Introduction to the world of beauty care


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At 48 years of age, like many among those who consult this book, I was brutally confronted with a breast cancer diagnostic. Being ill with cancer provokes, sooner or later, in general, at least two major awakenings of conscience: about the fragility and the finite nature of life and the desire for change, “to re-organize” and “to put order” in one’s life, TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO WHAT ONE CONSUMES.

There are medical solutions and “internal” solutions which everyone explores according to his/her desire and potential. This book, in all humility, wants to be a source of “external”, easy, concrete, and practical solutions. During the long waiting hours in the hospitals for more than a year of surgery and treatments I often had the occasion to talk to other women like me. We inevitably ended up asking one another the same questions: where did you buy your wig? What did your MD advice you in terms of nourishment? Do you take medicine? Which body lotion are you using?

“During the last thirty years, the occurrence rate of cancer increased by 40% (inference made based upon the population growing older). During this period, the increase of leukemia and brain tumours was about 2% per annum. And one notes a similar evolution for neurological (such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) and auto-immune diseases or for reproductive dysfunction. How to explain this worrisome epidemic which strikes especially the so-called ”developed” countries? ” [1] Indeed, on a personal level, I have not stopped asking myself what could have triggered the arrival of this cancer considering the fact that I did not carry any of the risk factors, neither genetic nor in terms of behaviour. On the other hand, I have always been a great consumer of beauty products, and this from a very young age onward… How come that during the 1960s women had one chance in 20 to develop breast cancer whereas today they have one chance in 8?

Little by little, I began to pay attention to the toxicity of cosmetics and to hormonal disrupters.

Numerous ingredients and chemical products present in food, in beauty products, in cleaning detergents, in plastics, in short, in the environment, act, once they have been absorbed by the body, like estrogens, thus increasing the presence of female hormones which have an effect on the occurrence of breast cancer:

“Exposure to estrogens is at least twice and a half to three times higher during the lifespan of Western women than among Chinese women in rural areas. Unfortunately, and it is the sad truth, most women are not aware of this fact. If responsible and serious public health agencies would care to divulge this information properly, I suppose that many young women would take quite tangible and efficient measures to avoid this terrible disease. ” [2]

Following all of these interrogations and conclusions emanating from about everywhere since a score of years, cleansing our environment thus becomes a priority. If it is true that we cannot control everything, it is also true that we can make protective gestures in our day-to-day consumption: eating organically-produced food as much as possible, choosing healthy cleaning products, selecting our cosmetics according to rigorous criteria. These gestures are not only preventive and protective, supporting a better health, but they are also ecological, ethical and responsible.

At the beginning of my research, like any sick person, I consulted all official Websites relating to breast cancer. I quickly noticed that all of these sites (in Quebec 99.9% of these sites are subsidized by the Government or by the pharmaceutical companies and the same discourse, the same ‘single-thought’ is conveyed there) post the substances, the products and the behaviour to avoid but none mentions the products that do not contain carcinogenic substances which currently exist on the market, nor the addresses where to buy them, or any useful recommendations. The most concrete information that I found did not relate to products sold in Quebec. In other words, somebody who wants to bring changes in his/her way of consuming has little support and practical information: EVERYONE SAYS WHAT NOT TO DO, BUT NOBODY SAYS WHAT TO DO! It is not the studies and the publications that are missing showing the responsibility of the chemical industry in the epidemic of chronic diseases, but the solutions, one wants to know “what to do? ” to protect oneself. Most of the time, because of lack of information and time, people give up and return to their old consumption habits.  I said to myself then that many women like me are asking the same questions and run up against the same difficulties. I thus started to post on my not-for-profit Website the results of my research. I started to give addresses, prices, names of products, the ingredients and more and more documentation. Of all the pages of the site (more than one hundred), the one devoted to non-toxic cosmetics was read most frequently. Personally, I would have immensely appreciated to have had this information at the beginning of the disease and oh! how much even, quite before, but things arrive when we are ready to welcome them.

After several months of purchasing tests in the four corners of Montreal with the “Dirty List” in one hand and the magnifying glass in the other, I arrived at the obvious conclusion: who has time to do what I did? We needed, like it was done in other English-speaking provinces and in the United States, a guide who directs us in our purchases and who proposes alternative solutions to conventional cosmetics not only for women but also for children and men, with an aim of establishing optimal health and in the respect of life and of our planet.

In her book “Notre poison quotidian” ( Our daily poison),  Marie-Monique Robin devotes several chapters to the children who are the first victims of this “quiet epidemic” which is the generalized pollution of the environment.  The evolution of infantile pathologies show without any doubt that prenatal maternal exposure to the surrounding chemical cocktails and in particular to the hormonal disturbers leads to dramas like autism, attention disorders, hyperactivity, mental backwardness, infantile leukemia or of deformations of babies whose tiny bodies have been martyrized by the chemical madness of men. All these assertions are based upon hundreds of scientific studies carried out in several countries of Europe, America and Asia as well as testimonies from researchers and representatives of regulatory agencies. I highly recommend this book to the parents of young children of the so-called “developed” countries that have been invaded by thousands of chemical molecules since the Second World War.

Cosmetics are only part of all the chemical exposures to which man is subjected in his environment. The aim of this work is not to put the conventional cosmetics industry on trial (it would be a cause lost in advance with a sales turnover of 250 billion dollars annually throughout the world – 5.4 billion in Canada – and with legislation in its favour), nor to make publicity for the certified biological cosmetics industry (which presents a certain guarantee but which is not enough however because certain products still contain problematic ingredients) but rather to make you aware of the major stakes for the health of an uninformed consumer and to offer healthier alternatives because they exist. To do one’s shopping with the “Dirty List”  [3]   in the hand bag proves to be a very difficult experiment, I am not a disciple of voluntary simplicity although I congratulate people who practice it and, although it has become very trendy, I do not have the time to manufacture my cosmetics. I am convinced that one can reduce consumption but that one cannot give up hygiene and the innate desire to improve our appearance and to remain elegant. Safe and efficient products do EXIST and are sold on the Quebec market. They have been developed, for more than half a century, by visionaries, by committed and impassioned people associating beauty and hygiene with health in respect and in symbiosis with nature. It suffices to go and buy them elsewhere than in large supermarkets and in drugstores. There is no question here of an alarmist discourse, the danger of certain ingredients present in conventional hygiene and beauty products being a scientifically proven fact, Canadian standards on cosmetics being insufficient and rather subservient to the industry, it is thus necessary to be careful. Let us remain vigilant while waiting for stricter laws, more stringent controls and a sense of responsibility rather than of profit.

We have immense citizen power of which we should make use, we should ask for less dangerous products, require biological products in pharmacies, in fashion magazines, in shops for teenagers and children.

This Guide of non-toxic beauty products does not want to be a list of all the nontoxic products available on the market nor a classification but rather a support, suggestions, a limited repertory but with quite varied choices, enough to meet the needs of people who wish to commit themselves to more secure consumption, in respect of the human body and of nature, less polluting, less aggressive, less toxic, less chemical, more authentic, more ecological, a consumption which makes the distinction between publicity and reality, between the opportunistic bio forgery and a true quality product. Given the variety of certified biological products and their number growing every day, it is impossible to take account of all that exists on the market. This  Guide of non-toxic beauty products  has thus also an informational and educational range, as it shows you how to sort things, which tools to use, how to read the labels, how to recognize a good true and secure product for yourself and your family at decent prices. We did not retain in this first edition very specific products (products for your hair, make-up) but rather products that are widely consumed.

I first of all dedicate my work to all my sisters touched by breast cancer while hoping to be useful to them; then to the mothers who often take charge of the health of all the members of their family, to the activist ecologists and, of course, to any person interested in a preventive and proactive approach of health and everyday consumption.

It will never be said enough, the benefits of products of care represent only one aspect of a healthy way of life which includes also a balanced and biological nourishment, no or little meat as much as possible, regular physical activity, a skin hydrated by a good water consumption, a good sleep and periods of relaxation because beauty nourishes itself as much from the outside as from the inside. According to Rita Stiens, a German author and journalist who upset the world of cosmetics with her books, studies have shown that 65% of the ageing process is genetically determined and that the remaining 35% depend on life style and on the care given to the skin… [4]   There is thus plenty to discourage us from spending a fortune in buying small jars with “magic” and toxic contents.  Moreover, several dermatologists during television broadcasts or in various articles do not stop demystifying the idea which one entertains about certain very expensive products: there is no directly proportional relationship between the price and the effectiveness. All the people who have studied the question of  conventional cosmetics arrived at the same conclusions: lots of publicity, flattering and luxurious packaging, a laudatory and pseudo-scientific language, an incomprehensible label including certain ingredients harmful for health. [5]

In accordance to a survey [6]   about the criteria according to which consumers choose their beauty products in Quebec, it results from it that:

Is this too ambitious a project? Changing the 22% (choice from the ingredients) into 90%? To bring a change in the behaviour of the consumer so that he/she does choose his products according to different criteria, according to the ingredients and of the contents? Why not! And even if that concerned only one person, as my yogi would say, no matter how small the change it is always better than nothing!

Elsewhere in the world consumers have understood the message and made their choice. Here at home, the message finds more and more new platforms to reach the consumer who, let’s hope, will not be locked up in skepticism or ignorance. What people need is to be informed and have options within reach.

IT IS HIGH TIME that “ the incredible scientific imposture of the “daily acceptable amount” of poison” [7]   ceases.

This Guide of non-toxic hygiene, beauty and cosmetics products is a means of escaping part of the pollutants of the chemical soup in which we bathe and thus to reduce the toxic load of the body.

It is certainly not perfect and I call upon your leniency for this first edition and, if you are not, then know that, after so much criticism, I expect to be judged in return… I am even likely to agree with some of the criticism. I did this monk’s work all alone, without subsidy, without assistance, animated by the desire to share my discoveries, to help the people interested in a change and to propose one to those who rely blindly on the cosmetics industry. This enabled me to remain honest, to remain neutral and independent in the choice of the proposed products and to remain loyal to the first principle of selection of the products of this guide: harmlessness [8]   (innocuité) . I paid and tested myself 90% of the proposed products (several volunteers in my family and my circle of friends also helped me to test products and to provide very relevant comments to me) and I have checked one by one the ingredients of all the selected products. The contents are safe, the remainder is a question of personal criteria.

As the cosmetics industry does not stop changing, inventing, proposing new lines or formulas,  improving and withdrawing certain products from the market, changes could be brought in the classification of the products on Skin Deep  [9]   or in the lists of ingredients of certain products from the drafting to the publication of this book. In the stores you can also find products coming from the different batches which were not manufactured at the same time. Our goal is to cause an awakening, a reflection on the cosmetics industry and to develop in the consumer the practice to check the components of the products and not to impose rigorous, immutable classifications with the taste of the last Judgment.

I would have liked to propose more products of local production, because they exist and they meet the criteria of selection, but unfortunately my emails and my phone calls remained unanswered to my requests concerning the list of INCI ingredients or the samples.

I hope that I will have been useful and that we will be more numerous to take part in the drafting of future editions.

World market of cosmetics

If you look at the whole of the cosmetics industry across the world, sales reach approximately 170 billion $ per annum. They are distributed rather uniformly throughout the world with 40 billion dollars in the Americas, approximately 60 billion dollars in Europe, approximately 60 billion dollars in Australia and Asia, and another 10 billion dollars in Africa. The Western world spends a little more per person, but India and Asia are catching up quickly.

So, now that you know where all the money is spent, it is useful to know what people buy with their money. The cosmetics industry (the beauty industry or other industries of personal care) can, overall, be broken up into five segments. Sales are distributed roughly speaking by the percentage given.

1. Hair Care -20%

2. Skin Care -27%

3. Fragrance -10%

4. Make-up -20%

5. Others -23%


[1] ↑ Marie-Monique Robin, Notre poison quotidien / Our daily poison

[2] ↑ Rapport Campbell, p.197 and 198  (translated from the French edition)

[3] ↑   The most effective way to use the list of ingredients to avoid provided by the David Suzuki Foundation or any other reliable organization is initially to target the product, then to check its ingredients on the Internet before buying the product and once the product has arrived at home, it is necessary to re-verify to be sure that the list of ingredients which you found on the Internet is identical with the one which is on the purchased product and if such is not the case, return to the store…

[4] ↑ Rita Stiens, La vérité sur les cosmétiques , ( The Truth on Cosmetics) ,  French edition 2001, p 65.  2001, p 65.

[5] ↑   See books suggested in the chapter “Are cosmetics toxic?”

[6] ↑  Poll taken on the Website

[7] ↑  Chapter from « Notre poison quotidien » by Marie-Monique Robin

[8] ↑   From the Latin « innocuus » meaning « Which is not harmful »

[9] ↑  See Chapter « Skin Deep and other tools…»

One thought on “Introduction to the world of beauty care

  1. Je suis impressionnée par votre initiative et vous en félicite . J’ai aussi fait partie des personnes touchées par le cancer du sein . Pourtant , je n’ai jamais eu de pratique importante dans le monde de la cosmétologie….Ce qui me chicote : biologique c’est louable , une fois transformés en produits cosmétiques , ils seraient par définition plus sensibles à l’oxydation et au rancissement d’où , à risques eux aussi …Pour avoir été moi-même du courant éso-étho des années 1975-1990 et en être restée déçue pcq avec le recul , garant de si peu…Bien sûr je continue de m’informer….Continuez…

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