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2020 Holiday Gift Guide blog post graphic

2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Online shopping has hit an all-time high this year for a number of reasons. Of course, we at WEBA enjoy letting our fingers do the shopping, so we’ve included a curated assortment of businesses that we love. This is by no means an exhaustive list, of course. Suffice to say that in the age of big-box retailers like Walmart and Target, not to mention Amazon, we decided to focus on earth-friendly products that are (for the most part) made in the U.S.A. You may have your own favorites, and we’d love to hear about them, so e-mail us if you wish to chip in. These e-tailers have stood the test of time, in our estimation, and we’ve always had a good experience with them. We do not earn commissions from these links or benefit in any way. We just want to share the love with you, our loyal followers. We hope you’ll try them out, and enjoy a happy, healthy Holiday season.

  • Vivaterra.com – The name means “living earth” and they have been around since 2004. As you can see from their home page, many items are modern and globally inspired. They have an extensive collections of items that are made in the U.S.A., which you can search for. One of our favorites is this Wave dog bowl pet feeder mat. It’s made from recycled PET and is easy to clean. The only problem you’ll have here is narrowing down your selections.
  • Patagonia.com – What can we say about this company? Just about everything that they make is with sustainability in mind – from their recycled, organic cotton and hemp-based clothing lines to their environmental activism and transparency. Alas, not all of their clothing is made here; over the years they had to outsource due to the dwindling number of textile manufacturers in the U.S. But they work closely with about nine U.S. and thirteen foreign manufacturers to maintain their consistently high standards. If you’d like to choose from particular lines, go to the Patagonia holiday guide page.
  • Uncommongoods.com – We love this website because of its fun, unique gifts. They’ve partnered with many artisans and other small businesses to bring us this curated collection. Here you can also search for products made in the U.S.A. One product that we love is the Castaway gemstone bracelet. There are many gifts here that are only available here; we always end up spending way more time than we’d like to perusing this website.
  • Wearpact.com – this west-coast company has a cool line of certified organic, fair-trade cotton clothing for the entire family. Given the fact that cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crop in the U.S., it means a lot for us to have more earth-friendly, sustainable options. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of pesticide residues. And their Kid’s Dream Big organic pajamas are only $18.00!
  • Remembermegreen.com – this company can’t be beat when it comes to cool. Recycling old New York City billboards, which are made into beautiful bags is what they do. Their inventory is selling out fast, though. You can check out Remember Me Green’s sale items here.
  • Farm2fashion.com – Remember the days when your Nanna would stitch up a nice, cozy hat or scarf to protect you from the cold? Well, Farm2Fashion comes close. Located in the Hudson valley, this woman-owned business sells beautifully made luxury knitted goods that make great gifts. Every item that you buy supports independent suppliers and designers throughout the region. Check out their seed stitch infinity scarf, now on sale. You may find it difficult to gift these items.
  • Imperfectfoods.com – Not to be outdone in the food category are online companies like Imperfect Foods. Their mission is to never let good food (albeit slightly cosmetically imperfect or surplus) go to waste by delivering it to your door. They deliver to most states in the U.S. Just pick your plan. You can learn more about why what they do is so important here. You can check out their cool gift box here.
  • Thrivemarket.com – We came to rely on Thrive Market’s offerings when the CoVid pandemic severely curtailed in-person food shopping. They continue to expand their organic, gluten-free, and paleo offerings. You pay a yearly membership fee of $64.75, and you can shop by diet. It’s easy to put together a box for gifting. They have everything from personal care to wine to seafood packages. And their own brand is very cost-effective. Why not give someone you love a membership as a gift? Learn more at thrivemarket.com.

So there you have it. But our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our own gift boxes available now for gift-wrapping for the holidays. From the moment they open one of our boxes, they’ll inhale the smell of pure essential oils evoking a walk through the woods. Check out WEBA’s Holiday Promotion page here to learn how you can save on all of our products. Because showing that you care this Holiday season is about choosing premium products at reasonable prices. Our products are proudly handmade in the U.S.A., too.

Enjoy the joys of the season, and happy shopping.

natural hair care blog post

Natural Hair Care

For the vast majority, it’s our crowning glory. The natural hair care product market was valued at almost $9 Billion in 2019 and is expected to continue it’s upward momentum. Savvy consumers and new technologies are fueling the growth, as well as issues such as ingredient sensitivities and heightened awareness of the environmental impacts of their product choices.

Hair anatomy

A strand of hair consists of three layers – the innermost medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. The cortex, or middle layer, is where pigment resides, and it contributes to the flexibility of the hair shaft. We’ll be focusing on the outermost layer, or cuticle, for the purposes of our discussion. This is the layer that takes the most abuse.

Our hair consists primarily of keratin protein which is made up of 18 amino acids. It also contains lipids (like sebum) which provides hair with lubrication. The hair shaft itself is not “alive”, which is why it’s so difficult for us to reverse any damage done to the hair.

The cuticle consists of a layer of overlapping cells, which forms a protective layer over the cortex. Frequent use of chemicals is the primary cause of damage to the hair shaft. Things like bleaching, dying perming, heat styling, exposure to pool chlorine and other ingredients can damage the cuticle, leaving it torn, and leaving hair dry and brittle. It’s important to tailor your haircare routine to your hair type. Check out this informative Healthline article on hair types.

Products to avoid

Healthy hair, no matter how curly or how straight, has a closed cuticle – that is, the overlapping cells lie flat. There are many products and ingredients that can damage the cuticle;

  • hair dyes (even “natural” ones like henna can dry out hair)
  • chemical relaxers (anything that breaks chemical bonds is not good)
  • chemical perms (same as above)
  • high-heat styling tools (standard blow dryers and straightening irons)
  • direct sunlight
  • pool chlorine
  • salt water

Products that penetrate the cuticle like hair dyes and perms can cause the cuticle to raise up, making hair rough and prone to breakage. Heat styling can remove moisture from the hair, making it dry and brittle. There are also many hair care products on the market that contain ingredients that do not benefit hair; ingredients like

  • sulfates (e.g. sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate) which strip oils from hair
  • silicones (which can build up and leave hair drier)
  • alcohols
  • mineral oil
  • perfumes (containing hundreds of ingredients like parabens and formaldehyde)

It’s important to read product labels and to know what you’re putting on your hair and scalp, especially if you are allergic to many ingredients. The bottom line is that, much like your skin, you want to use products that provide benefits to your hair without side effects.

Oils and natural hair care

We’re great believers in the benefits of using plant-based oils to nurture hair. Oils penetrate the cuticle to add vital lipids and help slow down moisture evaporation. A few oils that have been shown to nurture dry, brittle hair include Olive, Avocado, Argan and Jojoba oils. Hot oil treatments have been used for quite some time to nourish dry, chemically treated hair. They work well as a treatment mask under a cap or mixed with your regular conditioner. (Before using a new carrier oil, it’s good to test it on the skin to be sure that you won’t get an allergic reaction. This is especially true about nut oils like coconut, almond and kukui nut.)

Dry oils came on the market as a multi-purpose solution for skin and hair. They are absorbed quickly with minimal residue. Some common oils used in dry oils include sunflower, safflower, jojoba, rosehip, olive and others. They can be applied without the need to rinse them out and they add antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, as well as leaving hair with a subtle sheen. They’re great when you are looking for a lightweight oil for regular use. An example is our All Purpose Organic Dry Oil. It’s great on hair, but many customers use it as a post-shower body oil or cuticle oil.

Other natural hair care tips

If you’ve been going “natural” and have avoided things like hair dyes, perms and blow drying, then you may not need to do much. But if you’re like many of us, you’ve spent lots of time and money covering grays, blow-drying and straightening your hair, with resultant damage. If the damage is severe, it may be necessary to cut off the damaged hair and start with virgin hair. For example, does your hair look “fried” with lots of breakage and split ends? Does it feel “mushy” when wet? If so, it may be best to get a good cut.

For the rest of you, seek out hair care products with naturally-derived ingredients that have a proven track record. You can begin your journey with this natural haircare product article by TheGoodTrade.com. Applications containing keratin can help. You can also try these natural hair care tips to keep your hair as healthy as possible:

  • When outdoors, wear a wide brimmed hat – sunlight can literally bleach the hair. This will dry it out.
  • When coming out of the pool or ocean, rinse hair out right away. Or before going in, apply olive oil to the hair to help keep chemicals from being absorbed.
  • Avoid using too many products at a time. If hair becomes dull, use apple cider vinegar or beer before shampooing with a sulfate-free shampoo.
  • Use a satin cap or pillow case in the bedroom. It will reduce surface friction while you sleep, keeping the cuticle intact and preventing static cling.
  • Avoid elastic hair ties or metal clips in the hair. They put stress on the cuticle and, if used often, can pull hair at the root, resulting in traction alopecia. The same goes for teasing and wet-combing.
  • Drink plenty of water. Our bodies need it, and our hair benefits from it, too.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes adequate protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If supplements are needed, try Vitamin E tablets. (We like plant-derived ones.) Extreme diets, sudden weight loss and certain diseases can cause hair to fall out. If this happens often, see your doctor.
  • Exercise regularly. This does more than put the rose in your cheeks. Increased circulation benefits the scalp, which makes your hair look better.
  • Control stress and anxiety. Constantly touching or obsessing over your hair can become a habit, and can be controlled with professional help. If you tend to over-wash the hair, this can dry it out.

https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/natural-hair-care-products-market

Hand and nail care blog post

Hand And Nail Care

Now more than ever, you may find it necessary to practice a little hand and nail care. Constant hand washing, exposure to excess sunlight and other irritants, can leave hands dry, red and irritated. Learn what to do and what not to do when it comes to your hands and nails.

The skin on the hands

The skin is one of the largest organs in the body, with three layers – the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. While the skin on the palm of the hands is thick, the skin on the back of the hands is the thinnest on the body. Because it is the most frequently exposed part of the body, it is a common area for photoaging and conditions like eczema and psoriasis from exposure to environmental stressors.

Preventing and treating dry hands

While dry, chapped hands are a very common condition, there are many ways to prevent and/or treat them. It is particularly important for those whose professions require them to have their hands in water all of the time – from dishwashers to nurses and surgeons. Many of the detergents and solvents used in washing and disinfecting the skin also tend to dry it out. Here are a few suggestions for maintaining healthy skin on the hands:

  • Wear gloves – There is a vast assortment of gloves designed to protect hands from the elements, from latex rubber to cotton. Rubber gloves are best whenever you are working with toxic solvents (turpentine, wood stains, pesticides, etc.). If your skin is sensitive, there are latex-free gloves available. Keep in mind that even though you are wearing glove, it’s important to know how to put them on and take them off. You should still wash your hands before and after wearing them in the event that the gloves have small leaks or tears. Cotton gloves are a good choice before going to bed if you are treating dry, chapped hands.
  • Use a moisturizer throughout the day – the best prevention is to use a soothing hand cream or balm (like our All-Purpose Body Balm) after working with water or irritating ingredients. You may have been washing your hands more frequently lately due to the CoVid19 virus pandemic, which may have left you with red, irritated hands or even contact dermatitis. Balms are recommended for more intense/nightly hand treatment once the skin has been stripped of its protective lipid layer. If not, hand creams can help prevent this from happening, but only if they are applied regularly.
  • Protect your hands from the sun – sunlight can create problems for your hands. Too much sunlight causes sunburn, dark spots, and a breakdown of collagen, not to mention the threat of skin cancer. Use a barrier sunscreen to prevent sun damage; wear driving gloves or use a UV filter on your car’s windows if possible.
  • If skin damage is severe, consult a physician. They are able to prescribe treatments like prescription creams to treat more serious conditions that don’t respond to home remedies. If you have an open sore or severe burn, you should seek professional attention, as these can lead to infection or worse. A physician can also diagnoses other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
  • Use products with ingredients like shea, mango, and cocoa butter, glycerin (plant-based), Vitamin E and pure aloe. Oil-based products are great for restoring the skin’s lipid layer.

The Basics of Nail Anatomy

Like the skin on the hands, fingernails can suffer from too much exposure to environmental stressors. Frequent hand-washing, for example, can leave nails thin and prone to tearing. Exposure to solvents like acetone and gel manicures can also weaken the nail. Like hair and other parts of the body, nails are composed of keratin, a fibrous protein that grows out from the lunula, or the visible portion of the matrix. Caring for nails helps them serve their function of protecting the nail bed from foreign substances and pathogens. It also protects the fingertips. What many people don’t know is that the nail is even more permeable than skin. While our skin can absorb 50-70% of what we put on it, the nail can absorb substances, too. It’s important to know how to care for this important part of our anatomy. We’ve included a few suggestions below to get you started:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet – that’s right; the same diet that may leave your hair dry and brittle can do the same to your nails. Vitamin B12 deficiency can leave nails dry, dark and/or curved. A diet containing sufficient protein will promote keratin production. And hydration is important, too- our nails contain as much as 12% water.
  • Keep nails neatly trimmed/filed – This can prevent them from catching on objects, resulting in painful tears.
  • Use a nail/cuticle oil regularly – when nails are dry, they readily absorb oils, which work well to soften and condition dry nails and cuticles.
  • Don’t cut your cuticles – not only can this raise the risk for infection, but it can result in nail ridges. Instead, use a cuticle stick to gently push the cuticle back and keep cuticles conditioned.
  • Watch what nail products you use – solvents like acetone can wreak havoc on nails. Many nail polishes contain ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene and other organic solvents that can dry nails out. They are also being absorbed into the body, which is not so good. Try nail products that are 10-free (free of the 10 major harmful ingredients). We love Zoya nail polish. For a list of some good ones, click here.
  • Instead of nail polish, try buffing your nails – not only will it leave your nails naturally lustrous, but it helps to increase circulation to the nail bed, which is a good thing.
  • Seek professional help if you see anything that shouldn’t be there – fungal infections are common and sometimes require prescription medication. Even skin cancer can appear in the nail area, so don’t wait. Contact your doctor for a consultation.

By taking just a few steps to keep hands and nails healthy, you can avoid the discomfort of dealing with dry, cracked skin and nails. A little care can go a long way.

Staying healthy at work and at play

Staying Healthy At Work And At Play

We are experiencing some unprecedented threats today to our health and safety. Staying healthy at work and at play has become quite the challenge. Many of us may be experiencing anxiety over the best course of action to take while waiting for the world to come back to normal. CoVid19 is not our only concern, of course. Everything from stress to chronic illness, climate change to food uncertainty complicates the picture for many.

Good Health Is More Important Than Ever

If you are currently in good health, you’re ahead of the game. Healthy bodies are better able to fight infection and recover more quickly when illness strikes. Studies have shown that chronic inflammation can contribute to many chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. A healthy lifestyle can help to mitigate the effects of environmental pollutants, chronic diseases and even cancer.

Despite the challenges involved, there are a number of things that you can begin doing right now to maintain health and to stay well no matter where you are. A few of these are listed below:

Healing is a matter of time, but it is also sometimes a matter of opportunity.

Hippocrates

Staying Health At Work

  • Practice Preventative Medicine – Regular checkups are the mainstay of a health and wellness regimen. Tests that measure blood levels of vitamins, minerals, blood sugar, triglycerides and more can tell you a lot about your current health status. Moreover, if you alert your physician about any symptoms that you are having early on, your physician can help prevent more serious problems. Most employee health insurance plans include regular checkups.
  • Get A Good Night’s Sleep – Not only will you perform at your peak, but a lack of sleep has been correlated with conditions like diabetes and chronic inflammation. It also affects your immune system, making you more susceptible to infection and making recovery more difficult. If you suffer from insomnia, avoid alcohol and caffeine, especially late in the day. Keeping computer monitors and TVs out of the bedroom prevents blue light from reducing levels of sleep-inducing melatonin. Melatonin also decreases as we age. Maintaining a regular sleep routine involving consistent sleep times and wake times helps to maintain your body’s biological clock.
  • Avoid Empty Calories – Some individuals like to eat out while others like to bring a bag lunch. Whichever you choose, it’s important to avoid temptation when it comes to those unhealthy snacks. A healthy diet can be completely derailed by that box of cheese danishes in the break room. If possible, stock the refrigerator with healthy snacks like nuts and seeds, carrot sticks, yogurt and whole grain crackers. Ask if the vending machines can be stocked with low-calorie seltzers instead of soda and fruit juice. Green tea with lemon is a healthy alternative to those high-calorie Coolatas.
  • Prevent Infection Before It Starts – If you’re feeling ill (cough, fever, body aches), stay home. Keep alcohol wipes on hand to wipe down high-touch surfaces regularly. Check the humidity level in the office; it should hover around 50%. Low humidity dries out mucus membranes, increasing the likelihood of developing upper respiratory infections. Use a room humidifier if necessary, and be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. And avoid touching your face.
  • Get Up And Move At Least Once Every Hour – Prolonged sitting has been implicated in a number of issues from back problems to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. If possible, set a timer and get up and walk around on a regular basis. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand while you talk on the phone or use the computer. Every opportunity taken to move extends your life.

Staying Healthy At Play

  • Consistency Is Key – Whether trying a new exercise routine, diet or a new sport, it’s important to stay at it long enough to reap the benefits. Find a work out buddy. Pick the same time each day or week to practice. Pace yourself. Reward yourself for a job well done. Remember that achieving something new can be its own reward.
  • Be Aware Of Your Environment – Be aware of potential hazards for a particular area so that you can be prepared for them. Wear boots in areas that harbor ticks or snakes. Carry water and sunscreen if sunlight and heat are prevalent. In cold climates, avoid staying outdoors too long and wear adequate protection. Carry a first aid kit with you when visiting a new area or maneuvering across new terrain. And if you must travel alone, make sure that someone knows where you are going and when you’re expecting to return.
  • Carry Snacks That Travel Well – Use stainless steel or glass water bottles in warm weather; plastic bottles can leach chemicals. High-calorie snacks like nuts, dried fruit, jerky and granola don’t require refrigeration.

Whether at work or at play, staying healthy can be as simple as being prepared for the inevitable. By being mindful of your body’s needs, you can take important steps to remain at your best for as long as possible.