News

  • New Guide to Green Cleaning Products

    Released this past week, the EWG’s 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning exposes the hidden reality of toxins in household cleaning products. EWG scientists spent fourteen months compiling vetted data on more than 2,000 products, each of which received a grade from A to F.

    The Guide goes to extraordinary lengths to arm consumers with transparent and thoroughly researched knowledge on chemicals. It devised an in-depth set of algorithms (the actual math is available for all to see) to quantify the extent of harm that a cleaning product can cause through its chemicals. To calculate the toxicity of the ingredients in a given product, the EWG created its own database of health and environmental reports, gleaning data from respected resources like California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals and the European Union’s Cosmetics Directive list of allergens. The extent of EWG’s investigative detective work reflects the difficulty of finding truthful, clear information about household products.

    Hidden Chemicals

    Chloroform, formaldehyde, boric acid, and potential carcinogen 1,4-dioxane: just a few of the harmful toxins that a cleaning product may legally contain without disclosure to consumers. Product labels themselves aren’t helpful, since only 7% of goods analyzed by the EWG provided completely disclose information about their ingredients.

    Choosing to go with a brand or product you’ve grown to trust also fails to fully protect you from chemical danger. The Guide’s Hall of Shame shines an unflattering light on many mainstream products that should actually be labeled “Beware.” Among those that the Guide singles out: Finish Dishwasher Cleaner, Febreze, Glade, Comet, Ajax, Lysol, and Drano. Even several “green” or “biodegradable” products fall short in terms of consumer transparency and safety.

    (Some cleaners that did pass muster with EWG? Whole Foods Market dish soap, Mrs. Meyer’s bathroom cleaner, and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.)

    Empower Yourself to Make Smarter Consumer Decisions

    Yet again, the Guide emphasizes consumer empowerment. The Guide’s Label Decoder educates readers on how to analyze cleaning product labels for risky ingredients. It also praises states who’ve taken measures to protect consumers and crack down on cleaning product manufacturers, like Illinois and Maryland’s requirement that only independently certified green cleaning products be used in educational facilities.

    Both the federal government and the cleaning product industry should be faulted for poor regulation and lack of transparency, suggests the Guide. As for consumers, EWG’s message is clear: practice green cleaning habits, press cleaning product manufacturers for better information, and support more rigid policy regarding chemical exposure.

    How will you use EWG’s guide to safeguard your baby and your body?

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  • Making the Switch to a Greener Lifestyle

    Many women wonder about the best time to get healthy, in anticipation of a baby. Is it ever too early or too late to make changes to your lifestyle towards greener, healthier habits? Should you examine your lifestyle while conceiving? Is it OK to wait until the moment the pregnancy test reads, “YES?” Or is a switch to healthy living most effective once your infant is born?

    Understanding the nature of environmental toxins and your baby’s development can help provide you an answer.

    Toxic Burden

    Consider “toxic burden,” or the sum of toxic chemicals that accumulate in your body over time. Planet Earth is not sterile; it’s impossible to completely avoid exposure to harmful compounds. You can exacerbate your toxic burden, however, with the use of certain beauty products, artificial foods, and other chemical-laden products.  Women, especially those considering pregnancy, should be aware of toxic burden’s cumulative effect on the body over time. By simple virtue of living on a planet rife with harmful compounds, your blood stream has likely already built up levels of chemicals — at least 700 of such — that tax and harm your health. No body, pregnant or otherwise, starts a period of cleansing from a chemically blank state.[1]

    Chemical Exposures in the Womb

    Mothers-to-be should remember how actions in their own bodies impact their infants’ health. This holds truth when baby is in the womb, with mother’s nutrients and processes literally informing how well or poorly her child grows. Importantly, via the placenta, pregnant women may pass on chemicals they are exposed to during pregnancy to their developing babies.

    The placenta fortunately does filter a few toxins. Yet by no means does it completely eradicate every contaminant from the pregnant body.  Says a report from the Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, “[cases involving] infants exposed in the womb to thalidomide [and] di-ethyl stilbestrol… destroyed forever the myth of the invulnerable placenta.”[2]

    Taking Care of Baby After Birth

    Your body also influences your baby post-delivery. Breastmilk, for instance, can carry both crucial nutritive compounds and your body’s toxins along with it. Let’s say you’d prefer not to breastfeed. Does this spell the end of your body’s influence on your baby? The answer is a resounding no. Children’s development responds to both genetics and their environment. For nine months, your belly provided for your baby. Beyond pregnancy, your surroundings still exert a major impact. The World Health Organization clarifies:

    “During early childhood (from the prenatal period to eight years of age), children undergo rapid growth that is highly influenced by their environment. Many challenges faced by adults, such as… obesity [and] heart disease… can be traced back to early childhood.”

    The Time is Now

    Invest in your future child’s health now by deciding to implement, and maintain, a toxin-free lifestyle. Today is the perfect occasion to begin a switch to wellness. Your health directly reflects onto your child. Why wait one more day to protect him or her? Have you done anything to safeguard your family from the toxins that encircle them?

    Read our safe pregnancy tips to reducing your chemical load during your nine months.

     


    [1] Chemical Body Burden. What is Body Burden? Retrieved from http://www.chemicalbodyburden.org/whatisbb.htm.

    [2] Landrigan, P. 2010. Exploring the Environmental Causes of Autism and Learning Disabilities, pg.8. Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center.

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  • What Pregnancy Does to Your Hair

    Most of us associate pregnancy with a spike in hormones and the symptoms they bring about. Irritability, morning sickness, constipation – pregnant women can expect to encounter such annoyances, burdening that nine-month path to baby.

    Yet the increase in estrogen experienced during pregnancy does provide one sparkling asset: a thick, rich head of hair. Typically, around 90% of your hair is in a growth phase, while the other 10% is in a resting phase and eventually falls out. During pregnancy though, the heightened hormone levels in your body prolong the growth phase, meaning less of your hair is in resting phase at any given point in time and fewer hairs fall out.

    Fast-forward to baby’s arrival. Nine months of hormones and hair aplenty have come to an end. For better or worse, so will the impressive growth in your hair. Your body will recommence its cycle of regular hair loss. One in every two women will experience “excessive shedding of hair” post-pregnancy.[1] This can linger for up to six months after baby’s delivery.  Such hair loss can be quite dramatic, especially after a shower where you may see your shower drain covered with hairs. Not to worry, such hair loss is temporary.

    Taking care of your hair during and after pregnancy

    Proper hair maintenance can help to moderate the hormonal effects on your locks.  Here are a few tips:

    1. Embrace your thicker hair: Take advantage of your luscious, thick hair and use it to your advantage – a great hairstyle can help keep you feeling beautiful even while the rest of your body is changing.
    2. Use gentle, pregnancy safe haircare products: As a rule of thumb, shampoo your hair using products with natural, plant-based surfactants, which are much less harsh than sulfate-laden shampoos (same chemical used for car washes!). Nine Naturals Citrus + Mint Nourishing Shampoo uses natural, coconut-derived soaps, which are gentle on your locks, yet still cleansing.
    3. Keep your hair moisturized: Since fewer hairs shed during pregnancy and more old hairs stay put, your hair may tend to be more dry. Always follow a shampoo with a generous conditioning session. Try Nine Naturals Citrus + Mint Nourishing Conditioner, which uses moisturizing plant-based emollients like broccoli seed oil and shea butter and natural hair strengthening ingredients like vitamin B5 and flax seed oil.
    4. Avoid coloring your hair: Be weary of coloring your hair during pregnancy to not only avoid unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals, but also uncertain outcomes to your pregnancy hair. While it may not be a proven fact, some hairstylists claim that their customers’ hair has responded differently to coloring treatments during pregnancy. Harsh chemical treatments can also damage hair, making it more brittle and dry.

    A careful pregnancy haircare regimen will ensure that once your hair does start to fall out post-pregnancy, the hair your left with will be in a healthy condition.

    Dealing with postpartum hair loss

    If you experience postpartum hair loss, make sure to be gentle with your hair so not to damage the hair that remains. You’ll notice a lot of fly-aways as the old hairs are shed and new hairs grow in their place. Here are some postpartum haircare tips:

    1. Experiment with new hairstyles and accessories: New hairstyles and hair accessories are  creative ways to keep the fly-aways at bay. Fun braids or barrettes and headbands may do the trick.
    2. Leave-in conditioner can help manage fly-aways: Use a small dab of Nine Naturals Mandarin + Ginger Restorative Conditioner as a leave-in conditioner to weigh down the little sprouts of hair.
    3. Dry shampoo between hair washes: Try an organic dry shampoo between hair washes so you don’t have to worry about managing your hair with the new baby in tow and to reduce harsh overstyling.

     


    [1] American Pregnancy Association. (2007, March). Pregnancy and Hair Loss.

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  • Nine Ways to Reduce Your Toxic Burden During Pregnancy

    I’ve spoken over the last weeks about minimizing chemical exposures during pregnancy, so I’m sure some of you are wondering – but how? It may feel overwhelming to think about all the ways you may be exposing yourself to chemicals, so I picked some easy ways to a less-toxic pregnancy.

    In the spirit of “Nine” Naturals and the “Nine” months of pregnancy, I’ve created a list of NINE simple ways you can reduce your toxin exposure that will benefit not only you but also importantly, your baby.

    -Grace

    Nine Ways to Reduce Your Chemical Exposure

    1.     Change Your Personal Care Products
    Your interest in Nine Naturals shows you’re off to a great start. We founded the brand to help our customers make a healthful switch in the products they use for their appearance. Even if you haven’t yet purchased from our offering of all-natural pregnancy-safe products, give the products you currently own a serious grilling.

    Ensure they don’t contain any of the more harmful chemicals that are prevalent in many cosmetics, including: parabens, sulfates, phthalates, artificial “fragrance” and “color,” DEA/TEA, and formaldehyde.

    In terms of your beauty and health, you must watch out for yourself. The FDA lamentably fails to regulate these products, subjecting millions of unwitting users to hundreds of chemicals daily — none of which has been verified as safe. An invaluable resource for alert cosmetics users, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics provides a helpful database to locate toxin-free products.

    2.     Change Your Household Products
    Risky chemicals can affect you even away from your makeup kit and vanity mirror. Have you ever closely read the ingredients that appear in many common household cleaners? Unless your mouth is particularly acrobatic, pronouncing them all won’t be a cakewalk.

    Not that these products’ manufacturers want it to be so; confusion appears to be built into their business models. Shockingly, they have no legal obligation to disclose each of their ingredients.

    This lack of transparency has a tragically close impact on our society. For when we mop our floors and wash our dishes, we are wiping unknown properties into our pores, and into the bodies of our family members. Comprehend the identity and safety of the ingredients in your household cleaning agents, and toss those that can’t stack up.

    3.     Avoid Plastics
    Ubiquitous and oh-so-useful they may be, many plastics can pose a chemical threat to your health. From your water bottles to food containers, be on the lookout for risks to your well-being.

    Plastics often contain two nasty ingredients: BPA, a common industrial compound linked with such health problems as breast cancer and infertility, and phthalates (sounds like Thal-eights), a softening agent that can lead to serious problems in fetal development. The recycling number that appears on plastic containers can help you spot which to avoid. Follow this simple rhyme to help you remember which plastics are free from BPA: “4, 5, 1 & 2 – All the rest are bad for you.”

    Refrain from heating or microwaving your plastics whenever possible. Canned foods and drinks should be avoided too; they often contain unsafe plastic linings. If you must use plastic, ensure the container is BPA- and phthalate-free. Better yet, choose storage products made from glass or BPA-free stainless steel.

    4.     Eat organic and fresh whenever possible.
    This piece of counsel is closely linked to our previous recommendation to “Avoid Plastics.” Toxic BPA and phthalates, often featured in plastic wrapping and containers, can seep into your food. What’s more, pesticides are also heavily involved in prepackaged food processing. Your child, whether in or out of your belly, is extremely susceptible to these pesticides, which the government still fails to regulate properly.

    Eating organically, the most healthful solution for your diet, can be admittedly expensive and complicated. The “Dirty Dozen,” a compilation of the produce most at risk to harmful toxins, can make it simple, and affordable, to incorporate organic choices into your grocery shopping.  “The Clean Thirteen” proves additionally helpful, outlining the thirteen varieties of produce least susceptible to pesticide residue. (Edibles that Mother Nature has equipped with a thick hide, like pineapples and avocadoes, comprise part of this list.) You should also consider buying locally; doing so helps you exercise control over where and how your food has been sourced. Be aware that not all farms and growers can afford official “organic” certification. Nevertheless, numerous local farms opt against pesticides and chemicals, making them strong options for your food purchases.

    A final warning: proceed with caution when considering foods classified as “GMO,” or “genetically modified organisms.” The FDA does not regulate or approve such foods, to begin with. GMO products are also associated with such health issues as infertility and complications to the immune system. [American Academy of Environmental Medicine]

    5.     Get Some Fresh Air!
    Mention the concept of air pollution, and most people will respond with dismay for the breathing spaces of China, smoggy Los Angeles, and other notable outdoor cough-zones. Yet air quality is an issue much closer to home: perhaps in your own home, in fact.

    Because the inside your home can’t count on Mother Nature to circulate it, toxins are far more likely to build up in what you breathe. Mold, radon, formaldehyde, dust mites: these are only a few of the dangerous compounds you could allow into your body with each inhale.

    Your house itself could be leeching chemicals into the air, in a process called “offgassing,” This is the airborne evaporation of  active chemicals from non-metallic materials, which can persist for years after such materials were first put into place.

    Want simple advice to start rectifying this issue right now?

    Get up, and open a window! In a snap, your air will start to freshen. Expedite and improve your air quality even further with an air purifier.

    6.     Try To Avoid Major Home Renovations During Pregnancy
    The best laid plans for baby could eventually cause your little one serious harm. No one can fault you for wanting to build a new crib, paint the nursery, or maybe install a new window in the south-facing wall for sunlight. Know, however, that such renovation moves can heighten your chemical exposure and consequently your developing infant’s chemical exposure.

    As we mentioned in “Get Some Fresh Air!”, “off-gassing” can unwittingly release toxic compounds into the air. Paints that are high in VOCs can inflame this process. Old homes also present the risk of exposure to lead, from aging paint that chips off the walls. If you must paint, ensure that you follow our three recommendations for your health.

    1) Only use paints that are low in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). 2) Ventilate the painting area extremely well. 3) And, when you’re pregnant, have someone else do the painting work for you, 4) Avoid being in the house while work is going on.

    7.     Green Your Baby Nursery
    If you’re a conscientious parent, every move you make takes the baby into prime consideration. From choosing the cutest infant clothes to “baby-proofing” each room in your home, your baby’s well-being should always rank as the top priority.

    Extend such meticulous attention to all of your choices for baby. Pick baby bottles that are either made of glass or BPA-free plastic. Analyze your baby’s food and formula for an organic seal of approval and avoid foods packaged in BPA-laden plastics.  Whenever possible, dress your baby in organic clothing.

    The structure of crib mattresses can encourage multiple components of harmful materials. Their cores may contain latex; this ingredient burns easily and may harbor VOCs. A layer of flame retardant could in turn surround them, laden with the toxic metal antimony. Coating it all is the cover, or ticking, which if made from vinyl can contain dangerous additives like phthalates or heavy metals.  Clean and Healthy New York’s 2012 Mattress Matters Report can educate you further and steer you toward toxin-free baby bedding.

    Babies’ cribs themselves, as well as manifold toys and decorations for nursery, discharge appreciable amounts of formaldehyde, according to a recent report from Environment California.

    Purchase furniture whose glues, woods, and paints are all certified infant-safe. Abstain from any product that includes a chemical flame retardant; opt instead for fibers that naturally avoid burning, like wool.

    Keep carcinogens in mind, furthermore, when it comes to cleaning baby. The Washington Post recently exposed that nearly half of all infant products, including shampoo, contain cancer-causing chemicals. Dodge these frights with personal care products that, like Nine Naturals’ line, are safe for your baby.

    8.     Avoid Chemical-heavy Treatments at the Hair Salon
    Even pregnant mothers deserve to work a stunning hairdo. Just make sure that what went into your coif won’t stunt your baby’s growth.

    Color treatments for your hair frequently entail artificial dyes, which contain known carcinogens — chemicals that can cause cancer. An EPA examination of such dyes revealed that nearly 70% of them harbored these harmful compounds [EPA]. Such cogent evidence leaves us with no choice but to strongly advise, in the name of chemical exposure reduction: do not dye your hair.

    Alternatives to dyeing include lemon juice spritzes to your locks, or an occasional rinsing of your hair with espresso. True dye-hards, who can’t avoid coloring, should opt for highlights that do not touch the roots. The highlights’ application should also occur in a well-ventilated salon. Try to extend the time span between hair appointments as well. Pregnant women should hold any coloring at all until the second trimester or later.

    One final counsel: refrain from Brazilian hair straightening treatments. They may expose your scalp, and your baby by association, to formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

    9.     Pamper Yourself with Non-Toxic Spa Experiences
    Blessed and glorious as it can be, pregnancy can also prove physically stressful and emotionally demanding. You are producing new life. A process this dynamic will naturally involve some tears, screams, sighs, and yawns. De-stressing at the spa or salon can help soften pregnancy’s rougher patches. However, safeguarding your health as you melt anxiety away is still important.

    Find facials and massages, incredible agents for relaxation, at salons that employ natural and organic products. Eschew nail polish when you’re expecting, as it can contain chemicals that may harm baby. Buff your nails as a healthful alternative. If you simply must color your nails, demand that the polish be 100% free of this harmful trio: dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene.  Always patron salons with great ventilation as well, particularly for mani-pedi’s. The strong air flow reduces your exposure to the fumes emitted from many nail products.

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  • Toxin Exposure During Pregnancy

    I’m not going to lie, this week has been a particularly rough week. Everyone assured me as I suffered through morning sickness in the first trimester that the second trimester would be better – “Don’t worry – you get TONS of energy in the second trimester. You’re going to feel great!” But sometime between last week and what is now my 21st week, exhaustion and fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks. I saw my doctor yesterday for my monthly check-up and asked her if I was sick, to which she replied, “No, you’re just pregnant.”

    For a minute, I was jealous of my baby, seeing her on the monitor of the ultrasound at my doctor’s office, curled up in the fetal position and sleeping. I’ve had to really push myself mentally through my workday this week even as my body has been yearning for my bed. It’s amazing how challenging, both physically and emotionally, the pregnancy can be – as I’m sure all of you out there can relate! Unfortunately, the timing for this fatigue couldn’t be worse, as we are busily preparing for the launch of our new Nine Naturals product line.

    That said, there is no better motivation for Nine Naturals than bringing a life into the world. I’m constantly encouraged by the fact that we are changing the way women approach their beauty routines that help themselves, their babies and the environment around them. The latest issue of Scientific American featured an article, “Toxins All around Us” about the toxins in common consumer products and how scientists are increasingly concerned abut the impact of even small chemical exposures particularly on women and their fetuses:

     

    “Scientists have become increasingly worried that even extremely low levels of some environmental contaminants may have significant damaging effects on our bodies—and that fetuses are particularly vulnerable to such assaults. Some of the chemicals that are all around us have the ability to interfere with our endocrine systems, which regulate the hormones that control our weight, our biorhythms and our reproduction. Synthetic hormones are used clinically to prevent pregnancy, control insulin levels in diabetics, compensate for a deficient thyroid gland and alleviate menopausal symptoms. You wouldn’t think of taking these drugs without a prescription, but we unwittingly do something similar every day.

    An increasing number of clinicians and scientists are becoming convinced that these chemical exposures con­tribute to obesity, endometriosis, diabetes, autism, allergies,cancer and other diseases. Laboratory studies—mainly in mice but sometimes in human sub­jects—­have demonstrated that low levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in­duce subtle changes in the developing fetus that have profound health effects in adulthood and even on subsequent generations. The chemicals an expecting mother takes into her body during the course of a typical day may affect her children and her grandchildren.”

    I’m glad to see that scientists are finally sounding the alarm on the impact of chemicals on women and their babies. As moms-to-be we have the especially significant and often daunting task of doing the best for our bodies so that our babies are well-nourished and supported as they develop in the womb. Consumer products companies in turn, should take responsibility in creating products that don’t pollute our bodies and our unborn children! In the meantime we do our best to avoid chemicals where we can – in our beauty products, our food, our household products and elsewhere – to reduce the levels of exposure to our babies. We’re proud that Nine Naturals can provide you with healthy beauty alternatives during pregnancy. It puts me at ease as a mom-to-be as I hope it does for you too.

    Grace

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  • The Perfect Enough Pregnancy

    When I started Nine Naturals, it was in part in anticipation of that time when I would be ready to get pregnant and start my own family. I couldn’t believe that the products I was using on a daily basis were entering my bloodstream and polluting my body. How could I prepare my body without considering what I was putting in and on it? I’ve spent countless hours reading scientific texts, underlining books and speaking to doctors and chemists to learn more about pregnancy and how to have the healthiest pregnancy I could have by using the right products, eating the right foods and taking good physical and spiritual care of myself. By the time my husband and I started trying, I felt like the most well-informed pregnant woman-to-be!

    Once I became pregnant this past spring, I aspired for a perfect pregnancy where I would do all the best things for myself and my baby. However, my intentions felt constantly thwarted by the seemingly physical assault of my surrounding environment upon me! I live in New York City, where I could only wish for a day with clean air uncompromised by car pollution, dust from construction and paint or someone puffing on cigarettes as I walk down the sidewalk. Also, trying to eat organically all the time in a city with sparse organic restaurant options is extremely difficult. I became plagued by my inability to escape my surroundings and to allow my baby the ability to grow inside me without being bombarded by chemicals.

    At this time of frustration, I came upon an article in Fit Pregnancy, titled, “The Perfect Enough Pregnancy“. It helped me to take a step back from these feelings of fear and frustration I was having. I was relieved to know that other women had similar anxieties and that I can make many small, but meaningful changes that do add up to having a healthier pregnancy! I realized that I am capable of having a healthy baby without feeling like I am a failure for not packing up my home in New York and moving to an organic farm in Vermont for the rest of my pregnancy.

    To me, Nine Naturals represents this “perfect enough” pregnancy. I created this line so that women could make confident choices about their beauty routine that would be safe for them and their baby. Not only that, I consider the products in our line easy substitutes in our otherwise chemical-ridden beauty routines. Our new line focuses not only on ingredient purity but also performance. I love that this line still keeps me feeling beautiful, but more naturally and organically! I hope you feel the same way!

    Here’s to healthy moms and babies.

    Grace

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