Elegantly Eco

Eco-Friendly Beauty, Fashion, Reviews, and Info


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Spotlight on: Joy McCarthy, Holistic Nutritionist


I have read and loved Joy McCarthy’s book: Joyous Health – Eat & Live Well without Dieting. It has a wealth of information I think everyone should know. You can read my book review here. Joy is a Holistic Nutritionist and the Health Expert to Global TV’s The Morning Show. I recently met her at the Total Health Show and she is such a lovely person. Read more about Joy on her website’s About Page. I asked if Joy would allow me to interview her for my blog and she agreed. Here is the interview below. I hope you enjoy it!

    I’ve been reading via social media that you’re working on a new book called Joyous Detox. How many months of work does it take to get a book published?

     Yes! I’m super excited about my second book Joyous Detox. My manuscript is actually due at the end of August, so I’m just putting the final touches on it now. It takes me a couple of years. First I come up with the concept, create an outline and then discuss it with my editor/publisher. Then I start writing. I started writing Joyous Detox last year and it will be published in 2017. I’m already thinking about book 3 and it will definitely have a joyous baby theme. 🙂

    I’m a real believer in people taking charge of their health. Do you think the average person is becoming more aware of how proper nutrition can prevent many health issues?

     Yes most definitely. I know this just based on how my blog traffic has grown over the years…also based on holistic nutrition being on mainstream TV.

    Your journey as a holistic nutritionist is a fascinating one. (Read about it here.) Do you ever look back and wonder what your life would have been like if you didn’t follow this path?

     For sure. I know that if I never followed my true passion I would still be working in a marketing job in an office and feeling completely unfulfilled. Feeling unfulfilled in one aspect of your life can unfortunately affect all other areas of your life. Following my dreams brought so much unexpected goodness into my life, including my husband Walker who is now my full-time business partner for almost two years now. I don’t look back often, but when I do it’s really motivating to see how far I’ve come both personally and professionally.

    What are your favourite personal care products?

     I love dry skin brushing, I do it every day. My growing baby in my belly loves it too! For shampoo I love Rahua. It’s a little pricey so I don’t use it every time I wash, just every other wash but along with eating protein and good fat, it keeps my hair shiny! I also use my own Joyous Natural Deodorant, body butta on my legs after shaving and I use my belly bump butta every day on my growing belly. So far…no stretch marks! Fingers crossed. I love lipstick and lipgloss and I’m totally addicted to the Ilia line. They have such pretty colours and they are a clean brand. Everything my husband and I use on our body and in our home for cleaning is as clean and toxin-free as possible. I feel good knowing that anything that flushes down the sink from facewash to toothpaste is not harming the environment. This is important to me.

    What one product or ingredient would you never ever use and why?

     Sadly, most mainstream products made by Uniliver, P&G and the like do not seem to care about the environment or the health of people. So I avoid brands like Dove, Johnson and Johnson etc. There is more than one ingredient I avoid, in fact there are multiple ingredients. So I just make sure that I read my labels of everything and only use products with ingredients I know.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! Do you think your next book will be called Joyous Pregnancy? And where do you see Joyous Health going in the future?

     My third book will definitely be something baby/pregnancy related. I’ve had an enjoyable pregnancy and I know much of this is because of my health before getting pregnant. As for Joyous Health, I will continue doing what I love – speaking and writing. As well, I will continue to develop new offerings on the website from ebooks to natural personal care products. Thanks so much for the interview. Really great questions!

My thanks to Joy McCarthy for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. I know I’m definitely looking forward to reading Joy’s next book when it comes out. You can follow Joy on her website Joyous Health as well as on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest!


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Spotlight on: JoAnn L. Alafriz, Acupuncturist

Sometimes the universe has a way of giving you what you need. I don’t often purchase things from Groupon, but in this case I was really glad I did. In 2010 I saw a Groupon voucher on sale for acupuncture / shiatsu at Therapy at Room 301. It sounded really interesting and something just drew me to this Groupon, though I routinely ignore them. So I bought two vouchers, one for me and one for hubby. That was the year that I found my favourite acupuncturist: JoAnn L. Alafriz.

Just to show you how amazing I think this woman’s treatments and skills are, I live about 30-45 mins away from her office by transit. But I continue to make the trek to see JoAnn for treatment because she is the best I’ve ever experienced. She’s totally worth every cent of money and time I spend on her treatments. She is professional, knowledgeable, personable, and open to suggestions. She also has an intuitive way of knowing exactly what your body needs once you describe what you want to work on. I often come out of her treatments so blissed out I just want to take a nap. I wish you had a napping room JoAnn! Besides JoAnn’s impressive acumen, she has a good variety of other modalities under her belt. Don’t like needles? No worries, JoAnn also uses other modalities such as Shiatsu, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Reflexology, Tui-Na, Moxibustion and Cupping. To learn more about JoAnn and her rates, check out her personal webpage.

How did you first get interested in acupuncture and shiatsu?

JA:
I first discovered shiatsu after a stressful time in my life. After receiving a treatment at the Shiatsu School of Canada student clinic, I just envisoned myself as a therapist. This was after university and a few odd jobs that I had. That shiatsu treatment made me feel amazing, so calm and relaxed. I believe it was the first time I felt in-tune with my body. Acupuncture was a natural next step. I began seeing clients with complicated conditions such as depression, anxiety, IBS and fertility issues requiring a deeper approach to treatment. Having benefitted from acupuncture myself, I knew that adding this ancient modality to my practice would help many of my clients.

How do you decide which modality to use on a client?

JA:
Acupuncture (Eastern Asian Medicine) encompasses a variety of modalities. It is not just needles; it also includes cupping, moxibustion,
Tui Na (massage) and herbs (which I do not practice myself). Shiatsu is an extension of Eastern Asian Medicine. For any given client, I can tailor treatment depending on their chief complaint, how they present (their constitution), and what they are open to. Most clients are very open, so my treatments are a combination of modalities. I do have some clients who prefer a single modality whether it be acupuncture, shiatsu or cupping. Whenever appropriate, I am happy oblige.

What are the benefits of getting regular treatments of acupuncture or the other modalities you use?

JA: Regular treatments are important because each treatment builds on the others. Whether the response is large or small, they all contribute. There is a saying that goes something to the effect “the longer you have had the condition, the longer it takes to change.” Meaning if you have been experiencing discomfort for many years, do not expect your condition to disappear overnight. Change is incremental. I’ve seen remarkable transformations after a series of treatments: increased mobility, decreased pain, better sleep, improved digestion, even pregnancy after years of infertility, etc.


JoAnn’s Treatment Room

What one ingredient or product would you never, ever use and why?

JA: In my soaps I avoid fragrances and sulfates. Personally, they irritate me physically. The artificial fragrances give me headaches and sodium lauryl sulfates dry out my skin.

Do you think that if people reduce their exposure to toxic ingredients it would help them physically?

JA: Something that is toxic, by its definition is a poison. Our bodies are pretty efficient when it comes to metabolizing toxins. However, if you are already compromised or through overexposure, these poisons can significantly affect the body in many different ways. For example, imagine a client who complains of feeling sluggish, who experiences a “foggy” mind and red, weepy skin. According to Traditional East Asian Medicine, I would diagnose “Damp-Heat.” These symptoms can be a result of consuming excessive amounts of sugar and alcohol. Topical soaps, lotions and fragrances can also contribute to this condition. Treatment would include Acupuncture to clear the Damp-Heat from the body. Homecare would include cutting out the sugar, alcohol and greasy foods from the diet. I would recommend more cooling and lighter foods like steamed green vegetables such as bok choy or cabbage. I would also encourage drinking green tea. Of course a more detailed intake would need to be taken.

If there was one message you could give to everyone about health and wellness what would it be?

JA: Slow down, enjoy life and gain some balance. I have so many clients who work so hard they don’t have time to enjoy life. They are simply stressed out. Stress releases cortisol and that in turn can make us feel depressed and sick. Try going for a walk, reading a book or calling a friend you haven’t seen for a while. These small things bring us happiness and can lift our spirits. Doing something positive for oneself is an easy way to gain health and wellness.

Thanks so much to JoAnn L. Alafriz for taking time out of her busy schedule for this interview. If you’re interested in seeing JoAnn for a treatment you can call or book an appointment online. See contact information below. I highly recommend you visit her! Follow JoAnn on Twitter and Facebook!

JoAnn L. Alafriz, BSc, RAc

Acupuncture · Shiatsu · Craniosacral
2 Carlton Street, Suite 804
Toronto, Ontario. M5B 1J3
Telephone: 416.254.7983
Email: info@joannalafriz.com
Click here to book an appointment


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Spotlight on: Sudastorium

Note: Logo images are from Sudsatorium Etsy and Company website.

Introduction to company:

I can’t remember how I first heard about Sudsatorium. I think it was on twitter. But as soon as I learned about them I was immediately intrigued. It’s not often that you find a Canadian company that makes fair trade, vegan, organic and cruelty free products! Every box on my list got checked off and then I learned that they also donate 5% of proceeds to grassroots charities. Wow! I really admire their ethics. Most recently I saw Sudsatorium at the Green Living Show where I bought a bunch of their soaps. I’ve also tried their conditioners, which I love! Lucky me, Olive agreed to let me interview her for the blog. I hope you enjoy this interview!

How did Sudsatorium come to be? Was it something you had always wanted to do or something you fell into?

Sudsatorium is a passion project that started out of necessity. When diagnosed with a series of adult-onset restrictive allergies in my mid-teens, life suddenly became a struggle. I came to the realization that not only did I have to reassess what I was putting in my body, but also everything I was putting on my body as well, so I began crafting natural beauty products out of my kitchen purely for myself.

How did your education in the world of natural beauty products start?

We like to think of our education in natural beauty as more of a crash course, spurred on by necessity, immersing ourselves entirely into the process and learning as we went. Keep in mind that it took well over a decade before we ever even thought about turning what we were doing into a professional endeavour, so we’ve all had plenty of time over the years to fill in the knowledge gaps through traditional schooling; because curiosity and pluckiness could only get us so far!

Was it difficult to find the quality of ingredients you wanted for your products?

We’ve always been strongly committed to ethical sourcing, which for us means seeking out organic – and ideally – fairly traded raw materials whenever possible. We’ve been lucky enough to have plenty of help from various fair trade organizations who’ve helped connect us with the right people around the world. It is all about fostering positive relationships with the farmers and workers who are responsible for growing, harvesting, distilling and all the other arduous work that goes into producing the brilliant ingredients that make Sudsatorium what it is.


John Luther of Sudsatorium at the Green Living Show, March 2015

What products do you personally use besides the ones you make?

By far and away, aloe. We have potted aloe vera plants all over our shop kitchen, to have on hand to quell the flames of sunburn, moisturize dry bits and pieces (especially our hands which are constantly taking a beating), take care of untimely blemishes, whatever the case be. We’ve even been known to nibble on a leaf after meals to help keep tummy troubles at bay! LOVE IT.

What one ingredient or product would you never, ever use and why?

Fragrance’ which isn’t really one ingredient, but complex mixtures of dozens of chemicals, none of which are required by law to be listed amongst the ingredients. We read a recent study by Environmental Defence saying that laboratory analysis of top-selling colognes and perfumes identified an average of 14 chemicals per product not listed on the label, including multiple chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions or interfere with hormone function. No thanks.


Where do you hope to see Sudsatorium in the future?

Hopefully (fingers crossed) continuing to do what we love, right here in Toronto, our home and constant source of inspiration. If we stay true to our principles and keep doing everything with passion, we’re confident that we’ll find ourselves in a good place.

My thanks to Olive Pendergraph and John Luther of Sudsatorium for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer these questions. To stay in contact with Sudsatorium you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! If you live in Toronto they will be at the Bellwoods Flea, Leslieville Flea and Annex Flea this spring/summer!


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Spotlight on: Flowers to Fragrance @f2fragrance


Note: Logo and farm images are from the Flowers to Fragrance website.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nick Morris of Flowers to Fragrance at the Green Living Show this year when I bought their lavender cleanser. He told me how he came from a family of farmers from Manitoba and about their passion for growing lavender (among other plants). Since they are a small company and wanted to get their name out to the green blogger community, I asked Nick if I could interview him. He happily agreed and I hope you all enjoy this interview. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live and work on a farm such as this!

Introduction to company:

Flowers to Fragrance is a fully functional farm and natural beauty shop run by the Morris family. They grow 20 different varieties of lavender as well as other medicinal and aromatic plants for essential oil. Aubrey and Shirley Morris have been growing lavender for nearly 9 years in Ontario, Canada. You can read more about their inspiring story here.

    Did the prospect of moving the farm from Manitoba to Ontario ever seem too daunting a task to complete?

    Yes it was daunting. As well as moving personal belongings we also had to dig up hundreds of plants, some lavender that had survived the Manitoba winters but a lot of Bee Balm. The Bee Balm essential oil is high in geraniol and is sought after by perfumers. We made many journeys to and from the two Provinces in vehicles packed with plants, pretty funny when I think of it now.

    I think it was very clever of you to match the right plant to the right growing conditions, even though that probably took more time, effort and money. How long did it take to find the right plants for each part of your land?

    We didn’t always get it right. We lost hundreds of plants during the first winter/spring. It’s a nail-biting time during early spring when fluctuating temperatures can cause much damage to lavender.

    Was it always your aim to open up a natural beauty shop? Or did that idea evolve over time?

    After extracting essential oil from the plants it seemed a natural development to be able to share these wonderful oils in products we now sell. It was a chance meeting with aromatherapist Jan Benham that put us on the path of completely natural skin care.

    What one ingredient or product would you never, ever use and why?

    Anything that is artificial.

    What kind of image or message do you want Flowers to Fragrance to evoke in people?

    People should know where their products come from. Our customers have the opportunity to experience a working essential oil farm in Ontario. They can see the actual plants that make our products smell the way they do…fresh and fragrant.

    What are your upcoming plans for Flowers to Fragrance?

    Well we’re back in Toronto for the Total Health Show on the 17th of April. We’re working hard to bring the essence of the farm to the city. Our goal is to make our high quality skin care line accessible to Toronto and the rest of Canada.

My thanks to Nick for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. I’m currently testing out their lavender cleansing lotion and really enjoying it! There you have it folks! Now get yourself on the Flowers to Fragrance to peruse their lovely products and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest! If you live in Ontario, you can tour their farm in person!


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Spotlight on: Flowers to Fragrance


Note: Logo and farm images are from the Flowers to Fragrance website.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nick Morris of Flowers to Fragrance at the Green Living Show this year when I bought their lavender cleanser. He told me how he came from a family of farmers from Manitoba and about their passion for growing lavender (among other plants). Since they are a small company and wanted to get their name out to the green blogger community, I asked Nick if I could interview him. He happily agreed and I hope you all enjoy this interview. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live and work on a farm such as this!

Introduction to company:

Flowers to Fragrance is a fully functional farm and natural beauty shop run by the Morris family. They grow 20 different varieties of lavender as well as other medicinal and aromatic plants for essential oil. Aubrey and Shirley Morris have been growing lavender for nearly 9 years in Ontario, Canada. You can read more about their inspiring story here.

    Did the prospect of moving the farm from Manitoba to Ontario ever seem too daunting a task to complete?

    Yes it was daunting. As well as moving personal belongings we also had to dig up hundreds of plants, some lavender that had survived the Manitoba winters but a lot of Bee Balm. The Bee Balm essential oil is high in geraniol and is sought after by perfumers. We made many journeys to and from the two Provinces in vehicles packed with plants, pretty funny when I think of it now.

    I think it was very clever of you to match the right plant to the right growing conditions, even though that probably took more time, effort and money. How long did it take to find the right plants for each part of your land?

    We didn’t always get it right. We lost hundreds of plants during the first winter/spring. It’s a nail-biting time during early spring when fluctuating temperatures can cause much damage to lavender.

    Was it always your aim to open up a natural beauty shop? Or did that idea evolve over time?

    After extracting essential oil from the plants it seemed a natural development to be able to share these wonderful oils in products we now sell. It was a chance meeting with aromatherapist Jan Benham that put us on the path of completely natural skin care.

    What one ingredient or product would you never, ever use and why?

    Anything that is artificial.

    What kind of image or message do you want Flowers to Fragrance to evoke in people?

    People should know where their products come from. Our customers have the opportunity to experience a working essential oil farm in Ontario. They can see the actual plants that make our products smell the way they do…fresh and fragrant.

    What are your upcoming plans for Flowers to Fragrance?

    Well we’re back in Toronto for the Total Health Show on the 17th of April. We’re working hard to bring the essence of the farm to the city. Our goal is to make our high quality skin care line accessible to Toronto and the rest of Canada.

My thanks to Nick for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. I’m currently testing out their lavender cleansing lotion and really enjoying it! There you have it folks! Now get yourself on the Flowers to Fragrance to peruse their lovely products and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest! If you live in Ontario, you can tour their farm in person!


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Spotlight on: @VibeVeda of Vibe’s Beauty


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Vibe Veda is a Holistic Healing Practitioner, which came naturally for her from a young age. She had always been told that she had healing hands, and a spirit of light to help and guide others. Her mission in life is to “Be the Change” and to help others Awaken to their Divine Self while living an Abundant and Balanced Life.

Vibe was born into a very challenging scenario of a multi-racial family during a time and in a place that was not accepting, to say the very least. Her father was a Vietnam Veteran and abusive, so she experienced life in foster care and was on her own by age 11. Vibe dealt with many trials and tribulations over the years including rape, abuse, drugs, alcohol, homelessness, and the list goes on. But like the Phoenix that she has tattooed on her chest, she rose from the ashes and graduated high school early, followed by a Bachelor’s Degree in less than four years.

She went on to make music, create artwork, do some traveling and touring. Life still met her with challenges, but nothing that she couldn’t overcome. When her love and best friend was brutally murdered, she turned to spiritual healing to mend her broken heart and that is how she was introduced to Reiki. Self-healing is essential when dealing with all of the chaos that can arrive at your doorstep, whether it be physical or emotional.

Vibe offers healing and guidance via private Healing Sessions, her VIBEvolution Facebook group of over 1300 members, and her YouTube series “Journey to the Light.” She is also currently working on a few books, while infusing Reiki into the music and artwork.

Her passion became her career in 2010 when she was attuned to Reiki and opened her private practices in NC, MD and NY. In September of 2013, Vibe brought her healing gifts to ABC/ Deepak Chopra’s Homebase in Manhattan to serve as Apothecary Specialist where she gained invaluable knowledge in the green beauty industry.

Vibe is currently the Owner/CEO of VIBEvolution & Vibe’s Beauty.

How did your journey with green beauty first start?

Beauty has always been something that I admired. Even as a child, I was enamored by beauty… the beauty of faces, the beauty of smiles, the beauty of flowers and nature! I always loved aesthetics, keeping everything clean and organized, while still maintaining a harmonic balance with nature. I grew up in rural parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania. My family lived in a shack that my father built himself. We had no running water, or many of the amenities that most people take for granted. We would gather water from the spring, and we had a small wood stove that we would cook our meals on and heat our home with. It was a simple life, and I believe that it caused me to be very grounded and in tune with the earth.

It saddens me that we are destroying this amazing planet at such a rapid pace! So, my main objective in this life is to Be The Change! I started practicing Reiki about five years ago, after dealing with many tragedies in life, and also suffering from some health issues. I realised that the food I was eating was poison, so I transitioned to a mainly vegan pallet and found a Reiki Master while living in North Carolina. Then, about a year ago I was offered the opportunity to put my knowledge of holistic wellness and organic lifestyle to task by expanding the Apothecary at ABC Home/Deepak Chopra’s Homebase in Manhattan, NY.

I forged phenomenal relationships with green beauty brands, that had environmental stewardship at the core of their mission. This inspired me to launch Vibe’s Beauty, which is a platform for indie, green, niche beauty and lifestyle brands! I have ten personal care lines available for purchase in my online boutique, as well as handcrafted jewelry, unique home furnishings and divine essences. Vibe’s Beauty also serves as an Eco Brand Management and Consulting firm that assists brand owners with opening retail accounts, on-site support, trainings, etc.

Has Reiki impacted your green beauty journey at all and how?

I give myself Reiki every single day! I don’t even know what I would do without it… Balance is essential in life, and since I know this, I do my best to remain balanced in mind, body and spirit. I love to look beautiful, but I also love to feel beautiful inside! By using products that are clean and safe, I know that I am doing what is best for my body!

Reiki is infused in everything I do, for instance if I am trying a product out on a client, and massaging a moisturizer onto their hand, they are receiving Reiki. This provides an overall amazing sensation and warm experience that is uplifting and invigorating!

Did you plan on becoming an entrepreneur, or just fell into it?

I always knew that I would be an entrepreneur! From the time I was five years old I had my own savings from little odd jobs that I would do. By seven years old I was creating folders with art drawn on them and selling them to my classmates for a quarter. I also had my own candy stand in my mother’s consignment shop. By nine years old, I created a community group called “Clean Up The Streets”, where we would collect donations from neighbors, and go around picking up garbage and maintaining our area.

Over the years I have delved into many different entrepreneurial endeavors. I had my own entertainment company, where I produced music, videos, photography press packets, etc. I do some modeling here and there and I recently did the Spring ad campaign for ABC Home, so look out for that! I have designed websites, and done other graphic design assignments. I really enjoyed freelance, and appreciate the knowledge, skills and abilities that it has provided me with!

 

How did you come up with the idea of creating Vibe’s Apothecary?

When I was in charge of the Apothecary at ABC Home we began referring to it as “Vibe’s Apothecary”, which I always intended to take with me when I branched out on my own. Now the Apothecary lives on the Vibe’s Beauty website, and is filled with amazing natural and organic brands. The reason it is only one element of Vibe’s Beauty is because we are all about Eco Luxury Lifestyle, which encompasses everything from personal care, to adornments and home decor!

What one ingredient or product would you never, ever use and why?

Fluoride. I know that it is mainly found in things like toothpaste, but it is so hazardous that I just wanted to highlight that here. I only use non-fluoridated toothpaste, and I think everyone else should do the same. Not only is it the active ingredient in rat poisoning, but it also calcifies the pineal gland, which releases serotonin into our bloodstream.

What are your upcoming plans for Vibe’s Beauty?

I have just added a lovely new member to the Vibe’s Beauty Family, her name is Sequoia Carr and she has her own lovely product line called All Green Everything! She has a plethora of knowledge and passion in this business and we are looking to continue expanding our team and adding the best of the best!

Vibe’s Beauty has also partnered up with Jillian Wright Skincare to bring the 1st Indie Beauty Expo to NYC this August 27th at The Altman Building! We are taking Indie Beauty to a whole new level, and providing a platform for green, eco, niche brands to connect with retailers, the press and the public.

There is so much to anticipate from Vibe’s Beauty… so stay tuned!

My thanks to the lovely Vibe for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. If you’re interested in reading more about Vibe check out her other websites and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


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Spotlight on: Marie Veronique and NOM

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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.

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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?