The postpartum period is definitely a challenging one, especially for new mums just learning to manage life with a newborn. Then, as though things aren’t tough enough, there’s a bunch of postpartum side effects to deal with: stretch marks, hemorrhoids, postpartum depression, and – for many mums – hair loss!
If you’ve just had a baby and find yourself losing clumps of hair in the shower, don’t panic. You’re definitely not alone in this. Postpartum hair loss is perfectly normal, common, temporary (for most!), and manageable.
So what is postpartum hair loss? Why does it happen? And what can you do about it?
What is postpartum hair loss?
Sometime after childbirth, you might notice thinning hair, usually around the hairline and above the temples. You might find more hair than usual on your hairbrush or – yes – your hair might actually fall out in patches, leaving you with noticeable bald spots.
It may sound absolutely horrifying, but rest assured this happens to almost all mums after childbirth. No, you’re not going bald. And yes, your hair will grow back.
Contrary to what you may have heard, postpartum hair loss isn’t caused by stress or vitamin deficiency or breastfeeding. It’s only your hormones readjusting after pregnancy.
You see, the hair cycle has three stages: a growth stage (anagen), a resting stage (telogen), and a period in between (catagen). While you were pregnant, the increased oestrogen levels in your body sort of froze your hair in the growing stage, which meant that fewer hairs fell out each day. This was the reason for the fuller, bouncier, shinier locks you had during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, after you give birth, your oestrogen levels fall, your hair enters the resting stage and starts falling out. Doctors refer to this as excessive hair shedding or telogen effluvium. Most mums notice this happening around three months after giving birth. The stage usually ends (and your hair returns to its former fullness) by the time your child blows out the candles on his first birthday cake.
What you can do about it
Your hair will be back to normal before you know it. But if the excessive shedding or the unusually thin hair bothers you, there are ways to fake the look of healthy, bouncy locks until your hair grows back. We’ve rounded up a few:
Use a volumising shampoo and conditioner. Look for formulas that don’t leave hair feeling greasy or weighed down. Ingredients like biotin and quinoa protein extract leave hair strands thicker and fuller.
After washing your hair, detangle strands with a wide tooth comb. Hair loses much of its strength while wet, so avoid pulling and scraping it into tight ponytails or buns.
While your hair is still damp, spray it all over with a lightweight leave-on conditioner that will keep it smooth and easier to comb.
Argan oil stimulates hair regrowth and improves overall hair quality. Take 2-3 drops and work it through your hair, focusing on the ends.
Go short or try a new style. A shorter, low maintenance cut is perfect when you have a baby—just wash it and forget about it. Layers give more volume and fringes help disguise thinning hair at the temples.
Experiment with headbands, wraps, bandannas, and hats—great for when you have absolutely no time for grooming.
Say no to hot tools and chemical treatments. Your hair needs a little extra TLC during this period, so be extra gentle with it.
Living with rosacea can be tough. Your self confidence suffers and the daily struggle to cover up imperfections takes its toll. It can be stressful, overwhelming, and just downright exhausting.
But though rosacea has no cure, there are treatments that can hep control symptoms. Depending on the severity, your doctor may recommend oral and topical antibiotics, acne meds like Accutane, or laser therapy.
Prescription meds and lasers do the job, but if that’s not your cup of tea, you can also take a gentler approach to rosacea. Many patients successfully avoid and soothe flare ups using non toxic skin care products and by implementing simple lifestyle changes.
Want to know about natural remedies for rosacea? Read on for tips that will help improve your quality of life and for our top natural products for rosacea skin.
Rosacea natural treatment tips:
UV radiation is a rosacea trigger, so be extra diligent with the sunscreen. Look for physical (mineral) sunscreens with zinc oxide as the active ingredient. Best avoid chemical sunscreens, which absorb the sun’s rays and can heat up your skin, triggering rosacea flare ups.
If you have rosacea, your skin’s natural barrier is compromised, which means it’ll need some extra TLC. Only the mildest, most gentle products will do.
Look for rosacea skin care products with anti inflammatory ingredients like argan oil and evening primrose oil. Choose light formulations and don’t forget to wash your makeup off at night.
Avoid microdermabrasion and harsh cleansers. That means no physical exfoliants, chemical scrubs, and anything containing alcohol. You should also avoid products with fragrance, menthol, witch hazel, retinoids, dyes, and surfactants – all of which can aggravate rosacea.
As we get older, we start producing less collagen, the substance that surrounds our blood vessels. And without enough collagen, the blood vessels start to wear down and lose their ability to shrink after dilating. Collagen supplements can help strengthen blood vessels and may help reduce redness and inflammation from rosacea.
Take it easy
Stress, one of the most common rosacea triggers, is also one of the hardest to avoid. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to not get stressed out (a lot). Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, art, and Netflix are some of the best stress busters. Above all, get enough sleep, drink lots of water, eat well, and don’t forget to breathe and relax.
Now on to our top picks for rosacea skin.
Our favourite rosacea skin care products:
Grahams Rosacea Cream – specifically for rosacea, it’s a Class I Medical device, which means that it’s been scientifically proven to work. No steroids, just clinically proven natural ingredients that will help relieve itchiness, redness and dryness
Skin Juice Redness Relief Kit – made specially for rosacea and sensitive skin types; soothes, repairs, and nourishes with antioxidants and essential fatty acids; kit includes cleansing balm, recovery balm, and face oil
Every Bit Organic Raw Aloe Vera Gel – deeply moisturises without clogging or irritating skin; antimicrobial and cleansing properties ideal for killing the Demodex mites that may cause or exacerbate rosacea
Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Oil – blackthorn blossom extract eases irritation and reduces sensitivity; can be used as a makeup remover, a facial cleanser, and a moisturiser; restores skin’s natural protective barrier
Zk’in Organics Hydrating Mist – protects skin from sun damage; stops rosacea flare ups in their tracks. Why not keep one in your handbag to use at work, in school, or anywhere you happen to be when your face starts acting up
We hope you find these tips and product suggestions helpful in managing rosacea. Please feel free to share your own tips on avoiding and soothing rosacea flare ups in the comments below.
A nice rosy flush can make anyone look pretty and in the peak of health. However, if the ruddiness takes forever to go away or is accompanied by bumps and broken capillaries, you may have a skin condition known as rosacea.
Rosacea (roh-ZAY-sha) is a persistent redness of facial skin that can be triggered by things like alcohol and hot showers. It can be frustrating and embarrassing for those who have it. It can make you lose your confidence, keep you from enjoying your favourite activities, and affect your performance at work.
Luckily, there are ways to control rosacea.
But first, what is rosacea exactly?
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a long term skin disease that causes inflammation, redness, pus filled bumps, and visible blood vessels in your face. It can make you look like you have a sunburn that just won’t heal.
The condition isn’t contagious and is most common in those over age 30. The exact cause is unknown, though doctors suspect a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Rosacea may be hereditary.
Though it can be terribly isolating, rosacea is actually a fairly common disorder. It’s more likely to occur in women and in those with fair skin, but can affect anyone, including children.
Ever had one or more of these symptoms? You might have rosacea.
Blushing that doesn’t fade
Redness that looks like sunburn on the forehead, cheeks, chin, and nose
Visible spider-like blood vessels
Bumps that resemble acne
Plaques (raised red areas)
A burning or stinging sensation
Bloodshot, gritty, or watery eyes
It can sometimes be hard to tell if someone has rosacea, as it can look like eczema, acne, or skin allergies. If you suspect you have the condition, it’s best to consult your doctor. Left untreated, rosacea can worsen and the redness will become harder to reverse. In men, rosacea can lead to rhinophyma, which is where the nose becomes swollen and disfigured from excess tissue.
Rosacea can have a huge effect on a person’s quality of life. Those who have the condition can have trouble meeting new people and interacting in public. Some struggle with low self esteem and have problems at work and at home. They can also be prone to anxiety and depression.
Sadly, there’s currently no cure for rosacea. But while there’s no magic pill that will take it away, there are treatments and natural remedies for rosacea that can help you control outbreaks.
What triggers rosacea?
The first step in controlling rosacea is to pinpoint your triggers and avoid, avoid, avoid.
Everyone’s triggers are different, but there are some common ones:
Alcohol (especially red wine)
Harsh skincare products (and those with fragrance)
Prolonged exposure to pollution
Dealing with rosacea
It’s important that you identify the things that spike flares and how they affect your skin. You can keep track of your possible triggers by writing them down in a diary and looking out for patterns. From there, you can figure out alternatives and workarounds (for example, turning on a fan while working out).
If you’ve been treating your face for acne but now suspect you have rosacea, you might want to skip the harsh cleansers and start cleansing your face with milder products. A medical professional can help you choose the best treatment plan for your specific case.
Nail polish can pose quite the conundrum. The lure of fun, sparkly nails is often hard to ignore. But at the same time, we know that most commercial nail polishes are full of harmful ingredients and that getting a mani means exposing ourselves to some toxic chemical nasties.
Fortunately, not all nail polishes are created equal. Some are undoubtedly safer than others. The beauty industry has heard the call for safe nail polish and many brands (even the big ones) now offer 3 free and 5 free nail polishes.
But while it’s great that we can now feel better about our manicures, the many types of non toxic nail polishes can sometimes be confusing. So today, we wade into the world of natural nail colour and introduce you to our favourites.
3 free nail polish
3 free nail polish brands are free of the so-called Toxic Trio: dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, and formaldehyde. These three are the most harmful – and most common – toxic ingredients found in many mainstream polishes. You definitely want to seek out DPB free nail polish!
4 free nail polish
But why stop at 3? There’s also 4 free, which is free of the Toxic Trio, as well as formaldehyde resin.
5 free nail polish
As you can see, the number refers to the amount of toxic ingredients removed from the nail polish formula. Today, 5 free nail polish brands are the minimum of what we look for. These safer polishes don’t contain the Toxic Trio and are also free of formaldehyde resin and camphor.
7 free nail polish
On top of the nasties mentioned above, 7 free nail polishes are also free from ethyl tosylamide and xylene.
We think that one of the best 7 free nail polish brands is Hanami, which is cruelty free, palm oil free, vegan nail polish, and made in Australia. These polishes are fast drying, chip resistant, and come in a range of gorgeous colours.
8 free nail polish
8 free nail polishes go even further. These are free from DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP).
Our top 8 free picks: Benecos organic nail polish (budget friendly, doesn’t chip, and comes in a variety of vibrant shades) and Butter London (their on-trend polishes last up to 10 days and are formulated to strengthen nails).
10 free nail polish
10 free nail polishes strip out even more bad stuff. These are free from all of the dodgy ingredients previously mentioned, plus fragrances and animal ingredients.
Our top 10 free picks are Ere Perez (85% plant based!) and Kester Black natural nail polish (ethically and sustainably made; comes in dozens of striking colours).
You never have to worry about your 5-year-old chewing off (and eating) her nail polish again. Snails, one of our fave non toxic kids nail polishes, is completely odourless and comes off with just soap and water. This brand is said to be the “first 12 free, washable and water based nail polish in the world” and is made in the EU under the strictest cosmetics laws. You’ll be glad to know that even mums can use this.
If you’re looking for the best non toxic nail polish, make sure to check out the range at Hello Charlie.
In the Australian summer, you can’t get away from sunscreen. It’s an essential part of your summer sun safety. But you need to make sure that you’re choosing a sunscreen with good ingredients.
And that means looking for a sunscreen that uses a physical barrier, rather than a chemical absorber, to protect you from the sun. Ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide physically block the sun. Chemical absorbers protect you by absorbing the sun’s rays. But there can be lots of issues with chemical absorbers, from health to environmental issues.
That’s why I always recommend using a natural, mineral based sunscreen like zinc based ones. There’s a large range of natural sunscreens now. And so it becomes difficult to choose!
Zinc sunscreens are thick – that’s how you get the physical barrier and the sun protection. But there are a few tips to make it work for you.
Knead the tube before you squeeze it out, especially on a cooler day. I’ve found that if it gets hot, the oil can separate so you need to kind of squish it back next time yo use it. On a hot day, just give it a good shake before you apply.
Warm it between your hands before you apply to help it go on more easily.
Apply the sunscreen a bit at a time, and rub it in well. Then move on to the next area. This works better than squeezing a great big blob in to your hand and trying to cover everywhere at once.
If you have olive or darker skin tone, most zinc based sunscreens are going to leave a white cast. Try using a tinted sunscreen and rub it in well.
Moisturising: neutral. I have dry skin, and find that I have to moisturise after this. Friends with normal and oily skin found they didn’t need to
White cast: no, requires very little rubbing in
Fragrance: yes (natural)
Babies, kids or adults: good for everyone from babies 6 months +
Water proof: water resistant
Reef friendly: yes
Please bear in mind that I’ve tested these on myself, family and friends and that you might find something I said was drying is actually oily on your skin. Or perhaps you’ve got a darker skin tone than my (English & Scottish heritage) family. This is just a guide to try and help answer the many questions I get asked about natural sunscreens! Vanessa xx
On top of everything else that’s suddenly off limits (sushi, soft cheeses, wine, aka the fun stuff), do pregnant women have to give up caffeine as well?
If you’re expecting, you’re probably concerned about your coffee habit’s effect on your growing baby, while also trying to imagine how you’ll survive without caffeine running through your veins.
So how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy? Let’s find out.
How much caffeine can you have every day?
First, just how much caffeine is safe when you’re not pregnant?
Different health institutions have different answers. Health Canada, for instance, recommends that women of child bearing age consume no more than 300 mg of caffeine a day. Mayo Clinic says up to 400 mg is fine, and so does a new study, which concluded that this amount isn’t associated with any adverse health effects.
How does caffeine affect your baby’s health?
There’s a lot of confusion. Some studies found that even moderate amounts affect bub’s development; some concluded that it has no effect whatsoever.
What we do know is that when you drink coffee during pregnancy, it’s not just you who gets a caffeine buzz. We know for sure that caffeine crosses the placenta and that it has been detected in amniotic fluid and even in foetal blood. Because your baby’s liver isn’t fully developed, caffeine has a much greater effect on your baby than on you. It also stays in their system longer and at greater amounts.
So what does caffeine do to your baby exactly? According to Dr. Sears, just as it does in adults, caffeine can cause bub’s heart to beat faster. If mum consumes caffeine in large quantities, this could lead to irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia. Babies can even become dependent on caffeine and exhibit withdrawal symptoms after birth, much like those born to mums who are drug users.
Too much caffeine is harmful to baby – and it isn’t good for you either. Caffeine increases your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s also a diuretic, which means it increases the frequency of urination and the possibility of dehydration. None of these is good during pregnancy.
In addition, caffeine can cause heartburn, indigestion, and insomnia. You may have also heard that it’s linked to a higher risk of miscarriage, though this one is still being debated.
How much caffeine can you have during pregnancy?
The World Health Organisation says that pregnant women should reduce their caffeine intake to no more than 300 mg a day. This is meant to lower the risk of pregnancy loss and of having a low birth weight baby. Australian guidelines recommend limiting the amount of caffeine you take to 200 mg a day during pregnancy. That’s about one to two cups of instant coffee or one cappuccino.
Caffeine isn’t just in coffee or tea, but in foods and drink. Hot chocolate, energy drinks, some soft drinks, and coffee flavoured products like ice cream and yoghurt can contain caffeine. It’s also in medicine for colds and headaches. If you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, take these into account as well.
Here’s a handy guide to the caffeine content in common foods and drinks.
This is how much caffeine is in a cup (250ml):
Espresso shot (in latte, flat white or other barista coffee): 25-280mg
Until we know just how caffeine affects our babies, it’s probably best to avoid it or at least limit the amount we consume during pregnancy. Instead of coffee or soft drinks, reach for water, milk, and the occasional fresh fruit juice. If you must have a hot drink, have a cup of caffeine free tea.
Teas – at least the ones formulated for pregnant mums – won’t make you feel jittery but are just potent enough to help you get your day started. Better yet, some herbal brews contain ingredients that are actually good for your pregnancy.
These caffeine free concoctions are some of our faves:
Pukka Tea Motherkind Pregnancy – a delicious infusion of raspberry leaf, nettle, chamomile, shatavari, peppermint, sweet fennel seed, and orange peel; prepares the uterus for birth, eases bloating and flatulence; ideal for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters
Mama Body Tea Raspberry Leaf Blend – a revitalising mix of raspberry leaf, peppermint, and stinging nettle that helps tone the uterus and helps mums have an easier, shorter labour; not to be consumed during the 1st trimester
Mama Body Tea Pregnancy – a delightful blend of oat straw, rosehip shells, lemon verbena, nettle, and ginger; ideal for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters
Disclaimer: Please consult your health care practitioner before drinking any type of herbal tea during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Do you avoid caffeine while pregnant? What do you replace coffee with? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Becoming a new parent is an amazing and exciting time. Yet the reality is that it can leave parents to be feeling overwhelmed, scared and anxious. And both new mums and new dads can feel this way.
One in five pregnant and new mums, and one in ten dads experience perinatal anxiety or depression. Perinatal is the term used to cover both antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety. Antenatal is the time during pregnancy, and postnatal (or postpartum) is the first year after baby’s birth.
Often, however, new mums and dads don’t realise what’s happening to them. So they struggle on alone instead of seeking help.
“Even though perinatal anxiety and depression is common and affects around 100,000 families across Australia every year, many people still don’t know its signs and symptoms,” says Terri Smith, CEO of PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia. “They simply don’t recognise that they are experiencing a serious illness that may require treatment.”
“This means more parents are suffering in silence for longer, reducing their enjoyment of what should be a very special time and potentially even putting their lives at risk. This is why it’s critical to educate parents, partners, their loved ones and the wider community to help identify perinatal anxiety and depression and to reduce the stigma and shame often associated with seeking help.”
“At PANDA we know the sooner mums and dads struggling with perinatal anxiety and depression seek help, the sooner they can recover.”
During Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week from the 12th to the 18th of November, PANDA is running the ‘It Happened to Me‘ campaign.
The campaign will be sharing stories about parents’ personal experiences of antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety. The aim is to encourage people to across Australia to start conversations about the illness.
Personal experiences with depression and anxiety
There’s a history of depression in my family, and of mental health issues in my husband’s family. One of my close family members has struggled with depression for many years. And a large part of the struggle is the stigma that surrounds depression.
I want to respect this person’s privacy, so I’m just going to call them My Loved One. MLO goes silent when the depression kicks in. I can go for weeks without a response to my text messages and phone calls (when we usually speak at least weekly). Over the years I’ve learned to pick the signs early on, and my whole family increases their encouraging text message and voicemails. We all remind MLO that we’re here, that they’re loved, and that we’ll help with anything we can.
One day, I had a conversation with MLO about visiting the doctor to get on to antidepressants. And I was amazed that MLO didn’t want to do it – “didn’t want to take the drugs”. We had a long conversation about how you’d take painkillers if you broke your leg, or would take antibiotics if you had an infection. Depression and anxiety are just as much a health issue as either of those.
I know that conversation helped MLO, but we’ve had to have many, many conversations about depression and how you need to ask for help. Or accept it when it’s offered.
Recently MLO and partner had their first baby. Once again, all the family were on the lookout for signs of depression in both of them during the pregnancy. And we’re still having the ‘Are you okay?’ conversations post birth. Particularly now that the first flush of excitement with the new baby has worn off.
As a family, we’ve worked hard to remove the stigma of depression and anxiety. We’ve done our best to normalise mental health issues in the same way as physical health issues.
Where to get help for perinatal depression
I guess what I’m saying is this: You don’t have to tough it out on your own. It’s more common than you think, and there is help available.
Talking about depression and anxiety, whether it’s antenatal, postnatal or at any other time, helps normalise an all-too-common illness. You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll hear, “it happened to me”.
There are lots of places that you can go for help. Here are some:
PANDA helpline: 1300 726 306, panda.org.au, howisdadgoing.org.au
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636, beyondblue.org.au
Or see your GP for help.
Has it happened to you? Share your story with us, and help start the conversation.
Collagen is a protein that gives strength and structure to our muscles, bones, joints, tendons, and skin. It’s basically what holds us together and keeps us upright. It’s also in our blood vessels, eyes, teeth, and gut.
As we grow older, our bodies produce less and less of this essential protein and we begin to see the telltale signs of ageing. Collagen supplements help restore the body’s collagen production levels. By doing so, they help keep skin firm, hair and nails strong, the gut healthy, and the immune system in tiptop shape.
Here’s why you might want to give collagen supplements a whirl.
1. You want to avoid wrinkles and fine lines.
Collagen can help improve your skin’s elasticity, increase smoothness, boost cell renewal, and minimise moisture loss. You’ll fend off wrinkles, fine lines, sagging, and other signs of ageing. If you already have wrinkles and fine lines, collagen will help reduce their appearance.
2. You want fuller, healthier hair.
As the body’s collagen production slows, hair becomes thinner and loses its lustre. It may even start to fall out. Collagen supplements can help restore your hair’s volume and shine, promote hair growth, and strengthen hair follicles.
3. You suffer from joint pain.
Collagen is essentially the glue that holds the entire body together. As we start producing less collagen, our joints become less flexible and we begin to experience aches and pains. Collagen supplements may help keep our joints from deteriorating.
4. You just had a baby.
Collagen is ideal post partum. It can help with post pregnancy hair loss, strengthening splitting nails, and calming hormonal skin. It may even help reduce stretch marks and cellulite.
You shouldn’t take collagen while you’re pregnant, but it’s perfect for breastfeeding mums.
5. You don’t have time for a meticulous skincare routine.
You can boost your body’s collagen production by applying it topically as part of a daily skincare routine. But if your routine already has too many steps or if you’re too lazy or just don’t have the time, there’s an easier way to go about it: add collagen to your diet.
Australian company Vida Glow offers a range of marine collagen supplements in powder form, which makes it easy to stir into foods and drinks.
Vida Glow’s marine collagen powder is sustainably produced from the scales of Australian deep sea red snapper. Every batch is stringently tested in a Sydney laboratory for heavy metals and other contamination. Vida Glow is clean, ethical and sustainable.
Your body absorbs marine collagen better than any other animal collagen. It’s also best for anti-ageing, is great for wound and bone healing, and even has antibacterial properties.
Originalhas a neutral taste and is the easiest to incorporate into your daily diet. Add it to water, juice, coffee, tea, and shakes. Stir it into porridge and sprinkle it over salads. You won’t even notice it.
Blueberry is flavoured with natural blueberry powder and a slight hint of sweetness from stevia. It’s high in Vitamin C, which helps your body absorb collagen. Add it to your smoothies and stir it into yoghurt. It’s perfect for those who want a bit of flavour with their collagen.
A while back I added Vida Glow’s original collagen powder to my daily routine. I didn’t really think about it, until I went to get a haircut the other week. The hairdresser was amazed at how much new hair growth I had. The only thing I’ve changed is adding Vida Glow to my routine, so I’m impressed!
Think you might benefit from taking collagen supplements? Hop on over to Hello Charlie and check out Vida Glow.
Note: Vida Glow Marine Collagen is available in loose powder form and in single serve sachets. Hello Charlie stocks only has the loose powders as we want to help you cut down on excess packaging.
Isn’t it ironic that something created to protect us from life threatening illnesses may actually harm us?
Take sunscreen, for example.
You should use it every day. And you should put it on thick enough that it actually protects us from the sun. Then you should reapply often. Unlike soap or shampoo that’s quickly washed off, sunscreen stays on our skin for hours.
You’d think that because of this, sunscreen ingredients would be safe and non toxic.
But as we now know, conventional sunscreens can be full of harmful ingredients.
Studies indicate that ingredients found in popular sunscreens can:
cause skin irritation and allergic reactions,
mimic our hormones,
harm our reproductive systems,
alter sexual development, and
affect babies in the womb
If you’re shopping for your next sunscreen, watch out for these ingredients.
Active ingredients to avoid
Also called benzophenone-3 or BP-3, oxybenzone is in nearly 65% of all chemical sunscreens in the Environmental Working Group’s 2017 sunscreen database. It has been detected in over 96% of the American population.
Of all the popular sunscreen chemicals it warns us about, EWG calls oxybenzone “the most worrisome.” The main concerns about oxybenzone are:
Oxybenzone penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream. Studies have shown that it mimics oestrogen and blocks testosterone, especially in adolescent boys. In women, it is associated with endometriosis.
Animal studies have linked octinoxate with delayed puberty, lower sperm counts, and sperm abnormalities.
While we use sunscreen to protect our skin from sun damage, studies have found that octinoxate may actually do the reverse. Research has found that the chemical produces free radicals that can damage skin cells and induce premature skin ageing.
Octinoxate has an EWG hazard score of 6. You’ll find it in ingredient lists as ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate or octyl methoxycinnamate.
Another one that mimics hormonal activity, this one disrupts oestrogen, progesterone, and androgen. There’s also concern that it releases toxic by-products as it breaks down.
Octisalate blocks UVB rays but not UVA, which is why it often comes paired with other active sunscreen ingredients like avobenzone.
The problem with octisalate is that it’s a “penetration enhancer.” This means that it increases the amount of chemicals that passes into the skin. This becomes problematic when octisalate is accompanied by harmful ingredients (like hormone mimickers or synthetic fragrances).
Like octinoxate, this one is a photosensitiser. On sun-exposed skin, it produces free radicals that speed up skin ageing and increase the risk of skin cancer.
The EWG notes that this active ingredient poses a risk of skin allergies. In 2010, researchers advised caution when using octocrylene-laden sunscreen on children.
These active ingredients are uncommon in sunscreens in the US, but you’ll find them in sunscreens in Australia.
Also known as sulisobenzone, this benzophenone derivative may cause contact dermatitis. Studies have shown that benzophenone bioaccumulates and persists in the environment. The chemical and its derivatives are associated with cancer and endocrine disruption.
Unlike benzophenone-4, benzophenone-8 or dioxybenzone isn’t approved as a UV filter in the European Union. The main concerns for benzophenone derivatives are:
organ system toxicity,
developmental and reproductive toxicity,
Meradimate, as it sometimes appears on labels, is in some sunscreens in the US but not in Japan or in the EU. The big problem with this chemical is that it forms damaging free radicals when exposed to sunlight.
PABA or para-aminobenzoic acid may cause hypersensitivity and allergic reactions. It may also encourage the formation of cancer cells in the skin. Studies show that PABA breaks down and releases free radicals when exposed to sunlight. Canada and the EU have both banned PABA in cosmetics.
Padimate O, a derivative of PABA, is another baddie. This one has an EWG hazard score of 5. Main concerns include:
and oestrogen mimicking activity
This UVB absorber may cause photocontact dermatitis. It’s also a penetration enhancer, sinking deep into and persisting within muscle tissue.
Instead of sunscreens with these active ingredients, look for ones with the physical UV blockers zinc oxide and titanium oxide. If you prefer chemical UV filters, go for avobenzone or Mexoryl SX, which the EWG considers safer options.
Inactive ingredients to avoid
Inactive sunscreen ingredients typically make up 50% to 70% of the product. The following range from potentially toxic to verifiably harmful:
Manufacturers don’t have to disclose the specific ingredients they use in their fragrance blends. This means that synthetic fragrances may contain numerous toxic ingredients and none of us would have a clue.
Many synthetic colours are derived from coal tar. Studies have found some of them to be allergy inducing, toxic to the brain and other organs, and possibly carcinogenic.
The EU has concluded that no amount of methylisothiazolinone has been demonstrated to be safe for use in leave-on cosmetic products, including baby wipes. In 2013, it was named “Allergen of the Year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
To help fight signs of ageing, manufacturers often add retinyl palmitate to sunscreens. However, EWG has warned consumers about this chemical. Government studies in the US have shown that if you apply retinyl palmitate to animal skin and then expose the skin to sunlight, the chemical may speed the development of malignant tumors and lesions.
What can you do?
Most of the studies on sunscreen ingredients were done on animals, which makes it hard to determine if the same effects will be observed in humans.
Nonetheless, some scientists warn that these ingredients could be so toxic that they may cancel out the health benefits of using sun protection.
But this doesn’t mean that you should stop using sunscreen! Wearing sunscreen is still one of the best ways to protect ourselves from skin cancer, skin ageing, and the many other consequences of getting too much sun.
Avoid the sunscreen ingredients listed above. Don’t buy spray on sunscreens—you risk inhaling toxic chemicals (and getting them into the lungs of the people around you). Avoid sunscreens with SPFs over 50—these fool you into thinking that you can go longer between reapplications.
Above all, use sunscreen properly. For your body, squeeze out at least enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass. Apply it 30 minutes before you head out and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming. Plan your activities around the sun, protect your eyes with sunglasses, and stay in the shade when you can.
Gearing up for sunnier days ahead? Check out Hello Charlie’s selection of natural sunscreens—no nasties here. If you need help choosing the right product for your family, here’s our Safer Sunscreens Cheat Sheet to get you started.
Have you tried switching from mainstream to natural deodorant and found that it didn’t work for you? The problem probably wasn’t the natural deodorant you tried. It might very well be the state of your underarms!
This might sound weird, but hear me out: for natural deodorant to work, you first have to detox your armpits.
Just a note. I hate the whole “detox” thing. Our bodies naturally get rid of toxins, so to call it a “detox” is rubbish. You detox when you’re coming off drugs. Switching deodorants? Not so much. So we’re using the word “detox” here as a shortcut for saying “how to get your body used to using natural deodorants so that they’re effective for you.”
So. Should you do an “armpit detox”?
Benefits of armpit detox
Some people attempt to transition to natural deodorant then go back to mainstream because they find that the natural stuff leaves them horribly stinky.
If this is you, listen: it’s not that you’re abnormally smelly. It’s probably because years (or decades) of using traditional deodorants has altered your armpit’s natural state.
Studieshave found that the ingredients in mainstream deodorants and antiperspirants can change the natural microbiome of our armpits, leading to an overproduction of odour-producing bacteria.
When you do an armpit detox, you stabilise the bacterial community in your underarms, eliminating or reducing the growth of the bacteria that makes you smell like a caveman. After the detox, you can begin using natural deodorant without worrying that you’ll leave an embarrassing stench in your wake.
People who have successfully switched to natural deodorant after an armpit detox report that they:
No longer have body odour issues
Feel more comfortable using natural deodorants
Don’t need to use as much deodorant as before, saving money
Feel better about the fact that they’re not putting unnecessary, potentially harmful chemicals like aluminium in their underarms
Didn’t experience redness, rashes, and irritation
How to detox your armpits
If you’re thinking of transitioning to natural deodorant (and you should!), do an armpit detox first. It’s easy. All you need is a tablespoon of bentonite clay, a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar, and a bit of patience.
Bentonite clay pulls the gunk out of your armpit pores and apple cider vinegar kills bacteria. Mix the two until you get a spreadable paste-like consistency. Apply the mixture all over your armpits and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Rinse off with warm water or wipe off with a warm, wet washcloth.
Repeat the process daily for a week or until your detox funk goes away.
If you’re not into whipping up your own armpit detox paste, Earths Purities Detox-A-Pitis a great, ready made alternative. This armpit detox mask draws out toxins and heavy metals, corrects bacterial imbalance, and sorts out rashes and irritation. Ingredients include Australian bentonite clay, food grade activated charcoal, organic apple cider vinegar, colloidal silver, and organic coconut oil.
What else you can do
To supplement the armpit detox process, you should also:
Try dry brushing.
Dry body brushing coaxes the crud out of your armpits, getting rid of the waxy deodorant buildup that doesn’t completely wash away in the shower (have you noticed that?). It also drains the lymph nodes in your underarms and encourages blood circulation, helping your body discharge toxins. Use a natural bristle brush and gently work in circular motions from the outer areas of your underarms down towards your breasts. Do this right before showering.
Watch what you eat.
For some people, it helps to avoid caffeine, alcohol, red meat, fried foods, and pungent foods like garlic and onions.
Drink plenty of water to help your body flush out toxins that contribute to body odour. Carry a reusable water bottle with you to help you remember to drink throughout the day.
Use body wipes throughout the day.
While you’re detoxing your armpits, carry some natural body wipes with you so that you can have a quick freshen up and reapply deodorant. I love the JAK organics body wipes.
Wear natural fibres.
Avoid synthetic materials that trap sweat and harbour odour-producing bacteria. Cotton, silk, wool and bamboo are all good choices.
Have you made the switch from chemical to natural deodorant? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.