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4 Natural Alternatives to Antibacterial Ointment (And Why You Need Them)

natural alternatives to antibiotic ointmentWhen you’re a parent, there’s always something to worry about or lose sleep over. Always. And when you have a little daredevil like I do, it’s sometimes hard to know where the legit concerns end (no running with a fork in your hand, Kid) and helicopter parenting begins (“Wait, don’t climb up the ladder on the playground until I am behind you to break your fall!”).

But even if you put your best helicopter parenting skills to the test, at some point you’re probably going to need (or want) some kind of ointment or balm to soothe your babe’s boo-boos. But before you reach for the triple-antibiotic ointment — you know the one I mean, right?! — take a look at that ingredients list. Then put the box back on the shelf and back away slowly. But don’t worry. I worry enough for both of us (I promise!), and I’m here to help.

Here are three great reasons to trash that little tube of unnecessary ointment, and four natural alternatives to reach for instead.

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Natural Beauty Q&A: Jennifer Eden, Co-Founder of Tampon Tribe

Tampon Tribe Indigo + CanaryI’ve been noticing more and more that one of my go-to products — one that which, frankly, I have given very minimal thought — is deserving a closer look. Hide your eyes if you’re squeamish, because I’m about to broach a subject that makes most people want to end a conversation mid-sentence.

In a word: tampons. Oh yes, I went there.

So here’s the thing: A while back I read about how some women had discovered their tampons were kind of moldy. (Thank you, Jezebel, for giving me more fodder for my already-vivid nightmares.) Then I started thinking about all that blindingly white cotton, and how it was probably bleached with some pretty harsh chemicals, and then — LALALA — I promptly plugged my fingers in my ears and tried to drown out the sounds of my own thoughts.

Because sometimes it all just feels like way too much, you know? I worry enough about BPA and nanoparticles and microbeads and pthalates and parabens and now I also have to worry about the chemicals that go into manufacturing tampons, too?

Well, the answer is obviously yes. Don’t believe me? Pop over and read “The Truth About Tampons” over at Time and then come back here so we can talk. No, really, I’ll wait.

Are we good now? Great. Let me introduce you to Jennifer Eden, co-founder of Tampon Tribe. It’s a natural tampon subscription service that’s officially launching with an IndieGogo campaign on September 12. The product? 100% organic, nontoxic tampons with compostable applicators. For real.

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4 Reasons to Try a Deodorant Detox This Fall

4 Reasons Fall Is the Best Season for a Deodorant Detox

When you’re making the switch from conventional products to natural beauty, body, and skincare, one of the most important transitions is the one from antiperspirant to a natural deodorant. (Sticking it out with natural shampoo is at the top of the list, too.) Changing these beauty habits — especially when your body has worked hard to “adapt” to all those chemicals — can be a challenging, sweaty, and even smelly process. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the work. And guess what? Fall is the best season to do it. Here’s why.

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How to evaluate natural/organic cosmetics

I’m starting to peek at the results of the 2013 Indigo+Canary Reader Survey—thanks again to everyone who has already participated!—and I’m seriously grateful to all of you for your candid responses, kind words, requests, and feedback.

One topic that keeps coming up?  The tendency to become overwhelmed by the transition to natural cosmetics. So here’s a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to evaluating a product I’m considering, either in-store or online. I hope you find it helpful.

Feel free to leave your own tips, techniques, challenges, etc. in the comments! I’d be happy to do a follow-up post if anyone has specific challenges for us to tackle together. —Aleigh

DON’T believe the hype. Many, many products contain natural and/or organic ingredients. That doesn’t mean they don’t also contain a bunch of junk ingredients. (Note: The practice of promoting a product as natural when it isn’t is called greenwashing. And it stinks.)

DO realize there’s a difference between natural and organic. There are many natural products out there that aren’t organic (and even many organic products that can’t claim to be 100% organic) that I think are safe and beneficial. I almost always use the term “natural” because I don’t focus exclusively on organic products—you’ll find both natural and organic products on this blog. Some people refer to them as “clean” products.

DO check for ingredients that are an immediate no-go. Fact: Ingredients lists are often overwhelmingly extensive. If you can remember 3-5 key ingredients* you know you want to stay away from at all costs, scan and look for those before you scrutinize the entire ingredients list. That way, if you spot something like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) anywhere on the list, you can rule out that product without having to study each and every ingredient.

DON’T forget to consider your specific needs. If you have sensitive skin or know that you’re sensitive to a certain ingredient, check for those first on an ingredients list. You may also want to be a little more picky about the purity of the ingredients list if you’re looking for a product to use on your little one as opposed to when you’re shopping for a shampoo you’re going to use yourself.

DO look up ingredients you don’t recognize. Especially the ones that are ridiculously long and hard to pronounce. This is the most laborious step, but an important one. In stores, it’s helpful to have a smartphone with some natural beauty apps or a list of your no-go ingredients in your wallet for reference. Online, I keep a link to the SkinDeep Database open so I can switch back and forth easily.

DON’T hesitate to ask for a full ingredients list if you can’t find one. Many not-natural products (and to be fair, some truly natural products) don’t include full ingredients lists online. If this is the case, I often email the company to ask for a complete ingredients list…but it makes me extremely suspicious that a product isn’t actually as natural as it claims.

DO make a judgment call. Transitioning to natural cosmetics is a personal journey. You might decide to go all-in and toss every single one of your not-natural products at once to replace them with purer ones. But you don’t have to. Instead, you may decide to replace them one by one, as you use up your conventional products. Or you may choose to ditch the ones that have the most questionable ingredients first. It’s entirely up to you, and there is no wrong approach. Want more? Here’s a link to my natural/organic beauty philosophy.

DON’T stress over the decision. Easier said than done, I know. But keep in mind that  any effort you make is better than no effort. Really! And you have several factors to consider: convenience, price, availability, performance, and purity. So prioritize those factors in whatever order works best for you. (Example: I frequently buy a mostly-natural mascara in drugstores because I procrastinate on ordering a more natural version online…and mascara is the one beauty product I rarely leave the house without putting on. In that case, I typically prioritize convenience and price over performance and purity.)


*For me, these no-go ingredients are pthalates, any kind of parabens (there are six: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben and benzylparaben), sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, PEGs, and any artificial colors or fragrances. There are plenty other ingredients I avoid or do my best to avoid, of course, but these are the absolute, I-will-not-touch-them items. Bella Floria has a great explanation of these ingredients and a few others you may want to stay away from, here. 

(Image via Christian Kadluba on flickr)

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Link Love Friday

My tree is finally up (and decorated), there’s a wreath on my front door, and I’m planning my menu for Christmas dinner—which is definitely going to include these gorgeous, buttery roasted chestnuts—but I have to admit that I’m seriously behind in my gift shopping.

If you are, too, our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide might help.

In the meantime, I’ve rounded up some nuggets of natural beauty goodness from around the web to share with you. Here’s what I’ve been reading + enjoying this week.

Happy almost weekend, everyone! —Aleigh

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