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Read Your Labels

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Choose cruelty free products

by Keri Lehmann

Back in the day, my big sister decided to step back into the workforce after raising her babies. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do with her skills, but she knew someone who worked at a luxury hotel in Dallas, and was confident that she would love to have the perks that came with hotel employment.

So, she bought a “power suit”, purchased some pointy-toed shoes (the super-pointy kind that hardly covered the base of the toes), and headed up, real-business like, (except for the malfunctioning shoes that kept flying off her feet as she walked…) to the hotel for her interview.

The job position was for an administrative assistant in sales and catering, and she assumed she would be sitting in an office, behind a computer most of the day. But it had been a decade or more since she worked in an office environment. She, unfortunately, hadn’t considered that times and technology had changed…

When she began her interview, after the formalities had passed, she was asked the following question: “What tools do you plan to use to implement your daily tasks?”

Her answer: (thinking, “what the H$!%  kind of question is that?!?) “A typewriter, a filing cabinet, and a phone… (the land-line kind).” She remembers it like it was yesterday. We still laugh at the hilarity of it all.

To this day, I am not sure what answer the interviewer was looking for, but I am pretty certain it wasn’t that.

In fact, I even think it was a tricky question. I think that if he would have asked a better question, a CLEARER question, he would have gotten a more appropriate answer.

In sitting in on live chats at, I see a constant trend – the ladies who show up ask really pointed questions that require direct answers. They keep us beauty brand leaders on our toes because they can see straight through the nonsense – because they are SMART. My sister is SMART. And I am noticing as well, that most of the women in my path are SMART. They want truth, and more over, they want their problems solved with as little difficulty as possible.

Again and again, I meet women who want to clean out their pantries and cabinets in opt for more healthy choices in food and beauty care, but are confused by the marketing and “greenwashing” of  so-called “natural” products.

So, out of respect for the intelligence of our Healthy Beauties, I would like to pose a few basic, clear questions for you to carry with you in your cache of knowledge. Pull them out whenever you are shopping or out to eat, or in a pinch for natural beauty product substitutions. When answered, they will help you to make clear choices for your natural beauty care and nutritional purchases:

(These questions are for our Healthy Beauties who are looking for general natural solutions for total care. For the hard-core, ferment your own kefir, “extra-crunchy” beauties (you know who you are ;) , stick with the USDA Organic certified products- it’s the only way to ensure, without studying, that the product and its ingredients are completely pure.)

Food questions:

  1. Does it have any of the following ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, aspartame, bleached flour, dyes, artificial colors/flavors, MSG, or saccharin? If so, skip it.
  2. Can you tell if it is “genetically modified” (GMO)? Hint: look at corn, soybean (including tofu), margarine (if it has cottonseed oil, it could be GMO), milk, and corn-fed beef. If it isn’t labeled “GMO” free, or something of the like, skip it. Poultry is more difficult to tell the difference, as “cage-free” doesn’t necessarily mean “GMO” free- the USDA Organic certification is the only indicator in this instance. Also, note the PLU differences on fruits and veggies: 4 digit numbers like this (4021) are conventionally grown (with pesticides); 5 digit numbers that start with 8 (80354) are genetically engineered (GMO); 5 digit numbers that start with 9 (90253) are organically grown. *If it has the USDA Organic certification, it is GMO free.

Body/Hair Care Questions:

  1. Does it have any of the following ingredients: parabens (methyl/ethyl/propyl/butyl paraben), sulfates, mineral oil, fragrance, TEA/DEA, synthetic dyes, propylene glycol, or paraffin? If so, pass.
  2. Is the container made from plastic? Stay away from plastic containers that have the recycling codes 3, 6, and 7 stamped on their bottoms. They potentially leach bisphenol-A into your products. The rest are safe for use. (This question should be asked of your food products as well.)
  3. Is the product cruelty-free? Look for specific labeling-“this product not tested on animals”, “vegan”, “vegetarian”, or the cruelty-free bunny.

Asking these questions will point you in the direction of clear choices, and will help you to avoid answers that make you wonder what you were thinking for years to come…

Bunny photo by Sommai

Keri LehmannWritten by:

About Keri

Keri Lehmann is a licensed cosmetologist who used her knowledge of skin care to create a line of body care products made with REAL ingredients that the body recognizes and knows what to do with…Savvy Bohème: Welcome to the Most Authentic Moisturizing Event of Your Day.

2 Responses to “Read Your Labels”

  1. Keri Lehmann says:

    That's a great idea, Hannah! Thanks for the tip! I've been working on a digital presentation of this topic- an infographic would go very well with it!

  2. Hannah Vergara says:

    Keri, these are great tips I would like to access while grocery shopping! Ever think of making a fun infographic people could reference via mobile?

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

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