I never have been a very good Secret Santa.



Phthalates, Synthetic Fragrance, Cosmetics, and Hormone Problems



I rabbit on about the dangers of synthetic fragrances but my friends just smile and nod. In all honesty, they probably decided I was crazy years before I started this anti-bad-mood spray company. My guess is that whenever my anti-phthalate argument kicks in at the dinner table they just tune me out and start thinking about their personal lives. Or maybe that's just my sister. I don't know. 

Anyway. The facts are these:

Phthalates are chemicals used in cosmetics, air fresheners, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and perfumes to make fragrances last longer. Two common phthalates are DBP (di-n-butyle phthalate) and DEHP (di[2-ethylhexyl] phthalate).

In tests on lab rats, certain phthalates have been linked to an anti-testosterone effect, specifically testicular "changes," liver problems, and cancer. A study of 319 mother-and-child pairs from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health showed a link between higher phthalate exposure in utero and slower development in children. 

In an interview for The Environment Report, study director Robin Whyatt stated, "Three of the phthalates were significantly associated with behavioral disorders, or behavioral problems: anxious, depressed behaviors, emotionally reactive behaviors, withdrawn behavior.” The study also noted a link between the presence of phthalates in the mothers' urine and motor problems in children. The study controlled for a long list of other factors, including smoke, lead, pesticides, and other common chemicals found in our every-day environment.

The European Union bans DBP and DEHP, along with a third phthalate, BBP. The US Environmental Protection Agency has placed both DBP and DEHP on a list of chemicals that may be hazardous to humans.The problem is that manufacturers of cosmetics and synthetic fragrances aren't required to disclose ingredients on the label. You'll simply see "fragrance" on the list without being able to determine whether the phthalates were added to the product.

Now, obviously, I make my own air fresheners out of totally natural, good-smelling essential oils and sell them on the interwebs for anyone who'd like to give them a try. Sometimes, people tell me that they don't want to try spray my products in shared spaces and I don't say anything, but I'm thinking..."You have no idea how many harmful chemicals are part of your every-day world. A little pink grapefruit essential oil might be the best thing that ever happens to you."

But I don't say that. I just politely nod and smile and respect their decision. But a fifteen-year study from Columbia University is good enough evidence for me. I don't need my toddler to grow man boobs to convince me not to use fabric softener, ok? My towels smell like towels, not Jamaican Kiwi-Vanilla Shazam! And I'm just fine with that.




Best Beauty Products for the High Maintenance Babe.


 Marcus Monson, Lead Makeup Artist for Guerlain.

When people ask me how and why I started this anti-bad-mood spray business, I have to chuckle. If they knew me well, they'd know that my bathroom has a kind of world domination in cosmetic terms. I. have. everything. I've. tried. everything. I know the lead makeup artist for every cosmetic house in this great nation. And I am not lying about that. (My makeup artist of choice is Guerlain's Marcus Monson.) I probably have $18,000 worth of perfume on my shelf. I'm not proud of that, necessarily, I'm just telling it like it is. I put together a visual list of the products I use on Pinterest. This is just a list of the stuff I use every day - not an inventory of everything in my beauty arsenal. 

Like many women, perhaps more than most, I believe that cosmetics - liberally applied - will lead to a dramatic life transformation. It's not exactly vanity. More of throw-your-hands-up-well-at-the-very-least-you'll-stumble-through-your-miserable-little-life-looking "put together"-sort-of-thing. A belief in the possibilities being sold across the counter. A solution to every problem. Or, at minimum, an everyday enjoyment of some nicely scented stuff.

My first makeup artist was Gary at Charles Ifergan in Chicago.   The gay Carmindy of his time, Gary knew what he was doing and he made me not only look, but feel beautiful. He provided me with a take-home Xerox copy of a face, with all the colors brushed right on. A kind of road map to beauty. Though I don't wear the "face" anymore, I still have all the relevant cosmetics (and the map) in my drawer. I can't bear to throw it away the memory of what beautiful felt like.

The origins of this life approach can be traced back to my youth. By 7th grade, I was spending my entire weekly allowance at Walgreen's on Noxema and nail polish, trying to sneak into the house without my "not even lip gloss until you're in 8th grade" mother hearing the crinkle of the paper bag in my hands.

You know what I'm talking about. That internal, teenage feeling of hideous-ness that has relatively little to do with how you actually look on the outside. Where does that come from? One day, you're happy enough and the next the inner troll just appears - whispering comments in your ear as you cross the lunch room: that boy will never love you; if you just had the right jeans with a Goody comb in your back pocket things might be different.

And, just often enough, hair, makeup and clothing does change life on the inside. Ask any fan of TLC's What Not to Wear. The most dramatic transformations are those we watch happening on the inside - the TV client looks in the mirror and usually, for the first time in a long time, sees their own worth. A person worthy of being taken care of, a body and a spirit that has been given permission. A person that deserves time, care, and respect. Maybe a stronger person doesn't need to wear makeup to feel all of that. But that person wouldn't be me. 

Tell me about your experiences with (or without) makeup.

--Heidi Rettig, CEO


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