Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning ~ T. S. Eliot

Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year, full of love, laughter, good health and prosperity. Thank you for a beautiful 2010!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your family and safe and happy holiday!

Cactus & Ivy will be closed from December 24, 2010 and re-open on January 3, 2011.

Thank y'all for a wonderful year! I couldn't have been blessed with a better bunch of customers and readers of this blog.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honoring Our Veterans

Hey y'all!

I hope this post finds you having a fabulous day!
For those that know me, know that I love the military, HOOAH. I'm a Navy brat and an Army wife. While this post has absolutely nothing to do with the science behind personal care products, it has everything to do with honoring our nation's Veterans.

My husband is on his 25th year in the Army. The military has been very good to me and my family. Growing up in a military home, I learned discipline from a very early age. Moving every 3 years molded my personality. Saying goodbye to old friends and hey to new friends was an emotional cycle, and one I'm very glad to have experienced. It especially helped me in my teenage years when being a follower would have been an easy choice.

When my husband Prevo returned home in 2006 from a tour in Iraq, he wrote the song, 'Veteran's Hand'. It's about his experience while being in a foreign land, away from the comforts of home and everything you know. Away from everything you hold to be true and dear to your heart. Last year, Dennis, a brother in arms, contacted Prevo to ask permission to use his song in a video to honor Veterans. Some of you may have seen this video on my post last year and I wanted to share it again.

Our Nation's Veterans, past and present, deserve to be honored for their dedication, service and sacrifice. A favorite quote by Gen. MacArthur says it all, "Duty," "Honor," "Country" - those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you want to be, what you can be, what you will be".

Thanks to all Veterans and their family members. I greatly appreciate your dedication, service and sacrifice. You will never be forgotten.

Thanks for stopping by y'all. Have a wonderful day!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Hey Y'all - Today I'm sharing with you a fabulous post by Dene Godfrey. Enjoy and if you have any questions or comments, they are always welcome!

In recent years there has been an ever-increasing tendency for the media and many pressure groups to publicise negative reports on synthetic chemicals, using emotive words such as “toxic”, “dangerous”, “nasty” and “polluting”. Even accepting the official legal (EU) definition of “toxic”, very few of the chemicals under attack are truly toxic, but the main point is that the reports usually focus on the hazard(s) identified with the chemical in question.

Identification of the hazards is important, but it is only the first step in a broader process. If only the hazard is known, the information is almost useless, partly because all chemicals have a hazard associated with them. Water, for example, has an inhalation hazard; sodium chloride (common salt) increases blood pressure to dangerous levels at fairly low doses. It is possible to identify a hazard for any chemical, given a high enough concentration and an appropriate route of exposure.

Once the hazard has been identified, the next (and most important) stage is to determine the level of exposure. This enables calculation of the risk involved in its use:


Risk is much more important than hazard. To give two examples from everyday life where we almost subconsciously calculate risk:

1) Crossing the road. Here is an obvious hazard – getting hit, possibly killed, by a moving vehicle. If you only take the hazard into consideration, you would never cross a road – ever! This would clearly be nonsensical, and we all calculate the risk and choose a safe moment to cross. This is exactly the same principle as that which should be applied to the use of chemicals.

2) Taking paracetamol. Each day, millions of people take paracetamol tablets as a headache cure. Paracetamol is a chemical, and it is hazardous. As few as 12 standard tablets can cause irreversible liver damage and a slow, agonising death. So why do people expose themselves to such a dangerous chemical? The answer is because exposure to the lower levels contained in the one or two tablets typically consumed have no significant adverse effect. Low exposure reduces the risk to an acceptable level.

Telling people not to use a chemical because of its hazard is, therefore, highly misleading. If we were not to use chemicals solely based on their hazards, we would have to exist in a total vacuum!

There is also the common occurrence of “implied hazard”. For example, there are many accounts of the use of propylene glycol in cosmetic products, where the article claims that this is used as antifreeze as though this obviously, therefore, makes the compound unsuitable for cosmetic use. This is a common internet myth and, in fact, it is ethylene glycol that is used in antifreeze! However, the principle remains the same and, whilst skin contact with neat propylene glycol is not recommended, it is only slightly irritating (although it can increase the transport of other, less desirable compounds through the skin) but it is not particularly hazardous. At the much lower concentrations used in personal care products, the irritation potential is reduced to insignificance. There is no correlation between its (alleged) use in antifreeze and its use in cosmetics. This principal applies equally to other ingredients that are used in cosmetics and also in other applications.

Unfortunately, the scientific community must shoulder some responsibility for this situation. There are many examples of studies that have identified a hazard that has been publicised by the authors before any attempt has been made to assess the risk. In the absence of the correct context provided by the risk assessment, the media are free to revel in the negative connotations – bad news is always better than good news!

In summary, whilst the hazard can be useful information, it bears no relation to reality until the risk is assessed. If the approach we adopt to risk in our everyday lives was applied to the use of chemicals, the world may be a slightly better, less neurotic place!


This post originally appeared on Personal Care Truth

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Home Farming Movement

Hey y'all -

I hope this post finds you doing well. In addition to being an animal lover, I love nature. I'm also a novice composter, thanks to my dad. This year we did not plant a garden because we couldn't decided where to put it and by the time our location was chosen, it was too late to plant.

The fact we could not decide on a location should not have prevented me from planting a few container or raised bed gardens. This fact reminded me of a great site, Home Farming.

So what is Home Farming? I'll let the creator of the Home Farming site tell you. "Triscuit has created this site with help from Urban Farming, a non-profit organization, to help build a home farming community where both beginners and more seasoned gardeners can dialogue and gather information towards their common mission: to reap food that is deliciously fresh, penny-wise, healthier for themselves and the planet. It’s about home farming, and the everyday joy that grows out of it".

So what can you do on Home Farming?
  • Put your garden on the map
  • Connect with other Home Farming members in their forum
  • Get expert advice from Paul James, their resident expert
  • Explore their crop guide - vegetables and herbs no home farm should be without
  • Watch videos on starting and tending to your bountiful harvest
There's nothing in this world like fresh vegetables and herbs. Join the movement today! You'll be glad you did!

Thanks for stopping by y'all. I hope you have a fabulous fall day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering September 11, 2001

This is a day of remembrance. A day of honoring the men and women who lost their lives 9 years ago today. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the loved ones whose lives were lost on this tragic day.

In honor and remembrance of United Flight 175, American Flight 11, World Trade Center, Pentagon, American Flight 77 and United Flight 93.

This American will never forget. May they rest in peace.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Doing Nothing?

Hey Y'all -

I hope this post finds you doing well. A tweet came through my stream last week that is the inspiration for this post.

The Safe Cosmetics Act 2010 was released last week. If this bill passes, the cosmetic industry will change which will trickle down to you, the consumer. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group are proponents of this bill. They are telling any and everyone that will buy into their propaganda that cosmetic manufacturers are putting anything they want in cosmetics because the industry is not regulated. That is so far from the truth and typical of these organizations. The FDA regulates the cosmetic industry.

The Safe Cosmetics Act 2010 will
not benefit consumers or the small cosmetic manufacturer. People who buy into what the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group are peddling are in for a huge surprise if this bill passes. Consumers need to get involved with this proposed legislation draft. This brings me to the quote.

Never act until you have clearly answered the question: "What happens if I do nothing? ~ Robert Brault

If we do nothing, this bill may pass and some of your favorite personal care products could disappear. Cactus & Ivy would surely close up shop because I could not afford the additional costs this proposed bill would place on my company. Many small businesses would be in the same boat as me.

Variety is the spice of life. Don't you want to have that same variety in your choices for personal care products? There are so many talented companies on the market now and the small cosmetic manufacturers are bringing a great deal of innovation to the table. That innovation would no longer exist. Big box manufacturers would be the only choices you would have.

Take time to read the bill. Also, visit my other company, Personal Care Truth for a wealth of information on personal care products. We can't afford to do nothing. We need to fight this with every inch of our being. Cactus & Ivy opposes the Safe Cosmetics Act 2010. Will you join me?

Thanks for stopping by y'all. Have a great day!

Chief Guinea Chick
Cactus & Ivy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Life of Reed Diffusers

Hey y'all -

I hope this post finds you having a fabulous day! I've talked a few times about our Reed Diffusers. Today I am dealing with the fact I created a pretty awesome product, if I do say so myself, and it lasts and lasts and lasts.

Throughout the world of reed diffusers, it has been my experience that they typically last 2 - 4 months. Not ours!

Customers have been reporting that Cactus & Ivy Reed Diffusers have lasted them well over 6-8 months. What does that mean for you? It means that you are really getting a value for your money. The economy has caused us all to cut back. To only spend money on things we need. The wants in life are put on the back burner to simmer until we have the extra money.

If you want to freshen your home with the sweet aroma of lilac or the eye opening and refreshing scent of Spearcalyptus, I'm here to tell you our reed diffusers are worth the moolah. If that isn't good enough, we still have our 'Just Because' 15% discount available. At checkout, use customer code JB2010. For an order with 5 or more items, you automatically receive an additional 5% discount that is applied to your order.

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a great day!

Lisa M. Rodgers
Chief Guinea Chick

Cactus & Ivy

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Independence Day Hours

Hey y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well. Just a quick note to let you know that Cactus & Ivy will be closed July 2nd - July 5th in observance of Independence Day. We will re-open on July 6th and process orders in the order in which they are received.
As a thank you for your continued support, here is a discount code for 15% off, good through midnight, July 9, 2010. Use customer code fireworks at check out.

Thanks for stopping by and have a fabulous day!

Lisa M. Rodgers
Creator Extraordinaire

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Treat Your Summer Feet to Peppermint Tree Foot Balm

Hey Y'all!

I hope this post finds you having a spectacular day! What a slacker I have been! Time to remind you that summer is here and your feet need to be at their best.

I can't say enough about Peppermint Tree Foot Balm. The tingling and cooling sensations coupled with the moisturizing ingredients is a must have for keeping 'barking dogs' at bay. Volleyball has been wreaking havoc on my feet so Peppermint Tree Foot Balm is my BFF!

Peppermint Tree Foot Balm can be used daily to revive tired, dry feet or as an intense overnight treatment for really worn out tootsies. The oils of apricot kernel and sweet almond penetrate the skin easily, emollient and great for dry, inflamed or irritated skin. Menthol gives it the fantastic tingling and cooling kick!
Includes tea tree oil and the pick me up relief of peppermint oil to round out this fabulous product.

How about a discount? Ok, here's 15% off, just because. Use promo code JB2010 at checkout, good through midnight, June 30, 2010. Also, you automatically receive an additional 5% discount when you order 5 or more products.

So, kick your tired and dry feet to the curb and pick up a tube of our cruelty free and vegan, Peppermint Tree Foot Balm today! Thanks for stopping by y'all and I hope you have a fantabulous Wednesday!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Hey Y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well and enjoying your Memorial Day weekend.

Today we remember the men and women of the United States military who paid the ultimate price for our great nation. At 3pm today, please join in on a national moment of remembrance.

To the brave men and women who served our country with honor and courage, may you rest in peace, for you are not forgotten!

Thanks for stopping by y'all and I hope you have a great day!

Cactus & Ivy

Friday, May 28, 2010

Buzz Off, Flies!

Hey Y'all!!

I hope this post finds you doing well. It is that time of year when the flies really bother our four legged friends. Several years ago, I created Natural Buzz Off Horse Spray to give my horses relief from the pesky and annoying buzz of flies, gnats, horseflies and other flying pests.

Our neighbor, Clint, ropes in his spare time and is also a Farrier. I asked him to put my creation to the test for 30 days. Here's what he had to say:

"What really surprised me was the effectiveness of the spray after I worked my horses. I figured that the spray would lose its kick after working the horses in 90 degree temperatures for hours at a time. I have really been impressed by the product, especially since it is "All Natural". I am now and will forever be a customer!"

I was so happy to have the opinion of someone that is constantly working around horses. Clint now markets Natural Buzz Off Horse Spray to all his horseshoeing clients and roping buds! In addition to the spray, we also offer Natural Horse Bug Off Bug Balm and are adding Natural Horse Hoof It Butter and Natural Buzz Off Horse Shampoo.

Thanks for stopping by y'all and I hope you have a fantastic and safe Memorial Day weekend!

Creator Extraordinaire

Cactus & Ivy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Serene | A Fabulous Soap for All Skin Types

Hey y'all!

I hope this post finds you having a fabulous day! I'd like to introduce you to a soap that has proven to be one of our most loved and best seller!

Serene Face & Body Soap is unscented and full of moisturizing and nourishing oils that are gentle to your skin, whether it is sensitive, mature or baby.

Serene Face & Body Soap is superfatted and gentle and perfect for all skin types. While I can't make claims about Serene, I can pass along a couple testimonials from our customers.

"I wanted to tell you how pleased I have been with the products I ordered from you last week! The Serene soap is so wonderful for my sensitive skin. It is so amazingly moisture-filled and has made my hands look years younger" - Louise, SC
"I am more than pleased with my Serene soap. I have been using it only for about four days. It makes my face feel so clean and soft. One of my co-workers even asked me if I was wearing new makeup. I told her it was the soap. If it makes me look better in just four days of use I can hardly wait until I have used it for a lengthy period of time. Thank you so much. I will never use store bought soaps or cleansers again" - Wanda, TN

Now, don't take my word for it, take the word of Louise and Wanda. I do have to agree with them though. Not because I am the manufacturer of Serene Face & Body Soap. It's because I am also a customer.

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a fabulous day!

Lisa M. Rodgers
Cactus & Ivy

Monday, May 17, 2010

Personal Care Truth | It's Finally Here!

Hey y'all

I hope this post finds you doing well. It's been a while since a post, my apologies. Today is a wonderful day for me. A few months ago I had a dream about all the misconceptions and half truths surrounding the cosmetic industry. I woke the next day with a feeling of urgency that something had to be done.

I contacted my uber cool surfing friend on the left coast, Kristin Fraser Cotte. Kristin is the CEO of The Grapeseed Company, located in California. I told Kristin about my dream, hoping she wouldn't hang the phone up mid sentence. Thankfully, Kristin listened, agreed and then we started working on a plan.

I'd like to introduce you to Personal Care Truth!

Personal Care Truth is not about scare tactics, generalizations, fear mongering, or hopping aboard what’s considered trendy at the moment.

Personal Care Truth is about education, facts, questions, research, sharing knowledge, and empowering consumers to make the choice that’s right for their families. We welcome your questions and submissions; let’s combine our resources and share scientific based information on personal care products with the world.

We believe it is more powerful to provide information to educate and empower YOU as opposed to scaring you with information that has not been backed by science.

You know how much I love feedback and I'd love to hear what you have to say. Leave your comments here or hop on over to Personal Care Truth and give us your thoughts.

If you're on Twitter, we can be found @prsnalcaretruth

Thanks for stopping by y'all. Hope you have a great day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

Hey Y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well and happy Earth Day! This is a re-post from last year with a few minor changes.

Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin to bring awareness, inspiration and gratitude for the Earth's environment. Reduce, Recycle and Reuse anything and everything possible. At Cactus & Ivy, we reuse packing peanuts and boxes that are received from our suppliers. If they are in good condition, we turn around and use them in shipments to our customers. Containers that store our raw materials are cleaned when emptied and reused whenever possible. We are also taking steps to securing biodegradable containers, where possible, and labels made from corn.

Here are some things you can do to make a difference:
  • Replace standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Recycle your glass, plastic and paper
  • Walk, instead of drive, whenever possible
  • Turn your lights off in your house when not needed
  • Unplug all non-essential appliances
  • Take recycle bags to grocery store and stop using paper or plastic
  • Plant a tree or two or ten
  • Use appliances with the Energy Star logo
  • Conserve water
  • Use WaterSense products for your home, yard and business
  • Keep your thermostat on 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter
The following are a few interesting facts on the Climate Change Fact Sheet, provided by Earth Day Network.
  • By 2030 the number of automobiles in the world will increase by 50%.
  • It took 125 years to consume the first trillion barrels of oil – the world will consume the next trillion in only 30 years, according to Chevron.
  • During the last one hundred years the global temperature has warmed between 0.7-1.5°C.
  • The current pace of sea-level rise is 50% faster then in the last century.
  • Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide (a green house gas linked to climate change) in the atmosphere has increased by 35%.
  • The Arctic ice pack has lost an area about twice the size of Texas since the mid-1970's.
  • Each gallon of gasoline burned creates 20 pounds of CO2.
  • As many as 15-37% of all wildlife species in some regions could be "committed to extinction" by 2050 years because of global climate change.
  • By planting a large tree that creates shade, one can reduce heating and cooling costs annually by up to 40%.
Please take a moment to visit Earth Day Network to learn more and what you can do to help protect our planet! To read more on the history of Earth Day, click here. And, if you would like to know what your ecological footprint is, go to the Earth Day Network Footprint Calculator.

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a fabulous day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day Giveaway

Hey y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well. Cactus & Ivy is participating again in Eco-Office Gals 2nd Annual Green My World Earth Day Giveaway.

One person will win the lot of fabulous products! For rules and more information, click the button above. This contest ends at 12 noon on April 22, 2010. Good luck!

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a great day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Skin Deep | Scratching Below The Surface

Hey y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well. Posts are few and far between while I am recovering from finger surgery. Therapy is intense and needless to say, when I'm not exercising my fingers, I don't really want to type. Praying for the strength to push through the pain!

Today I am sharing an article written by Dene Godfrey. You may remember Dene from the interview I posted last month on Preservatives in Personal Care Products. To read the article, please click the image below.

What are your thoughts on this article? As always, I love to receive your feedback - good, bad or indifferent so please leave them below.

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a great day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday | Did You Know?

Hey y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well. I'm slowing getting back into the swing of things after having hand surgery last week. Did you know that today is International Moment of Laughter Day? I could use a good laugh today!

{image courtesy of marvins dad}

Humorologist Izzy Gesell created this day to encourage people to laugh. As he states on his website, to celebrate this day, do one of the following:

  • laughing out loud at the funny cards in a greeting card shop
  • calling a friend to share a funny story
  • getting naked, looking in the mirror and laughing
  • buying a "laugh-box" in a joke shop and turning it on at work or at home
  • showing your baby pictures to someone who's never seen them
  • thinking up your own way to get someone else to laugh with you
  • or just laughing for no apparent reason at all

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a funny day! "Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life".

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday | Happy Easter

Cactus & Ivy is closed today in observance of Good Friday. Wishing you and your family a glorious Good Friday and a happy Easter!

Cactus & Ivy

{photo care of}

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools Day | Boiled Egg From the Kiwi Bird

{photo care of}

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mineral Makeup | An Interview With Katherine Corkill of Sterling Minerals

Hey Y'all!

I hope this post finds you having a fabulous day! Have you tried mineral makeup? Do you currently use mineral makeup? What are your thoughts about mineral makeup?

Today I have the pleasure of posting an email interview with Katherine Corkill, owner of
Sterling Minerals. Katherine is one smart cookie and a wealth of information. I'm very pleased to introduce you to her and her company, Sterling Minerals!

What is your background?
For over 25 years through extensive research I have incorporated holistic and homeopathic remedies into my family's lifestyle, including providing holistic health care for pets for 13 of those years. Other studies include chemistry, aesthetics and color theory and I have been the master formulator for our cosmetics for the past 4 years not including research and development of an additional 2 years.

How did you get started in the cosmetic industry?

Basically, I have dealt with skin issues off and on for many years and only recently due to the onset of peri-menopause have had dry and itchy skin frequently. I discovered the benefits of mineral makeup, however, many were consistent in ingredients that continued to cause problems for my skin. Bismuth Oxychloride and Mica based products caused irritation and ongoing itchiness and I knew there had to be a better way since overall I believed in the less is more philosophy to skincare. So I began my journey of trial and error in creating my own line of mineral makeup and other skincare products. Sterling Minerals Cosmetics was born!

What is minera
l makeup?
It is comprised of what I consider to be the main minerals of an excellent mineral powder: Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide and we only use untreated USP Grade in all of our mineral cosmetics. Minerals offer sun protection benefits as well. In ours we use a perfect balanced blend of the main minerals and combine them with kaolin clay and surface treated mica encapsulated in Methicone which prevents moisture loss to the skin, and then to create a cooling effect with Boron Nitride which reflects light and heat away from the face while also giving excellent performance to the different formulas we offer for different skin types. To enhance our mineral makeup, we then combine botanical ingredients with the minerals for an overall holistic benefit for keeping skin looking and feeling its best. Rice powder has been used for centuries in the Art of Ayurveda for healing skin ulcerations and bleeding pimples. And of course Jojoba and Allantoin for the benefits they offer for keeping skin healthy and healed. Women have raved about how they are able to wear our products when no others would work. I believe we have captured the perfect formulas for the best overall performance of water resistance, natural SPF and healing properties rolled neatly into a fantastic mineral makeup. Mineral Makeup can be more than just minerals with a caveat: those with preservatives and other chemicals are unnecessary and only expose the skin to other possible irritants. With ours we try to keep it as simple as possible only using those ingredients which truly show a benefit to the user.

Is mineral makeup better for your skin?

I believe it is, based on what I stated in the last question. To elaborate, it allows the skin to breathe, is cleaner application overall, and provides anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits. In cases with ours we have had many women suffering from acne, rosacea and psoriasis proclaim great results. Our natural SPF is perfect too. Although we cannot make a particular claim as to how much SPF without FDA testing, we have shown in our own field testing of us achieving with moderate coverage, up to SPF 25. Also we always advise women that darker colors will have less Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide so SPF will drop. And it is always subjective to how much is applied including with other brands that have received an SPF rating.

Is there a difference between natural and organic ingredients?

Well again this is subjective and often causes confusion to the consumer. There can be natural ingredients used in a skincare lines considered a botanical or mineral, and then there is organic which is typically certified as organically grown botanical. However nothing natural can be added to a cosmetic or skincare product without going through a chemical process to make them safe for cosmetic use. There are processes which are gentler than others minimizing the need for chemical extraction such as cold pressed oils and steam distilled. Organic is a botanical grown free of pesticides and is certified as such, and is overseen by the USDA and their
National Organic Program (NOP) Examples of being able to make a claim for organic are:

100% Organic
: The product contains only organically produced ingredients. It may bear the USDA Organic seal.

The product contains at least 95% organic ingredients. The USDA Organic seal may be used.

Made with Organic Ingredients:
Contains at least 70% organic ingredients. The product does not qualify to carry the USDA organic seal.

Are there ingredients for mineral makeup that aren't good for your skin?

Basically anything which can be occlusive. Silicone oils for example have been added to some other lines of minerals and these can block pores, and for some can be a potential skin irritant along with the use of parabens. Also commercially prepared blends are actually loaded with nothing but chemicals and possess a dash of titanium and/or zinc and call it mineral makeup....this is why it is essential for consumers to always read labels to know exactly what they are getting and not go by face value of a title on a box.

What are your thoughts on essential oils vs fragrance oils used in cosmetics?

Essential oils are by far the better choice for skincare products as they are the oil which is derived from the plant extract and provide holistic properties. Fragrance oils are artificially reproduced to capture a certain scent and are full of synthetics and typically don't offer any healing properties.

In your o
pinion, what do you think is the biggest misconception in regards to cosmetic ingredients?
That natural is always better than synthetic or otherwise described as chemical. Everything in nature is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Also those that wish to cast aspersions against the chemical (synthetic industry) due to our skin absorbing these supposedly harmful chemicals, the same can be said for natural chemicals. They too will absorb into our skin and some can have similar potential risk of complications as a synthetic chemical. What has not been determined or proven is whether or not anything through the skin will actually cross into the blood brain barrier. Believe me, there is more harm coming to our bodies through breathing our air, drinking our water and the food we eat. The use of cosmetics to date has not been shown to cause any disease, cancer or illness in any way, shape or form....just a lot of speculation and marketing ploys brought on by the those that wish to disparage the use of certain ingredients just to sell their own products. Also the consumer wishing to use primarily organic ingredients should pay close attention to what is known as "green washing". This is basically where a touch of organics are used and the rest are synthetic ingredients....only the manufacturer calls it organic on the label and its in violation of FDA regulations.

Educating consumers on cosmetic ingredients is important to me. What are your thoughts on how the consumer is being educated?

Unfortunately, the consumer is being fed a whole lot of recycled garbage brought about by the
Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Many compact signers (most of which are in non-compliance to some degree) use the CFSC entity to market their products and by doing so in essence, give an illusion that theirs are in some way better than the competitor who doesn't sign. This is not the case as we were once a signer until we requested they remove us after learning how they were hurting the industry as a whole with disinformation. Our products are exceptional, but I refused to use bad information to promote Sterling Minerals Cosmetics.

The EWG and CFSC currently use the
Skin Deep database for their profiles on ingredients and claim this is actual educational information and is accurate and up to date. This couldn't be farther from the truth or accurate in the least....most data is attributed to MSDS (material safety Data Sheets) and possess significant data gaps. To the trained eye like you and I and other chemists we can sift through the info, but to the average consumer who lacks the basic knowledge of how formulations are designed become fearful and paranoid based on scare mongering tactics by these two entities. Percentages in terms of ratios are not even addressed and are based on full strength contact of an individual ingredient. So instead of actually educating the consumer they are being fed "hazard" info instead of "risk", which there is none in regard to the consumer since their exposure is extremely diminished. The actual analysis is compared to those within a manufacturing facility or taking a full dose injection under the skin as they do to rats and claim "possibility" of illness. To my knowledge no one is eating their cosmetics or injecting them under the skin.....and again to date, there is no unequivocal proof that any of these claims are accurate. No one has ever died or gotten cancer from using cosmetics or skincare products.

Any closing statements you'd like to make?

I feel that it is our jobs to always educate and inform consumers of the facts in terms of all ingredients within the industry and show pros and cons with reliable information and promote our products based on merit rather than disparaging others with false claims. I am constantly debunking information put out by others in the cosmetic and skincare industry that go beyond rationale....I further believe there are many in our industry creating a disservice to the consumer by regurgitating speculative research with incomplete data and only continues to do more harm to their own businesses in the long for those that continue the undying research and only deal in facts and not scare tactics or use bogus claims to sell their products, we will eventually come out on top of those that wish to use this type of marketing ploy. Consumers crave the information, but they want accurate information, something I continue to strive toward. As long as I keep it safe, real and fun, my customers will continue to seek us out and use our products because of those 3 factors I employ in my business model. And bottom line..... truth and integrity will always rise above the fear's tough at times, but we can do it together as industry leaders bringing the best we can in safe cosmetics and skincare products to our loyal customers.

I'd like thank Katherine for taking the time to respond to my interview questions via email. What did you think about this interview? Is there a topic you would like to learn more about?

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a wonderful day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Got Questions About Personal Care Products?

Hey Y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well. Do you have questions of who, what, when, where, why and how of personal care products/cosmetics, ingredients, the industry and more?

{care of}

As I mentioned on Friday, I will have more informative and educating posts that also promote discussion. If you have a question you'd like to see covered here then please leave it below.

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a fabulous day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Friday, March 26, 2010

Preservatives in Personal Care Products | An Interview With Dene Godfrey

Hey Y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well. LinkedIn is a social networking site where I have been introduced to a wealth of great minds in many areas of expertise, including cosmetics and personal care products. Recent discussions in several groups I belong to prompted me to contact Dene Godfrey, who I interviewed via email for this post.
What is your background?
I have been involved with preservatives for cosmetics since 1981, from both technical and commercial angles. I have a degree in chemistry. I worked for one of the largest manufacturers of parabens from 1992 - 2002, and I currently work for a UK company involved in the distribution of ingredients for cosmetics, health care and food. I am responsible for developing and selling preservation systems.

What are preservatives and why are they needed?

Preservatives, in the cosmetics sense, are chemicals (and EVERYTHING is a chemical, whether natural or synthetic) that kill, or inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. Virtually all cosmetic products are able to support the growth of these bugs unless a preservative is added to prevent this. Bugs in your cosmetic can not only spoil the product (mold on the surface of your skin cream , for example) but they can be damaging to your health. One type of bacteria (called Pseudomonas aeruginosa) can cause permanent blindness if it gets in the eyes.

Is there such a thing as an "all natural" preservative? If yes, please elaborate. If not, why?

There IS such a thing as an all-natural preservative - nature is full of them. Most plants have some form of protection against microbial attack. The problem is that many of these systems are only stable when the plant is alive and flourishing. Once they are harvested, the chemical composition can change dramatically. Also, the components of the protective system in any one plant species can vary greatly and depend upon many different factors - the part of the plant being harvested; the time of year; the location of the plant (even plants of the same species situated a few miles apart can have very different compositions). This gives us a big problem for cosmetics, because the system would need to be the same every time and, if there is so much potential variation, this is just not possible. There are some preservatives that claim to be natural, but this claim can mean any one of many things as there is no absolute definition of "natural". Some people will accept a synthetic, and identical version of a naturally occurring chemical - this is sometimes referred to as "nature-identical". Some people accept a slight chemical modification to the chemical extracted from nature, known "nature-derived". There is no simple answer to this question!

What do you feel is the most common misconception in regards to preservatives?

The most common misconception about preservatives is that they are all dangerous! This is not the case. Whilst, as with any chemical, there are risks involved in their use, these risks are extremely low. Preservatives tend to be a special case because they are used to kill (microbial) cells. This mean that they have some potential to damage any living cell. For this reason, preservatives are very tightly regulated in the European Union, and there is a relatively short list of ones that are permitted for use in cosmetics. All these permitted preservatives have been very carefully evaluated for safety by a group of independent experts appointed by the EU Commission. These preservatives are also the ones most frequently used in the USA. Only a very tiny proportion of the population are unfortunate enough to develop any sort of skin reaction to preservatives.

Are parabens re
lated to breast cancer?
There is absolutely no evidence of any connection between parabens and breast cancer. I could give an extremely long and boring explanation in excessive detail as to why this is the case, but it is much easier just to state that none of the leading breast cancer research organizations accept any link - and you can check this out, as they all have statements about parabens on their web sites! And you are unlikely to accuse these organizations of bias!

Are there scientific data/facts to back up parabens are unsafe in cosmetics/personal care products?

As I said in an earlier answer, preservatives are assessed for safety in the EU by a very rigorous process. At the time of writing, these experts are completely convinced that methylparaben and ethylparaben are safe for use in cosmetics. These experts were a little concerned that there was not quite enough data to enable them to give the same unequivocal clean bill of health for propylparaben or butylparaben, and they asked that further work be carried out. This does NOT mean that they consider these two parabens to be unsafe - just that they need a little more information to make sure of this. These studies will soon be complete, and most people within the industry expect them to be judged as safe for continued use in cosmetics.

Absorption rates of cosmetics/personal care products vary based on a variety of factors. Are there studies that prove parabens are absorbed by the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis and then into the bloodstream?

There is no doubt that parabens can be absorbed through the skin, The main area of disagreement is about the quantity. The most recent study on butylparaben showed that only very small amounts actually were absorbed. You must bear`in mind that absorption through skin is not necessarily a bad thing - it all depends on what the chemical gets up to whilst it is inside the body! There are many studies that show parabens to be excreted in urine, which reduces the likelihood of them ending up hanging around in our tissues and being able to cause any ill effects.

A common statement found on the internet, "Parabens are oestrogenic" - What does this mean?

When something is described as being "oestrogenic", it means that it can bind to oestrogen receptors in the body in a similar manner to that of natural oestrogen. However, it is very important to understand that this ability to bind to these receptors does not mean that the chemical behaves in exactly the same way as natural oestrogens, ie it is not necessarily an oestrogen mimic. It is misleading to state that parabens are oestrogenic, because most studies (all bar one, as far I know) have failed to find any measurable oestrogenic activity for either methylparaben or ethylparaben, and the oestrogenic activity detected for butylparaben was actually 100,000 times weaker than the natural oestrogen used for comparison. It may also help to put this in context when you find out that this extremely weak effect was obtained by using a dose of butylparaben around 20,000 times higher than anyone could come into contact with by using cosmetics! When I say "weak", I mean "WEAK"!

What would you like to see happen to educate the consumer in regards to preservatives?

I don't have any desire specifically related to preservatives, because there are so many common statements and internet myths about many cosmetic ingredients in general that are anything between misleading and downright lies that I would like to see consumer being made aware of.

The major ones are:

"natural is safe" - this is not always true - snake venom, digitalis (foxglove), many species of mushrooms are just a few examples and natural is not automatically better than synthetic in any general sense.

"synthetic is dangerous" - again, not always true - we are in daily contact with hundreds of synthetic chemicals, most of which do us no harm at the levels to which we are exposed.

"your body is exposed to 515 chemicals every day" - whilst this may be true, it doesn't really mean anything. The implication is that this is bad but, in reality, numbers can't harm you - there is no difference in safety between 5 chemicals and 5 million chemicals. It all depends on exactly what those chemicals are. There may only be one harmful chemical present; there may be none. This is a very sneaky way to scare consumers with no scientific justification.

Any closing statements you'd like to make?

There is a lot of misinformation out there, especially on the internet. I can try to give a lot of advice on what to look out for, but there isn't the room here, so I will concentrate on a few things to look out for when visiting a cosmetics web site:

- If they use the term "toxic chemicals" more than 3 or 4 times, treat any information they give with great caution.

- If they imply that you can eat their products because they are so natural, please don't ever do this, as there is a strong possibility that they would make you ill.

- If they mention that their products have a low score on the Skin Deep database - This database is no guide to safety of ANY cosmetic, despite the claims to the contrary. Because they only take the hazard of the ingredients into consideration (with no assessment of the risk) the information is meaningless. I know that a lot of people believe in Skin Deep, but they are very clever at scaring people - that's how they get donations to keep them in business. It is a fact that it may be safer to be exposed to a low level of a product rated 10 on Skin Deep than to be exposed to high levels of a product rated 0! That is why risk has to be assessed in order to gauge the safety of a product.

I want to thank Dene for his time and sharing his knowledge on preservatives in cosmetics. What did you think about this interview? You know how much I love feedback. Dene noted he is happy to engage in any questions, feedback or comments, if you wish.

I'm a firm believer in complete transparency and it is more important to educate you, the savvy consumer, on ingredients as opposed to providing information that is not fact based. Y'all are smart cookies. It is my responsibility to make sure I am giving straight and honest as opposed to false and misleading information about the ingredients I incorporate into Cactus & Ivy products.
Isn't that what it's all about?

Thanks for stopping by y'all and I hope you have a fabulous day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nutrient Rich Pecan Oil in Bath & Body Products

Hey Y'all!

I hope this post finds you doing well. Yesterday's post highlighted that it was Chocolate Covered Raisin Day. Who doesn't love chocolate? It's not only delicious but is a wonderful ingredient to include in bath and body products, which brings me to today.

I grew up eating pecans on and in a variety of dishes cooked up by my southern Mom. To live in the south and not eat pecans is like not putting gravy on your biscuits. 'Pee-can' or 'peh-kahn', it's not just for pie anymore!

Pecan oil {Algooquian Pacaan (Pecan) Nut Oil} is extracted from the pecan nut, is rich in nutrients and oleic acid. It is a great oil to include in bath and body products, especially massage oils because it is light, highly moisturizing and perfect for dry or mature skin. Cactus & Ivy will be incorporating the fabulous ingredient of pecan oil in upcoming formulations.

Looking for an alternative to butter, corn oil or olive oil for cooking? Pecan oil has less saturated fat at 9.5% compared to olive oil with 13.5%, corn oil with 13.7% and butter with an astounding 66% of saturated fat! It's light and does not leave a nutty taste to your food.

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a great day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday | Did You Know?

Did you know that today is National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day? I had no clue but now I know why I woke up loving this day. The creator of National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day can't be located on the internet. Who cares? It's chocolate people!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What is INCI?

Hey Y'all!!

I hope this post finds you doing well. Spring is in the air and it's also part of a song that is now stuck in my head. Unfortunately, I am suffering from 'lyricosis' and all I can do is hum it.

What is INCI? It sounds like it could be a new show that is part of NCIS, CSI or a new Law & Order. No, it is none of those. It stands for the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. INCI is a system of names for ingredients based on the scientific names and other English and Latin words and it is how ingredients are listed on labels as required by the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FD&C) and Cosmetics Regulations.

Some examples of INCI found in Cactus & Ivy spa, bath and body products are below. To see a full list of ingredients found in Cactus & Ivy products, visit our ingredients page.

Avocado Oil - INCI: Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil
Cranberry Seed Oil - INCI: Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil
Pink Grapefruit Oil - INCI: Citrus Paradisi (Pink Grapefruit) Oil

Shea Butter - INCI: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit

Need help finding out what a particular ingredient is? Visit
Cosmetics Info for more information.

Thanks for stopping by y'all and I hope you have a fabulous day!

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Fever | It's Compost, Not Dirt!

Hey Y'all!!

I hope this post finds you doing well. Spring time is approaching and I felt it would be right on time to post "It's Compost, Not Dirt" from April, 2009 again. Here ya go.......

I was complaining a few days ago about all the rain we've had and now I want it back! It's the pollen that's gonna do me in now! Ugh!!!

I was trying to figure out what to write and then it hit me! I consider my dad to be an expert on a plethora of subjects but especially in the ways of compost. I just love the word plethora and how it rolls off the tongue!

Any who, when he's not in the yard, he's in the yard. Unfortunately, I did not inherit his green thumb but I did inherit his work ethic. Since he is so good at churning out what I call dirt or black gold, (he's quick to remind me, "It's compost, not dirt"), I thought it would be a neat post! The following is how to start and maintain a compost pile from the resident "compost" maker in the dad! The picture below is of a new pile.

Choose an area where nothing is growing and is out the way. Place a square of black plastic on the ground and begin by placing ground up leaves and grass clippings. Add kitchen scraps from all fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds and tea bags to the mix.

Choose a sunny location so the sun can help break down the pile. Adding cheap regular beer and cheap cola help the process along due to the yeast and sugar in the products. Grass clipping have a natural nitrogen content so adding fertilizer to the pile is not necessary.

Turn the pile with a pitchfork without puncturing the black plastic on the ground. If you puncture the black plastic, the "tea" formed in the break-down process will leak out the bottom and encourage invasive roots to sneak in for the great meal. Turning the pile allows oxygen to reach all parts of the pile to facilitate the breakdown process. It is also important not to let the pile dry out so you must spray it with water to keep it moist.

Normal decomposition occurs within six weeks, however, the larger the pile the longer it will take as you continue to add to the pile. Generally, it is better to work on a compost pile this year for next years planting, giving the pile sufficient time to cook and destroy unwanted seeds from growing.

A normal indication the pile is finished cooking is when you no longer feel the heat from the pile when working the pile. Covering the pile with black plastic will intensify the cooking process because of heat retention. Some folks add "dirt" from the local outdoors place to weigh the pile down. It is not necessary. Everyone develops their own style once they see the benefits of composting.

So, there ya have it. I've got 3 piles that need major work and I'm hoping my dad will put his magic touch on them the next time he visits. I know what you're thinking but my dad isn't a 'sit still' kind of person. He'd rather be turning a pile, whether at my house or his! Woo-hoo for me!!

Last year while turning one of my piles, I uncovered something that scared me to first. I had worms that were approximately 1/2" in diameter and 7" long. The first time I laid eyes on them I thought they were baby snakes. I dropped my pitchfork, did my best 'snake holler' and ran from the pile. Luckily my dad was standing there and informed me they were not baby snakes, just really big worms...whew! Worms are great for compost piles!!

Thanks for stopping by y'all and have a fantabulous day! "He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love."

Creator Extraordinaire
Cactus & Ivy