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A Lesson in Authentic Beauty

April 29, 2011
beauty

Whether it’s dipping into latest Sephora finds or scanning through celebrity looks, my heart has always fluttered just that much more when it comes to beauty. Being an eco writer, I figured I pretty much knew all there was to about eco beauty.

When I heard about holistic nutritionist and eco expert, Rachel Avalon’s lecture on eco beauty, I was curious to see what she would be discussing. Knowing there is at least one natural makeup product that meets my approval, and often putting pestle and mortar to use in my kitchen for new facial concoctions, I wondered what she would have to say about beauty that I didn’t already know.

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I walked into the lecture room, paper and pen in hand and ready to soak up what I thought would be new beauty tips. I also got a chance to have a quick meet and greet. With people pouring in, we quickly took our seats and the presentation set sail to what was going to be a revealing look at the beauty industry.

Moments in, I was capsized by own limited perceptions of beauty. Rachel began with where our beauty products are coming from, what’s in them, and how detrimental they are to our health. The virtually self-regulated cosmetic industry is saturated by politics and hazards, even though one could argue the two were never really mutually exclusive anyway. Though we all know about lobby groups, Rachel’s knowledge of what exactly comprises the beauty industry which policies so easily saunter past the red-tape (and why), and how they affect us, is absolutely horrifying. In short, I learned that just like the IRS, we should never really trust the so-called “safety” regulations.

But to learn what was actually in all those lovely pressed powders, tubes and jars left me thoroughly disgusted. So what’s in it exactly?

Think Gemma Arterton’s scene in Quantum of Solace, where she’s covered head to toe in oil, and then you’ve got a very small picture of what you’re actually spackling on yourself everyday. The trauma of what Gemma’s character goes through varies disfiguringly with our own experience, after all, with that much toxic waste on her she inevitably died. On the other hand, we go about our day with ten fold more and think we’re glamorous. Put on, rinse, and repeat.

Considering we toss ourselves into a daily beauty gauntlet with questionable (and sometimes cancer-causing agents), you can only imagine how much damage we’re doing to ourselves in the long run.

If you factor in that our skin absorbs 60% of what we put on it, and with the average girl wearing makeup at 14, by the time you’re 85 you’ve been exposing your body to harsh chemicals and toxins for over 70 years! It’s no wonder that we have such a high rate of cancer in society, with one in three women and one in two men now being diagnosed with it.

If you factor in that our skin absorbs 60% of what we put on it, and with the average girl wearing makeup at 14, by the time you’re 85 you’ve been exposing your body to harsh chemicals and toxins for over 70 years! It’s no wonder that we have such a high rate of cancer in society, with one in three women and one in two men now being diagnosed with it. The role of cancer in beauty was another interesting component of Rachel’s lecture, and got me questioning about how many chemicals I expose myself to daily without even thinking about it all in the name of beauty.

And beauty isn’t just for women. Conscious care is definitely something both men and women need to think about (because almost everyone uses shampoo, soap, deodorant, etc). I brought my fiancé who was absolutely astounded by what he learned from Rachel’s lecture. According to Avalon, women use more than 186 chemicals a day, but men use a competitive 85 chemicals per day and that’s not including if they’re overly metro sexual with a bathroom stash able to beat that of any beauty maven’s.

If you consider the basics, (such as shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc), it’s easy to see how the average American uses about 10 products a day which exposes them to about 125 chemicals!

This beauty maven, however, went home and started tossing products away and recycling the containers despite their cost or how much was still left in the bottle. Applying the tips I learned from Rachel’s lecture I read the labels of all my products getting rid of anything I knew to be toxic, cancerous, and/or made from products I wouldn’t be within range of if I saw it in its unprocessed form, such as petroleum and placenta.

The result, I took Rachel’s many fantastic tips and alternatives, and am now putting them to use as I test the market for truly eco-friendly beauty products that are both earth-friendly and fabulous. Much like every other beauty lover who hawk-eyes every new beauty product or fad on the market, my new approach is to hone in on the ingredient labels to see if products are really what they appear to be. The result, gorgeous intelligence, as Rachel would say.

A Lesson in Real Beauty by Shireen Qudosi

  • Martha
    April 29, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I’m with you. My awakening happened when I read the book No More Dirty Looks. If you haven’t read it, you MUST. And at the end there is a handy list of ingredients / chems to avoid 🙂

    • Eco Beauty Editor
      April 29, 2011 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks for sharing Martha. Always great to know about life changing books. There are some more listed at http://www.ecobeautyeditor.com/books, which I’m adding to all the time. Always happy to receive suggestions!