Thursday, January 15, 2009

Biodynamic Beauty

As the worldwide quest for sustainability leads major industries towards eco-friendly practices a not-so-new farming practice, known as biodynamics, is becoming a mainstay on the green scene. Actually, it’s been in the works since 1924, and in the US since 1938, but has gained momentum in recent decades as consumers become increasingly interested in what they are putting in and on their bodies.

Biodynamics has gained exposure in recent years as viticulturists have incorporated its astrological principles of measure the quantity and quality of light reaching their vineyards based on phases and cycles of the sun, moon, stars and planets, in order to produce what some are hailing as their best wines yet. In recent decades, while growing numbers of winemakers adhere to this method and a growing number of consumers are willing to spend a few more bucks to reduce their carbon footprint, other industries are taking notice. The latest tapping into the benefits: cosmetics.

Of course, the beauty industry is no stranger to social responsibility. Historically, cosmetic companies were forced to examine issues surrounding animal testing and adapt to consumer concern. As companies discovered that developing and marketing natural, cruelty-free products meant that they could take a stand and increase their bottom line, the holistic approach really caught on.

The market for natural beauty products got a boost back in 2002 when the Center for Disease Control published some alarming statistics. Women aged 20 to 40 had the highest levels of a toxic endocrine disruptor, called phthalate, a chemical linked to disruptions in fetal development. The highest level of phthalate exposure comes from conventional beauty and personal care products, items that most women have come to rely on. Consumers were reminded that skin is the largest organ and 60-80% of products applied to it are absorbed into the body. The pressure to develop skincare products entirely free of the harmful chemical was on. They had to go organic. In fact, they had to go beyond organic.

Danny Seo, green lifestyle guru and author of the new Simply Green book series, sees an increasing consumer demand for biodynamic products in the beauty industry, because of the very direct connection between beauty products and the consumer’s health.

“You hear that a chemical in your deodorant can cause an endocrine disruption… and it’s just terrifying,” Seo explains. “Something you are putting on your body causes all this harm, so everyone is looking through the cosmetics database, fearful of this chemical and essentially searching for the most natural, almost food-quality, product and they are willing to pay the premium.”

Since 1985, Australian skincare company Jurlique, a true pioneer in the biodynamic beauty industry, has been going beyond organic. Currently the number-one selling skincare in Australia they are harnessing the natural power of ingredients grown on their certified Biodynamic and Organic farm, the products use only naturally derived, high-efficacy ingredients from herbs and flowers to renew and maintain healthy skin just like their eco-friendly farming practices do for the land. Jurlique is considered a “closed system” green corporation committed to sustainable business practices, setting an industry-wide example.

Their biodynamic beauty line does not contain artificial colors or fragrances, Parabens, Propylene Glycol, or Synthetic Emulsifiers found in conventional products. The bottom line, and buzz in the beauty scene, is that biodynamic products produce the sought after results of conventional harsh wrinkle-reducers while offering the piece of mind of organic and natural products. Not to mention, the eco-friendly philosophy of Jurlique inspires even the most skeptical buyer. Jurlique is not another company making a profit from the green scene - it’s a testament to sustainability. “

Methods in biodynamic farming aren’t some new innovative concepts,” said Eli Halliwell, former CEO of Jurlique.“It is reviving practices that were seemingly forgotten in the late 1800s when we learned that petroleum is a massive fertilizer booster and the agriculture industry shifted from diversity to monoculture. We literally forgot about tens of thousands of years of techniques. Rudolf Steiner, [a founder of biodynamics] recognized that.”

However some feel that consumers in the market for anti-aging products have shied away from some natural or organic skincare lines because many believe that nature cannot produce a technique that is as effective or powerful as certain chemicals, particularly Retinol. Australian skincare company, Jurlique, has created a Biodynamic Beauty line that has replicated, if not exceeded, the results of Retinol, called Totarol.

As biodynamic farming develops into a major business trend, cosmetics retailers and green-sceners are pleased to remind that the practice is hardly new and fairly obviously yields high quality results. Seo reminds, “It’s a smarter and more technological way of growing things. The soil is really the foundation of a quality crop. Rotating crops, re-adding the nutrients – it really just makes sense.”

The principles of biodynamics and its acceptance and incorporation into the beauty industry, makes a strong statement: Sustaining our surroundings and agricultural abilities without the use of fertilizers and chemicals is paramount in so many aspect of our lives. From what we put in our body as fuel to what we put onto our skin, awareness is key, so keep your eyes open for the most eco-friendly beauty products on the market – the ones cultivated on biodynamic farms.

(To purchase Jurlique products, visit their website and stay tuned for an upcoming post about a local skincare company that's also caught my attention.)

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