I’ve been a No-Chemicals-Thanks 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. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that 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
I became much more annoyingly 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 pleased to say she now announces ‘No parabens!‘ when she walks into the house with a new lip balm or eye shadow. And 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.
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.
In 2011, I set up a website for one of the fictional characters I was writing about (Lyla Waterson), because … well, basically I was so effing 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, because I am a slow writer, my cosmetics empire wasn’t going to happen overnight; it took me two years to write Charlotte Aimes. So, in the meantime, I started by making a website.
Take that, stinky supermarket aisle!
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 couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell me much.
He did tell me that there is a European standard that dictates what an antiperspirant has to have in it in order to be classified as an antiperspirant rather than a deodorant (here’s an interesting overview about the history of this classification, though it’s somewhat peripheral to my interests), and he did tell me that they do a lot of research for every product they put on the market (this I already knew from talking at length to my Branding Whiz Friend), and that it’s a long process if you’re trying to get a new product on the market.
(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.)