Au Naturel Essence

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Slow Death by Rubber Duck

Before the holidays, I read Slow Death by Rubber Duck.

I’m glad that I read it BEFORE the holidays, because it’s not exactly your typical uplifting holiday-type reading.  Having said that, I highly recommend this book to all of you.  Really, it’s a must read.

Slow Death By Rubber Duck

Overall Impressions

Slow Death by Rubber Duck is written by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie.

It’s an account of a study they both did to test the effects of seven chemicals that are prevalent in our daily lives.  Who did they test these chemicals on?  Themselves!  Yes, they’re both pretty committed to learning about these chemicals and then educating the rest of us about their findings.

It’s terrifying to learn just how much the use of chemicals has spread into everything we touch.  It’s even more scary to learn that babies ingest these chemicals at a much higher rate because they touch and mouth everything so much more, not to mention their fast rate of breathing.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Lourie tested seven different chemicals  They are:

  1. Pthlates
  2. Teflon and other non-stick products
  3. BPA
  4. Mercury
  5. Triclosan
  6. Chemicals that make things flame retardant
  7. DDT

Each one has different properties and has a different history.  Perhaps more importantly, each one has a different effect on our bodies and our environment.  Some are hard to avoid and some aren’t.  Some stay in our bodies for a long time and others don’t. Are you curious yet?

Alia’s Learnings

I learned a lot by reading this book.  It’s full of information and I’m sure I didn’t actually absorb it all on this first read.  You can bet that I’ll be reading it again and again.

From the first time through, here are a few of the quick hits that I can share with you:

Chemicals like Triclosan seem to be incorporated into everything.  For some reason, we have become hypersensitive to germs and rely on this chemical for the feeling of protection from them.  Yet, just a little bit of this chemical isn’t enough to offer protection.  Enough has to be used for it to be effective.  By just using a little bit, we are effectively polluting our bodies and environment for no reason, other than the perception that we might be protected from germs.

The most bizarre example of a product that has Triclosan is the germ-free pizza cutter.  Basically, the handle of the pizza cutter contains a germ-fighting chemical, possibly in a minute quantity.  I’m just not sure why you would need this.  Don’t you wash your pizza cutter after you use it anyway?  And is there enough of the chemical to actually fight the germs in the first place?

Pthlates are in everything!  In a general sense, they make products feel rubbery.  They are in a multitude of plastics, plastic bags, plastic toys and yes, rubber duckies.  As soon as I realized this, I checked my son’s bath toys.  Fortunately, they are all BPA- and pthalate-free.  I was so relieved!  Given the amount of chewing that he does on those bath toys, I’m quite pleased that they don’t have unnecessary chemicals in them.

I love Tuna.  I knew it was high in mercury.  I had no idea just how much mercury is in this fish.  The results of the tests were astounding and it’s made me think twice of just how often I will be eating tuna fish in the future.  Is it worth it?

Why Should You Read This Book?

This book is informative.

It’s funny.

It’s full of practical tips for those who want to live a cleaner life.

If nothing else, you’ll learn something.


No More Dirty Looks

Of all of the books and articles I’ve read about safe cosmetics and related topics, this book is my favourite so far.  Like the others, it’s easy to read and practical.  It’s full of great information about the products that we see each day on the shelves at the grocery store and the pharmacy.  The book also offers great recommendations for trustworthy brands and ways to improve the quality of the products you use without totally upsetting your daily routine.

For me, this No More Dirty Looks was the most detailed and the most holistic, delving into proper nutrition and lifestyle in the last chapters.  I also love the comprehensive list of books and resources at the end of the book that are mentioned throughout the chapters.  The authors, Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt, both write about their personal journeys in experimenting with more natural products as well.

Once again, this book is definitely worth a read!

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Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry

Have you read Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacy Malkan yet?  If you’re reading my blog, I know you have at least a minimal interest in skin care products that aren’t harmful to you.  And if you have that interest, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Stacy Malkan is the co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  This book reveals the evolution of the Campaign and describes how the organizers have pushed forward.  What is their mandate?  “To protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products”

It is part of a larger call to action regarding all of the chemicals used in the products we use daily.

The Campaign is based on fact.  Ms. Malkan references studies that show the number of chemicals in people’s bodies.  It is no longer a question of whether or not you personally use a certain chemical.  Rather, the book suggests that, if it is used at all, you will find it in your body.  She talks about everything from Pinkwashing to the large cosmetic companies that have chosen not to remove known toxic chemicals from their products.

So, what you should you do about all of this?  I took a few tips out of the book:

a)      Read the ingredient labels and make smart choices

b)      Opt for products that have fewer ingredients and simpler ones.

c)       Check out your favourite products on the Skin Deep site.  That will help you understand how safe the product might be.

d)      Tell your friends and spread the word.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was informative and easy to read.  Most importantly, it made me think about the products I use each day.


There’s Lead in Your Lipstick – Definitely Worth a Read

I recently finished reading Gillian Deacon’s book, There’s Lead in Your Lipstick.

If you’re at all interested in knowing what goes into the skin care products that you use today, it’s worth taking the time to read this book.  It applies equally to men and women.  In general terms, we all use a number of products each day that contain some questionable ingredients.  They are in your soap, shampoo, shaving cream, deodorant and for those who wear it, your makeup.

I’d heard about these “questionable ingredients” before, but never put much thought to it.  After all, how bad could it be?  Given that everything is so regulated, what are the chances that we were ALL using products that contained poor ingredients?

Turns out that this market is not all that regulated and there is no one truly ensuring that all of the ingredients are things that are fit to be put on the skin, the largest organ in the body!  WHAT??!!

This book takes you through each type of product (i.e. hair care, body care, perfumes etc…) and outlines some of the ingredients that are used.  Where information is available, the author outlines what studies have been done that show these aren’t the best for you to use.  If there’s an ingredient that has been associated with increased cancer rates, why would you use it on a regular basis?  And once you know that fact, would you continue to use it?  I wouldn’t.

Ms. Deacon also outlines all of the alternatives that are available.  Fortunately, there are many.  You can make many of the products you would use on your own.  If you’re not into that, you can certainly purchase the products you need.  There are many resources out there for you.  This book is easy to read and full of solutions.

You can learn more about her book on her website at  You can also check out the Facebook page at

This is definitely worth a read.