FoodGlow has collaborated with Nourish Sweat Soul to bring you guys a very important and informative blog post on natural beauty! The founder of NSS Laura Berg is an expert in all things eco-friendly and sustainable (check out her sustainable clothing line!) and has so graciously shared her expert advice on all things natural beauty. She has inspired me and hopefully all of you guys to be a bit more conscious when it comes to what we put on our bodies.
What does non-toxic mean?
Both the terms non-toxic and natural are not legally regulated, and are used mostly for marketing. On the other hand organic is highly regulated, if claiming organic means it has been certified by the USDA for example. Non-toxic specifically is typically referring to leaving out ingredients that have been linked to toxic responses in humans such as neuro-disruption, hormone disruption, cancer, and birth defects, even death.
What are some red flags to look for in products?
There are unfortunately many toxic ingredients still being used in products that have been linked with evidence to many health concerns and conditions such as phthalates, formaldehyde, petroleum, asbestos, lead acetate and coal tar. One of my favorite transparent companies is Beautycounter, they have a “never list” of ingredients they will never use in their products and there is plenty of info on their website of why we should all be avoiding the over 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients being used in the cosmetics industry. I would avoid products any of these ingredients when possible and Beautycounter has a shortened pocket list with the 20+ top toxic ingredients all available on their website : http://www.beautycounter.com/en-ca/the-never-list/
I am also always skeptical when companies market or claim non-toxic, natural or cruelty free with no back up or answer to show why, or evidence and certifications proving so.
What inspired your non-toxic / sustainable switch?
When I was having health problems as a young adult, I made a point to remove chemicals from what I was eating, because I wanted to give my immune and digestive system the best chance to work and heal myself naturally. Then when I completed my holistic nutrition degree with CSNN, it opened my eyes to the fact that we need to be just as mindful of what we put on our skin. Our skin is our largest organ so is absolutely matters what we are absorbing into it.
On the sustainable side, I wanted to shift towards ethical living, which encompasses sustainability, environmentalism and animal welfare. I feel changes need to always start with ourselves; mindfulness and compassion must start with us, and thus decided I want to be apart of the shift to make more ethical consumer choices.
Where are the best places to look for non-toxic products?
There are many brands that I personally love and most of them are not going to be found at malls, rather locally and through independent consultants. Being from LA I support the Santa Monica based company Beautycounter, and living in Calgary I support companies like Lush Cosmetics, Rocky Mountain Soap Company, and small local companies such as Simply Polished, Adorn, Routine, Dhara, Plantiful, XX Balm, and Pura Botanicals.
Did you notice any physical differences since switching to non-toxic (i.e. brighter skin, clearer skin, less redness or irritation)?
YES! I’ve been fortunate not to have very temperamental skin; my immune and digestive system have more prominent reactions to toxin overload. Since removing the chemicals from what I eat and put on my skin, my immune system is much stronger – this is huge for me as someone that suffers from immune and digestion conditions. My skin is also aging well which is a great plus I just turned 30 and since I grew up in the sunny and hot desert in Southern California, spending most of my youth outside in the sun, I am looking for skin care to both be clean and affective. It’s wonderful that there are more and more brands that I can trust that are both.
What makes a beauty product sustainable?
When products are produced in a sustainable way, it means that there is intent to help preserve the environment, the ole reduce, reuse, recycle mantra using eco-friendly materials such as recycled and recyclable materials, with further consideration given to issues such as energy efficient production, biodegradable packaging, recycling, and carbon footprint. A couple examples of sustainable practices in the cosmetics industry are cold process formulations, they save time, energy, source ingredients and purchase from companies that have adopted green practices. I encourage people to do their own mini investigation, look for information on websites, if a company cares about sustainability; they will likely be open about their efforts.
What are non-sustainable red flags?
I think we are to a point in 2017 that all packaging should be recyclable or moving towards being recyclable, beauty products, personal care, and food packaging. It still shocks me how many packages I don’t see with the recycle symbol that I feel should be very fundamental. Also the more we choose local, made local and sourced local, we are supporting sustainability, reducing our carbon footprint. When companies source and make everything on the other side of the world, I would rather support a product that is made locally whenever possible.
If something is sustainable is it also cruelty free?
Conscientious companies and consumers ideally understand that compassion for animals and sustainability are both important and go hand in hand, although it doesn’t necessarily means that something that is sustainable is also cruelty free and vice versa. Sustainably is generally referring to the environment and cruelty free to animal welfare. I try to check every box when it comes to buying personal care. I like to ask myself a few questions. Who made it? Where is it made? What is it made of? Where do the ingredients come from?
What does Cruelty Free mean?
There is hardly any regulation on the cosmetics industry so you really need to do your homework when a product says it is cruelty free on packaging but doesn’t show an official certification. Cruelty free to me means neither the product nor its ingredients have ever been tested on animals, but unfortunately companies can get around this. For example ingredients may have been testing on animals but the final product wasn’t. I recommend if you want to be cruelty free to stick with products with proper certification such as a the Leaping Bunny Program.
How has NSS influenced your natural beauty swap?
Actually my shifts in nutrition and cosmetics lead to influencing the start of NSS! When I was shifting toward more holistic and ethical living, I started with food, then cosmetics, and then what I wore. There is so much to learn in each realm so I try to tell people, one step at a time, because realistically it will take years to shift several elements of your life to ethical living which encompasses consumerism, sustainability, environmentalism, wildlife and animal welfare.
Be sure to catch NSS on Instagram to follow Laura’s sustainable, whole food and fitness lifestyle!