Pharmaca Blog

  • The iredale Secret

    jane iredale offers luxurious, chemical-free cosmetics that protect your skin with all-natural minerals while delivering radiant, flawless coverage. Here’s how it all began.

    Beautiful beginnings
    Jane Iredale began Iredale Mineral Cosmetics after more than a decade of collaboration with A-list celebrities as a casting director in New York. Through her work, Jane had learned how important radiant, healthy skin is for women’s confidence, and in the case of celebrities, their career. In 1990, Jane swapped The Big Apple for the apple orchards of the Berkshires in Mass., where the company is still based today. Working in tandem with plastic surgeons, dermatologists and sustainable-development experts, Jane launched her brand from the basement of her home. Her very first product was Amazing Base, available in five different colors. When an order came in, Jane would cut a sprig of lavender from her garden to enclose in each package.

    Today, jane iredale offers a full line of mineral cosmetics and makeup accessories, available at skin care specialists and beauty apothecaries in more than 40 countries. A frequent recipient of prestigious industry awards, jane iredale is also a model for corporate responsibility. As an active supporter of PETA, Global Green, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Teens Turning Green, Jane is living proof that beauty is as beauty does.

    Why minerals?
    Mineral makeup is the natural choice for women who are looking for safe, multipurpose cosmetics with show-stopping results. In a world where words like “natural” and “organic” have lost their meaning, the best way to describe authentic mineral makeup is “clean.” Real mineral makeup is better for your skin because it is free of FD&C dyes, synthetic fragrance, talc, parabens, phthalates and synthetic preservatives. jane iredale mineral powders contain a foundation, concealer and powder, and where the label indicates an SPF, they also include sunscreen. Clean, healthy and packed with active benefits, it truly is THE SKIN CARE MAKEUP.

    Why jane iredale?
    As important as skin health is, when it comes to makeup, women want beautiful results—and mineral makeup is unparalleled in this category. In the 16 years that Jane has been in business, she has yet to see a woman return to traditional makeup once she’s found a mineral brand she likes. Women and men of all ages, with varying skin challenges, can turn their lives around because of the benefits of mineral makeup.Why? Celebrated coverage, for starters. Minerals reflect, refract and diffuse light for a glowing, soft focus effect that makes skin appear luminous, youthful and radiant.

    Next up: weightlessness. Minerals are made up of flat crystals that layer on like fish scales, allowing skin to breathe and function normally. This makes mineral makeup an ideal choice for people with skin conditions like acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation or redness.

    In the end, mineral makeup offers protection, efficacy and beautiful results. And mineral makeup from jane iredale offers cutting-edge colors, sustainable packaging and charitable initiatives that actually make a difference.

  • Get Great Skin Care Advice Through MyChelle’s Ask Our Esthetician Program

    If you’re ordering online or simply have a question about skin care, take advantage of the Ask Our Esthetician program from MyChelle Dermaceuticals, one of our favorite skin care lines (and a fellow Colorado company!).

    Here’s how it works:

    You come up with a question about MyChelle products, or need some general skin care advice. Want to know which ingredients are best for a humid climate? Or which facial cleanser to use for your skin type? MyChelle’s expert estheticians can help.

    Next, call MyChelle’s toll-free Ask Our Esthetician number: 800.447.2076. Better yet, dial in via Skype, FaceTime or iChat so you can have a face-to-face conversation with the esthetician. Call during normal working hours, and if they’re not on the phone with another customer, they’ll be able to answer right away.

    Skype name: mychelle.dermaceuticals
    iChat: onemychelle

    Make things even easier by downloading their iPhone App—MyChelle’s Pocket Esthetician. With a touch of the screen you’ll be able to connect with a real esthetician, or book an appointment for later. (Bonus: the app features MyChelle’s skin care tip of the week!).

    After your consultation, explore our MyChelle selection at!

  • Research Says Chocolate Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

    We’ve heard about many of the health benefits of chocolate—and now there’s even more healthy evidence. A new study shows that chocolate has significant cardiovascular health benefits when consumed in moderation.

    According to "Eating Chocolate Cuts Risk of Heart Disease," published by the University of Cambridge, eating chocolate is associated with a significantly reduced risk of certain cardiovascular disorders. The original research for this compelling study was published in the British Medical Journal in early 2011.

    Researchers reviewed seven studies utilizing data from 114,000 patients. They found that people who consumed the most chocolate had a 37 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than people who consumed less chocolate. Additionally, the patients who consumed the most chocolate had a 29 percent lower risk of having a stroke than those who consumed less chocolate. The studies involved dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate drinks and other products that included chocolate.

    While new research continues to show us that chocolate can be a healthy addition to our diets, don’t forget that it’s also packed with calories—so don’t overindulge!

    To learn more about healthy foods and how to supplement your diet with the vitamins and antioxidants your diet may be lacking (such as the flavonoids in chocolate), please consult a Pharmaca practitioner.

  • Johnson’s Baby Shampoo Still Made with Known Carcinogens

    Two years ago, at the urging of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Johnson & Johnson began working to phase out two known carcinogens from their Baby Shampoo: the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Recently the Campaign publicized the fact that those chemicals are still present in the basic formulation (though consumers can pay extra for the carcinogen-free version, Johnson’s Natural Baby Shampoo).

    The public announcement seems to have worked, since Johnson & Johnson released a statement on Oct. 31 saying they are “phasing out these types of preservatives in our baby products worldwide.” How quickly this actually happens remains to be seen, but you can write to Johnson & Johnson directly via the Campaign website.

    Until then, take comfort in the fact that Pharmaca offers a wide range of baby shampoos and washes that are always free of toxic chemicals. We love the Yes To Baby Carrots line, also on sale this month!

  • Good Digestion All Stars

    InflammationDigestion issues? Good news. There are a variety of tools that can help smooth out indigestion and other intestinal issues. Here, Kate Brainard, naturopathic doctor, gives some suggestions for natural digestive aids that can make everyday meals more pleasant.

    If you need long-term digestive support

    "There's not anyone out there that shouldn't be on a probiotic," says Kate. "Especially if you have regular bouts of indigestion, like constipation or diarrhea, probiotics are crucial."

    For travel-ready probiotics that don't need refrigeration, turn to Dr. Ohhira's or Jarrow Formulas' Jarro-Dophilus EPS. But Kate's favorite is Bio-K: "It's a life-changing product. They're in a live culture, so once it goes into the digestive tract it immediately starts colonizing," says Kate. "I've had people say 'this product has saved my life'."

    If you're about to eat something you know doesn't agree with you   

    "If you're eating a big meal, or something that you know will cause heartburn," says Kate, "that's a great time to take enzymes to help break down the food." As we age, especially, our natural production of enzymes decreases and can leave behind big food molecules that enter the bloodstream and throw our immune system out of whack.

    That's why Kate suggests taking enzymes right at the beginning of a big meal. "It's going in and supplementing what your body is already making," she says. For a simple approach, chew papaya enzymes like Zand Herbals' Quick Digest. You can also try MegaZymes by MegaFood, a formula that combines powerful enzymes with probiotics, as well as carminative (or gas-fighting) herbs like ginger and marshmallow. For more chronic digestive issues, try Enzymedica's Digest Gold.

    If you tend to get heartburn

    Heartburn can come from a number of issues, including dysfunction in the lower esophageal sphincter caused by low stomach acid, hiatal hernia or even certain foods (acidic or fatty foods are often culprits).

    If you're worried about heartburn, take some preventive measures-Kate recommends Natural Factors' Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) , which goes in and coats the lining of the esophagus to promote healing. "It doesn't necessarily treat the heartburn, but will definitely make the meal experience more pleasant," she says.

    Kate also suggests a customer favorite called Heartburn Free, from Enzymatic Therapy. Formulated from orange peel extract, the capsules only need to be taken every other day until you get more permanent relief.

    If you overeat

    Those carminative herbs--like fennel, ginger and other spices--can be a great post-meal digestive as well. Try a cup of hot tea like Traditional Medicinals' Eater's Digest, which combines digestion-enhancing herbs with the benefits of warmth, which Kate says will naturally help move digestion along. Or simply take a few of Gaia Herbs' Gas & Bloating capsules.

    Ultimately, Kate recommends simply slowing down and enjoying your holiday meals. "We all know that this is the time we're going to indulge," she says. "But you're going to walk away feeling a lot better if you can take breaks between eating."

    Bring your specific digestion questions to a Pharmaca practitioner.

  • Our Beauty Favorites

    In honor of our winter Spa Day events, we talked to a few customers, practitioners and staff members about that one beauty, body or hair care item they just can't live without. Here are a few favorites.

    "I love MyChelle's Fabulous Eye Cream--it has plant stem cells and I have seen a decrease in my fine lines around my eyes. So now I use it all over my face!"
    -Kristine, Facebook fan
    I really like Sanitas' Vita C Serum. It really does help restore the skin's tone and eslasticity, and we've found it can even help with acne and hormonal breakouts. And a little bit goes a long way--all you need is a small amount and you can usually see a noticeable difference within a week or two.
    -Cecily, Pharmaca Esthetician
    "I am currently hooked on the John Masters Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner. I have super long hair and it keeps it from getting tangled. It smells really good and it keeps it smoother and shinier."
    -Lauren, Pharmaca team member 
    "I really love Juice Beauty's Cleansing Milk. It works great, smells great and it's a natural product that's hard to find. But I can always find it at Pharmaca!"
    -Jody, Facebook fan
    My favorite is the Andalou Naturals Kukui Cocoa Body Butter. It smells so good and has no nasty chemicals!"
    -Robin, Pharmaca naturopathic doctor
    "Burt's Bees Sensitive Night Cream. It's very moisturizing without being greasy for our dry Colorado winters. It doesn't irritate my sensitive skin, and it's not expensive!"
    -Deirdre, Facebook fan
    "The number one choice for me is Juice Beauty's Green Apple Peel. Customers use it and come back and tell me how much of a difference it made for them for acne, pigmentation, dryness, etc. It's like what you would get in a spa, but it's a natural, certified organic option that still does something for you!"
    -Mina, Pharmaca esthetician
    "I love the Peter Lamas Rice Protein Shampoo. My hair was really dry and kind of limp, and now it's super soft and shiny. It's also really helping with the dry winter scalp."
    -Diane, Pharmaca team member
    "Jurlique Hand Cream, especially in Rose, is the ultimate luxury. It's so moisturizing, and it's the only thing that keeps my hands soft and crack-free during Colorado winters. I gave it to all my female relatives for Christmas last year!"
    -Tiffany, Pharmaca team member
  • Nordic Naturals Extends Their Environmental Commitment

    We’re happy to say that one of our best-selling, and most practitioner-recommended brands of omega-3s is now even more eco-friendly. Nordic Naturals just announced that their new headquarters in Watsonville, Calif. earned LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.

    Nordic Naturals is already well-known for their commitment to sustainably sourcing their fish oils, and they’ve extended that environmental commitment by creating an eco-friendly space to house their operations. The 87,000-square-foot building features environmentally friendly elements like recycled rubber and cork flooring, low-VOC paints and solvents, and water and energy-saving fixtures and lighting.

    Learn more about Nordic Naturals’ commitment to purity, efficacy and sustainability. And shop our everyday low prices on Nordic Naturals at!

  • Everyone's Talking About Sea Buckthorn

    Sea buckthorn


    So by now you're probably up on all the health benefits of omega-3s. But have you heard about omega-7? It's the new fatty acid that everyone’s talking about, and it’s usually derived from sea buckthorn oil. Our practitioners are recommending it like crazy for moisturizing and nourishing the skin. First we heard about its anti-aging properties, and then about its ability to infuse moisture into the skin during the winter months.

    Sea buckthorn is a deciduous shrub that grows throughout Europe and Asia. The spiny plants produce a yellow or orange, berry-like fruit. Over the centuries different populations have used the fruit for everything from juices to desserts to liqueurs—as well as for a wide range of medicinal purposes.

    The oil extracted from sea buckthorn berries contains a specific fatty acid called palmitoleic acid, an omega-7 fatty acid, along with potent antioxidants like carotenoids and phytosterols. [Side note: In Russia, sea buckthorn is clinically approved for use as a medicine, where it’s prescribed for inflammation, circulatory disorders and cellular regeneration, among other things (via Natura Health Products).]

    At Pharmaca, you can find sea buckthorn in New Chapter’s Supercritical Omega-7 (currently in the process of being reformulated), and in combination with omega-3s, 6s and 9s in Natura’s Beyond Essential Fats. Speak with a practitioner about whether it might be a good addition to your current supplement regimen to boost skin health and support the sensitive membranes that line the digestive tract.

  • Expert Advice: Good Winter Skin

    Worried about what the cold weather and dry indoor heat are going to do to your skin this winter? Here, our expert estheticians sound off about their favorite skin-saving tips for winter.

    Name: Jeri L, Esthetician, Santa Fe
    Recommends: Hyaluronic Acid

    “Hyaluronic acid is this great humectant that holds moisture to the skin,” says Jeri. “You don’t feel greasy, you just feel hydrated.” Pharmaca carries a number of products that feature hyaluronic acid, and Jeri especially loves Mychelle’s Ultra Hyaluronic Hydrating Serum. She uses it twice a day, after cleansing.

    Name: Jenny M, Esthetician, La Jolla
    Recommends: Jurlique’s Moisture Replenishing Day Cream

    “People get dry, chapped skin as their oil production slows in the winter,” says Jenny, even in southern California where it’s summer-like weather year round. That’s why she loves Jurlique’s Moisture Replenishing Day Cream, filled with shea butter and avocado oils, which she says can be used day or night on the face and neck. “It’s so thick and luxurious, it’s like butter!”

    Name: Maggie B, Esthetician, Redmond
    Recommends: Sunscreen

    “People don’t think they need sunscreen in the winter, but they do,” says Maggie. “Especially for winter sports—the reflection of the sun off snow can burn you in just a few minutes.” She recommends the especially hydrating Replenishing Solar Defense SPF 30 from Mychelle.

    Name: Jenn R, Esthetician, Mill Valley
    Recommends: Essential Fatty Acids

    “Topical hydration can’t touch your skin if your internal hydration is off balance,” says Jenn. That’s why she emphasizes the crucial role that omega-3s play in hydrating our skin from the inside out. For women especially, Jenn will turn to a well-rounded formula that includes borage or primrose oils to help balance hormones, such as Nordic Naturals Complete Omega 3-6-9. Jenn also really likes the omega-7s found in sea buckthorn (try New Chapter’s Supercritical Omega 7, which Jenn says they can’t keep on the shelves). “I would take both of these in the winter if you’re noticing that your skin is drier than normal.”

    Name: Janet N, Esthetician, Oakland
    Recommends: Sanitas’ Topical C

    “For colder weather I like Sanitas Topical C, which is very protective for the skin,” says Janet, adding that that protection is especially important when the heat comes on inside. She loves that this healing vitamin C comes in a thicker base, and can be good for burns and chapped skin. “I have people that use it all year round,” she says, adding that she even layers it over eye cream or an anti-aging cream to further seal in active ingredients.

    Visit a Pharmaca esthetician for your own personalized winter skin care tips.

  • Natural Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

    Breast cancer is one of the most pervasive illnesses that women deal with today—one in eight women will be affected by it in their lifetimes. That’s why this Breast Cancer Month we’re focusing on some ways to reduce breast cancer risk.

    Reduce exposure to plastics

    Research suggests that the BPA found in many plastics, which can leach from containers into the contents when scratched or heated, has estrogen-like activity that disrupts hormones. By throwing off the body’s hormonal balance, your body may be more prone to develop hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Click here for more information about the most important plastics to avoid, such as PET, PVC and polystyrene.

    Choose organic and natural

    While there haven’t been direct correlations between pesticides in food and risk of breast cancer, most experts agree that it’s good to reduce your exposure to all chemicals, many of which can act as hormone disruptors (e.g Atrazine, a common herbicide used on corn and sorghum). That means eating foods that have been grown organically, and choosing home cleaning products that are powered with plant-based cleansing agents instead of chemical ones.

    Practice regular, loving exams

    Janine Pera, herbalist at our store in Novato, Calif., recommends a monthly self-exam that incorporates massage to help reduce any feelings of anxiety that can accompany normal self-exams. She adds that breast massage can also help keep the lymphatic system moving and clear out toxins. Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about essential oils that can help in this practice.

    Avoid anti-perspirants

    We’ve all heard about the connection between anti-perspirants and breast cancer, and though it has yet to be clinically documented, Janine says there are valid reasons to stick to deodorants. “The job of anti-perspirants is to keep you from perspiring, but that’s our way of detoxifying,” says Janine, adding that it’s especially important to allow for that detox in such close proximity to the breasts. (Click here for information on the topic from the National Cancer Institute.)

    Instead, choose a deodorant with essential oils. “Deodorant is for the odor, which is caused by bacteria,” says Janine. “Some essential oils have antibacterial properties to them and work really well for deodorant.” Look for antibacterial essential oils like thyme, mint, cinnamon and clove.

    Stock up on cruciferous veggies

    The health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage and kale, have been well-researched. The powerful antioxidants in these veggies can, among other things, help metabolize hormones, which can be helpful for a variety of women’s issues, from breast cancer prevention to premenstrual syndrome.

    You can boost your intake of these important antioxidants through supplements such as New Chapter’s Broccolive, which is packed with extracts of broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and mustard. Or try Indole-3-Carbinol from Thorne Research, which helps maintain proper estrogen ratios. And Natural Factors’ Estrosense combines indole-3-Carbinol with broccoli sprouts and anti-inflammatory herbs. “Even starting in one’s 30s can be helpful,” says Janine.

    Because doctors can’t link the development of cancer to any one risk factor, there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer. Nevertheless, our practitioners always recommend a healthy lifestyle, balanced nutrition and positive mind-body practices to help achieve optimal wellness.  

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