In my job, I have been asked on occasion why I don't stock a particular brand and, also, why I stopped stocking certain brands that I used to stock. Well, here's the thing . . .
This is an incredibly exciting time for lovers of natural products! It seems like everywhere we turn, we see products touted as ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘mineral’, ‘paraben free’, ‘aluminium free’, ‘made with organic ingredients’, ‘contains argan oil’ (woohoo!!) and so on and so on.
Yes, everyone’s jumping on the ‘natural and organic’ bandwagon and they’re doing it in droves - the manufacturers, I mean. Why? Because they realise that the general public are more conscious than ever of the existence of toxic chemicals and other ‘not so nice’ ingredients in the beauty products and personal care products we use on a daily basis. And they also realise we want to avoid them.
Manufacturers have latched onto the most widely publicised of those nasty or controversial ingredients and declared their products to be free from them. They've also cottoned on to the new popular ingredients that are seen as beneficial and quickly added them to their formulas. But the truth is, simply adding in a few good ingredients doesn't change the fact that many products still contain ingredients which are probably best avoided based on their scientifically proven effects on our bodies. So, yes, your facial cleanser may be paraben free and your deodorant may be aluminium free but, chances are, they still contain a raft of undesirable ingredients because, quite frankly, they appear to do the job required of them and they are cheap and easy to source.
And with the rapid rate of growth of this industry, what a financial boon this has become for manufacturers.
Become a label checker
I guess it all comes down to how particular you wish to be. And, for some people, perhaps just knowing that their products don’t contain the more famous of the ‘nasties’ is enough for them – and fair enough. But for others, like myself, it’s not fair enough, it’s just not enough at all.
I’ve been called pendantic, fastidious, over the top and, yes, even ‘anal’ when it comes to scrutinisation of products which are suitable for my store. But tell me, what’s wrong with actually checking every single ingredient in a product, right down to the last teeny tiny one? If you were going to eat the product, you’d want to be sure about each and every one of the included ingredients, wouldn’t you? To one extent or another, your skin absorbs what you put on it so it makes sense to feel confident about what you use on your body.
Of course, nothing in life is guaranteed 100%. If you wanted to be 100% sure that what you put on your body is safe, then you’d have to put nothing on your body – and that’s just unrealistic. We are limited by the information available to us and, in some cases, it is only with the passage of time and research that the true nature of ingredients becomes known (think tobacco and asbestos). Still, we are lucky in this modern age which allows us to access a wealth of information through the World Wide Web. You can do your research and make an informed decision based on what you find – and that’s exactly what I do when considering which brands and which products I will stock in my store. But you need to realise, too, that some categories of products are harder than others when it comes to finding cleaner options. I mean, it’s almost impossible to produce a chemical free nail polish or polish remover that will actually do the job. The very nature of these products requires the use of chemicals but you can leave out the most commonly used toxic ingredients and produce something that lessens the risk and still performs well.
My motto: quality over quantity
Every now and then I take a quick look at some of the other online stores similar to my own. Some of them have a massive range of products to choose from which, on the face of it, is fantastic. But if you delve a little deeper and actually take a closer look at the complete list of ingredients in many of the products available, you might just be surprised. You might find ingredients known to be toxic to our nervous system or our immune system, ingredients that mess with our endocrine (hormonal) system and ingredients classified as carcinogens. And this applies to products where there really is no need to have these undesirable ingredients from a performance point of view: cleansers, moisturisers, shampoos.
I’m the first to admit I’ve made mistakes in the past (I’m only human, after all) and I've stocked some items I’ve regretted. It’s all part of a learning process. But I fear some of these retailers are more interested in stocking the biggest range of products not the best quality products. It's disheartening to see in an industry where consumers are genuinely seeking out healthier options and I feel like they're being 'hoodwinked' not just by manufacturers but absolutely by retailers too. There are some amazing brands out there that have really nailed it when it comes to quality ingredients, great performance and sticking to the 'natural and organic' credo. Which is why it is so disappointing to see these other stores selling just about anything and everything, simply because they exist and because they know that unsuspecting customers will fall for the marketing hype surrounding those products. That’s just not how I roll.
So, I’ll continue to do my own thing and grow my range in a controlled, considered and conscious manner.