October 31, 2016

Toxic Skincare Ingredients To Avoid

When it comes to your health I strongly believe that knowledge is power. Especially when it comes to skincare and beauty products. I would like to think that the FDA and Health Canada are doing a good job of regulating the products that make it on to the shelves, but the simple truth is that they are not. And they openly admit this. It's pretty scary if you ask me. 

Ingredients that are linked to cancers, birth defects, infertility, allergies, neurological problems, delayed development during childhood and hormone disruption are allowed to be used in everyday skincare and beauty products, and they don't even have to be listed on the label. Let that sink in. THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE LISTED ON THE LABEL. It makes my blood boil just writing that. When companies use words like "fragrance" or "scent" they are not required to disclose what those ingredients are, so there could be many harmful chemicals hiding under those umbrella terms. 

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When I finally realized just how dangerous the products I was putting on my skin were, I couldn't ignore that fact. I did a lot of research on just what was in my products, and came up with a list of ingredients to avoid at all costs. But even knowing what I did,  it took me over a year to finally replace all of my old products with ones that actually worked well and that I loved. Because unfortunately, there are a lot of crappy "natural" skincare and beauty products out there. Trust me, I wasted my money on a lot of them! 

So in order to save you time and money, I have put together a list a list of 8 toxic skincare ingredients that you should watch for, and avoid if you can. I have also listed some of my favourite safe skincare and makeup products so that you don't have to waste your time and money, like I did, trying out products that just don't perform. Because at the end of the day, if a product doesn't work well, I don't care how "safe" it is, I won't use it. And neither should you. You should never have to compromise quality for safety. Never. We deserve better than that. 

8 Toxic Skincare Ingredients To Avoid

1. Fragrances

The word fragrance has a nice ring to it doesn't it? And something that makes a product smell good couldn't be bad, could it? Unfortunately yes. The term "fragrance" was actually created to protect companies' “secret formulas” and the word "fragrance" on a label can actually indicated hundreds of toxic chemicals, without any of those specific ingredients having to be disclosed. Isn't that terrifying? As someone who always wants to know what is going in, and on my body this fact scares me. A lot. And it should scare you too. You have just no idea what toxic chemicals you are exposing yourself and your family to when you are using products with fragrances in them.  Fragrances are commonly found in products like shampoos and conditioners, body creams and lotions and body washes. 

Safe Solutions: 

2. Parabens

Parabens are preservatives found in many beauty and skincare products to help increase their shelf life and stability. They are commonly found in makeup, foundations, face washes, face moisturizers and lotions. The parabens used most often in personal care products are methyl, ethyl, butyl and propyl paraben, which are used as preservatives and antibacterial agents in cosmetics. Parabens have weak estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity with they are studied in the lab (in vitro) or in animals. In other words, they can cause hormone imbalances. And since hormones are one of the master regulators of the body, this is a big problem. Hormone imbalances can lead to a number of health problems including thyroid disease, infertility, acne, fatigue, weight gain, etc. And parabens have been linked to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm counts. 

Safe Solutions:

3. Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of plasticizing chemicals that allow make-up to become more pliable, and fragrances to stick to your skin. The three phthalates most commonly used in personal care products are diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is found in scented products, including perfumes, deodorants, hair sprays, lotions, soaps and shampoos, and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), which are used in nail polish and cosmetics. Phthalates are found in most items that contain fragrance and can also be a part of the company’s “secret formulas” so that they don't have to be disclosed on the label. Studies done in the lab and on animals show that DEP, DnBP and DiBP have estrogen-like properties and anti-androgenic properties (androgens are the male type hormones found in the body). In other words, they disrupt your hormones and have also been linked to birth defects. 

Safe Solutions:

4. Lead

It’s well known that lead is toxic, especially to children. Lead harms almost every organ system in the body and has been linked to numerous health problems, including permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriages, premature births, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and nervous system problems. It can also cause hormone disruption leading to menstrual irregularities, delayed puberty and reduced fertility. In other words, you want to be sure you are avoiding this ingredient. The problem? It is hiding in many more places than you would think. Yes it can be in paint, and that's pretty well known, but what isn't as well known is where it's hiding in cosmetics, specifically color cosmetics. For example, did you know that over 95% of lipsticks on the market contain lead? WHAT? I know right? Terrifying. Because when it comes to lead, there is no safe level of exposure. Even a small amount is extremely dangerous. And what little girl hasn't asked to play with her mom's lipstick? And when she does you want to be sure that it is safe, lead-free lipstick that she is using. 

Safe Solutions:

5. BHA and BHT

These are used mainly in moisturizers, lip glosses or lipsticks, other make-up and diaper creams to act as preservatives and as synthetic antioxidants. These chemicals are known hormone disruptors and also have been linked to cancer. They can cause allergic skin reactions, and animal studies show they can damage the liver, thyroid and can interfere with the ability of blood to clot. These chemicals are also known to be harmful to fish and wildlife. In other words, they are bad for everyone! 

Safe Solutions

6. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) and/or Sodium Laureate Sulfate (SLES)

These are used in foaming cosmetics such as shampoos, face wash, children's bubble bath as well as laundry detergents. The reason why they are so dangerous is that they may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer and ethylene oxide, which can damage the nervous system. These chemicals can also irritate the skin and eyes, and worsen acne and there is evidence to show that they can interfere with fetal development. Also be aware of ingredients containing the letters "eth" on a label, which is just another term for these substances. 

Safe Solutions

7. Polyethylene Glycols (PEG) compounds

PEG compounds are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics. Like SLS and SLES, PEG compounds can also contain 1,4-dioxane, and ethylene oxide, which can cause cancer and damage the nervous system. PEG compounds are commonly used as thickeners, solvents, softeners and moisture-carriers in cosmetics. 

Safe Solutions:

8. Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives 

These chemicals hide under the umbrella terms DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15 (yes I know what a mouth full!). These are dangerous because they slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer. These are used in cosmetics, as well as many household products and cleaners because they act as preservatives. These chemicals can also cause allergic reactions and act as skin and eye irritants. 

Safe Solutions

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DISCLAIMERS: The statements made on this website have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. You assume full responsibility for how you use this information. Always consult with your physician or other health professionals before making any diet or lifestyle changes. 

This post may contain affiliate links whereby if you purchase these products I receive a small percentage of the sale price. This allows me to keep the blog running and I thank you for allowing me to do that!

October 25, 2016

Plantain Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free, AIP, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut Free)

Hey friends. I have an amazing new recipe for you this week. Plantain Cookies!
But first, I have the best news ever.

I passed my rheumatology exams!
What does that mean? No more exams for me! Ever.

Let that sink in for just a second. I have been in post secondary training for the last 14 years. Yes 14 years. That is almost half my life (I am now 30 in case you were wondering). The thought of never having to study for another exam is a little unbelievable. But incredible at the same time. I have so many plans for what I am going to do with all that extra time. And a lot of it has to do with trying to grow this little blog of mine. Think more posts per week, more recipes, more health information, and more travel and wellness posts. Because the older I get the more and more I realize how much of overall health is related to overall wellness and the things that make you happy. For me that also includes exercise, fashion, spending time with friends and family, reading a good book and even watching a little TV or a movie once in a while. As a typical type-A driven person I often have a hard time focussing on just slowing down and relaxing, but that is something I am trying to work on.

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Speaking of wellness, most of you know that I just got back from Bali. If you want to see a preview of some of the beautiful photos I took while I was there please visit my Instagram account. I will do a full re-cap of my trip in the coming weeks, but I took so many photos there it will take me a bit of time to edit them all. 

That trip was exactly what I needed. A lot of rest, sunshine, amazing food, and a little adventure. I had always heard amazing things about Bali but couldn't have imagined just how beautiful it was until I saw it for myself. I took some pretty amazing photographs while I was there. I just wish I had had more time over there. Two weeks was definitely not enough. Oh well, it just means I will have to plan a return visit. Hopefully soon! 

But let's talk about this week's recipe shall we? Plantain Cookies. Yes friends you read that right. Cookies made from plantains. It is possible I promise. Possible and delicious. Plantains can be used to make almost anything. You may have already seen my plantain pancake and waffle recipes. If not you should try those too!

These cookies are paleo, gluten free, grain free, AIP, dairy free and can also be made egg free. So hopefully that means you can try them! I always try to make my recipes as versatile as possible so that no matter what your dietary restrictions are you can still enjoy delicious food.

Please let me know what you think of these if you try them! I always love getting your feedback.

As always I would be thrilled if you visited my social media pages on PinterestInstagram and Facebook!

Until next time everyone, happy eating!

Paleo Plantain Cookies 


2 plantains, pureed (~ 1 3/4 cups pureed) (I like to use green plantains or ones with just a little yellow)
1 cup full fat coconut milk (I like this brand
1/3 cup coconut oil (I use this brand)
2 TBSP maple syrup or honey
1 TBSP organic vanilla extract (omit for AIP)
1 TBSP organic apple cider vinegar (I use this kind)
2 eggs or substitute with 2 grassfed gelatin eggs - I recommend this brand of grassfed gelatin (use the red container) 
** To make a gelatin egg: combine 1 TBSP grassfed gelatin with 1 TBSP cold water and stir vigorously until the gelatin dissolves, then add 2 TBSP boiling water and beat well (it should make a frothy type substance)

3/4 cup coconut flour (buy here
1/2 cup tapioca flour/ starch (I use this brand
1/2 tsp baking soda (buy here
1/4 tsp sea salt


1. Preheat your oven to 350F
2. Puree your plantains in your vitamix (I use this vitamix) or food processor (I use this food processor)
3. Transfer the pureed plantains to a large glass or ceramic bowl
4. Add the remaining wet ingredients and blend well
5. Add the dry ingredients and blend well with a pastry blender
6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
7. With your hands, form the dough into ~2- 2.5 inch round discs and place on the parchment paper
NOTE: leave a bit of room between each cookie as these do expand when they cook
8. Place the baking sheets in the oven
9. Bake for 25 minutes
10. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes
11. Serve and enjoy!

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DISCLAIMERS: The statements made on this website have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. You assume full responsibility for how you use this information. Always consult with your physician or other health professionals before making any diet or lifestyle changes. 

This post may contain affiliate links whereby if you purchase these products I receive a small percentage of the sale price. This allows me to keep the blog running and I thank you for allowing me to do that!