All posts by Brianne Nemiroff

vegan deodorant

Grace Soraparu, Founder of Whole Love Organics Talks Non-Toxic Deodorants, Eco-Friendly Beauty, and Her Journey as an Entrepreneur

In our May 2019 Beauty Box, we featured Whole Love Organics orange vanilla deodorant. This non-toxic deodorant’s ingredients included baking soda, which some subscribers let us know they avoid due to sensitive skin. Since we got a few questions asking us about the product, we decided to interview Whole Love Organics owner Grace Soraparu about common controversial deodorant ingredients, how she sustains an eco-friendly brand, and how becoming a mom instigated her search for non-toxic beauty products. 

Before we get into the interview, here is a little Deodorant 101.

Why is baking soda in my deodorant?

Baking soda absorbs moisture and kills the bacteria in your sweat. Other ingredients that perform the same function would be arrowroot and cornstarch.

Will natural deodorants help stop me from sweating?

To be considered an antiperspirant, it must contain aluminum, as this metal stops your sweat glands from sweating. Natural deodorants are formulated to only stop the smell as sweating is our body’s main defense against eliminating toxins.

What are common ingredients found in natural deodorants? 

Natural oils, natural vegan and non-vegan waxes, powders and starches, and essential oils for fragrance.

Are natural deodorant automatically vegan?

No, some brands use ingredients such as beeswax or lanolin as their wax base. Make sure to read labels carefully or look for a vegan certified label.

 

 

WHY CHOOSE ALUMINUM-FREE DEODORANT?

When switching to non-toxic skin care, deodorant is often the first item consumers switch out for a natural option. Can you explain what makes aluminum such a dangerous ingredient in deodorant?

Our body recognizes aluminum as a foreign substance. It’s not something that we’re born within our bodies, but people are putting it underneath their armpits to block their body from sweating. Your body’s number one fighter of toxins, besides your liver, is your armpits. It’s so important to have this area of your body open and clear so that it can expel harmful ingredients – not just from your deodorant, but from formaldehyde releasers in other skincare products, phthalates in shampoos, etc. Because your body recognizes the substances foreign substance as a metal, you’re actually sweating more! It’s a double-edged sword.

 

How should one go about switching to a natural deodorant? What side effects or changes should one anticipate?

I always tell people that you should be consuming a lot of water, especially when you’re making the switch, as you want your body to be expelling the aluminum and fragrances from your old deodorant.

During the detox period, the pH of your skin is changing. You might even have a delayed detox period and start getting a rash two months in from a new deodorant with baking soda, but I don’t think it’s something you’ll deal with for the rest of your life. Try doing a pit detox with apple cider vinegar and bentonite clay, like you would do a face mask but for your armpits. It helps draw out the toxins. I’ve been using natural deodorants for five years and I still do a pit detox twice a year because our environment and diet are not always the cleanest.

 

Some consumers have a bad reaction to baking soda, but you’ve mentioned it usually takes a detox to rid of that allergy. Can you explain that further in detail?

I don’t think it’s an allergy. It’s topical contact dermatitis in some way. If some people are extremely sensitive, you might be sensitive to baking soda forever. But for a lot of people, their armpits are just changing and there’s added friction. A previous customer of mine thought she was sensitive to the baking soda, but in fact, it was actually the lemongrass essential oils in the deodorant. It’s all trial and error. It can be defeating when it’s a $10 deodorant, so try doing a pit detox first, soothe your armpits in lavender and coconut oil, and give your body time to reset.

We expect to give our digestive system time to adjust to a diet change, but we have to remember that our skin is our largest organ. With our hair, too! Our hair is so used to the products we put into it, that when we switch to non-toxic hair care, we don’t give it time to adjust. Our skin and hair have memory; you have to give it time.

 

ECO-FRIENDLY BEAUTY

We love that your brand is very eco-friendly. What measures do you take to ensure that everything from your ingredients to your shipping boxes are as eco-friendly as possible?

Last year, I started cutting out products that are packaged in plastic. It’s really hard to be completely eco-friendly, but I know a lot of brands are killing it and I have the utmost respect for them. It’s a trade-off. I’m going to start offering cream deodorants again, as well as a spray, to have more eco-friendly options. But if I have to choose between two of my products being packaged in plastic [and eliminating plastic altogether], I want to offer the option for people who need the conventional stick deodorant. Luckily, I do have a lot of local customers who turn in their containers to me so I can refill them. There are great cardboard containers that I wish were more affordable, but as a consumer, I wouldn’t be able to afford an $18 consumable item like a deodorant.

I am making strides to remove plastic lip balm containers and make those cardboard. Most of my products are packed in glass, biodegradable packing peanuts, and recycled boxes whenever possible. If you order from me, you might receive a box that’s been used, but reusing boxes is so important. I also never include more than a thank you card added the box – no business cards or any other information. I try to cut down on those paper items.

The only preservative I use is radish root ferment filtrate, which helps extend the life but only by three months. I don’t use anything else as it’s so terrible for our water and bodies.

In your experience, have you noticed that vegan ingredients perform better than their animal-derived counterparts?

My one example is candelilla wax versus beeswax. First off, it’s way more eco-friendly. Ounce for ounce, I’m able to use less and purchase less and therefore make a more affordable product. You don’t need as much because candelilla is a harder wax. I know a lot of companies use tallow, but it’s so expensive. Shea butter and cocoa butter outperform tallow any day. Coconut oil is great for deodorant but there are even better ingredients than that for skincare.

 

INDIE BEAUTY ENTREPRENEUR

How did you decide to start your own beauty line?

I got pregnant with my twins. I hadn’t made the natural transformation yet; but when you start sharing a body with another human, and I had two with me, you start to think about it. I didn’t have parents who cared to educate themselves in that regard so I started looking at the back of my products. I was really freaked out and pared down.

I couldn’t find a deodorant that worked for me, so I started making my own around the time I was nursing my third son. This was before natural deodorants were more accessible.

I started handing it out to my friends and I had an overwhelming response. Then I started adding products that I needed in my daily life. Next was dry shampoo, as I had three kids under the age of two; I didn’t have much time to wash my hair. Making products was my creative outlet. I loved being in the kitchen and that’s how it all started.

 

You make your beauty items by hand. How does that improve their texture and quality over using a manufacturer?

I control everything from the beginning. Where I purchase from is really important to me and everything is made in small batches. The most I make is 20 per batch so I can control it down to the gram. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me to offer to manufacture my products, but I love being able to control that aspect of it.

I only make products when I am happy so only love goes into every product. I’m learning about reiki and energy medicine so only in a good frame of mind will I make a product.

 

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a beauty entrepreneur?

Trying to keep everything as attainable as possible, but also making money to support my family. It’s not just a hobby for me. I recently purchased 5000 containers to make my margins a bit better, but having a 1600 square foot house, where do I put all of the boxes? I would love to be able to compete with other indie brands, but I’m doing it by myself and I’m OK with that.

 

What do you hope to do with Whole Love Organics in the future? 

Retail is the goal. I want people to shop locally to save on shipping and support local retail stores.

So many people want me to grow but I’m OK with where it’s at. People want me to add 10 products, but at the end of the year, I’m paring down. I want to focus on quality.

 

Visit www.wholeloveorganics.com and use the code VEGAN20 to take 20% off your order.

Enter our Whole Love Organics giveaway here for your chance to win a $50 shopping spree on their site!

 

Why We Partnered with The Humble Co.

A selection of The Humble Co.’s bamboo toothbrushes

This May 2019, we featured products by The Humble Co. in both our vegan Snack Box and vegan Beauty Box. The Humble Co. proudly produces sustainable oral care products including toothbrushes, floss, gum, and more. The Snack Box featured a pack of plastic-free chewing gum, while those who received the Beauty Box got a bamboo toothbrush in a surprise color with an accompanying mini toothpaste.

Are you new to using a product by The Humble Co.? Here’s all you need to know. The company was established in 2013 but is quickly growing throughout the world. You can find their products online, on Amazon, and even in dental clinics. The Humble Co. is based in Sweden and each product showcases a sleek and efficient Scandinavian design. But what we love most about them is that they founded the Humble Smile Foundation to deliver oral care products and provide oral health education to kids around the world. Currently, they have active projects in the following countries: India, Ethiopia, Nepal, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Transylvania, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Romania, Sri Lanka, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, Cameroon, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, and Tanzania. If you like the products you got in your May box, or you missed the box :(, we encourage you to buy from them as every purchase goes toward funding these projects.

A photo from a Humble Smile Foundation project in Mozambique.

Did you know that 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used and disposed of every year? You can help to reduce that rate by switching to a bamboo alternative, like that made by The Humble Co., as the plastics end up in our landfills and oceans. We know our subscribers value living ethically and sustainably, which is why we always do our best to provide you with items that can help you live well without sacrificing performance or style.

In honor of the partnership, The Humble Co. also did a giveaway with us! One lucky winner won 6 brushes, 4 tubes of toothpaste, 8 packs of gum, and 5 dental flosses!

 

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

CONGRATULATIONS K. VELTRI!

beauty products

8 Toxic Ingredients to Watch Out for in Your Beauty Products

Have you ever purchased a product without reading the ingredients? Maybe you were mesmerized by the beautiful packaging, a couple of keywords on the front matched your needs like “volumizing” or “extra hold,” or you’ve heard great things about the brand.

So no need to look at the back of the package, right?

Not so fast. For the sake of your overall health (and your wallet), you should always read the ingredients before purchasing any item. You want to make sure you’re not only getting what’s being advertised to you, but also that you’re not missing any sneaky, harmful ingredients.

Just because it says “natural” or “vegan” doesn’t actually make it natural and clean.

The American cosmetics industry is worth a whopping $70 billion every year. However, the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors only has an annual budget of $8 million and 27 staff members. It gets worse– The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was the last set of laws passed to govern cosmetics, and this passed in 1938. Many years later, we have millions of beauty brands using a wide variety of ingredients and formulating techniques that need to be regulated.

The EU bans 1328 chemicals, Canada bans 600, but the U.S. bans only 30. Whether it’s for your long-term health, immediate skin irritation, ethics, or bioaccumulation, we should all be taking a closer look at the ingredients in our favorite products and every future purchase. If you see any of the ingredients listed below in your collection of skincare and cosmetics, it may be time to apply the KonMari method to your skincare and cosmetics routine.

1. Preservatives & Stabilizing Agents: Parabens, BHA, BHT

Parabens are a commonly-used preservative found in personal care products and cosmetics. When first transitioning to non-toxic beauty, look for parabens as they are the easiest to scope out.

They are found in the majority of cosmetics, although sometimes unmarked as part of the fragrances. (Did you know that fragrances don’t have to be disclosed to the public as they are considered a trade secret?) Parabens can easily penetrate your skin, even if your product doesn’t have skin absorption enhancers, bypass the metabolic process, and can enter both the bloodstream and organs without being broken down.

The scary fact is that parabens mimic estrogen, which can potentially interfere with hormone production in both men and women. Parabens have been linked to breast cancer, because they have been detected in the breast tissue of many breast cancer patients. Last but not least, parabens are not environmentally-friendly, as they are resistant to biodegradation in both water and oil.

Other preservatives to look out for are BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). Like parabens, they are suspected endocrine disrupters and carcinogens. Even worse, they are carcinogens for fish and other wildlife.

Consumers have to understand that every product used gets washed down the drain in some form — the shower drain, sink drain, or during the recycling process. These two chemicals are both bioaccumulative and dangerous towards aquatic species.

2. Foaming Agents: Sulfates

Sulfates are what make beauty commercials so enticing. Sulfates produce the suds for the shampoo, body wash, and shaving cream close-up shots. Suds are supposed to imply a luxurious and moisturizing product, but instead, sulfates are synthetic, non-renewable ingredients generally derived from petroleum that strip the skin of its natural oils and cause severe skin irritation.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) can remain in the body for up to five days, staying behind in your vital organs, can damage your immune system, and mutate into carcinogens. Another chemical that performs the same function would be DEA (Diethanolamine), which is mainly used as a pH adjuster. This chemical can have effects on the nervous and endocrine system.

3. Plasticizers: Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that help dissolve other chemicals and make plastic more flexible. They can be found in everything from vinyl flooring to shampoo, often hidden in the fragrance. Phthalates are bioaccumulative and are endocrine disrupters to both humans and aquatic animals.

4. Antibacterials: Triclosan

Undoubtedly, not all antibacterials are bad. But triclosan is a synthetic antibacterial that functions as a pesticide. It is a commonly-found chemical in many types of drugstore toothpaste and household cleaners. Unfortunately, this chemical is a hormone disruptor and can decrease fertility, produce birth defects, or alter DNA. This chemical, too, is bioaccumulative and also harmful to aquatic animals.

5. Formaldehyde Releasers: DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, and others.

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are used in many personal care products, particularly liquid baby soaps, hair smoothing products, nail polish, and color cosmetics. When formaldehyde is present in a product, consumers can be exposed by ingestion or absorption, which can cause irritation at best and cancer at worst.

6. Chemical Sunscreens: Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Octinoxate.

sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens, like zinc oxide, will sit on your skin to reflect the light to prevent damage. Chemical sunscreens will penetrate your skin, absorb the UV rays, and convert them into heat that is then released through the skin.

But unlike the mineral sunscreens, chemical sunscreens can stay in the body for up to five days. Additionally, many chemical sunscreens are not considered “reef safe” and are already banned, or will soon be banned, around the world for damaging our reefs. When it’s washed off your body in the water, it stays and actually damages some of the Earth’s most precious ecosystems.

7. Light and Heavy Metals: Aluminum and Lead

Aluminum, a light metal, can be found in many drugstore deodorants, with its main function as an antiperspirant. The deodorants will have aluminum salts that help plug the pores physically preventing you from sweating. Not only has this been linked to increasing your chances of breast cancer, but it’s blocking your natural production of sweat.

On the other hand, heavy metals are less obvious to spot, as they are often not added purposely, but are contaminants. Such is the case for the infamous Claire’s asbestos scandal when a mother found asbestos in a variety of her young girl’s makeup palettes.

8. Water Retainers: Mineral Oils & Petrolatum

Petrolatum and mineral oils, a liquid mixture derived from petrolatum, are used in many personal care products to retain moisture. This is why you will often see it as the main ingredient for lotions, cleansers, lip balms, and even powders. The big problem is that as they keep water in, they also clog the pores and prevent your skin from breathing.

Used regularly, this will age your skin prematurely, and as it’s a carcinogen and endocrine disrupter, they can lead to cancer in humans and breathing problems in animals. You should also keep a lookout for 1,4-Dioxane, a common byproduct of processing petroleum-based products produced while trying to make the petrolatum less irritating to the skin. 1,4-Dioxane is resistant to biodegradation in water and soil as well as being potentially explosive when exposed to light or air–definitely not something we want in our cosmetics.

How to Transition to Non-Toxic Cosmetics

If you are serious about switching to using only clean skincare and cosmetics, for the good of your skin and the planet, you are going to have to perform a thorough inspection of all your products and toss out the ones with any of the ingredients listed above. The good news is that there are plenty of non-toxic alternatives to all your favorites.

While it may be tough to get rid of a beloved eyeshadow palette or lip gloss, knowing the ingredients are no longer safe for you to use should be enough for you to let go. As you continue to shop and replace your items one by one, you’ll get familiar with ingredients labels and start to lean on brands you can trust.

If discovering products and brands one-by-one seems daunting or time-consuming, simply look for an EWG-Verified brand or subscribe to Vegancuts.

Vegancuts has transitioned to featuring only cruelty-free, vegan, AND clean beauty items, a.k.a non-toxic skincare, and cosmetics, so the work can be done for you. It’s time for you to take charge of what products you use in your everyday life.