Makeup and skin care
When my friend got me in contact with a friend of hers who works for Arbonne (vegan skin care line) I was surprised by what she told me. Animal rendering plants? Bat poop in mascara? Seriously? I need to rethink what is in my cosmetics and my body care products. Skin is the largest organ in our body – what hidden ingredients am I absorbing through this organ? Gross.
I met with Kait Gray, an Arbonne Independent Consultant, for coffee last week and a chat about both Arbonne’s vegan certified beauty products and the industry standards as a whole. It turns out there are no regulations in North America making cosmetics companies list every ingredient they use on their labels. Therefore “natural ingredients” could mean everything from plant-based ingredients to animal filler made at animal rendering plants (more on this to come) to anything “natural”. Specifically, there tends to be bat poop in mascara, fish scales in eye shadow, and the shells of beetles in red lipstick.
Animal rendering plants were probably the most shocking to me. I guess I never thought about where all the dead animals and organic waste goes. Kait explains it better than I can:
There are the blue bins and the green bins and we all know about that. By law there is also something called the red bin. What goes in to the red bins includes things like road kill, euthanized pets from veterinarians, animals from stockyard that are considered too sickly to be consumed, cooking grease left over from kitchens, left overs from meat packing plants, organs and placentas from hospitals. By law they can’t just throw these things out.
The red bins then get shipped off to the animal rendering plants. Everything is put in to a big pot and it is boiled at an unregulated temperature for an unregulated amount of time. It’s boiled and boiled for hours and the foam comes to the top. It reminds me of when my grandma used to make chicken soup and she told me to scoop the foam off the top and throw it in the garbage because you don’t want to eat that. What they do is they scoop off the foam, put it in barrels and sell the barrels to cosmetics companies for $1 a barrel. It’s cheaper for them to do that than dispose of it in any other way. The cosmetics industry then uses these animal by-products as a cheap filler and emollient. That’s what makes your hand cream silky smooth.
If you want a very graphic description of what it’s like to be in an animal rendering plant, read “The Dark Side of Recycling” here.
Kait talked a lot about her products and was very passionate about choosing healthier options in the kinds of beauty care we are all slathering on our skin. Arbonne is vegan, paraben-free, SLS-free, uses BPA free plastic, 100% hypo-allergenic, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified (uses responsible harvesting, not using ingredients that are going extinct, environmentally conscious). They are Swiss formulated, meaning they abide by strict Swiss rules in which chemicals are banned that are unhealthy and carcinogenic (for instance out of 1200 chemicals banned in Switzerland, only 11 of them are illegal in Canada and the U.S.).
I asked my friend who has worked in the natural body care industry for awhile and she pointed out that although vegan, they are not totally natural products. And I have to mention that they are not cheap – comparable to the department store brands like Clinique or Lancome.
Kait gave me some of their Anti-Aging line to try out for a week. It’s nice to know I’m not putting any sick animals on my largest organ. The eye cream was great. I don’t think some of the anti-aging creams are formulated for people with skin that can break out, because the heavy creams made a few pimples come up in places I don’t normally get them. They have other lines, though, that are made for combination skin, so if I decided to splurge, I might try them out.
In any case, I need to commit to buying all vegan and natural skin care. I know that recycling can be a good thing, but I don’t want to be putting that in my body!
You can contact Kait at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions for her or want more information on Arbonne.