All posts by larken

Mac Cosmetics and Mineral Fusion are both Un-safe

View what the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database has to say about the ingredients contained in the beauty products I use the most by clicking on their names:

Concealer from Mineral Fusion

Liquid Eyeliner from MAC Cosmetics

I have left messages at both of their Corporate Offices to inquire why they have not joined the Compact for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I am really sad that their products contain toxic chemicals, but it might explain why with daily use my skin is irritated and won’t heal fully.

Wha? Mac Cosmetics and Mineral Fusion are Unsafe? from altar alternative on Vimeo.



A view of my essential bathroom drawer

This is a picture of the products I use enough that they ended up in my most accessible bathroom drawer:

The cuticle clippers provide what I thought was a divide between cosmetics that I know are safe and one’s that are not. However upon further inspection a few of the cosmetics found in the lower portion of my picture promote themselves as “Safe, Good for you and made from good ingredients” but as I am referencing the Safe Cosmetics Compact neither MAC nor  Mineral Fusion are listed as signers I trusted their advertisements and so now I will need to investigate this more.

It looks like at the moment my entire beauty ritual system needs a complete make over.  Does any one have any products that they love that are all organic and that heal and promote your natural glow and assist in your self expression? What does it mean to live chemical free? I have a feeling that being a pretty girl has never looked or felt so good!

The one product that I can guarantee is organic and safe is the Daily Replenishing SPF 30+ that is slightly tinted that I picked up from Jeanne-Michelle, a full time esthetician and holistic health care provider and the founder of  San Diego Holistic Skincare.  I actually met her last week when I grabbed an orange from the doorstep of her awesome Natural Beauty Salon in downtown San Diego.  She grew up in a family where they always picking berries and making jam.  Everything they made was always from scratch and she has been making her own skincare products for years.  She has begun offering one day basic intensive workshops to groups of women to show how simple easy and cost effective it is to create your own superior chemical free skin care products. She provides all of the ingredients and everything needed to make our own moisturizers, creams, toners, hand cream, muscle rub, cleansers, lip balm, bath salts and milks. I am so excited for the next workshop in May.

I am hoping that in the coming months that everything in my bathroom will be 100% safe. I would also like to help my sister, friends, mom, aunt, grandma, the young women I meet when I lead media and bicycle storytelling workshops and YOU find chemical free products that work.  Together we can transform our beauty regimen into a life long series of beauty rituals!


Don’t give up!  If you need help envisioning how you might maneuver to the retreat, we’d still love to have you and we can goal coach you through it, or look for loops that hook everyone in effortlessly.


<3 Give me a call

Let’s discuss!




So You Are Going Packing?

SO EXCITED YOU ARE JOINING US FOR THE 3rd ANNUAL Wild Spirit Mountain Retreat! Please fill out this quick questionare around your: wants/needs/desires

We’ve included a packing list below so you can start gathering the items you need now. This email includes a list of things you will want to bring to enjoy all of the amazing outdoor adventures ahead.

TRAVEL: You will need to fly to Durango (DRO) Wednesday August 14th* or the morning of August 15th.  Otherwise fly to Montrose (MTJ) before noon on the 15th! To get home fly out of Montrose (MTJ) on Monday around noon or carpool to Durango for an early morning flight the next day.

 Please let us know what you are planning or if you need help with finding flights–we are happy to help you organize!ALTAER_3111

You can get almost everything you need FREE/BORROWED/CHEAP from friend or at second hand stores (army navy) or at Craigslist.  I had basically none of this stuff when I started preparing for my first Altaer retreat.

The camp is located right on the rim of a remote river valley. Our luscious campground overlooks a precious impressive ravine filled with a gurgling chilly stone filled creek.  Surrounded by the Uncompagre Mountains that we climb and explore, we are engulfed in the perfect setting to tune in and let go.

The climate is warm during the day and cold, brisk at night.  We are in the mountains so it cools down a lot at night. We must also be prepared for summer rainstorms.  Anything lightweight, natural fabric, waterproof is great.  Warmer clothes are necessary at night. Layers are great.

The hike from the trailhead to camp is approximately 7 miles and we will be attempting to carry as much as possible on our backs. If you need help, though, we will have back up support from The Cow Creek Outfitters, our hero cowboys lead by a wild mountain woman who is our benefactor and willing collaborator.  They set us up a really nice hefty duty kitchen tent, practice tents and sauna tent.  We also have a campfire every morning and night along with a hearty, healthy meals with decadent treats and recepies inspired by the local raw-food restaurant, Turtle Lake Refuge.  This year we will ALTAER_3074wildcrafted healing herb tea!


A helpful packing list:

Remember pack light: it’s a wilderness experience.

Tent to have a little sanctuary for when you want to be alone and cuddle up at night. IF YOU NEED A TENT, WE CAN HELP FIND YOU ONE FROM THIS END!

Backpack for the main luggage and small backpack as a daypack.

  • Last year I used a Kelty bag, which I loved, it has lots of pockets and lots of ways to fasten things like water bottle, tent and sleeping bag.

Day Back Pack Journal and pen. Like what you’d take to school when you were younger, but smaller.

  • I did a lot of writing and drawing. I enjoyed having coloured pencils which I picked out in New York at a really cute stationary store. I did quite a bit of letter writing (because that is what I enjoy) and I was happy to have envelopes and paper to create little wilderness care packages for people by flashlight in my tent.  Bring what you need to be happy. If it’s a litte drum, a camera, an instrument, or a special treat-do what moves you.

Sleeping bag or blanket. I used my backpack filled with clothes as a pillow last year.

Yoga Mat

Roll Up Camping Mat. Thermarest makes one that rolls up small and with a few puffs of air gets comfy.

Snacks for a special potluck hike with our favorite treats, yummy granola bars or nuts and dried fruits are good for inbetweenies and when hiking.  Some folks had freeze dried teryoki salmon last year that was pretty tasty.

Jacket for chilly night time explorations or to wear by the campfire

Waterproof lightweight Poncho–be prepared to dance in the rain!


Cooler breathable long sleeved jacket with pockets or vest long sleeve situation.

Sunhat or Viser with brim to shade eyes

Winter hat that covers ears with fleece on the inside like the Danish do in wintertime

Natural toiletry products (shampoo, soap, repellent, sun screen etc.) Dr. Brauners is great for Soap and Shampoo. We also like: By Nieves & Pura Bella for Skin Care (since we know the women who make the products) and Colorado Super Salve Company for Sunscreen & Mimosa Blossom.

Flashlight, with batteries and extra bulbs (depending on flashlight) Wind n Go flashlights and lanterns that charges the batteries by winding up a little lever good deals at Amazon for these types of re-chargeable human powered LED systems.


Towel and face towel

Your own water bottle
. Klean Kanteen is nice but any Army Navy Surplus Store has good options for this and the next few things. Just make sure whatever you get isn’t toxic and doesn’t leak.

Hot Beverage Container for Mate, Tea, Coffee.

A pair of flip flops or sandals: River crossing shoes that are easily dryable are perfect.  Emily More rocked her cool amphibeous KEEN Sandals ast year.  Chaco brand is also on our list.  I borrowed some old Doc Martens my friend had kicking around and spraypainted them gold and switched out with some Croc  sandles. Even Tennis Shoes would work, but Merrell and Kenai makes some really nice hiking boots.

Comfortable dance pants, Thai pants, jogging pants..for dance classes etc. maybe 2 or 3…loving UlaSport



T-shirts Onno makes bamboo yummyness in Colorado

Long sleeved shirts for nighttime Zavella makes bamboo threads in Colorado

Camera. Love Cannon Powershot and Flip Cam. There is also a really talented photographer aboard our trip who might catch a couple of candids!

Rubber boots
 you may not need these but if you do, you don’t want to be with out them you can get em cheap at a Feed Store for cheap in Durango.


Hiking socks and warm socks Teko makes some right in Colorado!

A special treat that you can bring to reward yourself for being radically self reliant and ready to dance in wilderness.



Katie, Emily & Larken

            The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Step- Lao Tzu