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Things we like ... for Chinese New Years.

During "Gung Hay Fat Choy" season it is the custom in the Asian community to wish each other good health in the coming new year. However, Julia Kwan, a Chinese-Canadian filmmaker, would remind us that wellness begins with better access to natural products.

As a recovering cancer victim, Kwan was dismayed by the number of so called "natural" beauty products on the market that still contained harmful preservatives and parabens.

"Cosmetics and personal care products are more robustly regulated in the European Union than in North America, notes Kwan". "To date, the European Union has banned over 1,300 cosmetic ingredients believed to be toxic, whereas the U.S. has only banned 11."

It was her frustration in trying to find healthier alternatives that led to the creation of Swan by Kwan, her own skin care line. The Everything Wonder Balm is the small Vancouver company's first product and is made from only five ingredients: cold-pressed camellia tea oil, beeswax, organic coconut oil, vitamin E (which acts as a natural preservative), and pure lavender oil. Used sparingly on body, face and lips, the silky balm is quickly absorbed, leaving not a trace of greasiness.

Available in bar or balm form, the pocket portable product is packaged in reusable glass and tin jars, all decorated with colourful graphics inspired by 1930's Shanghai posters.  Find them for sale at Treasure Green Tea (227 East Georgia St.) or The Soap Dispensary (3718 Main St.). Price range: $10 - $20.

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Copyright Cityfood Magazine 2009