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Category Archives: Soy-Free Cosmetics and Hair Products

CeraVe Skincare Line is Soy-Free/Easily Make Your Own Liquid Foundation Using Mineral Makeup

CeraVe Skin Care Line

All CeraVe skin care products are soy free. Shown are Moisturizing Cream, Hydrating Cleanser, Moisturizing Lotion, and Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM.

CeraVe Skincare Line is Soy-Free

I have been looking for more affordable versions of two excellent soy-free skin care products from Dermalogica (Ultracalming Cleanser and Active Moist; see my skincare and makeup post). I love those products, but my wallet does not.

Imagine my glee as I discovered CeraVe skin care products while shopping at Target earlier this summer. At the time, there were four products available (see the picture above). While writing this blog today, I discovered three more products on the CeraVe website I will be sure to check out. I’ve tried each of the products in the picture above and I have discovered them to be wonderfully gentle…and they are soy-free (I verified this with the company, directly)!  Can you hear the angels singing?!  As of today, the CeraVe line includes:

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM (with SPF 30)

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM

CeraVe Renewing Lotion

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

These products may also be found at CVS and Walgreen. The CeraVe website has a store locator, in case you need it.

Of the seven products CeraVe currently has on the market, I have been primarily using the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion for the last 3 months. My skin never feels irritated or greasy after using the products – in fact, it often feels calmer and moisture-balanced. The cleanser is creamy and it doesn’t lather. It removes makeup really well! I keep one bottle in the shower as my primary soap and one by the sink for my face. It is quite gentle and may be rubbed into the skin with your hand/fingers, but I find occasionally I need to use the cleanser with a washcloth or sponge to remove deodorant or dirtier skin.

Note: As a reminder,  you’ll find the ingredient, “tocopherol” in nearly every skin care and makeup product on the market. Tocopherol (Vitamin E) is usually derived from soybeans, but not always. The best way to know for sure your skin care or cosmetic product is soy-free is to contact the company directly through their website by phone or email.

Easily Make Your Own Liquid Foundation Using Mineral Makeup

On a related tangent, I have been having a terrible time looking for soy-free foundation that I’m happy with. Bare Essentials Bare Minerals and Laura Mercier Mineral makeup are soy-free but application of the powder seemed to make my crows feet look more pronounced and didn’t cover my dark circles very well. I used to fix this problem by dabbing liquid foundation under my eyes and then applying the mineral makeup to the rest of my face. Unfortunately, the liquid foundation reacted terribly to my skin (it wasn’t soy free) and it made my eyes water. BUT!  Last week, I discovered by accident that I can make my own liquid foundation out of the CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion and mineral makeup. I just sprinkle the amount of mineral makeup I’d normally use into my hand and pump a small dollop of the moisturizer on top. I mix them with my finger. The result is an incredibly light and creamy foundation that I have been very, very happy with. Add more powder to the mixture for more coverage of problem areas or use less powder for lighter coverage (essentially, a tinted moisturizer). My quest to find soy-free foundation has finally come to an end.

I haven’t tried this with other moisturizers, but I suspect the result will be similar. Let me know how you like it!

In wellness!

Itchy and Irritated Freshly Shaved Skin – Allergic to the Razor?

Check the manufacturer’s website for the ingredients in the lubrication strip of your razor.

I have always hated shaving my legs and my underarms. Why? Shaving caused irritated, itchy, and bumpy skin. In February, I discovered my shaving cream contained soy (most of them do). I am allergic to soy on my skin, so this was a problem! I switched to using a soy-free soap or shower gel instead, hoping my problem would go away…but the itchy skin continued. Exasperated that my skin was so sensitive, I began contemplating alternatives for my wardrobe choices…avoid wearing shorts, dresses, and skirts? Only wear pants, jeans, and leggings? I won’t be single forever(!)…and it’s warm and sunny a lot of the time here in California…I needed to get to the bottom of this.

I got to thinking about the lubrication strip on my razor. What is in that thing? The packaging doesn’t say a word about the ingredients in the strip. I searched the internet until I found my answers. It turns out my razor contained THREE different ingredients derived from soy. Basically, I got in the hot shower, which opened up my pores, shaved off a layer of hair and a thin layer of skin, and simultaneously filled all those open pores with the very substance I am allergic to. Niiiiice.

Fortunately, a friend sent me a link to a blog about how Bic “Sensitive” razors contain no lubrication strip. This is a good thing for those of us having allergic reactions to the strip! Vic Sensitive shaver is a single blade disposable razor. Admittedly, it is not an ideal solution, folks, but it does the job.

Bic Sensitive Shaver does not contain a lubrication strip, so it is free from allergens.

Some notes about this choice:

1. There is no lubrication strip, so be sure to use plenty of allergen-free soap or shower gel before shaving. If you’ve found a soy-free shaving cream/gel, please pass it along! LUSH makes a ridiculously expensive shaving cream for the upper lip/face called Ambrosia, which I like. For my legs, I use LUSH’s It’s Raining Men shower gel (also ridiculously expensive – but don’t you just love it’s name?). I found a much cheaper option for body wash (although, I must say it doesn’t even compare to the luxurious LUSH shower gel), Dove VisibleCare Softening Creme Body Wash, which does not appear to contain soy either.

2. Shave only about 3 inches at a time. This is a single blade razor. Shave cautiously and rinse often. Do not shave if you have goosebumps. Enough said.

3. I have fine hair so I can use one disposable razor for about 4-5 shavings. However, I suspect someone with thicker/courser hair may only get 1-2 shaves out of a razor. The package I bought contained 12 razors, and it only cost me about $2.57, plus tax.

One final note…as I was writing today’s blog, I found that Bic has a double bladed razor for sensitive skin: BIC 2 Sensitive. I’ll be checking this out soon.

In Wellness!


Living a Soy and Milk-Free Life: 4 Month Progress Report

I started this blog 3 months ago. It’s time for a progress report on my health and what I’ve learned. Here’s a “before” the discovery…and “after”.

The Before

4 months ago, I discovered I had an allergy to soy, one year prior to that, I discovered I had an allergy to milk. I am in my late thirties, and after seeing several doctors about this, I am able to confidently attribute my newfound allergies to enduring 4 years of intense chronic stress. When I ingest anything containing milk or soy (even the smallest amount), my skin will itch.

Throughout 2011, my skin felt like it was on fire. The only relief I could get came from an application of cortisone cream to my entire face and back.

I had already worked to eliminate milk from my diet that year, but I was still feeling intensely itchy. Once I discovered my allergy to soy, I made drastic changes in my diet and cosmetics, and I felt instant and major relief.

The Discovery

Products containing milk seemed to be far fewer than those containing soy. Soy is in everything. EVERYTHING. Well, almost everything. It was extremely frustrating to learn that all my favorite foods and restaurants are not good for me. So, label reading ensued. I threw away bags and bags of products in my pantry containing the pesky culprits. [Check out this fantastic summary about soy allergies (thank you to my newest reader, Dania), which includes a list of foods that contain soy: Living and Eating Well with Food Allergies – Soy Allergies]. I stopped eating fast food (except for a special order at In-N-Out). I discovered it was quite difficult to find any entree at any fast food joint that does not contain soy, and near impossible to find an entree without soy AND milk.

Then, I learned about my body’s reaction when soy touched my body. Hoping I was doing something healthy for my skin after scratching it raw, it seemed reasonable to apply pure vitamin E directly onto the problem areas to aid in the healing. After 4 days, my skin felt worse than before. “What is in this vitamin E anyway?” Pure soy. Yep. Vitamin E gels are derived from soy. Ohh! Then I discovered that my makeup, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razor blade, skin care products, and sunblock each contained soy (look for the ingredient tocopherol, which is the vitamin E ingredient, and is most often derived from soy). Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies…and my skin was absorbing a great deal of soy every day. See my post, “My Lipstick Contains Soy!” and Other Soy-Laced Beauty Discoveries”.

So. No touching soy. No eating soy. No eating milk products. Got it.
I soon discovered other foods caused my skin to itch. Almonds. Grapes (and all forms of it including wine…boo…). Some candies — I suspect it’s the food coloring, like red 40? Eliminating those foods have helped keep my skin happier. There are a few more foods that give me mild reactions, but I am in denial about them and someday I will have to pull up my big girl panties and admit I should cut them out of my diet too. Hmph.
Oh. I should also say…my chronic stress is gone and what’s left is a day-to-day normal level of stress. How? I’ve done my best to:
(a) eliminate the sources of stress (Actually, this part was largely out of my control, but I did make decisions to bring balance into my work/home life, and to make choices to not overbook my calendar)
(b) enjoy the people in my life (my son, my dear friends, my new sweet boyfriend (!))
(c) spend more time doing the things that give me peace (playing the piano, singing worship songs, praying, painting, doing photography, etc.)
(d) exercise whenever possible, and
(e) sleep more than 6 hours/night

The After

Relief. Sweet relief. I haven’t used cortisone cream in a couple of months. Woo hoo! My skin has healed from the intense scratching. My reactions are milder when I have an accidental bite of the no-no foods (OK, perhaps they’re not all accidental), and the reactions don’t last for days anymore. I suspect this is because my body isn’t being overloaded by the allergens anymore. Perhaps my liver needed some time to clean out. Today I ate an iced animal cookie (I couldn’t help myself) with full knowledge that it contained soy and dairy and that I would have a reaction. My skin itched instantly, but the itching went away after 30 minutes. So I ate another one. (OK, please. Stop laughing. I’m PMS-ing so I can’t be held responsible for my lack of self control.)

I’ve noticed I’ve been able to tolerate small doses of milk products again — like using butter in the pan for cooking eggs. It’s a good thing, because my 3-year old will not eat his eggs if I use any butter substitutes, like safflower oil or sunflower oil.

And here’s something unexpected: I’ve struggled with thinning hair since I was in my early 20’s. My hairdresser noticed last month that my hair is thicker than it was in December. Hmm…
I lost a lot of weight initially because I was afraid to eat and I hadn’t discovered many options for me yet. Now that I have plenty of options for meals and snacks, I’ve gained some of the weight back (and I’ve been told I look healthier now). I feel comfortable in this size, despite the fact that my new size 4 jeans I just bought in March don’t fit any more.
Hey people, I’m reaping the rewards of a soy and milk-free life! Tell me about your progress! Let’s encourage each other!

The Blog

I must mention something I find super cool: I started this blog in February, 2012. Since then, I have received over 2,300 hits from people in 42 countries. I haven’t written in 3 weeks (sorry about that), yet the blog now gets between 40-60 hits per day due to various Google searches and Pinterest re-pins. Wow. Just wow. I’m so happy that others are benefiting from what I’ve learned. I look forward to continuing this journey and learning from each other.

In Wellness!

Blogs and Websites I Love

I just created a new page: Blogs and Websites I Love.

I will be storing all my favorite links to blogs and websites about allergies, living soy-free, living dairy-free, and other relevant topics at this new page. Visit the “Blogs and Websites I Love” tab regularly to check out the new resources.

In Wellness!


“My lipstick contains soy!” And Other Soy-Laced Beauty Discoveries

An alarming discovery:

Soy is contained in most cosmetics, hair products, and skin care products.

WHAT?! So, I’ve been poisoning my allergic-to-soy skin with various beauty products for years and years? No wonder my skin has been so irritated and unhappy. This could explain my adult acne and eczema. What’s more – my LIPSTICKS contained soy which means I’ve been ingesting small doses of soy all day long. Actually, after all the research I’ve done about soy in our foods, I can say that about more than just my lipsticks. But I digress.

A few weeks ago, I posted a small blurb about soy in cosmetics to my Facebook friends, just days after learning nearly every beauty product I owned contained soy. It was shortly afterwards that I realized I needed to start this blog.

The soy-laced cosmetics I've been using for years

The soy-laced beauty products I’ve been using for years.

This picture speaks volumes. First, ladies, can you imagine how much money I have invested in all these products?! I’ve used some high-end brands, and over the years this collection has cost me a pretty penny. Each of my products contain an ingredient shown as “soy” or “tochopherol” (which is most often derived from soy, but can be derived from wheat, cotton seed, olive oil, and others). The tocopherol ingredient has many names: Alpha-Tocopherol, a-Tocopherol, D-Alpha-Tocopherol, Vitamin E, D-MIXED-TOCOPHEROLS, O-Tocoferol, E 307, Tokopherol, Soy Tocopherols, Pflanzliches Vitamin E.

Many cosmetics companies use a soy-based tocopherol, yet they are not required to share the source of the tocopherol on the ingredients list. This bothers me. Does it bother you? I know I’m not the only one with topical allergies to soy – it would be so helpful if I could easily determine if I am allergic to the product before I buy it. Plus, lipstick is ultimately ingested…shouldn’t companies be required to state clearly that a known allergen is contained in their lipstick?? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect cosmetic companies to alert the customers to a possible allergy risk, whether it be for those allergic to soy, gluten, or any other known allergen that might be in the product.

Anyway, because there is a high probability that the tocopherol ingredient used in the product is derived from soy, when I’m shopping for makeup or skin care products, if I see the name tocopherol (or any one of it’s alternate names), I just assume it’s derived from soy and move on to another brand of makeup. Makeup is expensive, my time is valuable, and I don’t want to take any chances.

However, I did contact the companies who make the makeup I’ve been using (MAC, NARS, Bare Essentials Bare Minerals, and Laura Mercier) to see if they use soy in their products, and asked what their tocopherol is made from. Here are the responses:

  • From the Consumer Care Representative at MAC: “In regards to Tocopherol (Vitamin E), we are unable to determine the exact derivation of the ingredient as there are varied sources and vary from formulation to formulation…the Vitamin E could be derived from various sources such as synthetic, soy, etc.” In other words, MAC isn’t sure where their tochopherol is derived from at any given time…it could have soy in one batch and no soy in another. To be safe, avoid any MAC product containing the ingredient tochopherol. The MAC products that I owned that definitely contain soy (as confirmed by a MAC chemist) are the eye shadows, paint pot, powder plushes, sheer tone shimmer blush, mineralize blush, several lipsticks, and all the products in the Prep + Prime line. The Frost lipstick and Sheertone blush did not contain soy.
  • From NARS Cosmetics Customer Service: “Please be advised that NARS Sheer Glow and Sheer Matte Foundations and the Larger Than Life Lip Gloss currently contain soy. The other products you requested information on [blush, eyeshadow, and powder] do not contain soy derivatives as a synthetic vitamin e is used.”
  • From Bare Essentials Bare Minerals Corporate Office (as explained to me over the phone): “The tocopherol ingredient (vitamin E) is derived from soy.” This means that each of the products in the skin care line are off-limits for those that need to avoid soy. In fact, anything that is not a loose powder mineral product is off-limits too (those products in liquid, pancake, or lipstick form). The good news is, soy avoiders CAN use the loose powder mineral foundations, eyeshadows, and blushes (see more about this below). Please be sure to check the ingredients to ensure tocopherol is not an ingredient in the product you buy.
  • From Laura Mercier Customer Service: “Laura Mercier lists the ingredients for their products on the website so you can print, review and discuss with your doctor. The source of our Vitamin E (tocopherol) is bioengineered and not derived from any plant or animal.” This means the tocopherol is not made from soy. Great! However, I should note that after not using my Laura Mercier products for 3 weeks, I wore it last weekend and ended up with a terrible bumpy rash on my face. I checked out the ingredients list of the foundation and found the ingredients list to be more than a page long in MS Word. Apparently, while their products are soy free, they are not sensitive enough for my skin.

So…I am giving away my soy-filled beauty products to a friend (I’m wondering if maybe that isn’t a nice thing to do). What have I replaced them with? First, a disclaimer: please read the labels before you buy anything! Companies can change the ingredients at any time, so don’t just take my word that a product is soy-free. Double check for yourself before you make the purchase.

For makeup, I use Bare Essentials Bare Minerals loose powder foundation, eye shadow, and blush. I’m pretty happy with this choice of makeup. Beware though, the loose powder is messy and you can expect a bit of countertop cleanup after your applications.

Bare Essentials Bare Minerals

The loose powder mineral foundation, eyeshadow, and blush by Bare Essentials Bare Minerals is soy free. Beware of their other products – the tocopherol ingredient is always derived from soy.

Sephora store has several brands of lipsticks that are tocopherol-free. The brand I went with is Make Up For Ever.

Make Up For Ever lipstick is tocopherol-free.

Make Up For Ever lipstick is tocopherol-free.

I ditched my old face cleanser and my moisturizers since they were soy-infested. I am fortunate to have found Dermalogica, which carries SOME soy-free products: Ultracalming Cleanser, Ultracalming Serum Concentrate, Ultracalming Mist, and Active Moist (not in the Ultracalming line).

The Dermalogica has a few great soy-free products: Ultracalming Serum Concentrate, Ultracalming Cleanser, Ultracalming Mist, and Active Moist (not in the Ultracalming line).

So, now I’ve found makeup and skin care products that keep me happy. In fact, the few soy-free products in the Dermalogica Calming line actually do seem to calm my skin when I have low-grade itching. If I have a full-blown itchy flareup, these products won’t touch the problem…so I will resort to my dermatologist-prescribed medications. By the way, Dermalogica has body washes in the calming line too! I’ll be ordering some next month. My back will thank me…my wallet will not.

My shampoo and conditioner advertise as vegan and natural (Abba)…but they contain hydrolyzed soy. Instead, I replaced them with Bumble and Bumble Seaweed line of shampoo and conditioner. I am quite happy with this switch. Note 1/22/14: A reader of mine posted they contacted Bumble and Bumble and found out that the products do contain ingredients derived from soy! I have recently been experiencing irritated skin and I didn’t know why. This may be it. 

Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Line is soy-free

Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Line is soy-free…and I love what these products do for my hair.

Here are some great products for kids (and adults too!): The Original Sprout line is soy-free. I used the shampoo and conditioner for a while and it left my hair a bit too dry for all the blow-drying I do. The Natural Hair Gel works well enough. The Scruptious Baby Cream has a yummy vanilla scent and I use it as my body moisturizer. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is also soy-free.

Great soy-free products for kids (and adults)

Great soy-free products for kids (and adults) by Original Sprout and Johnson & Johnson

I should mention that my soy-free replacements have been costly. Surely there must be more non-salon brands that are soy-free! Please feel free to post some of your finds down below.

One last thing. The U.S. Department of Health has a website called Household Products Database that allows you to do a search on household or personal products containing soy (or any other ingredient for that matter). It doesn’t seem to be an exhaustive list, but perhaps it can be a good start for checking the items you use.

In wellness!

Avoiding Soy at the Spa

(video blog above)

So, what was my experience?

1) Glen Ivy mud is red clay. No soy. Don’t laugh. Yes, I actually considered there might be soy in the mud bath…I’ve been finding it EVERYWHERE (makeup, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, shaving gel, moisturizer, cleansers, etc.), so who could blame me for not being sure! According to the Glen Ivy website, “Red clay has been used as a purifying agent since ancient times. It draws from the pores, absorbs impurities, and releases waste and dead skin cells while tightening and revitalizing the skin.” I don’t know if it actually did all that…but it sure felt great to bake in the sun. Fortunately, my skin was not irritated by it in the least.

Mud Bathing

Mud Bathing at Glen Ivy

2) The massage therapist originally would have used her default massage oil containing vitamin E (soy based). She and another therapist consulted and found a 100% pure sesame seed oil instead. It was a heavenly 50-minute Swedish massage, by the way. Ahhhh.

3) The several brands of sunscreen that the spa store sold each contained soy. Actually, I am presuming they each contained soy. Recall that most products that claim to contain vitamin E use an ingredient called “tochopherol”. Tochopherol is most often derived from soy and the cosmetic companies are not required to share the source of the tochopherol. The only sure way to know if the tochopherol is truly derived from soy is to contact the company directly. I have just done this for all my makeup products and I will report on this soon. Anyway, the sales clerk sent me on a trip to a different spa salon where I found ridiculously expensive tochopherol-free SPF. Surely, there must be cheaper options somewhere?! Sigh. My lack of planning that I would need such a thing at the spa combined with having sunburn-prone skin meant I had no choice but to buy the costly sunscreen. I wore it and had no skin reactions…and I didn’t burn…so it did it’s job.

Coola Moisturizing Face Sunscreen - SPF 30

Coola Moisturizing Face Sunscreen - SPF 30 - is tochopherol-free.

4) Lunch. I ordered a salmon salad, which was yummy. Most of the salad dressings contain soy, but fortunately they had a soy-free balsamic vinaigrette.

Man-oh-man. Have I become high maintenance or what? I’m checking labels and asking questions everywhere I go. Most people are quite nice about the questions and are happy to help as much as they can. It’s a good thing, else this whole process would be rather depressing.

Seven hours at the spa went by very quickly! Massaging, sauna lounging, mud bathing, sulfur soaking, pedicuring, and Facebooking by the pool left me no time to read any of the four books I brought (yes, I brought 4 books — I wasn’t sure which one I’d be in the mood to read). The best part, of course, was enjoying lots of girly time with my friend. What a blessed day!