My Top Five Basic Natural Buys for a Family from Weleda

It can be difficult to know where to start, when you begin learning about potentially toxic synthetic chemicals and want to stop using them.  Some people are able to just blitz their cupboards of anything containing suspect ingredients, ditch the lot and restock with more natural products.

I wasn’t one of those people and I know I’m not alone.  I’ve been a teenage mother. I’ve been a working-on-a-low-income mother and a stay-at-home mother.  I’m currently a mum-of-many-children mother. All of these things can bring financial challenges and, lets just say that we are, like very many, on a strict budget. If I was just starting out finding out about potential toxins and wanting to #DitchTheJunk, I wouldn’t be able to simply empty all of my cupboards and buy all new.

However, I’ve been doing this more natural product thing for a while now and so I have a few tips. Leaving aside alternatives to common household cleaning products (which I hope to cover in another post soon), I do have some great recommendations for basic buys if you’re a family on a budget.

Avoiding potentially toxic chemicals

Many synthetic-filled cosmetics are cheaper than more ethical and natural brands.  This is often because many of the chemicals that I am trying to avoid are used as cheap fillers to maximise the profit of the brand.  Chances are these chemicals have also been tested on animals at some point. These same ingredients may have been sourced solely based on their cost vs the profit that they make, rather than any consideration for the wider environmental and social impact.

It is this attention to the sourcing and cultivation of good quality ingredients, plus a commitment to producing products that are free from petroleum-derived ingredients; GMOs; synthetic chemicals, preservatives and fragrances; that have not been tested on animals; that can also make more conscientious brands, such as Weleda, appear more expensive than some synthetic alternatives.

However, what really makes me baulk is how much MORE expensive some well known mainstream brands are when you realise that their ingredients are predominantly synthetic and potentially toxic! A quick trawl through the internet (or your local supermarket, chemist, etc) and you will find day creams that are easily £40 or more.  Compare that to the Weleda Calendula Face Cream, featured in a Marie Claire article as one of their best moisturisers for under £10 (please note that since the Marie Claire article, a few of years ago, there has been a price rise to £9.50 – but still under a tenner!)

Suddenly more natural and ethical companies such as Weleda start to look a whole lot more reasonable!

So what do you do?

Now, it is bluntly true that I could choose to not use any bought cosmetics at all.  I have made quite a few of my own cosmetics in the past: homemade deodorant is actually pretty good!  I have also tried the “no poo” thing and just used things like bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar to “wash” my hair.  But, chances are, you may not want to go all out crunchy and skip everything you are probably used to using. The thought of doing so probably brings the majority of people out in a cold sweat.  You want to move away from those potential nasties hiding in your bathroom cabinet and make-up bag, but you’re on a budget and you want to know where to start.

Pare it down.

  • What are your must haves?
  • Any specific skin issues?
  • Do you have children to buy for as well?

Start with the basics and add in one thing at a time.

My Top Five Basic Buys for a family From Weleda

In no particular order, based on my own family’s basic cosmetic and personal hygiene needs.

Weleda Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash

Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash £7.50

You will likely be wanting to wash yourself and the Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash is a two-in-one product suitable for all the family. Made with extract of organic Calendula and organic Sweet Almond Oil, this shampoo and wash is gentle and light-smelling and good for sensitive skin.  Also available are the Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo and Bodywashes coming in three fragrances: Very Vanilla, Happy Orange and Lively Lime.

In time you could maybe look at Weleda’s dedicated shampoos and there’s a fantastic range of body washes and also a few bar soaps, but if money is tight and you need to double-up, you really can’t go wrong!  It’s also suitable for vegans.

Weleda children's tooth gel

Children’s Tooth Gel £3.75

Unless you’re a fan of making your own toothpowder, you will be wanting a toothpaste of some sort.  Weleda do a range of toothpastes, but if you have children, you might want to start with one specifically for them that can be used by all the family.  Fluoride-free Children’s Tooth Gel looks after new and developing teeth and provides natural protection.  With “extract of organic calendula flowers to keep gums healthy, silica for thorough cleaning and natural flavours of fennel and spearmint” there are no ingredients that could cause harm if swallowed.

In practice here we have both the Children’s Tooth Gel and “adult” toothpastes.  I favour the Salt toothpaste (but admit it is an “acquired taste”).  My teen, pre-teen and partner favour the Ratanhia.  My partner says that it tastes more like how he thinks toothpaste “should” taste, i.e. strong and minty.

Weleda Calendula Baby Oil

Calendula Baby Oil £9.95 (or lotion £9.95)

Yes, this is becoming a bit of an ode to Calendula, but please bear with me, it really is an excellent first port of call!  Weleda offer a gorgeous selection of body oils and lotions, but Calendula Baby Oil is suitable for the whole family.  Simply made from organic sesame oil with extract of organic calendula flowers, it is simple, unfragranced and suitable for sensitive skins.  If you prefer a lotion, the Calendula Baby Lotion is a light, gentle lotion, formulated to care for delicate skin and perfect for all the family!

Sensitive skin Almond facial oil from Weleda

Almond Facial Oil £17.95

Just in case you thought I was having a solely Calendula love-in in my Top Five Basic Buys, here’s something from a different range.  I’ve been using almond oil on my skin for well over a decade now.  It’s simple, multi-purpose and a little goes a long way.  You can cleanse and moisturise with it. It makes a good eye make up remover for teens who favour heavy black eyeliner and mascara as well (I speak from personal experience). It is the oil I use when doing facials and I really cannot recommend it enough.  Personally I stick with it just on my face, there are more economical oils to use for moisturising the rest of you!

Almonds are packed full of beneficial vitamins and minerals and are high in unsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E (a known anti-oxidant that fights free radicals that age the skin).  Perfect for nurturing and protecting even sensitive skin, the Almond Facial Oil is gentle and suitable for family to use (from 40 down to toddler).  Yes, I also have a favourite cream I use, but my bottle of almond oil is still in regular (usually daily) use. In past difficult years, whether financial or the blips I have had with my skin being very sensitive and dry, almond oil was my skin saviour when I had to simplify!

I write more about the Almond range in this article: Almond :: the Best Choice for Sensitive Skin:

Weleda Citrus Deodorant Spray

Citrus Deodorant £9.50

I’ll let you into a secret, I am a big fan of home-made deodorant.  My partner isn’t as convinced (he won’t try it) and my teenage daughter would prefer to spray. This is where the Citrus Deodorant comes into play as it’s useable by all deodorant-using family members (ie the three oldest here) without affecting any gender preferences.

Weleda offers a further range of deodorants. I love the rose and my partner loves the sage.  However, where money is tight and something needs to be shared,  I think the Citrus is a happy medium that suits all of us. Plus it’s a nice burst of uplifting citrus first thing in the morning when you could maybe do with a pick me up.

October 2017 edit: Roll-on deodorants are now available, but you may not be as keen to share a roll!

Deodorants are rather notorious for containing some nasty ingredients, but with Weleda deodorants you can rest assured that they are formulated without aluminium and all the ingredients are certified natural by NaTRUE.   (See Breast Cancer UK’s excellent #DitchTheJunk campaign, link at the end of this post). 

After the Basics, What Next?

All of the featured products are in regular (and in the case of the toothpaste, daily) use in my house.  Having covered what I consider to be the basics for my family, ie washing, teeth, moisturising and deodorant, what would I go for next? I’ve chosen three further products that you may find useful as a family.

Skin Food £10.95

It had to appear in here somewhere! I have dry skin that isn’t helped by me needing to wash my hands a lot during the day. Small children, various pets and a preference for gardening without gloves all take their toll on my hands.   My partner has a fairly manual job and gets very rough hands, so also uses Skin Food to counter this.

It’s also fabulous on cracked heels and any other areas prone to dryness.  In cold winter weather it makes a great barrier cream on any exposed parts of your body (although Weleda do produce a Weather Protection Cream) and is fantastic for preventing chapping.  I’ve heard stories of people putting it on the ends of dried out hair and as a make-up primer (I’m sure there’s more!)

What’s more, it’s also a multi-award-winning product that has stood the test of time.  Having celebrated its 90th birthday at London Fashion Week in 2016 – it’s obviously doing something right!

Weleda Shaving Cream

Shaving Cream £10.50

Not just for men, great for anyone who shaves.  Anecdotally I’ve heard the body washes are also creamy enough for helping with the shaving of body parts if you don’t want to buy a separate cream.

For Baby?

Weleda Calendula Nappy Cream

Calendula Nappy Cream £6.95

Not just for sore bums! This is the first product from Weleda that I ever bought.  Desperate to find something to help with my eldest daughter’s awful nappy rash when she was a baby I tried the nappy cream when it was recommended by a number of people online. The same, now teenage, daughter uses it on her spots. It is also good for any area that is itchy and sore.  Winter chapped thighs, I’m thinking of you!

And finally…

Weleda Arnica Bumps and Bruises Skin Salve

Arnica Bumps & Bruises Skin Salve £6.95

Not a cosmetic product, but a basic in this house.  Perfect for those inevitable bumps and bruises.  This is another Weleda product of longstanding in my household and well worth adding to a basic kit.  I will be writing a further blog post on the various health and medicinal products available from Weleda, but out of all of them, this is the one most commonly used here!


I hope you’ve enjoyed the suggestions.  They constitute what I consider are good basic recommendations for a family on a budget to start with. However, every family is different and you may find other choices more suitable.  In my family we have various other products that we use in addition to the above depending on the person – which I will save for another article – and of course, in time you can build upon any basic buys.

What are your favourite Weleda products? What would you recommend?

NB: prices subject to change, but correct at time of writing.  I endeavour to update them, but may miss the occasional one if there’s a price rise.  Quotes in quotation marks are taken from my webshop.


Links

Breast Cancer UK #DitchTheJunk campaign

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

Banish Microbeads – avoiding microplastics in cosmetics

I love nature and feel happiest when out exploring and seeing what I can find and photograph.   I’m also a keen gardener and enjoy a good potter around my plants.

This enjoyment and concern means that I also try, where possible, to be considerate in my daily life and try to minimise polluting the environment around me.  We recycle, upcycle and freecycle as much as possible. I try to minimise unnecessary packaging (a real bugbear of mine) and keep our bin as empty as we can. With six of us in the house we rarely fill the small black bin – the house came with two (!) – when the fortnightly rubbish pick up occurs.  But there’s always more to be done.  Maybe one day we’ll manage to be pretty much zero waste (check out My Zero Waste – link listed in credits – for more information on that front).

Obviously I have an interest in plants and an interest in their use in cosmetics.  I try to avoid potentially toxic ingredients in the products I use on my (and my family’s) skin and one addition to many cosmetic products has really worried me.  With headlines such as “Up to 90% of seabirds have plastic in their guts” (link listed in credits), microbeads are causing no end of problems for the environment and the wildlife that inhabit it.

As this infographic (Greenpeace) shows, microbeads are washed down the drain and enter the water cycle, causing major pollution.

I recently came across this excellent explanation by Francesca Morgante (Natrue) of the threat caused by microbeads in cosmetics:

Recently, global attention has been drawn to the use of micro-plastic beads in cosmetic products such as body scrubs, contributing to the devastating environmental impact caused by the accumulating plastic debris in our oceans. In recent months several nations, including the UK, have called for a ban on microbeads. In many cases governments have pledged to bring about change to ban microplastics outright from cosmetics, or for usage to be phased out. Manufacturers now have until the end of 2017 to remove microplastics from their formulations if they are to sell their products in the UK.

So what are microplastic beads (or microbeads)? Why are they used in cosmetics? What environmental damage are they doing?

‘Micro’, meaning small, in this case means less than 5mm in size, and the ‘plastic’ commonly refers to a synthetic polymer like polyethylene. These intentionally added tiny plastics function as miniscule scourers, to exfoliate skin in rinse-off cleansing products like a facial or body scrubs, as well as toothpastes and other cosmetics. Over 680 tonnes of microbeads are used in the UK alone every year. Reports by the UK’s House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee revealed a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.

Once they are rinsed down the drain, and eventually into the water treatment system, due to their tiny size they slip through water filtration systems before finally ending up in our waterways and oceans. Here, because they are insoluble in water and non-biodegradable, they accumulate and may be ingested by fish-eating birds, sea mammals, fish and invertebrates in our oceans: polluting and contaminating, and damaging the marine environment.  In fact only this month a new piece of research has revealed that even deep-sea creatures are ingesting microbeads – evidence of microbeads was found in hermit crabs, squat lobsters and sea cucumbers, at depths of between 300m and 1,800m. This is the first time that microplastics have been shown to have been ingested by animals at such depth, and could indicate that the scale of the impact may be wider than first thought.

Although the UK government has recently pledged to phase out the use of microbeads in cosmetics, brands have until the end of 2017 to remove them from the shelf in British stores. What can we do in the meantime to avoid them, particularly if we travel abroad where microbeads may still be in use?

In the often long ingredients declaration printed on pack, in the tiniest of fonts, it can be difficult to spot the pesky microplastics which include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.

Far simpler is to swop to only using authentically natural and organic products, and ones that are certified to contain no artificial additives, such as brands bearing the NATRUE seal on their products. NATRUE certification prohibits the use of microplastics from its certified cosmetics. That’s over 4,800 products around the world you can choose, from over 200 authentically natural and organic brands you can trust. Products that bear the NATRUE seal will never include microplastics.

So what effective natural alternatives are authentically natural brands using instead? Natural exfoliants permitted by NATRUE could be for example inorganic minerals, like those found naturally in quartz sand, listed as silica or hydrated silica. Or exfoliants made from biodegradable jojoba beads using the ingredient name Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, or from tiny beeswax pearls (Cera Alba). Or natural abrasives and exfoliants isolated from non-GM plants such as sucrose (from sugar cane). Or seed/shell powders and kernels from apricot (Prunus armeniaca), olive (Olea Europaea), and walnut (Juglans regia). Even salt. So enjoy these alternatives until you can be sure that no cosmetics contain microplastics, and look out for the NATRUE logo – it’s your guarantee.

http://www.natrue.org/consumers/what-makes-the-natrue-label-special/

natrue_logo


Why wait till the end of 2017?  That’s a terrifying number of toxic plastic beads entering the water cycle in the meantime! Act now!

Weleda is certified by Natrue, none of their products have ever contained plastic microbeads. As a company environmental sustainability is a key focus, it’s simply part of what Weleda does, not an add on for good PR.  Using Weleda products isn’t just better for your skin, it’s a vote to support a company that places environmental and ethical concerns as central to its being.

As an alternative to using products with microbeads in, perhaps consider using facial and body brushes or even simple muslin cloths?

If you are interested in learning more, please visit my shop or contact me.


Credits

Ingredients to Avoid and Why

When I was pregnant with my eldest daughter I developed sensitive skin.  Despite years of putting pretty much whatever I wanted on my skin (although I have had eczema since I was a child – and looking back I can see I did little to make it better when I became a teen and then adult), suddenly I started to react to seemingly everything!  It wasn’t pleasant. My skin was sore, blotchy and very dry.  At the time I was becoming increasingly interested in making some big changes in my life (not least home educating, with an interest in Steiner education) and so I started to look around for what I might change for the better for mine and my families health.  It was at this time that I first came across Weleda whilst researching alternatives to the brands I had previously used.

Whilst there have not been any conclusive studies, there have been suggested links made between the presence of certain substances within products we use in our daily life and some cancers.  At the very least, many of these ingredients may cause problems for some people, such as myself, due to irritation.

SUBSTANCES YOU MIGHT WANT TO AVOID

  • Butylene glycol: petroleum derivative.  May be irritating to the skin, eyes and nasal passages.  Included in many products we may apply on our skin every day – the concern is that, over time, exposure may add up to being potential harmful to health.  At present studies have not linked this glycol to any organ-specific toxicity and it is not considering carcinogenic, unlike ethylene glycol.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: enhances the preservative effect of phenoxyethanol.  Skin irritant.
  • Parabens (methylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, E216, E218): used as preservatives, found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food products.  Studies have shown that they are able to mimic the hormone oestrogen, which is known to have links to cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer.  Tests run on breast tumours have confirmed the presence of parabens and, although at present there isn’t a proven link, it is probably better to exercise caution.
  • Petroleum, paraffin, petrolatum, mineral oil: a by product of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil, these are inexpensive carrier oils used to bulk out a large number of products such as cleansers and serums.  Not readily accepted by the skin, they interfere with the skin’s natural functions, leaving a non-absorbable film that can clog pores.
  • Phenoxyethanol: synthetic preservative – alternative to parabens.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): anionic surfactants use to make products that ‘foam’ and also products such as engine degreaser (yes, really!)   Surfactants are used to help water and oil to mix, enabling them to effectively lift dirt and oil and wash them away.  Many people believe that you need “bubbles” to prove the product is “working” – but that squeaky-clean feeling is because the sulfates are stripping your skin of its natural oils!  You many think that that’s what you want, if you have particularly oily skin BUT your skin needs a certain amount of natural oils and if you take them away, your skin will go into overdrive trying to replace what has been lost, thus potentially compounding your original problem.  They can cause severe skin and eye irritation – hence there are often warnings on products including SLS/SLES to avoid the eye area.  Beware “greenwashing” SLES is often disguised in “natural” products with the term “derived from coconut”.
  • Triclosan: a petroleum by-product, used in products as an antibacterial agent, so found in toothpastes and cleansers, but also laundry detergents, wound care products and other products that are sometimes advertised as “anti-bacterial”.  It is a suspected endocrine (hormone) disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.  It can pass through the skin and, again, the concern is that over time exposure may add up.

There are others, but rather than write a lengthy tome, I think one of the better sources for information recently has been Breast Cancer UK (links listed at the end of this article).  As part of their #DitchTheJunk campaign have produced a couple of excellent leaflets.  Both can be downloaded to your mobile device to act as a handy reference if you’re out and about!  Please visit their website for more information (including references and research).

GREENWASHING

Beware “green washing” – some companies claim “natural” credentials, but on closer inspection the ingredients list for their products tells a different story.  A product can claim to be “natural” with as little as 1% natural ingredients!

If you haven’t done so before, why not visit my online shop to read the ingredients of the various products by Weleda (certified natural) and compare them to the ingredients of various products in your bathroom cabinet – how many of them have you thought were natural, but on closer inspection prove not to be?

IMPORTANCE OF CERTIFICATION

So if pretty much any company can claim its products to be “natural” how do you sort through the claims?

Certification bodies such as NATRUE hold the answer.   Taken from the Weleda UK website:

NaTrue is the first internationally recognised quality seal for organic and natural cosmetics and thus creates clarity in the label ‘jungle’. Any products featuring the label of NaTrue guarantee the highest standards.

  • Natural and organic ingredients
  • Sustainable production process
  • Environmentally-friendly practices
  • No synthetic fragrances or dyes
  • No silicone oils, No ingredients from petrochemicals
  • No animal testing
  • No irradiation of end products or herbal ingredients

Each product is inspected by independent certification companies and the non-profit organisation NaTrue monitors the quality of the criteria. The first Weleda products, featuring the NaTrue label came on the market in the spring of 2009.

Our products certified by NaTrue are 100% natural

We aim to use only the purest wild-harvested, biodynamic or organically grown ingredients. NaTrue is a certification scheme created by the International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association to regulate and protect natural skin care products.

Free from

NaTrue and Weleda have a lot in common: we want to promote natural skin care and have a high standard of quality, with a strong emphasis on natural and organic ingredients and their careful processing. We want you to know why you can trust us and our products. NaTrue also attaches great importance to environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes. All of Weleda’s products are free from petroleum-derived ingredients, synthetic chemicals, synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances, GMOs, and they are never tested on animals.

Different criteria for each type of product

The evaluation process for each type of product is different, since (for example) skin lotion can’t be evaluated on the same criteria as shampoo, either in the ingredients or in the manufacturing process. NaTrue controls are independent and the organisation works on a non-profit basis, with all criteria and information publicly available. Transparency is a fundamental principle for NaTrue – as it is for us.

Constant improvement to reach the highest level of certification

NaTrue certification is divided into three stages. To reach the first stage, it must be demonstrated that all ingredients are of natural origin and that they are only processed in a gentle, sustainable way. The next two stages evaluate the proportion of ingredients from certified organic agriculture, with higher certification guaranteeing higher organic content. As you can imagine, the highest level is very difficult to achieve – deliberately so, as companies should constantly strive to improve their products.

So you can look for the Natrue label as a guarantee – more information is available on the Natrue website.

Natrue logo

Please visit my online shop to browse through the fantastic Natrue certified range of products by Weleda and look out for further blog posts exploring their ingredients more closely.  I offer one-to-one consultations and group events if you live in the Doncaster area and are interested in learning more and sampling from the product range.  Please see Services for more information.


LINKS & REFERENCES

Avoiding Mineral Oils in Cosmetics

Weleda Hand Cream Amnesty Offer

If, like me, you like to spend a lot of time in the garden and (or) have plenty of animals to look after – and are therefore washing your hands again and again (and again and again), then you’ll know the benefit that a good hand cream brings to your poor (sometimes chapped)  hands! Well, I can help with that:

There’s still a few more days to take advantage of the wonderful hand cream amnesty offer and ditch your mineral oil laden old hand cream for a fabulous new Weleda hand cream for only £1.00 (with any purchase of another Weleda product from the website until 26th September 2016).

If you are wondering why it is better to avoid mineral oils in your cosmetics, Susie Fairgrieve (Weleda) explains below:

“At Weleda we frequently mention to our customers that we do not use mineral oils in our natural and organic cosmetics.

Let’s start with a quick explanation about where mineral oils come from. Mineral oils are extracted from crude oil sources in the ground. Most often mineral oil is a liquid by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum-based products. The mineral oils, such as petroleum or paraffin, are refined for cosmetic use, but many people are concerned that they may still contain impurities from the petro-chemical industry, so that is one reason some avoid them.

Although cheap, from an environmental perspective mineral oils are not very eco-friendly ingredients to use. As a by-product of the petrochemical industry, mineral oils are non-renewable resources that contribute to our dependence on fossil fuels. At Weleda we make every effort to use sustainable ingredients and this is another good reason to opt for plant oils.

Mineral oils are ‘dead’ inert substances – they have little smell, little colour, and contain no active compounds that contribute to the formulation. Plant oils on the other hand are ‘living’ active ingredients and therefore bring benefits to the formulation such as valuable nutrients, and have an active effect on the skin, absorbing deeper into the skin and nourishing where they are needed.

Hand creams made with mineral oils create a greasy and sticky texture; they do not absorb into the skin, leaving a layer of oil on the skin which is slippery.

The NATRUE logo, found on all packs of Weleda natural and organic cosmetics, is your guarantee that the product is free from mineral oil.

Weleda hand creams are made with sustainable plant oils and are all NATRUE-certified authentically natural. We use organic sesame, evening primrose, pomegranate, almond, sea buckthorn, sunflower and olive oil in our certified-natural hand creams. We also use rich protective butters such as shea butter, unbleached beeswax and wool waxes such as the purest hypoallergenic lanolin, to provide the protection that hands need.”


So, what are you waiting for? Contact me to take advantage of this fantastic offer, or buy from my online shop (offer valid 19th-26th September 2016).