Hi! My name is Lisa Howell, and I’m glad you found my little shop. I want to share the journey I took to become an independent consultant with Perfectly Posh, and I suspect you might relate. I have always been a big believer in supporting small businesses, especially local businesses that work hard to bring communities organic and ethically-sourced products. Unfortunately, when these co-ops and mom-and-pop shops offer organic, natural, ethical beauty products, the prices are extremely out of reach, especially for women like me. But then when I tried to find affordable, ethical products, in-depth ingredient research proved that it’s really easy for corporations to mask shady production practices. Regulations for cosmetics is way looser than it should be, and big-name brands make a lot of money off under-informed consumers by exploiting loopholes in the system. So of course when I first heard about Perfectly Posh, I approached their line skeptically. Only after looking up their ingredients, and then actually meeting the business owners, did I realize that Perfectly Posh has established a sweet spot of quality and integrity. I invite you to join me in spreading awareness of the fact that ethical products don’t have to be expensive, and that they don’t have to trick people.
What is Posh, exactly? Perfectly Posh is a small but growing network of enlightened consumers who are sick of being lied to by big-name corporations that claim to provide natural and organic products. While I feel a little jaded by the beauty product industry, Perfectly Posh has renewed my hope that, if we as consumers work together, we can impact change and empower people to perform their own research about ingredients in the products they use on a daily basis. As an independent consultant, I get to draw from the Posh shop to deliver lotions, creams, moisturizers, and other cosmetic products to my community on my own terms, and on my own time. Posh beauty is about confidence in our ingredients and what we’re putting out into the world. It is about empowering individuals throughout the country to do honest business, to speak transparently about our line, and to beautify ourselves and each other without any harmful side effects. And finally, ALL of our products are under $25. Yeah. You heard me right. We don’t think you need to break the bank in order to access healthful beauty products.
WHY POSH: THE LOW-DOWN ON BEAUTY PRODUCTS
Table of Contents
Compacted History of Beauty Products
To really explain the chemical-drenched state of the modern beauty industry, I want to take you back a little, to the golden years of the 1950s. The most devastating war the world had ever seen was finally over, and as men came back to the US from overseas, their wives welcomed them home with open arms, excited to move on to the next phase of their lives. Just like after any major war, lots of cultural changes were brewing: families started moving from city centers to suburbs, the economy was booming, and technicolor films were replacing the ole black-n-white standard. As families were able to make more money than in the past, they were excited to take advantage of burgeoning industries like the auto, home appliance, and beauty industries. And along with all of this, advertising underwent a dramatic transformation--since TV production became cheaper, families were able to afford them, and advertisers figured out they could actually get inside people’s homes in a way. Not only could a woman see Marilyn Monroe on the screen in her house, but advertisers told her she could also LOOK like Marilyn Monroe, aided by brands like Estee Lauder and Revlon. And she could! But at what price?
That’s the question that usually leads us to buy organic and natural. Until the 1970s, when the Cosmetic Ingredient Review was established, the beauty industry wasn’t regulated. Popular brands could (and did!) legally use super dangerous ingredients, ingredients like vinyl chloride, chloroform, and mercury. I always cringe when I tell people about these agents. Vinyl chloride was popularly used in hairspray, and inhaling it is linked to the development of liver cancer, especially if inhaled in a closed room. Like a bathroom, where people generally apply hairspray. Chloroform, which you may have seen used by criminals to knock out their victims, was used as a preservative in liquid makeup products, until scientists realized it also caused liver cancer, as well as kidney tumors, in male rats. Chloroform was not officially banned until 1976--if your mom was at least a teenager in the 70s, she likely introduced chloroform into her system unknowingly. Scary stuff! But don’t let me forget to mention mercury--once used to remove freckles, preserve lotions and shampoos, and bleach skin, in 1973 the feds were like, “No, stop using that--it causes muscle atrophy, severe stomach problems, and insomnia. But it’s okay to use it in eye makeup.” Mercury epitomizes the troubling, murky regulation practices (or lack thereof) that makes me completely distrust the majority of beauty products. The Code of Federal Regulations literally says that it’s okay to use mercury in products intended for application to the eyelid. What’s worse is that something containing mercury can LEGALLY be declared “organic” or “natural.” But I’ll get back to that in a second.
The Internet and Product Awareness
Let’s hop forward in time to the last 10 years or so. Beauty product users actually started talking about the ingredients in their beauty products. Why? The internet! People all of the sudden had unlimited access to information, and platforms for sharing that information with their friends. Personally, that’s where I caught on to the conversation about the importance of seeking out lotions, creams, shampoos, whatever, that weren’t bombarded by toxic chemicals. Consumers could research the ingredients in their favorite cosmetic product, or the hand soap they used on a daily basis. And consumers made their concerns known, pressuring companies and brands to react. Unfortunately, this pressure didn’t result in cleaner products by big-name brands. Instead, they just adapted in their marketing strategies and took advantage of the lack of appropriate regulation.
When big-name brands caught on to the organic and natural product movement, they had to react accordingly. So instead of really changing the way they sourced and produced their products, they opted to take advantage of the ambiguous nature of one simple aspect of their marketing: labeling. All you need to do to see how vague regulations are for labeling food and beauty products is to look at the Federal Drug Administration’s website. The Federal Drug Administration website explicitly states that it does not have a definition for the term organic. And neither do the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act OR the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. Yeah. Seriously. Look it up. Besides, there are plenty of “natural” and “organic” ingredients that are inherently harmful to our bodies. Just because something was grown without the use of pesticides, or just because something occurs naturally in the ecosystem doesn’t mean it’s safe.
So what does it even mean when something is organic? Natural? It means absolutely nothing. These phrases have morphed into buzzwords that marketers have developed in response to consumers trying to take control over what goes into and onto their bodies. Let me give you some examples of this, by looking at brands popular for their organic and natural use of ingredients.
Aveeno has touted itself for years as a natural brand. Its tagline boasts “Active Naturals,” and the face of Aveeno, good girl Jennifer Aniston, makes us trust that its contents are indeed pure and safe. But if you flip a number of their moisturizing creams and lotions, and even facial treatments, you’ll find they contain petrolatum. Petrolatum. Sound familiar? Sounds kind of like petroleum, and that’s because it is derived from petroleum. Petrolatum is made up of a combination of hydrocarbons that are the result of distilled petroleum. How does Aveeno get away with this? Hydrocarbons naturally form in oil naturally formed in the earth’s surface. So Aveeno really is using natural ingredients, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe.
Tom’s of Maine has been a trusted organic brand for years now. I always thought that if vigilant organic product users could get behind Tom’s, I could too, but they’re connected to one of the most controversial companies ever: Colgate-Palmolive. If you dig just a little bit into “organic” and “natural” brands, you’ll find that they have parent companies, or massive conglomerates that gain profit from these smaller brands. When you buy a stick of Tom’s deodorant, you’re ultimately giving your money to Colgate-Palmolive, who is widely criticized for using the chemical triclosan in their toothpastes and other products. Triclosan has been under review with the Federal Drug Administration for a while now, but what we do know is that it enhances estrogen production. So if you support Tom’s of Maine, you indirectly support Colgate-Palmolive’s use of an estrogen-enhancing chemical in everyday products that families and children use all the time. (Most brands exist under conglomerates like Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, etc., so always do your research when you are looking into natural and organic claims. Even if a brand doesn’t use unsafe ingredients, they usually surrender their profits up to their parent company, which almost ALWAYS employs that money to produce dangerous beauty and cosmetic products.)
Now let’s take a look at Avon, who calls itself “the company for women” and pushes campaigns that claim they value corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability. Ecosalon reports that while they advocate for breast cancer research and donate their money to other charitable causes, they still use ingredients that are harmful to the human body and to the environment itself. For example, Avon uses triclosan, parabens, and phthalates, which are known to disrupt hormonal activity and are linked to the development of cancer. Avon is just like most other companies: they make products that are toxic and problem-inducing, make profits off of those products, and then turn around and give just a tiny proportion of their profits to charitable organizations and research funds so they can publicize their eco-friendliness and social responsibility.
More About Parabens
So, what are parabens? Basically, parabens are chemical compounds that manufacturers use as preservatives in beauty products. And if that’s all you know about parabens, you might think that isn’t so bad. Let me tell you, sister, it gets worse! Parabens, like triclosan, mimic estrogen when they get into your body AND have been found in cancerous breast cells! Dr. Philippa Darbre, a British cancer researcher, conducted the study that found paraben in the cancerous cells.
Chemicals that mimic estrogen are called xenoestrogens – they change the natural function of your hormones and can block hormone receptors from sending signals to the appropriate cells. Sadly, parabens are not the only xenoestrogens, these harmful chemicals can be found in many everyday products and items. So, why are they awful? Parts of the body that are particularly sensitive to xenoestrogens are the reproductive, immune and neurological systems.
Basically, these chemicals increase the amount of estrogen in your body, but because they are not natural, they are stored for long periods of time. Too much xenoestrogen in the body can cause a multitude of health issues, including infertility, obesity, miscarriages, diabetes, and various forms of cancer. If that’s not enough to convince you, I have more – researchers believe that parabens may lower sperm count and cause early onset puberty. Yeah, no thank you!
Despite the research, the US Food and Drug Administration has only offered suggestions for the amount of parabens that should be used in beauty products, but manufacturers don’t have to follow these suggestions. The European Union has stricter restrictions on the use of paraben. Apparently, parabens are safe at low levels, like under 1%.
I looked into the situation a little further and found that most beauty products that use parabens only use a small amount, but nearly 85% of cosmetics include these chemicals, according to Dr. Arthur Rich, a cosmetic chemist from New York. That doesn’t leave very many options for health conscious people like you and me!
Many doctors and scientists claim that parabens have been around for a long time and have been used safely, one of the reasons why they are found in so many products. And, sadly, some consider Dr. Darbre’s research inconclusive because noncancerous cells were not tested. Either way, I have to ask – is it worth the risk?
A Danish study found traces of paraben in test subject’s urine, hours after applying products with paraben to their skin. Although the results weren’t enough to prove the malignancy of parabens, it proved that parabens from skin care products enter and are processed in our bodies. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty frightful to me! I’m not willing to risk your life or your children’s lives, when there are completely natural, hormone-free options.
It’s no secret that the demand for paraben-free products has risen in the past 15 years, and Perfectly Posh has listened to their customers and done the research. If the European Union, World Health Organization, and the FDA can only approve parabens in small doses, why even mess with it? Many companies continue to use parabens because they are inexpensive and effective at preventing bacteria growth.
We believe your life and your well-being are worth more than cheap manufacturing, so we use safe ingredients for ALL of our products. Many of the ingredients we use have antibacterial properties, so we don’t need to use potentially harmful chemicals like parabens or formaldehyde (can you believe they put this into beauty products in the 1950s?). Some scientists would have you believe that there are currently no safe alternatives to paraben, but our product line is living proof that beauty products can be long lasting and chemical free. Natural (as in SAFE, not just as a label) skin care products are the best choice – they are less likely to cause skin irritations and allergic reactions, and they make your skin radiate health!
Now, where does that leave us? We know that we can’t really trust what big-name corporations tell us about our beauty products. This stems from a variety of slippery rules and ambiguous labeling practices. “Natural” products, even if they’re natural, aren’t always safe, and “organic” products don’t have any real definition according to the Food and Drug Administration. Marketers with a lot of money behind them have latched on to consumers’ calls for honesty and transparency in the production of the things they put on their bodies, on their faces, in their mouths, and have responded by taking advantage of weak legislation and regulation. If you’re like me, you are probably completely disheartened. When I started digging into this issue, I was angry, I felt disappointed, I felt lied to and fooled. What has this world come to? How are we supposed to find products safe for our skin, our kidneys, our livers, and our environment as a whole? Do we have to give up on being posh for the sake of our health?
In short, no. We don’t have to give up on the idea that there are truly safe products out there. You just have to learn to read labels and understand what they mean. You have to verify on your own the claims that big corporations, and small, individually-run enterprises, make about the safety of their products. This is why I completely invite you to research all of our ingredients. Perfectly Posh tells you exactly what is inside each of its products, and we are NOT afraid or scared that people like you will go out and find out the contents of our lotions, hand creams, foot creams, moisturizers, face masks, etc. Whereas big-name corporations have the resources to hide unacceptable practices, we let you know right up front what to expect from us, and we know you will be happy with what you find.
Ingredients You’ll Find in Perfectly Posh Products
I discovered Perfectly Posh shortly after my heart was broken over my findings about most brands that I had always trusted. So of course, I approached the brand with a fair amount of skepticism. And honestly, I want you to approach our products that way, too! But as deep as I dug to uncover something, ANYTHING that would turn me off from Perfectly Posh products, I just couldn’t. In fact the more I searched, the more I realized that there really was an option for me. And as soon as I realized that, I wanted to share it with the world. The company allows me to do this, which is what I’m most excited about. Not only do I get to use products that are safe and luxurious for my skin and health--I get to share the news and show people how they can take control over their consumer practices.
I am proud to share with you the ingredients we use in our cosmetic and beauty products, but please make sure to go check these ingredients out yourself! If you’ve learned anything here from my little rant, it’s that you can’t trust anyone without doing your own digging. But I hope you’re motivated to dig into what we offer, just so that you can personally feel confident about anything you’re looking to try out. As a start, here are a few examples of the ingredients we use:
Allantoin - Allantoin is found in the herb comfrey, which has a wide variety of implementation in organic practices, from gardening to natural medicine. We use the molecule in our hand creams to sooth irritation and dryness. An anti-irritant, allantoin stimulates cell growth and gently discards dead skin cells that create dry patches and are a source of itchiness. Herbalists have trusted this ingredient for years before the corrupt cosmetic industry realized they could make money off of cheap, harmful substances.
Aloe Vera - Besides serving as a great low-maintenance window plant, the contents of aloe vera leaves have soothing, anti-inflammatory properties that both moisturize and heal topical wounds. Aloe vera is popularly known for cooling sunburns and moisturizing dryness on the hands and face. You can personally gain 100% of the benefits of aloe vera by simply growing a plant, splitting the leaf open, and pushing the juices out of it using your thumbnail. Aloe vera supplements products like our Just Like Heaven Big Fat Yummy Hand Creme and the Lil Snarky Big Fat Yummy Hand Creme.
Coconut Oil - Coconut oil has been all the rage in the media lately, and for good reason. What’s different about Perfectly Posh is that it doesn’t upcharge this simple, mild ingredient just because everyone finally knows it’s good for you. (Seriously, coconut oil is not expensive to extract and distribute, so you should never be paying much for it--the only reason big-name brands put a huge price tag on it is to fool you into thinking you have to buy more in order to be healthy. Don’t buy into that marketing trick!) As you probably already know, coconut oil moisturizes skin, prevents dryness, treats psoriasis, and soothes eczema. You can find coconut oil in our Good Vibes Big Fat Yummy Hand Creme.
Jojoba Seed Oil - Jojoba seed oil comes from the desert-native shrub jojoba. The first people to utilize its benefits were actually Native Americans, who broke down the seeds into a paste that could be used to soften animal hides. Today, jojoba seed oil is better known for removing makeup without drying up the face, sealing in naturally occurring moisture in the skin, and smoothing up chapped lips. While the bush itself isn’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing, seed oil has a mild, nutty fragrance on top of its ability to mimic the nutrients our body naturally excretes into our skin.
Lavender Essential Oil - Lavender essential oil operates on all kinds of levels. It relaxes the spirit, combats respiratory problems, and is huge in the field of aromatherapy. It naturally repels bugs, but also heals skin affected by bugs. Studies show that it reduces acne, and calms the nerves. The lavender plant from which its oil is derived puts off an extremely identifiable perfume, and is featured largely in native gardens and herb gardens. Lavender performs well in a wide range of temperatures and environments, and it returns year after year. Lavender is extremely easy to grow and incorporate into different types of gardens and landscapes, so we in fact welcome you to grow your own and see what you can do with it!
Sea Salt - Sea salt is a natural exfoliant, and it doesn’t undergo crazy chemical processes like Morton’s iconic table salt. To render sea salt usable, saltwater is simply evaporated, and the salt stays behind as the water goes back up into the atmosphere. And like aloe vera and several other of our ingredients, herbalists have used it for thousands of years, far before contemporary compounds could be engineered by people in labcoats. While several big-name brands take shortcuts by using microbeads in their exfoliants, which are little plastic balls that small critters find after they go down the drain and back into land or surface water. Investigations of microbeads have resulted in the finding that small animals like birds and fish have accumulated them in their little stomachs. Even though President Obama recently signed a ban against microbeads, I refuse to trust corporations that utilized them before it was outright illegal. Perfectly Posh has relied instead on sea salt, and so we were not at all affected when microbeads suddenly became illegal. We knew they were bad all along.