We want to take a few minutes to share with you why we’re searching for better bath and beauty products. We’re looking for products with minimal ingredients that are natural, organic and wholesome. We’re looking for products that align with our ethics and don’t harm the environment or wildlife.
Before we talk about the alternatives, let’s understand the problems we have with conventional personal care products.
It basically boils down to three main issues…
// A desire to reduce our exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and toxins.
// Concern over the environmental impact of certain ingredients.
// The ethical impacts and social responsibility issues surrounding certain ingredients.
Let’s dive right in shall we?
Chemical Ingredient Exposure
First off we want to make clear that we don’t take an alarmist approach on this. There’s a lot of misunderstanding and fear mongering when talking about vilifying chemicals.
The term “chemical” is almost always used incorrectly in this context. ‘Chemical’ just means a form of matter, or substance, that has a consistent composition and properties. Everything contains chemicals. Water is a chemical, it’s a stable mix of hydrogen and oxygen to make molecules of the chemical water.
The ingredients in any natural product contain the many, many chemicals that make up the original ingredients. We don’t list the chemical components of an avocado on a label but they are at least as unpronounceable as the “chemicals” we’re cautioned to steer clear of.
Let’s dispense with the rhetoric claiming that all chemicals are bad and get a clearer picture of what we’re actually trying to avoid.
We want to eliminate the artificial and potentially harmful compounds that are added to most mass market personal care products. The David Suzuki Foundation created this list of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ ingredients that we should look out for. A survey by the foundation found that about 80% of products that subjects listed as using regularly contained at least one ingredient on this list.
Our concern isn’t so much with the small exposures we would receive using a product occasionally, it’s with the constant barrage of exposures day after day. How many products do you use in a day? Think about it for a minute… toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, antiperspirant, face lotion, body lotion, lip balm, hair product. That’s 9 products already and we haven’t even gotten to make up yet.
The body is good at cleaning up minor toxic exposures, but I don’t think the wear and tear inflicted on our cells from dealing with multiple exposures every day for years on end is something to take lightly. Not when alternatives are easily available (more on that in a minute).
Many common ingredients have a dark history you may not know about.
Palm oil is made from the fruit of oil palmtrees and is used in a huge number of every day items including cosmetics and personal care products. It’s being harvested unsustainably causing huge areas of deforestation and contributing directly to driving orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhino’s towards extinction.
Squalene is a type of shark liver oil used in moisturizers and other products. Sharks are being hunted mercilessly and wastefully and their population declines are causing permanent changes to ocean ecosystems. You may not want to swim with sharks, but the ocean needs them. Similarly named Squalane is a plant based substitute but it is more expensive so many manufactures choose the cheaper, shark based additive.
We can’t forget the environmental impact of all that excess packaging most brands have. So much needless garbage (plastic garbage, the worst of all) is produced by wrapping all those little jars and tubes within an oversized blister pack. On top of that we throw out all those tubes and containers of product once we’re done with them. Waste on top of waste.
Lastly, at the end of the day, where does all the makeup and hair product go once we cleanse ourselves? Where does all the soap, shampoo, conditioner end up? In our lakes, rivers and oceans. In the case of the recently outlawed plastic microbeads, even IN fish. The bottom line is that there’s no washing this stuff “away”. We’re one planet, there is no away, we’re just adding more and more waste to our ecosystems without enough consideration for the consequences.
It’s not only the obvious ethical issues surrounding environmental and species damage that concern us. We also care about the social responsibility surrounding ingredients. We think fair trade is important and that everyone involved in the production and manufacture chain deserves a fair wage and safe working environment.
We also want to note the fact that many personal care products contain animal products derived from the food supply chain. Gelatin and tallow are common ingredients and are made from rendered animal remains leftover after the saleable parts are removed.
If you are vegetarian or vegan you may decide that you want to avoid these ingredients based on the same principles you base your diet choices on.
Of course another biggie is animal testing. As much as it’s outdated and there are better, proven ways to test without animals, they’re still subjected to the cruelties of cosmetics testing. Companies are required to prove safety, but they are not required to prove that through testing on animals. There are other ways and no reason not to use those alternatives.
How do we do better?
Good news! The concerns we share are becoming more common and mainstream. As people learn more about the advantages of natural, sustainable lifestyle the market is (slowly) beginning to shift to support that. More businesses are answering consumers calls for natural and ethically produced products. Here are just a couple we’re familiar with…
// Ashley Asti : One of our favorites. Committed to nontoxic ingredients, environmental stewardship and giving back.
// EccoBella : EccoBella: Offers a range of organic, vegan, minimally packaged products.
// LUSH Cosmetics : One of the bigger name brands in the game. Ethical ingredients sourcing practices, minimal packaging and no use of animal testing.
You can also make most of your own personal care products yourself and it’s easier than you might think. A few basic ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax and your favorite essential oils will get you started. We’ll be sharing plenty of DIY beauty in the coming months if you’re feeling motivated!
So dear readers, what do you think? Have you considered making your beauty routine a little more natural? Has anything been stopping you from trying a natural brand instead of your favorite conventional one?