Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

One of the main causes of aging skin is inflammation. It damages cells and reduces collagen production, creating wrinkles and sagging well before they are supposed to appear. There are two types of inflammation – acute inflammation, which is the body’s healthy response to injuries and infection and chronic inflammation, which is when the body is continuously in a state of inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body can trigger serious diseases such as atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and diabetes. On the skin, it can lead to premature aging, rosacea, eczema and hyper-pigmentation. It is caused by eating the wrong foods, drinking excessively, smoking, stress, infections, immune responses, uv rays and the most common, harsh skin care products.

People inundate their skin with harsh ingredients every day of their lives because they are in so many products. Sensitive skin types know exactly what these products are because they will feel a burn, and develop redness and/or swelling. Other people won’t feel a thing but that doesn’t mean it is not incurring the damage.

Look for the following ingredients to avoid chronic skin inflammation in your daily routine:

1. Alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids – Includes glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, salicylic acid and tartaric acid. The are chemical exfoliants that remove dead skin cells but can also damage healthy cells and barrier function. They also leave the skin vulnerable to UV rays.

2. Chemical sunscreens – These types of sunscreen turn UV rays into heat on the skin. They can be very irritating and cause redness and bumps to form. Look for products with zinc, a physical sunscreen that blocks UV rays by deflecting it off the face.

3. Fragrance – Can be an assortment of many chemicals, including harmful ones like phthalates and synthetic musks. Choose natural products with no fragrance or ones with gentle essential oils.

4. Detergents – These cleansers are currently in everything. They have even replaced bar soap for many people. They are meant to remove grease, dirt and pollutants but will also remove protective barriers and cause imbalances and inflammation in the skin. Use bars soaps and milk cleansers instead.

5. Retinoids – Retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, and retinyl linoleate are anti-aging ingredients related to vitamin A. They make your skin sun-sensitive and break down when exposed to UV rays to create free radicals that will damage your skin. Stick to anti-aging rosehip oil for a natural dose of retinoid, sans the side effects.

If one of the main causes of premature aging is chronic skin inflammation, then it is wise to keep inflammatories out of your life by way of lifestyle choices and the right skin care products. Natural skin care is the best choice for this because the ingredients are not only free of harsh ingredients, but they also contain anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that will reverse the damage that occurs.

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ImageSo I want to share what I took from my little jaunt to New York (besides the fact that it is an awesome city with genuine, kind people). It was a whirlwind trip and I can only describe it as a surreal ‘how did I get here?’ moment. I still don’t know how I was singled out and invited by the Clinton Global Initiative but I’ll tell you this – my biggest desire and dream for my life was highlighted at a talk I went to so I felt my heart almost burst when I made that connection.

First I’ll tell you this – I once had a vivid dream that I was in Africa and there were troughs full of nuts with people processing them. At first I just thought it was wacky, random visual but then I starting piecing it together – those were shea nuts and we were making shea butter. In my mind, I’ve always believed that I got a quick vision of my future.

The talk that I was invited to was called “Linking Human and Natural Capital: Market Solutions for Sustainability”. One of the speakers was Jill Dumain, from the clothing company Patagonia – remarkable what they do as a company sourcing sustainable fabrics around the world. The other was Olivier Behra, CEO of Man and Nature, a non-profit organization that connects private companies (mostly beauty industry) with sustainable, ecological ingredients. Not only is this about conservation of natural resources and biodiversity but it is also about helping communities make a living off of their land – FAIR TRADE. They bridge the gap between the beauty companies and the people producing botanical ingredients. Also, if Man and Nature sees an opportunity in an area, they will teach the community how to harvest and process it and then find buyers. YES!!! This is such an incredible idea to me because many small business like Cocoon aren’t big enough to be flying in to various countries and checking out suppliers (although, obviously I will one day be going to Africa;). The fact that the beauty industry is shifting from petrochemicals to natural ingredients opens up a new world of biodiversity and conservation on this planet and I couldn’t be more happy to be part of this global movement. You are part of it too – every time you purchase from plant-based, ethical companies.

Other things I took from this meeting –

* I watched Bill speak and he is the man. His entire existence is about making the world a better place in a strategic manner that is working!!!

* As a planet, there is hope. When you are in a room full of the biggest companies in the world committing to the environmental and humanitarian efforts, you can’t help but feel a sense of optimism.

* As investors, we are creating the demand for ethical commerce. This is seriously huge. If you don’t like the way things are – don’t invest in it. Look for ethical funds – they are out there!


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The winter months always come with an increase in dehydrated skin. Maintaining a healthy moisturized complexion is no small feat for many of us. It takes a daily commitment of lathering on creams, lotions, butters and oils to avoid chalky legs or flakey noses. Not all moisturizers are created equal and there are many things to consider when choosing a product for your skin. Here is a breakdown of the types of moisturizers available and how they may be beneficial to you.

Creams and Lotions (aka Emulsions)

There are five main components to a lotion or cream:
Water: Hydrates skin and makes product easier to spread.
Emollients: Oils/butters/waxes that lock water into skin keeping it plump and hydrated. They also protect, soften and sometimes nourish. Plant oils are ideal because they are full of performing ingredients such as fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants. Petroleum emollients such as mineral oil, paraffins and silicones (found in most conventional formulas) may be good for protecting skin and locking in moisture but are inert and offer no nourishment. They can be ecotoxic to our water systems as well.
Emulsifiers/Thickeners: Substances that bond oil and water together and thicken the product.
Preservatives: Ingredients added to protect the product from unwanted bacterial growth and rancidity.
Actives: Substances added to enhance the performance of the product or offer sun protection.

The pros of using a cream or lotion is that your skin receives both water and emollients at the same time so your skin gets plumped up and rehydrated while it is being protected from water loss. It allows for a very thin layer of oil and wax that absorbs quickly. The downside is that it involves more chemicals to create an emulsion so you have to be wary of the ingredients used.

Facial/Body Oils and Serums

Oils and serums are usually a combination of emollients (oils) and active (performing) ingredients. The advantage of this type of product is that it is concentrated so it contains a heavy dose of antioxidants, vitamins, fatty acids and other substances such as hyaluronic acid and peptides. The disadvantage is that it may be too heavy for some skin types and it does not contain water to increase hydration levels. A great use for an oil/serum is to add it to a cream or lotion to increase the thickness and performance of the product.


These are blends of oil and waxes that usually contain therapeutic herbs and essential oils. They are very heavy moisturizers so they are a great option for extremely dry or irritated skin, lip care and cuticles. They would be too heavy for most faces and do not contain water.


These are products that are very similar to balms (oil and wax) but they contain a high amount of plant butters such as cocoa, shea or mango. They often get whipped into a lighter feel than balms. They are a great option for dry skin but tend to feel greasy to some.

Tips for Buying a Moisturizer

  • Ingredients on a skin care label are listed in order of percentage from highest to lowest. Look for plant and nut oils as the first or second (next to water) ingredients to determine the quality of a product. Many companies will use cheap fillers to create the bulk of a formula so watch for ingredients lists that begin with a chemical rather than a botanical.

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Facial Scrub

A good anti-aging or pimple-fighting skin care routine is not complete without exfoliating – a term that refers to the removal of the dead skin cells that accumulate in the outer layer of the skin. There are different methods of exfoliating – mechanical scrubbing with a textured ingredient such as jojoba beads or by using a skin brush; chemical removal with alpha-hydroxy acids; or peeling off with face masks. Some gentle scrubs can be used daily but the more agressive methods, such as masks, should only be used once every 3 days to prevent inflammation.

There are several functions of exfoliation:

  • It keeps pores from getting clogged (i.e. pimples) by removing  dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.
  • It makes skin smooth to create a healthy, youthful appearance.
  • It encourages faster cell turnover rate – a process that slows down with aging.
  • It helps other products penetrate skin more fully.
  • It stimulates blood flow.

Cocoon Apothecary has just introduced a gentle exfoliating facial cleanser that can be used daily. It is a cream cleanser with biodegradable jojoba bead granules. For more information or to purchase this product, visit our website.

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I embrace New Year’s as an opportunity for a fresh start and resolutions are a big part of this. I have a huge list this year so I’m categorizing. 

Here are my 2010 New Year’s resolutions for taking care of my skin.

1. I will drink more water. It plumps up my skin with hydration and cleanses my system so that I don’t break out. 

2. I will eat foods high in essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants and avoid wheat and dairy. Nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are beauty foods – they  give my skin a healthy glow.

3. I will moisturize morning and night with an organic cream (obviously Rosey Cheeks). Facial cream locks in moisture, protects skin, fights free-radical damage and supports functions such as collagen production.

4. I will drink more green tea. It is packed with polyphenols to keep skin wrinkle-free.

5.  I will exfoliate. I will scrub my face in the morning with an upcoming Cocoon product (yes, we have a scrub being launced soon), or a facial brush or even a wash cloth.  I will use a clay mask every 2 to 3 days to detox my pores. Exfoliating is almost equal to moisturizing for keeping skin young. It helps speed up skin cell turnover which tends to slow down with aging.

6. I will not squint or frown or raise my eyebrows. I know this sounds crazy but you can control these facial expressions. I will remember to wear sunglasses.  I will smile more.

7. I will not worry or get stressed out as this can contribute to wrinkles. I will practice yoga and be mindful of where my thoughts are.

8. I will exercise outdoors daily. This delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to skin.

I hope that everyone has a great 2010 full of healthy habits and free of crappy products!

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