02 March 2020

Why I Switched to Natural Beauty

If it’s sold on the shelf at supermarket or chemist, surely it’s safe for me to use, right? Think again. 

Did you know that the manufacturers of personal care products don’t legally need to disclose all of the products’ ingredients? I’m sure you’re as shocked as I was, hearing this for the first time. Apparently “fragrance” and “perfume” are the terms large companies use, as a legal loophole to disguise any ingredients they don’t want to disclose to the retailer or consumer. No way! I said to myself as I ran to my bathroom, turning over each of the product’s labels to closely examine their contents. Sure enough, I had been buying and using any number of unknown substances, all over my face and body. Horrified, I had to learn more. 

I stumbled onto this discovery after watching the Netflix Documentary - Stink! (Totally recommend watching it, if you haven’t already). Although it is American, I began to research Australia’s Consumer Laws and learned that we are very similar. A company’s “fragrance” (which can be any number of toxic or carcinogenic ingredients) can be withheld from the consumer, as a company secret.

Recently, Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder has been at the centre of a number of reports and lawsuits. It came under investigation, in 2018, after a man pursued legal action, claiming that the baby powder resulted in his asbestos-related cancer. The judge granted him $117M, and the company is currently in the process of appealing the verdict. If you look closely on the packaging, you will see the two ingredients are talc, and ‘fragrance’. Interesting.

I quickly found the app Think Dirty. The app helps you identify what ingredients are in popular products. It also gives the product a rating, in a range of different categories, to establish an understanding of how safe the product is, and help the consumer compare the product to similar alternatives. This has been very helpful in my switch to natural beauty. 

I also learned more about the companies I had been supporting. I started watching a few Youtube videos with Kristen Leo and quickly learned about the unethical practice occurring in developing countries. Supported of course by the demand for cheap personal care products, here in Australia, and in other developed countries. 

Sarah Therese, Youtuber and iconic minimalist once said: “every dollar you spend, is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in”. And that has stuck with me. As a low-income earning student, it is easy for people like me to pick the cheaper option. However, I really don’t want to live in a world where we put up with misleading labelling. 

We, the consumer, deserve to know exactly what is being used in the products we put on our skin, hair and bodies, every day. We can demand transparency and clearly detailed labels, by supporting the companies who do so and refusing to buy from companies that don’t.

 I have also make home-made beauty products. All of which contain common household ingredients, and are very simple to make. (More on that, soon.)

Yours in all things sustainable, 

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