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The topic of endocrine disruptors comes up a lot in the green beauty industry. There is no debate about whether they exist in products but some have their doubts about how much they affect the body and if they contribute to disease. I always urge people to only trust sources that are medical experts or toxicologists on this subject. There’s plenty of bloggers and cosmetic chemists that will defend every ingredient out there but are they qualified to be making these calls? We have had many customers with breast cancer seeking clean skin care products because their oncologists have instructed them to drop potentially harmful synthetics from their routine. How telling is that?

To start, it’s important to note that the media controls our narrative on this topic. People still don’t seem to know that babies are born with synthetic chemicals (an average of 200) in their bodies or that 90% of breast cancer tumors tested had parabens (a cosmetic preservative) in them. The information we receive about consumer goods comes from the outlets that are paid by the companies producing them. Ask a TV producer if they’re allowed to blow the whistle on the health issues associated with consumer goods. NOPE. That would be suicide for a network that depends on their advertising dollars. When non-profit environmental groups try to distribute their research to the public, the chemical media relations machine gets busy discrediting them. I’ve seen it time and time again. They are called ‘fear-mongers’ and ‘junk science’. So where does that leave us? We have to sort through a maze of information to find the truth.

The World Health Organization defines an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) as an “exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub) populations”. Your endocrine system is complex network of glands that secrete hormones in your body. Both human and wildlife depend on a healthy endocrine system to develop and reproduce normally. The most vulnerable time for a human to come in contact with EDCs is during fetal development, childhood, and puberty. Exposure can lead to an increase in incidences of disease throughout their life. Contrary to what you might hear in defence of cosmetic chemicals, the effects of EDCs on the body are not necessarily related to dose and each chemical may not be acting on its own but with numerous other EDCs coined the ‘cocktail effect’. Check out this study by UC Berkeley that shows parabens working differently with other molecules than when tested in isolation (how the cosmetic industry determines it’s safe).    There are approximately 800 synthetic chemicals that are suspected to disrupt hormones but there is limited information available about their effects. The reason why is quite simple and likely something that you have heard before. There is no financial benefit to this kind of research so who is going to fund it? The pharmaceutical companies and breast cancer charities (with a few exceptions) focus on treatments rather than prevention. It’s beyond frustrating but we have to work with the little information we have.

What we do know:

  • Global rates for endocrine-related cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid) have been increasing for the last 40-50 years.
  • Young girls are developing breasts earlier which increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • There is mounting evidence of chemical exposure being linked to thyroid disorders.
  • In 1984, the estimated percentage of couples with fertility problems was 5.4%. Today, the estimated percentage is up to 15.7%.
  • It is estimated that 8% – 10% women suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a disease of the endocrine system.

Endocrine Disruptors in your Bathroom

Parabens

It is one of the most common preservatives in the world and can be found in most creams, lotions, shampoo, and conditioners. It has been found to mimic estrogen on breast cancer tumors  in very small doses and was found in 90% of breast cancer tumors tested. It is a very effective preservative and that is why cosmetic chemists and the companies they work for (not to mention the media that is bought by them) defend it so strongly.

On labels known as:  Methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Phthalates

These chemicals act as fixatives in perfume, meaning they keep the scent on your body and clothes forever. Ever used a hand soap that you can smell the next day? You can thank phthalates for that. When something lasts that long, it screams ‘PERVASIVE’. It won’t break down in the environment or your body. In addition to there being links between maternal phthalate exposure and low sperm count and underdeveloped genitals in baby boys , there have also been links to phthalates and asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

On labels known as: Parfum, fragrance, natural fragrance, natural flavour.

Triclosan

This substance, also known as 5-chloro-2-(2,4- dichlorophenoxy)phenol, was registered as a pesticide in 1969 but can now be found in soaps, toothpastes, mouth washes, deodorants, hand sanitizers and household cleaning products. According to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is no more effective at killing germs than regular soap and water and yet it is putting our health at risk and polluting our water systems. Triclosan is one of those substances that can only be described as a pollutant when it makes its way into the body. It is an endocrine-disruptor that mimics the thyroid hormone thyroxin, contributing to a multitude of health issues. It can also suppress cells important to immune function and fighting cancer.

The kicker is that most of us have it in our bodies. It accumulates in our fat and can even be found in breast milk. When Environmental Defense sampled the urine of 8 high profile Canadians for their report Trouble With Triclosan , 7 had levels ranging from low to very high, even those who were careful about what they put on their bodies.

On labels known as: triclosan, Amicor, Aquasept, Bactonix, Irgasan DP300, Microban, Monolith, Sanitized, Sapoderm, Ster-Zac, and Ultra-Fresh.

Oxybenzone

This is one of the most popular sunscreen ingredients on the market, which again makes this a controversial issue in the cosmetic industry. Wildlife gets more protection and research against this ingredient than humans. It bleaches reef and stunts the growth of baby coral as well as acts as an endocrine disruptor in clams and shrimp, which is why there is a call to ban this ingredient in the state of Hawaii. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention detected the chemical in 96% of the population so it absorbs and accumulates in our bodies.Researchers also found that adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone measurements had significantly lower total testosterone levels.

On labels known as: Under active ingredients – oxybenzone.

We’re living at a time when people are getting diseases from environmental factors and whenever scientists detect or prove a link to a chemical, there is an industry/media outcry “no, it’s not that”. There is so much energy put towards what isn’t causing these diseases and so little put towards what IS. I’ve talked to so many women with breast cancer that are completely frustrated by this. We need answers. If not, then we are left to take matters in our own hands at the risk of seeming paranoid or over-cautious with what we buy. It’s not unreasonable to question brands, read labels, and educate ourselves. If we don’t do it, who will?

* We have heard from customers that are cautious when buying natural skin care because they have been told that there are endocrine disruptors in essential oils, like clary sage and lavender. I encourage you to read these articles by Robert Tisserand that debunk these myths:

http://roberttisserand.com/2010/04/is-clary-sage-oil-estrogenic/

http://roberttisserand.com/2013/02/lavender-oil-is-not-estrogenic/

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humidorbeardoilIt’s not every day an apothecary such as ourselves gets to have their flagship beard oil product field tested by a true industry expert. In fact, we were very surprised indeed to be contacted by the elusive and eccentric Bobert Brush – a man of some celebrity in the domain of male grooming – who seemed most enthused by our formula! Bobert diligently subjected our product to his 7-point scientific beard oil review methodology. In this post we’re listing the reasons we think Bobert graded our beard oil so highly.

Check out the original post here.

High Quality Tobacco Flower Absolute

There’s simply no other oil on the market that strikes the tobacco note with as much purity and force of intent as us. We use tobacco flower absolute, instead of perfume or essential oils. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, an absolute is a concentrate that is produced by solvent extraction rather than steam distillation. With a good understanding of the solvent they are using, extractors can produce absolutes with aromas much closer to the original plant than is possible with essential oils produced through distillation.

Our Lingerability Factor

Bobert was especially impressed by the linger-ability of our oil, scoring it 98%! Because we use a generous amount of high quality ingredients, the aroma of our beard oil tends to stick around for much longer than the competitors.There’s nothing worse than opting for an inferior beard oil only to find you can’t even detect it in your beard ten minutes after you’ve applied it!

We Use Broccoli Seed Oil to Enhance Skin Benefits

By using broccoli seed oil in our recipe, we enhance the skin impact of our recipe. Many beard oil manufacturers are keen to highlight the hair enhancing properties of their wares, but not so many think about the various impacts on the skin. Broccoli seed oil has a reef of benefits for the skin and makes our product really stand out! I reckon that explains why Bobert graded our oil 94% overall!

You can read more about The Beard Oil Pledge and Bobert’s index of leading beard oils here.

If you’re searching for the best beard oil, there’s no need to look anywhere else!beardoils800x200

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I spent a lot of time dealing with acne in my 20s. It started around age 23 and continued until my early 30s. When I first started Cocoon Apothecary, I made aromatherapy remedies and bath/body products. I didn’t dare sell facial care because who was I going to sell it to with pimples all over my face? Eventually, as I ventured into body lotions, I was able to formulate a cream just for myself and those natural ingredients (that are the basis for Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream) made a big difference. My face cleared up and I could finally give myself permission to venture into skin care formulation. I still get the odd break out but I know how to clear it up and get balanced again. I know that I would never ever have a pimple if I cut out wheat entirely but seriously? I live in Canada, it’s what we grow and what we eat. I try. Just let me eat cake! With clear skin.

Here’s how I keep my face clear:

1. I never wear foundation except on special occasions (fancy dinner out, tradeshow etc). If I do, I will break out. There are definitely some exceptions to this such as Sappho Organic Cosmetics and some mineral powders but most of them are pore-clogging nightmares. Take a foundation vacation for a week and see what happens. You might be afraid to go nude in public but anyone that judges your skin is a jerk so who cares? Your face will be 100% better off. Foundation is great for looking flawless but do we have to be perfect 24/7? No one expects this from men (but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

2. I exfoliate daily. I know some of you just gasped but that is the basis of most medicated acne treatments. For example, salycylic acid is a chemical exfoliant. I use a Petal Purity Exfoliating Cleanser, which has gentle jojoba beads that are spherical and will not irritate acne (do not wake up the beast with something harsh). It loosens up dead skin cells and allows excess sebum to move freely without getting clogged in the pore and erupting into a pimple. Usually I exfoliate and then massage my cream into my skin which releases blackheads and other hardened substances. Very gratifying experience. I also use Ancient Mud weekly to draw impurities out of pores and exfoliate a tad deeper than Petal Purity.

3. I never touch my face. Don’t pick. Don’t touch. Your hands are the Times Square of bacteria. You don’t even want to know what’s on there. People say, “I can’t help it”! Yes you can.

4. I don’t use chemical sunscreens. They are really irritating and anyone with sensitive skin can probably attest to this. The way they work is that they turn UV rays to heat on your skin. What could go wrong? Well, I’ll tell you. Your skin can easily get red, inflamed or just plain stressed out – especially over time (hello low grade inflammation). Go with a mineral sunscreen, zinc preferably. It acts like teeny weeny mirrors that deflect the sun from your face. It’s the ultimate protection.

So those are my 4 best tips for being acne-free. I know diet is a big factor but to be honest, I’ve known some really clean eaters that had acne so I’m not 100% convinced that it’s the only factor. I think there is plenty that you can do on the outside.

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EWGV_Green-check_HToday we joyfully announce that 2 of our best-selling products have been granted the EWG VERIFIED™ seal of approval! And Cocoon Apothecary happens to be the first Canadian skin care company to do so. We have been working in conjunction with the Environmental Working Group since 2007 to provide our customers with a truly transparent list of ingredients, and this extension of our partnership is incredibly satisfying.

From day 1 of Cocoon Apothecary our goal has been to create luxury, eco-friendly, non-toxic, organic skin care products without compromise or a wicked price tag. We believe that extraordinary green personal care products should be available for everyone. The Skin Deep database provides detailed information on the ingredients of thousands of personal products from our own moisturizers to mascaras from every brand you can think of. EWG has spent more than 20 years dedicated to the safety of the planet and its occupants, and in that time has become a trusted source for personal care product safety and consumer education.

EWG VERIFIED: For Your Health™ program kicks the Skin Deep database up a notch by looking beyond the label. Getting verified was no easy task. We had to provide detailed documentation about our products right from our sources, including proof from our supplier confirming the purity of our glycerine. Rest-assured that any company you find with the EWG VERIFIED™ seal is as good as it gets. That means ingredients that are safe to use on a daily basis.

Why did we go through with obtaining this designation? To prove to you, our customers, that our word is honourable, and to show you without a doubt that your trust in our company is warranted. This high five from EWG is huge, and we are ecstatic to be EWG Verified!

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inflammaging_faceI am someone that has sensitive skin. I remember trying a cream in the 1980s that contained alpha hydroxy acids, the ‘anti-aging” ingredient of that era, and feeling the burn. I knew then that this unpleasant sensation on my skin could not possibly be good for it so I avoided it from that point on. Having sensitive skin has saved me from so many harsh products over the years and I believe it is a major factor in having great skin in my 40s.

Inflammaging is a new term for the cellular damage that occurs when certain chemicals come in contact with the body. In skin care terms, this means anything that causes burning, redness, swelling, or pain. It can also describe something that’s much more subtle, a chronic low-grade inflammation from skin care ingredients that you can’t detect but are slowly damaging your skin and causing it to age more rapidly than if you used nothing at all. I’ve seen it time and time again, someone that looks amazing for their age and when asked what they use, they respond with ‘nothing’. This is how my suspicions started about conventional products doing more harm that good. Many times, it’s the actual ‘anti-aging’ ingredients that are the culprit. Take for instance glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid with molecules so tiny it can penetrate layers and attack collagen and elastin, leading to droopy skin and deep wrinkles.

Quick fix solutions and painful or harsh treatment are not the answer. Nourishing and supporting your skin with gentle, natural ingredients is the long term solution because they are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals that work in harmony with our bodies rather than seeming like a foreign intruder that must be battled.

Ingredients known to cause inflammaging:

– glycolic acid

– retinol

–  benzoyl peroxide

This is a limited list of ingredients that I could dig up but I am positive the list is much larger, with chemical sunscreens, all alpha and beta hydroxy acids, certain detergents, and some essential oils. My advice would be to listen to your skin. A skin care product should feel soothing and cooling and serve to protect and rebuild. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

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Skin TypeKnowing your skin type will guide you towards your ideal skin care routine for a healthy glow and confidence boost. Here are the most common traits of dry, normal, combination and sensitive skin.

Dry Skin Attributes:

  • Rough or papery texture
  • Feels tight and looks thin
  • Small pores
  • Absorbs moisture quickly
  • Minimal oil production*

Dry or alipidic skin does not produce enough sebum (oil) to protect it from environmental pollutants and the signs of aging. The skin is often sensitive because the acid mantle – the natural barrier between your skin and the outside world – is weakened. Look for skin care products known as occlusives, which are thick moisturizers that protect the acid mantle and to develop a healthy balance between skin and oil.

Try:  Petal Purity Facial Cleanser followed by Rosehip Oil Moisturizing Serum or Today Serum before bed and follow up with Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream after you brush your teeth in the morning. If you’re a morning shower person skip the evening cleanse (but always remove makeup!).

*See note under Oily Skin

Dry vs. Dehydrated

Dehydrated skin is lacking in water instead of oil, and can strike all skin types. Dehydrated skin can look thin or flakey, and can feel like a bit like tissue paper to the touch. Dehydration of the skin is caused by internal factors such as caffeine, alcohol, and medications as well as external factors such as sun exposure, winter weather, harsh products or over-exfoliation. Drink plenty of water or herbal teas and moisturize regularly.

Normal Skin Attributes:

  • Usually blemish-free
  • Matte or glowy appearance, but not shiny
  • Pores are normal size, noticeable around the T-zone

Normal skin can fluctuate between all the skin types, but won’t do so radically or for an extended period of time. While it’s the ideal skin type, it still requires regular care to keep skin and oil production in healthy unity.

Try:  Petal Purity Facial Cleanser followed by Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream. Boost your skin’s glow by adding a few drops of Argan Oil Moisturizing Serum to your facial cream application.

Combination Skin Attributes:

  • Parts of the face can be oily while others are normal or dry
  • T-zone and chin are often the oiliest parts of the face
  • Pores are more obvious outside the T-zone
  • Skin around the edges of the face can be flakey and dehydrated

With a little tender loving care, it is possible to tame combination skin. The key to balancing the oil and dryness is with gentle cleansers and regular exfoliating to remove dead skin cells and combat acne. Regular exfoliating could mean anywhere from daily to weekly, let your skin decide. Water-based products are ideal.

Try:  Petal Purity Exfoliating Facial Cleanser followed by our gently astringent  Rose Dew Facial Toner and a generous application of Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream.

Oily Skin Attributes:

  • Excessive oil production*
  • Pores are large
  • Prone to blemishes
  • Can look sallow and thick

Oily, or lipidic, skin needs a balanced regime of moisturizer and cleanser. Too much cleansing will strip the acid mantle that protects skin from environmental pollutants to cause irritation, while too little will lead to breakouts and speed the signs of aging. Too little moisture will cause skin to continue to overproduce oil, while a thick moisturizer may not entirely absorb. Exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells that can become trapped in the pores by oil and cause acne. The good news is that oily skin is slow to show the signs of aging!

Try:  Petal Purity Exfoliating Facial Cleanser – gentle enough to use daily – followed by  Orange Blossom Toner and Orange Blossom Facial Cream, both designed specifically for oily skin.

*Excess oil production can also be a sign of dry skin. When this happens it’s because the skin was dry for so long that the body overcompensates in oil production. If astringent products irritate your skin rather than combat oil, you likely have dry skin.

Sensitive Skin:

  • Fragile, red, and appears thin
  • Flushes red easily and it’s common to have conditions that cause redness such as rosacea
  • Especially common in descendants of Northern Europeans

Sensitive skin has become more common thanks to our society’s hurried, stressful idea of normal, but it is also caused by harsh weather, sun exposure, environmental pollutants and genetics. It is fussy, but not impossible to pamper. Exfoliate sparingly; you may find just gently removing cleanser with a washcloth is enough. Read skin care product labels carefully and avoid anything astringent or with added scent, and avoid deep cleansing masks. Stop using products immediately if there is any sign of irritation.

Try:  Petal Purity Facial Cleanser, which is cream-based so does not suds up and strip skin of moisture. Follow with  Rosey Cheeks Facial Cream. If you’re interested in a moisture-boosting serum like our Argan Oil Moisturizing Serum use that in place of a cream moisturizer as using both may overwhelm your skin.

My skin doesn’t fit any of these categories.

That’s not unheard of. The theme that links all skin types together is balance. Be open to the idea of trying different routines and products, and keep track of what your skin likes and does not like. If you find something that works, stick with it even if you’re tempted to try something else because regularly changing your routine may not do your skin any favours.

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SPF is a number that’s put on sun protection to tell you how much longer you can stay in the sun than if you weren’t wearing any protection at all. So if you can stay in the sun for 10 minutes without burning, then with a Sun Protection Factor of 15 you will be able to stay in the sun for 150 minutes without burning.

I want to explain these numbers a little bit more and how they come up with them. First you need to know about the UV rays. There are 2 types of UV rays that we get exposed to. One is UVB and that one [causes] more of a surface damage, so the first few layers of the skin get affected by the UVB rays, and these are what cause burns. The UVA rays are not as easy to detect because you don’t get red, but they are doing damage at an even deeper level into your skin, and they can attack collagen and elastin. UVA rays are what actually cause a lot of aging and wrinkles.

Tanning beds are so bad for your skin because they’re mostly UVA rays, and they will just age your skin like nobody’s business. That’s a definite no-no!

I want you to be aware of something. The FDA and the Environmental Working Group suggest that you do not use Sun Protection Factor over 50, and this is why; when they do testing for SPF in the lab, they’re only testing UVB ray exposure because they look at how fast the skin goes red. What companies have learnt to do is put antioxidants and anti-inflammatories into their formulas so that the redness is reversed by these ingredients, and it jacks up the SPF. What’s wrong with that is you are still getting exposed to these rays, you’re just not getting red because it’s being reversed. This is giving a false sense of protection for people; you’re getting a lot more sun than you think you are, because it’s not about redness at this point because there are ingredients that are counter-acting it. This doesn’t mean you’re not getting the harmful rays, your DNA is not being attacked, whatever – it’s still happening. Just be aware of that when you’re using these really high SPFs. My preference is that you use lower SPF and you take care of your skin other ways; you don’t go outside as much, you find shade, you go under an umbrella at the beach, you wear a hat, you wear UV-protective clothing. The 60+, the 50, even, it’s just giving a false sense of security to people, and I really do believe people are damaging their skin and they don’t know any better because it’s not going red when it would usually go red. So keep that in mind and stay protected.

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