By Cora Hilts
Originally from the Maine countryside, Cora spent five years in Paris and New York City intermittently working in luxury fashion and studying Politics before ending up in London.
Being So Close to Your Face, Surely Make-Up Shouldn’t Be Toxic?
I remember so clearly sitting at the make-up counter of the Bon Marché in Paris, getting my make-up done by a French beautician who assured me I had never looked better as she smeared highlighting cream all over my face. She was obviously not a proponent of the “au naturel” French girl beauty we are reading so much about in Vogue at the moment.
That was seven years, and fear I would enjoy the experience even less so now. In the interim I have had some big life changes-moving to London, starting a sustainable fashion company and most relevant here, becoming an organic make-up convert.
Due to a very vocal mother with hippy-ish tendencies, I had known about the benefits of natural beauty since childhood but the real transition for me came through an education into sustainability. In researching the fashion industry, I started learning about our skin and the fact that it’s our largest organ. It also happens to be incredibly sensitive and absorptive. And so it went that if I was worried about toxic chemicals from clothing, what about toxins from beauty that are far more direct?
Synthetic Compounds Involved in Beauty Products Have Been Linked to Side Effects Ranging from Skin Irritation to Premature Ageing and Cancer.
A recent Telegraph article says that women who wear make-up every day absorb more than 5 lbs. of chemicals into their bodies every year. That same article cites that “synthetic compounds involved in beauty products have been linked to side effects ranging from skin irritation to premature ageing and cancer.” There is something really quite horrid about putting chemicals that have these sorts of side effects onto something as incredibly important as our faces-for both inward and outward reasons.
For me, mascara was the big issue. Like most of us, it’s the sort of go-to for looking good without trying too hard and I use it every day. So when I looked into what conventional mascaras contain, I basically thought, “shit”, and immediately threw all of my absurdly expensive mascaras in the bin in a moment of panic.
Women Who Wear Make-Up Every Day Absorb More Than 5 Lbs. Of Chemicals into Their Bodies Every Year
Ingredients in mascara are things like Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, and Propylparabens. Then they throw in some cute synthetic colours to boot. All of these substances are known to be carcinogenic. In addition, ingredients such as Polybutene are often used as a tackifier and plasticizer. It is derived from petroleum and in another life, is used to make manufacturing adhesives (a.k.a. GLUE).
Lipstick, which is my second go-to, is also problematic. Especially since they are the closest to being ingested. Many lipsticks contain lead, a particularly nasty heavy metal that really does not belong on our lips. “Lead is a well-known and proven neurotoxin that has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems. Because of this, lead has been eliminated from gasoline and paint in the United States” (Safe Cosmetics). This all seems a bit much, I know, but I really just figure do we want to risk it? Especially when there are now beautiful and luxurious alternatives?
I asked the founders of a couple of my favorite organic make-up brands to tell me a bit about their ethos and how they evolved to rivalling conventional beauty in terms of quality. Kristen, who started Kjaer Weis, was a make-up artist who saw how much conventional cosmetics were upsetting the skin of the models she worked with and wondered what the long-term effects of these minute toxins would be. She decided a better alternative had to be created.
“We refer to Kjaer Weis as “makeup as skincare” from the perspective that many of the certified organic ingredients that go into our makeup are the same that you would find in skincare. However, when you add color, you are able to create makeup with ingredients that are beneficial for your skin. To me, that is the biggest difference in going natural, both what it does for your skin and how it feels on the skin.” – Kristen.
The Landscape for Organic, Natural and Non-Toxic Has Recently Shifted to What Is Being Called Clean. With That in Mind We Are Clean Beauty In Color.
Similarly, Sasha Plavsic founded Ilia beauty due to her curiosity of understanding the rather mystic ingredients on the back of a lipstick box. She started a natural beauty brand quickly thereafter with the following manifesto: “Ilia believes in basics. In clean beauty that performs. With products that enhance instead of hide. It’s makeup with skin healing-benefits. Gluten free. Always cruelty free. Designed to take care of you.”
Sasha’s take on organic beauty is that, “the landscape for organic, natural and non-toxic has recently shifted to what is being called clean. With that in mind we are Clean Beauty In Color. At ILIA, it’s our job to formulate with nourishing, non-toxic ingredients that work to improve your skin and enhance your best features. It should
be effortless and real.”
Skin is the largest organ in our body, and incredibly absorptive. These are just two examples of lines I have found that really do the trick when it comes to looking beautiful naturally, but with a little research there are so many clean alternatives to our make-up. True, these lines probably won’t give quite the same effect as a Maybeline false lash or Rimmel bright red lipstick, but if beauty is simply meant to enhance what we are born with rather than mask it entirely I think making this switch could be a really lovely choice.