Most people will know the name Marie-Véronique Nadeau from the products she has developed for her company Marie Veronique. You can read my reviews on her products here: Toners for Every Budget Level, Best of 2013 and Product Review: Acne Relief Travel Kit. It is my pleasure to interview Marie about her new endeavour: The Natural and Organic Monitor (NOM). It’s a watchdog group created by Marie due to her dismay at seeing companies calling themselves natural, organic or ethical (NOE) and abusing the trust of consumers by using unsafe ingredients. “It’s time NOE companies came under scrutiny, and to get the ball rolling, my next blog series will introduce a new watchdog group—The Natural & Organic Monitor—with posts comparing ‘safe solutions’ espoused by natural companies to the conventional ingredients they have replaced.” I hope you enjoy my interview with Marie Veronique and gain some insight into the views of NOM.
How did your journey with natural skincare first start?
Way back when I first started experimenting with putting yoghurt on my face. I am still doing that, and a few other things besides.
After 10 years in the industry, what has changed to make you want to create the Natural and Organic Monitor (NOM)?
All companies have to do is say they are natural and organic and they are given the benefit of the doubt. There is very little oversight in the green sector of the cosmetics industry, and unfortunately some companies are taking advantage of it. They are using preservatives they shouldn’t, anti-microbials they shouldn’t, and combining ingredients that may be harmless by themselves but release toxic by products when combined with other ingredients. Some companies know what they’re doing and know they can get away with it, while other companies just don’t know enough to know that they may be causing harm with their products. I honestly don’t know which is worse.
I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about gut microbiome this past year. How long have scientists been researching about this and why does it seem to be such a hot topic lately?
The twentieth century was the era of the antibiotic—and penicillin was the miracle drug that saved many, many lives we’d previously lost to sepsis and diseases we can clear up now in a matter of days. Unfortunately we grew accustomed to using antibiotics for everything, and with their overuse we are now facing two big problems—one is gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease that result from steady courses of antibiotics that deplete the gut of its healthy microflora, the other is strains of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, like methycillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which runs rampant in some hospitals. The gut microbiome is a hot topic because balancing microflora is going to be for 21st century medicine what antibiotics were for the twentieth. It’s absolutely huge.
Thanks to Marie Veronique for sending me these lovely products!
I was glad to read that you also don’t like the use of phenoxyethanol as a preservative. I’ve seen it in a lot of so-called natural products and I steer clear of them. Have you had any personal experience with products containing phenoxyethanol?
No, thank heavens. I’ve always had a bad feeling about that one. The irony is that it came on the scene to replace parabens, which had such a terrible rep. At this point in time parabens look pretty tame, because they at least are not, like ethoxylated compounds such as phenoxyethanol, possibly contaminated with 1.4 dioxane. Some companies are even cautiously suggesting we go back to parabens. I don’t think that’s a great idea, but if I had to choose between a product containing phenoxethanol or one with parabens I’d go for the paraben one.
What one ingredient or product would you never, ever use and why?
Anything that combines with other ingredients to form toxic by products—triclosan, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate—they all have the potential to either contain carcinogens, or combine with other ingredients to produce carcinogens. The class of ingredients/compounds we really have to watch out for is preservatives.
What are your upcoming plans for NOM?
Summer is coming up. In an era of global warming skin care faces new challenges, and we still haven’t sorted out what’s wrong with most sunscreens and where we need to be going with them to make them truly protective. I don’t know what’s worse, free radical damage from the sun or free radical damage from chemical sunscreen. I’d like to use NOM to increase awareness of what constitutes safe sun protection. At this point it doesn’t exist.
My thanks to Marie-Véronique for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. Thanks also to Claire Hunter for organizing everything.
Have you ever tried Marie Veronique products?