I began working for Bkind Organic Beauty Bar in 2012, which was Australia's leading organic retail beauty store at the time. A unique specialty store, we stocked a specially selected range of only the highest quality Australian and International natural and organic products. Apart from the fact our store was a visual delight to walk into, what our customers enjoyed the most was the peace of mind of knowing that all products had been thoroughly screened to a strict set of standards to ensure every single product in the store was free of any harmful toxins or animal testing.
Although I was a qualified professional makeup artist, I knew nothing about skincare: I hadn't the faintest idea what a toner was and had literally never used a cleanser in my life until I went to makeup academy. Up until I began working at Bkind my skincare routine consisted of an Olay moisturiser and supermarket makeup wipes, and never once did I wonder why every brand of makeup wipes in the supermarket irritated my eyes. I just chose the least irritating brand of wipes I could find and soldiered on like a trooper (or fool?) and never did I look at alternative solutions. I just figured there must be something wrong with my skin, for it seemed to me that sensitive skin was quite common. I assumed I was "just one of the unlucky ones".
I was 25, and for the first time in my life I'd begun noticing fine lines around my eyes: "the first signs of ageing". I figured there was nothing I could do about it: not only was I utterly clueless about anti-ageing beauty products, I was also highly skeptical; when I saw skincare advertisements on tv and in magazines that claimed to reduce or prevent wrinkles, I didn’t believe it for a second.
To me, all those expensive impressive adds were clearly just clever marketing that plays on womens insecurities in order to get them to spend money. So I figured I may as well just buy the cheap supermarket brands since the idea of a cream actually reversing the signs of ageing just seemed ridiculous.
One of the first big lessons I learnt at Bkind was that although there is nothing a cream can do to reverse deep lines (wrinkles), when it comes to fine lines, there is still hope. And for a very simple reason... most of the time, fine lines are simply a sign of dehydration. I realised that most of us are outrageously dehydrated and don't even realise it. Not just because a large portion of us don't drink enough water, binge drink and eat crap, but also because the vast majority of mainstream skincare is not actually hydrating you! (truth bomb!!)
Within two days of switching from my synthetic supermarket face cream to a quality organic one, the fine lines around my eyes literally disappeared. I was shocked and utterly delighted: my skin looked and felt incredible, like never before. I felt so refreshed I almost felt like a whole new person. I realised that I had been incredibly dehydrated but never realised because it was all I'd ever known. I became the latest organic skincare enthusiast, ready to happily spread the word to all the other poor dehydrated women out there.
After learning many shocking truths about the mainstream cosmetic industry, I began to wonder: how come I had never learnt any of this at makeup academy or at the other beauty companies I'd worked for? The only thing I remembered learning at makeup academy about skincare was that "every good makeup artist will have Cetaphil & Lucas Paw Paw Ointment in her kit". Which, I later realised, after learning how to read and understand ingredient lists, that they are actually nothing but toxic sludge!
When I'd received training at a reputable mainstream cosmetics company I'd previously worked for, my skincare training consisted of them naming one or two ingredients from each product that I should memorise and use in my sales pitch to make it seem like I knew what I was talking about. They didn't want me to know what other ingredients the products contained; they were more than happy for me to remain ignorant.
But of course, me being me: very curious in nature; I went online and researched every ingredient they had told me about and found many inconsistencies to what I'd been told. Naturally, I had trouble working for this company because I simply can't sell something I don't believe in.
Naturally, when I began working at Bkind Organic Beauty Bar, I was delighted that I'd managed to find a job in beauty where I didn't have to be dishonest or shady; there was no sales required: all I had to do was share the truth about the real results I'd experienced, as well as the hundreds of customers who had also experienced epic undeniable results. Unlike many other cosmetics companies, our goal was to actually educate our customers as much as possible. After working there for over two and a half years I became an organic skincare expert; I had received training with dozens of world class brands, tested thousands of products and witnessed countless customer skin transformations.
"Once you go organic, you never go back"
Treating Problematic Skin..
The vast majority of our customers were regulars: dedicated organic devotees who I’m would all agree “once you go organic, you never go back”. These committed customers didn’t shop at Bkind for the image or social status associated with most mainstream luxury brands; they were committed because they had experienced undeniable results that speak louder than any commercial or fancy looking bottle. Instead of blinding trusting fancy packaging or impressive marketing, they'd taken the time to learn the facts and understand how to read ingredient lists so they could be confident, informed, responsible & ethical consumers.
Almost every day new customers would come into the store that had either independently hunted us down or been referred by a friend. Some had already done their research and had made the decision to transition from synthetic to natural, while others were still doubtful.
Most of our new arrivals fell into one of three categories: they were either pregnant, sick (often they had recently been diagnosed with cancer) or had terrible problematic skin (and I mean really bad). For women in the first category, their pregnancy had prompted them to start asking questions about which products are safe to use for the sake of their unborn babies. And by simply turning their products over and reading the ingredient list on the back (which usually leads to a quick google search since most of the ingredient names are impossible to read), this would then lead to shock and disbelief, followed by panic, and ultimately, determination to find something safe and healthy to use; leading them to our store.
Of the women in the second category, as you can imagine, being diagnosed with cancer had prompted many of them to start reading ingredient lists, whilst others were lucky enough to be recommended to switch to organics by their doctor. But most of our new arrivals fit into the third category: they would come into the store covered in acne, blemishes, scars, eczema, rosacea, and/or dry flaky skin. Desperate, cautious and often pessimistic, you couldn’t blame them: many of them had already spent a fortune trying everything “gentle”, “hypo-allogenic” or "dermatologically recommended" for sensitive skin, not realising that these terms are virtually meaningless. Many of them had visited numerous doctors and dermatologists, and tried all the products recommended to them, only to see little or no difference. And now they were now at their desperate last resort: organics.
Most of the time, after a few minutes of talking with them, their distrust of me as just another salesperson would disappear and suddenly I was their saviour. After picking my brain, they would purchase their new products and walk out the store feeling positive and hopeful that they'd finally found what they had been looking for. Armed with a wealth of new information, they had become more empowered consumers: educated and informed about what exactly they should be looking for, and why.
After a month or two many of them would return to express their gratitude and proudly show off their dramatically clearer skin. Their eyes had a new sparkle of confidence: they finally had the clear skin they'd been dreaming of since adolescence. And just like all the latest converts, they would start telling their stories of skin triumph to all their friends, family & anyone willing to listen. Hence we had so many referrals.
Now, don't get me wrong - some people do react/have allergies to natural/organic oils. But it is rare. And if you are one of those people, I would recommend doing little test patches of products before applying them all over, and try to figure out exactly what you are reacting to so that you can avoid it.
Transitioning from synthetic to organic
For many people transitioning from synthetic to organic, improvements in their skin are immediate. Whilst for others it can take a few weeks, and in some cases rare cases, months. For women with oily/combination skin and/or who wear makeup everyday, it is likely your skin could start breaking out after switching to organics - but don't worry: it is only temporary, and then your skin will be better than ever. This is because mainstream moisturisers and liquid foundations contain mineral oil, a form of petroleum, which is literally a waste product of the oil industry. Putting it on your skin is basically is like putting liquid glad wrap over the skin: it completely seals the skin. On top of that, mainstream mineral powders & foundations contain fillers, which also clog the pores.
Therefore, when you start using organic/natural skincare and makeup which are free from mineral oil and fillers... it means your skin can suddenly breathe! So it starts detoxing itself. Hence many women experience extra break outs and oiliness at the beginning of the transition. But whatever you do, don't freak out and start using your old synthetic stuff again. Give your skin a chance to breathe, detox and regulate itself, because after a few weeks (or months in very rare cases) soon your skin will look and feel better than ever. And seriously: purposely drying your skin out in order to reduce breakouts may seem like an effective way to keep oil under control, but the long term side effects are premature ageing. It's not worth it.
"But do organic products actually work?"
I would get asked this question all the time by women who were still not completely convinced, and I’d have to hold back my urge to laugh, since the truth is completely to the contrary. Most of the time this question was asked within the anti-ageing context. Now, generally speaking, organics might not have the "instant" results promised by many of these ultra-scientific synthetic chemical based products, but the fact is that much of the time these are just empty promises.
We must put things into perspective: there is only so much a cream can do. We must take care of ourselves on all fronts; we must get enough sleep and rest, say nice things to ourselves, eat nutrient rich food, and keep hydrated! Although a cream cannot provide drastic immediate results like what we are promised in mainstream advertising, the long term results of using organics are undeniable; many women in their forties and fifties who have been living an organic lifestyle for decades have the same (or sometimes better) quality of skin that some women in their late twenties and thirties have (who don't take care of themselves).
Getting cheesy... the biggest lesson I learnt at Bkind
I know this sounds so cheesy, but the biggest lesson I learned at Bkind was to be kind. Be kind to yourself by taking out the time to pamper and care for yourself when you need it. Invest in healthy, quality products that will nourish the cells of your body. And to be kind to the planet by becoming a responsible and ethical consumer who is informed about exactly what their money is supporting when they buy a product, not just for the sake of their own health, but for all other life we share this planet with.