I’ve been on somewhat of a beauty cleanse lately. I always thought that I was meticulous about the ingredients in my beauty products as I am about the fabric of my clothing. Clearly I’ve been mistaken. Products (of any sort) today are appalling. And if boys think they are exempt, they have another thing coming. They use soap, wash their hair, use moisturizer, etc. just like we do. And guess what? None of it is good for you. All these products are full of synthetics, petrochemicals, and carcinogens (synthetics have unknown long-term effects let alone the current short-term issues; petrochemicals are by-products of gasoline; and carcinogens directly cause cancer) among other things, but that’s the gist of it. That may sound like a whole lot of gibberish to many people, but trust me, those aren’t things you want as they absorb into your body through your skin. So better to address this now before I, along with everyone else, become set in my ways and use products that essentially are poisoning me.
No More Dirty Looks (by the lovely Siobhan O’Connor & Alexandra Spunt) has really opened my eyes to just how dirty the beauty industry actually is. [Read their blog as well] I really shouldn’t be surprised considering it is a multi-billion dollar industry that operates under its own set of rules, its own product review panel, and its own testing process. And to be blunt: FDA does jack shit. It does not have the power (or budget) to regulate anything; not to mention, many of these companies will release these products at will. They will go through cursory testing for rashes and whatnot, but could honestly care less if there is–say formaldehyde (nothing like a little embalming fluid to make one really feel good right?)–in it as long as it, I don’t know, goes on smoothly. And most of the time, these products don’t even work. They are so pumped of fillers to mask the heaviness of the toxins embedded in the product that the active ingredient does not work. And about that ingredient list…; “fragrance” could mean absolutely anything. For all you know, it could (and probably does) contain hundreds of chemicals in that one little word. But worse, companies are not required to reveal the full ingredient list for the sake of trade secrets. Bull shit. Complete and utter bull shit. Consumers have a right to know what they are putting on/in their bodies, and moreover, companies need to be held accountable.
[This is how I feel sometimes with the constant changing trends and advice]
I am a chemical engineer in the making that wants to work in the beauty industry. This has distorted my entire world view. I still want to work in the beauty industry, but more importantly, I want to change it. I am extremely angry about the status quo when it comes to consumer products, particularly health and beauty products. There is nothing remotely healthy about this. I believe others should be angry as well. These companies are deliberating taking advantage by catering to our vanity, and we’re buying into it for the sake of instant gratification. We should ask for better. We should know to ask for better. This culture of instant gratification will lead to nowhere, but the deterioration of quality and safety standards. I want to make better, more effective products. But something needs to change. People need to be made aware of the lack of regulation for everyday products we use and what happens because of it.
Now, I’m not the stereotypical crunchy eco-obsessed hippy who doesn’t wash her hair or shave her legs–because for one, I freely admit that I could care less about finding renewable energy and two, because I most certainly do those things–but I do not find it unreasonable to expect more of an industry I love. To expect more of the FDA. As in it actually does what it’s meant to. And to expect products that aren’t willingly contaminated with poisonous chemicals. To ask for products that are effective, relatively inexpensive, and moreover, safe for human consumption. Is that really so hard to ask for?
But all is not lost. There are some brands out there that are conscious of the mark they leave on consumers and on the earth. REN, for one, is absolutely amazing. It is a UK based company invented started by Robert Calcraft and Antony Buck ever since Antony’s wife had adverse reactions to practically every single skincare product while pregnant. They operate under 5 principles: Right Ingredients, Right Science, Right Product Experience, Right Environmental Impact, and Right Attitude.
Right Ingredients: To make Clean Products that don’t contain skin-unfriendly ingredients such a synthetic fragrance, petrochemicals, sulfate detergents, synthetic colours, animal ingredients, and parabens et al.
Right Science: To pioneer new ways of applying the latest discoveries in bio active technology to product skincare formulations that boost the skin’s natural processes of protection, repair, and renewal.
Right Product Experience: REN believes gorgeous products can make the world a slightly nicer place to be and make us feel just a little nicer being here.
Right Environmental Impact: They try to minimize their use of the world’s limited natural resources and donates a minimum of 2.5% of their profits to campaigns that promote better environment and a better life for those less fortunate
Right Attitude [This one I’m typing verbatim cuz it’s good]: We believe a principle is a principle even if it costs money. We believe we reap what we sow. We prefer goodwill to suspicion, humor to gravitas, informality to formality. We welcome difference.
Moreover, their products work. Beauty magazines have tested their wares for their annual best of “[year]” lists, and consumers have spoken immensely about them. REN products keep appearing time and time again. I personally use REN products; I will attest that they are the real deal. They feel fantastic and keep my skin clear and well-balanced. I will always endorse REN because of its transparency on what’s actually in the products, its premise of the creation effective clean gorgeous products that make a person feel good, its sophisticated cutting edge science, and its willingness to ask for more of itself as company.
Other approved brands include NUDE Skincare, Josie Maran, Dr. Hauschka, and John Masters (which you can find in your drugstore!). My last advice is to always look at the ingredient list, be patient, and do take the time to fully explore your options and what you want for your lifestyle. It can be intimidating to be hit with extensive ingredients lists and product choices, but hopefully I’ve shed some light on the topic. And No More Dirty Looks should help as well. Just remember to read up on company premises. Knowing what they do and what ingredients are commonly used will go a long way in convincing you to trust them.
*All beauty images courtesy of Allure*