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Filtering by Tag: beauty

Theo Colborn Lives On

Jessica Assaf

Just recently, I found out that Theo Colborn died. Theo is one of the most inspiring female scientists ever. I saw a list of her best quotes posted on Facebook, and then I saw the sad words beside them, announcing her death. Theo was so loud and alive in as a health activist, even at the end of her life when she was 87 years old. 

Theo was and still is the leader of our fight against industrial chemicals, specifically endocrine disruptors. According to  "A Brief Biography," written by Elizabeth Grossman, this is Theo's story: 

1927- Theodora Emily Decker Colborn is born.

1947- Theo earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Rutger's University and began her professional career as a lab technician and pharmacist. . 

1964- Theo and her husband sold their New Jersey pharmacies and moved to a small farm western Colorado. 

1970's- Theo began learning more about the science behind the area's environmental issues. 

Late 1970's- Theo and her husband separated and all she wanted to do was go back to school to study science. She started doing field work at the Rocky Mountain Biological Station, sampling water and insects for toxic elements released by mining activity.

1981- Theo completed her Master's degree in Science at Western State College, specializing in freshwater ecology. She was then accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison based on her impressive research examining the effects of cadmium and molybdenum on freshwater aquatic insects. 

1985- Theo was awarded a Ph.D. in zoology with distributed minors in epidemiology, toxicology and water chemistry at the age of 58.

She began her work with the White House's Office of Technology Assistance as a Congressional Fellow and then as an analyst, focusing on various air pollution studies.
She then worked with World Wildlife and The Conservation Foundation researching Great Lakes contaminants and wrote a paper discussing the persistent and bio-accumulative industrial substances that had entered the Great Lakes. These chemicals were later referred to as "endocrine distruptors." Theo and her team also fought for resources to support the research of chemicals found human blood, breast milk and fat tissue linked to "changes in body functions, such as the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems." 

1990's- Theo was invited to become a Senior Fellow at the W. Alton Jones Foundation, where she began thinking about bringing together scientists from different disciplines to discuss the prevalence of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the environment. She was the first one to explicitly and publicly connect chemical pollution to hormone disruption and environmental distress. She collaborated with man scientists to write a paper that described how industrial substances entered the Great Lakes and accumulated in sediment, making their way up the food chain and ultimately ending up in our bodies. 

Theo's explanation of her work: 
"That little grid changed the world."

Theo's research concluded that our exposures to industrial compounds begin in utero, with maternal exposure to one or more toxicants and transfer of those toxicants to the egg or fetus. 

“We knew enough then to do something,”
said Colborn in December 2013. 

This work inspired the 1996 book, "Our Stolen Future." 

The book, co-authored with Myers and Dianne Dumanoski, describes the science behind endocrine disruption and the regulatory barriers inhibiting safety testing and adequate legislation protecting our health. 

Our Stolen Future includes a foreword by Vice President Al Gore and its impact can be measured in the 1996 launch of the EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program and the Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee. 

In 2003, at age 76, Theo founded The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), a non-profit research organization devoted to “prevention driven” endocrine disruptor research. Soon after, Theo focused on the environmental health effects of the chemicals used in natural gas extraction, particularly through hydraulic fracturing. 

One of my favorite Theo stories comes from my fracking hero/friend, Josh Fox, the man behind Gasland the movie, and the national movement that followed. Josh was visiting Theo recently, to discuss the endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and he arrived at her house with his female colleague. As soon as Theo greeted them, she smelled the woman's hair and immediately asked what shampoo she had used. The woman replied that she had unfortunately used a popular commercial shampoo that is not natural because it was the only product available, and when Theo heard the brand, she actually refused to let the woman into her house. Theo was that serious about her work. 

“One of my biggest concerns is the next generation of science,”
says Colborn, in December 2013. 

At the age of 87, Theo was still actively trying to get the public to care about this issue so policymakers could properly respond. "I am thoroughly convinced this is all real," said Colborn. "The science is there. We don't need more science. We need working a different a different sphere entirely."

"My concern is that we've let this go on for so long that we're now into the fourth generation of those exposed to the post-World War II plethora of synthetic chemicals." 

Theo died at the age of 87, after relying on an oxygen tank for a long time. She blamed cadmium exposure during research for her lung condition. Until the very end of her life, Theo continued to work and discuss her dreams of starting a research institute for "inner space," the study of what goes on inside the human body. 

I am most moved by Theo's deep and infinite commitment to “find better, safer, more clever ways to meet basic human needs and, where possible, human desires," a necessity to preserving all life.

The book concludes, "We owe that much, and more, to our children."

Theo may be physically gone now, but she is certainly alive in the work we are all doing to fight and win against harmful and unnecessary exposures from our products and processes. 



Holiday Gift Guide: Jess' Picks

Jessica Assaf

I figured that since Alexis shared her top 5 holiday gift suggestions, I should, too! And just like hers, all of my ideas are under $70. Everyone deserves the gift of #truthbeauty! Xoxo Jess 


My darling friend, Elana Bowsher, founder of The Right Way, makes beautiful handmade ceramics for the home, and she also happens to work at S.W. Basics. Elana teamed up with the amazing company to create hand-poured ceramic mason jar replica candles with organic beeswax and olive oil. These limited edition candles make perfect gifts, especially because you can use the ceramic jar as a vase or drinking glass after the candle burns! #obsessed 


As I am writing this post, I am enjoying a mist of organic tea tree, eucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils from my favorite belonging, my Muji Aroma Diffuser. This gadget will literally change your life. All you do is add some water and a few drops of essential oils (I bought mine at Whole Foods,) and your day will instantly be better. Buy this (for yourself!) 


Let's be real...who doesn't love a little holiday glitter? Jane Iredale knows what every girl needs, so she has created the best (and safest!) gold and silver eye shadow sticks for our holiday glam. Thanks, Jane! 


S.W. Basics has teamed up with chocolate masters, the Mast Brothers, to create the perfect holiday gift box that includes a handcrafted chocolate bar (Mast Brothers Brooklyn Blend, #duh,) the Mast Brothers chocolate syrup recipe, the famous S.W. Basics organic lip balm flight (including all 4 scents!) beauty butter (ingredients + instructions,) and two silver tins for your beauty butter!) For only $30, this kit is SO worth it. 


I had the honor of meeting Ashley Prange, the founder of Au Naturale, at SXSW Eco, and I have been hooked on her products since. Ashley has formulated sexy, glamorous, professional grade cosmetics with the safest and best ingredients possible. This organic lip palette has all the colors any girl could ever dream of for the holiday season, and they are made with the cleanest ingredients ever. They are so good that they are worth listing: 

Ingredients: Organic Castor Oil, Organic Theobrama Caco (Coca) Seed Butter, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Wildcrafted Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Organic Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Oil; Hydorgenated Castor Oil, Organic Persea Gratissima (Avacado) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avacado) Butter, Organic Macadamia (Macadamia) Nut Oil, Iron Oxides, Mica, Kaolin

I hope you love these options as much as I do! They are definitely on my holiday wish list, too :) 

DIY Perfume

Jessica Assaf

Do you know what totally stinks? The fact that we have no idea what is in our perfume. "Fragrance" is a proprietary blend of any 5,000 secret synthetic substances that are used in heavy rotation without safety testing or labeling requirements. What we do know is this chemical cocktail almost always contains hormone disruptors, allergens, and petrochemicals. 

The only way we can avoid the potential health hazards of "fragrance" is to only buy from companies that scent their products with organic essential oils.

Or we can make our own! #TRUTHBEAUTY fact. 



  • 1/4 cup vodka (the higher the percentage the better) 
  • Approximately 25 drops organic essential oils 
  • 2 tablespoons distilled water


You can use 25 drops of a single organic essential oil for a simple scent, or you can combine base, middle, and top notes to create a perfume with more depth. Essential oils like lavender, chamomile, bergamot, jasmine, geranium, ylang ylang, and rose promote relaxation, and citrus scents like sweet orange, lemon, and grapefruit are calming and invigorating. 

For a balanced scent, use about 6 drops (20%) of a top note, 8 drops (30%) of a middle note, and 11 drops (50%) of a base note. 

Top notes: the initial scent when you apply the perfume 
Examples: eucalyptus, lemon, orange, grapefruit, bergamot, peppermint, cinnamon, tea tree, sage

Middle notes: adds a balancing effect 
Examples: basil, rosemary, rose, geranium, lavender, pine, chamomile, cypress, juniper, cardamom

Base note: "heavy" oils that are present for a long time
Cedarwood, sandalwood, clove, jasmine, vanilla, ylang ylang 


Combine the vodka and distilled water in your choice of bottle, sprayer, or glass roll-on. Add your choice of essential oils slowly, starting with a few drops of your desired blend. Continue adding oils until you are happy with your creation. Shake or mix to blend! 

You can also combine organic essential oils with a neutral oil (like grape seed, sesame, avocado, or olive oil) to create an amazing massage oil. 

P.S. You can learn more about the dangers of fragrance from the Environmental Working Group's "Not So Sexy" report here

Grimes Shares Her Natural Beauty Secrets

Alexis Krauss

For today's DIY Friday we're thrilled to feature our friend and fellow natural beauty advocate, Grimes

Like many of us Grimes knows that some of the most extraordinary beauty products can be made simply at home using ordinary ingredients. In addition to being safe and effective these ingredients are all affordable and readily available at your local market or health food store. For those of you looking for a more dramatic look, Grimes shares her newest stage makeup obsession. Enjoy! Xoxo Alexis

Grimes loves coconut oil too!!
Grimes loves coconut oil too!!

Chemical-Free Things  

by Grimes


Sugar works pretty much as well as any store bought exfoliator I've ever used and you can get it for free at any coffee place basically, (although you should probably buy a coffee if it isn't a big chain, or just buy your own sugar).  Wet your face, put a bit of sugar on your hands and gently rub all over your face.  I guess a concern is that it can be a bit harsh if you have sensitive skin.  If that's an issue I've always been down with the Burt's Bees exfoliants, because they are free of plastic microbeads and toxic chemicals.

Coconut Oil:  

Coconut oil is good in food and as a moisturizer on skin, hair etc. so it's definitely a $$ saver.  It doesn't screw my skin up when I use it as an overnight mask on my face.  It tastes really good if you use it for lip gloss as well, although it dissipates quickly or maybe you just end up eating it haha.

Almond Oil:

As a hair mask almond oil is probably better though.  I discovered this because my Step-dad's Mom used it back in India in the 50's.  But yeah, when I bleach my hair (definitely not a chemical free process haha…) I just lather it in almond oil and it really helps.  It's also delicious in food but it's a lot pricier than coconut oil and usually comes in a smaller bottle, but if you only use it as a hair mask it will last for a long time.

Apple Cider Vinegar:

Maybe this is not dermatologist recommended haha, but putting a bit on a cloth and dabbing on your face works pretty nicely as a facial peel.  But again - I do not have sensitive skin so this might screw up some people.

Vanilla Extract: 

I looove perfume.  I find the process of making it to be incredibly fascinating and romantic and kind of goth.  Plus it seems like a pretty healthy alternative to deodorant in general.  But yeah, when I was living outside I really liked using vanilla extract.  In addition to being cheap, it has multiple purposes and smells amazing.  Lavender and ginger extracts are also really nice as 'perfumes'.

Stage Makeup:  

I'm in the process of discovering chemical free brands lately as well because it's a bit more reliable than just using cooking supplies haha.  A makeup artist just got me into this company called Elegant Minerals.  It's definitely for 'crazier' looks or costumes - I usually wear white and dilute it with water for a mild vampire look.  Sometimes I mix it with moisturizer and use it very lightly as regular day makeup but that's because I'm unhealthily pale.   The colours are really good for eyeshadow etc. but can smudge easily.  It's still infinitely better than any traditional face paints I've ever found though in terms of not being flaky.