Why pH is Important in Skincare

Ok – show of hands:  How many of you know what the pH in “pH balanced” stands for? 

It’s a buzzword that we hear all the time, but did you know that pH stands for potential hydrogen? Wait! Don’t fall asleep!  You need to know this!

Next question:  what the heck does that mean?  Well, A pH number (from 0 to 14) measures how acidic or alkaline a liquid is -- anything above 7 is alkaline and anything below 7 is acid.  Water, has a pH of 7 – makes intuitive sense – we all think of water as neutral.  Did you know that your SKIN has a pH, too? 

Skin has a pH of 5.5.  This means, that on the pH scale, it is considered slightly acidic.  Weird to think of your skin as acidic, huh?  But the outermost layer of our skin is protected by sebum, yup, the stuff that can clog your pores and break you out on Picture Day.  Sebum mixes with the amino and lactic acids from sweat to create an ideal pH of 5.5.  Remember this number. You might be tested on it later (wasn't it awesome when your teachers gave you a freebie like this?) 

This sebum sweat mix (delightful sounding) is important because it helps retain your moisture and keep germs out.  If you want to keep this layer of protection, you need to put stuff on your skin that is similar to your skin’s pH.  Bar soap, typically has a pH of 9-12, making your skin tight and dry.  And it’s a pretty good idea to stay away from Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which has a pH level of 10 (again, drying!). Instead, choose cleansers that has a pH closer to your skin's pH..what's that number?  That's right:  5.5!  You just scored an A on this quiz.  

BOX Naturals Luxe Towelettes have a pH of 5.5 – that is, exactly your skin’s pH so go ahead, use it everywhere. As we like to say, hands, faces and special places!

How to smell like a cookie: Extracts vs. Essential Oils

Geeks are Cute. 

Geeks are Cute. 

As you probably know already, we're really into reading and researching labels.  Call us super-geeks, but hey, we'd rather know what we're putting on our bodies!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes an ingredient list will have "{insert flower here} extract" and sometimes it will say "{insert flower here} essential oil"?  What exactly is the difference?  So glad you asked!

Essential oils are the concentrated aromatic compounds of a plant, that is, the yummy, delicious smelling parts. Separating this from the rest of the plant is usually done through steam distillation.  If you're a geekier geek than we are, read about steam distillation here

 Now. Extracts.  Put in the simplest of terms, extracts are kind of like a tea.  Get the plant and boil in water or oil for a long time. You can also do this in alcohol (not the drinking kind.  Or maybe the drinking kind?  We've never tried - if you do, let us know how that went!) and this is called a tincture. 

What's the main difference between the two?

Well, both can be used for aromatherapy, but only essential oils have true medicinal properties.  Essential oils are also a lot stronger and more concentrated, and for that reason, very few essential oils should be put directly on the skin with no carrier oil.  Lavender oil and Tea Tree oil are examples of two essential oils that you can put directly on the skin. 

Essential oils are also a lot more expensive because it's darn difficult to separate the oils from the plants!  One thing extracts and oils have in common?  They both can be used as a non synthetic, all natural perfume.  So instead of buying fake vanilla perfume, just raid your baking cabinet and use some high quality vanilla extract and smell like a cookie all day long…

Kloverbox + BOX

What's more fun than getting gifts in the mail?  

What's more fun than getting gifts in the mail?  

October is turning out to be a big month for us. We are very excited to partner with Kloverbox – a subscription box for the woman who is inspired by healthier products.  That's us!  That's YOU!

Kloverbox urges us to "Live Naturally and Organically.  Replace every product you use with a conscious alternative."  We LOVE this motto because that's exactly how we look at attaining a healthier lifestyle.  You might KNOW  that synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, and parabens are bad for you,  but it's hard to go cold turkey.  However, if you replace just one product at a time with an equally effective and natural product, well, suddenly, it's not hard at all.  

Kloverbox is a wonderful way to sample premium, natural, organic and cruelty-free products.  You get six to eight products from the purest and most sustainable brands in their monthly subscription box. 

Thank you, Kloverbox, for helping us all Live Naturally!

Check them out here.

Formaldehyde in Nail Polish and Other Cosmetics

It's crazy to think that the same stuff used to preserve that poor frog you were forced to dissect in high school biology is often used in your cosmetics and body care products as... you guessed it, a preservative! Thats right, formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) are used in many personal care products like nail polish, shampoo and liquid soap. And it's even scarier than it sounds – these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to allergic skin reactions and cancer. 

People can be exposed by inhaling the formaldehyde that is off-gassed from the product, by ingesting it or by absorbing it through the skin. While there's more research happening all the time, animal studies have indicated that formaldehyde can be absorbed through the skin when formaldehyde-containing personal care products, including FRPs, are applied.

So what can you do? Read labels and avoid products containing the following ingredients: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol).

We were surprised to find out that several companies are still using FRPs. In addition to the cancer issue, Formaldehyde in cosmetics is widely understood to cause allergic skin reactions and rashes in some people. They're commonly found in nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash, color cosmetics and even wipes. Yes, wipes! (Um, never our wipes though, don't worry.) We were researching different wipe formulas and were shocked to see FRPs listed among the ingredients, which sparked hours of google searches and this blog post. So... choose wisely! 

Gotta Have It: Get Your Bag Ready For Fall

Our mothers told us to do three things every change of season:  1) get a facial,  2) flip your mattress, and 3) take stock of what's in your bag.

We can't help you with the first two, but we've done the legwork on #3.  

First up - Time to buy a new Fall Bag! (As if you needed an excuse).  Here's a roundup of our faves:

Left to right: Botkier Python Embossed Soho Tote ($298), Topshop Leather Bucket Bag ($240), Alexander Wang The Rocco ($875).

Now, for the goodies that lie within your new Fall bag: 

A good hand creme:  Fall means cold weather so get ahead of dry hands with  Desert Essence Pumpkin Spice Hand Repair Cream.   Its super high concentration of organic oils will supercharge your skin with moisture.  And it answers your need for more Pumpkin Spice magic in your life.

A yummy lip balm:  We love the philosophy behind Hurraw's products: premium ingredients that are organic, vegan, and raw.   Raw?  Yes, raw!  The result is the softest, smoothest lip balm we've ever tried.  

A ruthless germ killer: With cold and flu season getting close, take no chances! Burt's Bees has a 100% natural aloe and witch hazel sanitizer spray that checks all the boxes. It dries quickly, the witch hazel softens your skin, and the scent is light and fresh. 

A new Fall scent:  What does Fall smell like?  Brisk air, hot apple cider, rain soaked leaves, and ... spices. Dab Cinnamon or Clove essential oil onto your skin (test first for sensitivities!) or mix into unfragranced lotion.  Be forewarned, it may result in excessive consumption of apple pie...

A new nail laquer:  Zoya's nail polish in Pepper is the perfect Autumn color - rustic, warm, cozy, of all, it's Big 5 Free (No Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor).

Fall Colors Ombre Hair Ties:  Because all the Summer ones are lost anyway...

Now, that your bag is ready for fall, the world is your oyster! Don't forget to kick every single pile of leaves you see... it's only fall once a year. ;)


Chemical free products? Why that's a lie.

Next time you're shopping for eco-friendly products and you see a label that says "chemical free," it might be best to stay away from it. Why? There's one reason:

There is no such thing as "Chemical Free." Water is a chemical.  We are made of chemicals.  If a product claims to be Chemical Free, it can't possibly be true unless the product from Made Up La-La Land.  There are naturally occurring chemicals and synthetic chemicals.  But synthetic chemicals are NOT unilaterally bad for you, nor are naturally occurring chemicals unilaterally good for you (i.e. mercury = naturally occurring = BAD!)  What you need to know is how that individual chemical reacts with the human body and its environment (yes, on top of what bad chemicals do to our body, it can also wreak havoc to our environment when it's washed off and into our water system and drains!).

There's no doubt to the proven benefits of leading a life that's as natural and organic as possible.  But there are two sides to every story and we're here to talk about what it truly means to be safe and natural.

What you can do is use technology. "Think Dirty" but first get your mind out of the gutter!  Think Dirty is an app that allows you to scan your make up and other personal care products for potential carcinogens.   Founded by Lily Tse who developed this app after her mother's battle with breast cancer.  Read about her journey.  

Ok, so if food has the "Dirty Dozen and Clean 15", what does the cosmetic world have?  Chemicals to definitely avoid are: 

Mercury (often masked as thimerosal)
Lead Acetate
Formaldehyde and Toluene
Coal Tar

If there's one takeaway from this article, it should be that nothing is cut and dry.  There are arguments from every angle why a certain chemical is good, bad, or ugly.  We encourage every one to do their research. As a company we are constantly researching and reviewing our formulas to make sure we're doing the best we can to provide a natural, safe option for women that's free of parabens and artificial fragrances.  

Are parabens bad news?

The first ingredient green beauty companies ban from their ingredient list is usually parabens. Take a look and you’ll notice “paraben free” on all kinds of packaging, even our own! But why is there so much concern about parabens? Have they been proven to cause cancer? Here’s what you need to know:

What are parabens?

Parabens are among the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products. Methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben are what you'll see most often – over 85% of cosmetics have them. Typically, more than one is used in a product.

Are they dangerous?

The short answer is, the jury’s still out. A study published in 2004 (Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology) detected parabens in breast tumors. Parabens have weak estrogen-like properties and it’s been shown that estrogen can have an influence on breast cancer. However, the study did not show that parabens cause cancer, or that they are harmful in any way, and the study did not look for paraben levels in normal tissue.

If they aren't 100% sure, why are companies still using parabens?

They’re inexpensive and effective.

The lack of a simple, definitive answer is a little frustrating, right? When it comes to questions about our health (especially where the dreaded C-word is concerned) we want to know for sure. There are all kinds of research, opinions and conclusions out there. Some say parabens are completely safe. Others have come to some pretty frightening conclusions! But most dermatologists recommend keeping an eye on your exposure to parabens, and choosing paraben-free when you're choosing products that will come in contact with your skin (your largest organ!).

The good news is there are so many green beauty companies that offer paraben free options, so you can easily make the choice that's right for you. And BOX Naturals products will always be 100% free of all parabens. 

Our Up in the Air Beauty Routine

One of our team members is constantly traveling. Cross country flights, long haul flights, you name it! Still, every time she's in the office, her skin is glowing (it's absolutely LUMINOUS). After a little prodding, she finally divulged her beauty secret - a top to bottom regimen she learned from renowned make up artist Lisa Eldridge.  

Lisa has an amazing tutorial that's perfect for long flights. Yes, you will get looks from your fellow passengers, but just think about what havoc that recycled cabin air is wreaking on your skin and it will be easier to ignore the sidelong glances and occasional pointed finger/giggles.  

Some of the ridiculous(ly transformative and amazing) things she recommends: 

  1. Slather hydrating cream on your hair
  2. Take off ALL make up
  3. Use a toner with essential oils
  4. Put a mask on (not the scary green kind, a clear one, preferably - see tutorial for all product recommendations)
  5. Hydrate back of hands
  6. Go to sleep with a lavender filled eye mask...snoooooze....

And depending on how long your flight is, repeat. There's one thing we'd add to that – Box Intimates wipes (of course). After sitting for hours and hours, doesn't every part of your body need a little freshening up?

This routine definitely works, but even doing part of it is better than not doing a thing. Try it, and instead of arriving feeling like you need a nap and a shower, you'll be ready to hit the town.