How deep do we need to go in greening our lives? As deep as it goes; to the bone. Of course it matters what we feed one of our biggest organs, the skin. Who would like to knowingly expose their lymph glands to a concoction of chemicals contained in ‘regular,’ often toxic, cosmetics and body products?
Much of what goes onto the skin is absorbed and therefore consumed by the skin. Some say if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t use it. Our bodies are exposed daily to chemical soups in our cleaning and body products; that is apart from what we get in through our food.
When I first started trying regular stuff during my high school years, my skin objected ferociously with ugly red, itchy flames. Ever one of my best teachers, my body said no. It would not tolerate cosmetics with abrasive chemicals and preservatives. I found solace in my favourite spot in Stellenbosch; our little health shop, where I spent hours reading alternative and natural health literature. It was here that I discovered one of the very first natural cosmetic ranges, Dr. Hauschka, back in the 70’s.
There are more natural cosmetic ranges available today, and we will be discussing them all in time. But this is such a holistically and deeply green range, that it is for me the best place to start.
Dr. Rudolf Hauschka (1891-1969)
With a Viennese chemist Dr. Rudolf Hauschka, who asked philosopher and scholar Dr. Rudolf Steiner the ultimate question: “what is life?”
Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)
“Study rhythm,” Steiner replied, “rhythm is the carrier of life.”
Inspired by these words, Dr. Hauschka experimented with various methods of preparing botanical extracts based on rhythmical exposure to elemental polarities and the homeopathic principle of potentization. In 1929, he achieved success in creating a water-based extract of rose petals that remained stable without the use of alcohol or preservatives. That very extract (or “mother substance”) remained stable for more than 30 years. So by using the rhythms and polarities of Nature he was able to create plant extracts that retained the vital forces of the living plant. This startling discovery inspired Dr. Hauschka and his colleagues to found a holistic pharmaceutical company, which they called WALA Heilmittel; WALA for Hauschka’s unique rhythmical process (warmth, ash, light, ash) and Heilmittel, the German word for remedy.
Elisabeth Sigmund (b. 1914)
So Hauschka developed plant-based healing remedies based on Steiner’s teachings. At the same time, pioneering esthetician Elisabeth Sigmund was transforming the nature of skin care at her clinic in Sweden. Sigmund recognized that skin health and outward appearance are the direct results of a person’s internal health and emotional well-being. Inspired by Anthroposophy and well versed in the traditional lore of medicinal plants, Ms. Sigmund developed her own skin care preparations and treatment methods designed to restore beauty by supporting health. She obtained some of the healing ingredients of her preparations from WALA Heilmittel, and after a time Dr. Hauschka asked her to join him at WALA in Germany. She accepted, and in 1967 the two launched their line of therapeutic skin care products and treatment methods, which came to be known as Dr. Hauschka Skin Care.
So why is this range green and good for your body and the planet?
1. Naturally there are no baddies in here. So no parabens, no petrochemicals, formaldehydes, sodium laureth/lauryl sulphates, mineral oils, aluminium or phthalates. Read more about what these damaging chemicals inside most skin products do to the body here.
2. Beauty begins in the garden. The healing, therapeutic properties of plants are the very foundation of this complete line of skin care preparations. Every plant-based ingredient has an important job to do. Whether delivering essential moisture, encouraging resilience, improving efficacy or adding natural, therapeutic fragrance, each ingredient is painstakingly selected for its particular effects and its interaction with the others. Of course this skin care regimen should be part of a healthy lifestyle supported by diet, exercise and contemplative practices to reconnect you with your natural rhythms. All of these factors have an effect on skin health and beauty, and all are a part of Dr.Hauschka’s holistic approach. Read more about this in a book by their president, Susan West, Awakening Beauty the Dr. Hauschka Way.
[I love the Rose Day Cream with avocado and marshmallow root, sesame, almond and wheat germ oils with harmonizing kidney vetch, which soothes irritated and reddened skin. But who wouldn’t want an eye cream with mango butter, rose water, extracts of marshmallow, pineapple and sea buckthorn or a lip care stick with natural waxes of candelilla and carnauba? The Candelilla shrub has a clever tactic to protect itself against the heat of their native Mexico. Their leaves are enveloped in a hard wax that protects against evaporation and environmental influences.]
3. WALA Heilmittel (the mother company) supports sustainable, ecologically sound agricultural practices by obtaining as many of their ingredients as possible from certified Biodynamic and organic sources. Biodynamics is a holistic, sustainable form of agriculture that dates all the way back to the 1920’s. It takes into account everything from the cycles of the moon and stars to the soil, plants, animals and people, with the ultimate goal of making each garden or farm a healthy self-sustaining ecosystem. This company have owned and maintained their own certified Biodynamic gardens for over sixty years, where most of the ingredients come from. To create the most effective botanical preparations, they have to be sure that they’re using the healthiest, most vital plants they can.
4. Not a single ingredient comes from an organization involved in animal testing.
5. Eco-conscious packaging and natural botanical preservatives keep products fresh without the use of chemical additives. In this way they are able to maintain the vitality of their Biodynamic and organic plant ingredients and deliver their nurturing, supportive qualities directly to us.
6. WALA also founds and supports fair-trade initiatives in developing parts of the world to encourage Biodynamic farming and economic self-sufficiency. A project in Bulgaria, for example, provides them with Biodynamic roses at fair-trade prices, allowing local farmers to be more socially secure and financially independent. In Burkina Faso, Africa, they have helped local women establish sustainable agriculture cooperatives to produce shea butter. Those cooperatives now provide all the certified organic shea butter for the skin care products. It’s a universally beneficial model: the earth thrives as the farmers prosper, and users the world over benefit from the superior quality and vitality of Biodynamically grown ingredients.
7. This skin care range is 100% certified natural by BDIH – a federal association of German manufacturers of drugs, supplements, cosmetics and personal care products whose “Guidelines for Natural” are among the most selective in the world. This “Certified Natural Cosmetic” seal assures me of the purity and authenticity of this product as it’s only awarded to products that conform to the following standards:
- Organic and Biodynamic plant ingredients
- Exclusively non toxic processing methods
- No animal testing
- Socially responsible business practices
Click here for more information on the BDIH and its natural cosmetics certification.
8. In 1999 they launched a complete range of ‘decorative cosmetics’ which include high-quality plant oils, waxes and selected medicinal herbs. So now there’s a make-up range to enhance your beauty and nurture yourself at the same time.
[I use the mascara with beeswax, candelilla and rose wax, combined with real silk and extracts of black tea, neem and the soothing Eyebright flower from grassy mountain meadows. And the lipstick with rose-hip, almond and jojoba oil, rose wax, beeswax, shea butter, rose blossom and kidney vetch. Sounds so good you want to eat the stuff. And apparently one does. I have heard that women consume a huge amount of lipstick per year, so why not make sure it’s good for you?
9. So they always keep the big picture in mind, and this is what we need from any company we support with our purse. When it comes to any one action they take, they carefully consider the repercussions and ramifications on the earth, their clients, customers, communities and their company. Every decision has to be ecologically and ethically sound. And this is not a new awareness – they’ve been doing this for more than 40 years!
- For more info on Dr Hauschka, click here.