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Follow our journey as we build Puristics, a new brand of anti-aging skin care without harsh chemicals. For us, the past 3 years have been filled with "aha" moments as we educate consumers about label literacy - knowing the ingredients in your beauty products, since harsh chemicals can end up on your skin. We welcome you to learn from our experiences both as businesswomen and busy moms, and please share your own stories, too!

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Why We Must Advocate for Ourselves

CNN Health announced yesterday that EPA was preparing to place limits on chemicals in drinking water.  Specifically, the article speaks of perchlorate, a chemical that affects iodine uptake in the thyroid, which could affect your unborn child down the road.  It might feel like Groundhog Day (the movie, although yesterday was Groundhog Day) when you consider that the Clean Water Act was passed 38 years ago.  However, this is an important additional step because it is the first time that EPA has considered a chemical (in drinking water) that doesn’t have a direct health impact but rather one in the next generation.  This potential action at EPA and the introduction into Congress of the Safe Cosmetics Act in 2010 both suggest important steps in the right direction.  But, consumer beware.  The pace of change in areas of consumer protection is often glacial.  As a country of over 300 million people, we must allow analysis and debate from all sides and account for plenty of compromise before changes in regulations come about.  Far better that than rapid, irrational changes foisted upon the people by dangerous autocrats. As Winston Churchill quoted, “democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.”  

Where does this leave the American consumer while the regulations are being considered and potentially enacted and enforced?   It leaves us to do what we must do everyday.  We must know what we’re putting into and on our bodies - - to the best of our abilities.  The existence of perchlorate or other potentially harmful chemicals in drinking water is a tough one for us to crack on our own, but there are other choices we can make to help reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals in our lives. 

Regulations and science are changing all the time.  Each day we learn about a new potential source of concern or why the concern of yesterday is no longer relevant.  We must do the best we can.  Become a label reader.  Embrace foods, drinks, personal care products and household products that don’t contain potentially harmful chemicals.  Use your powerful consumer dollars to tell companies what’s acceptable and what’s not.   And then, when the laws go on the books and the regulations go into effect, you’ll be that much better off.


Act Your Way Into a New Way of Thinking

What changes are you trying to make in 2011?  Every year, I set my mind to things that I’d like to adjust in my life, as I suspect you do as well.  My list usually covers a broad range of “vice corrections” (truth be told, my vice list is short and dull) and behavior improvements.  On the more superficial end, I renew my vow to floss twice a day and bike to work one day a week (when the ice and snow clears).  On the more profound side, I make a commitment to regular reading of philosophical, spiritual or classical texts, resolve to keep my critical tongue in check and promise to do more for volunteer organizations.  Of course, there are the usual and expected - - fewer cookies, more treadmill time (I give up sugar every morning!).  I’m pretty disciplined, so many of these changes happen, at least in part and at least for a while. 

This year, I focused on those things that appear on my list year after year.  What is it that’s preventing lasting change?  What could I do to make small but steady progress toward these goals so that they could eventually be retired?  What strategies could I employ that would also help with new changes in behavior?  I realized that fear of failure was a major impediment to most.  Then, I had the good fortune to listen to a speaker who’s done extensive work with Habitat for Humanity.  He encouraged us to “act our way into a new way of thinking”.  I realized that I’d been doing it the other way around; I’d been trying to think my way into changing my actions rather than acting until my mind caught on. 

With this piece of guidance, I set down a new path.  Here are some of the goals I’ve laid out as well as some you might try, and how we can act our way into a new way of thinking.

1. Make exercise a priority.   4 a.m is my exercise time.  As we prepared for the Puristics launch in late 2010, I found 1,001 other things that needed to be done at 4 a.m. They all felt like higher priorities than exercising.  

  • I now lay out my work-out clothes in the evening and go directly to my bike or treadmill after the dogs have been fed, before my mind can think of excuses.
  • I signed up for the 5 Boro Bike Tour in NYC on May 1. It’s 42 miles, and I perform best with scary goals. Join me.  We’ll be Team Puristics.
  • I'm looking for running/biking events (preferably for charities) in our regional launch markets (Denver, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham). Please tell me about good ones. We're few in number, but Team Puristics is mighty! You could come out and cheer me on!
  • Check out and make a commitment contract if you need extra motivation.

2.  Enjoy the journey rather than obsessing over the destination.  This one’s hard for me because I’m SO goal-oriented, but I think it’s important to make sure that we’re not missing today while we’re focused on tomorrow.  Tips that might help:

  • Setting cruise control on the car to the speed limit (or at least close) to control the compulsion to pass every car ahead of you (I can’t be the only one with that urge!).
  • Listening to calming music or an audiobook while waiting for the TSA to check my i.d., boarding pass and stinky shoes. 
  • Asking the Starbucks barrista how the day is going while I wait for my venti Americano (a.k.a., jet fuel).  Connecting with a random stranger is an action that can really adjust your thoughts and mood for the day. 
  • While riding on a train or bus or walking down the street, try to imagine who might live in the houses you pass.  Try to think of their stories.  You’ll be amazed at how it makes you feel a part of the world rather than just a passerby. 
  • Smile at kids you meet and their parents.  Not in a creepy, scary way, of course!  A smile or an acknowledgement will let the child know that they’re connected to a bigger world and let the parent know that you understand and appreciate what they’re doing.

3. Give my children tangible examples of my love and commitment to them.  Yes, this happens (I hope) every day in our interactions and through every school play, hockey game or swim meet.  Still, I’m feeling the empty nest days getting closer and would like “pieces” of me and their childhoods to travel with them on their journey.

  • I bought yarn, new knitting needles and sweater patterns and have begun to knit a sweater for each of them.  Somehow, I hope this will give them warmth on the inside and out when they’re out on their own.  I make big Icelandic sweaters because the bulky yarn knits up quickly. is my current source.  And if anyone found the finished sleeve I left under the seat of a Continental flight from SFO to EWR, I’d love to get it back! (ugh!). 
  • If you’re a scrapbooker, a customized book for each child would be a great lifelong treasure.

4. Reduce the number of “yuck” assaults on your body.  For me this includes ingested “yuck” and slathered on “yuck”.

  • Pause and count to 10 before you reach for and consume ANY food or drink.  Make this a discipline for all food or drink regardless of the “good for you rating”.  This action should make you think more about the real need for what you’re consuming and give you a chance to choose an alternative. (Even consider changing your coffee choice)
  • Try the same exercise for a day with your personal care routine.  Pause for 10 seconds before you use a product so you can think about the choice.  Do you need to use 4 hair products every morning?  What’s in the face cream you’re about to slather on your skin?  (check the ingredients against a list like that on the Skin Deep website or the Dirty Dozen). Is there a better choice? Do you really need nail polish or will nicely trimmed, natural nails work for you?  You may find that you save time, money and exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.


Act your way into new ways of thinking.  I'd love to hear how you've made changes for the better and how you've done it.


Meet Puristics

 2011 is a very big year for Scerene Healthcare and Puristics.  We’ve just shipped our full line to our first regional retailers and expect them to be on shelf beginning in early February. 


Even though our product offerings vary across the categories, the purity and efficacy are consistent across the line.  I thought I’d take a few blog posts to introduce them to you one at a time, beginning with Puristics Baby


Puristics Baby care products are available in 3 different formulas:  


  • Puristics Baby Diaper Rash Cream
  •  Puristics Daily Diapering Cream
  • Puristics Baby Calming Lotion


All Puristics Baby products have been formulated with safety and purity at the top of our list of priorities.  But, we’d only choose products that actually do exactly what they claim to do for our babies, and we figured you'd feel the same way. So, we put natural emollients and soothing oils, like chamomile, into our Calming Lotion to moisturize and soothe baby’s skin.  In our diapering products, we used the naturally occurring mineral, zinc oxide, to treat and prevent diaper rash.  It's the number one choice of pediatricians and so it's our number one choice, too.  After we got the formulas just the way we wanted them, we made sure that the Diaper Rash Cream heals and protects and the Calming Lotion moisturizes and soothes baby’s skin.  All of them have been pediatrician-tested and proven to be non-irritating even on sensitive skin.  Read all about our ingredients and our process at

I remember vividly each product I lovingly applied to my babies' delicate skin.  I wish I'd had Puristics Baby at the time so that I would have been assured of the purity and the proven efficacy of my choice of products.  My babies are too old for Puristics Baby (the youngest are 13 and getting ready to use Puristics Pure Protection (just my daughter, actually) - - subject of another blog).  I hope you'll try Puristics Baby for your baby or share it with a friend.  It would be a great addition to a basket at a baby shower.  I'll be waiting to hear what you and your baby think.   


The Healing Powers of Mother Nature

Today, the Washington Post and several other news outlets reported the exciting and astounding:  Microbes have consumed all of the estimated 200, 000 tons of methane gas that “burped” into the Gulf of Mexico last summer in the wake of the BP oil spill disaster.  The environmental ripple effect of the disaster has not disappeared but at least the methane has.  Exciting and astounding.  While Mother Nature’s ability to heal herself is not news to me (the “comeback” of many of our waterways after the implementation of the Clean Water Act is a great example), the speed with which the microbes consumed the methane gas is really remarkable.  If we quit polluting or pollute less, we really can give the Earth a fighting chance.

I think we can do the same with our bodies.  We know that smokers can dramatically improve the health of their lungs by quitting smoking, even after many years.  Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by lifestyle changes and a commitment to proper exercise and diet choices.  Most fascinating to me is the way the brain can often compensate and “heal” after a traumatic loss.  I believe we can give our bodies an extra boost, or at least a fighting chance, by making better choices in our personal care products and foods. 

Much like the environment, if we quit polluting our bodies or reduce the pollution load, our bodies will have a chance to recover and to be stronger and healthier in the future.  There is simply no need to add to our personal pollution loads when we choose face lotions, feminine protection products or baby care products.  Choose products that deliver on the same benefits but avoid any extra “loads”.  It’s certainly not billions of gallons of oil or hundreds of thousands of tons of methane gas, but then again, we’re not giant bodies of water being scrubbed clean by micro-organisms.


Reducing Waste While Creating Abundance

During the holidays, I always feel some sort of primal urge to cook - - a lot. I bake massive quantities of cookies thinking that we’ll share them with friends and neighbors (rarely happens).  I cook overly rich dishes, often with ingredients that I’d never splurge on the rest of the year.  I find some reason why we can’t live without a Buche de Noel and elaborate, though flimsily built, gingerbread houses.  I know a therapist could have a field day with all of this cooking and baking, but it’s really not that complicated.  I like to demonstrate my appreciation for people with things I make myself (when you buy your first Puristics product, you should definitely feel the love!).

It’s hard to do all of this work in the kitchen without some waste - - food, packaging and energy. While I’m notorious in our home for scouring the fridge for leftovers, holiday cooking and baking is rooted in ridiculous abundance.  I’m not likely to put the family on rations during the holidays, so I like to find ways to preserve my treats and leftovers while reducing our waste and exposure to some of the nasties in plastic storage containers.  A couple of my tips for being more thoughtful in the kitchen are:

1. Store leftovers on attractive, microwave-safe plates.  When you go to “recycle” them, the food will feel less like a discard from the previous day and more like something tempting and yummy.  The plates make serving the food at the next meal a snap, and you eliminate the potential leaching of BPA from plastic containers

2. Package leftovers and a few sweet treats up as lunches for the kids.  It helps eliminate the usual lunchtime doldrums and “moves the inventory”.  I do this while the kids are home on vacation while I need to be at the office.  They’re less tempted to eat junk if they have something interesting and easy to eat.

3. Use reusable, washable “baggies” instead of the disposable plastic type.  I got mine at

4. Make a few extra batches of cookies and bring them to older neighbors with the kids.  Everyone wins in this situation.

Even though my kitchen is quite the scene from Thanksgiving through Epiphany, I have always involved the kids in the cooking.  Now that they’re older, they’re a tremendous help.  When they were younger, I had to pick the jobs more carefully and often selected special projects for us to make together.  If you have younger ones, Kiwi magazine is a great place to find inspiration for cooking with kids.  Cricket Azima really has a way with food and kids.

And then there's the energy consumption over the holidays. I heat up the oven so often at this time of year that I could practically shut the heat off in the kitchen. Because I’m chronically cold, I don’t mind the warmth, but it does cause me to think about the extra energy consumption.  A couple of years ago, we replaced a very old, gas range with an induction cooktop because of its tremendous efficiency and rapid heating.  It doesn’t make my kitchen carbon neutral, but it is a step in the right direction.  An added benefit to induction cooktops is that they work great with cast iron cookware. There’s something particularly enjoyable about making old family recipes in well-seasoned, vintage cast iron (some of my pans are quite a bit older than me).  If you’re doing any remodeling, I really recommend induction cooktops.  

What little ways can you blend old-fashioned holiday cooking with a more thoughtful approach to health and waste reduction? A few small changes here and there could help you keep in touch with what really matters.

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