Little did I know that on this cold, somewhat snowy Saturday afternoon in Toronto’s Queen West, the idiom beauty is only skin deep would be driven home by learning how to make some gorgeous beauty products but also discovering how deeply damaging some chemicals in everyday products can be.
Maya Goldenberg, a Toronto based eco-beauty professional, did an engaging, inspiring and insightful workshop peppered with funny jokes and oodles of her lovely personality at BEVLAB over the weekend. I was lucky enough to attend and it was one of the best afternoons I’ve had in a while.
BEVLAB, in their own words is a “an open studio, laboratory, bar, and café space meant to serve as an interaction node in the city.” It really is a hub for provoking thought, their creation, the “cloud” is a cool experience and if you live in the city you should check it out. So in this evocative environment, we turned our thoughts to eco-beauty, some delicious homemade apple turnovers so kindly baked for us by Goldenberg herself and some hands on chemistry.
Goldenberg opened with the idea, that for her, luxury is health and her passion lies in creating eco-beauty products and educating people about what really lies in all our favourite beauty buys on the shelves of popular drugstores. Goldenberg tells us that we can learn about this easily by downloading a free mobile app called Skin Deep, which allows you to scan barcodes of products and get information about them and see where they fall on the Enviromental Working Group scale. Another app Goldenberg referred to, Think Dirty, similar but also gives you cleaner product options.
During what Goldenberg called the “doom and gloom” part of her workshop, she told us about common chemicals in numerous products found in most households, everything from hand soap, to sanitizer to shampoo that all contain harmful toxins. Goldenberg explains, that on average, a woman, uses up to twelve products before she leaves the house, that means in one morning we have already been exposed to over a hundred toxins and on average, a man, uses eight.
Here are some common ones to be aware of (you can find the dirty dozen here):
- BHA & BHT (found in moisturisers, makeup) may cause cancer, interfere with hormone function and harmful to wildlife and fish.
- DEA, MEA & TEA (found in creamy preparations and foaming products) can react to form cancer – causing nitrosamines and also harmful to wildlife and fish.
- Parabens (used in most cosmetics, skin care) may interfere with hormone function and associated with breast cancer, fully intact parabens have been found in the middle of breast tumours.
- Parfum or fragrance (used in unscented products, often as the last ingredient) some ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.
Okay, so why should you worry? A lot of us do our best to nurture our skin from within, which of course is so important, by eating clean. Limiting intake of salt and sugar (or substituting them with better choices) and enjoying an unprocessed diet rich in fruit, vegetables, healthy grains, fats and proteins can all contribute towards a glowing and healthy complexion.
Skin is the the largest organ of the human body, taking care of what we put into it is crucial, given that sixty percent of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our body and goes to our bloodstream. You would think that beauty products that are sold are all exposed to some type of safety testing before they come into our hands and yet it seems that isn’t the case. According to one article “there are more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals in the marketplace but only 5 percent have ever been tested.” That’s a lot of unknown toxins being dumped into your bloodstream.
While we got to dabble and create some lovely products, a tinted lip balm, some deodorant and yummy sugar scrub with quality dōTERRA oils, making their own beauty products isn’t for everyone. You could check out these companies though, Goldenberg loves Sappho Organics and one of my favourite lines is Skin Essence, their Ocular Eye Serum is amazing and goes a long way or check out Tata Harper. There are also plenty of other home remedies you can try, for instant skin brightening try washing your face with gram flour, mashed up avocados make a great mask as does a dollop or two of honey and there is so much pampering to be done with a teaspoon or two of baking soda, everything from a foot soak to a face scrub!
While I have always tried to look for products that are mostly natural, Goldenberg’s workshop really woke me up. What I took away from this experience is, being mindful and aware of what you are buying and making informed choices can make a big difference to the environment, your skin and what goes into your body. Isn’t that beautiful?