Sunday, July 17, 2011

Organic beauty

Two months ago, on a brisk Sunday morning in May, I was reading some of my favorite columns in the Sunday Life pullout magazine that is inserted into the Sun Herald… a minor tradition that takes place every Sunday, starting with a quick hunt to find the Stars section ( yes… I am that type of person) to then reading Mia Freedman’s and then Sarah Wilson’s column.

On this particular Sunday, Sarah Wilson wrote about her switch from normal commercial hair and beauty products to a greener, organic hair routine. I was cynical at first as I viewed organic products as inferior and not being adequate enough to protect my strands from heat damage and being able to deliver the other 100 promises that commercial products claim to achieve. At the end of Sarah’s column however I was shocked at what these commercial beauty products actually did do or more importantly the actual damage they cause rather then undo.

The chemicals used in beauty products are not regulated, despite our skin being the most permeable organ in the body (indeed it’s speculated it’s safer to eat your body cream than to wear it; our guts contain enzymes to break down the chemicals). And companies can slap a label saying “natural” or “organic” onto a product without it being certified. No one can stop them. Indeed, companies aren’t even required to list all their ingredients. (Although anything with the “Australian Certified Organic” sticker guarantees it’s 95 per cent so).

Your skin and scalp absorbs between 60% to 90% of what you put on it. You wouldn't eat toxic preservatives and petroleum by-products. It's a no-brainer that you shouldn't slather your skin or hair in them either.

Mariann Lloyd-Smith from the University of Technology, Sydney wrote a report “Rights and Wrongs of knowing in chemical conflict” a study that looks at the lack of knowledge Australians have about the chemicals we come into contact with in our everyday life.

Mariann highlighted that the Australian public’s interest in chemicals, particularly those that they are likely to encounter in their everyday lives, is well established and that the central focus is on the identity of chemical substances, their uses and effects, as well as industrial waste and environmental pollution in general. The concept of community right to know is subject to a wide range of interpretations but in the context of chemical management, it commonly refers to the right of members of the community to access information about chemicals, their hazards and the risks they pose.

With this in mind, it makes me wonder why the chemicals used in our every day hair care and beauty products are not more closely regulated and why it is not more openly discussed in public forums and media circles.

I found this wonderful and educational short documentary called 'The Story of Cosmetics' by Annie Leonard. She joins the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and together they use fantastic cartoons to talk in the simplest terms about the toxins in many of our cosmetics today.

I myself, have also switched to Organic hair care products and have found that I have less grimy product build up and that my hair feels softer and smells a lot nicer. I have also found that I don’t need to use my hair straighter as much as my hair is easier to tame, it is as though I have turned back the hands of time, my hair has returned to what it was when I was my Sarah seven-year-old- self. Praise the lord. Having to put less effort into hair that is being naturally kinder back to me makes me feel like going all out and playing Willow Smith’s ‘Whip My Hair (back and forth)'.

Have a watch of the video below and then visit the National Toxics Network for more information.

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