Eating lots of fresh wholefoods, organic where possible, and incorporating nutrient-rich superfoods into your diet, creates a strong foundation for good health. But that isn’t the whole equation. Unknowingly many of us expose ourselves to toxins – in our environment, the skin care or make up we use and our household cleaning products. This toxicity can build up in your system, causing illness and stopping you from feeling your best. One way to limit this is by replacing chemical-based skin care and household cleansers with natural organic alternatives, and moisturisers with natural oils, such as Coconut Oil or Sacha Inchi Face and Body Oil.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Buffy-Ellen Gill. Buffy is the founder of Be Good Organics, an online organic plant-based food and beauty boutique. Buffy worked as an Executive Director and Senior Research Analyst at Goldman Sachs for almost eight years, before a serious health scare led her to a more natural organic lifestyle, and the founding of Be Good Organics. Through this new lifestyle, and removing environmental stressors and toxins, Buffy was able to heal herself of Graves’ disease, a type of autoimmune disease. You can read more about her journey here. Through this process Buffy discovered the hundreds of toxins she was absorbing through her skin care, make-up, perfume and household cleaning products - all impacting her health. Since then she’s spent a huge amount of time researching this topic and looking for natural alternatives.
We’ll hand you over to Buffy to share her thoughts and research on the beauty industry.
I want to share with you some important discoveries I have made about our everyday skin care and beauty products, so you can avoid them too. Here are some scary facts about the personal care and beauty industry. These differ slightly between countries, but the general approach holds true:
- Almost any chemical can be used as an ingredient in personal care products
- Labels are allowed to be misleading and incomplete - companies don't have to list all their ingredients.
- Unsubstantiated claims about product benefits are completely allowed.
- There is almost no required safety testing of products or ingredients - less than 20% of ingredients have actually been assessed.
- The average woman uses 12 products per day containing over 168 ingredients (absorbing 2kg of chemicals a year); a man goes through 6 products with 85 ingredients; a child is exposed to 5 products with 61 ingredients; whilst a teenage girl is exposed to a whopping 17 products with over 230 ingredients every day. Most of which are untested safety-unproven chemicals.
- Products commonly contain penetration enhancers to drive ingredients deeper into the skin - that means more chemicals absorbed into your blood stream.
- These chemicals have been scientifically proven to be linked to cancer, endocrine/hormonal disease (alarm bells for me), thyroid function disruption (more alarm bells), learning disabilities, asthma, respiratory disease, skin disease, liver damage, brain damage and development problems, immune system damage, male and female reproductive hormone dysfunction, damaged sperm, and foetal development issues.
You're kidding me right? Surely our governments would be onto this stuff? Unfortunately the clout of large pharmaceutical and beauty companies, who have a heck of a lot to gain from the industry (and equally as much to lose), use their bargaining power and bulging wallets to make sure safety regulations banning these practices aren't ever passed.
Watch out for labels that say "natural" or "organic". There are currently no regulations in place governing the use of these terms, which means a product can contain only 1% organic ingredients and 99% chemicals, but slap "organic" on the label.
The same goes for products labelled "paraben free", "ammonia free" and "sulfate free". They're usually from big companies who've succumbed to the public becoming aware of the dangers of a certain ingredient. So they remove that particular substance, leave the rest of the chemicals in there, and slap a "xxx-free" label on the front alongside some pretty pictures of flowers and rolling fields. They’ll sometimes even state a product is “xxx-free”, when that particular supposed nasty ingredient isn’t even normally in that type of product. It's called "greenwashing".
Even certification doesn't always guarantee safety - products certified as organic can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients, depending on the certification body and type. Learn to be a stealth label reader and always turn a product around to see what ingredients are in it. If you can't recognize them, it's probably a good sign to ditch it.
NASTIES TO AVOID
Here are some key ingredients to avoid: Parabens (propyl, isopropyl, butyl, isobutyl), Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP (dibutyl phthalate), PEG, Ceteareth, Polyethylene, Petrochemicals, DMDM Hydantoin, Triclosan, Retinyl Palmitate or Retinol, and Oxybenzone. This is merely an entree into the lengthy list of chemicals we're exposed to. Also avoid anything with "Fragrance/Parfum", unless you've researched exactly what's in it. This is a ‘catch all term’ many companies use, that can include over 3000 undisclosed chemicals.
If you're not sure about an ingredient, visit the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. You can enter any ingredient, as well as a number of brands, companies and products, and find out the hazard rating.
THE ORGANIC ALTERNATIVE
So what can I use I hear you say? Luckily there are a growing number of companies out there who truly care about this topic, and are doing their ethical darnedest to create skin care ranges for both men and women, that are truly natural and organic, kind to the environment, aren't tested on animals, and actually work. Once you make the switch, you'll suddenly realise that that stinging sensation you used to get from your "serum" was not normal!
So how can you take action now and make the switch? Pick one product (food or beauty) that's almost run out, and challenge yourself to replace it this coming week with an organic alternative. Small baby steps are the key to creating massive change - to both your health, and our planet. I promise you will feel a surge of goodness, both physically and emotionally, when you do it!