We caught up with Nedahl Stelio the founder of organic fragrance brand ‘Recreation Bondi Beach’ to talk about toxic-free skincare.
How and when was Recreation Bondi Beach born?
I gave up chemicals about 9 years ago when I was struggling to get pregnant. I started researching and one of the first things you read is that people who’ve ditched chemicals in their beauty products and home products have more luck conceiving. Once you start researching what is actually in those products, it’s very difficult to use them again. I literally gave away boxes of products (I was in magazines, I had a lot of beauty products!) and started from scratch. It’s not what got me pregnant (I was doing so many other things at the same time), but I’ve never gone back to using products with chemicals.
The fragrance is one of the worst offenders – there are up to 3000 chemicals that can be classified as ‘perfum’ on the ingredients label – but it was the one product that I couldn’t find a beautiful, natural substitute for. I would spray it in my hair and on my clothes so it wouldn’t get on my skin which just took away the whole luxury of using perfume. And I really thought there should be a beautiful, natural fragrance brand out there. So I started investigating the idea of creating one. I started Recreation over two years ago and launched it in Feb 2019.
You’ve recently published a whitepaper on toxic and harmful chemicals we are exposing our bodies to, can you tell us about your findings?
I wanted to de-myth all the myths out there about natural beauty and give consumers an easy-to-read guide on why we should avoid harmful chemicals. When you do the research a lot of it is scientific so I wanted to break it down for everyone in terms of exactly what they’re using on their skin – every single day – that is harmful and has been proven to be harmful.
That’s the thing with natural products – people think they’re ‘hippie’ without scientific research behind them but actually, it’s the traditional beauty ingredients that science points to as being harmful. There is so much evidence against a lot of ingredients. Traditional beauty ingredients also just treat the symptoms of skin/hair problems up rather than treating the cause and in the end you’ll end up with worse skin/hair than if you were to use a natural product with scientific evidence backing it, that actually works to build skin/hair from within, rather than just mask the issue for the moment.
What are the ingredients to avoid in order to stay clear of any nasty chemicals?
There’s a top 10 list you should avoid those include phthalates, sulfates, parabens, petroleums, PEGS, siloxanes (silicones), DHA, BHA, BHT, mineral oils.
These things have never been tested in the amounts that we are currently using them, along with all the other chemicals in our lives from pesticides on food to household cleaning products. It’s the cumulative effect of these chemicals that is concerning. The skin is our biggest organ and the average woman absorbs 2.2kg of chemicals every year through the skin.
Can you share your own beauty routine with us?
Morning: I don’t cleanse in the mornings, I exfoliate. Currently, I’m using Pai’s honey exfoliant but this often swaps around. Then I apply an oil – I’m actually testing a really exciting new launch for Recreation and it replaces moisturiser, eye cream, and serum so that’s all I need. I use a guasha with the oil most mornings because I have puffy under eyes and it really helps depuff my face. I have it down to a 60second guasha routine and really makes me feel so much better, it’s like getting a face massage every morning and has made a big difference. Sometimes I’ll mask before the oil with either a clay-based mask or a more hydrating mask, depending on how my skin feels, but it’s always a quick five-minute thing as I’m normally in a terrible rush.
Night: I’ll do a first cleanse with Tatcha Camelia Cleansing Oil, then a second cleanse with Ren Exfoliating Cleanser. Then I massage in an oil, again it’s the new launch for Recreation. I’ve got oily skin and I spent all my teens and twenties and most of my 30s too avoiding oil like the plague until I realised that my skin actually NEEDED oil to balance itself out. It was such a revelation, I’m a huge oil fan now.
What are your tips on what beauty products to buy?
Always look at the ingredients! If you know what to avoid you can easily spot them in the ingredients list. Check the company’s website out before you buy so you know their philosophy. I look for ingredients I know that work – I used to be a beauty editor so have quite a bit of knowledge in that area – but it doesn’t take much to decipher. I try and avoid products that have cheap fillers in the first third of the ingredients and buy the most potent of products. Also, listen to your skin – just because an acid works for some influencer, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
For someone who wants to make the switch to natural beauty products, what are your top tips?
Rip the bandaid off! Body oil/lotion and scrub are super important because you put them all over your body, which means you’ll be absorbing a lot of whatever is in that product, it should be the first thing to go. In fact, anything that stays on your skin like moisturiser/serum/oil/cream should be natural because they absorb, whereas things like cleanser gets washed off quickly so if you want to finish your tube, that’s fine. I used to have rules like, I can use whatever conditioner because it goes on hair and hair is dead anyway, but shampoo has to be natural because I’m literally massaging it into my scalp. So I switched to natural shampoo first but finished all the conditioner I had before switching. Whatever gets you across the line! There are so many good natural products now that are way better than their chemical counterparts, you just have to research.
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