The Canadian Law That Regulates Chemicals in Beauty Products Hasn’t Been Updated in 20 Years
Who is standing up today for a cleaner tomorrow? Beauty and style director Ingrie Williams shares her thoughts.
I never pictured myself lobbying the Canadian government– the abstract pursuit conjures scenes from both Veep and House of Cards – but earlier this year, I had a front-row seat to see what it really looks like. Invited there by Beautycounter, a US-based clean beauty line, I hit Parliament Hill, alongside 25 of the company’s sales consultants from across Canada, to meet with Members of Parliament (MPs) of various ridings.
“Our mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone and, for us, that doesn’t mean only our products,” says Lindsay Dahl, the brand’s SVP of Social Mission. To make that happen, the company constructs tangible, accessible activism. At the micro-level, a text number on every box of a signature red lipstick sends you a link to an email that reaches your MP – no scary phone call required. The macro end, rooted in years of relationship building, is here: meeting with politicians to build support for specific objectives.
Marching alongside Environmental Defence, a Canadian nonprofit organization that focuses on policy reform to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, Beautycounter has goals that include acquiring political commitment to reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) next year. This overarching law regulates chemicals in consumer products and hasn’t been updated since 1999. There’s also a call for greater transparency when it comes to ingredient listings, where fragrance is of particular concern. “Fragrance can be kept a trade secret, and consumers are left in the dark,” says Dahl. (Psst: Here’s how to start a clean beauty routine.)
Lastly, the brand believes that Health Canada could do better when it comes to chemicals that are known to disrupt the hormone system Phthalates, which are commonly used in fragrance, makeup and plastic products, are the primary target. While the full impact of this lobbying won’t be revealed until election time, hitting The Hill was deemed a success.
I left Ottawa impressed and inspired, having witnessed these consultants in action. Taking a seat at the political table, face to face with those in power, they formed an articulate, informed and inquisitive group. Their collective presence spoke to their dedication to evoke long-lasting change, while their individual stories were no less compelling. Among the working moms, teachers and former executives, many of whom were touched by personal health experiences, each was moved to use her voice and exercise civic power. So, I’ve found the answer to my burning Q: Who is standing up for a cleaner future? Canadian women.
Below, our five favourite clean beauty picks right now. (Also, check out this roundup of the best mini clean beauty products to travel with or try before investing in the full-size alternative.
This skin-revitalizing cream contains bakuchiol, a plant-based alternative to retinol, which is on the brand’s Never List.
Beautycounter Antioxidant Soft Cream, $106, beautycounter.com
The Australian natural beauty brand delivers 10 universally flattering shades, with no nasty ingredients.
Nude by Nature Satin Liquid Lipstick in Wisteria, $23, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Silicone- and phthalate-free, this hydrating blend hails from an Edmonton-based line. (Here are other Canadian natural beauty brands that will be huge.)
1’Lux Beauty Velvet Drops Daily Botanical Body Lotion, $27, luxbeauty.com
Meet a new drugstore deal invested in clean-beauty needs – that is, no sulfates or parabens.
Renpure Detoxifying Charcoal Clarify + Deep Cleanse Shampoo, $10, well.ca
This blend of Italian lemon, verbena and blond wood is cool, crisp and 100 percent non-toxic.
Bastide Verveine du Sud Eay de Toilette, $165 FOR 100 ML, holtrenfrew.com
Next, check out our reviews for the best natural deodorants.