Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fragrance Free or Unscented? Natural or Organic? Not All Are Equal?

Below is a re-post of a blog post I wrote with Fragrance Fighters.  The information is still so relevant today. Please read...

Fragrance Free or Unscented? Natural or Organic? Not All Are Equal! May 16, 2008 by fragrancefighters

My four year old came to me looking for a toy doll bottle with what she says has yellow cow’s milk. As I looked into her bright eyes (I felt like a deer in headlights), I told her that I had no idea what is she talking about. She looked at me, rolled her eyes and said “Mommy, let me explain it to you”; and she did.

On our Savvy FAQs page we addressed two questions:

1. What is the difference between fragrance free and unscented?
2. Should I purchase only organic and products labeled natural?

Well let me explain something to you and let’s go a step further. Products labeled no fragrance or fragrance free usually are free from synthetic or chemical fragrance. The label does not purport that the product is odorless.

Let me give you an example. Although I often use a popular brand of baby products, on March 31, 2008 I spoke about a hypersensitive day that I was experiencing. I was unable to use either their Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash or the Everyday Lotion because of the odor I detected. According to the label, this product does not have sodium lauryl sulfate, formaldehyde, fragrance, scent masking agents or clear formula chemicals, yet I detected an odor. The product has aloe vera, extracts of corn, coconut and palm. Whatever the source, there is a detectable smell or odor which on that day annoyed me. The odor or smell was a source of irritation to Nancie and my husband (who do not share our sensitivities) as well. For those with sensitive noses, you have to smell the product to find your level of sensitivity and tolerance.

Unscented products usually add a masking agent, another chemical, to disguise the chemicals in the product. Even though the masking agents mask the scent they can trigger allergic reactions in chemically sensitive people.

In my quest to find natural or organic products with no odor, I find many of these products tend to use essential oils although they do not use synthetic fragrance. Essential oils are concentrated oils extracted from herbs, plants or fruit. These oils have the distinct scent that comes from the plant from which they are derived. For some, essential oils are aromatherapy. For people like me it can trigger headaches, migraines, nausea and the like. For Nancie it can trigger the same or even worse; vomiting or an Asthma attack.

To complicate matters even further, on March 14, 2008 the Organic Consumers Association released the following to the press: Carcinogenic Found in Leading “Organic” Brand Personal Care Products. .

1,4-Dioxane is a petroleum based carcinogen known to cause cancer and is also suspected as a kidney, central nervous system and respiratory toxicant. In the Organic Consumers Association Press Release, the OCA urges consumers to search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names.

Even though a product is labeled natural or organic doesn’t mean it is safe. The products may have natural or organic in the name but unless it is labeled Certified Organic USDA it probably isn’t.

Where does that leave us? Frankly, I don’t know. I keep trying to remind myself that “Balance is the Key” but the challenge is great. All I want is safe non-odorous products that don’t make me sick. Is that too much to ask? Well, explain it to me.

Remember the toy bottle my daughter was looking for with the yellow cow’s milk? Well, I threw it out. It was on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall list for hazardous toys.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Re-post of Fragrance: The New Secondhand Smoke?

Fragrance: The New Secondhand Smoke? April 21, 2008 by fragrancefighters

Do you remember when cigarette smoking was
typical on an airline flights?

I had my first airplane trip when I was five. My excitement quickly changed when the noxious cloud of cigarette smoke affected the dynamics of my plane trip. Back then I didn’t realize how much I would grow to hate hearing the flight attendant announce “the Captain has turned off the no-smoking signs and you are free to smoke.” It seemed as if the entire plane lit up. My allergy to cigarette smoke became immediately apparent. When we arrived in Montego Bay from Chicago International I had a headache, was nauseous and had eyes that burned non-stop. Mind you, I was very young, so youthful energy and excitement helped me to rebound the very next day. However, I’d already learned a hard lesson about myself and my sensitivities; and a harsh lesson about travel in that era. I knew that I was going to be sick for the entire trip home while people smoked on the plane. For the next twenty plus years I had to endure both cigarette smoke and the resulting illness when traveling by air. And it got more and more difficult to recover each and every trip. Back then either no one knew or openly admitted the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke on airplanes. (Nan says: The cigarette companies knew. This was a case of an entire planet’s population choosing to live in denial!) Now, few doubt and even less protest when confronted with evidence on the damage secondhand smoke has on the lungs, heart, and brain and so on.

As I began working in the mid-70s the same challenge arose. I suffered daily in the workplace. People smoked in almost any public place, and there were no restrictions in most places of employment. In the early 80′s I worked in a crime lab in the Midwest (data entry; nothing like CSI on TV). I worked the midnight shift, mainly in the enclosed, intensely-air-conditioned-to-the-point-of-freezing room trapped with cigarette smokers and their smoke. My first job in Los Angeles was also at a small company doing data entry. Sometimes I would come to work with a gas mask provided by a firefighter (and that’s a blog for another day)! I wanted to make my point. By then, I was becoming less and less able to tolerate cigarette smoke. When I made my first break into “Corporate America” as a secretary at 24 years old, I hoped things would be different. Not really! Cigarette smokers were everywhere. It seemed each day provided a challenge.

When the “Big Boss” would come in from the corporate office in New York things would worsen; he didn’t smoke cigarettes, he smoked cigars. I quickly learned that when exposed to cigar smoke in close range, my usual headaches became migraines, and my nausea went straight into vomiting. After he’d made several trips to LA, this became intolerable. I was taking sick time off in order to avoid dealing with cigar smoke! What was worse–the five executives that I worked for were all afraid of him. I would have no advocates for change in that group.

That’s when I found that I had to stand up for myself. Though this wasn’t a complete skill set yet, I had learned a few scare tactics and psych moves along the way. I first asked if I could speak to him privately. As we went into an office I closed the door–and it’s an amazingly powerful statement for the boss when his subordinate initiates the closing of the door. (Nan says: Let’s hear it for those Jedi mind tricks!)

Back to the story… I told him every time he would come to our LA office and smoke his cigars I would have go home ill. I simply asked him not to smoke in the office. His reaction was surprising…and wonderful. “My wife makes me smoke outside~~ I’m not allowed in the house with them,” he said of his cigars. This man, my bosses were afraid to confront, was a cutie pie! Whew!!!!!

Needless to say, I was more than overjoyed when cigarette smoking was banned in the workplace in the 1990s. Now it’s banned in most public places in Southern California.

Fragrance is truly “new secondhand smoke.”

My friend Nancie and I have read quite a few blogs and articles describing fragrance as the “new secondhand smoke.” We’ve even mentioned it in this blog. I quote the United States Access Board’s Board Policy to Promote Fragrance Free Environments:

“There are many people who experience unpleasant physical effects from scented products, such as perfumes and colognes. However, there is a growing number of people who suffer more severe reactions to these and many other types of products and chemicals. This condition is known as multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and involves people who have developed an acute sensitivity to various chemicals in the environment. People with MCS experience a range of debilitating physical reactions, some even life-threatening, to chemicals used in a variety of products, including fragrances and personal care products, deodorizers and cleaners, pesticides, wall and floor coverings, and building materials.

Do you recognize the triggering agents and physical reactions?

It’s a complex issue with a variety of triggering agents and physical reactions. Different people are affected by different products in different ways. The common factor is that the reaction, whatever the type, is very strong and disabling. Information needs to be developed on exactly what brings about such an acute sensitivity to certain chemicals, how and why this happens, and what can be done about it.”

I didn’t know what to do during all those years of suffering due to secondhand smoke in the workplace. From my research, the challenge now exists with fragrances in the workplace, though many employers maintain a fragrance-free policy. As the world gets more and more toxic, more and more people are impacted by fragrances. Fragrance is everywhere. From cleaning products used in the workplace, schools, restaurants and public restrooms; to personal use in perfumes, lotions and hand soap. People in the workplace are not just bombarded by co-workers’ perfume, a plug-in air freshener used to mask other odors can be even more offensive. I generally work from home, but recently I had to go into my real estate office to pick up paperwork. I had to call ahead and have them unplug the air freshener. And it is always a challenge going to office meetings because of the mushroom cloud of fragrance that hangs in the air.

What is the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)?

If you are experiencing challenges in the workplace you can check out the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). JAN is a free consulting service designed to increase the employability of people with disabilities by providing information on individualized accommodations, providing technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and information on self employment. Please see the article Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Fragrance Sensitivity by Tracie DeFreitas Saab, MS of the Job Accommodation Network at their website JAN can help accommodate employees with fragrance sensitivities, can provide examples of fragrance-free workplace policy statements and has other resources.

There is a contact page for employers that have established a fragrance-free environment seeking employees and also employees seeking fragrance-free environments at Please email us at if you are either.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Make Your Unscented Shea, Mango Butter Cream Concoction!

Unscented products are difficult to find and can be costly.  I started making my own Shea, Mango Butter concoction after viewing several YouTube videos.  There are quite a number tutorial videos out there.  My video is on its way, so stay tuned.  In the photo below, I didn't have any mango butter and I added too much oil. Although once blended it just became a thick liquid.  I put it in the refrigerator thinking that would help.  Once it was at room temperature, it soon became foaming thick liquid. Oops!

If you make a mistake, don't discard it.  I was not going to waste it and decided to use it on my hair and skin.  I actually like it.  It absorbed quickly into the skin and hair than the creamier version.  I love being a mad scientist in the kitchen.

The bottom photo is my usual Shea, Mango and Kukui butter cream delight.  Here's the recipe:

1 part Shea butter (1cup) to 2 parts Mango and Kukui butters.  
2 Tablespoons each of Avocado, Rice Bran and Olive oil.
1/4 cup of Coconut Oil

You can add more oil until you get the creamy consistency you are looking for.  If I make a large batch, I put it in the refrigerator.  It will harden but will soften once it is at room temperature.

The creamy consistency works well into the skin after a shower.   My friend and neighbor uses the butter on her locs when getting her hair re-locked at the roots.

I ordered my butters from Essential Wholesale  I purchased the oils from various places.  I purchase my coconut oil from Nutiva.  On Tuesdays Nutiva has great specials.  The avocado oil is not organic, however, it is cold-pressed and food grade.  I purchase this from Jon's market or another local market here in the San Fernando Valley.  You can get a 64 fl. oz. bottle for $6.99.  I found the Rice Bran oil at Big Lots, however I recently saw it at Trader Joe's and the Olive Oil I usually get at Trader Joe's or Big Lots.

Try your own combinations.  It is really quite fun.  Leading a scent-free life is not always easy.  You have to be adaptable.  Your environment is not always safe and products can be difficult to find or expensive.  We can wallow in our sorrow or find ways to make it fun and enjoyable.   Do what you safely can.  I will continue to help you find ways to be savvy and scent free.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap vs. Dr. Jacobs Naturals

I have used Dr. Bronner's Magic "All-One!" unscented baby mild soap for years. In the past, I have used it to wash my hair, clean my bathroom shower and sink, and use it as a hand soap in the kitchen and bathrooms. I mainly use it because it does not have an odor and it is as it says, unscented. Let me rephrase that. It does not contain perfumes or any odor that sets off my intolerance to odors. The ingredients contain castile soap and saponified oils. I do detect an odor, however, and it is probably the plastic container or the saponified oils that I smell. It wasn't until I attended the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim did I find that Dr. Bronner's had a competitor. There I found the Dr. Jacobs Naturals booth. It was the last day of the Expo and the vendor was giving away samples. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to get a free 64 fl. ounce bottle of their castile soap. Comparing it to Dr. Bronner's soap, it is less concentrated so no need to add water. Although, Dr. Jacobs uses saponified oil, this manufacturer uses different oils than Dr. Bronner's soap.  Since the Expo, I had the opportunity to speak a representative from Dr. Jacobs. She did tell me that their product was less dense as in findings many people tend to add water to the Dr. Bronner's product. That I must agree as I have added water to thin the soap as well. Dr. Jacobs' product was formulated so their was no need for added water. They also supplied a pump to the bottle as their consumers found this essential for daily use. I agreed. The Dr. Bronner's product (product on the left in photo ) has a pump because it was a spare I saved from another product and thought it would come in handy. When shampooing or cleaning the pump comes in handy so as not to unnecessarily waste the soap. One of the things I didn't like about Dr. Jacobs is that they added caramel to the ingredients. I don't know the source of the caramel or whether it is artificial? In speaking to the representative she was to research this and get back to me. As of yet, no response. My second concern to odors is soy. And as I continue to be diligent in reading labels, I find soy in many cosmetic and soap products. So I am still anxious to find the source of the caramel as to whether it is soy based and another ingredient, phenoxyethanol was a concern.

Have you used these soaps in your hair?

Nonetheless, I like both products. I do find that Dr. Bronner's more drying to my skin and hair. I do not recommend it for my 4b/c hair as it is very drying. I have not yet used Dr. Jacobs to wash my hair. At the Dr. Bronner's booth located in the Natural Products Expo, the representative recommended another Dr. Bronner's product that I should use to close the hair follicles after shampooing with the castile soap. In this way, I would not be drowning my hair with too much water. Yes, I found out that you can over water your hair. This product, Dr. Bronner's Organic Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse has a citrus smell so I was hesitant to use it. The instructions recommend that you use 1-2 capsules in water, rinse hair and then use their leave-in conditioner. I was not familiar with the hair rinse prior to the Expo and definitely did not know of Dr. Bronner's leave-in conditioner. I rather not use the hair rinse just because of the citrus odor, however, I did want to know if I would notice a change in the dryness of my hair after using it. The "jury is still out". I could blame it on my whacky thyroid, or that I didn't use the correct amount of hair rinse, but so far, I didn't see a difference. I would still use Dr. Bronner's unscented soaps for other household purposes but as it were I do not like it to wash my hair.

However, I would purchase as it and Dr. Jacobs as they are both good products for household use and good for those who need overall unscented product in their daily use.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Kitchen is Not a Restaurant!

My daughter informed me she doesn't like chicken and will not eat chicken.  Although, she will eat chicken nuggets.  When I was growing up we ate what my mom prepared.  We didn't have the option of saying "I don't like that, can I eat chicken nuggets instead".  If you didn't like what was cooked, you didn't eat.  First of all, chicken nuggets didn't exist.  And second of all, this was the 60s and 70s.  My mom was old school; dare I mention more.

My kitchen is not a restaurant.   In order to avoid constantly whipping around the kitchen like a schizophrenic chef, I have that same fundamental philosophy with my daughter and husband. When I cook, I do have to factor in food intolerances/infractions; mine and my daughter's.  And that is enough to deal with, no nightshade foods and diary at a minimum for her and no soy, egg, or dairy for me.  This challenge is enough to work around without other factors, such as: "I don't like that."

 "the worst chicken I have ever had"

The "rabbit incident".  One day, my mom tried to pass off rabbit as chicken. It was awful. I finally told her this is the worst chicken I have ever had.  She then confessed to us it was rabbit and not chicken. The "rabbit incident" is why I refuse to eat rabbit to this day.  While I choose not to disguise rabbit as chicken, I suppose my expectation is for all to eat what I prepare.

Pizza Day.  At times we have pizza day.  I buy dough from Fresh and Easy or Trader Joe's.  I can best determine the dough contents and control our food intolerances when we make our own pizza rather than purchase at a local pizzeria.  On pizza day, it is easier to have our own individual pizzas.  I don't fair well with dairy which eliminates (cow milk) cheese and my daughter can not eat tomatoes (nightshade) which eliminates the typical pizza sauce.  I have to make my daugther's pizza with an Alfredo cheese sauce and mine with tomato sauce.  My husband usually prefers the Alfredo sauce as to the tomato aggravates his heart burn.

While, at times, I have to make allowances for our food intolerances.  Furthermore, I also keep cross contamination in mind; not mixing utensils while I am cooking.  For these reasons, I do feel like a restaurant chef.  For the most part, my family gets the point and realizes when I cook, my kitchen is not a restaurant. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thank You for Trying Palmolive-Colgate Company!

I must commend mainstream companies such as Palmolive-Colgate Company who have attempted to supply persons like myself with fragrance-free products.  This has not always been the case. When I saw that the product's name was “Pure + Clear”, I decided to buy it.  After all, it was being sold in the 99¢ Only Store; so I had to try it.

After bringing my new purchase home, I quickly found “Pure+Clear” to be quite misleading.  First of all, it is not fragrance-free.  Palmolive-Colgate Company’s website states that this product does not have heavy fragrances. Therefore, they are admitting that it has fragrance. (I detect an apple scent.)  Yet, on the Target website, it may be found in the “unscented” category.  This product is not unscented.   Further, it does not appear to have any dyes, yet the ingredients state that it does in fact have dyes.

Secondly, this product states that it has no unnecessary chemicals.  Therefore, are we to understand that this product contains "necessary" chemicalsIs that pure and clear?  That is a misnomer.  In my mind, no chemical is a "necessary" chemical and should not be labeled Pure + Clear.  One of the "necessary" chemicals is the cleansing agent sodium laureth (2EO) sulfate.  This surfactant, or cleansing agent, is generally found in shampoos, soaps and body washes.  Sulfates strip the skin of beneficial moisture.  This is the reason my skin is extremely dry after using the product.  (And, yes, I know . . . I should use gloves to wash dishes.)

Sodium laureth sulfate can contain 1.4-dioxane which is a petroleum based carcinogen known to cause cancer.  Other ingredients includes: water, sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate, lauramidopropyl betaine, lactic acid, SD Alcohol 3-A, sodium xylene sulfonate, fragrance, and dyes.

Consult the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for more information on chemical definitions and safety.

For me, in the Fragrance-free Category, Pure+Clear:  FAILED.

Would I buy again? I would probably not, but that's my opinion.   I wrestle that a product is labeled Pure + Clear when it is clearly not . . . after all, it’s the principle of the matter.  Nevertheless, thanks for trying Palmolive-Colgate Company.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

One Cookie Won't Hurt?

As 17 year olds we feel invincible.  We could leap tall buildings in a single bound. We could, as my father used to say, "burn the candle at both ends"; and not get burned.   Yet the older we get we find that any little indiscretion on our part has a way of being less forgiving.

Last month, I brought home cookies for my daughter.  Yes, I read the labels.  And yes, I know they had my known allergens/intolerances; soy, eggs and dairy.  Yet when I gazed back at the kitchen counter, my mouth watered for the vanilla sugar cookies I bought. I reasoned "one cookie" won't hurt. 

Of course, I was wrong.  By the intestinal trauma that ensued my body let me know that "one cookie does hurt."  The pain let me know I was not 17 anymore.  My body let me know, I would not bounce back as quickly either.

While these food intolerances are not anaphylactic, we tend to give in to our wants despite our needs.  So if you are like me and you let your eyes overcome your need, remember we pay in the end.  And let me tell you, "one cookie" does hurt.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spice Up Old Favorites!

I am often asked, what do you eat when you're allergic to everything?  First of all, I am not allergic to everything.  I do have challenging food intolerances and so does my daughter (just different ones.)  Our food intolerances are not anaphylactic.  Our food reactions do not come at a rapid pace and are not at a quantity that can cause death, therefore it is not considered an allergy. For Lana, her food allergies aggravate her eczema.  An antihistamine, like Benadryl® is usually a quick fix.  I like the dye-free version of an antihistamine, as my daughter has a reaction to red-dye contained in food or medicinal products. I have only found the dye-free in the liquid children's product.

Back to what do I eat?  Soy and egg intolerances are the main culprits for me.  The nightshade foods (tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, to name a few) are my daughter's main challenge, and then there is chocolate and dairy.  The chocolate intolerance is the most difficult for her.  At nine years of age, the benefits of a life without chocolate is very difficult to comprehend.  And for me, most chocolates have soy. Soy is used as an emulsifier in chocolate.  Therefore, because these ingredients are in almost everything, the majority of processed foods are ruled out.

I remember, in not the too distant past, I would dread grocery shopping.  I felt crippled, adjusting to the changes I had to make.  I like to cook, but making everything from scratch, I thought, would be time-consuming.  I've mentioned this before... I do not know when soy became a staple ingredient in our food source but it is now.  It is in so many processed foods, from boxed items to soups.  When I was growing up, I don't think companies like Campbell's® Soup contained soy.  My mother used Campbell's® all the time in cooking, and so did I.  Nowadays, I can no longer use this product.

I have truly had to go back  to basics.  In this way, I know what is in my food.  It can be fun being a mad-scientist in the kitchen.  Some you win and some, well not so successful.  However, that is how you learn.  So spicing up favorites like oatmeal can be fun!  (See my soy-free, egg-free and dairy-free recipe page.)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bars, Bars and More Bars...

As the old saying goes "I was like a kid in the candy store", free food.  It was like being at Costco on the weekend to sample the wares.  In this case, there were aisles and aisles of free samples of food and products. There were breakfast bars, energy bars, snack bars, fruit bars, live food bars, all-in-one nutrition bars, and baked bars, to name few.  Is this a scene from Forest Gump except it wasn't Bubba Gump shrimp, but bars?

As a result, everywhere I went I found vendors promoting their bars.  To be safe, it was necessary to ask if the bars had soy.  The labels didn't identify soy in the ingredient list.  As I found many of the bars tasty, I'd rather know outright whether a food product has soy.

Below is a list of some of the bars I sampled:

Don't get me wrong I enjoyed these bars, especially the Raw Rev Bars by Raw Revolution. Personally, I didn't like the 18 Rabbits bars.  It tasted a bit earthy, somewhat gritty.  The One Bar I liked, but I would have like a larger portion size.  The Vega One bar was another favorite.

Nonetheless, from an economic aspect and fear of eating an allergen, I found that it was easier for me to make my own.  In this way, I knew what was in the bar I was eating.  Some of  my creations were successful, others not so well.

My first recipe consisted of a mixture of :
  • Rolled Oats from Trader Joe's
  • Shredded Coconut from Trader Joe's
  • Dried Cranberries from Trader Joe's
  • Sunflower Seeds from Trader Joe's
  • Nutiva Chia Seeds
  • Nutiva Organic Coconut Manna
  • Agave Syrup
The blender is your friend!

My first try!
One of the bars I made, my daughter told me it looked like raw meat.  My daughter is entitled to her own opinion.  Moreover, below is the photo. Let me know what you determined.  Besides a Ninja mixer, parchment paper is good to mold the bars onto whatever cookware you are using, preferably nonstick.  Some ingredients I learned to tame down others I learned needed more of a kick. Have fun, keep trying.  I will. 

The alleged raw meat bar!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Raw African Black Soap is Unscented

My Search for Unscented Products Continues

In my search for unscented products, I stumbled upon raw African black soap at Sola's African & Carribean Food Markets in the San Fernando Valley on Sepulveda Blvd.  At first glance, this product appeared moldy.  I didn't know what to make of it or its composition and hesitated to purchase so I sought more information.  Most importantly, I had verify that it did not contain soybeans or fragrance.  

For more information, I went to YouTube and found the video "De-mystifying African Black Soap" by Duchess Gabrielle.  Gabrielle explained how the product is processed and generally what it contains.  I say "generally" as she explained, depending what on the region African the soap is derived, some of the ingredients could vary.  Mainly the soap contains plantain, cocoa ashes, palm oil, and shea butter.

Additionally, I found that this soap was easy to liquefy as I was looking for an alternative soap for my hand soap dispensers.  Previously, I used Method Home (free of dyes and perfumes) liquid soap.  However, I did not like the sodium lauryl sulfate in the their product as it dried my hands.  

How I Liquefy

What I do to liquefy the African black soap is to break it off into pieces (or you can grate).  Next, I add room temperature distilled water to a container.  I then place the soap pieces in the container and after approximately 30 minutes, the soap is liquefied.  You can shake the container or stir the ingredients.  I have seen other YouTubers boil the water, add glycerin, but for me, just adding to the distilled water was sufficient.  I found that with the African black soap it did not dry my hands as they Method home products.  I now use it to cleanse my face and have noticed smoother skin, less acne and it has lightened facial dark blemishes.  I don't particularly like it as a shampoo, but I may rethink and try it again. 

Does it Have an Odor?
Remember, I need unscented.  I definite must for me is that a product be free of perfumes, fragrance and dyes especially if I use around the facial area. As for the odor, the African black soap is free of perfumes and fragrances.  I detect the odor of the ingredients to be herbal or earthy.  With the African black soap, I do not have any reaction of symptoms as I would with a product that has fragrance or chemicals.

Many companies now are marketing the African black soap in liquified form.  I saw one such company, Alaffia, (see photo) at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim.  This company, though, added an essential oil, which made the soap completely unusable for me.  The citrus essential oil odor invoked a headache and nausea.

It seems that many companies are quick to commercialize certain ingredients as many people continue to search for natural or organic products.  For more than 8 months or so, since my purchase at Sola's African Market, I have been using the African black soap in this unscented form.  Additionally, in this way, I can use it for other unscented uses and it is more economical.  My next use for the soap will be as a sugar scrub to exfoliate my skin along with coconut sugar.

Where Can You Find?
First of all, I would check to see if there is an African market in your area.  Secondly, you can check Amazon or Etsy.  

This is another item that will aid you in becoming savvy and scent free.  When you use it, I would love to know your thoughts and leave a comment below? 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Soy-free Mascara and Eyeliner Find!

At the National Products Expo in Anaheim, California there were hundreds of vendors who came to pitch their products to retailers and the media.  I must say I have been educating myself for years, out of necessity (goal to stay alive).  Yes, chemicals, odors, fragrances, yes "even truly natural fragrances", i.e. a live jasmine or lavender plant, can stimulate adverse symptoms.  My body does not react well to chemicals, period.  So I must read the labels.  When a product has petroleum or a petroleum byproduct it is not natural (See post at Fragrance Free or Unscented? Natural or Organic? Not All Are Equal!). 

I can't emphasize the importance of reading the labels.  Learn what is in the products you purchase.  When you are literally knocked down by a product ingredient you quickly find out how important your knowledge is.  You have heard it before "knowledge is power".  

That being said I was disappointed to find products at the Expo that were not in my definition of "truly natural" and products I knew that I would have an adverse reaction.  However, I was excited to make some terrific finds. 

I had been searching for soy-free mascara and eyeliner for some time.  I found that many companies use soy lethicin as emulsifier in cosmetics.  In simplistic terms, an emulsifier is used to make certain ingredients merge together, i.e. water and oils.  I like to use the term "creamy".  However, for me, soy in any form is an allergen/intolerance.  Whether it is the soy ingredient or some other ingredient, I found that with many of the mascaras and eyeliners from mainstream cosmetic companies make my eyelids swell and fun.  

Earthlab Cosmetics Raw Mascara and Vegan Eyeliner
Subsequently, among the hundreds of vendors at the Expo, I was very happy to find Earthlab Cosmetics.  I was given an sample from one of the owners.  She stated it was soy-free and I was estatic to try the product.  Happily I have not had a reaction.  I still find that my lashes are not as defined or as with other mainstream cosmetic companies.  However, that pales in comparison to having itchy eyelids.  

I also pinned the Raw Mascara and Vegan pencil at Pinterest under soy-free.  Before sampling, I emailed Jen MacDougall to determine the source of the lecithin and vitamin E, as at times, have found that with some products the source of lecithin and vitamin E can be soy.  Jen quickly returned my email and stated the following:  "The Raw Mascara and Vegan Pencil formulas are gluten free, soy-free, and non-gmo. The source of both those ingredients is sunflower.  The only product that would not be considered soy-free would be our Natural Lip Gloss formula. We do use soy-wax which is a bit different but it keeps the product from bleeding. Please note we will be coming out with a Vegan Lip Stick this summer –which will be soy free."  

I do detect an odor which dissipates quickly (for us scent-free savvy persons).  I also find that I have to make several applications to define my eyelashes.  In addition, I was concerned about the toxicity one of the ingredients, a preservative, phenoxyethanol.  Therefore, I again contacted the company.  I spoke to Jen who explained that a preservative is required by law on all mascara products.  However, their preservative is derived from sage and they use 1/10 of 1% in the product. This sage preservative is the least toxic that works with their mascara formula.  Overall, I must say, I'm pleased.  I can finally get some definition to my eyelashes without the itchy, swollen eyelid look.  

With Earthlab you get a product that is soy-free, gluten free, and non-gmo with great customer service. In addition, they are eager to share information about their products to assist persons like me to continue to live soy-free...way to go Earthlab!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Let's Get Started with Scent Free Savvy Life @ Blogspot

This is Scent Free Savvy Life at Blogger.  My Blogger posts will incorporate product reviews, my own creations or scent-free product tweaks and my mad-scientist kitchen experiments.  I've learned that in living fragrant, egg, soy and now gluten free, you must make changes.  You must adapt.  This is not always an easy task as change can be an immediate change or a journey.  Either way it should be for the good. I hope you will laugh with me or at me whatever suits you.  Anyway it goes, I hope you continue to navigate the fragrant world around us and be savvy and scent-free, egg, soy and now gluten free.  That is a mouthful.

Here I hope you will be a bit more forgiving of my grammatical infractions, typos and faux pas as my friend, Tenisha (grammatical editor), will not always have an opportunity to review or edit what is written here. This blog is intended, at times, to link you back to for more information.

As with any blog, this too has a disclaimer and some rules.  

Disclaimer: I am not a physician, so I cannot give out medical advice. I am not a scientist; but will provide links to scientific information and references when available.  I have not attended culinary school so I may get portions incorrect (I like to eyeball).  At times I am acutely sensitive to odors & smells and can detect them when others cannot. While this ability can be viewed as a curse, I view it as a blessing. I have stories~~and I'm ready and eager to share. This website and our product recommendations are not to take the place of medical or any other professional advice. We (other scent-free savvy contributors) will recommend products (and their sources) that we have used with success. I may get free items to give my opinion.  It is my opinion, if you don't want to know...don't ask. 

The products that I share will be products that I can tolerate without getting ill and some products that I love. I know that as individuals we have different tolerances and preferences, so check out each product before purchasing. I can not emphasize enough READ THE LABELS, familiarize yourself with ingredients. Be an informed consumer. And to be blunt, smell it first! After all, “the nose knows.” If you have found a product that you would like to recommend, by all means, submit it. If I haven’t tried the product already we will gladly check it out.

Rules:  If you choose to comment:
  • Keep it clean.  No four letter words especially those beginning with "f" unless you are talking about "food". 
  • Be nice (you may not agree with me and that is acceptable.)  You too, are entitled to your opinion.
  • You can use this space to vent, cry or whine, however, if I am currently whining you will have to wait your turn.

So let's get started, shall we...

I had the privilege to attend the National Products Expo as Press/Blogger in Anaheim, California March 8-10, 2013.  It was somewhat an overwhelming experience as I tirelessly searched for egg, soy and unscented products.  I came to many conclusions in my journey that weekend; all-in-all it was a successful.  I came home with much bounty which I will share.

First of all, I must also say with much gratitude to the folks over at Lyfe Kitchen, who provided breakfast to those who attended the press briefing breakfast on Friday, March 8, 2013.  Before the briefing, I emailed Lyfe Kitchen to discuss my concern regarding my food intolerances and finding soy-free alternative for breakfast.  Miriam O'Donovan of Manager of Quality Assurance & Product Development, Retail returned my email with the allergen menu and alternatives.  This allowed me to make a safe decision as to what I could eat at the press briefing without incident.  Throughout the event, Lyfe Kitchen was genuinely concerned about their product and the attendees.  

My take on an old favorite!
I was a bit disappointed though, that there were less soy and egg-free alternatives.  In the end, the only item I could eat was the steel cut oats.  The entree was not your typical oatmeal as this entree contained cinnamon spiced steel-cut oats mixed with quinoa, sweet & juicy peaches, apples & pineapples, topped with coconut and almonds.  I loved it!  This sparked my creativity ... in the kitchen with breakfast.  Oatmeal can have a bit of flair and didn't have to be just oats, sugar and cinnamon.   See a recent photo of my take on an old favorite.  I included rolled oats, quinoa, chia seeds, pineapples, pink lady apples, dried cranberries and juice from blood oranges.

Breakfast and the briefing was just the beginning ... more to come.  Look for a sharing of the wealth with a give-a-away.  Subscribe and stay tuned.