I have to tell you that I am super jazzed about the upcoming weekend, and not because Saturday is Valentine’s Day. The BF is not a big fan of this particular “holiday” (his quotation marks, not mine), and therefore we have no special plans.
Luckily for me The Wellness Show rolls into the Vancouver Convention Center for a 3 day run beginning Friday, February 13, 2015 and this will be my first time attending Canada’s largest trade show dedicated to health, wellness and good clean living.
Now I am sure many will read that last sentence and their eyes will immediately dart to my Instagram feed on the left featuring cold hard evidence of my semi-regular indulgences of the alcohol infused variety, but if you take a moment to scroll through my feed you will also find pictures of me zipping around the Seawall on my beloved bicycle, Elwood, (my regular route is about 32 km), happily hiking on the North Shore with my BF, or simply enjoying some fresh and healthy snacks, often in the great outdoors (patios count as outside…amIright?).
In preparation for my adventures at The Wellness Show I recently found myself extremely privileged to have had a one-on-one phone chat with The Green Mama herself, Manda Aufochs Gillespie, award-winning author, researcher, and consultant who has been dubbed “the green guru” by the media for her work as an ecological designer helping parents, businesses, and communities find greener lifestyle solutions that work for them.
Going into our conversation I knew that I wanted to focus on an area where I know I can definitely integrate more natural product choices, and that is my makeup and skincare routine. Now as readers know, I loves my makeup, and while in the past I have been known to wander through the personal care aisle of Whole Foods gazing longingly at bottles boasting a host of wholesome sounding ingredients such as rooibos, shea butter, rose water, and lavender, I readily admit that I typically retreat, empty-handed, as ultimately I end up questioning the effectiveness of these unfamiliar, and let’s face it, unsexy looking brands.
With that said, as I age I find that I do have to check myself, as no matter how attractive the short-term benefits that I am achieving through the use of my high-performance roster of mainstream personal care products is, if these items are comprised of potentially harmful ingredients that could result in long-term health consequences down the road are they in fact actually “effective”?
Straight out of the gate Manda informed me that the typical, average woman is exposed to over 500 chemicals in her beauty routine every single day. Gulp. Know I know that I use way more products than what would be considered “average” in my beauty routine (when visiting my house do not look under my bathroom sink, or in my train cases, or in the other bathroom…) so, this is a pretty sobering fact.
Ok, so we now know that we are slathering a ton of chemicals on our bodies daily, but what are these big, bad ingredients, and why should we not include them in the aforementioned daily slathering rituals?
When I asked Manda about some of the ingredients that are regularly found in personal care items that consumers should be on the look-out for she provided the following easy to remember tips for ingredients to look for and avoid the next time we go shopping for personal care items, including the reasons why we should steer clear of products when these things appear on their labels.
- Artificial Colour – Many artificial colours are made from coal tar dye, which is a known human carcinogen. In Canada artificial colours are identified by a CI number and in the United States they are designated by a D&C number, making them easy to spot on a label.
- Petroleum Based Cosmetics – These are made from a by-product of gasoline.
- Perfume/Fragrance – As fragrance is considered proprietary manufacturers do not have to reveal all of the ingredients on the label. Allergies associated with perfumes are our bodies trying to rid themselves of invading toxins, and while they have been linked to causing harm in fish and wildlife the long term effects from these ingredients on humans is harder to determine as we are exposed to so many things it is difficult to go back and pinpoint what the exact causes of any given ill-effect are. Also note that even things marketed as “unscented” can contain perfume as manufacturers often use masking fragrances to give the product a neutral smell.
- Heavy Metals – Lead and mercury are known neuro toxins and can be found in products such as lipstick, mascara, hair-dye and deodorant.
Now I have to admit that at this point in our conversation panic was starting to set in as my thoughts flashed back to the lean years during University when I habitually used Vaseline (aka petroleum jelly) as an inexpensive eye makeup remover, and 99 cent lipsticks and mascara of questionable origin were smeared haphazardly across my face on a daily basis, but as Manda and I continued to speak she quickly moved on to tell me that in our individual paths to change our habits we can’t focus on the mistakes that we have made in the past, as that can get too overwhelming. Phew. So, if there are all of these potentially harmful ingredients lurking in so many types of personal care products what can we do to start on a path to a greener, more natural personal care routine? For starters, Manda advised that one “not start with the research, as it is too overwhelming”. She maintains that change is easier if you just go do something, and when I asked her for suggestions on how a natural newbie such as myself can make a gradual move towards incorporating products that are not comprised of potentially harmful ingredients into their beauty routine she provided the following suggestions for those planning to embark on the swap-out process.
- First look at those products that may have hidden ingredients such as deodorant, skin cream, and toothpaste. Products that are deemed to be of medical use such as deodorant do not have to list all of their ingredients. In addition, many of these types of products are used in our most sensitive areas and can have a high impact in terms of overall health.
- Look for lotion alternatives early on in your natural journey. While Manda admits that this can be a longer transition than other products, she highly recommends finding good quality, natural oils and acids that are appropriate for your skin type and maintains that it can be just as cost effective as using mainstream products due to the fact that the sellers of these natural alternatives are not spending millions on advertising, nor are they passing on large markups to the consumer
- As products run out or you become dissatisfied with them simply look for greener, more natural brands to replace them.
Easy-peasy, right? Gulp, version 2.0.
While I do believe in indulgences (sigh…perhaps a bottle of Duckhorn Merlot will be my Valentine), I also believe in taking responsibility for one’s own health and well-being, and after my eye-opening conversation with Manda I now know that there are plenty of changes that I can easily make to my current beauty regime causing me to be even more motivated to explore my options.
There are so many ways that we can easily integrate natural, healthy habits and products into our everyday lives and sometimes the best way to start is simply to proceed with ways that are meaningful and significant to us personally. Whether this means searching for ways to overhaul your entire personal care regime or simply substituting fresh squeezed, organic orange juice for that made from concentrate in your nightly vodka and OJ, it’s all a start.
I for one will be making a beeline for the Natural Beauty Area at The Wellness Show this weekend (I started using organic OJ in my screwdrivers years ago), and will report back with what I find both there and throughout the entirety of The Wellness Show next week here on the blog.
In addition, you can learn more from the amazing Manda Aufochs Gillespie about ways to green up your entire life by checking out all of the insightful and accessible resources that The Green Mama has to offer. You can visit her website, TheGreenMama.com, check out her blog, purchase her book, Green Mama: Giving Your Child a Healthy Start and a Greener Future, and you can see her not once, but twice on the Workshop Stage at The Wellness Show on Saturday, February 14, 2015 (full schedule here). The Wellness Show runs Friday, February 13, 2015 (12:00PM – 7:00PM), Saturday, February 14, 2015 (10:00AM – 7:00PM) and Sunday, February 15, 2015 (10:00AM – 6:00PM).
General Admission: $14.50
Students & Seniors $12.50
Children (5 and under free) $6.00
3 Day Pass $30.00
Tickets can be purchased in advance online, or at the door (cash only).
Vancouver Convention Centre, East Building Exhibit Hall B & C
999 Canada Place Vancouver BC