I had never thought about chemicals in beauty products. And I had a lot of beauty products. I’d spent 12 years in women’s magazines – as a beauty editor, lifestyle editor, three as the Deputy Editor of Cosmo and five as the Editor of Cleo. My cupboards were bursting with free stuff I’d picked up over the years. There wasn’t enough space to house them, so I’d bought clear giant tubs from IKEA to ram more products in. I was a beauty junkie, I couldn’t get enough.
But then I started trying to get pregnant. And I struggled. It was such a strange feeling because we spend all our lives trying NOT to get pregnant, that you just think it’s going to happen immediately.
I began researching and one of the first things you read is that ditching chemicals can help with fertility. It was everywhere. How could I have not known how bad chemicals in beauty products were, after all this time?
Fact: Certain chemicals have been proven to have serious consequences when tested on mice (no human testing because who is going to put their hand up for that? Didn’t think so). Everything from being endocrine disruptors and causing the male reproductive hormones in foetuses to decrease in pregnant women, to allergies, rashes, itching, sensitivities, to even more serious concerns with links to various cancers.
Why were we voluntarily slathering these products – like, five or more at a time – all over our bodies and face? The skin is our biggest organ. IT ABSORBS.
I discovered the EWG – Environmental Working Group – which is an American organisation where you type in the name of your favourite products, and they give it a rating out of 10 which shows how dangerous it is to use, according to the ingredients. Basically none of my products were good to use. I decided to throw out all my thousands of beauty products (I’m not even joking about the number!) and start fresh.
I found out so much about beauty products, even more than I originally knew. I avoided parabens like the plague and would never use anything with mineral oil or sulphates or PEGs or like, a billion other toxic ingredients in them. Perfumes are the worst because there are over 3000 chemicals that can be classified as ‘parfum’ on your ingredient list, and companies are under no legal obligation to disclose exactly what chemicals are in your perfumes.
I would spray perfume on my hair and on my clothes only, so it wouldn’t come into contact with my skin. After a few years I just thought this was crazy, it takes all the enjoyment out of wearing fragrance. Because spraying perfume on your clothes is not fun. That’s when I started to conceptualise an all-natural fragrance that I’d be able to use all over my body. As I’ve been in the beauty/fashion industry for many years I knew I could draw on that experience to make something really special. I didn’t want it to look “hippie” or “organic”. I wanted it to look as good as a synthetic fragrance brand, that was high end, that you could use and ENJOY using every morning, instead of feeling like you had to compromise looks wise. Natural products are actually much more beautiful than synthetics, they’re less irritating to people with allergies, they’re more expensive to make, they’re harder to source, it’s a less efficient process and that’s why big brands don’t do it. It’s not actually a compromise but it has always looked like one, so I wanted it to look incredible as well as smell amazing: that’s the story behind Recreation.
I want this fragrance to be loved by everyone. Yes sure, people that want natural products, but also people that don’t care about the chemicals they’re using on their skin – those people will love it too purely because it looks fabulous. It’s taken two years to get from physically starting to launching, and creatively it’s been an incredible process. Firstly with the fragrances and making beautiful scents, and then with the packaging and really bringing it to life visually because as much as we say we don’t like to judge a book by its cover, we just have to look at Instagram to know that everyone does. It took much longer than I expected but I didn’t cut any corners because I knew that if I got every little part right, then I’d end up with something as beautiful and luxurious as I had first imagined.
I think that every product should be naturally sourced. I don’t think we should be using harmful chemicals that we have used since the 50’s in our beauty products anymore, we’ve come a long way since the 50’s and 60’s, which is when all your fave beauty products were formulated. It’s 2019. I feel like we should have evolved beyond that. We HAVE evolved beyond that. Why are we still using OLD methods, OLD ingredients? We have new! Better! Better-for-you! ingredients to use. Aren’t we smarter than to use the ingredients they used 50 years ago? We are! YOU have a choice you know. Surely we know better than to put chemicals on our skin by now? Surely you want the latest in technology? It’s like saying you’ll still eat frozen microwave dinners every night, because that’s what you’ve always done, when we all know now that fresh food is best. Same with your beauty products ladies. There are alternatives now that work just as well as chemical products.
Now, the only stuff I use that isn’t chemical-free, is hair colour – I’ve got grey bits and it’s positively unavoidable to use hair colour because most organic colours give a reddish brown which doesn’t suit me. I figure a colour every two months should be okay. And things like hair spray or styling products, because that only goes on your dead hair, not on your skin. Everything else comes from the ground. Or the ocean. Or somewhere naturally occurring on the planet.
Products I love:
Fragrance Recreation, obviously. Our fragrances our 100% natural, no chemicals. We still have to list ‘parfum’ on the ingredients because of the archaic regulations (!!!), but all ingredients are on the site and I do believe this will change one day.
Body moisturiser: Recreation body + hair oil – I slather all over every day, it’s heaven and my daily dose of luxury.
Foundation: Two. Ilia Foundation – it’s too oily on its own for me, so I use Inika Mineral Foundation on top and it’s perfect.
Mascara: Ere Perez – I can’t go anywhere without mascara. Sometimes I will use either a Maybelline or a Model Co because natural mascaras do not do big lashes, so this is one other non-natural product I use if I’m going out.
Lipbalm: Lanolips – excellent and no nasties.
Shampoo and Conditioner: Aveda Shampure – not 100% natural but no bad chemicals
Nailpolish: Butter, because, formaldehyde is actually on the government’s carcinogen list (meaning it definitively causes cancer) and that’s in most other nailpolish.
Concealer: – Bare Minerals liquid – I think concealer needs to be in a liquid form to actually work, powders do not cut it.
Cleanser: Two – Tatcha oil cleanser – This goes on every night to massage in my face and get rid of makeup. Rohrr Remedy cleanser – This is for the second cleanse, full of great Australian botanicals and really works on my combination/oily skin.
Moisturisers: Various face oils, it changes all the time, from The Jojoba Company, to Squalene, to Go To, to Vintner’s Daughter, I only use oil on my skin at night
Serum: Vitamin A from The Ordinary. Not organic but no nasties.
Exfoliant: Saya – Perfect to wakeup skin in the morning.
Eye Cream: La Mav Firming Eye Lotion
Hair product: Recreation Luxury body + hair oil. I put this in my hair while it’s wet, then blow dry straight. That will not work for everyone, my hair is really thick. I also rub a tiny amount on dry hair to seal ends once I blow dry.