When I first started working at Belle & Sage I thought the job would teach me more about writing. It did, but that’s not where the education stopped.
Now that I’m almost 6 months in, my makeup bag is looking drastically different. The way I assess the industry has also progressed further than just “I hope they didn’t test these on animals.”
They’re changes I’m proud of, even though I’ve still got a way to go in my conscious beauty journey. If you do too, that’s fine. One of the biggest things this job is teaching me is that the learning journey never really ends.
Here’s a bit of a look at what I’ve figured out over the last year. Conscious beauty is a pretty exciting learning curve for anyone, and sharing the process is part of the fun!
I’ve always been convinced that harming animals in any context isn’t okay. It seemed archaic and cruel to me that companies regularly tested dangerous chemicals on creatures that couldn’t speak for themselves. It was a big deal, so when I went shopping I’d go out of my way for that cruelty-free guarantee.
It’s still something I care about, but since writing for Belle & Sage and learning a little more about what’s safe and ethical, my perspective has changed slightly.
I assumed because they were tested on humans, ‘cruelty-free’ products were all harmless and natural. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Some harmful chemicals (like synthetic fragrances or phenoxyethanol) have associated health risks and still show up in cruelty-free products. As it turns out, you don’t have to test on animals to be able to pop gross ingredients in wherever.
Another disappointing truth I’ve learned is not all brands go the distance to ensure their employees are treated properly. Ingredients that come from nature have to be harvested. When people don’t receive correct pay or are in danger at work, new lipstick doesn’t feel like fun anymore.
Now when I go shopping I look for cruelty-free brands that are organic and ethical too. It’s about seeing the whole picture, not settling after seeing a tiny part of it.
It’s embarrassing now, but growing up on a steady diet of Revlon, I once thought conventional makeup was simply better. Surely mainstream brands were mainstream because they were the best, and no natural product could ever stack up.
In fact, whenever the phrase “natural beauty” was uttered I had flashbacks of my Mum’s homemade vinegar shampoo. It was natural and wholesome, but it also made you reek of chips and rosemary for days. That wasn’t the kind of lifestyle I wanted to be part of.
Flash forward and here I am, getting to know the slickest, most polished natural makeup brands and loving it. I’ve spent a good chunk of money on Belle & Sage makeup over the past few months and honestly, the quality is crazy. Unlike vinegar shampoo, natural makeup works outstandingly well and is a whole lot of fun to wear. The colours are just as brilliant as a lot of conventional brands, and a lot of it lasts longer too.
What’s more, heaps of natural brands use essential oils and generally yummy ingredients. That means they’re amazing to wear and smell heavenly.
Before I started at Belle & Sage I had no idea just how many amazing conscious beauty brands existed right here in New Zealand. We’ve got skincare brands, jaw-dropping hair products and even the world’s leading anti-ageing serum. Why even bother ordering from overseas?
Maybe I exaggerate, there are definitely great conscious beauty products that come from overseas too. It’s just that the ones made in Aotearoa are pretty bloody exciting.
Buying locally is also great because it casts a vote for the kind of products you want to see around. When you buy local, you support local businesses and people from around New Zealand. If they’re getting that kind of support, they can afford to produce more awesome cosmetics. If more people buy natural cosmetics, it’ll become an industry more people want to be a part of. I love it, and I’ll keep buying all the local stuff I can get my paws on probably forever now.
Right now, my makeup bag is pretty 50/50. Half the things I own are natural, and the other half are left over products from before I knew better. I’ve still got a while to go before my collection is totally flawless, but my recent education means I’ve made a few huge changes.
Most of us know that conventional makeup and skincare contains synthetic toxins. It was definitely something I was aware of, but I figured that if they were present in unsafe amounts things wouldn’t get sold. It’s half true, thereare rules about how much of a chemical is allowed in certain products. What I didn’t realise is that ‘safe’ amounts build up quickly.
The average woman uses roughly 17 different cosmetic products every day. Things add up and small amounts become potentially toxic super quickly. Because of this, I don’t use any chemically-based products on my face, skin or hair anymore. You use skin, hair and foundation-type products in such huge amounts and it all feels a little too risky.
Some people argue that chemical preservatives in things like mascara aren’t so bad – I don’t know what my stance is just yet. One thing’s for sure though, there’s no way pthalates and parabens are getting anywhere near my skin or hair from now on.
These are just a few things I’ve learned – I’m sure as the year goes on the list will continue to grow (and that’s pretty damn exciting!)
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