When you think about the low-tox movement, there are some pretty big names in the game: Alexx Stuart, Isabelle Cornish, Gwyneth Paltrow, and dozens of big-name celebrities and now-famous bloggers. But where are all the men?
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the movement is spurred on by women. Because frankly it is. When it comes to health and wellbeing women are most often the leaders and movers, tending to be driven by the desire to nurture those around them and care for the world at large.
But the move towards a low-tox synthetic-free lifestyle is not just for women; men are also faced with daily toxic exposures. We all breathe the same chemically-polluted air and eat the same pesticide-laden foods, and drink the same water with hundreds of pollutants including one of the most recently focused toxins, phthalates. But in the move toward natural skincare and perfumes, men are not often considered.
In the course of 24 hours, the average woman is exposed to 515 chemicals from various sources, approximately 50% of which come from fragrance ingredients. And while men aren't as big users of cosmetics and personal care products as women, the trend toward self-care and grooming for men means that if you're a bloke, your toxic load is increasing. So why isn't there more information out there geared toward a low-tox life as it relates to men?
Australians spend a whopping AU$22 billion (yep, B-ILLION) on beauty annually, with men accounting for approximately 10% of that spend. So it's no surprise that the majority of marketing spend and product development is aimed squarely at women (who, on average spend around AU$3600 each on beauty every year). In response to mounting evidence that synthetic ingredients in beauty products are a huge contributor to our toxic load and poor health, the natural beauty industry has exploded over the past decade, now growing at a rate almost triple that of the rest of the cosmetics industry. And while this trend has seen a slew of amazing truly natural products enter the market (and some, frankly, wolves in green clothing), there have been very few products, let alone brands, which are focused on delivering fantastic truly natural products to men.
(Image via Tisha Kazan Instagram)
In 2017, we were so proud to launch Australia's first dedicated cologne range for men. The range has been so well received, and we will this week be expanding to include our latest release, Slow Fire. We love being part of this emerging and rapidly growing industry of natural and organic beauty, but to us it's about so much more than just delivering great products; we are passionate about teaching you the why behind the what, and calling out the tricks in the industry that are having a negative impact on your health and environment.
So whether you are a guy looking for a greener cologne or searching for reasons to make the switch, or a gal trying to help your man make the switch, here's a little more insight into why low tox is not just for the ladies.
MUSK AND YOUR MANHOOD
(And a whole lot more you never bargained for.)
Musk is a note used in almost every beauty and personal care product on the market nowadays, from perfumes and colognes to soap, body wash, lotions and hair products. Musk smells amazing, lets be honest, but research shows clearly that synthetic musks (which is the ONLY form of musk used in products these days) create an enormous burden for the environment, being a persistent organic pollutant that doesn't break down and affects the endocrine (hormone) systems of all creatures it comes into contact with.
According to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, synthetic musks bioaccumulate in the environment and have been detected in human breast milk, body fat, blood, and umbilical cords. Studies show that these compounds can disrupt cell functioning and hormone systems (which can affect the quality and quantity of your sperm), and are toxic to your organs, can even contribute to obesity and diabetes, as well as contributing to the development of hormone-related cancers in both men and women such as breast, prostate, testicular and ovarian cancers.
IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S THE XENOESTROGENS
Xenoestrogens (synthetic estrogen-like chemicals) are absolutely everywhere. And to cut straight to the point, they reduce your testosterone, dropping your sperm count, reducing your libido and your muscle mass, increasing your propensity to be overweight and have increased breast tissue (man-boobs), as well as impacting your mood and ability to handle stress. Xenoestrogens are endocrine-disruptors found in everything from plastics or all kinds to items made from vinyl (yes, even those vinyl 'floating' floorboards) to soaps, lotions and fragrance. It might seem impossible to escape them, which is probably true unless you're moving to the forest, but it is possible to minimise your exposure. As far as grooming is concerned, choosing truly natural shaving cream, beard oil, lotion, sunscreen and cologne will help you to avoid paraben preservatives, synthetic scent and benzophenone, to name a few.
(Image of Chris Hemsworth via Pinterest)
POPULAR DOESN'T MEAN GOOD OR NATURAL
The most popular or most advertised products on the market are likely to be the ones with the biggest marketing budgets, which likely means the less money for ingredients. In short: the most popular products are usually the most synthetic. So don't just look for products you've seen on TV or recognise. Ask an eco-friendly friend what they use and where they get it, focus more on the ingredients rather than the brand, and don't assume that just because something is popular it's probably harmless. Do your research.
EVERYTHING IS UNISEX
Lets be honest, beyond the pink or grey jar and images of the 'it' girl or guy, what's in the jar or bottle is pretty much the same. Scent aside, the formulae for most skincare and fragrance is EXACTLY the same for men's products as well as for women's. Its all just marketing.
(Image via Pinterest)
You might be thinking "But what about men's cologne vs women's perfume?" Well since we are creators and manufacturers of both we can tell your the formulae are the same. The only thing that separates a 'mens' cologne from a 'woman's' perfume is the packaging and the fact that men tend to prefer more woody, clean, dry scents, whereas women tend to prefer softer, more floral scents. But this is not a rule. Do not be governed by it. Get past the packaging and look for products that work for you.Smell great with rose notes? Fantastic! Prefer your girlfriend's eye cream to yours? Great! Everything is unisex, it all depends on your personal preferences.
And this is especially helpful to know in the current market for natural and organic skincare and fragrance, which barely gives men a second thought. So find something you like and use the heck out of it.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Finally, here are our tips on how to make going low-tox easier for the guys:
1. Widen your vision
Don't expect to find great natural skincare or fragrance at the same old place. Look outside of the places you normally shop. Try a large health food or organic grocery store, larger pharmacies and online retailers. Some of the best brands are the hardest to find if you're only looking at the mall. Ask your low-tox friends where they get theirs.
2. Learn to read labels
That can feel like an enormous task at the start - so many of those words are completely unrecognisable. Reading labels is important, though, on everything you use and everything you eat and drink. It's empowering to know what you're putting in and on your body, and not to just trust that the brands you love would never use questionable ingredients. Because they do. And they are allowed to by lack of legislation in this area.
A basic rule of thumb to start with is to avoid labels with unrecognisable words, or words that sound like chemicals. But that's not quite enough as labelling laws in Europe demand that each ingredient is included in its common name and INCI name (usually latin) as well as allergens declared (which sounds scary but aren't really as even harmless and gentle rose oil contains potential allergens).
Start using resources like The Chemical Maze (an app or a pocketbook), EWG (Environmental Working Group) or The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics as resources to learn more about what to look for, what to avoid, and which chemicals are most hazardous. Some of these databases will also give you suggestions of brands to look for and some to avoid.
3. Start somewhere.
It may seem overwhelming, all this talk about toxic chemicals being so prolific, and finding ways to avoid them. But it doesn't have to be. While avoiding the ingredients altogether is the ideal, its not going to happen in the current state of affairs, so the best you can do is minimise your exposure in ways that are possible for you to do. For every small change you make you are lessening your body's toxic load, and voting with your dollar for safer, more natural cosmetics. So start somewhere. We suggest start with deodorant (helps you to avoid aluminium, parabens, propylene glycol and synthetic scent and allows your body to eliminate waste products they way it was designed to - through sweating) and cologne (which helps you avoid up to hundreds of synthetic aroma molecules and musks, benzophenone, several phthalates and artificial colours).
Time to get started.
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