Great question, L.J., as there is a lot of hype about parabens but not a lot of scientific backing to the cytotoxic claims. We respect our customers and their desire to have non-paraben preservatives in their face and body products, so all of our facial products and most of our retail products are paraben free!

     The truth is, parabens do occur naturally in plant sources such as barley, strawberries, black currants, peaches, carrots, onions, cocoa-beans, vanilla and in foods prepared from fruit such as grapes and fruit juices, yeast extract, wine vinegar and cheese. The have an anti-microbial property and that is why they are used in very small quantities in products — to prevent the growth of bacteria, yeast and mold in the lotions and potions we are spreading over our skin!

     The paraben controversy began with a very small study conducted in England in 2004. The study looked at the paraben level in 20 cancerous tumors. Although paraben was one of the many molecules detected in these cells, it does not prove that parabens cause cancer or that they are harmful in any way. As a matter of fact, they did not even compare the level in that tissue to the levels that naturally occur in healthy tissue! In addition, although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much, much less estrogenic activity than birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and even the body’s naturally occurring estrogen!

     So why the hype? Unfortunately, sometimes companies use false information to differentiate their products and create consumer demand. At The Garden Spa’T, we do our research to avoid false claims and give you the information and high quality natural products you deserve, such as Eminence’s Tropical Vanilla Sun Cream SPF 32.

     For more information about parabens and other unsupported cosmetic claims, visit:
The American Cancer Society’s website.

     Liz, I could write a novel about those brown patches a.k.a. hyperpigmentation a.k.a. melasma a.k.a. pregnancy mask. Simply, they are areas that have produced more melanin, the pigment that makes our skin have “color”. It turns out that estrogen and progesterone levels in combination with sun exposure are the culprit. That is why melasma is often seen in woman with only 10% of the male population experiencing this harmless but aesthetic issue.

     Prevention is the name of the game and that is easier said than done. Things to avoid in order to reduce your chance of developing melasma: the sun, the “pill”, pregnancy, menopause, being a female.

     Okay! I know you want an answer that does not involve becoming a male vampire! Use sunscreen particularly if taking any kind of hormone therapy or you are pregnant. If you have already developed melasma, prescription strength hydroquinone blocks the production of melanin in your skin while Retin-A causes new cells to be made very rapidly. They must be used in conjunction with one another for optimal results. Call Dr. Lantry’s Laser and Skin Care Center at 818.247.2170 to schedule a consultation for this prescription.

     The Garden Spa’T carries organic Tropical Vanilla Sun Block spf 32, and Stone Crop products that naturally block melanin production.

     Jack, the symptoms you describe are indicative of keratosis pilaris rubra (KPR). KPR occurs in 40% of the adult population and is more common in woman than in men. Although both you and your wife have it, KPR is not contagious. It is actually attributed to an autosomal dominant genetic follicular condition…in other words, you inherited it.

     It occurs when dead skin cells (that normally flake off) are left behind and form plugs that block the hair follicles. The blocked follicles form small red bumps that have a dry feeling when touched. Although it looks inflamed it does not itch or hurt. This skin condition is absolutely harmless and gets worse when the skin dries out in winter, during pregnancy and after child birth.

     I highly recommend The Garden Spa’T’s 20% Glycolic Acid Body Smoothing Lotion. This product delivers a hardy punch of fruit acid (feel the tingle!) to help unclog pores and it actually does smooth the skin! Sunlight, coconut and emu oils (applied and consumed) are also helpful.

     A diet remedy is to consume foods rich in Vitamin A and take whole food supplements such as the ones found on my website at



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