stars 2015

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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and it’s Memorial Day weekend, (yay!) so it only seems right that I publish my 3rd annual Sunscreen Stars post today.  (Read my others here, herehere, here and here.)  This is my favorite post of the year, every year.  I love the sun; I kind of worship it, actually.  I think a little of it is good for us (most Americans are extremely vitamin D-deficient, not to mention depressed).  However, we do need to protect ourselves and our children.  There are so many options out there these days and all of the terminology and ingredient dos and don’ts can be very overwhelming.  Read on for all of my favorite picks (I’ve purchased and repurchased all them; they really, truly are the best).  And read on even further for some explanation of why everyone needs to use nontoxic sunscreen and what to look for when shopping for it.

 3f18967eea92ea7e175853534d6ad3f3For Body:

  • The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sunscreen SPF 18 is the Rolls Royce of natural sunscreens; it’s been one of my favorites for years.  This zinc-based formula is hydrating, soothing and has a sheer finish.  SPF 18 may sound a little low, but it actually blocks 94% of the sun’s rays.  Cost: $69 for 3.3 oz.
  • Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body SPF 30 is simply stellar.  It contains a whopping 20% non-nano zinc oxide, which not only protects from both UVA and UBV rays, but also soothes skin.  The finish is sheer and the formula is moisturizing, but not greasy, and it has a light, natural citrus scent.  This is a solid, nontoxic sunscreen.  Cost: $35 for 5 oz.  They also make an unscented version.
  • BeautyCounter Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Protect All Over is just awesome, and a great value for the whole family.  Its lightweight, creamy consistency makes it easy to rub in and it goes on sheer, never chalky.  Cost: $26 for 4.8 oz.

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For Face:

  • Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30 has a #1 rating by the EWG (as do all their sunscreens), and for good reason: it is totally nontoxic.  This moisturizing sunscreen goes on sheer and creates a great finish for makeup application, making it ideal for everyday as well as long days in the sun.  Cost: $45 for 1.7 oz.
  • Consonant Skincare The Perfect Sunscreen SPF 30 is a water-resistant workhorse.  This is a great non-greasy sunscreen for prolonged sun exposure.  It’s moisturizing, but a slight, universally flattering mica tint gives a nice matte finish.  Cost: $45 for 2 oz.
  • Luzern Laboratories La Defense Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is such an incredible sunscreen for the face.  It is light, yet hydrating, and it is suitable for all skin types.  This totally transparent zinc-based formula contains a powerhouse of active, anti-aging ingredients that boost collagen and elastin and fight discoloration and free radicals, so it’s great for everyday wear under makeup as well as a beach day.  And, it smells amazing.  Cost: $45 for 1.7 oz.

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For Face, Tinted:

  • Luzern Bio-Suisse BB Cream SPF 20‘s active, anti-aging formula is very similar to that of Luzern’s La Defense.  Its sun protection factor comes from titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, the two safest options out there, so you can definitely wear this when spending a day in the sun.  However, this lightweight BB cream’s complexion-correcting pigments create a soft-focus effect, blurring fine lines, pores and hyperpigmentation, so it’s also a perfect daily tinted moisturizer.  It comes in two shades: light and medium.  Cost: $55 for 1.3 oz.
  • Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20 is one of my everyday essentials.  I love it so much that I even wear it as my tinted moisturizer under my makeup for evening.  This product creates a true soft-focus effect; it’s perfection.  It is offered in two shades: light and medium.  Cost: $58 for 2 oz.
  • Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Tinted Face Sunscreen is my go-to for a beach day; it gives incredible, nontoxic protection from the sun while evening out my skin tone.  For those with normal-dry skin, it can also be worn over moisturizer and under makeup for everyday.  And, with 5 versatile shades, there is an option for virtually everyone.  Cost: $45 for 1.7 oz.
  • Ilia Sheer Vivd Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 is a great everyday tinted moisturizer.  It’s very lightweight and gives a semi-matte finish with light to moderate coverage, making the 6 shades very versatile for multiple skin tones.  Cost: $42 for 1.9 oz.

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For Child and Baby:

  • Babo Botanicals is one of my all-time favorite nontoxic product lines for little ones.  Their Clear Zinc Fragrance-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 is perfect, even for those with the most sensitive skin.  This product is vegan, gluten-free, hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic and totally nontoxic.  Cost: $18.95 for 3 oz.
  • I also love Babo Botanicals Fragrance-Free Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30 for squirmy little faces and tiny little places.  It is so easy to throw in my purse or in Daddy’s pocket.  Cost: $12 for .6 oz.

WHY NONTOXIC SUNSCREEN IS SO IMPORTANT

AND WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR:

  • Just as when you are shopping for a body lotion, you should avoid sunscreens that contain parabens, phthalates (both endocrine disruptors), petrolatum and propylene glycol (which are generally toxic to human organs).
  • If you only remember one thing from this post, let this be it.  With all the Clean, nontoxic, affordable options out there, there is absolutely no reason to use a sunscreen with Oxybenzone.  Oxybenzone is  probably the most popular chemical blocker (it absorbs the sun’s rays before they can damage the skin) currently used in conventional sunscreen.  It penetrates the skin very easily, and it can be found in the urine of nearly every American, mother’s milk and umbilical cord blood.  Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor; it mimics estrogen, has been found to alter sperm count in animals and can interfere with normal fetal and childhood development.  Similar chemical blockers that carry similar hazards are Octinoxate, Homosalate, Avobenzone and Octocrylene.  That said, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients.  These are “physical blockers”; they literally block the sun’s rays from damaging the skin and are very safe.
  • No matter what ingredients they contain, I personally think aerosol sunscreen sprays should be avoided altogether.  Not only is it too easy to apply too little, or to miss a spot, they pose serious inhalation risks, especially for children who are too young to understand that they must hold their breath while being sprayed.

For more awesome, nerdy science, visit The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreen.

I hope you have an amazing Memorial Day Weekend and that you get lots of safe time in the sun with the ones you love.  :)

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It’s Spring! Are You Exfoliating?

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Fortunately, for most of us, Spring is really, truly, finally here.  It is a season of birth and renewal, and it’s definitely time to slough off that dull, dead winter skin.  If you want fresh, dewy skin, exfoliate.  If you want an even tan, (whether from sunless tanner or the sun itself) exfoliate.  If you want to decrease the appearance of fine lines or prevent clogged pores, exfoliate.  The key to exfoliation is to do it regularly (2-3 times per week) and gently.  Scrubbing your face raw every day will only make any existing problems worse.  And, I may be shot for saying this, but I am not a fan of the Clarisonic; in most cases, I just don’t think a machine is required for daily exfoliation.  Nature does it best.

Pictured above are my three favorite exfoliating cleansers.  I’ve used and repurchased each of them multiple times.  They are all gentle and effective.  Read on to see which one is right for you.

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser: This cleanser provides a bit of a lather, which is nice, and it’s very creamy and hydrating.  Apricot seed powder, pink clay, pomegranate enzymes and and willow bark extract naturally detoxify and renew dull, tired skin.  It works for all skin types, and it is gentle enough for daily use.  A little goes a long way, so don’t be scared of the price tag.  Cost: $75 for 4 oz.

Pacific Exfoliating Cleanser: If you tend to get clogged pores, but don’t want to further aggravate an inflamed complexion, you will love this cleanser.  Along with Adzuki bean powder, which gives a subtle “scrubby” feeling, it contains a patented fungal extract that provides an intense exfoliating effect that you can’t feel.  It is gentle enough to use every day.  Cost: $48 for 4 oz.

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub: This is an intense facial scrub with a thick, muddy texture that leaves skin feeling totally *polished*.  If you are looking for a product to use once or twice a week or on occasion when skin is dry and patchy, this product is the answer.  Sea kelp, dehydrated lemon peel and green clay detoxify, exfoliate and brighten.  Cost: $10 for 4 oz.

Scrub-a-dub-dub…

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My Holy Grail: Clean Mascara

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Ask and you shall receive….. eventually.  Many of you have asked me to share my favorite Clean mascara.  It used to be easy; I used Josie Maran’s Instant Natural Volume Argan Mascara for years.  It was awesome, and 95% Clean.  It lasted all day without smudging, and it lengthened and volumized.  And then, it was discontinued.  Dev-a-station.  Mascara is my desert-island-cosmetic-choice, so I know you understand when I had drop everything to find a new favorite.

I’ve tried every single Clean mascara on the market over the years.  Seriously – I have a drawer full of them to prove it.  I don’t know if it is because of the shape of my eyes or because of the other eye products that I use, but not one Clean mascara passed the test.  On me, they all smudged and/or flaked.  Even the ones with a cult following.  Even the ones I really, really wanted to like.  They all gave me total raccoon eyes of varying degrees.

Enter: Lily Lolo Mascara.  My search is over.  This mascara lengthens, volumizes and coats evenly – I love the brush.  It doesn’t clump.  It doesn’t flake.  It doesn’t smudge.  It washes right off.  I don’t know what else to say except that I am buying it in bulk and praying that it is never discontinued – oh, and that Lily Lolo is plant-based, vegan, and made without parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, sulfates, synthetic fragrance, or triclosan.  Cost: $20.  Available at Petit Vour.

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Proof: In this photo, I’m not wearing any other eye makeup –  just two coats of Lily Lolo.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Myrica Pubescens Fruit Cera (Myrica Pubescens Fruit Wax), Propandoil, Copernicia Cerifera Cera (Caranauba Wax), Polyglyceryl-6 Distereate, Sucrose Stearate, Acacia Senegal Gum, Glyceryl Dibehnate, Helianthus Annus Seed Cera Sunflower Seed Wax), Lactobacillus Ferment Bis-octyldodecyl Dimer Dilinoleate/Propanediol Copolymer, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Oryza Sativa Bran Cera (Rice Bran Wax), Glyceryl Caprylate, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Xantham Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Glyceryl Undecylenate; May Contain Iron Oxides.

Why should you switch to Clean mascara?

Conventional mascaras are chock full of really frightening ingredients.  I’m not talking one or two bad ingredients, I’m talking formaldehyde releasers, mercury, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, coal tar, petroleum distillates, vinyl, parabens, phthalates, and triethanolamine – all of which are being absorbed by the mucus membranes in your eyes.  We only get one pair of eyes, and we need to take good care of them.  Switching this cosmetic out for a Clean version should be a high priority for all women.

Photos: Bette Walker

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Vintner’s Daughter: Believe the Hype

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Photo: Bette Walker

Um, there are no words – no, wait – there are many, many words I can use to tell you just how incredible Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Face Serum is.  The first word that comes to mind is magical, because I’ve never had one product do so much for my skin.

I have to admit, I was skeptical when my friend Dara from Ayla Beauty raved about Vintner’s Daughter.  It just sounded too good to be true, especially for my problem-prone skin.  She must have heard the hesitation in my voice, because a few weeks later, a full-sized bottle arrived on my doorstep.  She was challenging me – I knew I had to rise to the occasion!

You see, for about 6 months, I’d been diligently using a specific skincare regimen, with fantastic results.  I was really, really scared to screw it up.  So, in addition to picking Dara’s brain a little more, I did the required research.  I read every review I possibly could online (including the one from Into the Gloss), I scoured the Vintner’s Daughter website from beginning to end, and I talked to (grilled) the founder, April Gargiulo, on the phone for almost an hour.  That’s when I learned that April created this formula for herself because she was experiencing all of the same issues that I face.  So, I took the plunge and I haven’t looked back.  I’ve used it day and night for over a month (without changing the rest of my routine) and my skin is clearer, brighter, more glow-y, less inflamed, and definitely more hydrated than ever before.  This stuff is serious.

Many of the best Green Beauty products out there have been created by pregnant women and female cancer survivors – April Gargiulo is no different.  A second-generation vintner in Napa Valley, April became pregnant with her first child, did her research, and realized all of her skincare had to go.  Then, she tried to find something 100% natural that actually worked – not just moisturized, but targeted discoloration, acne, fine lines and skin texture.  She came up with nothing and approached a long-time friend who also happened to be a natural skincare guru and voilá, Vintner’s Daughter was born!  No, not really.  It took April 2 years and 15 versions of the serum until she was happy with the finished product.

With good reason: this is the most complex natural face oil you’ll ever come across.  Usually, as a rule of thumb, I tell readers to look for as few ingredients as possible on a label.  However, this serum has 22 ingredients, so you might be all, like, whatever, do all these ingredients even do anything?  The answer is, yes.  First of all, they are all either Organic or wild-crafted.  And, many of the ingredients act like a key to a lock when combined: for example, cypress and frankincense are both great ingredients on their own, but together they enhance circulation, bringing oxygen to the skin (aka glow).  There are no extracts in this formula and none of the ingredients are included just for a pleasant scent (although it does smell beautiful).  In fact, the patience and desire for excellence April possesses as a vintner is evident in the serum’s production process.  Vintner’s Daughter uses a process called enfleurage, a technique in which the whole botanical of each of the ingredients is infused into the foundation oils in a temperature-controlled environment for 6-8 weeks.  And, the small particle size of its foundation oils, (grapeseed and hazelnut) allow all of these powerhouse ingredients to penetrate deep into the skin.

I could go on for hours about how much I adore this product and all of the cool, nerdy science behind it.  This serum is definitely for the skincare connoisseur, but I think anyone with any skin type would benefit and fall in love with it as much as I have.

Pass the kool-aid, Dara, I need some more!  😉

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A Whirlwind Week

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Y’all, I am STILL recovering from last week.  Don’t get me wrong it was a really good week, but it was so busy and even a little stressful.  Wednesday through Friday, I attended The Southern Coterie Summit here in Charleston.  It was my third time attending, and even though it is always during a busy time of year (and my birthday and wedding anniversary), I never regret going.  I learn so much and make so many great connections every single time.  This year, I also helped the gals from One Love Organics host a Maker’s Bar.  We walked attendees through making their own aromatherapy sea salt soaks and schooled them in all things Green Beauty and OLO.

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Last weekend was also my sweet sister-in-law’s wedding.  Richard, Annabel and I were all in the wedding party.  Annabel rehearsed her duties the day before and was a total pro.  At the actual wedding, however, she bawled her eyes out all the way down the aisle; poor thing.  She was a lot happier once we changed her out of her adorable flower girl dress and took her out on the dance floor.  Also, how gorgeous does my sister-in-law look?  She reminded me of my Peaches n’ Cream Barbie from when I was a little girl…

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And, okay, pinch me!  Last Thursday, I was named one of Charleston’s 50 Most Progressive by Charlie Magazine (read the article here).  I am so humbled and beyond thrilled, as I am in very, very good company.  I started writing this blog to help others, and that is still what it is about.  There have definitely been some days (I still have them) when I’ve asked myself what the hell I’m doing, am I really making a difference, is this my life’s purpose, etc. etc.  Of course, most days, I am so pumped about what I do, but it is really nice to be recognized by others as well.  It couldn’t have happened if no one read my blog, so I have you, my dear readers, to thank for it.  :)

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What Mom Really Wants

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Mother’s Day is this Sunday (please tell me you already knew that).  Last week was one of the busiest, happiest, most hectic weeks of my life – more on that later this week.  So, maybe it’s just me, but I need a break.  And, really, what mother doesn’t?  Busy, tired moms just want a day to unplug and relax combined with a good night’s sleep. (And a sweet card.  And a thoughtful gift.)  Three favorites that I’ve recently ordered from The Detox Market would create the perfect end to any long day, so gift ’em up for Mom, or go ahead and pamper yourself.

Pursoma Digital Detox Bath:  I know it seems crazy to pay $32 for a bath, but this is no ordinary bath.  Pursoma’s bath mixes are incredible; I’ve tried most of them and they truly deliver.  Everyone could use a digital detox; aren’t you staring at a screen right this very second?  French Grey Sea Salt is hand- harvested from the ancient salt beds of Brittany aids circulation and relieves muscle tension.  Montmorillonite clay from the ancient volcanic peaks situated in the Haute-Loire region assists in attracting unhealthy, positively charged radiation that accumulates in the body through use of cell phones, laptops and electronic devices.  This bath helps me wind down and I wake up feeling lighter and more well-rested than usual.  Cost: $32 for one bath mix.

I recently blogged about the other two products here.

Lotus Wei Quiet Mind Serum: The name says it all; this aromatherapy serum cuts through all the mental chatter and lulls me to sleep every time.  I get in bed and pump a little onto my wrists and palms and rub my hands together.  Then, I cup my hands over my nose and breathe deeply for a few minutes.  It just works.  Cost: $50 for 50ml.

Moon Juice Good Night Dust: Be prepared for some amazing REM action.  Wildcrafted herbs promote natural melatonin release to create a gentle, safe sleep aid.  I always sleep so deeply when I take this little nightcap before bed.  Just mix a teaspoon into hot or cold water.  Cost: $55 for about 50 servings.

Happy gifting and relaxing :)

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Get With It: Dry Brushing 101

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It’s that time of year again…  Are you ready to put on a bathing suit?  What does your skin look like?  Dimply?  Dry?  Dull?  Congested?  Let’s fix that.

What if I told you that you could reduce your cellulite and improve your overall health for a one-time fee of approximately $20?  It may sound like a cheesy infomercial, but this is no hoax.  Dry Brushing is a miraculous practice that has so many benefits, they must be bulleted:

  • Dry Brushing cleans the lymphatic system.  Lymph is part of our immune system and is made of white blood cells called lymphocytes and the interstitial fluid that bathe our cells, bringing them nutrients and removing their waste. All detoxification occurs first and foremost through the lymph. Our bodies contain far more lymph than blood, so you can see how important this is.
  • Dry brushing helps reduce cellulite. Improving cellulite is one of the main reasons people look into dry brushing. Toxins are often trapped in the subcutaneous later of fat cells just beneath the skin which contributes to cellulite (in addition to other health concerns). Cellulite is unattractive but also very difficult to affect. Dry brushing is a cheap and non-invasive way to improve the appearance of your skin in addition to the many health benefits it provides.
  • Dry brushing removes dead skin layers. Dry skin brushing helps shed dead skin cells, which can help improve skin texture and cellular renewal. Dry skin can be a sign of detoxification; therefore it’s good to keep the process going by removing the dead skin daily. If this does not occur regularly, a buildup of dead skin cells and lead to eczema, psoriasis and dandruff, in addition to blocking the skin’s regular excretions like sweat.
  • Dry brushing strengthens the immune system. Dry skin brushing may reduce duration of infection and accelerate the clearing of toxins. It helps support the immune system during treatments for cancer and other chronic illnesses (but always check with your health care provider).
  • Dry brushing stimulates the hormone and oil glands, thus helping all of the body systems perform at peak efficiency. The skin is your body’s largest organ. When improperly maintained, the elimination duties of the skin are forced upon the kidneys. So, give your kidneys a break—keep your skin clean and rejuvenated. Bathe daily and dry brush beforehand to help stimulate blood flow to the surface so toxins can more readily escape.
  • Dry brushing tones the muscles. Dry skin brushing helps muscle tone by stimulating the nerve endings which causes the individual muscle fibers to activate and move. It also helps mobilize fat and helps to even distribution of fat deposits. This is a great technique for those with limited mobility.
  • Dry brushing stimulates circulation. Our skin breathes! However for most people this vital route of detoxification is operating far below its capacity because it is clogged with dead skin cells and the un-removed waste excreted through perspiration. Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes. Increased blood flow begins entering the areas brushed and you will experience an increase in electromagnetic energy that helps you to feel energized and invigorated. By activating the circulation you also help prevent varicose veins.
  • Dry brushing increases skin functions. Dry brushing helps your skin respire by eliminating clogged pores. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health. When you brush, the pores of your skin open allowing your skin to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins. Clogged pores are not just a cosmetic concern. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health.

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How to Dry Brush:

  • Use a natural bristle brush.  They can be found at any health food store.  Cost: about $20.  Purchase my favorite one here.
  • Brush before bathing.  You will be sloughing off some serious dry skin.  Don’t use any drying products in the shower, and always moisturize afterwards.
  • Avoid sensitive areas like bruises and anywhere the skin is broken, such as areas of skin rash, wounds, cuts or infections. Also never brush an area affected by poison oak, poison ivy or sunburn.
  • The entire body should be brushed, including your back, but skip the face and scalp (and maybe breasts). Use long sweeping strokes starting from the bottom of your feet upwards, and from the hands towards the shoulders, and on the torso in an upward direction to help drain the lymph back towards your heart.
  • Use the amount of pressure that is right for you; at the beginning, always error on the side of caution
  • Take your time and do it right; dry brushing should take 5-10 minutes, but remember, it’s effective and FREE!

I’m going to be attending The Southern Coterie Summit that is taking place here in Charleston for the next few days, and this weekend is my sister-in-law’s wedding.  It’s going to be so much fun and very busy and very boozy.  I am going to have to dry brush my body for days to recover.  Follow along on Instagram (@barebeautyblog) to see Annabel in her flower girl dress :)

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Earth Day 2015

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Happy Earth Day, Bare Beauties.  Every year, I get mixed emotions on this holiday.  On one hand, I feel very depressed, angry and guilty.  Laziness and greed are causing so much damage to our beautiful planet.  More and more of us are becoming conscious citizens, but there is always so much more we can do.  I feel sick every time I throw something away that isn’t biodegradable or cannot be recycled (#shamespiral).  On the other hand, I want to celebrate and express my gratitude for my beautiful home and this beautiful life.  I want to show my daughter the natural wonders of this world.  Indulge me for a moment, and hop on this roller coaster ride of mine.

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Recently, The Guardian published a short, informational slideshow that exposes the overpopulation and overconsumption burdening our planet.  It took my breath away.  See it for yourself.

When it comes to the environment, I am always thinking about what I can do better, especially now that I have given birth to the next generation.  We don’t have to give up consumerism altogether and go live in teepees in the wilderness, but we do need to make some serious changes.  The number-one change we all have the power to make is to consume less plastic.

  • Plastic is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource that nations literally go to battle for.
  • Many types of plastic cannot be or simply are not recycled.
  • Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
  • Plastic waste pollutes our land, water and kills wildlife.
  • Consuming food and beverages from plastic containers is hazardous to our health, as it contains phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting toxins.

Stay with me…

One thing that’s been particularly haunting me is plastic grocery bags and plastic produce/bulk bags.  In Charleston, they are not recyclable – our facilities do not yet have the ability to sort them.  I do bring my own reusable grocery bags, but sometimes, I just don’t want wet lettuce in my cart and I grab a plastic produce bag… and later, when I’m throwing it away, I hate myself.

But, wait.  There is a solution.

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Enter: Bag the Habit.  They make reusable bags for groceries, produce and just about anything else with 100% recycled eco-textiles.  To celebrate Earth Day, they are offering 50% off their entire site with code EARTH2015.  A pack of 4 produce bags is normally $20, but for $10 this is seriously a no-brainer, people.

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Now, go outside, fit nature into your schedule, and celebrate this beautiful day.

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Bare Beauty X Ecodiva Giveaway!

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Get excited!  To celebrate Bare Beauty’s second birthday, I’m teaming up with one of my favorite retailers, Ecodiva Beauty to offer you a chance at winning an AWESOME giveaway (worth $180)!  It includes some of my favorite Green goodies, and because Ecodiva ships worldwide, it’s open to everyone!  To enter, just click on the link below, now through Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

Enter Here

What’s included:

Good luck!

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