A couple weeks ago I read The Green Beauty Guide. It is the ultimate guide to organic and natural skin care, hair care, makeup, and fragrances. Not only is the book HUGE, it is jammed packed with great information. It is the Bible of green and natural beauty. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
The beauty industry is a huge multi-billion dollar industry. We are bombarded with ads in magazines on the television that tell us these companies have succeeded in creating beauty in a bottle. They make money hand over fist selling products to us that are “supposed” to make us look more youthful, give us softer looking skin, hide our imperfections, and make us look like a supermodel. But they are not so forthright in telling us that their products are full of chemical ingredients that can do more harm to us than good. Your skin is your biggest organ and it needs to be treated with care. This book is a must read for every woman.
I am really impressed with the author Julie Gabriel and what she accomplished with this book. I asked Julie to answer a few questions so enjoy the interview below and make sure to find out what beauty struggle she overcame with green, organic, natural ingredients.
Q: Why are natural and green beauty products and practices getting so popular?
Julie:We are becoming more and more aware of the harmful effects of synthetic ingredients used in conventional beauty products and spa procedures, no wonder green beauty industry is evolving so quickly. And it’s becoming more appealing, too. Five years ago green beauty products were less attractive and far less effective than conventional versions, but today green beauty is often more luxurious than synthetic beauty, or junk beauty, as I call it, similar to junk food. It’s a common sense to go green today, since you can replace every single jar and tube in your bathroom with green, non-toxic products that cost pretty much the same money but aren’t harmful for your health.
Q: What are some of the dangers associated with conventional products?
Julie:Most synthetic chemicals used in conventional products have never been tested on humans for safety. Science is only beginning to reveal the long-term damage linked to the continuous use of such chemicals as toluene, phthalates, liquid paraffin, paraben and formaldehyde preservatives. Sadly, list of potentially toxic, carcinogenic chemicals can go on and on.
A few days ago an angry reader complained: so you mean, I cannot wear perfume? Chanel is too toxic? It’s impossible to get away from all chemicals all the time, that is completely unrealistic, she said. Well, it is realistic to abstain from toxic beauty. All it takes is a shift in your consumer habits. Instead of being a slave to a flashy logo or wasting money on a chemical cream that costs pennies to make but sells for hundreds of dollars simply because it bears a famous logo, you’d better become a slave to organic ingredients, plant extracts, and essential oils. Your skin and your wallet will only thank you. And to think of perfumes, there are hundreds of wonderful all-natural perfumes that are just as exquisite as the department store bestsellers, but these botanical wonders contain no phthalates or preservatives.
Basically, the lack of solid safety record based on human studies is the main thing that bothers me about conventional beauty. Humans have been using beeswax, olive oil, aloe vera, or, say, calendula for centuries. However, most of the chemicals used in conventional beauty have been introduced only a few decades ago, and our bodies simply have no mechanisms of coping with these chemicals. Instead of eliminating them, we store these toxins in our fatty tissue making them tiny time bombs that may explode later in our lives infesting us some of the most horrible diseases.
Q: What are your tips for finding the safest and most natural products?
Julie:Always begin with the ingredients list. Many online stores now offer complete ingredients lists along with customers’ reviews. I recommend Drugstore.com, SaffronRouge.com and Lovelula.com for their integrity and great selection of organic and natural lines. I used to like Sephora, but their recent move to eliminate ingredients lists from their product descriptions made me think that this company is not willing to educate consumers by offering unbiased, comprehensive product information.
Health food stores used to be the trusted source of green beauty products, but today many greenwashed products appear on store shelves along with pure and natural oils and butters. Just because a shampoo is sold in a health food store, it doesn’t mean it’s all-natural and safe. Always scrutinize the ingredients list, even if you have to use magnifying glass to make sense of it.
For the biggest bang for my organic buck I go online. Most companies who sell essential oils, flower waters, plant extracts, waxes, and juices, have a selection of ready-made cleansers, creams and lotions. They may sell them in larger quantities, for example, by a gallon, but to think, you are getting quite a lot of a base product to play with for the price of one bottle of a department store brand cleanser. You can spruce it up with some active ingredients like copper peptide, kinetin, or hyaluronic acid, or you can spice things up with essential oils. If you have sensitive skin, you can keep the lotion as it is, and it would be just water, olive oil and waxes. What can be gentler? In any case, the resulting product will be much cheaper than a conventional, store-bought version, and you will know for sure what goes into it. Plus, online shopping is rather green because you are not burning gasoline to get to the store. Of course, online retailers are guilty of burning jet fuels to deliver the goods to you, but overall, the environmental impact is much smaller, especially if you don’t shop overseas.
Q: Do the organic, natural beauty products work just as well as conventional ones?
Julie:Product by product, all green beauty products work better than conventional ones. I am a very discerning beauty junkie. After all, I made my living by evaluating beauty products and writing about them. I used quite a lot of non-green products in my life, and I was happy to spend lots of money on them. I am guilty for promoting some of the worst, most toxic beauty products out there, so maybe this book will help mend the damage…. Anyway, my conversion to green was complete when I got rid of my persistent adult acne by switching to organic, completely natural products. As far as I remember, these were organic baby products, a cleanser and a baby lotion. Today I use only homemade products made with certified organic ingredients, and my skin looks better than it did five years ago. I never suffered dry flaky skin, or brittle nails, or dry scalp, or split ends when I switched to organic body products and hair care. Everything I use today is very, very basic and inexpensive. I only add expensive active ingredients to my face and eye creams. Still, an ounce of my homemade cream with peptide blend costs up to five times less than a retail version, and my cream contains no preservatives, mineral oils, silicones, or any sort of synthetic fillers. Maybe that’s why my skin doesn’t break out any more?
Q: Can you share some of your favorite tips from the book?
Julie: I practice what I preach, and every single tip and recipe from my book I tried on myself, on my baby daughter, and even on my husband. I always have a jar of my manicure scrub: it’s a jar filled with fine sugar and jojoba oil, scented with vanilla and lilac essence (for the fun of it). When I need my cuticles to look great, I rub the oily sugar goo into my fingertips and slowly massage the sugar into the skin while rinsing under warm water. I save tons of money on salon appointments this way! Olive oil is my number one body moisturizer, and I use plain jojoba oil to remove makeup. I am a fan of oils! I also use plain flower distillates, also known as flower waters, as toners and hair conditioners, but make sure you buy them organic, for conventionally grown medicinal plants can be heavily sprayed with pesticides. I make my own perfumes from essential oils and flower waters, and of course, I make my own baby products to pamper my baby daughter. Believe it or not, it hardly takes a half-hour to whip up a three-month supply of a cleanser, a toner, and a face cream, and you get triple reward: you save money, you know exactly what goes into your beauty products, and you simply take pride in cooking something that’s good for you!
Wednesday, November 19th, 2008