Why you’ll want to sample Wendy’s lubes!

Many lubes on the market are not safe for you, but FOF SEXpert Wendy Strgar found a solution. Her company, Good Clean Love, makes “Almost Naked” lubricant that is organic… and sensational. Send your name and address to shelley@faboverfifty.com to receive a travel-sized tube of lube (1.5oz). You won’t regret it.

The first 50 entrants will win! Everyone else– why not a discount? Enter code FAB50 at checkout and you’ll receive 50% off any full-sized (4oz) organic lubricant. Visit Good Clean Love’s shop to redeem your discount today (until 8/15/13)!

 Wendy Strgar is a woman on a mission: To tell the women of America a thing or two about the safety of the lubricants that we (and our daughters) are using, not in our cars, but in our bedrooms. We met Wendy when we launched the FOF SEXcellent section since her company, Good Clean Love, produces products for good, clean loving. Whole Foods wouldn’t be selling Wendy’s lubes unless they were as natural as Wendy says they are.

by Wendy Strgar

1.5 ANI have been working in the field of personal lubricants for over a decade. It became an occupation when I desperately needed a solution to the burning, itching reactions I experienced when using petrochemical-based products, which continue to be used widely and dominate the intimacy market. Over the years, I have worked to produce lubricants as clean, natural and healing as possible and was graced to find a formulator who used his deep knowledge of ingredients to create natural and organic products without petrochemicals.

Since beginning my work, I’ve advocated for cleaning up the $219 million lubricant industry, long dominated by a handful of multinational companies whose products are filled with the same petrochemical ingredients also found in oven cleaners and brake fluid. I have long believed that these ingredients were common irritants in the sexual lives of millions of women. I attributed the most common complaints of itching and burning to allergic responses.

A Cancer-Survivor Comes “Clean” About her Beauty Products

A year ago, FOF Tracey Brown was willing to put just about anything on her skin. As the founder of the popular beauty blog Blinging Beauty, and a former Sephora executive, she received mountains of sample products. Creamy foundations, luxe lipsticks, smoothing peels and hydrating lotions–Tracey tested every one. She admits to especially loving super-powered cosmeceuticals: “If something burned me to death or turned my skin red–that was my thing,” she says. “I liked to feel it working.”

Then, in 2010, she was diagnosed with cancer.

Specifically, chronic lymphocytic leukemia–the very blood disease that had killed her mother at 67 and her grandmother at 98.

Suddenly, she saw beauty products differently. “Having cancer made me want to use less chemicals on my skin. Period.” she explains. “Your skin is your largest organ, and what you put on it is absorbed into your bloodstream. It also made me think about my own daughters and what they use.”

According to a report from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a nonprofit that lobbies to keep dangerous chemicals out of consumer products, “more than 1 in 5 personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer and 56 percent contain penetration enhancers that help deliver ingredients deeper into the skin.” While the chemicals in any one product are unlikely to cause cancer in an individual, there’s simply no definitive research on the cumulative effects of being exposed to multiple products every day.

For Tracey, finding products that were safe, but also effective, became a priority. “When it comes to skincare, I’ve gone 100% to clean products,” she says. “There’s no easy way to know what’s safe. A product labeled ‘natural’ can have some pretty scary ingredients. I look at the labels, at all the ingredients (not just the active ones), and compare them to the list of chemicals that we know are dangerous.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recommends checking against this list of the 12 most harmful chemicals found in cosmetics, which includes pthalates, parabens, fragrance, petroleum and sulfates.

The good news: “The new generation of ‘clean’ products, as I call them, is amazing,” says Tracey. “I use them now because I actually prefer them to the products I used to use.”

Check out Tracey’s favorite products, below, and tell us in the comments, is there any ingredient you avoid when buying cosmetics or skincare products?


Tracey Brown and her staff try out all sorts of products for her fab blog, Blinging Beauty. (But she uses the products above “day in and day out” she says.)

9 Secret Energy Suckers

Peanuts? Perfumes? Cell Phones?! Before you chalk up your lack of energy to age, consider these 7 often-overlooked reasons for FOFatigue.

Lack of energy is not an inevitable part of aging, and it’s not something you have to accept.  Here, Dr. Vincent Pedre, a New York physician who specializes in integrative and holistic health, explains the 9 treatable conditions that can sap your energy.

  • B12 deficiency.
    • “This is a common cause of fatigue in patients who are vegan or vegetarian, as B12 is a necessary nutrient derived primarily from animal protein. B12 deficiency is common as we age, because we have less intrinsic factor–the stomach protein that helps us absorb B12. After age 50, I recommend taking a B12 supplement that dissolves beneath the tongue. The classic recommendation is to eat liver, and I’m not sure every FOF will be willing to do that!”
  • Iron deficiency.
    • “This is a classic cause for fatigue. You might have a clue that you’re iron deficient if you also have hair loss or really bad periods. (Yes, I have patients over 50 who are still not menopausal!) In women over fifty, iron deficiency can also be a symptom of colon polyps that are bleeding little by little. This will cause fatigue and may cause constipation or changes in the way your stool appears. You must get a colonsocopy screening. If it’s just dietary, you can take a supplement.”
  • Low enzymes.
    • “As we age, our digestive cells may become a little more sluggish, causing us to produce less gastric acid, which can lead to protein malnutrition. This can also be the result of multiple courses of antibiotics or long-term food allergies. In addition to fatigue, protein malnutrition can cause depression because of a lack of the amino acids that form neurotransmitters. The treatment is very individualized, but may be as simple as taking digestive enzyme supplements or supplemental hydrochloric acid. Anyone can increase their enzymes by drinking a green juice daily and eating more raw veggies.”
  • Celiac disease.
    • “Celiac is an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten, a protein that tends to exist in wheat, barley and rye–among other carbohydrates. In the presence of gluten, the body attacks the cells that line the small intestine so that it can’t absorb nutrients well. In addition to fatigue, you may experience indigestion and bloating. About 3 percent of the population has Celiac disease, and about 8 percent have a less severe ‘gluten sensitivity.’ These patients also have a much higher risk for osteoporosis because they’re not absorbing calcium well. The good news: As soon as you take gluten out of your diet, the problem is corrected. And recovery can be pretty remarkable–patients experience a drastic increase in energy.”
  • Addiction to sugary processed foods.
    • “A consistent diet of processed or sugary foods–especially cookies, crackers, white bread and pastries–is a classic cause of daytime fatigue. Often women eat these foods to get some easy energy. But the blood-sugar spike is followed by a crash that leaves you wanting a nap in the middle of the day. In addition, any spike in blood sugar floods your body with hormones that actually cause you to want to eat more. You reach for another cookie, and the cycle continues.”
  • Environmental toxins.
    • Image“Many of us are sensitive to environmental toxins, which could be any number of things, including the pthalates in perfume, the PCBs in plastic water bottles or the pesticides in food. All of these get in the body and short-circuit your mitochondria–the energy centers of your cells. Your body literally can’t create as much energy. I recommend buying organic food as much as possible and really paying attention to what’s in your products.” [FOF Editor’s note: We like Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Costmetics database, which rates the relative toxicity of thousands of cosmetic products, from perfume to moisturizer.]
  • Adrenal exhaustion.
    • “This is one that you’re not going to hear much about in standard western medicine. The adrenal glands produce stress hormones, including adrenaline and norepinephrine. If you were to turn off your adrenals completely, you’d drop to the floor with zero energy. That’s how important they are. If you have constant high stress in your life–as many of us do–you can deplete your adrenals. A typical symptom of adrenal fatigue is feeling tired in the evening, but then becoming wired again around 10pm and having a hard time falling asleep. By the time morning rolls around, you’re exhausted and can’t get up. Many people eat sugar and drink coffee to keep them up through the day, and by the evening they crash and the cycle continues.”
  • Electromagnetic energy.
    • Image“We are bombarded with electronic magnetic energy all day–from our cellphones, computer screens and other electronic gadgets. There is a book I like called Zapped that talks all about this and how these electromagnetic waves can cause fatigue and headaches. In some cases, they can be truly dangerous–studies show that if you live near a high-voltage convertor, for example, you’re more likely to get breast cancer, lymphoma or leukemia. Basically, they’re disrupting proper cellular functioning. I personally use a device made by Gia Wellness that is meant to positively interfere with the electromagnetic frequencies that are coming from my laptop and cell phone.”
  • Food sensitivities.
    • “For some people, foods such as gluten, soy, corn, eggs, peanuts or dairy activate an allergic reaction in the body, which causes white blood cells to produce low-grade amounts of interleukin and protein messengers. An extreme amount of these chemicals would feel like a horrible flu. But imagine just a tiny fraction: You don’t feel sick, but you don’t feel well, either.  Most people have no idea they have these sensitivities, and they get used to feeling run down. They don’t connect the way they’re feeling with the food. But if you can pinpoint the offending food and remove it from the diet, they feel better.”
Dr. Vincent M. Pedre, MD
InternistDr. Vincent M. Pedre is a Board-Certified Internist in private practice in New York City and the Medical Director of Pedre Integrative Health. His practice combines Western medicine (he’s affiliated with Mt. Sinai Medical Center) and Eastern philosophy (he is certified in yoga and acupuncture) and can best be described as integrative and holistic.

Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

A new report claims that only 1 out of every 5 sunscreens is safe and effective.

Sunscreen will keep you wrinkle free and cancer free, right? Not quite, says a startling new report from the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization that conducts research on public health and the environment. “Most peoplImagee don’t realize that the FDA hasn’t issued any new sunscreen safety regulations for more than 30 years,” says Nneka Leiba, a research analyst who worked on EWG’s Sunscreen 2011 Safety Guide. “So manufactures can sell products that don’t perform well and can make a lot of unfounded claims.”

Here, Nneka explains exactly what makes a sunscreen “safe.” . . . Does yours make the cut?

  • FOF: Why doesn’t the FDA ensure that these products are safe?!
    • Nneka: The FDA first released it’s recommended regulation draft for sunscreen in 1978, but, believe it or not, it’s never been finalized. There are certain requirements–for example, sunscreens must list all their ingredients. However they don’t have to prove that those ingredients actually work or are safe for everyone.
  • How did your study work?
    • We have a database called Skin Deep where we analyze all sorts of consumer beauty products by comparing their ingredients to the most recent scientific literature on health effects including cancer and reproductive toxicity. For our Sunscreen Report, we take it a step further and also look at the UVA and UVB protection the products provide.


  • Why is that important?
    • When you look at the SPF number, that only applies to UVB rays. We now know that UVA rays are also very dangerous, but sunscreen manufacturers aren’t required to print their UVA protection factor on the bottle. Many claim to be “broad spectrum”, meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB, but no one is actually checking these claims. In Europe there are actual guidelines for UVA protection that many products sold in America simply don’t meet. An example on our website is Hawaiian Tropic Baby Stick Sunscreen SPF 50. The UVA protection factor is actually less than 10–not good enough to be sold in Europe.
  • How many products did you review?
    • More than 1700 SPF products–that includes lip balms, makeups, moisturizers. Of the 600 beach and sport sunscreens, we could only recommend 1 in 5.
  • What is the criteria for being a “recommended product”?
    • A recommended sunscreen must provide both UVA and UVB protection and can’t contain hazardous chemicals that penetrate the skin.
  • What constitutes a “hazardous chemical”?
    • There are two that we really call out. The first is oxybenzone, which is in about 50 percent of sunscreen products. It’s been shown to trigger allergic reactions, disrupt hormones and penetrate the skin in relatively large amounts. Scientists have gone as far as warning parents to avoid using it on children.
    • The other ingredient is retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A found in about 1 in 3 products. It’s an antioxidant associated with slowing the appearance of skin aging, but data from and FDA study suggested that if worn in the sun, it can actually speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. So in night creams it’s fine, but we’re very concerned about seeing it in sunscreen.
  • What else gets a bad grade?
    • Any spray sunscreens. These ingredients are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs. We also ask that people avoid SPF higher than 50+ because it’s misleading. People get a false sense of security and fail to reapply. No matter how high the SPF, these blocks are simply not effective unless you reapply every two hours.
  • What type of sunscreen gets the thumbs up?
    • We don’t advocate specific brands–you’ll have to look at the list for the ratings. But the sunscreens with the highest ratings are are mineral sunblocks. They provide broad spectrum protection (UVA and UVB) and they don’t readily penetrate unbroken skin. Key mineral-block ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
  • The Safe List
  • What was your sunscreen’s rating? Tell us in the comments below.

    Nneka Leiba, M.Phil., MPH
    Research Analyst
    Nneka Lieba, M.Phil., MPH is a Research Analyst with the Environmental Working Group. She received her Masters in Public Health from The Johns Hopkins University.

    Is plastic making you sick?

    Have you ever microwaved your dinner in a take-out container? Eaten hot soup out of a plastic bowl? Left your bottled water sitting in the sun? A new report says you may be increasing your risk for breast cancer.

    We’ve been hearing rumblings for years about the potential dangers of plastic, but a scientific report published this month draws startling conclusions confirming the link between household plastics and breast cancer. We spoke to Sonya Lunder, a researcher at the Environmental Working Group, to get the straight story on what’s safe and what’s not.

    • Can you tell me what the latest research confirms (or doesn’t confirm) about plastics and cancer?
      • There has been a longstanding concern about plastic, but it’s been really hard to pin down. Thanks to a study that came out in a leading journal two weeks ago, we have real proof that the mixture of chemicals in common household plastics triggers activity in breast cancer cells.
    • Which plastics? How did they find this?
      • Image

        Researchers took 300 consumer plastic items–baby bottles, drink bottles, plastic bags, takeout containers and food wraps–and ran them through a series of tests to see what was coming out of them in lab conditions that mimicked heating in the microwave or running through the dishwasher. They took the water from these plastic containers and added it to a petri dish with women’s breast cancer cells. In almost all of them, it caused activity in those breast cancer cells.

    • Does it only affect you if you already HAVE breast cancer?
      • We all need to be wary, because these chemicals mimic estrogen, which is responsible for a lot of things in your body. Increased estrogen can have many different health effects including early puberty for girls, reduced sperm count for men, breast and prostate cancers, and resistance to cancer treatments.
    • Wow. So what can you do? Should you throw out all your plastic containers?!
      • You want to take precaution and use plastics appropriately. Don’t microwave food in plastic; don’t pour boiling hot food in plastic; don’t leave liquids sitting in plastic all day–especially in the sun. The heating and cooling cycle seems to break the plastic down and release these chemicals. Also, you need to discard plastic when it’s scratched, worn and starting to wear out. You can also put pressure on the federal government to do a better job of regulating what’s in these plastic products.
    • What about dishwashing plastic? Bad idea?
      • It’s hard to say, because you’re not drinking the dishwater, but it will cause the plastic to break down more rapidly.
    • Are any plastics safe? What about BPA-free plastic?
      • We can’t identify any completely safe plastics right now. There are so many chemicals and additives in plastic that it’s impossible to know which ones are harmful and which are not. The most well-studied and concerning chemical is BPA (bisphenol A) and that’s being phased out for baby bottles and some sports drinks bottles. Generally, we say BPA-free is less potent, but this study found that even BPA-free bottles had some estrogen-like activity. At EWG, we point people toward plastics with a 1, 2, 4 or 5 on the bottom–that’s the recycling code. But as consumer advocates, we don’t have access to detailed information about ingredients and their safety information so we can’t tell you that they are completely safe.
    • Is there a worst kind of plastic?
      • Definitely ones that have BPA–hard, clear rigid plastics that may have a number 7 on the bottom. There was a study at Harvard where students drank all their liquids out of these plastics for one week, and the BPA in their systems increased 80 percent!
    • Are these chemicals anywhere other than plastic? What else should we be worried about?
      • Surprisingly, canned food. Almost every canned-food company in the country uses BPA liners in their cans. Reducing your consumption of canned foods is a good idea. Estrogen-mimicking chemicals are also in soy products and many body-care products. Any increased exposure to estrogen–whether from a man-made chemical or your own body–comes with an increased cancer risk. So women who get their periods early or go through menopause late are at risk. The problem is, we’re living in a plastics age, and our bodies are being bombarded with these chemicals.
    • What do you do in your own home?
      • I use a lot of glass!
    Sonya Lunder, MPH
    Senior AnalystSonya Lunder, MPH, is a Senior Analyst at Environmental Working Groupa 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993, with a mission to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.