Monday, June 28, 2010


There was a great soap swap on the facebook group we "heart" soap recently, the theme was "all natural" and this is what I received.

I must say, some very talented soapers in this bunch. Lots of lovely soaps and other goodies. I feel lucky to have participated and received such wonderful things.

I didn't take them out of their packages yet, which maybe I should have so you could see how beautiful they are. I apologize to those whose pictures are somewhat blurry. I was rushing =( I'm not sure whose is whose on the rosemary mint and kaui sunrise since they didn't have names on them. I will take a guess, if I made a mistake please correct me and I will fix it.

These were the ladies in my group:

Natalie (Koinonia Community)

Sharon (Platypus Dreams)

Amber (Amber's Ambry)

Heidi (Soapaholics Anonymous)

Erica (Bonnie Bath)

Joanne (Cliff Island Soapworks)

Elizabeth (Gassner Custom Soaps)

I also received this really cute mold from Elizabeth Gassner of Gassner Custom Soaps. I'm so happy because this is the mold I always wanted. Now that I have my very own bees this mold will come in handy for many things. Thank you Elizabeth (I had to put it next to a pink shirt so it was visible. LOL!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I've decided that every Friday, starting on July 2, 2010 I will make a batch of soap using an all natural colorant and share the results on here. Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Robert Tisserand says "cold-pressed citrus oils like bergamot contain about 1 ppm of DEHP, because it leaches out of plastic tubing used in the extraction process". From Nature with Love says "citrus seed extracts are not all-natural preservatives. They are chemically derived from the seeds of citrus fruits." Who knew right?!

Isn't GSE suppose to be the natural preservative alternative to the synthetic? Aren't essential oils suppose to be the natural scenting alternative to fragrance oils?

I talk to my husband about my vision for an all natural existence and he reminds me of the air we breath. "It isn't pure" he says, "you know it is laden with chemicals no matter where you go". I had to remind him that although it may appear at times that I'm oblivious to the fact that synthetic chemicals surround us, I assured him I am not.

Not long after the discussion with my husband a friend asked me what I would do after ridding as many synthetic chemicals from my life as humanly possible if I were to get cancer. Would I be angry at all the work I put into keeping synthetics out of my kitchen, out of my body products, out of my life. At first, I didn't know exactly how to answer. Would I be angry? Would I feel like all this effort was for nothing? I actually had to soul search on that one a little bit and maybe I still am.

One thing I learned about myself from my friends question is that I don't rid synthetics from my life so that I can live. I've exposed myself to synthetics by naivete (the lotions, the perfumes, the cleaning supplies etc...) and by no fault of my own (afterall, I can't change the air I breath right!?!). I won't undo what is already done and for the most part cannot undo what exists around me. My children now carry their own set of synthetic chemicals, many from birth that they inherited from me, and will accumulate more just by existing in this life. So, what am I doing it all for?

To be able to live in a natural state is the earths gift to us, at least it once was. We had everything we needed right here on our planet to live day to day without complication. Animals, berries and nuts for food and plants for medication. Somewhere along the way we became a society obsessed with development and accumulation. We turned natural into artificial and called it progress. Today we are a society full of depressed, anxious, and physically unhealthy individuals. In 2005 the CDC released a report that showed 2.4 billion medications were given during doctor or hospital visits and 118 million of those were antidepressants, 113 million were for high blood pressure. Adult use of antidepressants tripled from 1988 to 2000, and those statistics are based only on those who seek help. As a whole Americans aren't happy or healthy. So again, why am I doing it?

I have three reasons:

1. Rebellion

First and foremost, I can't (un)know what is known. It isn't scare tactics from the media that make me leary of synthetics, it is history. The health of our nation, of the world. The evidence is right before us. Whole towns of people who are sick or dying because of air pollution or water contamination. Breast cancer has risen 80% in the United Kingdom since the 1970's, cases have doubled in Japan and Korea when they were known for having the least. You hear that increased nutrition is the cause of the rise in breast cancer. Increased nutrition??? Because our children eat better they reach puberty sooner and have later menopause which means an estrogen dependent breast cancer can form. Where is the logic in that? Maybe the increase in nutrition is actually an increase in exposure to pesticides that mimic estrogen. That sounds more plausible.

There is only one commonality that I see and that is synthetic chemicals. It is in our food, water, body products, and air. Those defending air will say it is the water, those defending water will say it is the food, those defending food with say it is the body products. You would think with this so-called "healthy" society of "wanna be fit and eat rights" we'd all be doing much better but we aren't. We aren't because it is everywhere. It is estimated that 81,100,000 people had one form or another of cardiovascular disease in 2006. 831,272 people died of heart disease in 2006. Sixteen million Americans are said to have a Thyroid disease which is an endocrine disorder and 40% of those cases are caused by Graves disease (an autoimmune disorder).

I have found it interesting that woman are more likely than men to suffer Graves disease (7x's more) or Thyroid disease, heart disease and of course breast cancer. It was reported by Bionsen (based on their study) that "women, on average, expose their face and body to 515 chemicals in the form of beauty products every single day." Think about that. Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, shaving gel, lip stick, foundation, eye shadow, blush, eye liner, mascara, hair gel or hair spray, perfume. If it was just in the air, in the water and in the food, why are women at the top of the list for getting hormonal disorders, cancers and heart disease? Women are also more likely to suffer depression.

So the first answer is rebellion. I am rebelling against the synthetic industry. It is killing us, there is no doubt in my mind and I won't pay them to kill me or my offspring. They can release all the studies they want to convince the public their products aren't dangerous, but my instincts, which have never failed me before, are telling me this is the problem.

2. The future health of my children and grandchildren

I can't take away what my children have already been exposed to but I can partially choose what they will be exposed to in the present and the future. When they grow up they can choose for themselves but hopefully I'll have instilled some of my values in them and they will pass it on to their children and so forth, maybe leading to a better, healthier, future.

3. My Health

My health is really the least of my worries but it is still a concern. I'm not going to fill myself full of things I know will contribute to my death. So this is where the "all natural" part comes in.

Is there such a thing as all natural? We consider our herbs natural but are they really when they contain herbicide run-off from the neighbors property? We consider our honey natural if we are beekeepers but is it really considering our bees picked up pesticides while foraging and bring it back to the hive? (sorry people, there isn't anything such as organic honey). Numerous natural ingredients became available to those of us in the body product industry ONLY after being chemically extracted and those chemicals can remain (as noted by Robert Tisserand and From Nature with Love) in the final product. Is it no longer natural then?

What we call natural today is NOT what our ancestors would have called natural so does that mean we can't find safe products for ourselves or use the term on our label? Maybe the Jennifer from the Smart Mama was right when she said to pay attention to labeling. Don't call something "all natural" if any component is synthetic. Don't call something "chemical free" because even water is a chemical. I'm thinking I'll label my products "natural as can possibly be" and see how well that goes over. As for what to use in my own house. I make what I can and when I have to buy it I look for the food with the least amount of pesticides and the product with the least synthetic ingredients (within my price range of course).


June 24 I upgraded to 3 hive bodies. I know I did it prematurely. We had about 7 full frames of honey and brood and I was suppose to wait til there were 8 full frames but I was sensing that they were feeling stuffed in there. Call me crazy but it was a mothers instinct. LOL! I removed the cork from the 2nd hive body and removed the entrance reducer and they are no longer clustering outside the hive in the evenings or in the day (as they were doing previously). They haven't adjusted to using the 2nd hive body entrance though. I watch and see no bees coming and going from that entrance. Maybe they need time to get use to it or they hate me for giving them too much room and they are punishing me once again by not following the beekeeping instruction manual.

Friday, June 25, 2010


We recently took a small trip to the North Shore of Minnesota. Always a beautiful location to spend time in with the family.

This year we rented some Trikes for Life and it was well worth it. If anyone is ever up in the Two Harbors area, check out Bob's trikes and you'll have a great bike ride along Lake Superior. It is really wonderful way to experience nature in the North Woods. Very relaxing yet challenging at the same time. We even rode the last stretch in the rain and we loved it!

We spent most of our time hanging out at the cabin and playing on the shore of Lake Superior. We also went to the falls by Gooseberry state park. Here are the girls enjoying themselves:

I managed to finally make some strawberry jam. It wasn't as difficult as I thought. Turned out to be quite easy. I followed this VIDEO , although I did use more berries than she suggested and I also didn't end up with a lot of foam at the end like she did. My jam turned out great! I did learn one valuable lesson though. It sure takes a lot of berries to make one jar of jam so I will definitely be planting many more strawberries in my backyard. I really enjoyed it and so I plan on doing pickles next.

The last thing I want to share is a little gift sent by a childhood friend that I reconnected with on facebook some time ago. She has the best memory!! I was a collector of E.T & Smurf figurines when I was around 10 yrs old and so my friend, Athena, sent my kids these little chocolate eggs that contained mini smurf figurines. My two oldest know what smurfs are but my youngest doesn't, it makes me realize how far away the 80's actually are. But... Aiyana not knowing what they are loved them anyway and now maybe can start her own collection :)


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


After I posted that tid bit on micas, oxides and ultramarines not being natural I received a comment from Bubble Works that I wanted to respond to. Since my response was quite long (only a portion was written under the original topic) I thought I would dedicate an entire blog post to what I have to say on the subject of natural vs. synthetic ingredients in body products.

I don’t know if this was intentional or not by Bubble Works but it reads like it was. The post implies that those of us who promote natural over synthetic ingredients not only lack the education to be doing so but also that we are incapable of differentiating biased research from those based on credible evidence.

Bubble Works post quoted below:

“thats why I have 2 ranges - all natural with EOs and only Herbs and Spices and Clays for colour and "nearly natural", with FOs and Pigments. That way the consumer can chose. But on the point of synthetic being worse, it is a shame that you had an allergic reaction to Micas, but in this case synthetic is better than natural. Pigments and Oxides in nature are heavily contaminated with heavy metals and other poisons (natural, but still bad for you) which is the main reason they are now made synthetically, so they are pure and safe. And natural colours are very nice, but if someone is allergic to hibiscus it wont be so nice for them? Alkanet is another example. Very nice natural colourant and I love the way it changes and is unpredictable. It is currently under investigation in the EU and may be withdrawn from allowed cosmetic ingredients soon, I believe it already has been withdrawn in Germany. It's all natural, but looks like it may be causing cancer. There you argument is usually, Poison Ivy is natural, but you wouldn't want to rub it all over your body.” Bubble Works

So before I share my view on this, know this about me:

I’ve not only been making body products for a good part of two decades, I’ve been selling to the public for almost half that time. I learned very well how to do research when working towards my bachelors in psychology in the early 90’s. Although the use of essential oils and herbs may be new to those who have hopped on the handmade body product bandwagon in the past few years, they aren’t new to me. In fact, the use of some herbs as medicine and colorants goes back generations in my family (this includes North American and European herbs). I’ve also spend half my life collecting and reading books written on the use of essenial oils and herbs and the last 10 months I’ve been studying under professionals like Jodi Baglien (clinical essential oil therapist), Lise Wolff (registered herbalist), Matthew Alfs (clinical herbalist) and continue to do so.
With a portion of my educational background out there for my readers to digest and analyze I’ll say this about natural vs. synthetics in body products.


“But on the point of synthetic being worse, it is a shame that you had an allergic reaction to Micas, but in this case synthetic is better than natural. Pigments and Oxides in nature are heavily contaminated with heavy metals and other poisons (natural, but still bad for you) which is the main reason they are now made synthetically, so they are pure and safe”

The above quoted statement is absolutely FALSE. It may appear to be true because minerals contained harmful metals such as lead (remember, lead was once consider safe as well) but mica is anything but pure and safe when it contains synthetics that have their own associated hazards. But aside from the “safe and pure” rhetoric, bubble works is suggesting that synthetics are created because there is no safe alternative which is completely untrue. There is one main driving force behind the creation of synthetics and that is the cost factor. A good example is essential oils and fragrance oils. Fragrance oils weren’t created because they were “safer and purer” than essential oils, they were created because they were an affordable fragrance (as oppose to costly essential oils) and manufacturers lured the public with the variety of scents an FO offered. The synthetic is almost ALWAYS the cheaper alternative. When the public can “afford” a product, the manufacturers make more money. Supply + Demand! Don’t ever be mistaken, profits are high for those invested in synthetics. The following quote says it best:

“But the manufacturers of mass-produced cosmetics won’t use exclusively natural materials; they’re too expensive, and all-natural products are too unstable to withstand the long shelf lives they expect from their products. Most synthetic chemicals are used in cosmetics either because they’re cheaper or because they make some phase of mass-manufacturing or distribution possible.”

Synthetics also gave the industry the ability to provide products that lasted 3x’s as long and at a fraction of the cost as something entirely natural. All that was needed was to convince the public it was safe and you have yourself a billion dollar industry.

With the manufacturers of synthetics the research dollars are always saved for promotional purposes. You never hear about a study until they need to do damage control. Parabens are a good example. Study after study sponsored by those invested in parabens are being released now to convince the public of their safety. Where were these studies ‘pre” exposure to the public? All of the studies on parabens are CURRENT, not LONG-TERM, don’t involve examining “the cocktail affect” of absorbed chemicals and in the end prove to be nothing more than an industries way of keeping the public buying their product.

The main thing to remember about most synthetics in body products is that their usage has a fairly short history, going back no more than 2-4 decades. Ironically, their usage coincides with the rise of several cancers, learning disabilities, and hormonal disorders. As I’ve noted before on this blog, there are about 10,500 chemical ingredients used in personal care products in the U.S. And only 11% of them have been tested for safety. Unfortunately, most consumers aren’t aware of this but if they knew I’m positive they would care. It never hurts to avoid synthetics but it can hurt if you don’t.


In the quote from bubble works herbs are being addressed so I will focus on that.

“And natural colours are very nice, but if someone is allergic to hibiscus it wont be so nice for them? Alkanet is another example. Very nice natural colourant and I love the way it changes and is unpredictable. It is currently under investigation in the EU and may be withdrawn from allowed cosmetic ingredients soon, I believe it already has been withdrawn in Germany. It's all natural, but looks like it may be causing cancer. There you argument is usually, Poison Ivy is natural, but you wouldn't want to rub it all over your body.” Bubble Works

Yes, if someone is allergic it isn’t very nice for them. Just like the woman with the mica in the article I linked to. Anyway...

Herbs, unlike synthetic ingredients, have been around for thousands of years. We might as well say since the beginning of time. And again, unlike synthetics, their usage and level of safety is well documented (I call it "time-tested). How does one know that poison Ivy CAN cause a severe skin reaction? Because we have a long history of human exposure (BTW/not everyone is allergic to poison ivy, I’m not ).

First of all, anyone can be allergic to anything. An allergy can develop at anytime in a persons life, whether it be to food or something external (natural or synthetic). With that said, yes, herbs can be dangerous but only when used by uneducated individuals. Alkanet root (commonly known as Alkanna Tinctoria) used as a COLORANT does NOT CAUSE CANCER. There are some studies that suggest alkanet root can cause cancer if taken internally over LONG PERIODS of time and this is known by herbalists. There are no studies to suggest using alkanet as a colorant in soap or otherwise causes cancer. As a colorant it is NON-TOXIC!

Herbs and essential oils used topically can have a very different effect when used internally (doesn’t mean you stop using it externally). Just as with Alkanet root (first documented use as a colorant dating back to 300 b.c), there are others like Arnica, used topically for sprains and arthritis successfully (our family uses it and has for generations) but internally can be toxic. Essential oils, although absorbed into the skin and being very therapeutic can be something quite different if ingested. This is why you’d never swallow EO’s without being under medical supervision.

Are Botanical Ingredients safe?
In considering the safety of Botanical Ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products, it is important to consider the specific botanical material, the amount of the botanical in the raw material and finished product and the route of exposure. Most applications of Botanical Ingredients in cosmetics are topical; they are applied externally to the skin.

In selecting Botanical Ingredients for preparation of cosmetic products, formulators take into account the extensive history of their preparation and use. Plant materials have been used for decades or even centuries and, based upon the human experience with these botanical ingredients, knowledge of their safety has been gained. Manufacturers of cosmetic and personal care products are required by law to adequately substantiate the safety of their products, including products containing Botanical Ingredients. There are many different references that describe the isolation, use and safety of botanical preparations.

To each their own on what they choose to put in their products, whether it be synthetics, naturals or a combination of both. The fact is no one should be creating a product that contains and ingredient they don't know anything about. If you don't know where an ingredient comes from, how it was processed, and what it's safety record (really) is, then it shouldn't be in your formulation. I also had to learn this valuable lesson along the way and will make damn sure I live as I preach!

As for something being “nearly natural” - I’ve already shared my opinion about that under the Mica, Oxide post.

Alkanna Tinctoria
(Alkanet Root) EWG safety report

A little history of synthetics (vs. naturals)

A very interesting and informative book on the history of synthetics in cosmetics:
Inventing Beauty by Teresa Riordan

update:I was checking out burts bees and look what I found on their site:

Do your products contain artificial colors?
We use only natural colors in our personal care products and cosmetics. Some examples are beta-carotene, chlorophyll, titanium dioxide, mica, iron oxides and carmine. These natural colors have a long history of safe usage unlike many artificial colors that have been banned by the FDA over the years.

This is a good example of why people are no longer trusting labels.

As for the FDA banning artificial colors that aren't safe.

When I was a child I developed this chronic case of hives that it took doctors months to figure out the cause. At times the hives would be so troublesome that it almost felt like I had them on the inside. It turned out I was reacting to artificial coloring. Many years later when I became a mother my oldest daughter had the same issue. This time in the form of what "professionals" called ADHD. Once the artificial colorants were eliminated from her diet she became calm and more focussed. She went from struggling in school to finishing out each year of school with A's and B's. Does that sound like a safe colorant?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Although every beekeeper probably deals with this from time to time and knows exactly what it means and how to handle it, for me it means only one thing... MY BEES ARE GOING TO SWARM!

Everything looks great in the hive. I have capped brood, larva, the bees are coming and going with pollen (hopefully nectar too since I stole their syrup jar) and only 5frames in my 10 frame deep have been filled out (including one whole frame of honey).

Brood tells me that the queen is alive so I don't think this is a queen cell because they are queenless. What else could it mean but swarm time. I was reading that when you have long periods of wet and cold where the bees are unable to forage they tend to want to swarm. On top of that, I have carniolans and they are the swarmers of all swarmers.

I'm not 100% sure this is a queen cell as of yet since this would be my first viewing of anything remotely close but if it is, the next order of business is to find out what the heck I'm going to do to stop this swarming madness.

For those are are seeing this picture, I thought it was just comb. All along the bottom of the frames in the 2nd deep there is comb connecting itself to the frames on in the first deep. The difference with this, as you can kind of tell, is that it isn't on the very bottom of the frame but instead is on the side of it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Today was not one of my "shining moments" as a beekeeper. Part of it is, I'm on edge. Why? Not too sure but the nice weather and my moods are not coinciding. Maybe it's because it has been 11 days since I checked on the girls I feel like I've lost the touch. Whatever it may be, I sense my girls are losing faith. Lots of buzzing when normally they are grinning ear to ear (if they had them) and quiet as can be.

I ran into a little problem that I didn't anticipate and something that wasn't covered in beekeeping 101. As I was inspecting the 2nd hive body I quickly noticed that something was different. I tried to lift one frame and it felt too heavy. What? One little frame weighed too much for me to lift (panic sets in). If one frame is too heavy what am I going to do when all 8 are filled out??? Then I tried to slide frames side to side (after removing the one) and they wouldn't budge. I went back to the one "heavy" frame and pulled and pulled until it sorta popped, that is when I noticed that my bees had covered the top of the 1st hive body with comb and it was sticking to the frames in the 2nd hive body. Good grief! I thought I was done with that first hive body (I say that in jest). I know what this means now. I will have to remove the 2nd hive body completely to scrape that comb off and then put the 2nd hive body back on. Just an FYI for those who may not know: moving hive bodies around intimidates me the most. I have a sense that the girls will get pretty miffed at me when I do this and I'm not ready for that yet.

So, I should have been checking for eggs, queen cells, the queen but... I failed to do any of that. I did find capped brood (as I slowly but pathetically pat myself on the back).

It was my daughters first time seeing the inside of the hive and I now know that she and I make a horrible combination. Both of us worrying about killing bees (she pointed out one that I accidently crushed with my hive tool and than told me how mean I was) and the two us fretting over one bee that looked alive but wasn't moving, wondering if it may be sick, just to have it perk up and fly away. They could totally make a Saturday Night Live skit out of the two of us.

On the plus side, I got a great picture of my daughter holding a frame of bees. I love moments like this!

Monday, June 14, 2010


I had a dream last night that I went to check on my bees and all but a few had swarmed. Although I don't think that a swarm would leave me with just 5 bees, it was a disturbing dream. I felt defeated and woke up feeling the same.

I've only seen a few stragglers recently since it has been raining and cloudy for nearly a week. The last time I checked my hive was June 1 and then I waited for the 7 days to go by to check again but the weather just doesn't want to cooperate.

I'm worried about the girls. I stopped giving them sugar syrup about 5 days ago because I keep hearing so much about this natural nectar flow that is out there but my bees can't be utilizing it since they aren't able to leave the hive. I'm torn as to whether or not I should continue giving the sugar syrup or just wait and see how things are when the sun finally returns.

This sorta feels like when one of my kids has a cough and a fever and I'm afraid if I take them to the doctor it will turn out to be nothing but if I keep them home it may be something. =(

UPDATE: I went outside to take a picture of something I found to be very unusual. When I checked on the girls this morning there was a bee cluster packed into the 2nd hive body entrance (which is just a 1 inch hole). At first I thought they were all dead and maybe they'd been stuffed in the entrance (either too many to push out and they clogged it up or they were using the carcasses to prevent the rain and wind from getting in. That thought was very human of me and not very bee like)but upon closer inspection I noticed they weren't dead. They were moving slowly and some were looking out as others were faced in. They left a pea sized opening for foragers to come and go. I consulted with the knowledgeable beeks on the beesource and they put my mind at ease about what was going on. I went out now to take a picture because we had 2 minutes of sun and all of sudden that packed hole came flying out to forage. It made me think maybe this is more like 5 year olds lined up for a sip at the drinking fountain. You know, everyone is fighting for their place in line. Maybe the bees packed themselves in because they are so eager to get out in the sunshine and forage. Can't blame them really, I'm eager to get out of this dark hole I call a house and dig in the garden. So maybe there is a little bit of bee in me afterall :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Micas, Ultramarines & Oxides, Natural or Synthetic?

I was recently in a soap swap on facebook and the subject of whether or not micas, oxides and ultramarines were natural came up. I didn't know much about them myself as I don't use them and had no interest in their usage so I deferred to others that seemed to know more. When sharing that I believed micas, oxides and ultramarines to be synthetic I quoted something that was written on the teachsoap site. The response was such that I felt there is a lot of confusion as to whether micas, oxides and ultramarines qualify as natural. Then I was recently asked by a friend who purchased a soap that was labelled as "ALL NATURAL" if the ingredients were in deed natural. Of course mica turned out to be an ingredient. Before I would answer I asked her to give me some time to really look into it. Not having access to any cosmetic chemists I skimmed over some information on the internet and found a couple things that I believe clarifies the question of micas, oxides and ultramarines being natural or not.


Mica is a natural silicate mineral, BUT, the natural mineral mica was never used in make-up. Natural mica is expensive – very expensive to mine & produce. Now it’s rare & reserved mainly for the electronic industry.

The US government sponsored research for synthetic mica production in 1946. Mica was not used in make-up until the 1960’s. It’s always been the new, synthetic, cosmetic grade mica. (The Encyclopedia
Britannica and The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.)

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology defines cosmetic mica as: “a synthetic fluorphlogopite mica made artificially by heating a large batch of raw material in an electric resistance furnace and allowing the mica to crystallize from the melt during controlled slow cooling.”

Synthetic cosmetic mica is white. It’s then usually coated with titanium dioxide, then colourant (synthetic oxides or synthetic FD&C or D&C colours). The process is described by a manufacturer It’s the dual colouring of synthetic oxides on one side & FD&C colourant of the other side that gives mica it’s shimmer.

Often, the mica has synthetic, plastic-based polybutene or synthetic dimethicones are added to help with anti-caking. ( ) Very rarely do companies list all of the ingredients for mica, but if you read the material data sheets, you’ll see these added synthetic chemicals. This company actually listed them on their site:

Most people have no reaction to very small amounts of synthetic mica in amounts of 0.01% to 0.1% of the mass of the product. Some do. But safety wasn’t my point. My point was that “natural” cosmetic companies claiming to sell 100% natural mineral make-up are lying – but mostly out of ignorance. But, since there is no legal definition of the word ‘natural’ in the cosmetic industry, no one is called on it.

As for oxides / ultramarines:

They have been synthetically produced in labs since the 70’s. The FDA decided that natural oxides were too contaminated with dangerous minerals (lead, arsenic, mercury, antimony and selenium). Since then, only “cosmetic grade” synthetic oxides & ultramarines have been allowed.

(Johnson, S.T. & Wordell, C.J. "Homeopathic and herbal medicine: Considerations for formulary evaluation," Formulary, 32, 1167, Nov. 1997. )
“Iron oxides graded safe for cosmetic use are produced synthetically in order to avoid the inclusion of ferrous or ferric oxides, and impurities normally found in naturally occurring iron oxides.”

This company explains how their cosmetic grade ultramarines are the synthetic form of Lazurite

When I called around to suppliers who have been working with & selling soap & cosmetic supplies for over 20 years (like J.D. of Essence Supply & Anne-Marie Faiola, then closer to home, Canwax) they all agreed that cosmetic grade mica’s & oxides are synthetic.

So responsible suppliers know, but ironically, it’s the soap & cosmetic makers who SHOULD know their ingredients who didn’t have a clue. Probably because micas, oxides & ultramarines are a natural substance in nature, it’s the accepted fallacy that those minerals as used in make-up are natural. So, really it needs to be spun the other way around: when a company says that their mineral make-up is 100% natural, don’t believe everything you hear.


When the dermatologist told me I was having a reaction to the “synthetic” colorants in my facial products, I was astounded. At first, I argued with the dermatologist and produced the “natural face powder” from my purse and offered to return with the label from my “natural soap,” because I was certain I was not using “synthetic” colorants. After I calmed down, the dermatologist pointed out the oxymoron, “natural micas,” on the back of my “natural face powder.” Further, he explained there is such a thing as “natural mica;” it does exist; it is an extremely expensive silicate mineral of crystalline structure that is easily broken into sheet-like flecks. However, being very expensive to mine and produce, natural micas are reserved for the electronics industry and all micas used in cosmetics have been synthetic since 1960. All micas used in cosmetics are synthetically manufactured. I was shocked. The dermatologist explained to me that most people have no reaction to very small amounts of synthetic mica used to lightly color products, ranging from 0.01% to 0.1% of the mass of the product. My skin just happened to be slightly more sensitive than average and I just happened to purchase handmade, cottage industry products that contained large quantities of synthetic micas, about 2% to 5% of the product mass.

My further research revealed that “mica” refers to a group of 30 different minerals, the most common are muscovite, biotite, lepidolite, and phlogopite, and that micas were not used in the cosmetic industry until after 1946, when the US government sponsored research for the synthetic production of micas. After micas were produced synthetically and became readily available, the cosmetics industry could afford to use synthetic mica as an inexpensive safe reflectant. At first, the synthetic micas were used as pearlescent-type shimmering agents in sparkling eye shadows and frosted lipsticks. Later, as technology progressed, the synthetic micas were artificially colored to produce an inexpensive safe colorant. (The Encyclopedia
Britannica and The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.) Today, the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology defines “cosmetic mica” as “a synthetic fluorphlogopite mica made artificially by heating a large batch of raw material in an
electric resistance furnace and allowing the mica to crystallize from the melt during controlled slow cooling.”

Out of curiosity I looked on some soap supply sites to see what is being listed as ingredients under mica, oxides or ultramarines. On one site I found the following under one of the mica colorants:

Phenoxyethanol (organic chemical compound often used as a preservative)

on another site I found:

Ferric Ferrocyanide (synthetic pigment)

Methylparaben (preservative)

None of these ingredients are natural or particularly safe.

So confusion is saved for those who don't do research because from what I've learned so far, micas, oxides and ultramarines are far from natural and therefore any product that contains any of the three should NOT be labeled "all natural."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Not sure what woke them up but they are very awake this afternoon. I almost forgot that I had bees until today. They've been so quiet, not really showing signs of "business as usual". Coming and goings as normal but no big cluster of bees rushing out to greet the sunshine as I've seen in the past. I didn't worry this time, kept my cool as I've overreacted before for no reason, then I went out back to work in the yard and not only is the front of the hive covered in bees but hundreds are flying overhead. I like that sight, just not sure what to make of it. I'm thinking it means NECTAR TIME! and my girls are happy. If that is true than I can take that stinkin sugar/water feeder away and let my girls work naturally.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I'm sorry if this offends anyone I care about but seriously, this "11 things you'll do your 20's...." came in my twitter box and I clicked on it just out of curiosity. If you are also curious by nature like me, here is the link. Honestly, I read maybe 1/4 of the article. I really wasn't that interested in what it said, more interested in what it is telling people. It is really ironic actually since I recently had a conversation with a girl in her early 20's about regret. What I tried to convey to her in our 1 hour conversation is that regret is toxic. It isn't real, only imagined. It is one of those things that most of experience but don't really have to.

I remember my mother telling me not to get a tattoo because I'd regret it someday. Not to pierce my nose or I'd regret it. Finally I sat her down and explained to her that her regrets would not be mine. When parents regret not finishing school they insist their children should finish and they tell their children they will regret it if they don't. When a sister regrets getting married young she'll tell her younger sister not to marry young or she'll live to regret it. If a friend regrets running off to Italy with a guy she met, she'll insist her friends never run off at a moments notice with anyone or they too will regret it.

I know what regret is, I've had my share. Then I learned through hearing others regrets that regret is just wasting time when I could have been living in the moment and moving into the future. The other day I told a friend that I really need to spend less time on the computer so that I can focus on things that are really important but I won't regret the time I've wasted on the computer. I chose to do it, had my reasons. Sure, months later, after wasting countless hours on the net, I can see that it wasn't the best use of my time but doing it I've connected with people I'd otherwise not connected with), reconnected with people I'd lost touch with and learned things I otherwise wouldn't have learned.

And so, it may be difficult to decipher my babble but this is what I posted in response to that idiotic article on regret and what I tried to convey to the girl in her 20's:

The problem with the regret is it's all psychological bullshit. When someone chooses not to finish school they do so for reasons that seem logical to them at the time. People marry young because it feels right at the time. As you grow and experience life you look back with regret because of all the knowledge and experience acquired along the way but it is pure self induced psychological torture to feel regret. People dwell too much in the past instead of moving forward. Should have, would have, could have are just ways to prevent yourself from being happy and moving towards the future. People shouldn't live in years that are gone. Accept that the decisions you made in the past were based on the knowledge you had at the time, the feelings you were experiencing, the ideas that you had. They weren't wrong, they were YOU! Now you are someone different and can move forward with new insight. If you regret your 20's while you are 40 than you are just misguided but not hopeless.

Just a thought: How many people dealing with depression can give you a list of their regrets? Then ask yourself, what comes first, the depression or the regret?