Education is the most important aspect of conservation - when these issues become common knowledge, we see real active change. Every single bit of education matters - and no matter how much you know, we can always learn more.
The fires that spread wildly in the Amazon rainforest this week have me absolutely shook up. I don’t exactly know how to help, or be of value in such an intense situation, and I’m sure many of us are feeling the same way.
Rainforests are the oldest ecosystem on earth, almost 60+ million years old! They are by far the richest ecosystems on earth, providing us with nearly ALL OF our resources - you would not live your life the same without healthy rainforests.
For the past couple of months I’ve been interested in sustainable beauty - and hair removal is a service often forgotten in this realm.
Traditional waxing vs. Sugaring
As I explain below, sugaring is more effective than traditional waxing, and that’s because of the main difference between them: the direction of hair removal.
Sugaring and traditional waxing are both hair removal essentially - hard wax uses a melted petrochemical paraffin based substance that is applied via a wooden stick, and sticks to hair and skin. Sugaring uses a natural paste made of sugar, lemon (citric acid) and water, which is applied to skin directly with a (gloved) hand and only sticks to the hair.
So, a heated and melted paraffin liquid vs. a candy looking sugar paste.
Traditional wax (hard wax) is made up of petrochemicals like paraffin wax, which does not easily or naturally break down in the environment.
So let’s think about this - you get a Brazilian wax and typically about 5-10 strips of hard wax is used and discarded, with a wooden application stick and gloves, you get this service every 4 weeks - that’s about 60-120 of each wax strips, nitrile gloves and wooden sticks per year, per client.
That’s a lot of waste on a large scale - and it is important we start to generally frame things in this way. It’s difficult to be sustainable and consider your impact in every part of your life - considering we have jobs, kids, pets, lives in general… so choosing simple things, like a better version of hair removal is the best way to minimize your impact without driving yourself crazy.
Sugaring is nearly zero waste - we toss only our 1 set of nitrile gloves, the bed linen and 2 cavi wipes per service - that’s nearly a quarter of the environmental impact of traditional waxing. Simple solutions…. and we’re making green living chic :)
Aside from the sustainability of sugaring, clients also prefer it because it’s great for sensitive skin.
Effectiveness + Skin Sensitivity
Clients choose sugaring over waxing for many reasons: sustainability, effectiveness, it’s less painful, and as a solution to wax reactions and sensitivity - overall it’s the best form of hair removal!
Traditional waxing methods tend to be less effective than sugaring. It is applied with the direction of growth, it sticks to skin and hair, then it’s removed against the direction of hair growth. This can lead to hair breakage, ingrown hairs, skin reactions and thicker grow back due to the root potentially not being removed. Generally, unless you have perfectly exfoliated skin and hair that isn’t prone to breakage, a lot will be left behind (albeit under the surface of the skin and not visible).
Sugaring is done differently because the natural paste doesn’t stick to skin, so we have to “mold” the paste into the hair to fully remove it. The paste is applied against the hair growth and then gently removed with the direction of growth, that’s what assure the entire hair with the root are removed. The direction of hair removal, the simple ingredient list, and the lack of heat are all factors that make sugaring more effective, and a great alternative for clients with sensitive skin.
For aftercare, it’s similar to any hair removal but keep in mind that if you have sensitive skin that you’ll want to assure products don’t have harsh ingredients or intense fragrance.
Below is a short guide, but essentially any time you remove hair and this have open follicles, you’ll want to avoid anything that can clog the pore (which leads to ingrowns!) or cause a reaction (like fragranced products and exfoliants) for 24 hrs.
For maintenance, we want to focus on getting the most effective hair removal. So you’ll want to keep your skin moisturized and we’ll exfoliated (since dry flakey skin can prevent hair from being removed or growing correctly).
I love using my nonclogging Tropical Body Serum daily after the shower, or if I have an ingrown I’ll mix earths fuller clay with the Botanical Soothing Gel and follow up the the cleaning and anti-inflammatory Cannabis Serum.
Where can I get sugared?
So many places are popping up now that sugaring is becoming more popular. In NYC, I work at Sugared + Bronzed - the top spot for sugaring (and natural customized airbrush tans!). There are also a ton of DIY recipes for sugar paste - but proceed with caution because it’s essentially like making candy and that can be a bit difficult.
How to reuse Ny’Ala Skin Care glass packaging, remove labels, and be sustainable!
A list of organizations dedicated to sustainability, the environment and reforestation.
A complete list of my favorite sustainable brands, businesses and people!
“Ola ka ʻĀina, ola ke Kānaka.”
When the land lives,
the people live.
I have a deep love and respect for rainforests - they provide the world with life, and hold a type of magic. The choice to integrate Ny’Ala products with these incredible reforestation projects came from the realization that everything is connected. There is a lot of value in creative solutions to global issues - we all need to be somewhat involved in protecting our earth and each other.
In 2018 - by purchasing Ny’Ala products, you planted 5 Koa trees! THANK YOU!
Below I put a map with the actual Koa trees that were planted by Reforest Hawai’i, on Big Island.
WHY HAWAI’I ?
Hawai’i, like Madagascar, is both rich in endemic species and severely deforested. As ReForest Hawai’i explains:
“90% of Hawai`i’s endemic forests have been lost in the last 100 years to ranching, farming, development, erosion, and feral or wild animals. It is our chance to make an impact in our environment and be a role model for others around the world. Koa is a nitrogen fixing species which means that it provides nutrients for all the plants around and underneath it. Koa is a keystone species that creates habitat for all types of plant, insect, and bird species.“
“The Koa or Iliahi (sandalwood) tree was planted during the rainy season which typically begins in April and goes through August. We have been seeing the rainy season begin later over the last few years. In the Kealakelua area above Kona it is common for the uhiwai (heavy fog/mist) to visit the forest with a blessing pass through. The visit of uhiwai is extremely important for the Keiki Koa (seedling) survival. A Koa tree is designed to capture water with its sickel-shaped leaves (phyllodes) capturing the mist and slowly watering its understory. It provides the perfect amount of water and protection for itself and its neighboring plants. “
If you would like to donate or sponsor a tree directly or donate towards supplies (which would be kick ass of you!), click the buttons below.
A LIVE MAP OF OUR 2018-2019 KOA TREES!
Perception is a funny thing. - everything we see and perceive as reality is only based on our experiences. Sometimes we think we are doing good but we are actually causing unseen harm.
I see this in the natural beauty sector. It's easy to assume that because something is labelled 'natural', 'environmentally safe' or 'vegan' that it's automatically a safe choice. Most of the time this is true, and we cannot expect everyone to invest time out of their busy days to investigate labels (trust me, I don't want to do that either -_- ), but creating a basis for understanding our environment can help take the guess work out of being sustainable.
What is "Sustainable", well it's being able to use a resource without infringing on its natural habitat or using so much of it that it becomes endangered (i.e. rosewood, etc).
Here are some key points in determining a products sustainability:
Are the ingredients quick growing? Do they grow quickly like rosemary, orange, lemon, peppermint, lavender or eucalyptus for example. Slow growing, hard wood trees like Sandalwood , Frankincense and Rosewood are not sustainable, despite labels claiming that they are "verified sustainably farmed" - think about it, any tree that takes many years to develop has the potential (and usually is) illegally overharvested and bought from a black market.
Bottom line: do we need to cosmetically use ingredients that harm the earth? No.
Don't assume vegan is better for the earth. For example BEESWAX!!! I know, vegans think beeswax is wrong because it's an animal product. That determination is wrong because nature is not that simple. Beekeepers live and breathe for the safety and health of their bees, and the extraction of beeswax is a carefully managed procedure that does not harm or kill bees in anyway shape of form. Vegan waxes such as soy, palm, and carnauba wax is extremely unsustainable. Palm and carnauba come directly from trees that aren't sustainably grown - why use them? Beeswax comes from a caring farmer that values bees and the resource is 100% sustainable, whereas vegan waxes are not.
Plastic containers or excessive packaging I always prefer to buy products that have a reusable or easily recyclable in your location.
These are just some quick and easy beginner tips to sustainable cosmetic choices! I'll be discussing this topic in a more depth in future blogs so stay tuned!
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But really - we've come to realize that micro-plastics have seeped into every crevice of earth - including the inside of the fish we eat... well, glitter is a micro plastic. Microplastics have the potential to damage our environment severely, and because of their size, they are extremely difficult or impossible to clean up.
Plus - don't you hate that you can never get glitter off of you after you apply it? I do..
An article from National Geographic "To Save the Oceans, Should You Give Up Glitter?" explains this best, here are some quotes:
“All glitter should be banned because it’s microplastic and all microplastics leak into the environment,”
"Glitter is made from plastic sheets and used in a wide array of products, including cosmetics. When washed down the drain, glitter becomes a subset of marine plastic litter known as microplastic. Microplastics, which measure less than five millimeters in length, are found throughout the world’s oceans, from the surface to the deep sea floor. They are consumed by plankton, fish, shellfish, seabirds, and other marine life. Plastic bits collect in birds’ stomachs, where they can cause them to die of starvation. Scientists have become increasingly concerned about its effects on fish and other marine life."
This is a HUGE bummer to glitter lovers everywhere, but there are other options. Mica, a mineral dust / powder that is a natural shimmer is great replacement for glitter. Ny'Ala Shimmer Oil + Shimmer Bronzer Stick were originally, and still are, formulated with natural + unaltered bronze Mica powder - because we never supported using plastic on your skin.
Why do companies use Glitter rather than Mica? Because glitter is cheaper (it's a manufactured plastic), there is a wider variety of color since it's physically made, it's a bigger particle size and has a more bold appearance. Mica is smaller in particle size.
For us at Ny'Ala, mica is a more natural glow / shimmer / highlight, and it's safer for the body and the environment.
If you're looking for alternative shimmering cosmetics, you can shop our Shimmer Bronzing Oil + Shea Butter Bronzer Stick!
Let's all try to commit to making the world a better, healthier place for all by finding alternatives to damaging products.
.... it doesn't seem like your single cosmetic choice can make a difference, but it does.
We talk a lot about how we want to #savetherainforest and planting trees... but the core of Ny’Ala started out with supporting small businesses - meaning we create products with materials bought from small farms or companies with a mission - and this alters how we effect the environment.
Every purchase we make has the power to shift the world in a positive direction. Sourcing locally, or from a sustainable small farm or initiative has incredible impact in our communities and environment. That was one of our huge motivators for creating Ny'Ala - prove that we can make good choices without compromising on quality or affordability (too much).
An example: Cheaply prices palm oil is the leading (nearly sole) cause of rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Massive corporations need access to a hard oil in massive quantities in order to keep processed food and cosmetics shelf stable and cheap. Palm oil is found in absolutely everything from food to cosmetics to cleaners, used for fuel, etc.
A need is just a need. If we diversified where we got this oil, and cut it with other oils, there would be less impact. That is the bottom line - we choose the impact. If each company chose to use more local, or well-sourced ingredients, the social and environmental impact would be HUGE.
Poverty is a vicious cycle, and in a lot of countries the government does not offer assistance, so your left to your own devices to lift yourself out of that cycle. Supporting small business directly fights deforestation, mitigates chronic use of forest materials (like cutting endemic trees for charcoal), and allows people to have a sustainable job that isn’t demeaning (like gold or jewel mining, etc).
I saw this is Ranomafana, where I was so blessed to have met the most amazing medicinal plant farmers. Unfortunately, with new medicines and technology the industry had crashed and the farmers families had moved onto to different jobs, or remained jobless.
In 2015, I had been hired for a short term job in Ranomafana to learn and work for a reforestation initiative at Centre Valbio, but also to talk about the new potential for essential oils in the natural body care and perfume industry worldwide.
The local medicinal plant farmers were so excited about the thought of having their traditional businesses back - and spoke of how it would positively impact the community and rainforest by allowing them to leave unsustainable jobs and choose better resources. They came up with a business plan and secured funding for a shared distillation machine.
Now, in 2017, their business is developing and securing jobs for more people every day... and of course the essential oils are out of this world amazing! Deep green Geranium oil and wildly camphorous Ravintsara (and more to come!). These people have incredible talent and produce some of the highest quality oil I’ve ever used (it’s in our Magic and Revive Collections!).
It's amazing how this world is connected in every way - but it's even more amazing to be a part of the shift that's occurring...
What a time to be inspired :)
While many of us have heard about the plights to “save the rainforests”, few of us may know the true value and nobility of this cause. The rainforests are of great economic, social and moral importance to the planet. As humans we tend to not understand what we can’t see and if we don’t understand it, we certainly won’t invest time, effort or money into it. This issue can cause disconnect between us and the efforts to save our forests because our global rainforests are so much more than what meets the eye.
Covering less than 2% of Earth’s surface, rainforests are home to 50% of the world’s plant and animal life, most being endemic. The biodiversity that can be seen within the layers of a rainforest from forest floor to over 200 feet into the sky, is unparalleled by any other environment on the planet. Boasting an astonishing 1,000 trees and over 300 species per hectare, the rainforest is Earth’s greatest game of I spy.
Even with only covering 2% of the earth’s surface, rainforests store and recycle huge quantities of water. The Amazonian rainforest is expected to store over half of the Earth’s rainwater! SpongeBob, eat your heart out. Without the trees releasing this water back into the atmosphere, effectively feeding streams, rivers and irrigation systems, regional droughts would be far more abundant producing harmful conditions for humans and animals alike which can cause great devastation to native populations.
Native populations are not limited to plants and wildlife but also to indigenous people whom also call these rainforest permanent homes. They have adapted their way of life to coexist harmoniously with the vegetation and organisms, depending on the forest for all their needs from shelter to medicine. These people possess great insight into how the rainforest operates and what benefits can be reaped without serious harm to the forest.
Indigenous people have helped the world to discover that more than 25% of modern medicines have originated from rainforest plant species which only comprises of 1% of these extraordinary plants. The other 99% is still a mystery that has the potential to unlock cures and remedies to otherwise persistent diseases. Asia and African forests contain the rauvolfa shrub whose bark is used to cure high blood pressure and mental illnesses while Madagascar, the birth place of Ny’Ala skincare, is home to the rosy periwinkle- a plant used to cure leukemia. Another valuable plant from Madagascar is Ravintsara, a natural camphor that heals lungs and skin rashes. You can find that in Ny’Ala’s Revive Collection!
If we don’t begin to overvalue our rainforests-our natural hubs of mysticalesque landscape and wildlife, we can only look forward to global regret and repercussions.
written by Clara Perez, from New York City, creator and blogger at The Green Scheme Blog
So, what is Fair Trade and why does is matter?