Gluten Free Skin Care with Adina Grigore
This week’s Gluten Free School Podcast speaks with Adina Grigore to talk about the benefits of gluten free skin care. We spend a lot of time discussing the many toxic ingredients found in many products which you definitely want to avoid.
Here the topics we hit:
01:30 – Introducing Adina Grigore, founder and CEO of S.W. Basics. Adina shares how after two years of researching the natural skin care industry, she didn’t like what she saw and created her own products.
03:32 – Why less is more when it comes to natural, gluten-free skin care products.
07:31 – What you put ON your body —especially on your lips and hands— will inevitably get IN your body.
08:53 – Can you actually inhale gluten? What about fragrances and room sprays? What about people who work in bakeries?
09:44 – Top 5 ingredients that will not only irritate your skin, but are proven to disrupt hormones, a woman’s cycle, and disrupt moods, wil cause headaches, as well as cause water pollution and affect animals in the wild. These ingredients should be avoided at all costs.
15:20 – Don’t be fooled just because the amount of product put on your body seems small—putting toxic chemicals on your body, as well as all the toxins we are surrounded by has a cumulative effect.
16:15 – What ‘fragrance’ on an ingredient list really means, and how to proactively avoid taking a ‘wait and see’ position when it comes to regulating ingredients in skin care products.
17:43 – How sugar is detrimental to good skin. Skin-related pointing to inflammation and what it means.
20:53 – Anti-aging skin care products hinders young-looking, hydrated, glowing skin and how to get your skin to ‘glow’ naturally.
22:13 – What to do about dry skin and the truth about putting oil on your face.
25:19 – Oils that are actually good to put on your skin
27:42 – Key foods for good skin and how to know if they are working.
30:07 – S.W. Basics and their natural organic gluten-free skin care line.
Then take a moment and leave a review on iTunes sharing what you’ve learned and why others would benefit from subscribing as well!
Jennifer: Welcome back to the Gluten Free School Podcast. I’m your host, Jennifer Fugo. Today we’re going to talk about how your skin is being inundated with toxic chemicals and gluten when you use skincare products. I’ve invited on the show today Adina Grigore. She’s the founder and CEO of SW Basics. She’s worked in the wellness industry since 2007 as a private holistic nutritionist, personal trainer and Jill of All Trades at the raw food meccas of New York City called Pure Food and Wine & One Lucky Duck.
Adina started SW Basics because she’s got very sensitive skin and pretty much everything about her is sensitive including her digestion and her metabolism.
She started SW Basics as a way to create skin care products that were made out of real food, so they’re products you could literally eat if you wanted. Adina is going to share with us some really eye-opening and shocking information about the various food that we should have in our diet to help nourish our skin from the inside-out as well as what are the red flags in many products out there that are marketed as being great for your skin, but are actually incredibly toxic.
Welcome to the show and thanks so much for joining us, Adina.
Adina: Yeah! So first off, I’m so excited to be here and I’m super excited about what everyone is doing for themselves. I feel like this is a great step for people to take for themselves and especially for their skin care, so I’m super stoked to talk about that.
And for myself, I had a very similar journey. I studied nutrition. I used to work as a personal trainer. I have been very sensitive my entire life both digestive – I have had digestive sensitivities, but also skin sensitivities and I found as I went on my own personal journey to get healthier and started cutting out bad foods from my diet, started increasing the healthy foods in my diet, everything in my life started getting better except for my skin.
That was a really big awakening for me because I felt like I was doing things right for my skin as well. I’ve discovered the world of natural skin care, I was so excited and, “Oh, my God! There’s so many great products out there. I’m going to use them and everything is going to get better” and that just wasn’t happening.
So I spent a lot of time, over two years doing research and really getting to the bottom of the fact that ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean natural and that the skin care industry is a lot like the food industry where not only a lot of what’s being said is not true, but even when it is true, it’s just very super complex, strange ingredients – synthetic and natural ingredients – that were actually causing problems for my skin.
So I started developing products for myself. I just got in the kitchen and tried to figured out if I could really apply what I knew about food to skin care and that’s how I am where I am now. I found beautiful ingredients and amazing products when we put them together. I started trying to see if people would be interested in them. I found a huge audience of people that felt the same way that I do. That’s how I am here now.
Jennifer: Well I became a huge fan of your company after trying the lip balms because I have chronically chapped lips. Maybe I don’t drink enough water, I don’t know. We could look at it from so many different perspectives.
But when my lips get really dry, I bite them. And then they become red and sore and bleed. And so I really always have to have some sort of Chapstick or lip balm or something on me.
Unfortunately, a lot of the products out there, even lipsticks especially for gluten-free folks, have gluten in them. They have wheat as part of their formula to help bind everything together and I loved that your formula was so simple.
That was my path into becoming a huge fan of SW Basics. But again, it goes back to the idea that obviously less is more. Now I don’t need to use so much lip balm. I have this huge thick coating in order to keep my lips well. I just apply. I apply my SW Basics and I’m good to go!
So why do you think that less, when it comes to skin care, is actually more or better?
Adina: Well I think looking at the gluten issue is a really, really great metaphor for the entire problem. This is why. I think gluten, the attention that it’s getting is fairly recent and it’s so important that people are being educated about this ingredient that is everywhere that if you have a sensitivity to it – or God forbid, much worse than a sensitivity to it – it is for sure affecting you and you need to be so careful because it’s everywhere.
That’s how I feel about a list of things that’s like a hundred things long. When I say I’m ‘sensitive’ – and I think this word gets thrown around a lot – what I mean is I think there are probably a hundred things that if they are on my skin or I eat them will cause a problem for me.
The reason that was such a big deal for me is because not only does it make you sort of angry – like it made me mad that this stuff is everywhere – it also just makes you realize that it is in your control and if you just cut that stuff out, things will get better.
But I also discovered no one is doing that, no one is cutting it out, so I have to take things into my own hands.
So I think the ‘less is more’ thing for me made such a big impact because I realized, “Well, I can’t use all that other stuff, so what happens if I just stick to the stuff I know is really good for me. I just put those together and then I leave everything else out?”
A good way to think about this in skin care, if you are sensitive to one thing – maybe it’s gluten, maybe it’s something else (what if it’s gluten and something else) – and you are using 20 products every day who’s ingredient list is 20-50 ingredients long, what if one of those things has gluten in it or has something in it that’s causing a problem for you, you’re never even going to know. You’re never even going to get to the bottom of it.
I think that’s why – basically, I got so overwhelmed with trying to figure it out that I thought to myself, “You know what? Forget it! I’m not going to try to figure out what ingredient in lip balms is giving me chapped lips,” like you were saying, “I’m going to just make something that is the three things that I know do not give you chapped lips and make your lips really soft and moisturize.”
That’s kind of how I went product by product. Let’s just cut out all that extra stuff and only put in the stuff that I know is going to work and not make it super luxurious or exotic or, “Oh, my God! It’s going to prevent you from ever aging in your whole life,” which is BS anyways.
Jennifer: Yeah. And it’s interesting that you mention that because what came into my head right now is this idea that, “Yeah, okay. With lipsticks and Chapsticks, we have to be careful because ladies eat.” I mean, men use some sort of we’ll just say lip balm (because Chapstick is technically a brand), but we eat what goes on our lips. As much as we’d like to think that that doesn’t happen, it does happen. Maybe it doesn’t bother the surface of your skin, but you’re ingesting all of those chemicals. Gluten aside, you’re ingesting all of those potential chemicals that are actually in your lip balm of choice.
And then on top of it, you’ve got your hand cream. And this is one of the things that I always tell people. I’m like, “Well, what happens when you get out of the shower and you put your body lotion on or your hand cream and you feel all nice and soft and then you go into the kitchen and you start handling your food because you’re making your lunch for the day?”
No one is going to wash their hands after putting their body lotion on. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t. I never think to do that.
Adina: Yeah. Oh, of course.
Jennifer: If your products contain gluten in them or other nasty chemicals, that’s now on your food…
Adina: …going into your body, right.
Adina: Yeah, I say that all the time about fragrance too – not just fragrance, but room sprays and things like that. You are spraying something into the air. If you think that’s not going into your mouth, you are gravely mistaken.
Jennifer: Yeah. And I even saw a number of people who went to the International Symposium for Celiac Disease and all of the doctors there say, “Yes, we can affirmatively agree that if you work in a bakery, yes you are inhaling gluten. You should not be working around products that contain gluten if you’re gluten-sensitive because inhaling them, you’re getting gluten’d whether you’re a Celiac, you have a thyroid issue, you’re gluten-sensitive.” It doesn’t matter. You’re still inhaling it and it’s getting into your body that way. I think that it’s important to realize that.
But I also think too, people don’t realize that some of these ingredients don’t even need to be ingested. Aside from gluten, we’re looking at hormone-disrupters. What would you say are a couple of the most nasty ingredients…
Adina: …out there?
Jennifer: Yeah, that you might see on your labels?
Adina: Let’s do like a top five.
Adina: Parabens are a really, really big one. The nice thing about parabens is they’re really easy to spot. The gross thing about parabens is that there’s a dozen different kinds. So they’ll be listed in different names. They’ll always be at the bottom of an ingredient list. There would be like methylparaben, propylparaben, but it will always say –paraben.
I shouldn’t even need to say, but you’re totally right, they all kind of have the same problems. They are hormone-disrupters. At the very basic level, they will irritate your skin. But all of these ingredients that I’m about to mention have been proven to disrupt your hormones, disrupt your cycle, disrupt your moods. They give people headaches. All sorts of things that are now – they’re really bad for water. They cause severe water pollution and really affect animals in the wild. So these are all on that list. Let’s just say they’re all the same.
So parabens is one big one. Sulfates, I would say are second. And I think sulfates have become a little bit – they’ve become the sexy one for people to talk about, which is great. I wish the rest of them got talked about as much as sulfates, but sulfates is a really big one.
And same thing, it will definitely be listed on the ingredient list. The big problem with sulfates is when they are in a product, you will notice they are at the beginning of an ingredient list. So there’s a ton of them in the product that you’re using and usually, multiple different kinds.
And now – this was a big discovery for me – what a lot of natural companies will do is disguise it and use a different kind of sulfate.
But if there’s anything like alora sulfate, aloric sulfate or if it’s just anything that says sulf, it starts like that, it is a chemical that you should avoid. It causes severe skin irritation. It’s just a foaming agent that doesn’t need to be there.
Jennifer: Wait, wait, wait. I just have to stop you, wait. They put something that causes skin irritation in the products for your skin?
Adina: Yes! This is what’s so crazy too. The only reason these chemicals are in things is for cosmetic reasons – cosmetic meaning, sulfates is the thing that makes a product super foamy. We’ve just gotten so used to using stuff that is super foamy. We want it to lather and be really rich. That’s why they do it. It’s not about it working better or being good for you in any way, it’s about it just coming out of the bottle and looking a certain way.
So this is also the case for mineral oil, for example. Mineral oil kills me. This is a big lip balm ingredient that is a problem. When people say, “I have chapped lips all the time and I use lip balm all the time and it doesn’t get better,” it’s because they’re all used with a base of mineral oil.
This will be listed as petrolatum or paraffin oil or paraffin wax. It has some sneaky names of how it will be listed, but it is the same thing. it comes from gasoline and it is all only put into products to make it look shiny and plastic-y. They want the product to come out and make it look like it’s super, super moisturizing rather than actually being super moisturizing. Does that make sense?
Jennifer: Yeah, it does. Absolutely! That’s crazy.
Adina: It drives me crazy. It drives me crazy. Okay, that’s three. The fourth one I would say is propylene glycol. So propylene glycol is the new – you know, we went through a trend where we’ve all thought about or heard about aluminum in deodorant, so now they’ve sort of transitioned away from having aluminum – thank goodness, but now they’ve transitioned to propylene glycol, which I don’t believe is that much better aluminum.
They form free radicals. They penetrate your skin barrier, so they will absolutely go all the way through into your body. It is extremely toxic to the extent that – like when you were saying about bakeries, all of these ingredients are just straight toxic for everyone. So it’s not just bad for people who have sensitivities. It is so toxic that in factories where propylene glycol is used, every worker has to wear protective gloves, eye protection and clothing that covers their entire body.
Jennifer: Oh, my gosh.
Adina: …which is incredibly ironic because they’re using it in a product that then is going to go on top of your body.
Adina: Are you blown away? I thought this was crazy. It’s like amazing! And I think what’s stressful about it is that this stuff is all listed in ways that people are like, “Oh, yeah. Be careful. Don’t have it in high quantities.” That just drives me crazy because it’s like, “Yeah, but if it’s in every single skin care product you’re using, that’s pretty high quantity, right?”
Jennifer: Absolutely! And we forget, we think it’s just a little dime-size or it’s a teaspoon-size, but it’s cumulative, folks.
Jennifer: And that’s important to remember. It is an cumulative effect. You can’t say, “Well, I only use my skin lotion once a day,” well yeah, you use it once a day, that adds up, but what else are you using that has it in it on top of that and then add those instances all up, plus what you might be getting from – you know, our water supply has these various chemicals and toxins in them, so you’re consuming all that. If you’re consuming bottled water, you’re getting toxins from that.
So we have to realize that our lives are inundated with toxic chemicals. And I think your skin care – I mean, your skin is your first line of defense. You should do your best to really remove as many toxins as possible.
Adina: Totally! Exactly! And I think that ties to just the last one I would say, which is fragrance. This is how I think of all of these ingredients.
The thing about fragrance is that fragrance is an industry-protected ingredient, meaning companies have rallied so much with the FDA that they can just name fragrance on the label so that they can protect their ‘trade secrets’. A fragrance could come from up to 4000 separate ingredients that were put together to just say ‘fragrance’.
Adina: So I think this is the thing about looking at the label and just – and this stuff can sound really scary. It’s more about if there’s something on there that seems shady to you, just assume it’s shady and look at the next product. If there’s something there that’s causing an irritation, that’s only the tip of the iceberg of these ingredients and they’re all in there because they’ve just managed to get around being regulated and being taken out and we’re taking a really long time to regulate that.
So in the meantime, it just makes more sense to avoid them and go – it’s amazing! It’s not just us. There are a ton of companies out there that are now doing the right thing. So it’s better to just look for those or better yet, make your own products, which is my favorite thing.
Jennifer: I know. They’re so good. So I want to switch gears because we’ve been talking about the outside of the body, but what happens? You have shared with me that sugar is really detrimental to good skin. How does that happen?
Adina: So sugar is an inflammatory as I’m sure we all know now from your lovely program. And I think inflammation is the #1 thing that causes bad skin. This is not just because inflammation not just in the literal sense – but also in the literal sense. When you wake up feeling puffy or swollen, sometimes you’ll look at your skin and you’re like, “Argh! It just doesn’t feel right,” like it looks wrong, that’s from inflammation.
But on a deeper level, inflammation that happens inside your body makes it so that your skin can no longer flush itself correctly. So when you have this combination of – aside from this stuff that’s going on top just like you were saying, from the inside, if your skin is not being provided with the right method to flush itself to fight off the stuff that’s going on top of it to cleanse itself which it will do, you’re going to have all the problems that comes. So this is eczema, psoriasis, clogged pores, breakouts, acne, rashes. All of these are symptoms of what is happening inside your body which is that when sugar is going in and your body is working so hard to process it and to deal with it, it is getting inflamed and then it is causing the actual – like the actual top of your skin can no longer clear yourself.
Does that make sense? I’m trying not to make it too technical.
Jennifer: Yeah! It does. For anybody who has seen my before and after picture (of before I was gluten-free and then after), you mentioned inflammation, one of my symptoms before I was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity was that I had put on almost 20 lbs. Fortunately, that’s where I got it to halt itself, but God only knows how much worse it would’ve gotten had I not, however you can see this clear inflammation throughout my face, my neck. It was through my whole body. You could see my whole face is completely puffy and splotchy.
And even now, if I happened to get gluten’d, one of the first signs aside from a headache is that my skin on my face will get this really incredible dry, red, scaly kind of irritated rash across my cheeks and such.
It is a testament to the fact that what you put inside your body is going to show up on the outside. So if you’re sensitive to dairy, to gluten or you’re eating a lot of processed foods, how can you expect your skin to glow?
Adina: Right, right. And I think added to that, a really interesting thing that happened in the skin care industry is the focus on anti-aging skin care really fascinates me because it’s such a band-aid – like this is not how you correct premature aging. Premature aging happens from the things that you are putting inside your body that are making it so that your skin, your body cannot help your skin look young and hydrated and glow-y.
Yeah, the glow that everyone talks about is from taking really good care of yourself. I think that’s another one that people don’t really talk about or think about, but sugar is going to affect how much your body can take care of your skin. And that means you’re going to start seeing sagging and wrinkles.
And of course I also think that there’s so much focus on not aging and that’s kind of crazy like yes, you’re going to age, everyone. We need to deal with it.
The way that you said it is perfect. You will a notice a difference instantly. I didn’t have a question. I will never question it anymore because I saw the difference in my skin.
Jennifer: So what happens if you have really dry skin. That was one of my issues. I’m just curious. I was so afraid I always used like creams and moisturizer – like you said, the laundry list. I mean, oh my gosh! There are so many ingredients in some of these ‘natural products’ that are out there in the supermarkets and on the drugstore shelves and I started to say, “Okay, can I simplify this? Can I use just products that have natural oil in them?” And then I will go and I have thing where I’ll do a photoshoot or shoot something for a video or whatever and a make-up artist will like go, “No, you can’t put natural oils and natural fat type things on your skin. That’s really bad.” What is your take on that?
Adina: Oh, man! I have very strong opinions about this. So the oil thing is a big myth in the industry that has been perpetuated by the industry. And the reason that it exists is because of mineral oil. Mineral oils has been used in products for decades as a very cheap way of putting moisture into the products, but it creates a film over your skin and causes you to breakout. That is completely accurate, completely true. It is as if you’re taking saran wrap and covering your skin and not letting it breathe.
Jennifer: Argh, that doesn’t sound good.
Adina: Exactly! And so what happened was in – I would say maybe the late ‘80s cosmetic companies realized this and started to come out and instead of God forbid going, “We made a mistake. This was not a good ingredient, so now we’re going to replace it with natural oils,” they decided to pitch this as, “Now we’re oil-free.” You see these products all the time on shows, “Oil-free… oil-free… oil-free…” without educating the public about what that meant, which was, “We’re no longer going to put mineral oil in this.”
And so I think people have seen that so much now that they look at it as oil in general, which is kind of the same that’s happened in the food world about fat. You think all fats are the same and they’re not. It’s exactly the same for skin care. You will break out from mineral oil. You will not break out from any natural oil unless you have a sensitivity to it – so coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil. All the oils that are good for you to eat will be good for your skin. They will soak in. They will feed your skin in your body and now people don’t understand the different.
Think about it. It’s so intuitive. Avocadoes are good for you. An oil that comes from an avocado is obviously going to be really good for your skin, but there’s just been these like sweeping generalization in the industry that make people not understand the little nuisances of the difference between one oil from another oil.
Jennifer: Yeah, and I’ll actually say, I will admit it now and I have admitted it on my blog, but I don’t buy all of those moisturizers anymore and I do use natural oils on my skin – sesame, I don’t know whether it’s ho-ho-ba or jo-jo-ba?
Adina: Yeah. I say jo-jo-ba, but it’s ho-ho-ba. I understand.
Jennifer: So I use one of those. If I’m scooping out some coconut oil and there’s a little left in the spoon, I’ll take that and slather my hands.
Jennifer: I use natural oils on my skin and I have greasy skin. I am a greasy – I just always have. And unfortunately as a teenager, I had acne. I used tetracyclene and some of these other medications and retin-A and all sorts of stuff on my skin to get rid of the acne and I was told, “Never put oil on your skin.” So that moment, that pivotal moment about four years ago where my sister suggested that I put sesame seed oil on my skin because it was so dried out and so irritated and painful was like the scariest moment of my exterior self’s life because I was so afraid that I was going to break out… and that’s not what happened.
And that’s one reason why I really like SW Basics because I’m not afraid of that kind of stuff and I think that people get so turned off by the idea of like putting some of these natural things on their face when in actuality, it’s nourishing your skin.
It’s funny, like I was going back to those make-up artists, they’ll all go to me and say, “Your skin is so beautiful. What do you do?” And then I tell them, “[gasp] Oh, you know, you shouldn’t do that.”
Adina: And you’re like, “Wait!”
Jennifer: You just told me that I looked really great without make-up on and now you’re telling me that I shouldn’t do that and I should use all these products loaded with hormone disrupters, gluten and all sorts of weird, funky things.
I appreciate you sharing that. Everybody, stop being afraid to put natural oils, natural ingredients on your skin. That you shouldn’t be what you’re afraid of. You should be afraid, you should be terrified of the chemicals that you don’t know what they are. That is where you should be afraid.
So real quick Adina, as far as your diet is concerned – I know that you know a lot about this – what do you think are some good key foods that you would suggest – like what helped you? What were some good foods to add into your diet that help with good skin?
Adina: In general, greens will make a very, very big impact on your skin. The thing that I like about greens – and this is the range of them (kale, spinach, collard, chard) – is that they pack so much nutrients that a little bit goes along way. And of course that doesn’t mean just like, “Eat it once in a month and you’ll be great. Everything will be all better,” but it does mean that the second that you start consuming more, you will notice a difference in your skin.
I would say also – and I know that this could be tough, but when you’re transitioning away from sugar – and Jen, maybe you can tell me more about this. I’m not sure how you guys talk about fruit, but I do think that things like blueberries and green apples and citrus, like lemon can really help your skin.
Adina: I’m not sure if we’re in the zone…
Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely.
Adina: That’s okay? Okay, good.
Jennifer: Yeah, I love them.
Adina: Okay, good. The fruits that aren’t very sweet made a very, very big difference for me both in improving my diet, but also I just noticed a huge improvement in my skin.
And then the last I would say is that it varies for everyone, there are some foods that you’re going to notice actually make your skin better and there’s some foods you’re going to notice that someone else, it really works for them, but it doesn’t work for you.
So I love seeds like chia seeds and sesame seeds and flax, but some people do better with chia than they do with flax. The thing that’s nice about your skin is that you’re going to notice right away. You just have to experiment. And when you’re experimenting with good foods, you’re going to notice that your skin improves immediately, which is a really nice way to not feel like you have to do something for like six months before you actually see something.
Coconut, just like whole foods. Anything that’s a whole natural food is going to improve your skin immediately if it’s something that you can have in your diet and you feel fine with.
Jennifer: So just real quick, I’m sure everybody is wondering what is SW Basics and what do they offer. You guys, pretty much because from what I have found in being gluten-free (and I just try and be mindful of that), you have a whole line. You’ve got the lip balms. I’m trying to think. I’ve got cleanser. I’ve got toner. I’ve got make-up remover.
Jennifer: I know. I have a scrub for the shower. I have a hand cream, which is awesome. My hands feel so good afterwards. You’ve got a bunch of stuff. The only thing for anybody that’s gluten-free you might want to be caution about, you have an oatmeal scrub that you guys don’t use gluten-free oats, correct?
Adina: Yeah, we’re working on it. So right now, what’s really tough is that there are facilities that process organic oats and facilities that process gluten-free oats and there’s no facilities that process organic gluten-free oats. But we’re working on it.
Jennifer: Cool, cool! You have to let us know. You guys have a great line. I would encourage everybody to go check out www.swbasicsofbk.com. We’ll definitely post up a link here, so you guys can check out what Adina is doing.
But thank you, Adina so much for joining us. I really, really appreciate it.
Adina: Thank you. And go, everyone! Good for you guys for making these good changes in your life.
Jennifer: Stay in touch with Adina by visiting her on the web at www.swbasicsofbk.com. There, you can shop, check out all the different information that she has on her site, her various body care products and the industry of skin care itself.
Now remember, everybody, go and subscribe, rate and review this podcast. It really means a lot to me. All the feedback that you leave, I do actually read it. And then head on over to Gluten Free School and leave a comment on the blog with your questions or any thoughts that popped into your head as Adina and I chatted today. We’d love to answer your questions so go leave them there.
Thank you, guys so much for joining me and I look forward to talking you all the next time. Bye bye.
The links referred to in this episode are:
S.W. Basics’ Website — www.swbasicsofbk.com
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