i answer google search terms that brought people to my blog – PT 2

 

welcome back! 🙂 

here we are again, almost exactly 1 year later (ha…), reviewing my blog stats and getting to read what people searched to wind up on this site.

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black walnut hair dye 

this was by far the most searched term that drove organic views to this site in the last year. yes, i have dyed my hair with black walnuts, and yes, it actually works. here’s the original post from 7 years ago (wow). 

norwex cloths

among the phrases in this search term were things like “home cleaning” and “private parts”…. when i first used norwex cloths in 2013, it was because a rep provided them to me to review. i ended loving them so much that i purchased a pack with my own money. those washcloths are still in my bathroom to this day, lovingly being used and in great shape. highly recommend! 

dragon’s blood

dragon what? what blood? good ol croton lechleri sap is fantastic for skin-support. i first wrote about it here, but it’s now found in countless green beauty products. and guys – it can be used undiluted on skin as a liquid bandaid. super cool!

msm face mask

methylsulfonylmethane (msm) is a sulfur compound that is great both externally and internally. if you want to learn more and try it in an exfoliating mask, try this post. if you want to combine it with anti-inflammatory powerhouse turmeric, try this post. and if you want something moisturizing and skin-softening, try this post. happy mixing!

hydrojelly face mask 

hydro-gel face masks have become my favorite, since i live in a high-altitude, dry, polluted city. think: 100% Pure but make it DIY. they’re easy to customize and easy to make, making them a fun diy tailored for your skin needs. the coolest part is they come right off with no scrubbing and no mess. i usually make/use these every other week. here’s a post

water-only washing 

while i personally can’t follow this method anymore, because i live in a high-altitude, dry, and polluted city, i think it’s a fantastic option for those that can. it’s exactly what it sounds like, and no, you won’t end up stinking. my hair ended up shinier and softer than ever, and could actually hold a curl. here’s a post on w.o.w. for hair and one for body

(product name) dupe

i do have a formulation educational series on this blog, which took inspiration from actual green beauty products on the market. while no companies or product names are used, it’s a nice series on learning to read ingredient labels and understand how that translates into a formula. it’s also a nice starting point for those wanting to get into diys, but don’t know where to start. here’s the full series. there’s lot of good info in those posts, if i do say so myself!

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anything else you’re curious about? maybe we’ll have part 3 in another year 😉

XO, ALEXRAYE

i talked with a nutritionist…

disclaimer: i am not a healthcare professional so do NOT take any of this as such. please talk with your healthcare professional before making decisions and changes. also, this is a recounting of my wonderful experience with Phil and subject to me forgetting details (because brains).

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… not just ANY one… i talked to THE nutritionist for all of Whole Foods (he’s since quit). he sourced their supplements section and was the main advisor. he joked that he had “some letters behind his name” and that “some people gave [him] some pieces of paper” to say he completed some stuff. this guy was a trip! he was retired and was working at Sprouts because he knew the store manager and just really loved health and helping people. talk about a GEM!

let me back up a bit.

boy alex and i were visiting atlanta for work-related things, and we stopped at Sprouts to stock up on our “vitamins.” a really nice guy named Phil stopped by to let us know that he’s more than happy to help us with supplements.  boy alex was actually looking for something topical for his hair, and once google failed us, we went to find Phil.

Phil’s face lit up as he talked about a hair supplement for boy alex. one of the first things he imparted was we were in the supplements section, and the vitamins were in the fresh produce area. that’s pretty much the moment i *swooned.* he then advised nothing topical for hair, and to heal from the inside out. he knew of ONE high-quality supplement that cancer patients take to help regrow hair after chemo, and it’s in such high demand that you can’t really find it in stores… and for now, only his Sprouts store carries it in atlanta (i think because he’s riding off his reputation with the supplier). to put things into perspective, he said ordered 18 cartons and they sent him 4 boxes. Four. it was this for anyone that’s wondering (notice it’s out of stock). they have a “for men” version as well.

he then looked at boy alex and said he could probably use some iron, because even though he’s darker-skinned, you can see the circles under his eyes (not bags), and if it wasn’t genetics, he could try fixing his diet to see if it helped.

then what he did next made me feel like the biggest idiot, but in a good way, because i was schooled. he pointed directly to the Garden of Life Raw Iron and said, in so many words, – never this. don’t ever buy this brand. it’s trash. you can’t even get their certificates of analysis.

he then looked around and said, “don’t tell my boss i’m telling you not to buy store products” with a sly grin.

remember when i made a whole post dedicated to garden of life? let’s take a moment to laugh at me… and also to remember my disclaimer.

for iron, he recommended the Floradix liquid supplement. he said it was one of the only ones that truly bolstered iron levels and wasn’t contaminated. we wanted the tablet version since we were traveling a few days later. he said the tablets are fine, too.

he was about to thank us and be on his way, but, enamored as i was, i quickly asked him for help on an omega supplement and a multi-vitamin supplement.

he stopped me and said i don’t need a multi if i’m eating a plant-based diet with at least one colorful salad a day. and on top of that, no meat, no dairy, and no sugar.
i will say Phil looks like he’s in his early 50s, but he divulged that’s he’s SEVENTY-FOUR. in any case, if we did still want a multi, he suggested Bluebonnet… and that is the only brand he suggests for multis or any other vitamin supplement. i imagine that maybe if asked about a specific one, he might have tailored suggestions, but i feel this was more of a blanket statement to help guide us.

i agreed with the no dairy and no meat and told him i was vegan (way for me to fulfill stereotypes, right?) to see if he had any tips. he made it very clear i need to watch my B vitamins and iron intake, which i agreed with.

for algae-based omegas (and i quote – “why do you think the fish are high in omegas? they eat the algae! just get it from the source! *head shake*), his sole recommendation was Nordic Naturals. he said they’re not contaminated, had high levels of DHA & EPA, and you can look up their certificates of analysis easily on your own.

as we were about to walk away, he noticed i was holding a probiotic – my beloved Fem-Dophilus (who just went all vegan, people!) – and he approved. one gold star for me!

after we said our thank you’s and goodbyes, he chased us down with coupons.

“Don’t ever forget coupons! This is like a disease to me! Here, take them!”

summed up, here were his recommendations:

  • plant-based diet. no meat. no dairy. no sugar. 
    • watch iron and B vitamin intake; supplement
    • a colorful salad a day keeps the multi-vitamins away
  • NOTHING from Garden of Life, period.
  • Nordic Naturals for algae-derived omegas (not fish)
  • Floradix liquid iron (they also have tablets)
  • Bluebonnet for any other supplement needs
  • Reserveage Organics Keratin Booster to help with hair growth and shedding

 

if i ever get the absolute pleasure of seeing Phil again, i’d LOVE to pick his brain on supplements like mushroom and herb extracts. and when i say “if” i definitely mean “when.”

do you see any brands you have? have any of you gotten recommendations from a nutritionist? please share their wisdom! we’ll all keep in mind that it’s not the end-all-be-all 🙂

XO, ALEXRAYE

 

“is this product okay?” : how to read ingredient labels

hey crunchies! i hope you’re doing well.

this post is going to get back to one of the main reasons i even started a green beauty blog – TO EMPOWER YOU as a consumer.

ingredient labels can be long and can contain ingredients that are completely foreign to us as consumers. hopefully this post will be a good start to your journey as a more informed consumer.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

i typically like to head straight for a company’s cream products, because they involve both emulsifiers and preservatives, whereas straight hydrosols and oil blends do not. these two usually give a good indication of where a company stands on the “purity” scale and how they think through product formulation. where YOU stand on that scale is up to you.

you have to decide for yourself what is okay and what is not okay. for me personally, i lean more “purist,” which i know has been kind of dragged in the community lately. wherever you fall on the scale is fine.

a quick google on common preservatives and emulsifiers should be a good way to start learning. yes, it takes time, but the feeling of being more informed always made it worth it to me. you’ll soon find that you can quickly scan a label and identify the emulsifiers and preservatives, and be able to tell if the product is a good fit for you.

examples of common emulsifiers:

  • cetearyl alcohol
  • lecithin

examples of common stabilizers/thickeners:

  • xanthan gum
  • candellia wax

examples of common preservatives:

  • alcohol
  • sodium levulinate and sodium anisate
  • tocopherol (which should not be used alone)

another thing i look to is a rough idea of the formulation itself – aka, what are you putting your money towards? is the company listing a “key” ingredient, but it’s far down on the ingredient list? is being far down on the ingredient list really indicative of blend weight or percentage? let’s explore that.

FORMULATION

this is a rough guide and in no way meant to be definitive or 100% accurate. there are so many factors that go into formulation of products, and they all are dependent on blend ratios and type of emulsifiers and preservatives used.

in a cream, the emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives can add up to be a total of 5% to 20% of the total product blend. see how variable it can be? even 5% is sometimes a higher concentration of active ingredients used in the blend, and that’s why i personally think it’s important to care about what a company uses. sometimes an ingredient is truly effective at a 1-3% concentration, so knowing your ingredients is important, too.

let’s check out a couple examples. i have intentionally removed brand names and product names, as this is meant to be purely educational and in NO way a review of the brands or products. don’t come for me.

example 1:

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here we have a cream product. you can tell that by seeing they are using both aloe juice (aqueous) and oils/butters.

their preservative is alcohol, which is an interesting choice for a cream product meant to hydrate and moisturize. when used as a preservative, you need a lot more alcohol in the blend by percentage than you would another “natural” (what does that mean?) preservative, further making it an interesting choice. in this case, we can assume the alcohol is roughly 20% of the total formulation. this means the aloe is >20% and the rest of the total ingredients are at <20% concentration.

for the overall formulation, a cream product like this is usually 50-60% water, 20-30% oil, and 20% preservative/emulsification. here you can see that everything after the alcohol will make up roughly 30% of the total formulation, descending in contributive percentages as you read further down the list.

the emulsifier they’re using is lecithin, a common natural emulsifier even used in foods, with xanthan gum as their stabilizer, a sort of helping hand to the emulsifier. xanthan gum is typically used around 1% and lecithin around 3%, so the order of these is out of the norm but clearly acceptable. for the purpose of this exploration, let’s assume everything listed after the xanthan gum is individually less than a 2% contribution to the overall formula. this means the acai fruit oil, maca root extract, and comfrey root extract, which are typically great ingredients to add, are at very small concentrations and may not yield impactful differences in skin appearance. they are also the most expensive ingredients to add in this formulation.

depending on what this product actually is, which i will not disclose, you can make your judgement on if it will be a good fit for you. it’s mostly aloe, shea butter, and cupuacu butter.

example 2:

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here we have another cream product, and we know that again from the mix of aloe and oils/butters.

the emulsifiers and thickeners used here are cetearyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, euphorbia cerifera wax, lecithin, and xanthan gum. from the varied ingredients, you can tell this company opted for a blend of emulsifiers to increase performance and skin feel. lecithin and xanthan gum are often used in food, so generally considered safe for use on skin. as for cetearyl alcohol, it is often derived from palm, so i personally do not use products with it, but it’s a personal choice.

tocopherol, sodium levulinate, and sodium anisate are used as preservatives. again, this company opted to blend multiple components to increase performance.

you can use tocopherol anywhere from 0.5% to 5% of your total formula. since it’s listed with the emulsifiers, let’s assume this is closer to the 5% range. so what does that mean? it means anything listed after tocopherol is 5% or less of a contributive percentage to the total formulation, listed in descending order.

sodium levulinate and sodium anisate are sold as a pre-blended preservation product. it’s relatively new to the market, close to it’s “natural” state, and vegan. i would use this on my skin and actually contemplated using it for my own product with Kieta Botanicals.

overall, this product is mostly aloe, rosehip oil, jojoba oil, macadamia oil, and shea butter. depending on what this product actually is, you can decide if it is suitable for you to use.

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what did i miss? what questions do you have? let me know in the comments below or on instagram. you can find me at @alexraye_ae

XO, ALEXRAYE

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