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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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