Archives for April 2011

April 14, 2011

FDA issue Brazilian Blowout Warning

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Federal safety regulators found that the Brazilian Blowout releases unsafe levels of the chemical formaldehyde, which can risk the health of salon workers and their customers. In addition, the Federal Regulators also said that they have found the chemical in a variety of hair products that are labeled “formaldehyde free”. The federal safety advisory issued late Monday follows similar announcements from state health authorities in California, Connecticut, and Oregon.

The Federal Regulators began investigating after a stylist complained of nosebleeds, eye irritation and trouble breathing while using Brazilian Blowout. The Brazilian Blowout, originated in Brazil around 2005, and its popularity as a hair straightening procedure quickly spread to North America and Europe. People with curly, wave-y, kinky, and hard-to-tame hair were flocking to the Brazilian Blowout as a means of controlling their hair, especially when combined with high humidity.

What is interesting to note, is that as far back as 1987, the U.S. EPA classified it as a probable human carcinogen. The World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also classified it as a probable human carcinogen in 1995. The IARC, based on further information and evaluation of all known data, reclassified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.  Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs and cause breathing problems and skin rashes. It has been associated with nasal sinus cancer, and recent studies have also shown a positive correlation between exposure to formaldehyde and the development of leukemia, particularly myeloid leukemia.

What exactly is formaldehyde used for?  There are some good uses….it is a disinfectant. It kills most bacteria, fungi and is often used topically to treat warts. It is also used as a tissue fixative (remember all those specimen jars in biology class?) and as an embalming agent. I would like to share information on formaldehyde from Peter Lamas, the Founder and Chairman of Lamas Beauty International, one of the fastest growing and respected natural beauty products manufacturers in the US, found in his book, Dying to be Beautiful-The Real Facts about Potentially Harmful Cosmetic Ingredients.

“Formaldehyde is used in nail polish and hardeners, shampoos, soaps, and skin creams. This potentially irritating disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, and preservative can be absorbed into the skin and cause allergic reactions, inflammation, headaches, and even asthma. It is often referred to as formalin or DMDM hydantoin or MDM hydantoin. It is very toxic when inhaled and a suspected carcinogen that is linked to cancer. Its use in cosmetics is banned in Japan and Sweden.”

 Peter also notes that the government regulatory requirements regarding the sale of cosmetics are not as stringent as those that apply to other products that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Neither cosmetic products, nor cosmetic ingredients are reviewed or approved by the FDA before they are sold to the public. This means that, with the exception of color additives and a few prohibited substances, manufacturers may use any ingredient or raw material. Any product containing levels that might trigger an adverse reaction ARE required to carry a caution, however, as seen in the “formaldehyde free” labeled products, this was not the case.

Everyday most of us use an array of skin, hair, body and beauty products without ever asking if they are safe or not. We incorrectly assume that the FDA has tight regulations on these products. They don’t! Unknowingly you may be applying several ingredients that contain potential systemic toxins that are easily absorbed and can remain in your body for a very long time. When you consider that some of these products get applied day after day for decades, the potential for problems is very real. Read labels CAREFULLY!!!

For more on Peter Lamas, see and for more on formaldehyde, see wikipedia for starters…

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April 12, 2011

The Diaper Dilemma and Earth Day Focus

When choosing diapers for your child, the choice between cloth and disposable might seem simple. For those of us who can remember a time when there were no disposable diapers, memories of cloth diaper surrounded by rubber pants come time to mind. They were high maintenance to say the least. There was the time involved to clean them, and they weren’t ultra- absorbent.  Parents everywhere celebrated when disposable diapers came into the mainstream. Disposable diapers are quick and easy. Use once and toss. No need to wash them, just throw them away. It may be that easy, but it isn’t that simple. There are many cons to disposable diapers as well.

Disposable diapers are made from plastics. According to the, ( the chemicals in disposable diapers can harm children that wear them. In addition to having more rashes, other health concerns include allergies, damage to the central nervous system and toxic shock syndrome. Then there are the environmental issues with disposable diapers.

Environmental issues with disposable diapers are two-fold. Manufacturing disposable diapers for American babies alone takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year. Then there is the problem with disposal-they are not biodegradable. Once they are dumped in a landfill, they remain there forever. Unlike cloth diapers where waste goes either into the sewer systems and is treated, the bacteria and viruses from human waste in disposable diapers can seep into the ground and even into the water supply.  Best estimates suggest that a baby goes through more than 5000 diapers before being toilet trained. Doing the math on the amount of diapers in landfill is staggering!   It is estimated that roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and a total of 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually.  It’s scary!

The cloth diapers of today aren’t what they used to be either. With the newer style of cloth diapers that are on the market, disposable diapers are not much more convenient that cloth diapers. Some cloth diapers now have double or triple layers and a multiply, fiber-filled strip, making them more absorbent than older styles. Cloth diapers now come with Velcro and durable snap closures, eliminating the need for those large safety pins, making them as easy to put on and take off as disposable diapers.  You can launder them at home or turn the job over to a diaper service. It is estimated that cloth diapers usually only add about 2 extra loads of laundry a week to your schedule.  Eco-friendly, they are also recyclable. They can be used on another baby and have many household uses after its diaper days are over.

AMP diapers, takes the guess work out of cloth diapers. Diapers that can take baby from newborn to toilet trained. They were created by Annie Marie Padorie, a mother of five herself, by trial and error. They are made from bamboo, cotton, and hemp. AMP diapers are made in a green office certified facility in Winnipeg, MB, Canada. AMP diapers offers easy to use, cost effective, environmentally friendly, re-usable cloth diapering systems and accessories. Cloth diapers are soft and comfortable for baby and better for the environment.

As a parent, deciding to use cloth or disposable diapers depends on your lifestyle, personal preference, finances and your concern for the environment. But with cloth diapers being better for baby and the environment, and as easy to use as disposable, they are certainly a topic to investigate. Start your baby off early to appreciate the Earth’s natural environment!

Add check out the following links:

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April 11, 2011

Get Your Gypsybilly On!

Meet the Vignatis

What do you get when blend English and French vocals with acoustic guitar, clarinet, accordion and violin? When you combine driving rock drum beats with a modern/vintage instrumentation of electric guitar? When you borrow from traditional Eastern European Traditional music, complete with its dark chromatics, use of microtones, glissandi and soulful, theatrical vocals with the Southern twang of honky tonk-esque piano and pedal steel?  You get the birth of Gypsybilly by the Vignatis!

Gypsybilly is the fusion of almost everything…..rock and roll, rockabilly, jazz, swing, country and western, rhythm and blues, honky tonk, boogie woogie, cabaret, hillbilly, bluegrass, ………… I have always found it hard when listening to any rockabilly fusion to NOT be happy! It is infectious….it brings a smile to my face, and it makes me want to dance. Fun, lively, and flirty- in some ways it transports me to decades past and countries of old!

Like its forefathers, the vocals range from intense to playful, gritty to legit, diatonic to chromatic, delivering lyrical messages on topics from life’s struggles, childhood insecurities, love, travels and world peace. The marriage of many forms of music blended into a successful worldwide journey gives way to the birth of Gypsybilly……….

Fabrice and Tracy Vignati bring us their unique blend in their CD The Vignatis-Birth of Gypsybilly.  This fabulous CD was featured in the Oscar Swag bags and given to Oscar Presenters and Nominees this past February. If you like Brian Setzer, Django Reinhardt, Paris Combo, Gretchen Wilson, Sanseverino………then check out  and be prepared to get lost in the mix and magic of Gypsybilly!

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April 10, 2011

LEXLI ~ A new revitalizing and healing skin care system with Pharmaceutical Grade Aloe Vera

There always seems to be so many new “in” products coming out that offer promises and new ingredients that will work wonders on our skin, and we generally find that they are short lived, and quickly replaced by other “new and improved” products with more promises. I can speak from experience, since skin care has always been a top priority to me throughout my career, and I’ve tried and tested many products.

LEXLI is a new skin care system founded by, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr.Ahmed Abdullah. (And I quote) “Dr.Ahmed Abdullah was one of the pioneers who began utilizing pharmaceutical -grade aloe vera in their plastic surgery practices for the treatment of skin damage, including burns, and lesions.”

Dr. Abdullah says, “When it comes to skin care, ‘less is more’ is a mantra repeated by experts, no matter how often new and improved technologies are introduced.” Long known for its healing properties, aloe vera has been proven to produce restorative and medicinal effects. Lexli offers results-driven products with high technology formula and a cocktail of essential ingredients to ensure optimal skin health post-treatment and beyond.”

I found the LEXLI system very simple, easy to use, and effective products that impart a clean, yet soft and supple feeling to my skin, along with a healthier skin color that has replaced my sometimes dull top surface skin appearance. My husband actually commented on how good I looked, and I didn’t have any makeup on… Now that’s impressive!!

(Quoted from informational literature) “ The Lexli Skincare Collection is based on a simple four-step system designed to rejuvenate and restore the skin back to health. Lexli’s unique formulation uses 100% pure pharmaceutical-grade aloe vera as the base of each product. According to Dr. Abdullah, “skin care doesn’t need to be a complex ritual. There are many companies who claim different methods to solve common skin challenges like acne or wrinkles. We believe good skin care is more about frequent, preventative care. The key is basic cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing and protecting.”

What I really like about LEXLI is that they offer a “Starter Kit”, pictured above. This is the perfect way to find out if LEXLI is right for you. (It’s also terrific for travel.)

ONE lucky person will win a LELXI “Starter Kit” valued at $84.00!
Register now on the following link:

To find out more about LEXLI skincare products, visit their website at:

“LEXLI is available at select spas, physician offices and salons.” You will be able to find a listing of participating retailers on the website.“Because Lexli is unlike any other over-the-counter skincare brand, it is advised that consumers use the product line under the guidance of a licensed skincare expert.”

About Dr. Ahmed Abdullah, M.D., F.A.C.S.
“Dr. Ahmed Abdullah, a board-certified plastic and cosmetic surgeon, is CEO and co-founder of Lexli International, Inc. A recognized expert on the restorative and medicinal effects of aloe vera, Dr. Abdullah is the formulator of the Lexli® line of aloe-based skincare, including the company’s flagship product, AloeGlyC Renewing Exfoliant®. He is a member of the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) based in Dallas, Texas, and has served on its board of directors”.

In addition to his work with Lexli International, Dr. Abdullah is a clinical associate professor in plastic surgery at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine in Grand Forks, N.D. He owns and practices at Plastic Surgery Institute PC and the Lexli Skin Care Center, and is co-owner of PSI Ambulatory Surgery Center and Heartland Diagnostic Services, all of which are based in Fargo, N.D.

A Diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Abdullah serves on the Ethics Committee of the North Dakota Medical Association. He earned his medical degree from Northwestern University in Chicago and completed his residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.”
(Quoted from informational literature)

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April 6, 2011

Joe Cross’s Journey to Better Health Inspires Others

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead-One Man’s Odyssey to Regain His Health

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Joe Cross when he was in New York last fall at an event that acclaimed fashion designer Norma Kamali put together. The event was titled- Conversations – A Dialogue on Wellness Solutions.  Forever changed by the events on 9/11, Norma felt she needed to establish a sense of well-being, something to ground her. The world she and many others had known was never going to be the same.  Knowing she was not alone in her struggle to feel grounded and restore a sense of well being, she has unselfishly shared all she has learned in her journey  to those of us who are ready to “reboot” our lives.

Norma used her “conversations” as a platform to share solutions and offer positive alternatives for fitness, health and beauty. The entire group of people that Norma had assembled to speak was absolutely inspiring. One of those speakers was Australian Joe Cross. Diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder where he could break out in hives with no warning, this sick, overweight, type A, workaholic realized that he would need to do something drastic to take control of his life and his health. He had reached his breaking point, and made a promise to himself that he would get healthy.

Personally I could identify with Joe. His business career began as a trader on the Sydney Futures Exchange. Having been a commodity broker/trader myself, I knew the life, the stress, and while I may have thrived on it when I was younger, it was certainly going to lower my life expectancy. I too could break out in hives with no warning. Stress mainly, and it was my body sending me warning signs that there was a problem, and as much as I tried to ignore it, it wasn’t going to let me!

Everyone has stressful lives! And at some point, our bodies send us enough signals to wake up and do something about it. In Joe’s case, he made a movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead to chronicle his journey toward health, his road to recovery. He took his health into his own hands and started a 60-day juice fast, consuming nothing but fruits and vegetables in liquid form for two months. Knowing he would be able to pack the highest amount of nutrients in juice form, he hoped to cleanse his system of four decades of eating junk and “reboot” it.

  Criss-crossing America with a juicer in the back of a SUV, he stopped along the way at malls, diners, truck stops and produce stops to talk to people about food. He heard over and over again, most people didn’t have the willpower or desire to change their diet, even if they knew it was killing them. He managed to visit 21 states all while keeping to his liquid diet. After 60 days of consuming massive amounts of spinach, kale, parsley, onions, cucumbers, celery, pears and apples, he’d lost 80 pounds and now only needed 2.5 mg of Prednisone, which was down from the 15 mg he had originally been prescribed. Energized, he did an additional 70 days of eating only fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. He went back to Sydney 100 pounds lighter and completely off the Prednisone. ”I needed to give my body the energy it needed to perform the function of self-repair. I thought, ‘If I just get out of the way, it will heal itself,’ ” says Cross, 44.

He had rebooted his life, and done the movie to chronicle his journey. It was finished, and he was on to a healthier life, or so he thought.

When he was criss-crossing America and talking to people about food and diet, he had given out his number to people and told them to give him a call if they ever decided to change their diet to give him a call.  On his answering machine was a call from Phil Staples, who he’d met while filming in Winslow, Ariz. Staples was a truck driver who weighed a shocking 429 pounds — and, coincidentally, suffered from the same autoimmune disease Cross battled. “Joe, this is Phil. Is it too late to ask for help?” Staples says shyly on Cross’ voice mail. “I’m getting tired of looking at myself . . . I gotta figure something out.”

Soon, Cross was back in America with his film crew, trying to help Staples save his life through juice. 

“I’m not trying to invent anything new,” Cross says. “I’m not trying to be an extremist. I’m just saying we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. I feel like there are an awful lot of people out there in the same predicament as me. I thought by making this film, I could help them.” And he does….. 

You can see the trailer on YouTube, Facebook, and follow Joe on, and see the movie!

Get ready to “reboot “your life!!

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April 6, 2011

It’s Autism Awareness Month ~ Meet Los Angeles Author, Advocate & Attorney, Areva Martin and learn more about her about her book, and personal connection with autism

April is Autism Awareness Month and it’s fitting that Attorney Areva Martin’s top selling book,
will be re-released on April 5th in paperback.

Quoting from Areva Martin’s Biography:

“From humble beginnings in America’s heartland, Areva’s passionate advocacy on behalf of those whose voices are marginalized propelled her to the top of her field, graduating with honors from the University of Chicago and Harvard Law School.
Relocating to Los Angeles, she founded a thriving legal practice specializing in ADA, Employment and Housing Disability Discrimination, Family Law, and School Law (bullying & harassment), among others.  
But when Areva’s son, Marty, was diagnosed with autism at 18 months, her profession became personal. Suddenly, this highly capable and accomplished woman’s most important title was “mom fighting for her child. “

With Areva’s resourcefulness, initiative, and education she was able to find the best treatment for her son, Marty, but thinking of others who might not have that advantage she founded the Special Needs Network (SNN) which is a non-profit organization that helps minorities and low income families do the same for their autistic children.

I asked Areva the following questions :

: What are some signs that a that might indicate, to a parent, that their child might be autistic?

There are many signs that a child with autism or a related developmental disability may display including delays in speech and language, avoidance of eye contact, difficulty tolerating noises. Rigid eating patterns, lining up of objectives and reluctance to interact with peers

Vicki: How is autism diagnosed, and are there different stages of autism?

Autism is a spectrum disorder that is usually diagnosed by a series of test administered by a developmental pediatrician or a psychologist and by the evaluator performing an observation of the child in his or her natural environment. A written series of questions are also often given to parents.

Vicki:Is there a special education available for the autistic child, and what challenges might arise  with finding a proper schooling to suit a child’s specific needs?

Children with autism spectrum disorders are legally entitled to receive special education from their local schools. Parents often face challenges in knowing what entitlements are available in the school system, how to request services, determining what educational placement is most appropriate and finding a school setting that meets all of a child’s varied needs.

Vicki: Please share how your book, EVERYDAY ADVOCATE: “STANDING UP FOR YOUR CHILD WITH AUTISTIC OR OTHER SPECIAL NEEDS”  will assist and educate  families who are dealing with problems that might arise from having a child with autism or special needs.

The Everyday Advocate is a comprehensive guide book for parents. It provides step by step information to parents on how to recognize the warning signs, where to go for an evaluation, how to communicate with doctors, how to identify available interventions and to select the one best for your child, how to access school services including how to determine what school services are best, and how to engage in not just individual advocacy, but policy advocacy as well. The book also provides inspiration through a series of stories told about families I have represented in my legal practice or met through my non profit. In some ways, its like sitting down with a Harvard-trained lawyer and getting to pick her brain without paying the hourly fees of an attorney!

Vicki: How  does your non-profit I-Pad program help kids with autism, and make it possible to come to the aid of more families, including those who may  have financial problems?

My non-profit, Special Needs Network, is providing an opportunity during National Autism Awareness month for families to win a free iPad at its annual parent and professional conference. The iPad is being offered to low and moderate income families who otherwise would not have an opportunity to purchase the device. The iPad offers so many wonderful applications for children with autism that we wanted to make sure those with the financial means are able to give the best to their children despite their financial situation.

You may find Areva Martin’s book:

Much gratitude to you, Areva, for taking the time to address some questions regarding autism for our readers.

Your compassion is so acknowledged, as you deal with the challenge of autism with your own child and have taken the time to share with other less fortunate via your book, and SNN.

Wishing you all of the best with your ongoing efforts and thank you for your enlightenment regarding autism.

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April 5, 2011

Aerin Lauder to Launch Her Own Lifestyle Brand

Aerin Lauder, 40, Senior Vice President and Creative Director of Estee Lauder, is launching her own fashion and lifestyle brand. The brand is said to include fashion, accessories, housewares, china, jewelry which will be inspired from the private collection of her grandmother, Estee Lauder. To undertake her new venture, Lauder, the third-largest shareholder at her family’s company, will relinquish her title and take a consulting role at the beauty giant. Anna Wintour and NBC Universal head Jeff Zucker will be providing their guidance. Aerin refers to her style as “heritage with a twist”. Having seen pictures of Aerin’s Manhattan and Hampton homes, (in Elle Décor) one can imagine her venture will be a huge success!

Best wishes Aerin from It’s a Glam Thing!

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