Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Nourishing Beauty

With Emily in 2011
As a dietitian and health educator, I know how important it is to nourish ourselves with whole foods. That includes limiting our intake of pesticides (especially from the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen) and other dubious “ingredients” like BPA from food packaging. I know quite a few health-conscious mamas who focus on putting healthy foods in their families mouths and end up covering them in toxins anyway. All summer long we slather ourselves and our children in sunscreen to protect them from harmful UV rays while inadvertently exposing them to harmful chemicals. And it’s not just sunscreens, it’s other hair and skin care products as well.  Even some specifically advertised as formulated for children.  

Did you know your skin is like a second mouth? In fact, a debatable percentage of what you put onto your skin gets absorbed into your body. Don’t believe me? Think about medicines that are delivered via skin patches. In addition, people inhale powders and sprays and orally ingest products that are applied to lips and hands.

This topic is not my area of expertise, so I’m introducing you to someone who knows a lot more about this topic. NCB readers, meet Emily Toledo, my crafty soul sister, tribes-woman, and one of my child’s Godmothers (that’s how much I love and trust her!) Emily has spent countless hours researching and has become a passionate advocate for women and children in the process. On her journey, she joined the company, Beautycounter, so she could spread the word and help others. Beautycounter also helps nourish her own sweet family by providing income so she can be home with her littles.

Emily Toledo

Here is my interview with Emily:

KSW: Hi Dear Emily! I’m excited to introduce you and your mission for safer beauty to my NCB readers. Can you tell us why you felt drawn to this cause and how got involved with Beautycounter?
ET: When our son was 2 years old, he had a severe allergic reaction to a very well known brand (children’s formula) of sunscreen. I rushed him to the pediatrician who reassured me that it was just an allergic reaction, quickly told me that children are particularly vulnerable to what we put on their skin, and advised me to just buy a different brand.  At the time, I was buying organic food, shopping at the local farmers market, making my own cleaning products, had reduced our use of plastic in the house, etc. I thought I was ahead of the game! Yet, I had never considered what ingredients were in the products I was using on myself and on my family. The experience served as a Pandora’s Box moment for me and was my catalyst for discovering Beautycounter. That was 2 ½ years ago and educating people on this issue of ingredient safety and empowering them to make safer choices has become my absolute passion.
KSW: I’ve seen you post some pretty crazy/ scary #s about the lack of regulation in the United States vs. Europe. Can you tell my readers a few of these?
ET: Sadly, the United States lags behind other countries in terms of consumer protection. While the European Union restricts nearly 1,400 ingredients from use in products, the United States restricts only 30. The last time a major federal law was passed regulating the personal care and cosmetics industry was 1938. Since then, more than 80,000 chemicals have been introduced into commerce. Approximately, 12,000 of those chemicals are used in the personal care industry and only 10% have been tested for safety. Of the chemicals we actually DO have data on, many of them have proven links to human health issues such as contact dermatitis, endocrine disruption, and cancer.

It is perfectly legal for a company to manufacture and sell a product without disclosing that it contains ingredients known to be harmful for human health. Several major brands actually have safer formulas sold in Europe that are not sold in the U.S. Even worse, due to major loopholes in federal law, cosmetics can be labeled “all-natural” and “organic” without containing ingredients that accurately meet those descriptions. In fact, products certified as "organic" can contain as little as 10% total organic ingredients. Tricking consumers into thinking they are getting a safe product with a clever marketing campaign is so common that it has its own term - “greenwashing” - and it’s rampant in the personal care and cosmetics industry.
KSW: Tell us about Beautycounter's current efforts for stricter legislation.
ET: Our advocacy work is what truly sets Beautycounter apart from any other brand. We are not only creating safer products and being a part of the solution, but we’re also fighting for legislative change so that one day, all products will be held to the same standard of safety. In 2015 for example, we partnered with the Oregon Environmental Council and were instrumental in helping pass the Toxic Free Kids Act. We are currently working with several other states (California and Hawaii, to name a few) to help draft similar laws to ensure safer products in the marketplace.
You can join the fight too! Text "better beauty" to 52886 and follow the prompts to urge your senator to pass more health protective laws.
KSW: How can people follow you (on FB, Pinterest, etc) to get more information and get updates?
ET: I love sharing updates on the industry, announcing new products when they launch and discussing strategies for healthy living, in general.  My Facebook and Instagram accounts celebrate this! You can find me online:
KSW: Is there anything else you would like to tell NCB readers?
ET: It doesn’t matter if a company claims to be “safe", “pure” or “natural”. In such an unregulated industry, words like that have little meaning. You need to be your own advocate and read the ingredients. A helpful tool for consumers is Environmental Working Group's “Healthy Living” app. It’s available (and FREE) on iPhone and Android. You can use the camera on your phone to scan the barcode of products in your home (or before buying them in the store) to see how they rank in terms of safety.

 I want to introduce everyone to Beautycounter’s "Never List". These are the ingredients that will never be used in the products. Ever. Many are cancer causing agents, skin irritants, or are endocrine disruptors. Even if you’re not ready to make changes to your personal care & cosmetics regimen, I encourage you to compare the Never List with the ingredients in your products. Knowledge is power!

Hey Readers, I want you to know that I’m writing about this because I believe in this cause as well. I’m not getting any free products by writing this! 
I also want you to know that you can make your own products as well. I use olive and almond oil on my skin, and have put these and essential oils into coarse sugar to make a sugar scrub. These are functional and fun to make, but they don’t have the amazing scent of BC oils and feel heavier and greasier than the BC products. I tend to rebel against recipes (I cook, make art, and make body scrubs by throwing things together and hoping for the best- which amazingly works out most of the time) but you may want to find body care recipes online if that is your schtick.  

Fabulous Resources
The Environmental Working Group
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
*Check out the Red Lists of concerning chemicals found in cosmetics and other body care products

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