Organic skincare vs. chemical nasties
Why would you put anything else on your skin? We catch up with Made For Life Organics founder Amanda Winwood on what it means to use herbs and flowers over chemicals, and why you should make the switch to organic skincare.
They have kindly offered Still Stoked readers 20% with code STOKED20 ♡ – excludes gift sets and discover and travel sizes.
Recently, I’ve become a poster child for natural sunscreens. It’s not uncommon for me to confiscate a friend’s chemical cocktail of SPF, and replace it with a mineral version made from beeswax, coconut oil, and zinc. Slowly, I’ve been able to educate my family, my peers, and the many readers of Still Stoked. I then started looking at my face creams in the same way. What is this stuff? What are Phthalates and Triclosan? And why am I putting this shit on my body’s biggest organ, my skin?
Did you know that up to 2kg of chemicals from toiletries and skin care products can be absorbed through your skin each year? Gross. Did you know that to use the word organic on a beauty product in the UK, you only need to have 1.75% certified ingredients? Misguided much?
I was shocked at what I read. I proceeded to go through my beauty products one-by-one. I was angry. What was this stuff? The fancy plastic containers were destined straight for the recycling bin. Their (expensive) chemical contents, washed down the sink. My dry, aging, sunburn skin needed an alternative fast. I really wanted to find an organic skincare range that shared my environmental, sustainable, and biological values. I didn’t want my creams to promote a ‘natural’ alternative to chemical skincare but come in heavy plastic packaging – surely they see the contradiction in their values? I sure did. I started my search.
Then one day on holiday in Croatia, whilst chatting to a good friend that had come out the other side of a gnarly brain tumor, I was introduced to Made For Life Organics. A brand that my friend, a former cancer-survivor (under 30), mindful to every chemical she was exposed to, spoke of with huge enthusiasm. They were the first UK company to achieve 100% organic certification across their entire collection. From the beginning, every single product has been made by hand in Cornwall, UK, using herbs, flowers, and oils from as close as quality will allow. Their story itself is incredibly inspiring. As is their founder Amanda Winwood.
To simply be able to offer something that was authentic and link people back to the power of plants.
I wanted to find out more about organic skincare and natural alternatives. I wanted to educate myself so I could make better decisions and in turn help, others do the same. This led me to reach out to Amanda the founder of Made For Life Organics and learn about how a little brand from Cornwall England, is punching well above its weight in creating and enforcing Organic accreditation for beauty products in the UK.
I have been using a selection of products for one month now and my skin has taken on a completely new life of clarity, smoothness, and health. I kid you not. I was kindly gifted some products from Amanda, and a few weeks into using them, I ordered a whole load more via their online store. It was seriously love at first try. Hence, this article.
Under the skin of the organic skincare
– A chat with Amanda Winwood, the Founder of Made For Life Organics. Remember you can use code STOKED20 to get 20% online – excludes gift sets and discover and travel sizes.
What was your mission and motivation for starting Made For Life Organics?
To simply be able to offer something that was authentic and link people back to the power of plants. It was driven originally by my youngest daughter having eczema, and the hotel that I was involved in running- Budock Vean in Cornwall, offering a range of 100% organic spa treatments and products, to our guests.
What drives or inspires you every day with the company and/or its products?
To make a change and link people back to a healthy relationship with the Planet. We should be mindful of the fact that a healthy planet means that we are healthy. The herbs and plants that form the very essence of all our Made for Life products all have qualities to heal and nourish the skin. It is a desire to educate and change attitudes. I just love waking up every morning and coming into work because there is a purpose other than just the commercials. Plus our Laboratory smells amazing – the perfect start to the day!
You are certified 100% organic, can you explain what that means… we thought all products labeled organic were 100% organic!
We are indeed 100% organic. That means that every single ingredient that we use is organic and to be honest, you can eat most of our products as we use food-grade ingredients. To use the word organic on a beauty product you only need to have 1.75% certified ingredients which I think is pretty deplorable and very confusing for a large proportion of the public. Many people have not got the knowledge or the 20/20 vision required to read an INCI (ingredient) listing, and so just believe and trust what the product says on the front. There is a lot of ‘greenwash’ that goes on. We have actually now moved away from the Soil Association accreditation as we want to use as much locally sourced organic produce and they advised us that in order to conform to the EU COSMOS Organic standard, we would have to buy beeswax from either New Zealand or Africa! We just bought 2 kg of beautiful organic beeswax from a local beekeeper 6 miles away – it smells delicious and supports local artisan producers.
Talk us through how you make your products? How are you different?
I guess that we are a blend of artisan and science! Dr. Lorena Lizarraga who is our formulator is working with Production Manager, Trudy Ruane, and Plymouth University to examine and develop our range. So in brief, our process is to take dried organic herbs and flowers and we blend and infuse these into organic oils for a minimum of one month. They sit in the sunshine which floods through the laboratory windows here at the Health & Wellbeing Innovation Centre.
Each day we stir every single maceration and then we hand-press each maceration. The oil infused flowers go to the spas we supply so that they can integrate them into spa-treatments and rituals. To make the skin oils we blend the macerations with 100% organic essential oil. For our 100% organic balms we gently melt beeswax which has incredible properties and has been used for centuries. Then we add any macerations and essential oils slowly, before pouring into our brightly coloured jars and bottles – all recycled glass.
Most manufacturers make their products in a large factor- setting with little human involvement and without using botanicals in the way we do. We believe that there is something about care, energy, and passion that makes the products special and work so well – on all skin types including sensitive and sensitized.
Why should people make a change from synthetic products to natural? Are there any specific nasty chemicals used in beauty products that you make you cringe?
The human race is exposed to pollution and toxic chemicals all the time so why would you rub these onto the largest organ of the body, knowing that the skin absorbs at least 60% of what is placed on it into the bloodstream? 20% of Doctor’s visits are related to skin complaints and it is hardly surprising when you read the ingredients in some skin care products. Furthermore, many of the ingredients are not only bad for our skin but also bad for the environment.
So here are my top five of nasty cringe-making chemicals- there are several more!
4-hydroxybenzoic acid esters such as methylparaben, ethylparaben, n-propylparaben, n-butylparaben. It has been shown that parabens possess oestrogenic properties, the reason from which they have been termed xenoestrogens or environmental oestrogens. They can be very harmful since they have the potential to disrupt normal endocrine function, resulting in alterations in the reproductive system and susceptibility to cancer (like oxybenzone in sunscreens).
Parabens are commonly employed as antimicrobial preservatives in a wide range of cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical products (Byford et al., 2001).
A range of alcohols are usually used as preservatives and/or solvents in the cosmetic industry. They help other ingredients such as vitamin C and retinol to penetrate the skin more effectively. Tiny amounts should not be a problem. However, alcohols such as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol can disrupt the skin’s surface layers when used as main ingredients. They can break down the surface layers of skin, destroying compounds that are vital for the good health of the skin.
3) Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
It is a synthetic foaming agent used in a wide range of cosmetic products (e.g. shampoos, bubble-baths, liquid soaps, toothpaste). It acts as a surface-active substance that lowers the surface tension of aqueous solutions and is able to solve lipid membranes. It has been shown that pre-exposure of SLS, renders the cutaneous permeability barrier, more susceptible to the following compounds, possibly by supporting their transdermal penetration. SLS can cause skin irritation and sensitization when used repetitively (Schliemann et al., 2014).
4) Triclosan (TCS)
It is an antimicrobial chemical agent used in a huge variety of products including liquid soaps, shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste, mouthwashes, household cleaning products and hand sanitisers. TCS has shown to produce bacterial resistance via target, which decreases the inhibitory effect of this chemical. Moreover, bacteria in the environment can become TCS resistant under environmentally relevant exposure levels of TCS. TCS exposure has also resulted in bacterial resistance to other antimicrobials in clinical settings.
Recent human epidemiology studies show an association of an increase in urinary triclosan concentrations with a variety of detrimental endpoints including decrease in fecundity, decrease in newborn’s weight, length, and head circumference; decrease in BMI, Increase in total levels of triiodothyronine (T3); increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS); increase in spontaneous abortion rates; and increase in risk of asthmas, allergies and food sensitization.
5) Microbeads and Microplastics
These are not easy to spot but check your skincare for the following: polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polylactic acid, or nylon— these are the most common plastics that make up microbeads. In spite of the ban which is being imposed by 2020, you will spot them in sunscreen, toothpaste, body wash and scrubs – even some ‘natural’ brands. Microbeads are a massive environmental issue and given that we live so close to the sea, it is something we are passionate about. The health of our oceans is vital to our health.
Remember to use code STOKED20 for 20% off online – excludes gift sets and discover and travel sizes
What are other areas surprisingly easy to make a switch from chemical to natural products? Are there any companies or brands that you think are doing a great job in their respective categories?
Dr. Bronner makes a good multi-purpose cleaner and also Faith in Nature and Ecover offer some good products. There are some great ingredients that can be used – such as vinegar – great for cleaning glass and pop a couple of tablespoons full into your dishwasher and/or washing machine to keep things spring clean too.
Baking Soda/Sodium Bicarbonate acts a cleaning agent because it is mildly alkaline and dissolves grease and dirt easily in water. Because it is a pure, natural product that is also a food, it is non-toxic, unlike many other household cleaners. We make a 100% organic Lavendin spray which is used in spas but we will be launching it to the public this year. It is a multi-purpose disinfectant and cleansing spray which also lightly fragrances the home. We use it in our laboratory and it received approval from the Soil Association during our audit. A 250ml bottle costs £20.
What has been the biggest lesson along the way?
My biggest lesson is to trust your gut and only work with people who have shared values and be honest with them and yourself. It is fine to be challenged and you need to work with people with different skills, but the shared values thing is vital!
You’re working with the research department at Plymouth University. Tell us about it. What is the objective there?
This is really exciting. Our Made for Life range is evolving from its original form to become even more effective. We are reviewing ALL the formulation and revising ingredients to reflect scientific research from key leading experts in pharmacology and botany at Plymouth University. In addition, we are launching several new products over the next 12 – 18 months using improved extraction processes and methodologies.
Made for Life skincare has been used by a huge number of people with sensitive and sensitized skin with brilliant results. So the other part of the project is to build up the data we have regarding the positive effects that the skincare has had on people with skincare issues such as acne, psoriasis, eczema and also sensitized skin through treatment for cancer.
Can you share any Made For Life products that would be a game changer for women who are in the elements all the time (surf, snow). What is it about the properties of the ingredients?
Well Emma Skinner who is a surfer and snowboarder, and who has used our products for over 13 years when she started out as a model for FatFace swears by the following …. and they are some of my favourites too:
1) Skin Solve with Calendula
Great for sensitive skin including surfer’s vest rash and also sunburn. Key ingredients include soothing Calendula, St John’s Wort and Lavender.
Beautiful rosemary is a key ingredient which is fantastic for easing muscles both pre and post-workout. Again it is packed with calendula and chamomile so is ideal for soothing the skin too. This makes this lovely balm great balm for nourishing the skin and relieving any aches and pains.
Key ingredients include Gotu Kola which is wonderful for restoring the skin’s elasticity, Yarrow and Horsetail which are calming and healing and rose which is intensively moisturizing combined with nettle which stimulates the skin to receive the natural botanicals. My youngest daughter is allergic to sunscreen and uses this instead as it has a natural SPF of circa 7-10.
There is an excellent section on Botanics on the website that you can read about all the natural ingredients.
If you could give yourself some advice in those early days when you started the company, what would that advice be?
Keep the faith and don’t think that just because you think it is a great idea, that it is! Ignore the ‘knockers’ But ….don’t think you know everything and when you don’t have an answer, think of someone who inspires you, put on the “pants of power” and ask them for advice. Don’t email – pick up the phone! I have had some brilliant mentors along the way who have really helped me and the business. It is good to be humble and listen and to recognize when you need help.
Can you recommend any further reading for people interested in shifting to natural products and a more sustainable life?
I love the following books and Jo, Janey Lee Grace and Romy Fraser have all been fantastic in terms of advice and help along the way – top women!! Love Dick Strawbridge too – he is a life-force!
It’s not Easy being Green’ by Dick Strawbridge
The Green Beauty Bible – Jo Fairley and Sarah Stacey
Imperfectly Natural Woman – Janey Lee Grace
The Roots of Health – Romy Fraser and Susan Hill
Wow – thank you so so much Amanda. This interview is an incredibly informative read with so much food-for-thought. I truly LOVE your brand and the Made For Life Organics products.
Remember you can use code STOKED20 to get 20% off online – excludes gift sets and discover and travel sizes.
I love that I can opt-out of excess packing in your eco-packing option at checkout that also makes an automatic donation to the Made for Life Foundation.
I love that the products are NEVER tested on animals.
I love that the product comes in gorgeous glass jars, not plastic.
I love that you do not accept any genetically modified (GM) ingredients
I love that you want to promote local artisans in the area and not import ingredients from NZ even though you have been advised to do so!
I love that the products are 100% organic with natural ingredients which are sustainably sourced
And I love that you cared enough about educating people in this space that you wrote such incredibly rich answers to my questions.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Check out Made For Life Organics
I have moved 100% to Organic skincare. I ABSOLUTELY loved the skin solve balm (for my wind-burnt chin from snowboarding), I actually look forward to washing my face with the Daily Radiance Cleansing Balm (it smells amazing and leaves your skin so dewy and soft). I just started using the Age Well Intensive Moisturising Balm on my face (instant improvement in my complexion). I’m also enjoying the face exfoliating product that is made of loads of different herbs and putting the hair oil in my hair before surfing. It’s all so lush!
Read my full review of natural sunscreens and why you should also make the change here. The chemicals in sunscreens are so nasty.