I met Irene a few years ago just as she was starting Nourished Life and I was struck by her enthusiasm for all things toxic free.
I have made a point of styling in touch and have enjoyed watching her business grow. Green washing seems to come up again and again, what’s the best way to combat it, how do we get the message out? Information and education! So I asked Irene about her journey and how she navigates this tricky sea of marketing.
Why did you start Nourished Life?
I come from a long background in media buying and advertising. Through that time I was (and still am) a total makeup addict and for years overloaded my body with toxins from mainstream makeup and skincare, processed foods and long hours until it all finally caught up with me and I began feeling the physical side effects like chronic fatigue.That’s what prompted me to start thinking about what I put in and on my body so I threw away every product in my home that I couldn’t understand the labels of and began researching natural toxin-free alternatives. That’s what prompted to start blogging about my research on what ingredients to avoid as well as the best, most effective natural alternatives to makeup and skincare, which soon evolved into Nourished Life, a place where everyone could find and purchase affordable pure, safe, natural and organic products online and all in the one place.
Was it hard for you to make the change to non-toxic?
It was actually finding the best natural alternatives to my favourite products that was the challenge, and not just products that worked, but products that were actually truly natural. Once I found replacements it was not just easy but they worked even better!
How did you know where to look or what to look for?
I didn’t! It took months and months of research and homework and phone calls and emails to different brands, manufactures and regulation bodies (like the Australian Organic Certification Board) to find what ingredients were safe, what products were truly natural and where to find them.
Did you find a lot of brands claimed to be ‘natural’ but then found they weren’t when you looked closer at the ingredients label?
Yes! The industry is highly unregulated, anyone can put something in a bottle and claim it’s natural, and they do! Trulynatural beauty products should contain at least 90 percent of naturally-derived ingredients and be free from all synthetics. To get the seal of approval from the Natural Products Association (US based), a personal care product must: “be made up of only, or at least almost only, natural ingredients manufactured with appropriate processes to maintain ingredient purity,” and should not be tested on animals. On the other hand, for a product to be truly organic or certified organic, it must contain at least 95 per cent organic content.
What are the common concerns you hear from frustrated clients that couldn’t find toxic free products until they found your site?
I really sympathise with people who have struggled to find toxic free products because that was my main frustration but also ultimately my motivation to start Nourished Life. The most common concern I hear is that they purchased a product thinking it was natural, when it really wasn’t, in other words the product has been ‘green washed’.
Do you think it’s easy for people to find information on what to look for in toxic free products?
Yes actually. There is now a wealth of information out there and some really great resources, you just have to know where to look!
When you have tried to clarify brands that claim to be ‘natural’ but are not, what sort of response do you receive?
Before I became ‘chemical savvy’ this happened a lot, I constantly felt I had been tricked when I purchased what I thought was a natural product, only to find out that it was far from it. When I would confront the brands, in every case they either did not responded or simply told me straight out that they never claimed to be natural and that the products only included some natural ingredients.
Do you think that is because these brands are more concerned about selling products than of the health of their consumers?
No I don’t. I think these brands are genuinely trying to produce a better product than what has been out there for years but are restricted by the cost factors involved in getting an organic certification, finding truly natural ingredients and being able to preserve the shelf life of the product.
What are your favourite resources to identify ingredients in products?
Environmental Working Group
The Chemical Maze
Teens Turning Green
What are your top three first steps for people that want to go toxic free?
- Don’t get overwhelmed by how many products you need to switch – as something runs out, simply replace it with a natural alternative
- Always read the label closely – Whenever buying beauty products always look for the words 100% Natural, Certified natural, Made with organic ingredients or Certified Organic. The industry is still quite unregulated and companies often talk about their products being soft, gentle or even ecofriendly or natural, which can be very misleading for consumers.
- Do your research and ask the experts on all the incredible natural ingredients and products out there before you buy and find what is best suited to your skin type and age to ensure you don’t waste any money and get the best results!
Irene, thank you so much for your time. I look forward to sharing your pearls of wisdom and gorgeous products in the future!
You can shop Nourished Life now, click here.