Birchbox unboxing May 2014

Birchbox unboxing May 2014 • via

Caldrea Body Lotion – in Aloe Water Apricot

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 4Fragrance added (likely synthetic), no cones, could be healthier but not bad. This scores a 4 with the cosmetics database (0 is healthiest, 10 is worst.) The synthetic fragrance knocks that down a lot but it does have some other ingredients that are excellent for skin moisturizing so I’ll probably give this a try.

Caldrea Body Wash – in Aloe Water Apricot

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 5Fragrance added (likely synthetic), no cones, could be healthier but could also be worse. This scores a 5 with the cosmetics database. I’m not big on body washes anymore so I’m not sure yet if I’ll try this.

Marcelle New·Age 8 in 1 Power Serum

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 4Cones rule this one out for me personally. It has one ingredient to be a little concerned about which brings it’s ranking up to a 4 with the cosmetics database (0 is the healthiest, 10 is the worst.) Not bad, could be better but if it’s not something you are allergic to, I would give it a shot.

PIXI Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm – in Pixi Pink

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 3Pretty good here. None of the usual nasties. No fragrances etc. This ranks a healthy 3 with the cosmetics database. Now lip balms are nice but I do lean towards glosses so I’m really not sure how much I will use this in particular.

This is going to sound a little odd but between the name, the color, and the tube itself, this reminds me of some sort of tinkerbell lipstick I had as a kid. The color is a fairly vibrant pink but it’s also still a lip balm so it’s sheer.

One thing to note – the twist tube on this seems to like to let the product fall back down into the tube. This is something Pixi Beauty needs to maybe work on. This is not a dollar store product (like I would wear anything from the dollar store to begin with – scary!) and it makes it a bit harder to put on.

Votivo Candle Travel Tin

Ok here’s where I’m going to get a little weird. Soy candles are supposed to be healthier than paraffin candles right? Well every time I’ve tried to go with healthier candles, I’ve ended up with a MASSIVE headache. Soy candles. Paraffin candles with natural scents. I’m not sure what goes on here that really messes with me. Basically the only candles that don’t give me a headache are synthetic (I know, bad) and paraffin. Best is a basic vanilla. I will give this one a shot even though it looks like it’s soy with synthetic fragrance so not entirely healthy. But I really have not figured out my deal with candles. Tim is the same way though … with some opposite allergies (he can’t handle lavendar for example) so it makes candle choosing VERY difficult and I opt for the “not healthy” candles because “not healthy” is better than a massive headache.

Out of the box the smell is decent. Lit might be another story completely. We’ll see.

Votivo Candle Travel Tin

Supergoop!® Everyday SPF 30 with Cellular Response Technology

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 5Another neither here nor there. See my comments on the sunscreen ipsy sent this month. This is also a 5 with the cosmetics database. With a little planning you can do better. Take a look at my previous post on natural / healthier sunscreens.


So the May 2014 Birchbox overall: some things I’m really excited to try and some things that aren’t my cup of tea. Still worth the $10/month to try some new products!

 Still not signed up for Birchbox? :D

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Ipsy glambag May 2014

Ipsy glambag May 2014

Hang Ten Classic Sport SPF50

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 5This one I’m kinda on the fence on this one. No cones (issue for me, not everyone) and no synthetic fragrances and some of the other common nasties.  It can be hard to find a good healthy sunscreen but not impossible. Or at least it’s easier online. This one based on the ingredients ranks a 5 with the cosmetics database. Good enough if you have very little in front of you to choose from and are in a pinch. But not quite good enough in my opinion for any advanced planning situations. Take a look at my previous post on natural / healthier sunscreens.

Pacifica Mineral Eyeshadow Duo

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 2Dimethicone rules this one out FOR ME. But you know me, I LOVE most of Pacifica’s products so if you aren’t sensitive to cones, go for this one. This ranks a healthy 2 with the cosmetics database.


Avène Thermal Spring Water

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 0It’s water. In a spray can. BUT I’ve learned that not all water is created equal. Minerals in the water can make a HUGE difference in the quality. I doubt I would buy this though simply because it’s an aerosol spray and at $12.50 per bottle. It’s ph 7.5 but I also wish it had details about mineral content. But it does make me consider adding mineral water to a pump spray bottle. …. I do have a bad feeling that I’m going to actually like this one despite the aerosol and price….

Side note: I’ve been drinking a lot of Gerolsteiner Mineral Water because of it’s mineral content. Magnesium in a bioavailable form in particular and I think I might pop some of that in a spray bottle. For a fraction of the cost. I know it’s not the same but again, not aerosol.

On the plus side, this one was from which means that there’s a discount this month for orders.

Balanced Guru No Frizz Organic Sesame and Lemongrass Balancing Oil

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 0AWESOME ingredient list. This one I’m looking forward to trying. I wish it didn’t have soy oil BUT it’s organic so I’m going to give it a try. This one ranks a 0 (super healthy) with the cosmetics database.


Balanced Guru hair oil - no frizz oil

Boo-Boo Cover-Up

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 6Dimethicone rules this one out for me. Also bad is added synthetic fragrance and mineral oil. This ranks a 6 in the cosmetics database.



So the May 2014 Ipsy glambag overall: some things I’m really excited to try and some things that aren’t my cup of tea. Still worth the $10/month to try some new products!

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Update :: a better link to EWG’s 2013 Natural SPF Sunscreens

Previously I wrote about finding a healthier natural spf sunscreen and I found a better link to EWG’s 2013 Natural SPF Sunscreens. It’s an excellent resource:

As well as an iphone app if you want detailed info on the go (maybe you’re flying somewhere, only taking a carry-on and can’t take more than 3oz of sunscreen with you…)

EWG's 2013 Natural SPF Sunscreens iphone app

Natural Oils SPF – sunscreen alternative

Recently I posted about choosing a more natural healthier sunscreen this summer. I wanted to follow up that article with some information my local co-op grocery store recently posted about natural oils SPF properties. Some in these natural oils even provide the 15-30 SPF range that most people choose when they’re shopping for sunscreen.


Natural Oils SPF - sunscreen alternative - Carrot Seed Oil, Raspberry Seed Oil, Wheatgerm Oil, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Almond Oil, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil

List of 10 oils with natural UV-ray protecting properties:  

  1. Carrot Seed Oil: SPF 38-40
  2. Raspberry Seed Oil: SPF 28-50
  3. Wheatgerm Oil: SPF 20
  4. Avocado Oil: SPF 4-15
  5. Coconut Oil: SPF 2-8
  6. Olive Oil: SPF 2-8
  7. Macadamia Nut Oil: SPF 6
  8. Almond Oil: SPF 5
  9. Shea Butter: SPF 3-6
  10. Jojoba Oil: SPF 4

Many of these have antioxidant properties if they are cold-pressed oils. Always look for cold-pressed when possible anyway because it will have retained more of it’s natural healthy qualities over something that has been heated.

So which Natural Oils SPF should I choose for sunscreen?

A quick glance through options and it looks like wheatgerm oil would be the best bang for your buck. 32 oz for about $25 with Amazon Prime or 16oz for around $10 from other suppliers or Vitacost. Raspberry or Carrot seed oils are in the $16-$19 price range for 2oz.

However wheat germ oil will probably leave you feeling a bit oily whereas the Raspberry and Carrot Seed oils absorb more readily so you may want to opt for those for your face and the wheatgerm oil for your body.

How accurate are these SPF numbers?  references several studies but I also went looking for a little more info because I was curious where they came up with the SPF info since that seems a little vague (and some of the sources referenced were more about vitamin D production or how bad standard sunscreens are):

In a study published in “Pharmacognosy Magazine” in 2009, a sunscreen comprised of wheatgerm and vitamin E had a natural SPF rating of 20. Read more:

So even though I can find multiple sources stating the same SPF figures for each oil, after a quick search I could only find one study mentioning a study of SPF for Wheatgerm. Yet another reason this one is probably your best bet. But I do wish I knew how much the Vitamin E affects the SPF value.

IF you can find studies that show SPF for each of these oils please link up those studies in the comments. 

SPF doesn’t mean it protects 100% from the suns rays, it just extends the amount of time you can spend outside before you burn so your own personal tolerance to UV is also a factor in how long you can stay outside with or without SPF. If you want to understand SPF better, check out the wikipedia article here:

Wide brim hats and clothes are a better UV blocker than anything topical. But I don’t know anyone who wants to go swimming in full head to toe clothing and a hat. 🙂

Natural Oil vs Allergies and Skin Sensitivities:

Also note – don’t go slathering these on without checking for allergies first. If you know you have skin sensitivities definitely do a patch test over the course of three days to see if you react. No one wants a head to toe rash!

Now get out and enjoy the summer!

And if you’re hesitant about using Natural Oils SPF as your choice of sunscreen, check out my previous article on choosing a healthier sunscreen.


UPDATE May 29th 2013:

Ok I’ve reviewed in more detail the article mentioned in ehow … :;year=2009;volume=5;issue=19;spage=238;epage=248;aulast=Kapoor

… and come up with this.

That study was done on fourteen commercial herbal sunscreens that were purchased from local dealer of Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India. I can’t seem to find the proportions that comprise those herbal sunscreens. And I suspect that “Water melon” isn’t the same thing I’m thinking of (or would be some sort of extract or seed extract.) In other words, the study is still incredibly vague.

Since I went to the trouble of compiling this table from the presented information, I’m posting it here (since it simplifies some of the information in the study):

codeingredientsSPF (in vivo - real life tests)
HS1Watermelon10 SPF
HS2Sandalwood, Winter Cherry, Cobras Saffron, Wheatgerm, Honey, Red Sandalwood, Symplocos, Aloe Vera29.5 SPF
HS3Carrot, Symplococos, Wheat Germ40.6 SPF
HS4Aloe Vera, Apple14.5 SPF
HS5Sunflower, Indian Madder, Cucumber19 SPF
HS6Aloe Vera19.9 SPF
HS7Orange, Vitamin C25.2 SPF
HS8Coriander, Vitamin E20.5 SPF
HS9Aloe Vera, Vitamin E24.5 SPF
HS10Aloe Vera, Basil, Tumeric30.8 SPF
HS11Sandalwood, Aloe Vera, Carrot, Honey, Sunflower15.1 SPF
HS12Wheatgerm, Vitamin E14.9 SPF
HS13Aloe Vera, Vitamin E19.0 SPF
HS14Cucumber, Jojoba, Orange, Sandalwood, Lavendar, Vitamin A, C, E29.9 SPF

There is one surprising finding. That Aloe Vera appears to have an SPF of about 20 with no additional ingredients.

So there you have it. If you’re in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India you might be able to pick up some nice herbal sunscreen that really does what it says it does. Otherwise this study doesn’t seem to cover as much in the way of individual ingredients.

I’ll continue to look for studies that do cover the oils mentioned on the LiveLoveFruit article and post that information if I find it.