Arizona resident and founder of Citrine Natural Beauty Bar Melissa Lenberg developed rheumatoid arthritis as a teen, and consequently developed a heightened sensitivity to the products she put on her body. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and lotions, soaps, and cosmetics placed on it seep into the body, and, some believe, alter its functioning.

As Lenberg grew older, her passion for cosmetics led her to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a professional makeup artist. However, after returning to her Arizona hometown, Lenberg found herself revealing her beauty secrets to inquiring friends and family members. The safe, toxin-free, all-natural beauty products she used made her skin glow while making her feel good about the things she put on her body.

To share her passion of natural cosmetics with others, Lenberg opened Citrine Natural Beauty Bar in November 2012 at Biltmore Fashion Park’s Union, a place offering local retailers small spaces in the glitzy shopping mall.

Rheumatoid arthritis warrior follows passion and opens natural cosmetic shop.

Lenberg told Frontdoors News:

“It is important to bring attention and awareness to arthritis, the nation’s leading cause of disability. I encourage everyone to be cautious about what they put in and on their bodies, especially makeup and beauty products. My store offers only natural and toxic-free products which I feel comfortable using on myself.”

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1.5 million nationally. The disorder is an auto-immune disorder, which means the body attacks its joints as if they were a foreign substance such as a bacteria or virus.

The immune systems of those with the disorder can’t tell the difference and seek to protect the body but actually cause more harm than good. Widespread inflammation can lead to damage in joints and organs including the heart.

The severity of symptoms varies from person to person, but include joint stiffness, especially in the morning, and swelling, along with pain and fatigue.

Traditional beauty products include a host of chemicals, some of which may cause harm to the body.

The same products used over time can cause gradual changes in the body, leading to allergies or other health hazards, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which publishes a database on the safety of various commonly used cosmetics chemicals. Many chemicals used by cosmetics companies are not tested, and so their safety impact to humans is relatively unknown, particularly when it comes to cumulative exposure.

Research is limited, although some studies have shown an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis associated with exposure to compounds common in cosmetics. Swedish researchers found repeated exposure to mineral oil, commonly used in cosmetics and derived from petroleum, can increase a person’s risk of the disorder. Mineral oil poses moderate concern for immunotoxicity, according to EWG.

Using all-natural beauty projects may promote health and overall appearance of skin.

Sulfates, parabens, and petrochemicals are those that Lenberg singles out as particularly insidious, causing potential system toxicity as well as blemishes, enlarged pores, and premature aging. The beauty bar owner says using natural products helps to restore a person’s natural glow and improves the overall appearance of his or her skin.

Sulfates, for example, are often found in shampoos to generate lather. Common derivatives include sodium laureth sulfate, which EWG says poses a moderate risk for organ system toxicity and high concern for irritating the eyes, skin, or lungs.

Safety risks for parabens, meanwhile, vary depending on the type, but can present significant risks. Propylparabens, for example, score a 10 on EWG’s hazard ranking—the most hazardous there is. The group says the compounds disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking estrogen and pose a moderate risk of immunotoxicity.

For Lenberg, using natural beauty products offered a way to promote health while still feeling beautiful. The store carries high-end lines including Jane Iredale, Ren, and Apothia LA. A signature attraction includes an essential oil bar where customers can create their own signature mix and purchase a bottle of the all-natural fragrance.

In addition to custom-made, essential-oil based fragrances, Citrine Natural Beauty Bar stocks all-natural fragrances such as Joy Juice perfume, made of scents including blood orange, a strawberry-like scent called davana, rosewood, and marigold.

All-natural products, like those from Citrine Natural Beauty Bar, offer the same beauty benefits as their chemical-laden counterparts without the health risks.

Typical perfumes contain a cocktail of synthetic chemicals, despite their natural-smelling aromas. What’s more, companies rarely disclose the chemicals included, making it difficult for consumers to made educated decisions about their safety. The perfume industry uses any number of more than 3,000 chemicals, according to EWG.

According to the organization’s analysis of several perfumes, as many as 66% of chemicals included in the fragrances but not listed on labels had never been tested for safety, while 19% of those listed on labels never underwent safety testing.

Perfume makers are exempt from federal laws requiring ingredients to be listed on labels.

To avoid the safety and health concerns associated with chemical-laced perfumes and cosmetics, many health-conscious people and those with disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis look to natural products for their beauty fix.

Many of these brands offer plant- and mineral-based products that may cost more, but offer the promise of youthful-looking skin and ingredients that don’t harm the body.

Citrine Natural Beauty Bar stocks body care products, such as lotions, facial care lotions, masks, and serums, along with cosmetics including eye shadow, blush, and mascara. Freshen up in the shower with natural, plant-based shampoos, conditioners, and body washes. Other natural products carried include natural candles and home scents.

Natural products include powerful, plant-based concoctions for every day use and weekly indulgence. For example, a honey mud cleanser features honey mixed with white halloysite clay, and oils including ylang-ylang, myrrh, and frankincense.

Lovers of colorful cosmetics will find products such as RMS Beauty’s sublime lip shine, a fuchsia-colored product that doubles as lip and cheek color. The product features coconut oil and beeswax, along with several certified organic ingredients.

Options for foundation include Per-fekt’s skin perfection crème, which includes SPF 30.

Have you ever used natural beauty products from Citrine Natural Beauty Bar?

Image by tommerton2010 via Flickr

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