Spring Clean Your Skin Care Routine April 23, 2017 15:29

With the arrival of warmer temperatures, the instinct to air out and clean out our homes kicks in.  Don't forget it's the perfect time to spring clean your medicine cabinet and freshen up your skin care routine.

It's a no-brainer to toss expired medicines and cosmetics that are past their prime.  Have you looked at what's in your skin care products, though?  Anything that contains the following ingredients or something you can't pronounce shouldn't be anywhere near your skin:

  • 1,4 dioxane: a carcinogen linked to organ toxicity, it won't be listed on a label as an individual ingredient.  Instead, it's a contaminant created when common ingredients react to form the compound when mixed together.  Look for these compounds on the label: Sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds, chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth and oleth
  • Ethanolamine Compounds (MEA, DEA, TEA And Others): Found in soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners and dyes, lotions, shaving creams, paraffin and waxes, household cleaning products, pharmaceutical ointments, eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, blush, make-up bases, foundations, fragrances, sunscreens.  They will often be labeled as: Triethanolamine, diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate
  • Fragrance: Fragrances are one of the most common sneaky culprits that contain dangerous chemicals in personal care products.  They are not regulated by the FDA and companies do not have to disclose which chemical compounds they use.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI): What a mouthful! An increasingly used chemical preservative, methylisothiazolinone is a skin sensitizer and allergen.  In 2013, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named it the 2013 Contact Allergen of the Year.  This preservative is so popular that even supposedly “green” companies like Seventh Generation and Method use it in their products.
  • Vitamin A: Called retinyl palmitate in an ingredient list, studies have shown that Vitamin A may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin that is exposed to sunlight. Interestingly, it is commonly added to skin care products for its supposed anti-aging properties.

Not sure how toxic your non-Em & El products are?  Check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database or the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

5 Tips for Winter Skin Care November 14, 2016 11:34 5 Comments

As the seasons change, you might find your skin is having trouble adapting.  Here are our favorite tips for making the best of it:

  • Change Your Moisturizer Routine: Are you waking up feeling like a prune?  Colder weather means drier air and you might need to up the ante on your face moisturizer routine.  Using a serum?  Switch to using it twice a day or to a salve at night.  Using a salve?  Try using it in the morning and at night.

  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! In addition to drier skin, winter also brings along nasty viruses and the flu.  While we understand the urge to head straight for the coffee, trying reaching for a glass of water first thing each morning instead to help re-hydrate your skin and flush toxins from your body.  Water too boring?  Add a bit of lemon juice.

  • Get to Know Body Oil: Adding a body oil to your post-shower regimen can lock in moisture all day and banish crocodile skin.  As tempting as it is to stand in a hot shower (guilty as charged here!), try to keep water more tepid to avoid stripping your skin of its vital natural oils.

  • Don't Forget Your Hair! Cold,dry air is tough on your tresses.  Protect longer strands by tucking them under a cap as the weather changes.  Use a hair treatment to repair damaged strands.

  • Honey: When your skin is going beserk and nothing seems to be working, turn to our favorite standby: a raw honey mask.  Naturally antibatcterial, raw honey is anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and soothing for your skin.  Smear on a tablespoon or so and let sit at least 20 minutes.  Wash off with a wet washcloth.

Why Do We Seek the Outdoors? August 21, 2016 19:54 2 Comments

While sitting on a sailboat deck the other night, a cold beer in hand as I watched the nearly-full moon rise higher and higher in the sky, I felt completely peaceful.  The sound of water lapping against the boat hull was like a soothing lullaby for a busy day's end.  No wifi, no computer, no Netflix or music playing--just me, my beer and the night sky.

That peacefulness got me thinking about our drive to head outdoors, to seek solitude from the chaos of our modern world.  First world problems indeed: too much connectivity with too little real meaning; too many texts, tweets and likes with too few physical hugs and belly-aching laughs shared together.

People often ask me why I sail.  It restores my soul and grounds me into a long history human beings exploring the world.  Sailing gear and sailboats may have changed greatly over time, but the basic principles of physics draws a continually connecting line through all sailors.  The feeling of the wind is like none other, and a moon rising over the horizon?  Well, that's simply priceless.

We want to know--why do you head outdoors?  Is it for solitude?  The chance to feel small in the face of nature's immense beauty and power?  Or something entirely different?  Tell us in the comments below!

It's Our 4-Year Anniversary! August 08, 2016 10:54 2 Comments

We're celebrating four years of this incredible journey for the month of August.  Here's are some of our favorite highlights along the way:

Emily & Eleanor: The best of buds from the very beginning!

Eleanor as a puppy with a defiant look | Em & El Organics                  Eleanor and Emily on vacation | Em & El Organics

Puppy Eleanor in 1995--isn't she cute?!       Emily & Eleanor on vacation in 2004


Emily's First Fair | Em & El Organics

Emily heads to her first fair in November 2012

Emily goes to a fair in Nyack, NY | Em & El Organics

Emily at a street fair in Nyack, NY, Summer of 2014

Emily even braved the freezing temperatures over the years at outdoor fairs | Em & El Organics

Sometimes, we even had to brave freezing temperatures for outdoor fairs! (2015)

A new phase of our journey begins with Em & El Organics | Em & El Organics

January 1, 2016: With great pride and joy, we introduced Em & El Organics!

Emily begins to introduce our new line at smaller events | Em & El Organics

June 2016: Emily introduces Em & El Organics at Deals & Divas in NYC

Thank you for being a part of our great adventure!  We're so excited you're here with us and we're looking forward to even more amazing adventures in the future!

How to Stay Cool in the Summer Heat! June 30, 2016 14:02

Our favorite season, summer, is finally here!  With it comes beach time and sailing season, as well as sweltering city street temperatures and oppressively gross subway commutes.  Here are some of our favorite ways of looking fantastic, no matter what Mother Nature throws at you this season!

  • Use a mixture of witch hazel with pure essential oils to clean and reset your skin midday.  We always make sure to carry a small travel-sized bottle of this solution with some cotton balls.  It's a lifesaver, especially if we have an event and can't get to a shower for a complete douse.  Our favorite mixture includes peppermint (to cool), lavender (to calm red flushed skin) and tea tree (to fight bacteria) oils.  Use it to cleanse your face or anywhere on your body that feels sweaty and icky.  You'll feel completely refreshed and smell great afterwards.
  • Become best friends with classic light-colored linen or hemp.  It's cool, breezy and dries fast making it the perfect summer garb.  Worried about wrinkles?  Add it to your, "I look and feel fantastic" outlook.
  • Channel Audrey Hepburn and add a wide-brimmed straw hat to your wardrobe.  You'll look super classy.  Extra bonus?  No need for sunscreen on your face as you'll be in the shade!

How to Stay Cool in the Summer Heat with Emily Trower-Young | Em & El Organics

  • Swap out your water for some homemade Peppermint & Ginger Sun Tea.  Extra refreshing and packed with needed electrolytes, this tea is a staple in our water bottles.  Add a little lemon juice and sweeten with maple syrup if you'd like.  Going on a long trip?  Freeze this tea in bottles and have icy beverages all day long.

    To make: Put 4 to 8 tea bags into a clean 2 quart or gallon glass container (4 teabags for a 2 quart container, 8 tea bags for a gallon container). Fill with water and cap. Place outside where the sunlight can strike the container for about 3 to 5 hours. Move the container if necessary to keep it in the sun. When the tea has reached its desired strength, remove from sun and put it in the refrigerator. You may or may not want to remove the tea bags at this point. I usually don't.
  • Ladies: learn to rock your best french braid.  They take a little practice, but they're so elegant it's almost a crime to not have them in your summer arsenal.  Three of our favorite styles are the classic, tucked updo and braided bun.

Sunset Sailing June 23, 2016 19:00

Every Wednesday night, we're out on the water racing sailboats and it is heaven on earth.

Journeying Homeward & Striving for Authenticity June 08, 2016 16:48

The other evening, I had the good fortune of attending a screening of "The Music of Strangers", a documentary that follows Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble.  I was even luckier to hear him play the opening song, "Going Home" less than 20 feet away from where I was sitting!  (Side note: it's excellent and you should go see it!)

Quote: "Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?"

In the film, Yo-Yo speaks of his journey to find his own voice with his music in the world.  How do you carry on the cultural roots with which you grew up, while also growing with them, letting them evolve and live on in the future?

The theme of home--defining it, searching for it both physically and mentally--is ever-present in the musicians, many of whom have had to leave their homelands due to war and violence.  It resonated with me as my time spent living in Beijing has often left me seeking my own definition of home over the past 15 years.

So how do we do this?  How do we find our place?  We're all human, all seeking at the core the very same things: peace, love, our tribe.

Here's Yo-Yo's take on it:  If we live, act and search with authenticity and a genuine desire to find our way to "home", we will build the connections to our shared humanity.

I personally feel incredibly blessed by the community that I have found through starting and growing Em & El Organics--customers, fellow vendor friends and entrepreneurs.  You all have made my own journey the greatest and most rewarding challenge I have attempted.  I love seeing longtime customers at shows and starting friendships with new ones.  I relish the conversations with other business owners, who actively brainstorm ideas and solutions to problems.

The mere act of building Em & El has given me the chance to more fully step into my own voice, to be proud of who I am and what I love.  I am grateful to you, my tribe of adventurous people, as you remind me to be authentically me--a wooden boatbuilder, a sailor, a world traveler.

So here's my hope (and I'm counting on you to tell me when you think we're getting off track around here): that Em & El Organics continues on this journey to grow with authenticity and a genuine curiosity to explore the world with an ever better understanding of our voice in this world.

What do you think?  How do you find your voice and tribe?

Top 5 Dangers to Avoid in Sunscreen May 31, 2016 13:57

Do you know what dangers lurk in your bottle of sunscreen?  With the recent soaring temperatures this Memorial Day weekend, summer days have officially arrived! 

Read on to find out how to choose a sunscreen that properly protects your skin without containing dangerous ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone: An active ingredient often used to absorb UV light in sunscreens, this chemical penetrates skin and acts like estrogen in the bloodstream. It can disrupt the hormone system and studies have linked it to increased rates endometriosis in older women.
  • Misleading High SPFs: Most people mistakenly assume that a 100 SPF sunscreen has double the coverage of 50 SPF. In reality, the extra SPF protection against UVB rays is negligible.  Additionally, suncreens with higher SPFs often have less effective protection against skin-damaging UVA rays.  Stick with sunscreens with an SPF of 30-50 instead.
  • Poor UVA coverage: The FDA regulates a sunscreen’s overall SPF level, but not its specific coverage of UVA protection. Exposure to UVA rays creates free radicals in your skin that damage DNA and skin cells, and accelerate skin aging.  It is also linked to a higher risk of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI): What a mouthful! An increasingly used chemical preservative, methylisothiazolinone is a skin sensitizer and allergen.  In 2013, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named it the 2013 Contact Allergen of the Year.  This preservative is so popular that even supposedly “green” companies like Seventh Generation and Method use it in their products.
  • Vitamin A: Called retinyl palmitate in an ingredient list, studies have shown that Vitamin A may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin that is exposed to sunlight. Interestingly, it is commonly added to skin care products for its supposed anti-aging properties.

How should you protect your skin in the summer then?

  • Look for mineral sunscreens that use titanium and non-nano particle zinc as active ingredients instead. Stick with solids and creams, and avoid spray-on sunscreen.  Always reapply as directed and after being in the water.
  • Wear an awesome wide-brimmed hat. Cover your shoulders and arms with a lightweight shirt.  We love white ones made from linen.  Bring an umbrella to the beach to create your own sun-safe shade.
    • Stay out of the sun during peak hours (11am-1pm in most areas)
    • Always wear sunglasses that provide full spectrum (UVA & UVB) protection.

    If you do get burned, get out of the sun and apply our Ultimate Healing Salve to clean (freshly-washed!) skin as soon as possible and at least 2-3 times a day until your burn goes away.

    Now get out there and have some great adventures, beautiful ones!

    Be safe in the sun with proper sunscreen, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses | Em & El Organics