Let me set this up properly, before I get stoned out of the natural beauty community.
Last Sunday I got home from a two-week work and family bonanza in Canada. First we launched Everlane in Toronto with a big party, which brought together family, old friends, and coworkers. Then it was onto Montreal for Passover/Easter, for lots more eating, drinking, and socializing. In true Canadian form, the company was great and the weather sucked.
Cut to two weeks later: I get back to LA, a shell of a human because, like many, I’m a bit of an introvert and need alone time to feel sane, plus which (and maybe because of?) I tend to overdo it when I’m being a social animal. So, booze+work+all that social energy+no exercise+crappy cold weather… And now I have a nasty cold, which basically happens every time I overextend. But this story is not about my champagne problems. It’s about my nails.
I have a thing for long nails. Always have, since the first set of Lee Press Ons my mum let me buy as a girl. I’ve also been watching that Rhianna Stay video on loop—where a bathing, makeup-free Rhianna wears nothing but her fake nails and some diamond earrings—so that might be clouding my judgement as well.
Anyways, I got home from Canada—nails cracked from the cold, skin dry, energy low, in search of some kind of fix. But instead of going for a Thai massage, I couldn’t shake the idea of getting gels!
I’d never tried them, and in fact didn’t even really realize what the process was. I knew the UV drying machines were bad for you, but I figure one trip to the hand-tanning-bed wasn’t going to kill me. And the chems? Well, we know the chems are bad. But I’ve had about three manicures since we wrote the book and gone for semi-natch highlights twice, so I figure I’ve got some salon treatments in the bank I can use.
The mani itself was less of a to-do than I imagined. I think I had some notion that this would be more like the acrylic nail process I’d peeped at nail salons in days past. This was just a manicure really, with gel polish instead of the regular stuff, and the addition of the mini tanning beds. Which isn’t to say I think this is no big deal—as I said, I’ve actually sworn off all manicures for some time— it was just more familiar than I’d anticipated. The worst part of it was having my cuticles cut—a ritual I’m a bit horrified by now.
So there it is. Yours truly, who gets upset when she has to use hand soap in a public restroom because of the phthalates and triclosan, has a hand full of gels.
Do I love them? I mean, kinda.
They definitely look fake-ish, even in the most subdued color I could find. It’s nice to feel “polished” for once. Conventional manicures usually chipped on me within a day. And it definitely makes me feel like more of a lady…
Have you ever tried gels? And what natural beauty “cheats” have you committed of late?
Last week the New York Times reported that Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to remove a host of questionable ingredients and contaminants from their products—notably formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane—by 2015.
According to the article they also intend to phase out parabens, phthlates, triclosan and other chemicals we’ve long had on our X list, though it was a little bit unclear from the piece whether this was all going to be on the same timeline.
This is notable progress, and even Kenneth Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, told the Times as much:
“We’ve never really seen a major personal care product company take the kind of move that they’re taking with this,” said Kenneth A. Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, one of the organizations that has been negotiating with company officials to change their practices. “Not really even anything in the ballpark.”
Of course, for this crowd, us included, it’s easy to be a bit cynical about the timeline (and if you are, our friend Kathryn Borel’s comedic piece about it in the Globe and Mail might give you a laugh). But if J&J is really going to eliminate all of these ingredients—and we have no reason to assume they won’t—then that’s applaudable, to say the least!
On this new site they’re cleverly explaining the changes as “moving beyond safety.”
For us the big question remains: What will they replace the current chemicals with? Only then will we know if this is atrue move toward changing the market. Any guesses?
Happy Monday! We have two new things for you to freak out about.
I’ve had pills on the brain lately, mainly because every day I have to take medication (nothing serious, just a thyroid thing) and supplements (nothing serious, just omega 3s and folic acid), and I’ve long wondered what on earth is in them. I made the mistake of looking up the inactive ingredients in Synthroid once and was dismayed to find they contained dye. After that decided to turn a blind eye to it until I can come up with a better plan, which will probably be never since thyroid medicine is typically something you have to take for life.
But two headlines recently caught my eye, and I fear that further investigation may be on the horizon.
First, I learned that many common medications contain phthalates, hormone disruptors that we avoid at all costs in our personal care products.
In a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, U.S. researchers sampled a small portion of pills on the market—medicines for conditions ranging from acid reflux, infections, and inflammation to ulcerative colitis and high blood pressure, among others—and found that 10 to 20 percent contained two types of plasticizing chemicals tied to lifelong health problems. These plastic chemicals, known as phthalates, are often found in vinyl flooring and shower curtains, cleaning products, nail polish, perfumes, and fragranced personal care products, insecticides, and food packaging.
Blarg. To find out how to tell if your meds contain phthalates, read the rest of the piece here.
Next, I learn, from our friends at Well+Good NYC that medications are also often not vegetarian.
Attention vegans and vegetarians: A new study published online in the Postgraduate Medical Journal found that many people who avoid eating animal products unknowingly take pills that contain gelatin, derived from collagen in animal skin, bones, and connective tissue.
The study: Researchers from the U.K. surveyed 500 urology patients about their dietary preferences and whether they would take medications that contained animal products. (Previous studies have shown that urology drugs often contain gelatin.) They also asked the patients if they would question their doctor about animal ingredients in pills.
The results: Of the patients polled, 176 said that they preferred medication made with vegetable products, and 43 percent of those 176 said they that would not knowingly take a pill made with animal products. (The other 57 percent said they would take a pill containing animal products if no other alternative existed.)
To find out more about that, continue reading the post over here.
Are you worried about what’s in your meds and supplements?
Lovely picture via
Confession: Sometimes I sort of miss phthalates.
Ugh, OK, I don’t really mean that. But you know that feeling when you smell something so amazing—a flower, a candle, your boyfriend’s deodorant—and then all you want to do is smell that thing all the time? Well, phthalates can help with that. They can also help bend your gender, though, so we avoid products that contain them—which means almost anything with synthetic fragrance.
As such, I’ve been on the hunt for a perfume I could love as much as my old favorites. A signature scent, if you will. My criteria has obviously changed over the years: I don’t want a perfume to last all day—I find that weird; but I’d like it to be portable so that I can reapply it before I go out at night; I’d also like it to be 100% organic, or as close to that as possible; and I want it to elicit as many or more “You smell greats” as my Chanel and Hanae Mori used to.
Tough! But not impossible.
In the last three years, I have tried many, and loved few. Alexandra and I have both experimented with using essential oil treatments as perfume. She loves Hope Gillerman’s, and we both still adore Tata Harper’s Irritability Treatment; I love Honore des Pres for its luxurious and playful packaging and nuanced scents (Vamp à NY and Love Coconut are my favorites). There have been others. And now…there’s a new favorite in town.
Lotus Wei has started making perfume! And at $45, it’s affordable! And portable! And organic! And…transformative? Ben oui!
Like all Lotus Wei’s products, these perfumes contain aromatherapy and flower essences, meaning they’re double-teaming you for best results. I have already professed my love for the Infinite Love Energy Mist, and I dose my friends with the Elixirs all the time. Now, thanks to the unbelievably delicious smelling perfume, I can wear it all day long, too.
So Infinite Love is the one I’ve been wearing. It has rose, and mandarin and honey, starting out as a mix of really bright—not heavy or musty—rose with citrus, and it quickly warms into a sexy, caramelly smell as it blends with my own skin. It’s garnered a lot of questions, comments and, yup, compliments, and because it’s got the flower essences in there, I feel like it’s working on a subtler level as well. Mmmmm!
So let’s toss this topic back to you guys. Have you found YOUR signature scent?
(And guys, get excited, because we’ve started calling in some aftershave and colognes as well. Expect some reviews from our boy testers soon!)
The night before I left my parents’ house over the holidays, I came across my old stack of British Vogues from the 90s. Delighted, I flopped on the bed, chatted with my sister, and flipped absentmindedly, narrating as I went (“oh my g-d look at that jumper!”). And then there it was: an article about natural ingredients in beauty products, and how to source them sustainably (and locally).
Huh. So natural beauty was this on the radar in 1997? And so was the local movement? The article even mentions Jurlique, a brand that we covered often in the book (not knowing they’d been around so long).
My brain went from 0 to 100, from wow-that’s-so-cool-what-a-coincidence to why-the-hell-was-this-in-Vogue-back-then-and-not-now? Finally, if this was part of the dialogue in 97′ why isn’t fully mainstream today? Waaaaa.
We know, we know, stuff takes a long time. But natural beauty is just so awesome! While we can’t single-handedly take down the industry (and all of its propaganda) with one book and a blog, we can—each and everyone of us—help spread the word, one person at a time. Which a lot of you do (and we’re grateful). So I thought, let’s post a little primer on how to deal with naysayers, why not. Because if this isn’t as big as organic food by, oh let’s say 2027, we’re going to be seriously bummed.
What rebuttals do you hear most often from people? How do you respond? Here are some of our most common gentle confrontations…
- I don’t have time/it’s too overwhelming to figure out.
Most people assume that they have to go through all of their products and check which ones are OK, and which ones aren’t. But chances are none of them are. It’s so much less intimidating to seek out a few good lines, and a few trusted retailers, and stick with those instead of engaging in a drawn-out process of elimination.
To these people we say: “Just start by finding a few things you like to replace the products you care the least about and go from there.”
- Oh, but I use Khiel’s [or insert other greenwashed brand].
Honestly, if we had a dollar for every time we heard this… But it’s a great opportunity to explain to someone just how insidious greenwashing/false branding can be.
To these people we say: “Yeah it’s crazy, because language on products isn’t even regulated companies can get away with making all kinds of false claims, including ones about the product’s effectiveness.”
- There are more pressing issues, like what’s in food, water, and the environment.
It’s true, we live in a really polluted world and are exposed to all kinds of chemicals through other routes everyday. But that’s kind of the point.
To these people we say: “Exactly, and this is one of the few routes of exposure that we actually have control over. Why should we knowingly add to our chemical body burden when we don’t have to, and especially with products that are often ineffective?’”
- Is my lipstick really going to hurt me? It’s such tiny amounts.
This argument is a favorite of the pro-chem science community, often referred to as “the dose makes the poison.” It can be very convincing, especially when you’re talking to a toxicologist from inside the industry who has access to information that you don’t (picture us being patronized by these folks when writing the book). And yet, it doesn’t hold water, and there’s a whole other community of scientists that will tell you this: Neurotoxins like lead (which is actually in most lipsticks), and hormone disruptors like phthalates are shown to cause serious detriment even in the tiniest amounts. Ken Cook of the EWG does this great thing when he lectures on the subject, where he compares the often minuscule doses found in some of our most common medications, including the pill and anti-depressants. It’s very effective.
To these people we say: Well, what we just said. It’s kind of a longer discussion.
- Naturals don’t work.
This statement couldn’t be further from the truth, as many a clean beauty convert knows.
To these people we say: “Natural products are often more effective because they use higher levels of active ingredients. Mainstream companies load their products with ineffective fillers in order to cut costs.”
OK, your turn. What do you say to natural beauty naysayers?
Image of the Vogue taken on my iPhone