Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sales Parties

I am about to write a post that will not be popular among my friends but here goes.

If you want to sell cosmetics/ candles/ cooking supplies/ sex toys/ the latest pyramid scheme to supplement your income, that's great. Have your party, but leave me out of it. I buy the things I want from either the store or the internet. I research the things I want and make an informed decision. The last thing I want to do is be pressured by a friend to buy something I don't need/ want because they are throwing a party. I don't care if the party is a great way to get out of the house or a fun time hanging out with friends. The real reason for the party is to sell me something. Even if you say "no pressure, just come and hang out" I will personally feel pressured to buy something simply because you are my friend and that's just not cool. I feel like the whole premise behind these parties is rude. I don't beg you all to buy Bonne Bell cosmetics to support my income.

That's basically it. Every time I've gotten an invite for the latest "party" I've wanted to say something but I didn't want the person to feel like I was singling them out. Since I'm not currently invited to any of these types of parties I figured it was a good time to get it off my chest. Obviously this is just my opinion. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who don't mind being pitched to by their friends. I'm not one of them. The next time you are having a party to sell something, feel free to leave me off the invite list.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Skin Care: Anti-Aging Products

Wrinkles and aging skin are a fact of life. There are many things that contribute to aging skin:

  1. Sun Damage: Like it or not, repeated exposure to UVA & UVB rays whether from the sun or a tanning bed dramatically speeds up the aging process of the skin. UVA rays penetrate more deeply than UVB rays. UVA is responsible for destruction of collagen and elastin and when they are destroyed, your skin gets saggy and wrinkled. UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburns. Unless your sunscreen product say "Broad Spectrum coverage, it will only block UVB rays not UVA. Make sure you are blocking both.
  2. Genetics: People with darker skin tones are less susceptible to wrinkles caused by sun damage.
  3. Hormones: Women who have gone through menopause frequently begin to notice thinning and more saggy skin due to the hormonal changes. 
  4. Getting Old: Gravity is a bitch. Every year you are on this earth gravity pulls down on your skin and stretches it more.
  5. Muscle Movement: The muscles you use the most, be it smiling, frowning or squinting into the sun, wrinkle the fastest and the deepest. 
This is certainly not an exhaustive list but these are some of the major causes of aging. Now I'm going to tell you the bad news

There isn't a miracle vitamin, plant extract, or any other ingredient anywhere in the world that can change one wrinkle on your face. Stop looking for one ingredient that does it all, because that just leads to disappointment. There are thousands of anti-wrinkle products available around the world with claims that are either misleading or just plain false about what they can do for your skin.

So now that we have that out of the way- what can we do to care for aging skin?

  1. Wear broad spectrum sunscreen every day before going in the daylight. EVERY day, not just in the summer, or on days you're at the amusement park, 365 days a year. Sun has been proved to be a huge contributing factor to aging and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  2. Exfoliate! Removing the thickened outer layer of skin can increase collagen production and help your skin form a better structure. You don't have to exfoliate with a scrub (indeed many commercially available products have particles that are too large or too hard to do anything other that tear at your skin). You can also exfoliate with AHA (alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid or lactic acid) and BHA (beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid). As I discussed in my post about acne, any product using AHAs or BHAs to exfoliate your skin must have a pH between 3 and 4. Anything outside this range is either too irritating or simply won't work. 
  3. Retin-A, Renova, Avita and Tazorac are prescription topical products to improve sun damaged or wrinkled skin. These products are cell-communicating ingredients. They can "talk" to your skin and tell it what to do. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3 or nicotinioic acid) is a great non prescription cell communicating ingredient. It increases the level of cerimide in the skin which helps regulate water loss and stimulates microcirculation in the dermis. Some other cell communicating ingredients to look for include: milk thistle, Filipendula glaberrima (Nakai root extract), retinyl palmitate, retinol, peptides, and phospholipids. Using cell communicating ingredients in skin care is in it's infancy. This area of research is sure to expand in the coming years. 
  4. Maintain your skin's barrier. Think of the barrier as the mortar in between the bricks. Technically known as the extracellular matrix, the skin's barrier helps to keep your skin soft, smooth, moist and of course keep the bad stuff out. When the barrier is damaged, you get rough, dry and dehydrated looking skin. Maintaining the barrier can be done in several ways. Don't use water that is too hot or cold. Don't using products that contain irritating ingredients. Your skin should NEVER burn or tingle when using a skin care product. It doesn't mean it's working- it means it's irritating your skin. Avoid unprotected sun exposure (I know, I'm beating a dead horse here but it really is important). Some important skin-repairing ingredients to look for include ceramides, lecithin, glycerin, polysaccharides, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, amino acids, cholesterol, glycerol, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids, glycosaminoglycans, glycerides, and fatty acids.
  5. Use antioxidants. This is a broad statement that covers a vast amount of ingredients. Antioxidants reduce inflammation, repair DNA damage, restore the skin's surface barrier, help defend against environmental stress, allow skin to build more collagen, and improve skin's ability to heal.
The price of the product means nothing. Good and bad skin care products come in all price ranges. Look at the ingredients. Compare it to the things that are needed to maintain healthy skin. Maintaining healthy skin is the only way to prevent and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. 

There is no one BEST ingredient. There are a lot of great ones but don't buy a product because of it's claims, buy it because it's a well formulated product that will make you look and feel great.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pint-Sized Bullies

When Makayla started Montessori preschool this fall, I anticipated dealing with separation anxiety, potential tantrums and maybe some negative feedback about her stubbornness. Instead, we are dealing with an issue I never anticipated- bullying. It's not Makayla who's being bullied, she's the bully.

It started about a month after school started. She started getting even more obstinate with us at home and then the first report from school- Makayla bit another kid because he was washing his hands and she wanted to wash her's first. Jeff and I were both pretty shocked. We haven't really been doing the "play-date" thing and she is an only child so her interactions with other kids were fairly limited but whenever we were playing at the park, out at the store or in Sunday school at Grandpa's church she was nothing but loving to other kids. She freely gives hugs (whether wanted or not) and really adores babies. Nothing about her behavior prior to the start of school would have made me anticipate this. Two days after the biting incident, she hit a kid for not doing what she wanted and pulled another girl's hair because she wanted the work the other girl had.

So we went in for a parent-teacher conference and worked out a plan in which after a "touching" incident Makayla would be sent to the "rethinking chair" after which she would be asked to apologize to the kid she wronged. The next week she struck again. She got sent to the rethinking chair and seemed appropriately apologetic when we talked to her about why what she was doing was wrong. She knew that she wasn't supposed to hit but she said "she couldn't help it". Grandma instituted a reward system in which Makayla got 1 quarter on days that she kept her hands to herself but on days she hit she had to give Grandma 2 quarters. It's here where I point out that Makayla is wise beyond her 4 years. She quickly figured out she could still be bad 2 days a week and come out ahead in the quarter system. So every week, 2 or sometimes 3 times a week, Makayla has hit, poked or pushed another kid at school. She doesn't seem to be limiting it to one particular child. She gets angry and immediately strikes out with her hands. So we continued with the plan at school and at home we started taking things that she loved away on days that she hit. We talked to her about what she was doing and why it was wrong. We tried to make her put herself in the other kids' shoes. She said she would be very sad if someone else hit her but she couldn't extrapolate that into "what I'm doing is making the other kids sad".

Meanwhile, her behavior at home continued to slide downhill. She got even more stubborn. She refused to clean up after her messes. She doesn't understand bargaining- she wants what she wants and that's it. So we started using the "counting" system where we count to three and if she's still refusing to do what needs doing, she gets a spanking.

After a month of no improvement we talked to the teachers at school again and made some modifications to the plan. They too are completely baffled by her continued hitting episodes. They said that normally, kids who are lacking verbal skills to express their feelings are the hitters but Makayla is very advanced verbally and she tells them why she hits (she was angry) and yes she knows she shouldn't (but she can't help it). They also said that most kids respond right away to the rethinking chair but it seems to be having no effect on Makayla. So they are teaching her to cross her arms tightly across her chest when she feels like she's getting angry and they are moving the rethinking chair to a place away from the rest of the class to make it feel more punishing. I plan to give this another month and then re-evaluate. Every day I ask her if it was a "good friend day" and if she says yes, I let her know how proud I am that she made good choices today. If she says no, I tell her that I am disappointed that she made bad choices today and that I hope she makes better ones tomorrow. Then we discuss what happened, why and why it was wrong. Time will tell if it helps.

Yesterday, I was talking to my sister who was telling me a story about one of her friends that was complaining about how her kid was being bullied in preschool. She was mad at the parents because obviously they weren't being strict enough or parenting well enough or something similar. Makayla's school tries to keep everything confidential about who hits and who gets hit but Makayla will tell me right off who she hit so I'm sure the other kids go home and tell their parents who hit them. So I'm the parent of the bully. I find it terribly embarrassing but I don't know what else to do. I'm not strict enough? I feel terrible every time I spank her- would beating her harder help? I don't think so. I am I ignoring or encouraging the behavior? Not by a long shot. I honestly think that with more time, Makayla will mature out of this but I'm not sitting around waiting for her to "grow out of it". I am actively trying to change her behavior so that other kids don't get hurt. Hell, I was bullied in middle school, I hated every minute of it, there is no way I want my daughter to turn in to one of the "mean girls". I can understand why other parents would be upset even, I probably wouldn't be looking at from the bully's side if Makayla were the one coming home telling me someone hit her at school.

I don't know, I don't have the answers. But we are trying.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Skin Care: When To Toss a Product

All cosmetic products have a shelf life. In the US there is no requirement for cosmetics manufacturers to put this information on their products. The EU has a system called "period after opening" or PAO. The PAO system has pictures of open jars with a number in it. The number in or under the jar is the number of months the product can safely be used after opening.

Many US products also use this system (mostly because they don't want to print different packages for different countries) but it is not required. Shelf life of cosmetics is important because even an effective preservative package will lose efficacy after a certain amount of time and at that point the product can become contaminated with bacteria and molds. Also, all oils will go rancid given enough time. Some oils go rancid very quickly, like grapeseed oil, while others are stable for a long time, like mineral oil. All Natural products have a much shorter shelf life than conventional products and are more likely to lose their preservative efficacy more quickly. Manufacturers determine the appropriate shelf life based on the shelf life of the raw materials and internal stability testing. Unfortunately manufacturers can't account for the variable of how the consumer uses the product. For example, say you have a face cream packaged in a jar. Customer One stores the product in a dark cabinet in a non humid room, washes their hands before using it and re-caps the product tightly after each use. Customer Two stores the product on the counter in their bathroom, doesn't wash their hands before use and just sets the cap back on without screwing it down. Customer Two's product is FAR more likely to grow bacteria and mold than Customer One's. There are real dangers to using out of date or expired beauty products
  1. Skin infections
  2. Increased breakouts
  3. Dry skin
  4. Eye Infections
  5. Rashes and allergic reactions
So absent a PAO time on your product, how long should you keep various beauty products?

Eye products like mascara should be tossed after 4-6 months at the most. If you have a mascara that is clumpy and won't go on smoothly, do NOT add water or saliva to it to thin it down. Chuck it. 

Liquid face products like moisturizers and foundations should be good for 1-2 years. 

Powder products like blush, loose or pressed face powder or eye shadow should last for 2-3 years under appropriate storage conditions. 

If at any time you notice an off odor, thinning of the product or separation in an emulsified product, toss it out immediately. It's also not a good idea to share products, it increases the likely hood of contamination. Tester products in stores are also never really a good idea. You have no idea how many or how the people before you have used the product. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Skin Care Myths: Never Pop a Zit

I'm sure you've heard it before- never pop a pimple. Well I'm about to burst that little bubble. It's ok to pop a pimple if you do it correctly. If you do it incorrectly you risk scabs, increased healing time and permanent scars. However, done correctly, popping a pimple reduces inflammation, healing time and gets rid of the ugly white bump that is so hard to cover up. When you get a facial at a spa, the aesthetician will do extractions on clogged pores, which is what you want to do.

Before you start, make sure you are dealing with the correct type of blemish. Deep cystic acne cannot be popped safely without scarring. This method will work well on blackheads or white heads that are raised and inflamed. It's also easier to do when the zit is on a hard part of your face like the jawline, chin, forehead or nose area. It's more difficult to do correctly in the fleshy parts like your cheeks.

Here's how to correctly pop a pimple.
1) Buy a comedone extractor. This is what they look like:
 The loop end is what you are going to use to gently remove the pus from the clogged pore. You can use the needle end to gently pierce the top of the zit to make it easier to remove.

2) Wash and dry your face. It can be helpful to gently scrub with a wash cloth to remove dead skin cells on the surface. Don't use hot water- no need to inflame the pimple more than it already is.

3) Center the loop over the head of the pimple, press down gently and slide the loop over the pimple. Repeat if necessary but don't press down harder. You can also try piercing the top of the pimple with the needle and then try sliding the extractor over the pimple again. This should remove the pus.

Make sure to clean the extractor after each use (a quick wipe with rubbing alcohol should suffice). You don't want to spread the bacteria to a new place the next time you use it.

After you have extracted the zit, DO NOT pick at it. The point is to remove the pus and make the zit easier to cover up, not to create a scab. Scabs leave scars. Do not squeeze pimples with your fingers, this is what leads to damage in the lower layers of skin and leaves scars. It is also helpful at this point to apply your 2%  salicylic acid treatment gel to the treatment spot.

So there you have it. You can pop a pimple safely, just don't overdo it and don't pick at it afterwards. Good luck!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Skin Care: Acne Prone Skin

Acne care is a topic near and dear to my heart. As a teenager, I had relatively little acne. I started having more and more problems with acne as I got older. It was only recently that I realized my problems are entirely hormonal, a side effect of my PCOS and there is very little I can do to stop my skin from being oily and breaking out nearly every day. That doesn't stop me from trying to control my skin though. Since about 2008, I've tried just about every expensive and inexpensive option for acne control including ProActiv, Neutrogena Skin ID, hundreds of drugstore options and since starting with Bonne Bell, many iterations of my own creations with the "latest and greatest" from raw material suppliers. Through it all I have gained a lot of insight into what acne prone skin needs, and what it doesn't.

The most important thing to remember about acne prone skin is to avoid irritation. Irritation leads to more breakouts and slower healing. Unfortunately, many of the things that are commonly associated with skin care for acne prone skin are actually irritants and only make acne worse. One of the biggest is alcohol. You will see this in astringents, spot treatments, even face washes. Alcohol is way too drying for everyone's skin, even the most oily. Alcohol is actually counterproductive to oily skin because it over dries the skin and actually increases oil production. It's truly a relic from when it was thought that the best way to get rid of a zit was to dry it out as quickly as possible. Alcohol has no place in skin care products.

Other irritants commonly used in acne products are menthol/ peppermint extracts because they give a cooling sensation that many people believe means it's "working". There are many other fragrant botanicals that are irritants to skin as well. Witch hazel, eucalyptus, fennel, cinnamon, citruses and cloves are all too irritating for most skin types.

It's important to not over cleanse your face when you are trying to control acne. Wash your face twice a day (unless you are formulating a new skin care line and you are your own test subject, then wash your face 10 times a day and have your worst breakout in years). Wash your face with lukewarm water, not hot. Hot water is irritating to your skin and over time can lead to burst capillaries and splotchy redness on your face.

So now that I've covered all the things you SHOULDN'T use on your acne prone skin, what should you use? Basically for a face wash you want something gentle and mild that cleans off excess dirt, oil and makeup and doesn't irritate your skin. You will commonly find face washes with salicylic acid but really, salicylic acid in a face wash is a waste. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant. It is known as a beta hydoxy acid or BHA. It works by sloughing off dead skin cells and clearing out dirt from your pores. However it only works if it stays on your skin. A face wash is on your skin for maybe a minute, tops. That is not nearly enough time for salicylic acid to do anything. So save that for later. Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser, Sensitive Skin is a gentle foaming face wash without irritating ingredients.

Now it's time for your BHA. Salicylic acid can only function as an exfoliant in the very narrow pH range of 3-4. If the product is outside of that range, it really won't be helpful at all. Unfortunately, unless you walk around with your pocket pH meter you have no idea if the chemist who formulated that product knew that or cared enough to bother to specify a pH for the product. Neutrogena Oil-Free Stress Control Acne treatment  is a well formulated product, in the correct pH range, with a good level of salicylic acid- 2%. Use your BHA product over your whole face, not just on your current zits. Like I said, salicylic acid exfoliates and clears dirt and oil out of your pores- thus preventing future breakouts when used over your whole face.

Basically that's all that you need to do to control most cases of acne. If your acne doesn't show signs of improvement with this type of treatment, talk to your doctor. It could be caused by hormones, in which case birth control pills have been shown to be very effective for controlling acne. Doctors can also prescribe antibiotics or topical steroids which are also effective at controlling more severe cases of acne.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Scary Story by Makayla

I just got done giving Makayla her bath tonight and she decided to tell me a scary story while I was brushing out her hair.

Once apon a time, a little girl and her mommy decided to go for a walk in the woods. They started a fire and they were roasting smores. And this is where is gets scary, Mommy. They saw a COYOTE and he said awooooooo! And then he saw the little girl and her mommy and he got so scared he ran away. The little girl and her mommy went home and went to bed. 

(For anyone who doesn't know- Makayla is almost 4) I asked her where she heard that story and she told me she just made it up right now. I said- Well that was a good story Makayla. She said "Oh and Mommy, the little girl in that story was me" Lol, ok sweetie. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Skin Care Myths: Mineral Oil

Mineral Oil gets a bad rap. People claim that mineral oil is terrible for your skin, it coats it like plastic wrap, doesn't allow it to breathe, gives you cancer and worst of all it comes from petroleum. First of all, yes, it comes from petroleum but why is that so bad? Petroleum comes from the earth, that's pretty natural if you ask me. We get a hell of a lot of stuff from petroleum and most of it makes our lives better. Pure cosmetic grade mineral oil has no relationship to cancer. Mineral oil actually scores a 0 (out of 5) on the comedogenicity scale meaning it DOES NOT clog pores. It also scores a 0 (out of 5) on the irritancy scale. Compare this to a "natural" oil like coconut oil which scores a 4 for comedogenicity and a 1 for irritation. I'd much rather have a product made from mineral oil than from coconut oil. Mineral oil is an occlusive ingredient, meaning that it prevents trans epidermal water loss (TEWL in the biz). So basically, if you are preventing TEWL, you are moisturizing because you are keeping the moisture in your skin where it belongs. Mineral oil is cheap and it has an amazingly long shelf life compared to most other oils. It's a great solvent for removing makeup and it is a great emollient. 

Probably the worst thing I can say about mineral oil in its pure form is that it feels greasy. However in a well formulated product, the greasiness will be mitigated by the other ingredients in the formula.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Skin Care Myths: If it's tingling, it's working

Last night, my husband spouted off one of the most common myths about skin care products. If a product is tingling or cooling, it means it's working. This truly couldn't be farther from the truth. Tingling/ cooling effects in washes, creams, balms etc come from menthol. Tingling is just your skin's response to irritation. Peppermint oil/ extract/ Menthol has antimicrobial properties but unfortunately is a known skin counter irritant. Counter-irritants are used to induce local inflammation for the purpose of relieving inflammation in deeper or adjacent tissues. In other words, they substitute one kind of inflammation for another, which is never good for skin. Irritation or inflammation, no matter what causes it or how it happens, impairs the skin’s immune and healing response. Although your skin may not show it or doesn't react in an irritated fashion, if you apply irritants to your skin the damage is still taking place and is ongoing, so it adds up over time. There is no good reason to put peppermint/ menthol in a skin care product. It's not helpful and it's damaging to your skin.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

If you have a cat

This is a repost from a note I wrote quite a while ago on Facebook. Since notes are hard to find nowadays, I figured I would reshare it here because this information is too valuable. 

At some point in your cat's life it's going to pee on something. Whether it's because they got themselves locked in a closet, have some sort of infection, are stressed or are just doing it because they feel like being evil little shits- it's going to happen. Don't say "My cats never pee on anything!" because you'll jinx yourself and they'll do it just to prove you wrong. I know- I said it. In my opinion, there is nothing in the world that smells worse than cat urine. It is the most powerfully foul stench and it can be smelled damn near a mile away.

Last time I changed the litter box I didn't really have enough litter to fill it to the normal level. I figured it would be fine until I got to the store to get more then I forgot about it. Fast forward 6 days and the litter box was getting stinky. I still hadn't been to the store but I was planning on going in the morning. At 6AM I was awakened by the unmistakable stench of cat urine. After coming to my senses I also realized that my leg was wet. One of the little bastards peed in the middle of my bed while I was sleeping in it! I could have killed them both. After showering and stripping the bed and fuming the whole time I was at a loss for what to do about the mattress. So I threw the linens in the washer with a cup or so of vinegar and started searching the internet for the answer. Well I found plenty of articles for so called cat urine neutralizers like Urine Gone and Nature's Miracle but I have already tried those in the past with lackluster results and there was no way I was going to sleep on a mattress with even the slightest smell of cat urine on it. I would get a new mattress first. Then I happened on an article claiming to get cat urine smell out anything  using vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and a little dish soap. Well I had all of those thing so I set to work somewhat skeptically.

OMG it worked. It's amazing. There is NO smell. NONE. I am so happy. I am really shocked that it eliminated a lake sized urine stain and smell with one treatment and probably about 5 bucks in materials. So I felt I should share this little miracle with everyone because no one should have to live with the smell of cat urine.

Step 1:
 Yell, curse and fume about the little bastard who has ruined yet another item of yours. This is why we can't have nice things. It'll make you feel better. Punishing cats is generally ineffective because when the little shits get pissed at you they tend to piss on more things to get back at you. They own you after all.

Step 2:
 If the area is still wet blot up as much of the urine as you can with paper towels.

Step 3:
 Make a 50/50 dilution of vinegar and saturate the stain and a good way around it with it. If the urine is on carpet a really small spot on the surface will spread out a whole lot underneath and you need to get it all to eliminate the smell.

Step 4:
 Blot up as much of the vinegar solution as possible.

Step 5:
 Spread a good amount of baking soda over the whole area. Allow to sit for 15 minutes while you continue to curse the cat.

Step 6:
 Mix 1/4 cup of Hydrogen Peroxide with a teaspoon of dish soap (scale up if your area is large) and drizzle it over the baking soda on the stain. Work in in with your fingers (rubber gloves if desired) or a brush.

Step 7:
 Blot up as much of the liquid as possible then allow to dry completely. (I used a hair dryer to speed the drying process as I would like to sleep tonight)

Step 8:
 Vacuum thoroughly to get rid of the baking soda.

That's it. Smell gone. Miracle.

Also, an update- most cats will remark something if it smells like their urine. Well it's been almost 2 years now and it has not happened again so I can only assume they can't smell it anymore either. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

This is why we let the doctors do the diagnoses

So I finally went to a doctor this week about my ongoing female issues. I lost 12 lbs, had a normal cycle then bled constantly for a month. When we went over my history and current condition, she immediately gave me the preliminary diagnosis of PCOS. I was not surprised obviously. So she sent me to the vampires to run blood tests for all kinds of hormone levels and scheduled me for an ultrasound to check everything out. She said that if everything came back as expected, I could start Clomid (a fertility drug) in about two weeks.

I went in for the ultrasound yesterday and she let me know that the hormone panels all came back as expected, indicating PCOS. When they started the ultrasound, they showed me all of the little cysts in my ovaries. When they got to the left Fallopian tube however, they found it to enlarged with some type of debris in it. They immediately suspected an ectopic pregnancy, even though I told them it was next to impossible for me to pregnant. Well the pregnancy test was negative but now that just means they don't know why my tube is blocked and swollen. It could be endometriosis or a cysts dislodged from my ovary or it who knows. So now I have to have a laparoscopy to find out what's doing and hopefully fix it. I've never had any type of surgery and I am a bit nervous about what they will find. I hope it is something easily corrected.

I'm glad that she did all of these tests before I started Clomid, since having an enlarged Fallopian tube increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. She seems optimistic about us having more children once we figure out what's going on with my lady bits and for once I have a doctor who is listening to me and actually DOING something about it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teen Angst that never goes away

I have never been accused of being what one would call a "social-butterfly". I had a close group of friends in high school and I did not branch outside of it much. In college I was friends with my coworkers and two of my dorm mates. I guess I'm what you would call a hermit. A loner. Anti-social. I married someone who is the same. So we don't get out much. Putting myself into large group settings is extremely uncomfortable for me.

Last week, we received an invitation from the parent's club at Makayla's preschool for an ice cream social. I accepted because I knew Makayla would be disappointed if we didn't go. I was dreading it all week. The only parent I met was in passing as Makayla was going in for her assessment. He's pretty much a tool. They were getting ready to go and his son said "I can count in Spanish too!" and proceeded to do so. When he finished the dad said "Oh he can count in Chinese as well". Jesus, just get the fuck out, you're already over your time and running into mine. I have to get back to work after this! So the thought of large groups of people like Mr. Overachiever made me nauseous. So we went to the ice cream social yesterday and Jeff and I hung out on the fringes while Makayla played with all of her friends on the playground equipment. For some reason, she IS a little social butterfly- unlike either of her parents. Finally, I edged my way toward the pavilion where the ice cream was, using Makayla like a shield. We ended up having a short conversation with the leader of the parents club, she seemed nice enough- but really I couldn't wait to get out of there. I was irrationally mad at all of the pregnant women (there were several) and the mom's with their new babies.  After we made our escape and got home, there was another invitation waiting in my inbox for an apple picking excursion. Ugh. And wouldn't you know, Makayla has been saying we should go apple picking for like two weeks now. As if picking, grinding and pressing 125 lbs of our own apples wasn't enough....

So I feel like I should be over this anxiety. I'm a grown ass woman but it seems to be getting worse, which is the opposite of good. If I degrade much further I'll be a recluse before Makayla gets out of high school.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Emma Rothgery in Memoriam

Today, the Chronicle Telegram runs my Grandma's obituary. It says what all obituaries say, a list of those who died before her and her relatives still living. A brief summary of her life. How can you squeeze 87 years into a paragraph on the obits page? Today I want to write my memories of life with my Grandma so I don't forget.

I don't know a lot about Grandma's childhood. I know she was born in Walhonding, OH but she always just called it "down home". She moved to Elyria when she was in high school. She met my grandpa and they were married here and honeymooned on Mackinac Island. They lived in Elyria their whole life together. Grandma stayed home with my uncle Rick and my mom until Mom was in the 7th grade. After that she worked at Harshaw Chemical (BASF today) as a secretary for 28 years.

My memories of Grandma begin when I was about 5ish. We all went to Grandma and Grandpa's house every Sunday for dinner. Great Grandma lived there too. Grandma always cooked too much food and we always had massive "Grandma sized" pieces of whatever delicious dessert she had cooked that week. Almost every week, she would tell my dad- "Now Jeff, you'll like this one- it's not too sweet". She had cable TV and we would lay there and watch Nickelodeon (we didn't have dish at home until I was in middle school) and Grandma would offer us more snacks and candy all evening. She spoiled us rotten and we loved it. Sometimes Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Rick and Linda would play cards in the evening, usually Rook. Grandma had an obvious way of signaling her partner that she had good cards, usually an exaggerated wink.

We loved to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's when we were kids. One night, Sarah and I were supposed to be sleeping in the "red room" which had wallpaper that we weren't allowed to touch. We were playing around and talking and Grandma came up and told us to get to sleep. I think Sarah accidentally touched the wall with her foot and Grandma yelled "Don't touch the wall!" Well Sarah, being the little shit, took her pinky finger and touched the wall and said "Touch!" Grandma came into the room smacking with a flyswatter, but Sarah and I were hiding under the covers and we couldn't feel a thing.

In the winter, we used to go ice skating down at North Park and when we were done we would run back to Grandma's for hot chocolate and snacks. We always trick or treated at Grandma's house because our area was too rural at the time to go in our neighborhood.

Christmas Eve was always spent at Grandma's house. She was Catholic and as such we had a traditional Holy Supper consisting of split pea soup, fried fish, bobalki, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, smashed lima beans and prunes (named "Poop" by my cousin when he was a toddler). Before the meal, we passed the oplatki and said a prayer. When I was small, I told Grandma I couldn't have the oplatki. Grandma took it to mean that I thought I couldn't have it because we were Presbyterian, not Catholic and she said "Oh sure you can, Honey!" I said "But Grandma, I'm not allowed to eat Styrofoam!" After dinner we opened all of our presents from Grandma and Grandpa and then Mom and Dad went to the candlelight service at church and we went to sleep until they got back and took us home. It wasn't until much later that I learned they actually went home after the service and did all the Santa gifts so they would be there waiting we we got home.

Grandpa got sick when I was about 10. He had a brain tumor removed that came back pretty quick. He went to hospice, but didn't die. He came home and Grandma cared for him until the day he died. Grandma always took care of everyone.

A couple years later, Grandma needed a heart valve replacement. After the surgery, she suffered a severe stroke and came close to death herself. Slowly but surely, she recovered. She moved to a nursing home for about a year and a half. Her mind had been affected at first but she quickly regained her faculties. She learned to walk again, never perfectly but she only used a cane until the last two years of her life when she switched to a walker. While she was in the nursing home, we went to visit her at least every other day. I did her nails so she could be fashionable. I used colors like lime green, orange, yellow and purple. Grandma was the hippest lady in the home. When I was about 14, Grandma moved in with us.

It wasn't always easy, Grandma was a hoarder all her life. Likely left over habits sprung from living through the Great Depression. She would frequently tell us, "One day when you don't have, you'll be sorry." When she lived with Grandpa, she hoarded non perishable food items. With us, she took to saving articles from the paper for all of us, most of the time- you took them and then threw them out. When Sarah and I left for college, our friend Vanessa moved in with my parents as hers were being shitty. Grandma always loved Vanessa. Vanessa can talk for hours and Grandma always loved having some one stop to talk to her. Zach and Grandma also developed a special relationship. For all the trouble Zach caused as a teenager, he was always so patient with Grandma. When he moved away, he wrote to Grandma at least once a month, which is more than can be said for any of the rest of us.

When I told Grandma I was pregnant with Makayla, she was not exactly pleased I was having a baby before marriage but she loved Makayla and Makayla loved her. Grandma was able to attend my wedding and I was so thankful for that.

When we moved back home and I went back to work, Makayla spent her days with Mom and Grandma. Makayla first named my dad "Gaga" and for a long time couldn't figure out how to say grandma. Finally she decided Mom would be "GagaMama" and shortly after Grandma became "Great GagaMama". She later changed them to Gramma and Great Gama. Makayla's job was to go wake up Grandma for dinner. Grandma was notoriously difficult to wake because she gasped like you scared the crap out of her if you touched her lightly on the shoulder. She never did that for Makayla. So every day Makayla would go into Grandma's room and say "Great Gama, it's dinner!" and Grandma would get up and come in. I feel particularly bad for Makayla because she probably won't remember any of the things she did with Great Gama as she grows and she doesn't really understand why Great Gama is gone.

Grandma's final days were spent in the ICU, after all she survived in her life, she died very quickly and nothing could be done to save her. When she took her last breath we were all there with her, just as she was there for us all of our lives.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Secondary Infertility is a Bitch

So  I know what you're thinking- at least you have a child. I'm not saying primary infertility isn't a bitch- but it's still just as hard when you want another baby and it just isn't happening. I love Makayla but I never wanted an only child. I have big plans. Four to be exact. Jeff and I have been trying for Number 2 for over a year now. Granted, Jeff was in Afghanistan for a good chunk of the year, but he was home for leave several times. I guess since was Makayla was a surprise baby, I figured it wouldn't be hard to get pregnant again. My body has other plans though.

My cycles have been irregular my whole life, it's one of the reasons we have Makayla. Over the past year it has gotten worse. I had a total of three periods the whole year. I went to the doctor who gave me 10 progesterone pills to jump start my body and it worked- once. When I went back she seemed totally uninterested in figuring out what is wrong with me so I took to diagnosing myself. I had her test my thyroid levels- they came back normal. I got the normal yearly workup- everything seemed fine. I gave up on even going to see her. I've recently come to the realization that I am an exact fit to the symptoms of PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). I've made an appointment to see a new doctor to confirm but it doesn't really matter much. The "treatment" for PCOS is very limited. To regulate the cycles they prescribe birth control. Unless you want to get pregnant. Then you're basically shit out of luck. The treatment there is to lose weight (one of the symptoms of PCOS is unexplained weight gain) and hope your cycle returns when you lose it. Also, they will prescribe clomid to increase the possibility of ovulating. Some data indicates that women with PCOS are "insulin resistant" which means that the insulin in my body is less effective at lowing my blood sugar and leads to weight gain and makes it more difficult to lose weight.

Over the past two months I have been trying to lose weight by reducing my food intake and increasing my activity. I walked with Mom and Vanessa for about a month and lost zero pounds. I started biking and I've been busy building a fence in the sweltering heat and I've gained weight. So I got to thinking about back when I was in college and I went on the Atkins diet. Atkins was all about controlling your blood sugar levels throughout the day by not eating carbohydrates that are quickly broken down into simple sugars and cause blood sugar spikes. I lost a lot of weight on Atkins. So I decided this week, I was done with carbs. I've been feeling really great this week, never hungry and I've found loads of low carb recipes that make me feel like I'm not missing a thing. And I've lost 7 pounds. Now that may be water weight, but I didn't lose anything with the last two things I've tried so it's something.

It's time to take charge. I'm tired of feeling jealous of every woman I know who has announced a pregnancy (or birth) in the last year and a half. Yes, if you've been pregnant, I mean you. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for you and your babies are adorable. That doesn't stop me from being jealous that you have what I so badly want.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Busy, busy

It's been a busy last couple of weeks for me and I haven't had time to write anything. I've been saving horrible homemade cosmetic products from pinterest left and right so get ready. Or, if you prefer to waste your time and money making petri dish products and poisoning yourself, don't read this blog.

We had a wood chipping extravaganza a couple weekends ago in which we chipped all of the sticks and logs that would fit in a 6 inch industrial chipper at our house and my parents house. We are attempting to clear the future fence line at our house so we can install the new fence. The previous owners of our home really did not like to do any type of yard work or home repair work. They had a boat. Enough said. The next phase is to rent a log splitter so that we can split the hundred or so massive logs left over from tree removal over the years that are piled directly in the path of the fence. Should be a blasty blast!

The garden is doing very well at my parents house. I more than doubled the size of the garden this year with the help of my trusty Cub Cadet Yanmar and implements.  We are almost finished with the weeding and the summer squashes and peppers are already producing fruit. I realize most people have been getting squash for a while now but I was three weeks late in planting because I was still working on the expansion. The massive heat wave helped everything shoot right up despite the late start. I ordered wood for the fence around the garden. Woodchucks have been nibbling the zucchinis so that project is high priority. We tried out the PHD last night finally- it works pretty well but being that my parents property is nothing but rocks it's not perfect. When it hits a rock that spans the width of the hole it can't get through it so it looks like I'm still going to have to use the damn breaker bar.

Speaking of the heat wave, we bought and installed a pool last weekend. It's pretty sweet. Dad has been drawing up some plans for a nice deck and fence for safety (and code with the city). It's going to be awesome.

Work has been busy too- Bossman is in China for two weeks right now. Which is nice because I don't have to deal with him but bad because I have to do all of his work too. I had a big success with the reformulation of our Seriously Shine Free matting moisturizer. I have never liked the product as it was because it was billed as "matting" but it really did nothing of the sort. I had to do battle with a few people who wanted me to make it a heavier moisturizer (because a heavy lotion for oily skin makes PERFECT sense) but in the end I did what I wanted and everyone loved it. It's now a weightless matting moisturizer and a stable formula. I've been battling NPD on a regular basis too- mostly because they are way too set in their ways and beliefs about what sells. I get tired of making coral shade strawberry lip glosses. "But strawberry sells!" Maybe that's true but if we never try anything new how will we know if kids want something else? We don't do focus groups so I don't feel like we really understand our target consumer. Shots in the dark. We could do so much better. When it comes to evaluating "new" flavors I have to get comments from the NPD lady, her boss, and her bosses boss. Then, when they all like it, it has to go to the owner's wife who has to like it. If at any point someone doesn't like it then it dies. This is such an inefficient system. They have NPD lady there because she is supposedly the "flavor guru" (even though she doesn't realize that creme brulee does not taste like caramel...). The way it works now though is that we never even try anything that the owner's wife doesn't like. So she hates cherry and mint and honey- so I can never use those flavors. Never mind that there are plenty of people who do like those flavors. Whatever. One day, the guard will change, and hopefully before the company is run to the ground.

So anyway, yeah it's been busy. Back to work!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


"There's a sucker born every minute." - David Hannum

I'll admit it- I was one of those suckers.  This past winter, Makayla had a cold and cough. There was no reason to go to the doctor in my opinion, but she said her throat hurt when she coughed so I went to the drug store and looked for some cough medicine. Unfortunately everything there was for children over the age of 4-6 (she's 3). Everything except so called homeopathic remedies. I bought Hyland's Cough Syrup 4 Kids and gave it to her. She said it tasted good but she coughed for the rest of the day. I noticed no improvement in her symptoms until two days later when she gradually started getting better. Makayla does not get sick very often, in fact she's never been to the doctor for a sick visit. She gets two or three colds a year that clear up fairly quickly so I hardly ever have cause to think about medication for her.

Today I was perusing Science Based Medicine because I'm kind of obsessed with it at the moment and I love finding out about things I didn't know. So today I picked homeopathy to look into. I read it and said "Wow, I'm an idiot" because honestly I was completely ignorant of what homeopathy really is.

Homeopathy is the practice of treating "like with like". Basically the "premise" behind it is that you can cure illness by treating it with extremely dilute concentrations of what made you sick. For example, treating lead poisoning with an extremely dilute concentration of lead.  After I read that I knew that this whole thing was nothing but shenanigans. THEN I read HOW dilute. This is the process for creating a 6X HPUS homeopathic dilution:
  1. Fill a 100mL container with the mother tincture
  2. Dump it out
  3. Fill the container with water
  4. Shake it
  5. Dump it out
  6. Repeat 2 more times
The dilution of the "potentized" liquid will be 10^(-6) or  0.000001:1. Seriously, that is absurdly small. The irony of that is that this is a relatively strong dilution in the world of homeopathy. One of the most common nostrums is that of oscillococcinum. First off- oscillococcus don't exist. In the 1919 flu epidemic a physician who did not understand that artifacts on the slide, probably bubbles, move randomly due to Brownian motion.  Looking at the tissues of flu patients with a microscope, he  found what he thought was not only the cause of influenza, small cocci (round balls) that oscillated under the microscope.  He found these wiggling bubbles in all the tissues of all the ill people he examined and thought he discovered the true cause of all disease. He is the only person, before or since, to see these oscillating cocci. So to make oscillococcinum take the heart and liver of a duck and stick it in a bottle with pancreas goo and sugar. Wait for 40 days until it autolyzes into a goo. Then dump it out. Refill with water. Shake it. Repeat 200 times. 200 TIMES! The final dilution of this solution would be 10^(-400). That is a decimal point, 399 zeros and a 1. To put that in perspective there are about 10^80 molecules in the entire universe. So to find one molecule of duck goo in this solution you need to have 4 more universes to look in. This will cure the flu.

So let's look at a popular homeopathic remedy that I see advertised in my parenting magazines frequently. Hyland's Teething Tablets

The ingredients used in this product are:
  • Calcarea Phosphorica 6X HPUS: teething, dentition
  • Chamomilla 6X HPUS: irritability
  • Coffea Cruda 6X HPUS: sleeplessness
  • Belladonna 12X HPUS: redness and inflammation
in a base of Lactose (or sugar)

Calcarea Phosphorica is calcium phosphate
Chamomilla is chamomile
Coffea Cruda is unroasted coffee beans
Belladonna is Death Cherries or Deadly Nightshade

I'm going to go ahead and point out that obviously there are none of these in the actual product. But Belladonna is Deadly Nightshade- a POISONOUS plant. Eat it and you die. In a product for babies. Makes perfect sense. So basically these are sugar pills or placebos. So the only effect you could possibly get from them would be a placebo effect in which you have convinced yourself that it is working so it is.

What really pisses me off about these products is that they are sold as medicine, right next to the real medicine when they are anything but.

So to sum up- homeopathy is complete bullshit. The more you know...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Vaccinations Should Not Be A Choice

Let me start off by saying that I know it is unlikely that anyone will change their minds after reading this but this is an issue that I feel extremely strongly about so I'm going to say what I have to say.

If you do not vaccinate your children you could be responsible for the death of your child or another persons child. Vaccinations are primarily about the individual being vaccinated but there is another very important aspect. "Herd immunity" protects those who cannot get vaccinations. There are valid reasons for not getting vaccinations:

  • Weakened immune system (i.e. fighting cancer)
    • If you are moderately to severely ill at the time a vaccine is to be given you should wait until you recover
  • Allergic to component of vaccine 
    • Eggs- the influenza and yellow fever vaccines contain egg protein
    • Antibiotics- polio contains streptomycin, neomycin, and polymyxin B and MMR and varicella have trace amounts of neomycin. No vaccine contains penicillin or related antibiotics.
    • Gelatin- an ingredient in MMR, yellow fever and varicella
  • Too young to receive the vaccine
  • Some vaccines should not be given during pregnancy
That's it- everyone else should be vaccinated. So when people choose not to vaccinate their children and "let nature take it's course" they are risking the lives of those who don't have a choice. When an unvaccinated child contracts -for example- pertussis there is an incubation time where they are walking around spreading the virus to those who are the least able to handle it. Please read the story of Dana McAffery, a 4 week old infant who died from pertussis in Australia.

I'd like to make an analogy here to the pro-life/ pro-choice debate. Pro-lifers say that abortion should not be allowed because you are taking the life of child who does not have a say. Anti-vaxxers are taking the lives of children who cannot receive vaccines due to the reasons above.

I could debunk every reason why anti-vaxxers don't vaccinate their children but many have done that already. Here is an extremely thorough debunking. Stop killing babies. Vaccinate your children.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

If you have to explain it, it wasn't funny.

I used to follow a blog called people I want to punch in the throat. The first post I read was funny but then as she "went viral" she got meaner with every post. If anyone dared to disagree with the post or comment with a valid point that person was immediately attacked by her vicious followers for "not getting the joke". They would instantly scream "BUT IT'S SATIRE!!!" "IT'S JUST A JOKE!" and be chastised for their lack of a sense of humor. To me, she just turned into a bully. She picked on people for posting pictures of their dinners on FB, a list of things they accomplished for the day as their status, or a whole litany of things that annoyed her. She relentlessly picks on what she calls "OAMs" (over achieving moms) just for trying to be good parents. Because they are trying too hard. BUT IT'S SATIRE! I'm sorry but if you have to continually defend your writing as satire, maybe you just aren't that funny.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetics Claims: 5th Installment

Understanding "Helps" Claims

There are two categories recognized for cosmetics; cosmetics and drugs.
  • Cosmetics- products intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance.   
  • Drugs- products intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man. 
 A drug product is subject to registration, testing, labeling and packaging requirements that a cosmetic product is not. Since by definition a drug product is intended to treat something the claims that can be made on a drug product are substantially different than a cosmetic product. A drug product has an active ingredient that is recognized as a treatment for a disease or condition by FDA. For example, acne treatments. Here are the claims for Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion:

Contains maximum-strength acne-fighting medicine with botanical extracts to fight existing acne, help prevent future breakouts and leave skin feeling soft. This lightweight, daily lotion fights the multiple symptoms of acne. A powerful formula contains soothing natural botanicals to help prevent irritation, peeling or dryness. Powerful Salicylic Acid fights acne fast, penetrating deep into pores to unblock dirt and oil while sweeping away dead surface cells that can cause future breakouts.

The monograph for the active ingredient- salicylic acid- defines what you can say about the product. Salicylic acid is recognized as a treatment for acne and it functions by exfoliating the skin of dead skin cells which can block pores and cause acne. Botanical ingredients are not recognized as a treatment so any claim related to them must include the word helps.

Of course cosmetics companies want you to believe that a cosmetic (not drug) product is going to do something for you otherwise why would you buy it? So they couch their claims with words like "helps" and "reduces the appearance" and this is where it gets misleading. Here are the claims for Estee Lauder Time Zone Line and Wrinkle Reducing Creme:

Now you can take more than 10 years off the look of your skin in just 4 weeks and dramatically reduce the look of wrinkles. We can prove it. In fact, this anti-wrinkle moisturizer is so powerful, every single woman tested showed a reduction in the look of wrinkles.

That sounds great, right? If you read carefully, they only claim a reduction in the "look" of wrinkles not and actual measurable reduction in the number or depth/ length of wrinkles.

In 2005, Strivectin introduced their "better than BOTOX" stretch mark and wrinkle creams. These were cosmetic products but they were literally COVERED in claims. They claimed things like:
  •  Decreased the actual length of striae (stretch marks)
  •  Decreased the depth of indented surfaces
  •  Actually reduce the size of saddle bag thighs
  •  One problem area at a time, until you've literally melted the fat and molded your body into a more pleasing shape
And so on. It was ridiculous. No drug does the things that they claimed let alone a cosmetic. But it sold their product. Then the customers did not get the results that they claimed and they were understandable mad because these were not cheap lotions. FDA sent them a warning letter and forced them to withdraw all of the false claims from the market. StriVectin reformulated (or repackaged I don't know for sure) but their claims are much more subdued now because they are just selling lotion and no mater what the package says- there are no miracle lotions.

Read the packaging carefully and critically. Don't be a sucker for a pretty package that says great things.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An objective dissertation on glitter in cosmetics

Glitter is the worst invention ever. Exhibit A

I'm never going to get deglittered. I've had to take extreme measures in the lab to prevent such horrible glitterings from ever happening again.

Ok I'm actually just cleaning out twenty years worth of old glitter from the lab but I hate glitter. I hate it a lot.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetic Claims: Fourth Installment


When you see a product labeled as "hypoallergenic" you would think that this means that the product is less likely to cause allergic reactions than similar products without this designation. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. According to FDA there are no federal standards or regulations that apply to the term "hypoallergenic". The decision to use the term lies solely with the manufacturer and may be used without any proof that the product causes fewer allergic reactions than others.

Decades ago, a lot of harsh ingredients were used in cosmetics. Today, what can and can't be used in cosmetics is highly regulated so the ingredients available to a cosmetics company are limited and all the same. When using the term "hypoallergenic" became popular in 1975, FDA tried to regulate the use of the term, stating that a cosmetic product could be labeled "hypoallergenic" only if scientific studies on human subjects showed that it caused a significantly lower rate of adverse skin reactions than similar products not making such claims. However, this regulation was struck down by US courts and manufacturers were free to say "I DO WHAT I WANT!"

At my company, we do RIPT (Repeat Insult Patch Testing) on every product that we sell for our own peace of mind (and to protect the company from law suits). An outside testing company gets a collection of volunteers who have the product applied to their skin for a predetermined amount of time and then evaluated for skin reactions. Our products have never shown any adverse reactions but we still do not label our products hypoallergenic.

The bottom line here is that labeling a product hypoallergenic means nothing and the company is not obligated to perform any testing in order to use this label.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetic Claims: Third Installment

Cosmetics companies want you to believe that they have the answer to fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin and stretch marks. Just put this cream on and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles will be visibly reduced! Technically- that statement is true. If you moisturize your skin, the fine lines and wrinkles will plump up and they will appear to fill in. This does not mean that you will have any real reduction in wrinkles. It just means that if you use this product (and continue to use it) your wrinkles will look better.

Sadly, most consumers expect that a wrinkle cream will make their wrinkles fade away and disappear. Unfortunately there is no lotion, serum, cream, or oil that can reverse the effects of age and gravity on our bodies. The only thing that can do this is plastic surgery. A cream that says it will "help" tighten and tone your sagging skin may have and ingredient in it that tingles or feels tight so that you know its "working". Wrinkle serums frequently contain plumpers like pepper extracts which are really just irritant to your skin. They cause inflammation and swelling, or plumping. There is nothing that can penetrate the skin layers all the way down to the snapped elastin fibers and make them grow back together to heal your stretch marks. (I sure wish there were!!) The best any cream can do for you is have skin lightening ingredients to help the redness fade away- which time will eventually do by itself.

Women spend a lot of money on products that claim to be "Better than Botox!" but you should really just save that money for the real thing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetic Claims: Second Installment


Which brings us to Number 2 on my list of misleading cosmetic claims: Chemical-free.
First let me reiterate what I have said many times: everything in this world is a chemical, even you, even water. We are all just complicated combinations of chemicals. So that said- no cosmetics are chemical free. When you see this claim you should immediately dismiss the product- it's an outright lie.

Along the same lines as "chemical-free" products, products that have a "Free From:" and a long list of supposedly "bad" chemicals are almost as bad. A good example of a company that does this is Origins. Their "purity" statement says "Our products are formulated without parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, PABA, petrolatum, paraffin, DEA and animal ingredients. Why is it so important to know all of the things that the are NOT putting in their products instead of telling you what they DO put in their products?
1) Ginger Extract- data shows taking ginger orally has anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic benefits. Applied topically- it's a major skin irritant.
2) Lemon (and all citrus) oils- classified as irritants and potentially phototoxic (cell death with light exposure)
3) Mint- irritant
I could go on and on with the number of irritating essential oils included in the Origins line. Their tagline is using all natural plant oils but not all plant oils are good for your skin! Many are downright bad for it! Besides all of this, after a lot of digging I found an ingredient statement for their Have A Nice Day Supercharged Moisture Sunscreen SPF15 and found that they did indeed use parabens! There is nothing wrong with parabens (they are a much vilified ingredient as I explained in a previous post) but Origins made a specific statement that they DO NOT use them. 

I've also seen products that have a "free from" section a mile long with ingredients that would never be included in that type of product. For example, a facial moisturizer claiming to be free from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). What formulator in their right mind would put a detergent in a lotion?!

I think it is far more important to be aware of what is IN your products than what is not. I can make a preservative free product too. In another month you'll get the added ingredients of bacteria and mold! Enjoy smearing that on your face!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetics Claims: First in a Series

Let's talk about "All Natural" products.

First of all, there is no specific definition of what is required to label a product as "all natural". Any company can use this term on any product. It's a marketing tool- plain and simple. The company wants you to believe that this product is some how better for you that it's "non-natural" counterpart. It's not true.

Here is a good example of an "All Natural" product from Burt's Bees. This is the INCI ingredient statement from their Natural Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizing Lotion:

Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid (1.0%), Other: Water, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil (Sunflower), Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Sucrose Distearate, Salix Nigra Bark Extract (Willow), Sucrose Stearate, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract (Lemongrass), Hamamelis Virginiana Water (Witch Hazel), Humulus Lupulus Extract (Hops), Equisetum Hiemale Leaf Extract (Horsetail), Hydrastis Canadensis Extract (Golden Seal), Epilobium Fleischeri Extract (Gravel Willow), Lecithin, Chrondrus Crispus Extract (Carrageenan), Fragrance, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Borate, Sodium Chloride, Glucose Oxidase, Lactoperoxidase

Burt's Bee's will tell you that this is an all natural product because their salicylic acid is derived from white willow bark extract. Salicylic acid is salicylic acid- where it was "derived" from makes no difference. What about all of the other ingredients in this product? The product claims to be 100% Natural but I don't know how glycerin, fragrance, or stearic acid can be considered natural. While there is nothing harmful in this product, as an acne sufferer for my whole adult life, this would not be a product I would use to treat my face. It's main ingredient is Sunflower Oil. For oily skin? Why would I want to add more oil to my oil plagued skin? It also leaves a tacky, waxy feeling on the skin (due to the choice of emulsifiers). Finally the product is well above the pH range for the salicylic acid to function as an exfoillient. These are things that make my skin break out more. 

By contrast here is the INCI Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA lotion:

Water, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20 , Salicylic Acid , Phytosphingosine , Hydroxyethylcellulose , Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract , Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract Epilobium, Angustifolium (Willow Herb) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract,  Bisabolol , Sodium Hydroxide , Tetrasodium EDTA 

Paula's Choice does not claim that this product is all natural. It contains the same active ingredient, four naturally derived anti-irritants, two glycol solvents that aid penetration of the actives, a pH adjuster, an emulsifier, a plant derived thickener and preservative and a chelating agent. Nothing in here is bad for you in any way. This lotion is lightweight and absorbs quickly. It's formulated in the correct pH range for the salicylic acid to function as an exfoillient.

I have no aim to villainize Burt's Bee's or promote Paula's Choice. My mission here was to point out that an "all natural" claim:

1) Means nothing as there are no regulations on labeling something "all natural"
2) Natural does not mean good for your skin. Arsenic is natural. Lead is natural. Both of these were used in the Middle Ages and poisoned and killed many women.

Again I would like to point out that there are ZERO "chemical-free" products as EVERYTHING is a chemical, even water. Cosmetics and personal care companies are not looking to poison their customers. If we killed everyone who would buy our products? 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

On holidays

Fair warning- quite a few of you won't like post. If you are easily offended just stop reading now.

I am an atheist. I have been for about 8 years now. I do not believe in any kind of god nor do I believe in souls or ghosts. I try to live my life as a good person because it's the right thing to do not because I fear eternal damnation. That being said- I don't have any problem with what you believe. I am not trying to convert you, please don't try to convert me. We all make our own decisions and I think that's great.

I still celebrate all of the Christian holidays I grew up celebrating. They just have different meaning for me now. Mostly I think of holidays as a time to get together with family and friends and relax. What I am sick to death of is being accosted by Christians who think it's their duty to tell me the ONLY way to celebrate the holiday. For example throughout the entire Christmas season I have to try to ignore the people who insist on telling me to REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! Well, Jesus is the reason for YOUR season. There are actually a lot of winter holidays celebrated at the same time as Christmas. MY reason for the season is to give gifts to my family and friends to show them how much I love and appreciate them. Santa Claus comes to my little girl and we spend time with our family. Why is it your business to tell me how to celebrate? I don't tell you that everything you believe is wrong.

Easter is another bad one for me. Every year I have people "reminding" me to "remember what the day is all about". Jesus' execution and subsequent rise from the grave may be what the day is all about to you. Not me. The easter bunny showed up here and we are heading over to my parents today for a good dinner. That's it.

There is a difference between simply proclaiming your beliefs (which is fine) and telling others what they should believe (which is not). So today I wish everyone a Happy Easter- may you celebrate it how you see fit.

Friday, March 23, 2012


While Jeff was home, he requested that I create a lotion that turns into powder so that he could powder himself without getting powder all over the place. I really had no idea how to accomplish this but I set to trying it out anyway. Right before he left I finished version one and sent him to Afghanistan with it. He says he really likes it because it keeps things fresh even on a flight to the other side of the world but that it didn't feel the same as if he had powdered himself. So I tried to make version two with a different type of powder but it seized in processing (otherwise known as a FAIL). So I went back to the original powder and tried more of it. Since I didn't want to wait for it ship to Afghanistan and Jeff to try it only to find it no go I let my stand in (Dad) try it out. He said it still wasn't dry enough.  Version 4, I tried a solvent with a lower flash point than water to see if that would help it feel drier. In doing this I had to change the processing significantly and everything was going well until I went to neutralize it. As soon as I added one drop of the neutralizer it instantly fell out of emulsion and the water phase coagulated around the blade in a solid gel ball (otherwise known as an EPIC FAIL!). It was pretty neat even though it was a complete failure. Finally with Version 5 I tried a third powder. Well this one is DRY. It truly is a lotion that dries into a real powder. I think it's perfect. For the nether regions and all areas under clothing at least. The only problem with this version is that the powder that it dries to is very white and it looks like you have powder on your skin.

Version 3 is an excellent shine control lotion for my face. I have oily skin. I have no hint of "combination skin" or "dry patches" just oil, oil and more oil. I don't need an "oil free face moisturizer", I need something that soaks up all the oil on my face all day. BPLv3 does that nicely and leaves a nice powdery feel without actually being powder on my face. Plus the formula does have some added ingredients for soft skin so it's a quasi moisturizer I guess.

So there, I made two new products from one great idea. I finally took BPL public today at work and told people about it. I got a lot of positive feedback even though no one knows exactly how we can fit it into Bonne Bell's lineup. We'll see down the road.

Today was my Boss Lady's last day. I'm going to miss working with her. All in all she was a good manager and she didn't get all up in my bidness. QC Manager has been promoted to "Technical Services Manager" which means he's my new Boss Man. Hopefully he won't get all up in my bidness either. I like managers who don't micro manage and let me handle my own work load as long as I'm finishing all my work on time or early. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fat Babies

I do not think fat babies are cute. I think fat babies are fat. I'm not talking about a little bit of baby pudge, obviously babies are jigglier than adults because they don't have much muscle tone.
This is a normal baby:

I'm talking about babies with rolls on their arms, legs and torsos that make them look like the Michelin tire mascot. Babies that look like this:

It's not really the babies' fault- it's their parents. When your child is in the 99th percentile for weight it's not a good thing. Announcing that your child is fat (i.e. My three month old is wearing 9-12 month clothes! What a big boy!) just makes you look stupid in my eyes. Eating habits for the rest of their lives are established in infancy. So, way to go- you are setting your child up for a lifetime of weight issues. Babies and toddlers are actually pretty good at knowing how much food is enough. I'm not going to digress into breastfeeding vs formula feeding (I'll save that for another day) but it's pretty hard to overfeed an exclusively breastfed infant because when they are done they just stop eating. It's easier to overfeed a formula baby because you are focused on them finishing the bottle you prepared rather than allowing them to dictate when they've had enough. I'm not saying that all babies need to be in the 50th percentile for weight and height all the time- obviously these numbers are averages for a reason. Babies grow in spurts and sometimes they will be above average and sometimes below. The problems come when your baby is in the upper percentiles constantly. The same people who comment on photos of fat babies "Aw, look how cute and pudgy he is!" will be the ones blaming you when DCFS takes your kid away for being a 200lb 8 year old ( ).

Whether it's a fat 3 month old or a fat 30 year old- obesity is never cute.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brunswick Zone can eat it.

Well Monday night we decided to go bowling. Mom and Dad and I bowled on a league last year and we've been bowling fairly regularly ever since. Jeff doesn't really bowl but neither does Eric so they could hang out and drink beer and throw a few balls every now and then. So we get to the bowling alley (The Brunswick Zone, North Ridgeville) and I pay for the two hours of bowling package for 6 people. You get 2 hours of bowling, shoe rentals and a pitcher of coke. We bowled for about 1.5 hours and were having a great time when our lane suddenly shut off. Just prior to this Eric had thrown a wild ball that ended up skipping over the lane divider and into the next lane. So we figured that either our time was up or Eric got it shut down. Jeff went to the counter to ask what happened. He was standing around up there for about ten minutes and in that time we decided to get ready to go. We put away our balls and changed back to street shoes. Then Jeff came back and said that the desk clerk said he thought we had left so he turned off our lane. Well he turned the lane back on and we still had 25 minutes left. Now we had to get ready to bowl again which took about ten minutes. So my dad went back to the desk to ask if he could credit us the time that it took to get ready to bowl again since it was THEIR MISTAKE. Desk clerk said no, he had turned the lane right back on and we hadn't lost any time. Dad got pissed and started yelling, desk clerk got pissed and started yelling back and get more adamant that he was not going to correct the time. So dad came back and I went up to the desk. I asked politely why the lane had been turned off to begin with. Desk Clerk yelled "It was an accident! These lanes malfunction all the time!!" So I calmly said "Ok, but it was the lanes mistake, not ours, we took off our shoes and got ready to go, all I'm asking for is the ten minutes that it took to get ready to bowl again." Desk Clerk gets more heated and starts rambling incoherently. I tried again but he interrupted my every word with more yelling. I said "Why is this such a big deal?" He said that he COULD add more time to our game but he WOULDN'T because my dad had yelled at him. I again pointed out that it was his mistake not ours and I was the paying customer not my dad. He said NO he would NOT DO IT. I could see this dude was on the verge of tears (apparently not used to dealing with confrontation) and he told me if I had a problem I could call his manager in the morning. I said I would do that and walked away. So I've sent a strongly worded email to Brunswick but I have yet to hear back.

I have never been treated so rudely in all my life. We were not asking for a lot. All I wanted was the time that it took to get ready. Hell he could have just paused the time until we were ready if he hadn't been such a dick. Like I said- I've been a regular customer. It's unfortunate since Brunswick is just up the street from me but there are plenty of other lanes in the area and you can be sure if they don't make this right I will NEVER be back. I will also discourage others from patronizing them. Plenty of companies have recently learned how powerful the internet is- I hope they do too.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Plastering- LIKE A BOSS

Well I've got one wall in Makayla's room totally done. That's taken three weekends. At this rate maybe she'll have her room back by April... The wall looks great though. It's not as level as I wanted it- if you run your hand over it you can tell there are hills and valleys but they are all smooth as glass so the paint should look good regardless. I have to say; I am pretty damn proud of myself. This is my first time plastering and while it may not be totally flawless it's really good. It sure isn't easy either. The internet rated it as "hard" for DIYers and it was not a lie. My arms are killing me. Off to bed early tonight- picking up Jeff in the morning!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hello Internet!

It's been awhile since I've written a blog. I had one in college with all of my friends from HS until the group imploded and I haven't spoken to two of them since. I've been considering starting up again but I don't know what I have to say worthy of taking up space on the internet. No matter, the internet is huge- I doubt anyone will notice my random ramblings in this tiny corner.

I've been dilligently working on learning lotion making at work. I'm pretty much on my own with it. Boss Lady doesn't really like emulsions (and is a touch self absorbed) and QC Boss (used to be R&D) is always busy with QC (shockingly) and he is not really skilled with emulsions either. Convienently, I found a blog here on the internet with a homecrafter of lotions who happens to know her chemistry and isn't afraid to share. It's been a great help. Today I made a black raspberry oil and shea butter lotion that turned out really nice. Still a bit too greasy for my taste. My favorite thus far is still the coffee butter. So anyway, I'm trying to broaden my skill base so that I can create new products to move our brand out of the "kids only" market. I have big plans. I am a genius after all.

This weekend I'm going to attempt to finish plastering Makayla's room since I was finally able to locate the finish plaster that I need. Of course I really only get Saturdays since JEFF IS COMING HOME! on Sunday. Super excited for that. Hopefully this time #2 will be concieved but I'm doubtful. My hormones are all jacked up. Finally had a normal, non stimulated cycle for the first time since May. I wish the doc would stop saying everything is fine. Everything is NOT fine! Women are supposed to have periods every month. 28 year olds are not supposed to grow hair like an 80 year old woman. Likewise, 28 year old women should not lose all sex drive. And yes, I know exercise is good for me but no, it is not the cure all. I'm a little overweight- not huge. I'm sick of not being normal and I'm sick of going to the doctor with another idea only to be shot down. I know I'm not a doctor- so figure out what the fuck is wrong with me so I can stop googling it! I'm just tired of hearing about another friend being pregnant and I'm tired of being jealous of them every time but I can't help it. I've been ready for #2 for well over a year now and I'm sick of waiting.