Natural Feminine Care Options

on why I'm going back to organic tampons

When I quit working outside our home a few years ago, I cut expenses. My personal care products was one of those areas and I began using conventional tampons.

I had forgotten that conventional tampons are bleached with chlorine dioxide. The process is technically “chlorine-free” but it releases dioxin into the environment. Dioxin has been shown to cause cancer. I’m doing whatever I can to stand up to cancer.

Conventional tampons are made with a blend of cotton and rayon. 94% of the cotton grown in the United States is genetically modified (GM). I do my best to keep GM food out of our family’s bodies, somehow I forgot that tampons go in my body, too.

Additionally, more than 10% of the world’s pesticides are used on conventional cotton. It’s hard to believe none of the pesticide residue goes into a tampon.

Tampons typically contain odor neutralizers and fragrances. We know that synthetic fragrance is made with chemicals such as phthalates, linked to hormone disruption and neurotoxins, chemicals that are toxic to the brain.

Sanitary Pads aren’t any Better

The FDA considers sanitary pads to be “medical devices” and therefore, doesn’t require them to have their ingredients listed. They are primarily made from plastic, cotton and wood pulp. Some contain latex, a problem for those with a latex allergy. One sanitary pad is the equivalent of using four plastic bags.

Check out this video from Naturally Savvy to see her light two pads on fire: a conventional pad and an 100% organic pad. The difference is incredible!

Natural Alternatives

There are lots of alternatives to conventional pads and tampons: organic, sea sponge tampons, reusable cotton pads and menstrual cups.

Organic Tampons

I currently use organic cotton tampons but have a Diva Cup sitting in the cupboard ready to try. They are made with 100% organic cotton and toxic pesticides are not allowed in organic agriculture. They are bleached with hydrogen peroxide so there is no dioxin released into the environment.

Organic Pads

Reusable Pads

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are typically made with  medical grade silicone, are BPA free and latex free. They have got to be the most economical option. It takes about 5-6 boxes of organic tampons to pay for the Diva Cup.


Tear-Free Hair Care for Curly Haired Kids

Tear Free Hair Care for the Curly-Haired Kid

I have cursed (under my breath) on more than one occasion while combing my daughter’s hair. My daughter has a beautiful head of curls but it took a few years to figure out the right arsenal of tools to make it look adorable and keep tears out of the process. This is what works for us:

Ditch the Shampoo

I haven’t used shampoo on my own curly hair in several years.  When I started employing this method on my daughter’s hair, it made a HUGE difference. She wets her hair, scrubs in some conditioner and rinses. She swims every day in the summer and we still only use conditioner.

If I only used one method, no-shampoo would be the one. Try it on your own curly haired kid, you might thank me.

Use Detangler

I’ve tried several hair detanglers and I always go back to Tru Kid Detangler. No phthalates, parabens or yucky smells.  It also holds the curl just enough that I don’t need to use any styling products.

Get a Wet Brush

This is the only thing my daughter will let me run through her hair. After the Wet Brush was repeatedly recommended to me by friends and hairdressers, I bought one. I no longer comb from the bottom up, I stick it right at the top of her head and comb down. I’m still gentle, of course, but it doesn’t pull like a traditional comb or brush might. And it gets the knots out!

My daughter even combs her own hair with the Wet Brush and I’ll use it straight out of the shower myself. It goes with us every time we travel. Definitely worth the $9.

Between Washes

A few ideas for keeping hair manageable between conditioning. I often put my daughter’s hair right into ponytails or braids out of the shower. This mellows the curls a bit and allows me to easily style her hair in the morning until we condition again.

If she wears her hair down, I will braid it at night to keep her from tangling it up while she tosses and turns during sleep. Then I just take the braid(s) out, spritz it with water or detangler and lightly comb through the curls.

Trim It

When the knots start becoming unmanageable or tears become the norm, I know it’s time for a haircut. That happens about every three months. And if you don’t have curly hair yourself, I’ll let you in on a secret: layers are curly hair’s best friend. Save your kid from having a mushroom on their head. I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt and I’m not going back!

Share your own tips for managing curly hair. We can use all the help we can get, right?

2013 Safer Sunscreen Guide

2013 Safer Sunscreen Guide

The Environmental Working Group released their annual sunscreen guide. The Safer Sunscreen Guide lists the beach and sports sunscreens, SPF moisturizers, lip balms and makeup that they consider to be the safest compared to other sunscreens.

In addition to the chemicals EWG screens for, they recommend skipping high-SPF products and to avoid vitamin A.

Skip High-SPF Products

  • The difference in protection in negligible. For example, SPF 50 protects against 98% of sunburn rays and SPF 100 protects against 99%.
  • Users of high SPF products tend to think that they are more protected and stay out in the sun longer and are overexposed.
  • High SPF products have a higher concentration of sun-filtering chemicals and may pose a health risk.

Avoid Vitamin A

Retinyl palmitate or retinol, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when on the skin in the sun. Unfortunately, over 20% of the sunscreens and makeup products with SPF also have Vitamin A.

my favorite SAFER sunscreens

My Favorite Sunscreens

The EWG found 184 beach and sport sunscreens met their criteria.

I was surprised to see 4 products from Coppertone although all of them contained Oxtinoxate, the most popular chemical used in sunscreens. It’s ranked a 6 (10 being the most toxic) and it’s noted: Estrogenic effects are noted in laboratory animals as well as disruption of thyroid hormone and brain signaling. Personally, I wouldn’t purchase a sunscreen with this chemical.

I prefer sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (both rated a 2) or a mixture of the two. We’ve been using Badger sunscreen for years, I find it to provide great protection and be cost effective. I also keep California Baby on hand, it’s easy to find locally at Target or Whole Foods.

That being said, there are others that have spent way more time and effort reviewing sunscreens and have come to different conclusions than the EWG on the safest sunscreens. Check out SafeMama’s Guide to Sunscreens – she happens to love Badger, too!

Is Sunscreen a Necessity?

In the future, I’ll be talking about whether or not we will be using sunscreen at all. There are a lot of people in the natural living community who no longer do.

tip iconWant to have the list handy while shopping? Download the FREE EWG Sunscreen Guide to your iPhone. Or if you donate $5, they will send you a wallet guide.

Do you use sunscreen, what is your favorite?

Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Makeup

I’m not a big makeup girl – I use a few basic products and I tend to stick to what I like – I don’t venture out to new products very often. Recently, I decided that I needed to find safer, paraben-free makeup products but I didn’t want to spend the time (or a lot of money) testing new products. I’ve been using Physician’s Formula Organic Wear tinted moisturizer for a year– I use it daily because it has light coverage, it moisturizes AND has SPF 15. Basically it’s a great all-in-one which is perfect for a mom with limited time on her hands. I highly recommend it.

Since I liked that product so much, I decided to try out the other products in the Physician’s Formula Organic Wear line. To sweeten the deal, I made sure that the store I purchased them from had a return policy that allows you to try out a new product and return it if you don’t like it – thank you to Fred Meyer! I got the eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss.

The eyeliner is exactly how I like them – soft, thick pencil tip – goes on easily and stays on all day. I’m sticking with this one.

I’ve been buying the same brand of mascara for 10 years and love it but I know it has junky ingredients. It’s going to be hard to replace. The Physician’s Formula Organic Wear mascarahas an interesting wand – like nothing I’ve seen. If you like your eyelashes defined and thin layers of mascara – this is perfect for you. It’s never chunky or goopy. It works fine for me for every day – but I do have to put on multiple layers. If I was going out at night – I might go back to old faithful until I find another brand.

As for the lip gloss – I returned it to the store. I love lip gloss but when I put this on, I flashed back to the 80’s with my frosted, glossy lips. I’m on the lookout for another brand.

What are your favorite makeup brands?


Natural and Organic Personal Lubricants

NOTE: Updated in 2015

Mamas – if you don’t already have a personal lubricant in your cupboard – you will someday.  Pregnancy, nursing, contraceptives, menopause and some medications can make it a necessity.  I had no idea how many natural lubricants there are out there at all price points so you have no excuse not to have a safe one 🙂

Like all personal care products, make sure you pick one up that doesn’t contain the yucky stuff – in this case, estrogen-mimicking parabens, glycerin (can cause yeast infections particularly in women prone to them), phenoxyethanol, and propylene glycol (causes irritation).  Also remember that just because a product markets itself as ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it is so always check the ingredients!

Paraben and Irritant Free:

A few to avoid as they may say ‘natural’ but they contain parabens:

  • Astroglide All Natural
  • K-Y Natural Feeling

Have a favorite?  Feel free to share!