EWG Verified

The Environmental Working Group has developed a new verified seal to identify which products gain their stamp of approval.



EWG’s criteria are based on a variety of health standards:

Products must score a “green” in EWG’s Skin Deep® database.
Products cannot contain any ingredients on EWG’s “Unacceptable” list, meaning ingredients with health, ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns.
Products cannot contain any ingredients on EWG’s “Restricted” list, which do not meet the restriction set by authoritative bodies and industry institutions.
Products must follow standard ingredient naming guidelines.
Products must fully disclose all ingredients on the label, including ingredients used in fragrance.
Product manufacturers must develop and follow current good manufacturing practices.
Products must follow the European Union’s requirements for labeling fragrance allergens.
Products must follow the European Union’s labeling guidelines for nanomaterials used in cosmetics.
Product labels must indicate an expiration date or a “period of time after opening.”

Companies with products bearing the EWG VERIFIED™ mark must:

Commit to submitting all reports of product problems or serious adverse events to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and to EWG.
Agree that EWG has the right to perform random product testing to ensure that all products meet the provisions outlined in EWG’s Criteria.
Understand that EWG’s Skin Deep® is dynamic and that the scoring system may change. They must understand that EWG’s “Unacceptable” and “Restricted” lists will be reviewed annually and updated as needed, with a phase-in period to allow companies to comply with updates to maintain usage of the EWG VERIFIED™ mark.


Find out more on the EWG Website or you can download the complete list of criteria.


Subscribe To ShellandShine

And by popular demand…

You can now subscribe to this blog to get updates of new posts by email!

Look for the menu icon in the upper-right corner and click to reveal the menu options. Top of the list, you’ll find the option to submit your email, and that’s it. It’s that simple! Thanks for subscribing. 🙂





While you’re at it, Find me on Pinterest. I would love to connect and follow some of your pins.

You can find me here: 
ShellandShine on Pinterest

And on Facebook:

EWG’s Skin Deep :: Cosmetics Database

I recently posted about Dara O’Rourke‘s Good Guide website and thought I’d share one more website database I use as a go-to for checking product ingredients before slathering them on my skin. EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great resource in checking the chemicals you are exposing yourself to when you choose products. They catalog cosmetic safety information and promote the power of information in protecting human health and the environment.

From the Skin Deep website:

EWG’s Skin Deep database gives you practical solutions to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. We launched Skin Deep in 2004 to create online safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products. Our aim is to fill in where industry and government leave off. Companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish. The U.S. government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold. Our staff scientists compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Now in its eighth year, EWG’s Skin Deep database provides you with easy-to-navigate safety ratings for a wide range of products and ingredients on the market.


The Skin Deep database contains information and online safety assents for 64,000 plus products and almost 2500 brands. It’s a great resource to have bookmarked.


Make scars go away!

Scars can be a real distraction and make you feel self-conscious. There are a few tips to help you minimize the visibility of a scar on your skin. Here is valuable info to share on how to keep your scars out of sight.


My mother is preparing for an upcoming surgery, which could leave her with a significantly visible scar. She asked me if I could share with her the steps in which I’ve reduced the appearance of scars on my skin. Several years ago, I had surgery to remove part of my thyroid through an incision in my neck. The doctors told me to prepare for a sizable scar that covered half the distance from one side to the other. I was busy coming up with all kinds of funny stories I could tell people for how I got this scar (Head transplant, bad-ass bar fight, you know the drill ;). Meanwhile, I did a bit of research into treatments that might make the scar a little less noticeable.

What is scar tissue?

Scar tissue is made up of the same tissue as regular skin but looks different due to the way the fibers are arranged. When the skin is injured, it first forms blood clots in the area. After the blood has clotted, the body sends in fibroblasts, which are a type of cell that break down the clot and replace it with proteins, mainly collagen, which forms the scar tissue. In regular skin structure, the collagen is layered in a random pattern, but in scar tissue, the collagen proteins line up in one direction causing a different appearance. This tissue doesn’t have the same blood supply, flexibility or sweat glands that normal skin has. WebMD has a pretty good article on scars that gets a bit more into the technical aspects.

How to minimize scars?

There are three main tips in keeping scars from forming noticeable marks on your skin and are pretty affective if start caring for the scare when the wound has just begun healing.

Tips to minimize scars

  1. Keep scars away from sunlight. When the scar is in the healing phase (3-6 months), UV exposure in sunlight can lead to pigmentation. Any coloration that the scar takes on during this time, it will likely keep. It’s the ultimate suntan! BUT not the kind you want so cover up! I did this effectively by wearing scarfs for the better part of a year. Anytime I was in the sun or outside, I covered my healing scar with a scarf. Additionally, for long trips or extended time on the beach, I made sure to liberally apply the SPF. Eventually the scarf wearing became a habit and gave me something fun to accessorize with. I even took a 3 week sailing trip in the summer and kept my scar under wraps the entire time!
  2. Massage daily. Massaging the healing scar tissue will increase the blood flow to the area helping the skin to heal faster and stay pliable. Rubbing the area will also help to break up the collagen and adhesions. My routine included massaging the area at least twice a day for a minute at a time. Rub in a figure eight motion, switch directions, and then circular motions. I would incorporate this into part of my other morning tasks like waiting for the morning kettle to boil or later in the day at the check-out line (make sure your hands are clean!). While your scar is in the immature phase, skin can be very sensitive. You will want to make sure to have your doctor’s approval before massaging the delicate skin on a scar area. Be cautions not to irritate the area and discontinue the massage if it increases pain or presents lasting redness to the tissue.
  3. Mederma. This ointment is fantastic. The main working ingredients in this gel are allantoin, allium cepa bulb extract and other salt acids. I used this gel when performing my daily massages and have seen definite results of smoother skin with less visible scars. Mederma is a little pricey, but it is certainly worth a shot and one tube should last your for the duration of your healing scar. Checking the Mederma website, there is often a coupon available which will help bring down the price a bit.mederma-for-healing-scars
    It is worth noting that there are some concerning ingredients in Mederma if you tend to lead a natural lifestyle. Among other ingredients, it does contain parabens to help preserve the product. This is a factor you will have to weigh for yourself and determine if short-term use of this ingredient is worth long term the benefits of minimizing the scar. I personally try and avoid these additives as much as possible in my daily life but do occasionally and mindfully use products on a short-term basis if they have great benefits.


So I may never get to use all of the tall tales to explain the franken-scar I expected across my neck, but I am pleased with its’ healing and I now have a minimal, pain-free scar. If you have other great tips and tricks to minimize scars, please share with me in the comments. I would love to hear what has worked for you.


GoodGuide.com tells you what’s what.

How Healthy Are My Beauty Products?

I love trying new products but like to be conscious of the ingredients before I put something on my skin. Truth be told, sometimes it feels tedious to read all of the ingredients and keep all of the information straight on what to avoid in your products when you’re excited about a new lipstick color. For this reason, I love, love, love, the GoodGuide website.
GoodGuide.com was started in 2007 by one of the world’s leading academic experts on global supply chains, Dara O’Rourke. Dara is a professor of environmental and labor policy at the University of California at Berkeley and tracks product lifecycles from extraction to disposal. Aside from the toxic aspects of many products on the market, some of them have other hidden and often disturbing costs such as unfair labor practices or poor working conditions in the manufacturing process. This site tries to take all of these factors into account.

Rate My Products

The database is set up to help you search through products before you purchase them and know what you are getting. GoodGuide.com is a great way to make sure what you buy is healthy, green and socially responsible. Their rating system is 0-10 (with 10 being the best score for a product) and is based on a comprehensive set of health, social and environmental issues.


This website is a fantastic resource and I use it frequently. You can find it at GoodGuide.com and start researching your favorite products right now. With over 200,000 cataloged items, I’m sure you’ll find your products and maybe some healthy alternatives!

Make-up by An

Wow. Just a quick note here about Make-up by An YouTuber. I have been mezmerized for a couple of hours just watching her eye makeup tutorials. Specifically this one using the Toofaced Stardust eyepallette. I would love to try and give these looks a go with an organic line.

Also worth checking out- An’s Snapchat Q&A. Sometimes these tutorials can start to feel pretty ‘faceless’ if you will. I really enjoyed watching this video and it made her that much more endearing.

A Real Healthy Glow – Living Luminizer

Living Luminizer from RMS Beauty

I love finding great beauty products and what’s more, I love finding natural beauty products that really deliver. I try to stay away from some chemical products and excess packaging, but let’s face it, sometimes a gal wants to get dolled-up! One of my make-up bag staples that I can use when getting dressed to the nines or just add a little pizazz to that au’ natural look is living luminizer from RMS Beauty. I first learned of this company on Lauren Singer’s ‘Trash is for Tossers’ website (You’ve got to check it out if you are into that sorta thing. She’s got great ideas for living a zero waste lifestyle).


About RMS Beauty

The RMS beauty collection is fantastic. Most of their ingredients are organic and have packaging that is 100% recyclable/reusable. The company, started by Rose Marie Swift a few years ago, developed as a response to the toxic chemicals found in most beauty products. After 20 years as a make-up artist, Swift began to develop health problems due to the toxic levels of heavy metals contained in the products we slather on our skin every day!

Get that Glow!

I tried several products from the RMS arsenal and have quite a few favorites. The front-runner by far is the Living Luminizer. I can’t go through an entire day wearing this without having someone remark on how healthy my skin looks. It gives you the dewy glow of a highlighter without looking heavy or powdery. This highlighter also feels light and moisturizing.


Where do I buy Living Luminizer?

Depending on where you live, it can be a bit of a challenge to find a local store. This makes it a little tough to try colors and products before you purchase. Have no fear! There are real people working behind this website and are very helpful and responsive to requests. Along with my first order, I wrote them a little email asking for a few small samples of other things I wanted to try and VOLIA! There they were with my order.

You can find the Living Luminizer here on the RMS website for $38. It is a little on the pricey side, but after having this in my stable of products for more than 6 months, I can assure you, this satiny-pearl highlighter will last you for years. Works great with all skin tones, easy to apply and feels great all day.

From Acne to Zinc. Supplement your skin.


Zinc. Among the best supplements to clear your skin.

In addition to topical skincare routines and diet, if you are still struggling with acne, it may be time to look at taking supplements. I’ve found that among having other benefits, zinc did wonders for helping to clear and support my skin. Just like any other ingestible, you want to make sure that you are not allergic to zinc and contact your doctor if you are taking other medications you think may interact with the supplement.

How does zinc work?

Zinc isn’t a one and done cure but it can be incorporated into your overall plan to tackle your blemishes. There have been a number of studies over the years to suggest that this mineral has positive effects on clearer skin. Aside from its’ well known reputation for being an immune booster, Zinc kills acne causing bacteria and reduces the inflammatory response to it, as well as being a powerful antioxidant and a mild hormone regulator. If you have suffered from cystic acne over the years, this may also be a good solution in trying to minimize acne scaring as it has a beneficial impact on connective tissue.

Foods high in zinc.

Zinc is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in lots of foods. Some of the healthiest sources of zinc are beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, shrimp, cooked oysters, garlic, toasted wheat germ and (yes!) dark chocolate. But let’s face it, most of us don’t have a perfect diet these days and can use a little help from supplements. It is widely recommended that around 11mg per day is a recommended dose.

Best kind of zinc supplement.

Also important is what KIND of zinc you take as a supplement. It has been suggested that not all zinc supplements are created equally. Our bodies are most suited to absorb vitamins and minerals from our foods and environments so when supplementing that with a pill, it needs to be something the body can easily convert to something useful. Zinc Picolinate is noted to have better bioavailability that other forms of zinc meaning your body can more easily absorb it. I have used the Now Foods Zinc Picolinate and found it to work well. I purchased it online from Amazon but there are several brands available and can be found at your local health food stores and pharmacies.


How much zinc should I take?

As with anything in life, moderation is key. Make sure you are taking the right amount for your body and not overdoing it. Do some research online to see what dosage may be appropriate. I would also suggest cycling your dosage. Come up with a schedule where you can take it for a few weeks and take several off. This gives your body and organs a rest. It is also a great way to take note and see if you can see any changes specific to your skin. Zinc (and any supplement) is part of a larger homeostasis in your body so changing the concentration of one factor, can alter another mineral level or hormone so always proceed with caution and pay attention to the changes. Added into your skincare routine correctly, Zinc has the potential to be a great tool in your acne-fighting arsenal.

Kishu Charcoal Sticks. Clear your water, Clear your skin.

It is no secret that drinking water is good for you AND your skin. Recently, in a quest to reduce the amount of packaging I bring into my home and trash that I produce, I found a better solution to the filtered water craze using specialty pitchers (you know the one)! TADA: Activated charcoal sticks! This eco-friendly way to filter your tap water is delicious and couldn’t be easier to use.


What are Charcoal Sticks?

These activated charcoal sticks (also called activated carbon) are made in the Kishu region of Japan and are great for absorbing impurities. This pure form of carbon absorbs and bonds with impurities and metals that are found in most of our municipal drinking water sources. Using them is as simple as boiling them periodically and then putting them in pitches or bottles of water (More detailed instructions here at A Cozy Kitchen). One stick will last you about 4 months and is compostable when you are finished. I’ve tried the ones from Kishu Charcoal and have loved the clean, pure taste. Their packaging is completely biodegradable too! Well done, guys!


Dress it up!

Having a fun water bottle and a conscious compulsion to drink more water that makes it fun and is a great motivator to get those glasses in the day. Recently, my mother has been struggling with health issues and needed to up her water intake. I bought her one of these charcoal filter sticks for her to-go bottle and she loves it too!


Getting Started!

I’ve spent most of my life dealing with skin conditions of one form or another, which has lead to tons of trial and error with products, treatments and wild experimentation. I’m committed to finding simple and healthy skin care regimes for everyday use but not at the exclusion of the occasional fun beauty product or traditional medical treatments. What’s the point in keeping all of this information to myself, right?! Luckily people have been kind enough to share their tips with me and likewise, I’m returning the favor. Here, I will keep a record what I’ve learned about healthy skincare and beauty products and encourage a community for you to share your tips with me.