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Alba Botanica Skincare, Body, & Bath

When it comes to cosmetics and skin care products, trying out new things can be a sensitive subject. Literally. I cannot tell you how many terrific products I discovered when I was making the conscious switch to cruelty-free that went the wayside (translation: I gave them to my mother) because my sensitive skin decided to rebel like the skin of an adolescent. So, although I try new products from time to time, I’m hesitant to rock the boat, and I have to try things out one at a time. Mostly, at this point,I stick with what I’ve found works. Admittedly, many of the products are not what one might call thrifty. However, I really like the products I’ve used by Alba Botanica, and I continue to try new products by this line from time to time. It’s easy enough to do because the products are not expensive and they’re available at the local stores, like Walgreens. Some of my faves by Alba Botanica: Pineapple Enzyme Facial Wash Coconut Milk Facial Wash Deep Sea Facial Mask Natural Acne-dote, Deep Pore Wash Papaya Mango Body Cream Aloe Mint Foam Shave All the above products range in price from $6.95 to $12.95. Alba does not test their products on animals or ingredients on animals… and they don’t have any other companies doing it for them (always a sneaky maneuver to watch out for, especially in cosmetics and household products). Alba Botanica also makes hair care, sun care, body care, and lip care...

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Santa Barbara favorites, old and new

Sometimes I feel like I live a charmed life because I get to spend time in such charming places. Santa Barbara is one of those places. My first visit was back in 2005 and, since then, it’s become something of a second yoga home for me: Santa Barbara Yoga Center offers advanced studies and yoga teacher training, and it’s where I’ve chosen to do some of my specialized trainings — Prenatal Yoga, Kids Yoga, Yin Yoga and, this weekend, a meditation training. Each time I visit, I can count on a weekend of rejuvenation, whether I’m puddle-jumping like this past Friday night or walking along State Street in the sunshine (Sunday morning). When I’m not in the yoga room, I love exploring the shops and restaurants and, of course, taking some time to walk along the beach and smell the salt in the air. I have quite a few little favorite spots in this town, and I’m always finding someplace new when I visit to add to my list of favorites. Here’s a few to check out if you’re lucky enough to visit SB yourself anytime soon! Spiritland Bistro Of all the fantastic restaurants, this is the one I make sure I visit at least once anytime I’m in town. The intimate atmosphere, which always features works by local artists, is the perfect setting for a wonderful, all-organic meal. The very first time I visited in 2005, I was curious to try my first “raw” dish ever: I went with the Raw Spinach Mushroom Lasagna, and it was a marvelous gastronomical awakening! Rather than layers of pasta noodles, the lasagna is comprised of delicate slices of  zucchini, layered with mushrooms, red peppers, spinach, and a raw nut ricotta. I revisited the lasagna during this trip, along with the soup of the day, which was Potato-Leek with Wild Mushroom. Insanely delicious!  Slivers of mushroom added the perfect touch of texture and flavor to this soup, which was just what I needed to warm me up on such a rainy my-socks-are-wet night. For a second dinner (!) at Spiritland during my visit, I started with the Carribean Curried Sweet Potato Soup and then opted for an entree salad of mixed greens with diced roasted beets, butternut squash, and bits of vegan mozzarella. So good! Finally, a word about the service here, which is always amazing. Jord and Nitsa both were like instant old friends… and Nitsa saved the day when she double-checked for me about the ingredients in the vinaigrette that would usually come with the salad I ordered. Allergy crisis averted — thanks, Nitsa! Reflexology at The Health Gallery It was in Santa Barbara...

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John Masters Organics
Nov08

John Masters Organics

Leave it to a friend with the enviable long, thick spirals to tip you off to some awesome hair care!  I instantly became a devotee of John Masters Organics.  Over time, I’ve branched out from the hair care products to discover some other JMO personal faves. Citrus & Neroli Detangler I have very fine hair, which means tons of tangles when I’m wearing it longer. This is an effective leave-in conditioner that doesn’t weigh my hair down. I use it religiously. In fact, I even kept a bottle of it at my parent’s house all summer season, so I’d have it for my showers after pool-time. Vitamin C Anti-Aging Face Serum I’ve been told by more than one facialist/aesthetician that Vitamin C works wonders for the skin.  This serum also provides some much-needed moisture to my how-did-we-wind-up-in-the-desert? skin. Fighting the aging effect of UV rays — something we all need to think about, no matter where we live. Blood Orange & Vanilla Body Milk Blood oranges remind me of Italy, so this was bound to be a favorite. I also like body milk because it tends to be soothing, particularly when I’m stressed and my skin is as noticeably stressed out as I am. A combination of safflower oil and sea algae makes this great for hydrating and softening the skin, too. Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Dog Poo If you live in a place with lots of insects pestering your pup, this shampoo is a good product to know about.  The eucalyptus, along with citronella oil, is a great bug-repellent. However, the shampoo still has the luxury of a John Masters Organics product, which makes it perfect for a pampered pooch. Bonus: $1 from each sale goes to Animal Haven, a no-kill sanctuary in NYC.  Not only is Animal Haven doing great things for homeless animals, but it also has as its Director of Community Involvement an alumna of my own high school.  I love it whenever I hear about a fellow “Angel” being an angel for the animals! Speaking of NYC… If you’re a New Yorker or just visiting, check out the John Masters Organics salon in SoHo.  The hair color is herbal-based, gentle on the hair.  And you won’t have to worry about getting practically knocked over by the noxious fumes of perms, bleaches, or relaxers: the salon is chemical-free, and — get this — 100% powered by wind energy.  Talk about a cutting-edge hair...

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Favorite Recent Finds

Every so often, I like to update you all with some recent finds. Here’s the latest scoop: Fashion: “Elite” Rain Boots by Earth Yes, I live in the desert, but even we have the monsoon season!  I love all my vegan shoes, and the last thing I want is to have them ruined in the rain.  Also, given the chance, I happen to like dancing — and singin’ — in the rain; I insist on looking fashionable while I do it, however.  My new Elite rain boots (which I found at Mooshoes) are practical, stylish, and comfortable. Food:  Candle Cafe Cookbook Specifically, the Asian-Baked Tofu recipe.  A block of tofu doesn’t look like anything too special, but I’m telling you a mouthful of this recipe is an explosion of flavor!  It took me a while to start using this cookbook because the recipes tend to have more ingredients than those in my other books.  In reality, the recipes are nothing too complex or time-consuming.  I’ve already tried several recipes… all fantastic!  I love the NYC restaurant Candle 79, and I love this cookbook.  A little piece of home for me here in Tucson, every time I cook something up! Household: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Powder I have used Trader Joe’s Dishwasher Powder for a long time; but there are weeks when visits to multiple stores is just not as do-able, so this is a great option for when I do the week’s shopping all at The Whole Foods Market. Personal Care & Cosmetics: Alba Botanica Natural Acne-dote So happy I found this simple, effective, and inexpensive deep pore wash.  As someone who knows me so well once remarked to me, I wear my stress on my face.  So my complexion needs a little extra help, especially in hectic times.  This is the cruelty-free alternative I’ve been looking for, for a long time.  Amen! Companion Animals: Dr. Harvey’s Barkotti I love my dogs.  I love anything Italian.  Need I say more? Miscellaneous: Rational Animal A non-profit in New York that uses media and special events to increase public awareness about NYC’s at-risk animals.  Bringing artists and musicians together to help the animals… right up my alley! Reminder: ELECTION DAY! Please be sure to vote tomorrow and support candidates who are friends to animals! Arizona: NO on Prop 109 to protect wildlife Missouri: YES on Prop B to stop puppy...

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Hand Sanitizers

I’m the girl who will lean on the subway pole or try to stand and balance without gripping onto anything: this is my approach to minimizing the germ contact issue.  But there are still other problems that arise in our simple-touch technology world, even when a subway ride isn’t part of the daily grind: ATMS, shopping carts, self-serve gas stations, self check-outs.  And then there’s school or the office — computer keyboards and screens everywhere, telephones, fax machines.  It’s enough to make someone a little loopy if she starts to obsess.  However, it certainly makes sense that more and more people are considering a small bottle of hand-sanitizer an essential to carry with them throughout the day… and pack in their kids’ schoolbags.  Here are cruelty-free alternatives: EO Hand Sanitizers I feel in love with EO products ages ago, and the organic lavender hand sanitizer is like being able to take one of my favorite bubble baths along with me in my handbag!  The gel comes in a 2-ounce size, and in larger 8-ounce and 32-ounce sizes.  Personally, I’m a fan of the travel-size sanitizing spray.  Another EO sanitizer option that’s worth checking out: the bamboo hand cleansing wipes.  I think these are great to keep in the car glove box; and moms with little kids will probably find these wipes pretty handy to have around for play-dates and field trips. Clean Well Essential oils formula that gets rid of 99.99% of bacteria, including the “nasties” — E. Coli and salmonella. This kind of clean, without toxic chemicals such as triclosan, and without alcohol.  This, without being hazardous to kids.  This, while still having an active ingredient that’s biodegradable. And there’s no animal testing.  LOVE it when eco-friendly meets certified cruelty-free!  My husband Seth, a guy who spends most of his day working on computers, keeps the Clean Well travel-size hand sanitizer near at all times.  Clean Well also makes all-natural wipes.  Although we buy ours at Whole Foods (along with our EO stash), Clean Well products are available at many stores including Target, or you can buy online at drugstore.com Bonus Tip! I just picked up a few packets of cleansing towlettes by Desert Essence.  Ingredients include tea tree oil, organic lavender, wild-crafted rosewood, and lemongrass.  Totally an impulse buy at Whole Foods, but a good one: I’ll be keeping them in my carry-on when I fly to Portland, Oregon this...

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Deodorants

Not long after I’d made the sweeping cruelty-free change-outs in our home, my husband Seth announced to me that he was taking a trip to the local drugstore to get a new deodorant.  The cruelty-free one I’d picked out wasn’t working too well for him.  Admittedly, it wasn’t working too well for me either.  OK, I said, let’s take a ride to the store together.  So there we were, standing in the personal hygiene aisle, faced with towering shelves of deodorants to choose from.  He picked up one and looked at the label… made by a company that tests on animals.  No good.  He picked up another… made by the same company.  He put that one back and picked up another.  Different company… but also tests on animals.  You’ve got to be kidding me, he said.  I think that’s when it hit him that sometimes finding cruelty-free alternatives can be tricky business: unfortunately, many of the everyday personal products — deodorants among them — are made by the same handful of mega-corporations, and they all still test on animals.  Ah-ha!  Mitchum is owned by Revlon.  Revlon doesn’t test on animals.  And Mitchum works well; I used their roll-on for a long time, back when I was spending many hours each week in the dance studio, where a good deodorant is a must. These days, I’ve found that I really like Trader Joe’s Unscented Deodorant with Cotton — it’s aluminum-free and paraben-free.  And, like most TJ’s products, it’s inexpensive.  For a while, it was looking like the product had been discontinued; but it’s back on the shelf now, and I’m happy.  However, during the time it went AWOL,  I tried some other products that I would recommend.  Some are available at the local Walgreens, but Whole Foods and Sunflower markets also are good places to purchase personal products such as these. Alba Deodorant Sticks These come in Unscented (my preference), Lavender, and Tea Tree.  Essential oils and baking soda make a good combination; also contains certified organic aloe vera, which is nice for those of us with sensitive skin. Crystal Body Deodorant Uses natural mineral salts; unscented, hypoallergenic, aluminum-free, and paraben-free.  Best of all, no residue — perfect for when you’re wearing that little black dress! Aubrey’s Organics, Calendula Blossom Natural Spray Among its ingredients, cedarwood oil and rose oil.  Certified by Leaping Bunny, vegan. There’s a men’s version of this deodorant by AO that uses pine oil.  And if you prefer roll-on, AO has the “E Plus High C” deodorant just for you! Nature’s Gate Deodorants Whether the roll-on or the stick, Nature’s Gate offers natural deodorants comprised of herbs, botanicals, and a witch...

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