Monday, 1 February 2016

Say no to nasties: Parabens

healthy, organics, ethical
How do you feel about the chemicals in your products?
Image courtesy of Sira Aeamwong at

This is the second in my series that looks into common ingredients in everyday toiletries and cosmetics.  I want to learn more about the risks I might be taking by regularly putting these addictive on my face and body. I'll also alternative brands that have moved away from using these synthetics - to provide a more natural and potentially healthier choice. This time I'm looking at parabens. 

To learn more about Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS), another common additive, click here.

What are parabens?

Parabens are basically chemicals that have preservative qualities. They have been a common additive in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products since the 1950s to help prevent bacteria growth. Using parabens dramatically extends the shelf life of many beauty and health items because it stops them going mouldy. Products can last longer on shop shelves - and in your home - particularly the moist, warm environment of a bathroom, where many such items are kept. Parabens are ubiquitous - find them in toothpaste, sunscreens, cleansers, hair products, moisturisers and cosmetics like mascara and foundations. If you look at an ingredients list you might see them listed as butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben or isobutylparaben. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Say no to nasties: Sodium Laurel Sulphate

Concerned about the chemicals in the products you use?
Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles at
Is it just me, or are ingredients lists on toiletries and cosmetics getting longer and more complicated? In an attempt to learn more about exactly what I'm regularly putting on my face and body, I'm looking into the additives you'll find in everyday products. I'll also provide info on some products that have moved away from these ingredients - to provide a more natural and potentially healthier choice. First up SLS...

Dry skin? Itchy scalp? Mouth ulcers? Sometimes the very things we use to maintain our health and hygiene can be causing more problems. And so it could be with Sodium Laurel Sulfate/Sodium Laureate Sulfate, often referred to as SLS, a cheap and effective foaming agent often added to cleansing products.

Monday, 18 January 2016

5 healthy things to do today!

Has 'Blue Monday' got you down? Perhaps you're thinking that those healthy resolutions aren't quite as important as they seemed after two weeks of festive eating and drinking? He's five things you can do today to keep on track...

1. Dance yourself slim

healthy living, dancing, New Year resolutions
Hands up who fancies a dance?

If you can't face cardio you'll be pleased to hear that new research from the University of Brighton has found that certain styles of dance can burn more calories per hour than cycling, running, or swimming. The boffins worked with classes at City Academy and discovered that those taking part in contemporary, street and swing dance classes burnt more calories than they would if they'd spent their time running, swimming or cycling. The results even showed that ballet, often thought of as a light- to mild- intensity style of dance, involved moments of severe intensity exercises throughout the session. Better still, the dancers also experienced the same mood-lifting and energising effects that others forms of exercise produce. Making dance a fun and sustainable way to keep fit!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Your conscience can be as clear as your skin!

healthy, organic, safe, beauty
Beauty products you can trust
I'd be lying if I said I'm not tempted by cult beauty items - with their whiff of cool, promise of eternal youth and the inevitable celeb endorsement. But the more I learn about the products on our shelves - the more I worry about what I'm putting on and in my body. And what my children are exposed to - both physically and culturally. And what the wider impact of those products is - be it on other populations, other living creatures or the environment. Even how the multi-billion beauty industry is making us (and my daughters) believe that looking real - and realistic - just isn't good enough. And I'm not even a worrier!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

5 Ways to Keep Calm this Christmas

Christmas stress, health
Is Xmas getting on top of you?
Photo credit:
It's December and from here on in, it's non-stop Christmas jumpers, shopping, fairs, drinks, nibbles, plays and parties. I even got my very first Xmas card delivered this morning! Don't get me wrong - I love the season - and have already popped up the tree, donned my tasteless jumper and baked mince pies - but it's also the time when the stresses and strains of being a mummy can become too much. Here are some top tips to make sure you don't go Christmas crackers (see what I did there?)!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Stay safe on winter workouts

If you can keep your motivation up over the colder months, you'll be 2016 race ready far faster than those that favour fair-weather workouts. But winter brings a whole new set of challenges if you're heading outdoors to exercise. Keep on top of plummeting temperatures, wet and windy weather and shorter daylight hours with these top tips:

Light the way

fitness, workout, health, running
Be safe - be seen!

Have you ever been driving along and suddenly realised there is cyclist or runner on the road? I often wonder why people that ride or run in the evenings, nights or early mornings don't make more of an effort to be seen. The obvious solution is to put some lights on your bike or body - front and back! Flashing lights help with distance perception so that drivers can tell how far away you are from them - and how fast you're moving. The Nathan LightBender is a great weather-resistant armband with multi-settings for blinking or steady stream lights. But a decent head torch will light up your way so you don't trip and fall or run into a low-hanging branch (which I have done - awkward). And if you ever need to dress up as minion, you're half way there...

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Body Shop comes home

beauty, cosmetics, Body Shop
Playing with the products
If there's one smell guaranteed to send me back to my misspent youth then it has to be the Dewberry scent from The Body Shop! By the mid-80's The Body Shop and it's founder Dame Anita Roddick were household names and the watchword for everything ethical and cruelty-free, refilling bottles and putting fair trade onto the agenda and the high street.

I remember my trips with my mum to the Canterbury store, to stock up on White Musk goodies and lip balm in precious glass pots. A few years later there was certain rooms in the uni halls of residence that smelt just like those shops. So in a fit of nostalgia I recently opted to test out a few of the products on unsuspecting friends that had come over for a birthday drink.