We haven’t posted one of these in a while! Today’s morning star is Lauren—and as a fellow dirty curly living in dry LA, I can relate to this simple (but lovely) routine. Do you wash your hair? And if not, what are some of your best tips for those looking to give the no-poo practice a try? I’ve personally taken to doing a very “light wash” with Acure once every three months or so—using a tiny bit of shampoo at the roots—just to kind of reset the clocks, without stripping. What’s your wash or not routine?

Name: Lauren
Age: 25
Current weather: The Valley outside of LA. Very hot with limited humidity.
Hair: Dyed shoulder-length curly hair.
Skin: Normal with occasionally breakouts on chin (usually hormone or stress-related), pale complexion.
Favorite star or icon from the past: Audrey Hepburn for her flawless style and sophistication (if only she didn’t have an un-diagnosed eating disorder, she would be the ultimate role-model!).

In the shower…

I switched to no-poo shampoo about 4 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. I switched because I heard it was better for curly hair. I used to just use conditioner with weekly baking soda rinses, but now I switched to baking soda and apple cider rinses about 3 times a week. I comb out my hair in the shower to detangle without causing frizz. I use Dr. Bronner’s Shikakai Peppermint Body Soap or Nubian Heritage Coconut Papaya Soap. I tend to focus it on my dirtier or smellier parts and save homemade coconut-sugar scrub for the rest. The coconut oil is also great as a shaving cream, although it clogs up my razor. It also lasts after my shower as a moisturizer!

Outside the shower…

I gently dry my hair with a microfiber cloth to minimize frizz. I spray a homemade hair gel of aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, vanilla extract, and essential orange oil into my hair to help define curls. On my face, I apply argan oil as a base layer, than DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer (SPF 30) to  my face and neck. I use Badger Unscented SPF 30 lotion for the rest of my body for it. I use Weleda Skin Food to moisturizer throughout the day. I apply Burt’s Bees Cuticle Cream or Badger Balm to  moisturizer my nails and cuticles to keep them healthy.

Finishing touches…

I often only wear mascara and eyeliner (if that) and my current favorites are Zosimos Botanicals in Branch and  Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Nautral Origin Lash Boosting Mascara in Ultra Black. I used to use benefit Babe Cake liner, but it doesn’t have clean ingredients and it was discontinued. I plan on buying Nvey Eco Organic Cake Eyeliner in Black when I get the chance. My favorite eye shadow is Physician’s Formula Organic Wear  100% Natural Origin Eye Shadow Duo in Hazel Eyes. It applies subtly, so I can build it up to the intensity I desire. I also have added RMS Living Lumizier to my routine. I have been using the Thai Crystal deodorant and really like it. I’ve tried Soapwalla and Lavanila Healthy Deodorant, but neither worked for me. I carry Weleda Citris Deodorant Spray to freshen up if I feel sweaty or stinky later in the day. I am currently switching to non-toxic nail polish and I love Priti NYC nail polish remover, which is a soy-based remover. I plan on trying HoneyBee Garden corn-based nail polish remover when I run out.

Thanks Lauren! And don’t forget to send in your routines to nomoredirtylooks at gmail dot com, with GOOD MORNING in the subject.

I die for those eyebrows

35

Do You Use Products That Contain Silicone?

When I first met Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda and, more recently (thank goodness), Intelligent Nutrients, we spent a lot of time talking about silicone. Silicone, most of you probably know, is widely used in personal care products across the spectrum—from the relatively clean to your standard-issue drugstore brands. It’s especially useful in makeup, primer, sunscreen  and tinted moisturizer because it gives products a slippery sit-on-skin feeling that allows for even spreading, no rubbing, and produces a nice surface on top of which you can go ahead and make your face.

It’s also in a lot on conditioners and leave-ins, because it sits on the shaft of your hair and can take the guesswork (and manual labor) out of smoothing unruly manes, especially when it’s humid out. My experience is that repeated use of silicone on my hair makes it look like complete and utter garbage. My experience with my skin has not been quite the same.

As a refresher, most of the people I have spoken with who swear against it do so for one of a number of reasons. Because it’s occlusive (that means it sits on the surface of the skin and blocks moisture from escaping—but also blocks other things from going in); because it might be comedogenic (the research is equivocal on this one); and because it “doesn’t break down in nature,” says Rechelbacher (and others). On the other hand, dimethicone’s molecule weight makes it impossible, I believe, to migrate past the top layer of your skin—which is where it’s designed to sit, anyway. That’s how it “works.” But our research is ongoing at this point.

I know natural-beady diehards who swear by it and diehards who would, well, die before they used a product that contains it. We were in the latter camp. Now, we’re rethinking our position—but the jury’s still out.

No More Dirty Looks has historically said no to all silicone. It wasn’t on the list of our dirty 20-or-so in the book, mainly because the research we were able to find about its toxicity was unconvincing. At the same time, we can appreciate that many ingredients don’t have nearly enough scientific data published about their safety, and we definitely skew more toward “when in doubt, don’t.”

But then something happened.

Regular readers will know that we have been on the hunt for the perfect sunscreen since before the book came out. Yes, there’s Vive Sana, but many of you find that way too thick, not to meant ion absurd looking on people who are a shade darker than Snow White. I happen not to be, and  I liked it. I liked it a lot. (And in fairness, I know a few women with darker skin than me—not hard—who don’t feel like they’re wearing Halloween makeup with it on.) But over time, the thickness got to me, and I went looking for something a little more cosmetically appealing. Something a little thinner, maybe, more lotion-like. I found 100% Pure’s Argan Oil SPF 30. I fell in love. I shouted about it from the rooftops and I know I wasn’t alone. But soon, no one couldn’t get their hands on the stuff. Not in stores, not online, not through our trusted PR contacts. There wasn’t a bottle to be had, it seemed. So I used up the last of its sister product, the Pomegranate one with SPF 20, and prayed to the skincare gods for a replacement.

Then, as can happen sometimes at my amazing job, I came in one day to find a little white bottle on my chair.

Now, I’m going to hold off on telling you what brand it was because  1) it contains dimethicone and we’re still doing our homework, and 2) it’s beside the point because that’s not the conversation we want to have now. (Fear not: We will review it if we decide dimethicone is kosher for us—because, yes, we’ve been using it, and yes, we adore it.)

But right now we want to know…

Where do you stand on dimethicone? And if you’re anti, why? What research have you seen, either about its extraction method or its toxicity, to convince you?

Image via

Happy Monday, all. Here’s a yummy MM menu from Natalie in Toronto. We’re getting a little bit low on these, so please send yours!

Meanwhile, did you all hear about the scandal a few weeks back between the USDA and the beef industry?

The short of it is that the USDA put up an internal memo encouraging employees to take part in Meatless Monday as a way of reducing environmental impact, the beef people went ape sh*t, and the USDA cowered, saying later it was all a mistake because the memo was posted without “proper clearance.” You can read more about it in this LA Times piece, but here’s the reaction from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. from that article:

The organization’s president J.D. Alexander stated that Meatless Monday is “an animal rights extremist campaign to ultimately end meat consumption” and that since the USDA’s mission is to promote U.S. farming, “this move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet.”

Oy. With that bad taste in our mouths, let’s all get inspired by this menu, shall we?

Name: Natalie
Hometown: Toronto
My dietary leanings: Vegetarian since January 2007, vegan since October 2011.
My favorite vegetable: Brussels sprouts. Kale is a close second. What can I say? I like my cruciferous veggies!

This morning I ate…

My usual is a kale smoothie with berries, mango, avocado, banana, sprouted chia-flax seeds, almond milk, and some brown rice protein powder, and a slice of chia-flax toast with whatever nut butter strikes my fancy at the time. But since I played hooky from my Sunday grocery shopping, I revisited an old favourite breakfast using ingredients I had on hand: oatmeal with berries, almond milk, sprouted chia-flax seeds, brown rice protein powder, and Udo’s 3-6-9 blend with vegan DHA.

As a mid-morning snack, I had some Sunrise brand peach-mango dessert tofu.

Lunch was…

A quick and dirty fruit salad of kiwi, orange and apple slices, mixed berries, and raw pumpkin seeds.

As dinner time rolled around…

I was really looking forward to digging into some red quinoa and black bean salad. Post-grocery shopping, I made a slightly modified version of this Oh She Glows recipe, with corn, tomato, avocado, garlic, cilantro, lime, green and jalapeno peppers. It did not disappoint! Dessert was a leftover birthday cupcake–my mom makes a great vegan carrot cake with crushed pineapple–and some cherries.

Do you think Meatless Monday is extreme or not extreme enough? We’ve certainly heard both arguments!

As promised here is the second half of my interview with the wise and wonderful Claudia Welch—along with a great video interview I found online. Loved reading everyone’s comments in Part 1, and I’m looking forward to hearing what you guys think of the book!

Since reading it I’ve been practicing many of the recommendations, and I honestly see a difference in how I feel. I don’t expect overnight miracles, but I’m hopeful that these practices are going to help regulate my periods and hormonal fluctuations. If anyone is interested in going deeper Dr. Welch is offering a live phone and online course in this stuff (that’s a link to sign up for a free call)—I’m going to try to sit in on a few if I can.

We’re curious: For those of you who have experienced imbalances, what—if anything—have you noticed affects this most? Is it stress, or food choices, or have you not made the connection? It’s so great to hear all your stories, and as Dr. Welch pointed out, we have such an intelligent and thoughtful community of readers here. The best!

Onto the interview…

Your prescriptions for rebalancing seem so simple, but they’re also quite specific. Tell us about a few that you’ve found very effective.

It is true that some of the prescriptions are simple. But simple can still be hard. If the prescription, for example, is: slow down, and we have been driving ourselves forward for too long, we may not know what “slow down” looks like, or how to get there from here. Sometimes “slow down” is the main prescription and it is often the most effective. But there are other, easier short term remedies that can be very effective.

When we have excess stress in our lives, our nervous systems become hyper sensitive. When they become hypersensitive, we are more likely to translate benign events as threatening ones. When we do that, more stress hormones are secreted, making our nervous systems even more hypersensitive. It is a downward cycle. If we could but calm down the nervous system, we could help break that cycle. And lo, there are ways and means to accomplish that very thing. And, behold, they are simple. Or can be.

One simple remedy is warm oil self-massage–called “Abhyanga” in Ayurveda. There are loads of nerve endings that enervate our skin–the largest organ of our bodies. In essence, we can calm the nervous system through the skin. It works. It is a bit too much to explain here, but it is described in an Appendix in Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life.

I also love 15 minutes of gentle Alternate Nostril Breathing practice, daily. I find it to be one of the most powerful remedies for hot flashes and hormonal imbalance in general.

High-intensity workouts are all the rage right now, but you warn that this type of exercise can be detrimental to some women—when do you recommend against it?

Eastern medicine recognizes that different constitutions require different amounts and types of exercise to maintain optimal health. Stronger, sturdier constitutions do well to engage in longer, harder workouts, while women with slight or delicate frames, do better with slower, er, less sweaty workouts.

There can be many signs that a woman is over exercising. When a woman, for example, is underweight or her periods are scanty, absent or irregular, these are some signs she is either under-nourished, over-exercising or simply outspending her resources in other arenas. In other words, even if she is consuming a healthy diet and getting regular and good sleep–both activities that serve to nourish yin in her body–her output may be exceeding her input. The energy she commits to exercise, work, run errands, etc. may be greater than energy she receives from food, sleep, sweet relationships and down time. In these situations, it would be much better for a woman to engage in gentle yoga, walking, tai qi or qi gong, than weight lifting, running, vigorous yoga or rigorous workouts.

Our bodies prioritize survival over reproduction so they will–100% of the time–allocate whatever nourishment we are receiving, first to our survival and to the organs and tissues that are crucial to survival. If there are resources left over, then they can go to nourish a healthy reproductive system.

Many of us in our forties and older, will remember Jane Fonda’s “make it burn” video workouts and feel like we are being lazy if we do anything less, but there are entire exercise forms in the East that focus more on moving qi or prana–our life force–internally, with gentle, minimal or even no physical movement. When we look at masters of those forms, they may barely move and never break a sweat, but are in incredible shape. These masters understand the value of irrigating our internal organs with energy, rather than simply our muscles, and we can see the results.

You devote a chapter in the book to endocrine disruptors in our environment, including the presence of pthalates in personal care products. When you were researching this topic, what surprised you the most?

That every single person–including infants– tested now hosts an impressive profile of synthetic chemical pollutants.

And that it can take very small amounts of this stuff to do significant damage.

It is also surprising to me how many women are slow—or even unwilling—to give up personal care or household products that contain these chemicals. Honestly, I don’t see how the risk could be worth it.

Paying a little extra sometimes for products that have ingredients that we recognize—or can at least pronounce… isn’t that worth it for the health of ourselves and our families? And our planet? This stuff is getting into our water supplies and polluting our land, air, fish, and animals.

With that in mind, what does your beauty routine look like?

I wash my hair a couple times a week and shake my head. I like Weleda Rosemary shampoo the most, but it’s hard to find. Shikai Gold will do. I use Sarada Ayurvedic Remedies Clarifying Masque overnight if I feel a pimple coming on. Amazing. I use Four Elements Rose Comfrey moisture cream, when I need it, on my face, neck and hands. It has such a wonderful fragrance. And seven decent ingredients. Only. I use unscented Crystalux crystal deoderant body powder, which consists of two safe ingredients: natural mineral salts and corn starch. I love Floracopeia’s essential oils, as perfumes or oils that simply have a good effect on me. Which ones I use varies with the weather, season, and my mood. These days, when it is hot out I like their Rose-Vetiver Attar, but the second it becomes cooler, I prefer Neroli.

This is one of our favorite questions: When do you feel most beautiful?

I feel most physically beautiful when I get to have simple, nourishing, whole food, and regular exercise—either brisk walks or hikes—in beautiful places with clean air. I feel more vibrant, my skin is softer and rosier and I smell better. No kidding.

Amen! And happy Friday everyone. We hope you can get into a little bit of nourishment this weekend, whatever that looks like for you.

(Because mine is having sleepover parties with my girlfriends and doing cucumber eye masks, naturally.)

Actually, and this should come as a surprise to no one, our skincare strategies are completely holistic. We’re not really the spot-treating type, even if we do love us some Stark green-tea clay. And that new mask from Acure is, indeed, awesome. But if you’ve read our acne coverage in the past, then you know we are much more about prevention, root medical/hormonal causes, and the psychological toll that bad skin days can exact on one’s sense of one’s, well, prettiness. Which is ugly.

With that in mind, below is all our strategy for clean skin—plus all our best content on adult acne. Be sure, when you’re checking out the old stuff, to read the comments because our readers are way smarter than we are.

To recap, here is my strategy. We’d like to hear yours in the comments.

1. Stress and sleep are the biggest determining factors for me, bar none. When I’m happy and rested, I feel like I can eat anything, drink anything, put anything on my face and nothing will happen. Of course that’s not totally true, but I exaggerate to make a point: Literally nothing wreaks havoc on my skin more than missing zzzs and being a stressball. Meditation, yoga, therapy, awesome friends, and sufficient rest help with this.

2. I take omega 3s. I take three 1,000 mg capsules per day, and I never skip. More on why below.

3. I don’t switch products a lot. I have highly reactive skin, so if something works fine, I stick with it for months, even years.

4. I avoid dairy, other than parmesan, which has very low lactose. I’m not sure I have a lactose issue, but when I eat dairy, I get weird tiny bumps on my chin that drive me completely bonkers. Avoiding dairy means avoiding these bumps.

5. I see an endocrinologist semiannually and an acupuncturist regularly to keep tabs on any underlying issues that might make my skin suck.

Now, here’s the best of NMDL adult acne coverage…..

What to do when things have already gone awry:

How to Shrink An Insane Cyst

10 Natural Ways to Make a Spot Go Away Faster

10 Ways to Make a Bad Skin Day Feel Better

A Natural Alternative to Benzoyl Peroxide

10 Amazing Uses for Aloe Vera

DIY Manuka Honey and Lemon Blemish Elixir

How Having Fun Can Clear Up Your Skin

10 Ways to Banish Breakouts That Work

How to avoid big breakouts in the first place:

How to Balance Your Hormones, Part 1

Aromatherapy for Acne

Can Your Phone Really Give You Zits?

How Stress Ruins Your Skin

The Dairy-Acne Connection: Confirmed?

Face Mapping: What Your Acne Means

What Gives You Acne?

Can Omega 3s Prevent Acne?

Okey smokey, your turn. Share your favorites, and your own skincare strategy, in the comments.