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Shampoos Causing Skin Irritation & Chemical Burns

I have always had sensitive skin to start off with, however I only recently experienced the dirty secret conglomerates like Procter & Gamble and company don’t warn you about. After going through a time of very oily hair due to a hormonal change, I had to wash my hair every day in order to look presentable. After a while I noticed my scalp looking a bit flaky and immediately Head & Shoulders came to mind thanks to persistent advertising throughout the years. I grabbed a bottle in the store and applied a small amount on my scalp, massaged it in for a minute and showered it off. One thing I definitely noticed was the intense chemical scent that gave me a very faint hint of nausea. After the shower my face had red splotches that I didn’t give much attention until the area around my eyes stayed red and I developed what looked like eczema. It was an itching sensation that also felt like a bur and was sensitive to the touch. My eyes started itching intensely for almost 2 weeks which drove me crazy. I took antihistamine, applied eye drops, shea butter, virgin coconut oil (which ironically made it worse) and prescription eye cream, all to no relief. Over the course of the night my eyelid started swelling and the eye irritation wouldn’t go away until 2 months passed and I visited an eye doctor (after the dermatologist was no help) who treated me with another prescription cortisone/antibiotic cream specific to the eye area, which I applied for one week. It finally got better, however my body is now over-sensitized to even the smell of Head and Shoulders or any other of the widely common shampoos on the market – which to my surprise are being sold without a warning, despite the fact that they contain harmful chemicals.

Apparently I am not the only one experiencing the issue with other regular products with household names.

I started researching this issue further and opened a can of worms. How could I have been fooled for so long?!I came across SKIN DEEP, the database by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) – that makes safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products accessible to the public. As their website clarifies, “companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish.”What a scary thought! Further:”The U.S. government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold. Our staff scientists compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Now in its eighth year, EWG’s Skin Deep database provides you with easy-to-navigate safety ratings for a wide range of products and ingredients on the market. At about one million page views per month, EWG’s Skin Deep is the world’s largest personal care product safety guide.”

Let’s take Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo as an example:

Active Ingredients: Pyrithione Zinc (1%)

Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Zinc Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Fragrance, Dimethicone, Sodium Benzoate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Magnesium Carbonate Hydroxide, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Blue 1, Red 33

And here some of the ingredients and adverse effects:

Sodium laureth sulphate (SLES)

Purpose: Detergent
Adverse effects: Skin dryness, eye irritation, penetration enhancer. Laureth compounds can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen linked to breast cancer.  Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).

Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)

Purpose: Detergent and foaming agent
Adverse effects: SLS is a harsh cleanser often used as an engine de-greaser. It’s added to toothpaste to make it foam, but is not necessary to clean your teeth. Irritating to the mucous membranes in the mouth, can cause mouth ulcers, canker sores and contact eczema. Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).

Cocamidopropyl Betaine:

Purpose: Synthetic surfactant
Adverse effects: Skin, eye and lung irritation, contact allergies. Animal studies show damage to immune system and organs. Has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine.

Zinc pyrithione

Purpose: Antidandruff Agent; Cosmetic Biocide; Hair Conditioning Agent; Preservative; ANTISEBORRHOEIC
Adverse effects: Skin irritant. Animal studies show damage to immune system and organs. Persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment.


Purpose: Conditioner, film-former
Adverse effects: Skin irritant. Film-formers coat the hair to make it feel smooth, but confer no real moisturising properties.

Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride

Purpose: Antistatic Agent; Hair Conditioning Agent; Viscosity Increasing Agent – Aqueous; Film Forming; Skin Conditioning; Viscosity Controlling
Adverse effects: Unknown. Low hazard.


Purpose: Fragrance compound
Adverse effects: The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.
Some perfume ingredients, such as artificial musks and phthalates, are hormone-disrupting. High hazard.

Needless to say, I spent a good amount of time researching the products in my bathroom cabinets which later ended piled up in the trash. It is not acceptable. With all the lobbyists for these mega companies one can’t help but feel disappointed and angry. This also applies to the food and drug administration – but that is a whole topic in itself.

RESEARCH your own products, toss the toxins and start fresh, with all natural ingredients. Be mindful to your body, your family’s body and the environment.

Be mindful


Cocamydolpropylbetaine and contact dermatitis

The Effects Of Getting Off Birth Control

After 19 years on birth control I decided to give my body a break and leave pregnancy with my beloved and dedicated partner up to chance.The pill has served me well I must say. I neither gained weight nor did I have other side effects. It was all pretty wonderful actually: beautiful, clear skin, lots of hair (even-though fine strands of it), super light – almost non existent periods – and a pretty level mood. I did develop cellulite on my legs despite healthy eating and exercise, even though I am naturally thin. However, in my late 20s, my body decided to store more fat cells in form of cellulite, which later turned out to be a side effect of the constant hormone input. Soon after being depleted of the extra estrogen, my cellulite vanished and I was in high spirits. I decided that all the reading about hair falling out and pimple attacks on the internet were just a few individual experiences until my testosterone went into overdrive about 1 month after – and my hair came out in bushels any time I ran my fingers through it. One of my biggest nightmares started to unfold – the other one was about my teeth falling out – and I was under the impression that this would have to stop SOON! Wrong. The shedding took about 3-4 months until it finally subsided and I now I can see brand new baby hairs popping out of my skull, framing my head like soft feathers. To make things worse, 4 months in, my skin started to produce a lot more oil in areas were more oil was uncalled for: my once flawless back and forehead turned into a red pimple landscape while my scalp was producing so much oil I would have to wash my hair twice in a day sometimes in order to be able to face the world without a baseball cap. I was devastated. My once full head of hair was only a half-full head of hair and in addition I also had to deal with unexpected skin issues as a result of the hormonal change. One does under estimate the power of hormones. It’s been a little over 5 months since I stopped taking artificial hormones and a lot more hair is growing back. Summertime will allow me to look like a Hippy again at that rate it’s growing back!

One other thing I have noticed was that I have been much more prone to infections. Colds, flues, skin infections. It’s like I just get over one thing, the next problem arises. Let’s see, since that August I had cellulites as in bacterial skin infection, which developed after playing tennis on a very hot summer day. A blister turned into a very painful red, swollen foot, with a red line quickly traveling upward to my heart, indicating a blood infection..After that I often felt extremely tired and exhausted. Only with utter willpower I mustered to pull myself up and out of bed, zombie-walking to the subway station. The timeframe from then until now was interspersed with cold symptoms, eczema outbreaks, extremely itchy eyes, blespharitis, contact dermatitis etc. In short, my immune system was squashed. Despite frantic “googleing” I could make a rhyme on why exactly that was. Was my body really so inept to adapt to it’s own hormones? I still have to find the answer. And feel free to submit your thoughts. I am curious! Really!

Here a few things I have found helped in the transition from synthetic to natural hormones:

For the skin (I have naturally very dry skin)
• Vitamin B complex
• Omega 3 / Due to my eczema I up the dose, so I am taking – 1,000 mg 3 times a day, but if you’re just taking it for skin maintenance, 1000mg a day should be good, however ask your nutritionist for advise, and don’t take my word for it
• Lots of veggies, quinoa, brown rice, flax seeds, hemps seeds, chia seeds, nuts – basically anything that humankind has been eating all the thousand of years BEFORE the industrial revolution – a no brainer
• Drink tons of water/tea (green, white, oolong)
• Olive Leaf Extract came quite recommended to me because of its benefits, it’s a great antifungal and antibacterial and supposed to combat athlete’s foot, mycotic nails, yeast infections, etc.

• An absolute dirt-cheap and highly effective skin peeling for face & body:
- Mix a half a spoon of light-brown sugar with a dollop of Cetaphil cleanser and you got yourself a luxurious, creamy peeling, that is coarse enough to get rid of old skin cells, yet mild enough to not irritate your skin. Only a few ingredients and it really works great! Try not to massage to hard, the sugar will do the job even if you just lightly massage your skin (face).

Eucerin Daily Replenishing Lotion works wonders for me, as it’s very moisturizing without leaving a sticky film

• Use a non-comedogenic skincare lotion without fragrances and alcohol (which tends to be drying and force the skin to produce more oil), I like Caudalie’s skincare line and Physiogel Hyperallergenic (which you have to order from Amazon unfortunately) as I cant find it being sold in stores in the states

I hope I could be of help and will definitely post an update in a few months, or when things appear to balance themselves out. Until then – be good to your mind & body!

Obama vs Romney

I am not one to follow politics on a regular basis. I figure I leave the decision-making up to the ones I trust to be the most knowledgeable in this field, while following any actions and progress with a healthy skepticism. But when election times draw near I start paying attention. It’s hard to sift through the lies and who knows what the true facts and figures are in this big theater they call politics, but one thing I know for sure: I will always trust the one whose interest lies in supporting the greater good, and not the one whose goal is to enrich the most privileged. It’s the notion of freedom of choice, versus the limitation of choice. It’s about narrow-mindedness versus an open attitude towards various topics in life. Be it gay relationships, renewable energy, social security, or upcoming technologies that bring about their own set of challenges. Who do you believe would veer into the direction that is closest to your own beliefs? Judah Mahay used the popular social image sharing site pinterest to illustrate the accomplishments and ideas of both candidates in a useful way, so you can make an informed choice when hitting the voting booths. You will find another great comparison of both candidate’s positions here.

NYC Stuck In Internet Stone Age

TimeWarner (TW) must have marked me on their red list of people they don’t want to talk to after I have tried about a dozen times to get my service issues resolved. I signed up for their STANDARD Internet Service for $34.99/mo + $5.95 Wifi feature, expecting that this would allow me to watch Netflix movies without mood-killing buffering incidences. At first it was the modem – which TW exchanged. Then it was the fact that the cable was forked. Then it was the signal strength, so they refreshed the signal. Then it was wireless interference due to all the wifi-networks in our area. Then the reason was that we were using too many devices, since using devices sharing the same wifi connection will ultimately slow down each device’s speed. But I thought we would be able to use up to 5 devices without straining our connection?! I would think that for $40/mo you would be able to expect a well functioning internet connection, with decent download speeds. TW’s advertisement of services is misleading at its best.The STANDARD Internet Plan for $34.99 will hardly provide you with the 10Mbps, that’s why they like to boost the promise with “up to”. Why not just say up to 3Mbps — as that would be closer to the truth — but that would obviously force them to lower the price and get rid of the the BASIC package – God knows if that even let’s you load a search engine.

How is it, that in New York City — one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world — internet service is horribly lacking? In July 2012, the New America Foundation has released a study in which they compared high-speed internet offers in 22 cities around the world by price, download and upload speed, and bundled services. Not surprisingly NYC’s available internet offerings are embarrassing: Bucharest can supply it’s citizens 100Mbps for $28 while NYC can barely make 10Mbps for $34.99?

This quote from the article says it all: “The erosion in competition is also likely to reduce incentives for cable providers to upgrade their infrastructure to offer higher speeds, despite the fact that the data show how far the U.S. lags behind other countries. In 2006, even when DSL was more competitive, cable executives from the largest U.S. providers killed an upgrade to cable broadband technology that would have increased cable download speeds to at least 70 Mbps. As a cable executive revealed in a round-table discussion a year later, “there [wasn’t] any market pressure” to upgrade sooner.

NYC Without Electricity

Today I was visiting my friend in Chelsea who is still without power and heat. After watching a movie in the close by theater on 34th Street, it got dark and we used my bike lights to guide us through the creepy staircase up to the 8th floor of her apartment building. After opening the door into the hallway, a moving shape ahead of us resulted in high-pitched screams which scared the poor neighbor trying to get into her apartment. We visited with her super (where this picture above was taken) and were chatting for a while, as the apartment turned darker and darker slowly submerging into darkness with only a few candle lights illuminating the room. It felt cozy. I like the fact that the lack of electricity brings back human interaction and focus without the distractions of other visual or audible input. However, having no hot water, nor heat in the beginning of winter is not exactly my idea of comfort. Taking a shower in icy water is only something to be enjoyed by hardcore Russians. When my lips started to shiver, I decided to start my journey home over the Williamsburg bridge, back to Brooklyn.

The silence outside resulting from the power outage was aerie. The absence of any sort of buzzing, chatting, music, ringing, tv,…Nothing but the sound of sirens passing by on a regular basis and the sound of crackling of the burning red light sticks the NYPD put down at pivotal street corners. On streets without cars, I could barely make out my handlebar, the street below me was just a black plane. The headlights from passing cars were lighting the way temporarily – which I seized to circumvent potholes and asphalt waves. This is how it must have been until just fairly recently – the late 19th century. It must have been a very different world back then.

This picture perfectly captures the aerie mood subsiding in Lower Manhattan. It was taken by my friend and photographer ALT, while skating in the dark in the West Village. It is actually a screenshot of her camera viewfinder screen.