Founder of Nourished Life, Irene Falcone shares her tips on how to make sure you’re getting the best ingredients in your beauty products.
Standing in the supermarket scanning labels you don’t even know how to read? Yep – we’re right there with you.
Over the years we’ve learnt a lot about what we should avoid – sulphates in our shampoo, petrochemicals in our moisturisers – but it can be so hard to decipher which products have these in, and which ingredients are actually ok to use.
The good news is, there’s definitely a lot more awareness about ingredients these days.
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“Consumers have been doing their own research, they are trying and testing and seeing results. They have also seen the visible impact many of these chemicals have had on our environment such as our beautiful Great Barrier Reef and the impact harsh chemicals found in some products are having on our coral,” explains Irene Falcone, founder of natural beauty store Nourished Life.
However, there is still a knowledge gap that persists around products and ingredients. In fact, 42% of people rarely or never bother to read the ingredient list on products across skincare, hair care, make-up and cleaning.
So, if a product says it’s ‘natural’ do I need to read what’s in it?
One of the reasons Falcone started Nourished Life was because of the often misleading claims that are made on beauty products.
“There are some claims you just can’t fake thanks to rules and regulations – like certified organic or certified natural however anyone can just slap a “natural” claim on the front of a product and lead consumers to believe it’s actually natural,” she says.
“It’s now such a minefield out there – and even more so now than when I started 10 years ago – because there’s been a whole consumer shift towards natural, with more and more brands jumping on the bandwagon and wanting to produce “natural” product.”
Why don’t we bother with the labels?
One of the major reasons Falcone says there is so much confusion around natural and ‘healthy’ ingredients is that we tend to trust brands when they promote their products.
She adds that the ingredients list is also often convoluted and confusing so we can’t figure out what’s actually in it.
“And who has the time to check the label of every single product, and decipher the back of an ingredients list!? I know I didn’t when I was working fulltime in corporate land and looking after my four kids – I just wanted to trust the product was what it said it was.”
“You’d have to be a chemist to understand and decipher the back of a label – or have a lot of time up your sleeve to Google all the ingredients,” she adds. “And still that’s not a reliable source of information as there’s so much misinformation out there and scaremongering about particular ingredients.”
Products to avoid
Falcone recommends we steer clear of parabens, synthetic fragrances and mineral based oils in our health and beauty routines.
However, these products can be quite pervasive (unless you shop at natural stores like Nourished Life). So – if you’re unsure how to reduce she suggests you look at the products that you apply the most of.
“My advice is to focus on products that are applied the most over large areas and are not washed off. For example sunscreens, body creams and fake tans are three products that we use daily and often contain the above chemicals, but they all have many natural alternatives which work, feel and smell the same!”
“So by just swapping those three products you are avoiding a lot of chemicals on your body. Shampoo and conditioner is next as we have thousands of hair follicles on our scalp that are exposed daily to chemicals, plus we are rinsing them all into our waterways!”
Products to look for
While there are so many amazing natural ingredients, Falcone has a few that really top her list.
“I always love to look for Aussie natives and support Australian products and brands. Anything like Kakadu Plum, Davidson Plum and macadamia oil. I also love natural alternatives to the big synthetic ingredients – like Bakuchiol – this is a plant extract acts very similar to Retinol but there’s no side effects and you can still use it while pregnant and breastfeeding,” she says.
“I think one thing to really look at when you’re looking into natural products is the source. A good example is collagen, there are so many sources of collagen but you really want to look for one (if its marine based) that is sustainably caught.”
Don’t just stop at the ingredients
If there’s one piece of advice Falcone would love to impart, it would be to also think about closing the loop on your beauty products.
“Seek out products that are more sustainable, zero-waste etc. Think about how you can reuse your products. Cleaning products is a really good one – you can now get so many refillable products where you keep the same bottle and use over and over again,” she says.
“There are really so many options so while looking at ingredients is a good place to start, thinking about sustainability and your products impact on the earth is the next place to start.:
Irene Falcone is the founder of Nourished Life.