Secret mission

I’ve been a No-Chemicals nut for almost as long as I can remember. Most so-called ‘luxury’ perfumes make me sneeze, many cosmetics make me break out in a rash and, frankly, I don’t see the point of clogging up drains and bodies with extra crap.

My basic approach is: LESS IS BEST. Yeah, sometimes life gets in the way of our best intentions, but over the years I’ve collected a bunch of information about what to look for on labels and what to avoid.

Teens and products

Lyla's blog
The ‘no chemicals in my cosmetics’ info site I put up for one of the fictional characters in my first YA novel, ‘Charlotte Aimes’.

I became much more vigilant about cosmetics and body products when AJ became a ‘tween’ and started to put pressure on me to buy her a cool deodorant ‘like the other girls’. I’m happy to see parabens have been taken out of many products over the past couple of years. However, we still have a long way to go. For our kids, for our own bodies and for the environment.

Swiss Quality?

Being in Switzerland, I thought there’d FOR SURE be some super, affordable, non-toxic, Swiss-approved, organic, bio, made-by-a-righteous-farmer deos and products for teens.


The mainstream, affordable deodorant choices (and there’s the rub – tweens don’t have loads of expendable income) for girls (and boys) in the supermarkets here are infuriatingly poor, and crammed with unnecessary chemicals. They’re mostly owned by Big Corporations (Unilever, L’Oreal), they’re laced with aluminium, or else they are spray-ons: an environmental disaster right there.

The more ‘natural’ options are packaged and marketed towards older people. They’re seriously boring, and a self-conscious teen or tween is very unlikely to pick up those products or brandish them in the school change-rooms.

Lyla7In 2011, I set up a website for one of the fictional characters I was writing about (Lyla Waterson), because … well, basically I was so mad at the architects of choice who decide which chemicals our daughters should wear (and then market said products to them), that I had a vision to reinvent the mainstream deodorant and hair care market with products by Lyla Waterson.

(I also set up a Tumblr, but that didn’t exactly take off because nobody seems to be making any good gifs that involve Imidazolidinyl urea. Go figure. Maybe I’ll find a way to clone myself so I have time to do some.)

Anyway, my cosmetics empire isn’t going to happen overnight; it took me two years to write Charlotte Aimes. So, in the meantime, I started by making a website.

Lunch with Deo-Man

At the European Trends Day here in Zurich in 2012, I accidentally sat next to the man responsible for new products at one of the big cosmetics companies.

I of course immediately cornered him about deodorants—who makes decisions, and how you’d get a new deodorant on the market (think big, I say)—but he was pretty tight-lipped.

I suggested he might like to partner with a YA author to put out a deodorant from a fictional character’s storyworld, but the look on his face indicated that he may have thought I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Oh well. His loss.