You may have noticed that I recently posted a New Food Friday Flash a week earlier than usual. That’s because I had allergy brain, otherwise known as fog brain due to allergies. My allergies have really been acting up lately and I’m not just talking about my respiratory allergies. Let me tell you how I got Angelina Jolie lips due to an allergic reaction.
I always wear lipstick outdoors to keep my lips moist and prevent cracking and bleeding. I’ve been wearing Chapstick with sunscreen to do the same when I’m doing yard work. Over a gradual period of time recently, my lips began to swell. Then they developed cuts or ulcers at the corners of my mouth. It hurt when I ate and they bled. I thought, “What the heck is going on here?” I finally figured out it was due to the sunscreen in my Chapstick. I stopped using the Chapstick and the next day, no more ulcers. My lips returned to normal although I rather enjoyed their puffiness!
The moisturizer I use on my face when I’m outdoors also contains sunscreen. When I stopped to think about it, I had seen a dermatologist six years ago for red blotches on my face and a scalp rash. He gave me all kinds of drugs which helped my scalp but didn’t do anything for my face. The blotches were still there. After the recent lip incident, it dawned on me that my moisturizer also contained sunscreen and that it was probably what caused the blotches on my face. I stopped using the sunscreen moisturizer on my face. No more blotches on my face. Now I use a non-sunscreen hydrating moisturizer.
I felt good about finding the causes of these allergic reactions until I developed yet another allergic reaction and rash on my arms and legs! This happened at the same time that a Measles outbreak occurred in Indianapolis which worried me even though my inoculations are up-to-date and I had Measles when I was young.
I suspected my laundry detergent because I had bought a new one – one I had never heard of before. I had also been adding more detergent to the wash than I usually do. So, I stopped using that brand altogether. I bought a mild, perfume and dye-free detergent. I’m sure you’ve heard of it: ALL. I also now use less detergent than the manufacturers recommend. I’ve had this rash about three weeks at the time of this writing and still have not rid myself of it although it is much improved. I cut back on the detergent due to the advice from one of the authors listed below.
Right around this time, I had been watching a program on the Livewell Network called Steven and Chris. I have to commend them on their wonderful, knowledgeable guests. Nutritionist Joy McCarthy caught my ear on one of their programs. I was lucky in that my local library had her book, “Joyous Health.” She was the spark that ignited my desire to find the underlying cause of my recent skin reactions.
Her book lists ingredients to avoid in cosmetics, such as: BHA, BHT, DMDM, (a formaldehyde-releasing preservative; formaldehyde causes cancer) and PEG (may cause cancer), and many others. These ingredients are not only harmful to us, they are harmful to fish and other wildlife.
She also writes that people with asthma or who suffer from allergies, are especially sensitive to sulfites, commonly found in:
Nitrates and nitrites (which cause cancer in animals)
I had written a post a while back about sulfites. They can also be listed as celery root extract in an ingredients label. The good news on dried fruits: she says you can soak the dried fruits in filtered water and then use them without suffering a reaction!
After I read her book, I went back to the library and reserved books on natural products. I learned a lot and am still reading and learning!
A Growing Intolerance to Chemicals
According to author, Melinda Coss who wrote, “Natural Soap,” there has been a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from skin allergies due to our growing intolerance to chemicals in household products. So, this is not just a female problem. Men use household products and cosmetics too. Men wear sunscreen and men do laundry! Isn’t that right men?
Each of the books I borrowed and read had something to offer, including one that was focused more on African-American women, written by Lisa Akbari, “Every Woman’s Guide to Beautiful Hair at Any Age.” Although her tone was scolding, I figure I needed to be scolded! I am much gentler to my scalp and hair thanks to reading her book.
Other changes I am making due to my readings are to use natural products on my hair like coconut oil instead of store bought cream rinses and shampoos which contain harmful ingredients like sulfates, parabens and artificial fragrances that cause inflammatory skin reactions and are suspected to cause cancer.
Coconut oil is useful not just for sautéing foods, but also as a conditioner for your hair, a lip balm, and a shaving oil, just to name a few things. It conditions and soothes skin, so says DK publishers of the beautifully artistic book, “Natural Beauty.” You can find coconut oil in the same aisle as the olive oils. Buy the organic, oil-pressed jar.
A Light Bulb Moment
- All these years I have been a fervent believer in caring about what I put into my body without enough thought as to what I put ON my body. What can I say? It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! Arf!
Food for Face
Bananas and avocados will not just be going in my mouth; they will be going on my face, in my hair, and on my hands. A mixture of avocado and honey makes a great hydration hand mask for dehydrated hands according to author Elizabeth Tenhouten, author of “Natural Beauty Homemade Recipes for Radiant Skin and Hair.” Bananas contain pantothenic acid which strengthens the hair.
Mix half a banana with one egg, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and one tablespoon of honey. Shampoo then apply the banana mixture to your scalp and hair; leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and condition. Author Annie Strole claims this mask is great if you want to grow your hair and prevent it from breaking. Promise me you won’t ring my doorbell when I’m doing this!
Kelly Reno, author of Soaps, Shampoos & Other Suds says you can remove soap build-up from your hair by combining ½ cup water and two tablespoons of lemon juice in a bottle. Shake thoroughly and gently massage it in. Then rinse with warm water. There are many variations to this recipe. Some authors recommend apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.
More in Future Posts
More on this topic will be posted on my blog in the future. These books have really enlightened me. I have already made my own shampoo and lip gloss. Some of these ingredients were not readily available in supermarkets although they did have many of them. It has taken me about a month to get all the ingredients that I need without breaking the bank.
An Investment in Safe Products
I should be able to make my own laundry detergent, hand lotion, shampoos, rinses, conditioners, facial masks, hand masks, lip gloss, lip balm, and more. I am in the process of extracting the best recipes from each book using the most popular ingredients like avocado, lavender essential oil, castile liquid soap, and aloe vera gel just to name a few. I stayed away from the harder to find, more exotic ingredients like calendula oil or apricot kernel oil or the endless variety of oils that are either online or at health food stores (even though I did find a health food store nearby that stocks EVERYTHING!) I don’t know how involved I will get into this. If I see more promising results as I did from my homemade lip gloss, I may invest in more of these products.
An Investment in Time
I haven’t seen any noticeable results from my homemade shampoo except that my hair looks thicker and is easier to manage. I know, those are good results, but the shampoo is hard to work with when my hair is wet. I’ve tried two different shampoo recipes with one being better than the other. I have a third that I want to try before deciding that homemade shampoo can take the place of unsafe, store-bought shampoo. I’m also having trouble with homemade hair conditioners. They seem to be too oily. The third recipe for shampoo I want to try, contains some oil whereas the other shampoos didn’t. That might be the one! Third time’s the charm! Stay tuned!