The Green Kiss of Life: A quickfire round of what to avoid in cosmetics and why
This post wasn’t scheduled. I was going to take a moment to talk about curries if I’m honest, because I seriously love curries, but then I saw a facebook status update from The Green Kiss and changed my mind.
The Green Kiss is an online cosmetics store with an offline beauty bar in Victoria, BC (located in The Good Planet Company on Fort Street for those of you who live locally). They specialize in selling only organic beauty products, vegan makeup tools and 100% toxin free cosmetics. The status update told of a customer who had come into the store on the advice of her oncology healthcare workers. Here is the status:
Today I met a woman here at my little beauty bar, who was just diagnosed with cancer. She was told by health workers at her integrative cancer care clinic, all about the toxins in her regular makeup and body care products. She was also told that these could have contributed to her cancer, and was told to seek out alternatives, especially because she is about to go through chemo. This had been on her to-do list for years, but now, with the diagnosis, she was finally taking action. So – that is how her and I met today. By the end of her consultation with me, I was pretty teary, as this is exactly WHY I was inspired to start what I do.
And here’s my interview with Megan of The Green Kiss:
Megan, what are the main three toxic ingredients we absolutely must avoid in our cosmetics?
Unfortunately, this is a long list. I like trying to keep it simple for our customers by referring to The David Suzuki Foundation’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list. This is a list of 12 toxic ingredients that are some of the worst. They are all linked to health problems. Due to the wide use of the following ingredients though, I would say that the following three are the ones that people should start trying to avoid:
1) Parfum (Fragrance)
3) Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP).
And these are mainly found in which types of cosmetics?
Parfum, or Fragrance, can be in pretty much anything. Simply, it is perfume. That is when it is most concentrated. But, it is also in most lotions, hair sprays, shampoos, body washes, conditioners, lip balms, children’s body care items, deodorant, cosmetics, you name it.
Parabens (a class of ingredients including methylparaben, butylparaben, or propylparaben) are preservatives. They are one of the most widely used preservatives in the cosmetic industry. They are in everything from body care products, to hair care products, to cosmetics.
Dibutyl Pthalate (or DBP for short) is most commonly used in nail care products as a solvent for dyes, and as an ingredient that prevents nail polishes from becoming brittle.
Are these pretty regular ingredients found in most brands?
Yes. If you purchase your cosmetics at a regular drugstore, grocery store, or department cosmetics counter, chances are that at least one of the ingredients listed above will be included in the ingredients list.
What can these products do to our bodies?
1) Parfum or Fragrance is what many call the big ‘mystery’ ingredient. Although companies are legally required to list all of their ingredients on their products, they are not legally required to list what is within the fragrance that they use in their products. It is considered proprietary information. But it unfortunately creates a big loophole in the system. It therefore means that anything can go into a company’s ‘fragrance’ blend. The ingredients within what will be listed as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ do not have to be disclosed. According to the Dirty Dozen report, some 3,000 chemicals are used as fragrances.
The main issue however is that there are a slew of health concerns related to the ingredients commonly used to make fragrance. According to the same Dirty Dozen report, many of the unlisted fragrance ingredients are irritants, and can trigger allergies, migraines and asthma symptoms. According to lab experiments, common ingredients found within fragrance have been associated with cancer, neurotoxicity, and other health problems. For more information, and a list of resources and studies, please see read this information about the toxins in parfum.
2) Parabens can easily penetrate the skin, and have been linked to numerous health concerns including interfering with hormone function. Research shows that parabens can mimic estrogen, and they have been found in human breast cancer tumours. For more information, and a list of resources and studies, please see this information on parabens from the David Suzuki foundation
3) DBP is absorbed through the skin. And, although it is mainly found listed as an ingredient in nail polish, phthalates are also used as an ingredient in many fragrances. Research has found that DBP has been shown to cause birth defects and reduced sperm counts. It is incredibly disturbing. Again, for more information, and for a list of resources and studies, please see this information on DBP.
So, if we can only make the switch to one all natural cosmetic, what product should it be?
I would start with what you use every day, what is applied to the largest area, and what stays on the skin the longest. For most women, it would be their face moisturizer and their foundation (either liquid or powder).
Is that the worst offender in the toxin filled cosmetics world? What comes in a close second or third?
Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to say is the worst offender. Every category of personal care products, whether it be skincare or cosmetics, can be equally as toxic in my opinion. It just depends what is in the ingredients list of the individual product. I can say this though, women who wear perfume, should really try to stop, and convert to a natural essential oil blend instead. As, not only are they potentially putting their own health at risk, they are also affecting the health of others around them. Anyone who suffers from headaches due to fragrance can relate. It’s almost like smoking. Rather than sec on-hand smoke, it’s second-hand perfume.
What ingredients will we see in organic cosmetics that make them long-lasting, still glamorous but safe?
The strangest thing for me as someone who is constantly learning and researching about this industry, is that the natural and organic alternatives are often more effective than their conventional alternatives. I used to think they weren’t, but after having tried and tested so many products, many of them actually are! I have met many women who have had acne, redness, and skin sensitivity disappear after they switch to truly natural cosmetics.
Individual ingredients that you might see include things like Vitamin E (used as a natural preservative), Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide (used as a pigment in cosmetics) and Essential Oils or Fruit Extracts (used as natural ways to scent a product without adding artificial fragrance).
What inspired you to found The Green Kiss
A huge combination of things. On a personal note, I had been soul searching for a career in entrepreneurship that would make a positive difference, but that would still be fun and exciting. I have a huge passion for natural products, fair trade, and ethical business practices, as my previous work experience was running a family business of natural clothing stores. But I am a girly girl at heart. I am also a singer and performer who wears a lot of makeup for stage. And lastly, I love meeting new people, I love connecting with the community, and I love educating (especially kids).
About five years ago or so, I read the book Not Just a Pretty Face that I had picked up at The Good Planet Company. The shocking research and information in the book, combined with my experience and interests above, basically gave me one of those Oprah ‘aha’ moments. I immediately started to plot out and research what would eventually become ‘The Green Kiss’
What’s The Green Kiss beauty motto?
Pure Glam! The idea is that you can still get a glamorous and sexy look with the natural cosmetics sold at The Green Kiss. I research all of the ingredients in the products that we carry, and I also research the ‘glam’ or ‘effective’ factor for each of the products. The goal is to have people replace their favourite conventional products, with ones that are natural, healthy, and safe, without them losing any performance quality.
Anything else you think we should know?
The other concept that is extremely important to me, and to the brand I am creating, is authenticity. I am looking to create an environment where women (or men for that matter) feel welcome. There is no commission based sales at the beauty bar, no sales pressure, no silly add ons, no gimmicks. There is no judgement on customers if they talk about their love for some of their non-natural products. And, there is no fake-ness in the approach to selling the cosmetics. The Green Kiss was created for real women, looking for real products that work.
If you are looking to do your own research, and I always urge our customers to do so, then please check out The David Suzuki Foundation, their information is reliable and easy to understand.
On a personal note, after interviewing Megan some time ago for my own VictoriaMom website, I made the switch. I swtiched my MAC foundation for Sappho and my Dior mascara for 100% Pure. After a week my skin broke out terribly and then after that, it was the best it’s ever been. The foundation lasts longer and smells better than any I’ve ever used before and well the mascara smells like fruit and black tea, what more do you want! Make the change, it’s worth it.