Beautiful Choices

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Greenwashing, a term that has come into common use in the past few years, has been applied to nearly every aspect of modern life, including the manufacture of beauty products. According to Jenise Lee, terms like clean, natural, organic and pure are often misused in the greenwashing epidemic. The CEO of PurPicks, a product review company based in Toronto, she says that consumers see a label with those terms on it and are often fooled. “If one ingredient is natural in a product it can be labelled that way,” she explains.

Making choices in skin, hair and body care products that are as good for us as they are for the planet doesn’t have to be difficult, she adds, advising to stay away from those that contain paraben or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as a good start. “Buy from small, independent stores,” she adds, “as they've personally vetted the products they carry, using them in their own lives.”

Checking products out on a peer-reviewed site, like, is a good way to do research on future purchases. You can also look for the following.

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Eliminating single-use plastic containers is a growing concern for many as they see the devastating effects in aquatic populations, so using refillable containers for beauty and hygiene products is a growing trend.

Celebrating their first year in business in July of this year, Reimagine London has experienced exponential growth, going from a temporary popup shop to a full-time business in the former Novack’s building downtown.

According to Kara Rijnen, who owns the business with her husband Heenal Rajani, Reimagine's Refillery features products for personal and household use. Customers bring in their own clean containers that are weighed empty. They fill them with desired products and then they are weighed again at check-out time, “so they are charged for the products only,” she explains.

Natural, organic products from Canada are exclusively stocked in the Refillery that include shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, bubble bath and Epsom salts, face and body lotions. They also carry toothpaste, deodorant and lip balms.

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London-based Jaydancin uses ingredients grown by local farmers as much as possible. When she started the company 15 years ago, after living off-grid in northern Ontario for 10 years and making creams, soaps and other products from the ingredients grown in her own organic garden, Vickie Balazs was filling the needs of a few customers.

Demand for her completely natural products has grown from a small store in Sparta to the current one in Hyde Park that is 4,000 square feet.

With everything produced onsite, Balazs finds that many customers are concerned about how chemicals in products can affect their health. “We work with a lot of people who have cancer,” Balazs explains.

When purchasing products that are natural, she cautions consumers to be aware of the quality of the product. “Some use cheaper oils in the mixtures that are natural but not good quality, like canola or other vegetable oils. Better oils, like jojoba or coconut oils are preferable.”

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Carrying exclusively naturally sourced products from L’Oréal, Studio H Artist Group is a sustainable salon.

This was an effort that owner Heather Wenman began in 2007 by moving the salon to its current home on Anne Street in a warehouse that incorporates green space. The space was renovated to update its infrastructure to be more environmentally friendly.

Wenman is L’Oréal’s Canadian ambassador for naturality – the term the company uses to describe two lines: Source Essentielle (hair care products) and Botanea (100 per cent herbal hair colour).

This is important for Wenman personally and professionally, as she noticed negative symptoms associated with her long-standing career as a stylist using chemically-based products, as well as having lost many friends in the industry to cancer.

For her own health, that of her staff, her clients and the planet, Wenman is pleased to be on the leading edge of what she feels is now a lifestyle movement and not simply a trend. “Sustainable salons are here and it’s important for wellness,” she says.

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