Skin Food Talk is honored to be apart of the wellness community here in LA. Living in lala land has it’s perks because we live in the land of green juice and trendy fitness classes, so our concept has been accepted with open arms in numerous establishments around the city. It’s been overwhelming to ride this rollercoaster among some of the leaders in this industry and learn so much about ourselves along the way. We are so grateful we can openly discuss our love of adaptogens, green beauty and energy work without a sea of blank stares and judgement. People in LA typically get the language we are speaking and aren’t too concerned with the generic “green living” lingo that has taken over everywhere from the lines of Erewhon and Whole Foods to our beauty counters and fitness classes. But it occurred to us recently about how some of the language we’ve grown accustomed to can be taken the wrong way in other parts of our community. Over the last few years there has been a boom of “greenwashing” in the wellness community. We wanted to take the opportunity to express our concerns and share our plan on what we are going to do about it.
A few days ago, I watched a reboot of Bill Nye the science guy on Netflix. I was hit with a wave of nostalgia from middle school science class and decided to check out what our favorite and highly animated scientist was all about these days. With episode titles like “Earth is a hot mess” and “This Diet is Bananas”, I literally felt like I HAD to check it out. So when the second episode “Tune your Quack-o-Meter” started, I grew concerned and slightly defensive for my wellness community. The Quack-o-meter that Bill is trying to educate us from is the “alternative medicine” community. First off Bill, I get what you’re doing here, “alternative” is the highly controversial word of the moment all thanks to Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer, but I stayed open minded to hear his thoughts as the term “alternative medicine” is not new. It’s commonly used to describe alternatives to Western medicine and though that leaves us with a vast category of the good and bad care options, the point was to clump it all in one. His first example was magnet therapy, which I understand might feel a little too woo woo for him. The premise is that we have iron in our blood so the magnets can help stagnation flow and Bill proves that due to the type of iron we have in our blood because it’s mixed with other components cannot be shifted with magnets. Bill had a very biased view on why some alternative means of healthcare and medicine are bogus because they are not regulated. In some cases he is absolutely correct. The lack of regulation in this country when it comes to our skincare products, supplements and all other aspects of our beauty industry is appalling. Not to mention, cleaning supplies - but that’s another journal entry for another time. If I’m being honest, it felt like he may have been paid by the pharmaceutical industry to shade on some alternative practices. Maybe the point is that I shouldn’t be watching Bill Nye as a means of entertainment but it did bring up a lot of defensive thoughts that natural alternatives are getting such a bad reputation when their whole purpose is to help others in way that is less harmful than conventional practices. Sometimes alternative medicine is an individual’s last resort after years of suffering. Shouldn’t we be praising the fact that we have options?
Another example would be an article I read shading Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop culture and how she labels everything as a “toxin”. While that is quite the exaggeration in terms of labeling everything as harmful I felt the article did bring up several good points. One being that the term “chemical free” is sort of an oxymoron. Everything is a chemical molecule or compound of sorts, just think about the periodic table of elements (I know I’m throwing back to all sorts of middle school science in this journal post). So nothing can technically be chemical free. I’ll give the authors of the article that. Because let’s face it, for an industry that focuses on transparency, we might have failed in the language department as well. “Natural” and “Organic” are sort of controversial claims as well. So what can we do before we lose all credibility as an industry? We take accountability and focus on mindful and honest language. We are trying to focus on reducing toxicity in our daily care so instead of fronting the label “all natural” we can switch to “toxic-free” but only if that claim is 100% accurate. Labelling is HUGE when it comes to mindful language and unfortunately due to the lack of regulation we see a lot of people taking advantage to market themselves to a broader audience. The Skin Food Talk method of transparency is to strip it back and simplify. When we get sent new products to try the first thing we do is turn the product over and read the label. Like food it’s easier to shop at farmers markets or the produce aisle since your options are transparent on their own. You see kale and you know it’s kale. So if you read a skincare label and it’s difficult to understand, maybe don’t grab it just yet. The European standards of labelling is what most reputable brands will do as that will guarantee them the opportunity to get certifications. To make things much easier for the newbie to green beauty we recommend you download the app “Think Dirty” to scan products and see the toxicity rating.
At the end of the day we understand how industries work and right now ours is trending. We don’t view safe lifestyle choices as a trend but hopefully this opens up some people’s view on how to care differently for themselves. We promise to help continue changing the language we use to we don’t succumb to the “greenwashing” effect and that you feel like we can be a reliable source of transparency as well. If you have any questions on how to navigate the masses we’re happy to help, comment below or shoot us an email so we can help you out. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to catch us at wmnspace on Thursday May 4th for our signature workshop. Purchase your ticket on Conscious City Guide and we look forward to seeing you there!
Xo - Hayley