Welcome to our December guest blogger - Eva from smartmommyhealthybaby.com

Eva founded smartmommyhealthbaby.com in 2009 to find and feature products that are best and safest for mothers and babies (in fact, the whole family!). 

Her years of research have resulted in a very popular 'one-stop, time-saving resource for moms and pregnant moms-to-be who want to find non-toxic, eco-friendly, natural and organic products for their own, their babies' and their families' personal use as well as for their homes'. WOW!

Here she shares with us her smart ways to avoid junk with what we put in, and on, our bodies these holidays...

The holidays are coming!! 

You better watch out, you better not ..... eat too much or use too much "junk!"

Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve,  and most other holidays are focused on family and food.  Lots of food.  We all have heard the adage that we are what we eat, and when it comes to our skin, the quality of our diet does affect the condition of our skin, for better or for worse.  The same can be said about the products we use on our skin. 

Doctors and nutrition experts have identified a number of foods and ingredients that can wreak havoc on our skin, especially when consumed or used in larger amounts.  While some of the bad actors are well-know, such as hydrogenated oils and fried foods that do not easily exit the body and contribute to weakening the metabolic system and, thus, depriving the skin of oxygen, and carbohydrates, especially refined sugars, too much of which can lower our defenses and cause inflammation on the inside and the outside of our bodies, other offenders we ingest are less known:

  1.  Processed Foods:  processed and packaged foods, from chips to frozen dinners, should be avoided anyway, and should be consumed only when fresh food is not available or is not practical.  Food has the most nutrients and offers the most health benefits when it is fresh and processed foods are, by their nature, lower in nutrients, which they lose during the preparation process.  The loss of nutrients also affects our skin and can result in poorer skin condition.  Many processed foods are also low in water, and consuming these foods will result in dehydrated and blemish-prone skin.  If you have to eat processed foods, chose organic or all natural, as those will have less artificial additives.
  2. Conventional Foods: non-organic foods, especially in the United States where the use of additives is less regulated than in Europe, are often full of hormones (from rBST to other growth hormones), antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, and produce waxes (most of which are petroleum based).  These additives are not naturally occurring in our bodies and metabolic systems, and many are not easily "recognized" or metabolized by our bodies.  They can cause internal inflammation and can also cause break-outs.  That is not something to cheer about! If you live in Canada, the EU, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, or Japan; however, you do have something to be happy about - rBST and several other nasties are not approved for use in animals (and, thus, will not pass into your bodies).  So, while organic food is usually more expensive, buy it if and when you can, especially when it comes to fruit, vegetables, and meats - especially if you live in the U.S. 
  3.  Artificial colors and flavors: this category is a big one and very often ignored!  Chemically synthesized colors, from blue #1 to yellow #5, and artificial sweeteners, from aspartame to sucralose, constitute, in the view of many dietitians, hardly more than an experiment.  These additives have no nutritional value or health benefits and we do not actually know how they will affect our bodies in the long term.  In my own "wholly unscientific" opinion, let's just avoid them.  

What we put on our skin is, in many ways, just as important as what we put inside our bodies. To ensure we get through the holidays without any major hiccups caused by the overuse of chemical makeup and skin care on top of sweets and greasy foods, try to use only natural products that are free of parabens, mineral oils, formaldehyde derivatives, and a whole list of other chemicals. As I have noted in my reviews of Living Nature products, there are absolutely no nasties in any of the skin, body, or hair care product, or in the cosmetics made by the company.  They are quite perfect!

The number of chemicals used in skin and body care products almost feels endless (and there are too many to list here, for sure) but here are some of the biggest offenders:

  1.  Parabens: this group of preservatives is widely used in non-organic and non-natural cosmetics and skin care products.  Extended exposure to parabens is suspected of causing organ damage and parabens have been found in breast tumors.  Enough said! Check out EWG here for more information on the 17 types of parabens you may find in various products. 
  2. Petroleum derivatives/mineral oils: Petroleum derivatives.  Doesn't the thought of that alone make your skin crawl?  If it does not, using products with this group of ingredients surely will - mineral oils are known to cause skin allergies in some and acne in others.  In addition, petrolatum is listed as a probable human carcinogen in the European Union's Dangerous Substances Directive.  Visit EWG’s page dedicated to petrolatum to find out more about the potential health hazards.
  3.  DMDM Hydantoin: this additive is used in face and body care products to prevent spoilage - in particular to inhibit the growth of molds, mildew, and bacteria.  The way DMDM Hydantoin achieves this goal is by releasing the very potent preservative formaldehyde (the same one used during the embalming process) - an eye, skin, respiratory system irritant.  Do you want to be that preserved?  EWG has more details on the specific dangers and concerns. Click here to view. 

So, the point is, eat well and use pure skin care products!  Some of my personal favorites include Living Nature's creamy Vitalising Cleanser,which gently removes make-up and dirt without stripping the skin of its own essential oils and moisture and does so without causing any dryness, redness, or irritation, the Extra Hydrating Toning Gel, which is the single best toning gel you will ever use, infusing your skin with moisture, but without any residue or tightness, and the still-handmade lipstick (my color is Laughter) with staying power and a fantastic consistency that is creamy but not overpowering or mask-like, and nourishing without being heavy.  

Happy Holidays!

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