Self Tanner Dos and Don’ts

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Self tanner spray tan by professional

What is a self-tanner, and what are some Dos and Don’ts for their use?

A self-tanner is a cream or lotion containing chemicals that react with the skin’s surface to produce an artificial tan. They’ve been around for a long time, and no doubt most of us have tried one at least once. The FDA approved the use of the main ingredient, Dihydroxyacetone (or DHA), in the 1970s for use in self-tanners. Before this, people utilized the tannins found in tea leaves to stain the skin a darker color. Ugh!

Formulations have improved quite a bit since then. Unlike the products that made one look like a carrot, it’s now possible to have a fairly natural-looking tan (even tanning gradually) with the products on the market today.

Self Tanner Dos

There is the obvious reason for using a self-tanner: you avoid excess sun exposure which is known to damage the skin. One also gets instant gratification; instead of tanning for hours, an instant tan can be had with very little effort. For someone looking to look sunkissed for a special event, it is a quick and easy way to achieve the look without the risk of sunburn. Some self tanners also contain erythrulose, a carbohydrate that helps to produce a more natural-looking tan.

Self Tanner Don’ts

So what are the downsides to using a self-tanner? For one, some individuals may be sensitive to the main ingredient DHA. It has been shown to cause contact dermatitis in some individuals. More importantly, some studies have shown that sun exposure within 24 hours of applying DHA can cause free radical formation, thereby damaging skin cells. Therefore, it’s important for consumers to know that when using self-tanners containing this ingredient, they should avoid sun exposure for a period of time.

Many individuals also use tanning booths where the self-tanner is sprayed onto the skin. This increases the likelihood of inhaling DHA and other ingredients, which can have negative effects over time. Long-term effects of inhaling these ingredients is unknown. The dyes used in these products could also cause allergic reactions. In addition, many of the other ingredients found in self-tanners like fragrances and preservatives may also cause reactions in some individuals.

So can one find a self-tanner without DHA? Alternative ingredients are being developed for self-tanners that do not produce the same type chemical reaction. For example, the amino acid Tyrosine has been shown to possibly enhance melanin formation in the skin. Other ingredients like this include Vitamin D metabolite, retinoids, and Forskolin (derived from the Indian Coleus root). It may be some time before they are commonly available.

Alternatives to Self-Tanners

Another idea that involves zero commitment is to use cosmetics to create a temporary glow. Many cream and powder bronzers are available on the market that can be used on the face and body to provide some color. Ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S. are regulated by the FDA. Even so, a patch test is always a good idea if your skin is particularly sensitive. Powders tend to have fewer ingredients than creams and lotions.

Regardless of which product you use, it’s always a good idea to obtain an ingredient list and to perform a patch test before using it all over. Read reviews and exercise caution when going out into the sun. With a little experimentation, you will be able to find the right self-tanner to give you the sunkissed glow you’re seeking.

References:
Wikipedia article on sunless tanning
Huffington Post article on self-tanners
Compound Interest article on the history of a fake tan

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Health and Beauty Apps to Try

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Health and Beauty Apps to try

Health and Beauty apps are here to stay.

But which ones to try? With all of the app selections out there for iOS and Android phones, it can be difficult to pinpoint the ones to try, even when they are free. Here, we’ve focused on those apps that we found appealing based on their focus. Rather than sifting through a myriad of apps designed to encourage you to shop for a particular product, we’ve selected apps that do something else. Below is a list of interesting apps that help you make healthier, more ethical choices.

  • Healthy Living App – created by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to better health and the environment, it contains a database of approximately 120,000 personal care products and gives consumers an assessment score based on perceived toxicity. All you need to do is to enter a product name or scan its barcode. Products verified under its EWG-Verified label are also included. The app is free; for iOS/Android.
  • Think Dirty App – a journey that began with Founder and CEO Lily Tse’s family history of breast cancer has culminated in a project that has the support of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Breast Cancer Foundation, among others. With over 550,000 products listed in its database, it’s a good place to start if you want to know exactly what is in your personal care products. Free in the App Store and Google Play.
  • Cruelty-free App – created by the Coalition for Consumer Information in Cosmetics, this app allows you to search for products in their database that are certified cruelty-free under their “Leaping Bunny” program. As of this writing, reports are that the scan function needs work, but if you merely want to see which companies are listed, it’s a useful tool.
  • Good on You Ethical Fashion App – we thought to include this app here, although it is not related to beauty products. After all, why avoid harmful chemicals in your skincare if you wear a t-shirt made with pesticide-laden cotton, or made using child labor? Here you can find over 1,000 brands that maintain transparency in their manufacturing practices, so that you can feel good about what you put on. Want to know which of your favorites is playing dirty? You may find them here. Free in the Apple Store and in Google Play.
  • Zeel App – If you would love to have a massage, but often have to travel far or you can’t get away, here is a cool solution. With this app, you can schedule a massage in the comfort of your own home. Available in many locations throughout the U.S., you can sign up for a membership discount if you choose, or just schedule a massage as needed. What could be better?

We hope that these apps will help you find healthy products for yourself and your family. Do you know of another useful health/beauty app? Feel free to comment below.

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Why Exfoliate?

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Why exfoliate blog post by WEBA Natural Products

Many consumers, both men and women, have probably asked themselves “why exfoliate?” After all, it’s an additional step in one’s skincare routine, so it’s important to know why it can be beneficial for the skin (when done properly).

What does “exfoliate” mean? Broadly stated, it involves rubbing a granular substance on the skin to help remove dead cells from the skin. There are many ways to do this: 1) using a loofah or washcloth; 2) using an exfoliating soap or scrub; 3) using a brush; 4) using a chemical (AHA or BHA) peel or other treatment. Exfoliation can be useful as we get older, when our body’s ability to slough off dead skin diminishes. In order to prevent buildup that can lead to skin dullness and clogged pores, exfoliating is a useful addition to a skincare regimen. It need not be done every day to be effective.

There are pluses and minuses to using the above-mentioned methods to remove dead skin cells. Loofahs are difficult to keep clean, for example, and must be disinfected regularly. They should not be shared. Washcloths should be tossed in the washer regularly, as well, but they are easier to keep clean. Exfoliating soaps are easy to use and often contain natural exfoliants like sea salt, sand, clay, oatmeal, etc. Fortunately, the US banned the use of plastic beads in skincare products recently. There are many more earth-friendly alternatives that one can look for in their products, like jojoba beads, walnut shells, or the items mentioned previously.

Sugar scrubs (like our Body Smoother sold here) are gentler than salt scrubs and help to draw moisture into the skin. Body brushes can also be used for “dry brushing” which can improve circulation overall. Choose the product that best suits your type of skin and your lifestyle.

Perhaps the harshest products for sensitive skin are the chemical peels and other Alpha hydroxy or Beta hydroxy acid treatments on the market. Designed to speed cell turnover, they are often administered in a dermatologist’s office. However, many milder DIY treatments are available. It’s important to follow instructions and not over-indulge in these treatments, as they can still cause irritation. They also make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so a good sunscreen is a must. Treatments containing salicylic acid (a Beta hydroxy acid) can also penetrate skin and help with conditions ranging from acne to keratosis pilaris (those annoying bumps on the backs of the arms, etc.)

If you decide to exfoliate regularly, it’s a good idea to start slowly – say, two to three times a week before bedtime. If you notice any sign of irritation, cut back or try a gentler exfoliating product. Moisturize immediately following exfoliation to soothe and lock in moisture. Use a barrier sunscreen when going outdoors to prevent sun damage. And if you notice any unusual changes in your skin that don’t disappear, see a doctor. If you follow these steps, chances are you will be rewarded with smoother, clearer, and younger-looking skin.

References:3 Ways Sugar is Good for Your Skin by the Huffington Post
What’s really lurking on your loofah article

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Hair loss prevention tips

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hair loss tips by WEBA Natural products

Hair loss treatments are a multi-billion dollar business and a growing concern for both men and women. There are many possible causes of hair loss, but most of them fall into two categories: 1) Hair loss (or alopecia) caused by system-wide medical conditions; and 2) Hair loss caused by environmental factors. As we are not medical professionals, addressing #1 is beyond the scope of this blog post. As for #2, there is much that we can do to address the various environmental stressors that might contribute to hair loss. Moreover, there are a few tips that we can provide that don’t cost a lot, and that may help stem the tide of hair loss that you may be experiencing.

Environmental Stressors

Aside from the conditions that can cause male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness (heredity, autoimmune conditions, metabolic conditions), there are the things that we do to our hair that place stress on the hair follicles. These include such things as tugging and pulling wet hair, hair coloring, blow drying, and pulling hair back into a tight ponytail. These factors affect the hair strands themselves by placing stress on the follicles. Over time, these practices can cause inflammation and weaken the hair shaft. Harsh sulfate shampoos, silicone products, and product buildup could lead to damaged hair and scalp.

The solution is simple; we need to cut down on the amount of stress we place on our hair. If we suffer from dandruff or scalp psoriasis, it’s important to seek treatments that will alleviate these conditions, as well. It’s important to treat our scalps the same way we treat our skin. Avoid harsh chemicals and fragrances that can cause rashes and allergic reactions. There are many sulfate-free shampoos on the market now, and a good rinse with apple cider vinegar can help to eliminate or prevent product buildup in our hair, which can clog hair follicles.

For thousands of years, ayurvedic scalp treatment have been used to stimulate circulation in the scalp to help maintain a healthy scalp. Using coconut or amla oil, and including essential oils of neem, rosemary, or tea tree can help minimize harmful bacteria and nourish the hair, as well. One study found it beneficial to use hair products infused with caffeine to stimulate hair growth.

Exercise and eating a balanced diet that is low in sugar are also helpful, as anything that benefits the rest of the body will invariably benefit our hair and scalp.

To sum up, here are some hair loss prevention tips that can help you maintain healthy hair and scalp:

  • Avoid mechanically stressing the hair (pulling, wet-brushing, blow-drying, tight ponytails) as much as possible
  • If you smoke or drink heavily, stop.
  • Use mild shampoos and conditioners, and rinse hair with apple cider vinegar once a week
  • Avoid using harsh treatments like perms, relaxers, and hot curlers, which can burn hair follicles
  • Wear a hair covering and/or barrier sunscreen on your hair and scalp when out in the sun
  • Try yoga or acupuncture to help relieve stress and bring down stress hormones
  • Massage the scalp regularly using ayurvedic herbs like Arnica and Ashgawanda (use as directed)
  • Use scalp treatments containing essential oils like neem and rosemary, and caffeine-infused treatments like our coffee/orange/clove oil bar soap.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes adequate calories and vitamins and is low in refined sugar, which causes inflammation.
  • Stay active. Not only will it enhance your immune system and improve mood, but it will improve overall circulation.

Finally, if you think there is something wrong, see a doctor. It’s important to rule out any underlying medical condition that may be causing your hair loss. Hair loss can be a scary and embarrassing thing, but with a little effort you can take steps to maintain healthy hair and scalp.

References:
WikiHow article on hair growth
Top 10 Ayurvedic hair loss prevention treatments
American Hair Loss Association website

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