Parabens and Tomatoes
The FDA says parabens are safe. Oh really?
We were reading a blog (that we usually really like) yesterday in Sprout HQ, and I’m actually really disappointed by the response to the recent Cosmetic Ingredient Review declaration that , “some parabens are safe at current use levels (methyl paraben and ethyl paraben) but… levels of others used [should] be reduced (butylparaben and propylparaben).” To this, said blogger responds, “Based on the current research, there’s no reason to be concerned about using products with parabens. So before you clean out your makeup bag and bathroom cabinet, take a deep breath and relax.”
We beg to differ. The post itself points out, “parabens in their isolated form also have estrogen-like qualities” and they’ve been found in breast cancer tissue. So basically what this totally sketchy and vague study actually is saying is that, in very very small quantities, parabens are likely not a problem. And yes, cosmetics have a very very small amount of parabens in them.
But let me tell you why this doesn’t matter. In a very long and complicated metaphor.
Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers all have a chemical in them that is also toxic. Did you know that? You may know it by the name of nicotine. It’s in super small quantities though, so unless you ate them too much or had a sensitivity you would be fine. But in large quantities, it causes inflammation and acidity, and eventually cancer. Scary, right? I would argue that a large problem in the American diet is all of the french fries, potato chips, and ketchup we eat. But that’s a whole other blog post. And please don’t freak out because unless you are eating fries at every meal, you’re seriously fine. And if you are eating fries at every meal, we need to talk anyways.
But back to my analogy.
Imagine that every time you applied a personal care product, you ate a tomato.
You wake up, brush your teeth, eat a tomato. Wash your face, eat a tomato. Wash your hair, eat a tomato. Condition your hair, eat a tomato. Put product in your hair, eat a tomato. Apply makeup, eat tomatoes. One tomato per cosmetic. Wash your hands, tomato. Lotion your hands. Tomato. Deodorant, tomato. Perfume, tomato. Last touch of lipstick, tomato (with a side of lead).
By the end of the day, you’re at like 50 tomatoes. Every. Single. Day. Every day.
That’s like eating 350 tomatoes a week.
So something that is called safe because in ONE product the quantity is so small it doesn’t matter, is suddenly being applied to your skin and body in quantities that would most definitely NOT be called safe, even by the people conducting these studies.
We know it’s overwhelming and frustrating and it can feel like seriously everything is bad for you so why even bother. But the reason you should bother is because you can. You can make a difference in your health and in the world. The less garbage you use, the less garbage they’ll make. The more quality you demand, the more they’ll have to provide. I mean, that’s why Sprout is here, right? Because you want it to be. Life takes a lot of work in general, and you do it. So don’t just take a deep breath when some study comes out saying not to worry because you’ll only get a little bit of cancer from the products you’re spending money on and letting into your life. Demand better. Use things that heal you instead. They’re out there. If you’re on our site, you know they are.
Dear Nutritionists, Health Coaches, and Personal Trainers
Have you ever noticed how a really common tactic among nutritionists is to say things like, “KALE IS SO DELICIOUS!” or “FRUIT IS YUMMY” or “OMG my vegetarian food is so much better than meat and dairy, I swear.”
Does it work? Does it make you go chomp on some kale and love it? Of course it doesn’t. You know why? THEY’RE LYING. You can seriously have the most incredible vegan chef of all time make food for you, but if you don’t eat like that all the time, and you haven’t developed a taste for that type of food, you’ll leave the meal and go right back to your salty, fatty, bacon-y diet. AmIRight? I know.
The truth is, if you really want to make changes in your health, you need to just suck it up. You are an adult. Is it enjoyable to swallow those pills you take every day? No. But you still do it. Why can’t you do that with some vegetables? Because your five-year-old self doesn’t like them? Mine either. You are addicted to the foods you are eating. It’s that simple. When you try to switch to healthier foods, it’s going to suck. No matter what. It’s basically withdrawal. Food rehab should be more popular because it’s nearly impossible to change if someone isn’t making you. But I’m not here to yell at you.
Instead, to all the way-too-peppy nutritionists, health coaches, and even personal trainers out there: give it up. You’re not fooling anyone, or we’d all be skinny and motivated and awesome by now. Stop telling us how delicious your fresh carrot juice is, and start telling us about the sacrifices you are making. Tell us about how hard you work. Tell us about when you slip up and FAIL. Tell us about how impossible it is to get up off your ass to go to the gym every day, and how you do it anyways. Tell us why you do it, why it matters, and what positive effects you’ve experienced. Then maybe we’ll know why we should do it too. And maybe if we know why, maybe we will. Even though it’ll still be hard.
Personal Training: A Cautionary Tale (Part 1)
Sprout recently started working with our very first INTERN! Pretty crazy, we know. Claire is a total badass, and we already love her. I was excited that I didn’t scare her away after asking her a million questions during her first week here, and I was even more excited that I got a pretty interesting story out of her… something I hear about all the time, but people don’t seem to realize they have the right to be frustrated about. I think it fits perfectly into most of what we talk about here at Sprout; you have to stand up for yourself, and not assume that the wellness industry is automatically on your side (even though it should be). So, here is the first part of Claire’s story.
My long-term relationship with the gym started at the beginning of this year and ended when I moved uptown. I had been able to walk to my gym but now I had to take the subway. I just couldn’t find the motivation to get down there. Luckily my friend Cait joined the same popular New York chain and I thought: this is exactly what I need, a workout buddy for extra motivation!
The first day we went to together, we found ourselves LOUDLY complaining in the locker room (i.e., stalling). About how hard it was going to be, how we didn’t have time, etc. All of a sudden, this cute, bouncy woman around our age came up to us—she was very reminiscent of Tinkerbell (for the sake of this post let’s just call her Tinkerbell!). She said something to the extent of: “Sorry to eavesdrop, but I’m a personal trainer here and if you guys want I can give you a complimentary session and show you how to use the machines and stuff!” We scheduled a session for the next day. It was fate. The Fitness Fairy had just visited us!
We went to our complementary session and it was great. She was bubbly, friendly and we all got along well. At the end of the session Tinkerbell says “OK great, let’s go sign you guys up for the personal training membership!” FIRST RED FLAG! We ignored it, so smitten by this girl. We needed extra motivation, and she sold us on the fact that WE NEEDED to work together. How could we say no? She seemed so nice! So we signed up for a special package where you get one session per month in addition to your membership.
We asked if it would be possible for us to tag team each other’s sessions so we would both end up getting to train 2 times a month. Tinkerbell’s friendly face went cold and she told us we couldn’t do that. Later that day we got a text from her, saying that she’d thought about it and decided that the person who is tag teaming on the session should pay an additional 30 dollars. (So neither of us is getting a session for free). We were to pay the 30 dollars under the table, meeting her at the coffee shop across the street so that the gym wouldn’t find out. SECOND RED FLAG!
The complementary session turned out to be nothing like our real sessions. The real sessions took place in an upper-level studio using free weights and stability balls (hadn’t she told us we’d learn to use the machines?!). And each session was exactly the same. We experienced little variety, shaky guidance, muddled information. But despite the fact she wasn’t the best personal trainer, her confidence and friendliness continued to win us over.
But that warmth vanished across the street to give her the extra 30 dollars after the session. She snapped at us for writing a check because she wanted cash. She also tried to pressure us to pay her for the month up front so the sketchy coffee shop meetings could be avoided. I thought, I don’t pay to get my haircut or my meal before I get it so why should it be the same for this. I told her, “We’ll think about it,” (my gentle way of saying “no”). She looked at us as if we had 8 eyes and echoed me in a mocking tone, “We’ll think about it.”
It’s hard to tell if she’s really invested in us. I don’t want someone with her hostile and manipulative nature to cheer us on; if that is what’s fueling her motivation to train us then that is scary. We have a 6-month commitment to her and we dread every session. So until I find a way to take control of the situation, the saga with Tinkerbell will continue.
At this point, we probably all know how many health world things I’ve tried. Like… all of them. So of course homeopathic herbs and remedies have been utilized multiple times. But I had never actually gone to a homeopath. I didn’t really “get it”. Plus it sounded expensive.
I talked a little bit about my experience in this post, because I also ended up cleansing after seeing her. That was a fail, but she was not.
She definitely was not. In fact, she has completely and utterly changed my life. No lie. And you know why? Because she hasn’t completely and utterly changed my life. Lemme explain. First of all, our first session lasted TWO HOURS. Have you ever had a health practitioner talk to you for anywhere near that long? Me neither. Secondly, without any medicine, I felt healed. She listened, she empathized, she supported. It was just so nice to have someone listen to ALL of the things I struggle with, treat me like I’m not crazy, and like they’re all connected! Finally.
Then she gave me a homeopathic remedy that had nothing to do with my symptoms (or so I thought). Instead of treating a specific symptom, she treated my Type A brain. She didn’t try to change me, or tell me that I was doing anything wrong. She just gave me something to calm my brain and body down, to help me become stronger and more adaptable. And it worked! I’m happier, more relaxed, and all of the challenges I face no longer feel completely overwhelming. Plus, every single symptom has also calmed down tremendously. I mean of course they were all caused by my brain, it was only a matter of time before that was confirmed. But I am extremely grateful to have met a patient, caring practitioner who actually listened to what I needed and helped me get there, even if I didn’t know how (but thought I did).
Who has given homeopathy a try? What did you think? Was your experience like mine?
PS- If you’re in NY and curious, this is where I went, and met with Karen Lawson.
Once I feel like I’ve found the answer to anything, I like to start obsessing over it. It doesn’t matter how many times I’m proven wrong (or write posts like this), somewhere deep down I’m always convinced I’m going to find the Ultimate Truth and then fix everything wrong with me and follow that with fixing everyone else.
I really thought I had it recently. I visited a homeopath hoping to cure my itchy legs, migraines, stomach aches, and overall lack of well-being. We had an amazing two hour session that was basically therapy. I was blown away. We talked about issues I hadn’t planned on bringing up, like my stress levels, and about issues I didn’t even know I had (apparently I’m very type A?). I left feeling cured before even making any changes.
One of the things the homeopath brought up was that i might suffer from a candida problem. Since this was basically the only cleanse I’ve never tried, I decided she was right. I did hours of research (see: obsessive). I knew that this was my cure. I got a lot of support from Sproutlings who have apparently all suffered with candida and cured themselves. I got advice from one of my favorite healthy life bloggers (she’s one of my idols). I was so so committed. In fact, it was the only cleanse I’ve ever done where I did not cheat ONCE. Not even with a bite or sip of something. Which as you may or may not know is close to impossible on this cleanse, since you can’t have: sugar, grains, dairy, fruit, or vinegar. That might seem like a short list, but if you stop to look at it closely you’ll realize it’s basically every food, ever.
Well friends, it sucked. But more importantly, not one thing changed for me. Not one. I felt like crap the whole time (21 days, but I did almost 30!) and nothing was cured, calmed, or even eased for me. Why does this matter? Because you can’t just blindly assume that everything you ever try will work for you. Even if it’s worked for other people. Even if it seems like an obvious answer (we could all use less sugar in our lives). I have to say it was incredibly eye-opening for me, because I’m generally an “everyone must cleanse!” preacher, and now, I think that there’s pretty much nothing that everyone must do. Except for all of the other things I say you should do.
There is no such thing as “the way”.
I have had one too many clients come and tell me that they need help because they’ve been doing everything right for so long and they still feel terrible. After some prodding, it turns out that “everything right” is just one or more diet books or blogs they read about The Absolute Right Way to Eat or You Will Get Sick and Die (and in some instances, You Will Also Go to Hell.)
There are people who gain weight on the Paleo diet. There are people who feel and look amazing even though we could probably call them “junk food vegans”. I met a raw foodist once convinced she was celiac… turned out she was allergic to a chemical in almonds, a food she was eating every day as part of her “healthy diet”. And then there are the people who eat whatever the eff they want and still shine.
The point is, YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. We say that a lot at Sprout. But not enough people are listening yet. Just to clarify though- this does not mean that the pizza you crave every single day is the right food for you. Because that’s not you listening to your body either, that’s you listening to the crazy parts of your brain (we all have them). But just because someone cured themselves of cancer with their diet doesn’t mean you need to follow the same path. I mean, chances are you don’t even have cancer (and even if you did, there are multiple diets shown to heal people, and then also lots of people who don’t heal from those diets.) More importantly, why do we all feel the need to live like terrified, sick people? If you’ve been trying a way of eating for a few months and feel like poo, you are NOT experiencing detox symptoms. You are just not doing the right thing for you. And you’re probably thinking about it so much that the cortisol running through your veins is also keeping you unhealthy.
so QUIT IT. Experiment with your foods, try eliminating foods, try adding foods, give it some time, and pay attention. You are much smarter than all of the people telling you what to do (us included).
Henderson and Rebecca asked me all weekend to tell them about what goes on in Silicon Valley. They felt like I was a window into this world where the future was being written one line of code at a time. I wanted to tell them about all the incredible innovations that are occurring in startups right now. Cool, new technologies that will make their lives better in incredible ways. I wanted to demonstrate something awesome that would immediately play a role in their lives. And while I did tell them about a lot of cool stuff. I left feeling like it was unsubstantial.
Is it just me? Does anyone else feel this way??
How many of us are solving real problems? How many of us are doing something that is going to improve the lives of Henderson and Rebecca in Tupelo, Mississippi? How many of us are making something that is going to help them save money or help them make money or help them increase their quality of life?
It’s been 3.5 years since Tim O’Reilly told us all to stop throwing sheep and do something worthy. He told us that day, “You have to ask yourself, are we working on the right things?”»
How to Sprout
A more in-depth explanation of how to best use Sprout products, just in case.
Cleanser: Shake well, pour onto a cotton ball, and gently coat face. No need to soak the cotton ball, just get enough to cover your entire face (you can go down onto your neck also). Rinse several times (10 rinses) with cool to warm water.
Toner: Use after cleansing your skin, whether with a wash or with water. Shake well and apply with a cotton ball also. Leave on your skin. A slight sting is totally normal due to the apple cider vinegar. (That “stuff” you see floating around in your toner is the vinegar mother, the part that makes it ferment over time and provides the nutrients. Vinegar without the mother has been pasteurized and is therefore lower in nutrients.)
Exfoliant: You don’t need to use this product every day unless you are doing some intense sweating, though it is perfectly safe if you do. In cold months, we recommend once a week or less, in the summer, every other day or so. You can either wet your face and hands and pour a small amount of the exfoliant into your hand, or just add some water to the exfoliant once it’s poured out. Either way, you’re just getting it slightly moist before applying. Gently scrub onto your face and neck in small circular motions. A stinging sensation is normal, and will vary based on the following: if you’ve been in the sun; if you use other products on your skin, especially prescription medication; if you’re very sensitive; if you have large, visible pores. This is all normal and okay, and part of the process of your skin exfoliating (and really, is it worse than extractions? Don’t know how anyone does that…). Leave on for a couple of minutes and rinse well with cool to warm water.
Cream: A very small amount goes a very long way. Promise. A pea size amount will cover your entire face, and about a dime size is enough for the rest of your body. Just rub your palms together to melt the cream and apply anywhere. You can even use it to hydrate your hair!
A note on the cream: If it has traveled through intense heat and melts on its way to you, do not fret! You can use it melted. If it re-solidifies and is grainy, throw it on the burner or in a double boiler, let it melt, stick it in the freezer for 20 minutes, and the next day the consistency will be back to perfect.
Scrub: Pour into your hand and mix with a small amount of water and scrub somewhat vigorously on your whole body. You can also use this on your face and in your hair, it’s super moisturizing. Rinse.
Makeup Remover: Shake really well until all of the colors blend, and apply to cotton ball. This also takes a very small amount. Safe to use on your eyes. You can leave it on, rinse off, or even towel it off if you’ve used too much.
Lip Balm: Pucker lips. Apply. Kiss.
Personal faves/tips: Washing face with water in the morning (10-20 rinses), following with a small amount of cream. Exfoliating after a sweaty work out. Cleanser and toner at night before bed, letting toner work its magic overnight. Scrub on the weekends for a more luxurious experience. Must must must remove makeup every single time you wear it. Applying lip balm every hour. Sometimes putting cream on lips, then lip balm (especially overnight, new lips in the morning).
On Excuses (and Dessert)
A thought occurred to me today after I realized that I’ve spent years and years trying to get addicted to working out, I still HATE it. I mean, I despise it. I have to drag myself into it and then I’m sort of demonic the whole time plus some solid minutes after. (And okay, yes, then I’m really happy. But that’s a whole lot of hate.) And I’m a personal trainer!
I also hate eating healthy. I’m not lying. I daydream about foods that shouldn’t even exist, like various meat products, cheesy-cracker-and-chip-like-things, barbecue every day, and candy that tastes like the Willy Wonka movie in real life.
Whenever I see a really skinny girl in the window of a pizza place just chowing down, I sort of want to go yell at her. And then I want to ask her how she does it.
Which brings us back to the thought that occurred to me. You know how she does it? She works her ass off. Literally. (ha! That’s definitely not the first time that joke has been made.) Sure, maybe 1% of the population has been blessed with beautiful genetics that make us all jealous and angry. But the rest of us have to work really really hard. It’s just a fact.
The difference between my really successful clients and the ones who just can’t make a change is one thing: lots and lots of excuses. People who really want it, do it. They diet, they cleanse, they eliminate foods they love, they work out when they feel like it, they work out when they don’t feel like it. They just decide to make health a serious part of their lives.
This can obviously be really hard, especially with the existence of chicken and waffles and the peer pressure of friends who are still full of excuses. And maybe I’m not really saying anything new, but it really motivated me. Being “healthy” might make you feel isolated and unpopular, and it might feel so bad that you fight with your boyfriend every time you work out together, but in the end, I think everyone secretly wants to be healthy. You don’t really want to feel like poo all the time. You don’t really want a doctor telling you to cut back. And just because you can’t be one of those peppy runners and yogis doesn’t mean you aren’t part of a community with people like me, who spend every day trying to ignore the excuses (and bacon-frosted-cupcakes).
Tips for treating your skin better
Since lately I’ve been getting a lot of shocked faces and an abundance of questions, I’ve realized maybe not everyone does the same things with their skin. Here are some things I’ve tried and think you might benefit from. I promise they’re easy and not scary like this was.
1. Wash your face with water. Have you seriously never tried this? Do it now! Do it tonight and tomorrow morning and then keep doing it. Give your skin a break. It needs it. And I’m not sure when in our history it became normal to wash our faces with product twice a day, but I bet they had better skin in caveman days. Take a short break from everything you’re using. Shh, just do it.
2. Spend a little more time washing. Whether with a product or with water, one or two rinses is just not going to get all of the grime off anymore. I’ve read that it can take up to 20 splashes of water to get clean, but I do 10 in the morning and 10 at night because I have 30 seconds to spare but a full minute is just pushing it. I’ll leave some grime on there thankyouverymuch.
3. You don’t need to be that gentle. Especially considering with a loofah or wash cloth you’re being way harsher than you could ever be with your hands. Don’t be so afraid of your skin, feel free to actually rub it. Think about how you wash your hands. I bet you’re not very gentle. Your face is not going to break, promise. I mean, don’t beat it up, but don’t throw water on it from six inches away either.
4. You can be even rougher with your body. Like seriously scrub. Exfoliate. Get the blood flowing. Pink skin is oxygenated skin. And it’s clean. Let me reiterate I am not telling you to hurt yourself trying to do this. On the contrary, I encourage you to put the loofah down and feel yourself up with your hands and some good scrub. It’ll be much more invigorating, if you know what I mean. Actually I just mean invigorating, gutterbrain.
If nothing is working, something is wrong. The key to skincare is not just to keep bad skin at bay, it’s to have glowing vibrant skin. Obviously it’s not going to be perfect all the time, but if it’s terrible all the time, there is a culprit and you need to find it. I can help you do that or you can just try some simple eliminations. If that doesn’t sound so simple or you need guidance, contact me here.
“Always a Loyal Sproutlet”
(Katherine wrote to Sprout a while back with this email, and then recently gave us permission to repost it. Can’t help it, it’s just too good. She signs all of her emails to us with some form of “Always a Loyal Sproutlet,” so we’re basically in love. Thank you Katherine!!)
Just want to say how much I LOVE Sprout! I have a lot of issues with allergies (some environmental but mostly chemical) and eczema (plus acne), have been to 2 allergists & 5 dermatologists in the last 3 years, undergone over 6 allergy tests, spent hours (that probably add up to weeks) researching, tried countless prescriptions & products, and nothing can compare to Sprout!
I have been using Sprout (cleanser, toner, face scrub, & cream) for a few weeks and immediately I started to see a difference. Sprout soothed my skin and I stopped using my prescriptions (both topical and internal), something I have been wanting to be able to do for a LONG time. After years of regularly trying to figure out how one goes about treating an eczema patch nest to a pimple (seriously, what the heck?!), and dermatologists talking to me for 33 seconds, writing me an unwanted Rx, and telling me to use Cetaphil and Dove, today I woke up with NO redness, flakes, irritation, rashes, OR pimples! I seriously cannot remember another time that has occurred!
From someone who has literally been in tears standing in a store isle trying to decipher labels (of both mainstream and “natural” products) I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your truly natural, pure, and simple product! I have gone from daily dealings with itchy, burning, uncomfortable skin to not only being physically comfortable but my skin looks beautimous to boot!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
A forever loyal Sproutlet,
P.S. - I have found that the Facial Toner also works wonders on chest and back acne…you probably already knew that though :)