This week’s wellness inspiration is Jo Lam, founder of the gorgeous website and online store Orli – The Natural Beauty Co. Jo is an accountant by profession who made the transition from the corporate world to setting up her business due to her own experience with healthy living, raising children, and endeavouring to create a clean environment for herself and her loved ones. If I were to describe Orli in three words it would be authentic, pure and nurturing.
What I love about Jo and Orli is that she values inner health and beauty above all else. She is passionate about empowering women to feel confident in their own skin, and supports worthy charities through donating a percentage of sales to kind causes. Jo’s attention to detail and wealth of knowledge means no ingredient goes unnoticed, ensuring the product range offered on Orli is 100% organic and pure, free from the nasty toxins lurking in so many “natural” beauty products. Not only does Jo fine-comb each product/brand, she is dedicated to supporting ethical, local, small businesses.
Since discovering Orli, my entire beauty regime has changed. For a while I thought that because a product said “natural” or “organic” I was making a “good” choice. It was only after speaking to Jo and reading her blog (which I find so interesting!) that I have become much more conscious of the products I choose. I know with certainty that when I am shopping with Orli, I am making a safe and loving choice for my body.
From the divine layout of the website to the informative well-researched blog posts, it is clear that Jo is committed to educating others on how to care for themselves using the gifts that nature offers us. Her passion for natural products is similar to my passion for nutrition! I truly become inspired and intrigued each time we speak. I hope you find our Q&A as interesting as I do, and that it helps you to wrap your head around this often confusing area of wellbeing…
- Why did you make the transition to natural beauty/household products?
My skin started becoming hyper sensitive when I hit 40. It may have been a combination of hormones and the accumulation of my long term use of synthetic skincare products. Whichever the case, I started doing a lot of research into the impact of chemicals in skincare and became utterly convinced that I had to make the switch to all natural skincare products.
At the time, I was already eating chemical free, organic food because as a mother, the health of my family is paramount. It occurred to me that it was pointless eating ‘clean’ if I was I was using synthetic chemicals in personal care and cleaning products. Toxins can be absorbed by our skin and inhaled through the nose and lungs and into the bloodstream.
I also became conscious of how our everyday chemical products were impacting the environment and our waterways. It felt wrong that marine life should suffer because of our quest for beauty or cleaner homes.
- What motivated you to start Orli? How do you select your product range?
When I first started looking for natural and organic skincare products, I was disappointed to find many products using the word natural and organic without any real backing. ‘Made from natural or organic’ could mean anything from 1% organic to 98% organic. I also observed how natural formulations could still contain highly refined preservatives and petroleum based ingredients.
It became clear to me that I would have to do my own homework and research each ingredient on a product label to make sure it was in fact ‘clean’. The upside of my hunt for pure products was finding some great ethical small batch suppliers producing natural skincare that was pure and effective. I decided to curate these products under one umbrella to make it simple for others to shop pure natural personal care products without the confusion of false labeling.
Products are chosen first and foremost based on the purity of the ingredients. It’s important for me that natural and pure stay within the reach for most people so affordability and value for money are also critical aspects of product selection. I also place a lot of emphasis on the ethos of each supplier. I support brands that have a genuine passion for toxin free leaving and protecting the environment. I gravitate towards brand with soul as opposed to companies whose main focus is pushing sales volumes and margins.
- What do you consider to be the most detrimental/harmful ingredients in beauty products?
There are so many but I’ve listed the following 5 because they are the most commonly found in personal care products and even ones that are branded ‘natural’ .
- PEG – Polyethylene glycol used as thickeners, detergents and surfactants. Usually followed by a number eg PEG-30 that refers to its molecular weight. It’s a synthetically produced chemical that can impact reproductive and the endocrine system. It can also cause organ system toxicity and skin irritation.
- Propylene Glycol. Used as a thickener or filler made from glycerin. It can cause reproductive, endocrine and neurotoxicity. It’s a penetration enhancer that easily enters the bloodstream and carries other chemicals with it into skin cells. Propylene glycol is also known to create high levels of biochemical oxygen demand during degradation in surface waters. This impacts marine life by taking away oxygen needed for their survival.
- Tetrasodium EDTA – Preservative in shampoos, conditioners, lotions. This synthetic compound is a combination of formaldehyde (carcinogen) and sodium cyanide (highly toxic). It is sometimes used as a preservative to replace parabens.
- Triethanolamine TEA – surfactant, emulsifier and pH adjuster. It’s an immune, respiratory and skin toxicant and has the potential to create nitrosamines; which are carcinogenic.
5) Fragrance – usually a blanket term for a concoction of dozens of chemicals. Some 3000 chemicals are classified under fragrance. Used widely in perfumes and personal care products. The chemicals in fragrance can trigger allergies, migranes and asthma. Synthetic musk compounds bio-accumulate in the fatty tissue of marine life.
- If you could encourage people to “go natural” on just one product, what would it be?
It’s so hard to narrow it down to one. If I had to I would recommend people change the product they most often use on a daily basis. Soap is the most widely used personally care product…used a few times a day every single day on the whole family. The common supermarket soap usually contains harsh surfactants, chemical emulsifiers and fragrance compounds. Also the run off from soap impacts our waterways and marine life.
- What do you believe is the beauty industries biggest myth?
Products that claim to eliminate wrinkles using ingredients such as collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin have molecules that are too large to penetrate the epidermis. At best these products might contain an ingredient like hyaluronic acid that helps plump dehydrated skin so it may give the appearance of diminished wrinkles. However bear in mind that this only lasts for a few hours. These products need to be reapplied frequently to keep masking wrinkles and they often offer no real nourishment to the skin.
Wrinkles can only be eliminated through invasive and often dangerous cosmetic surgery. It’s more important to focus on overall health which will result in better skin health. Using products that contain pure natural ingredients can offer real nourishment for your skin. This can help prevent wrinkle formation and improve the condition of your skin. However no product can claim to eliminate already formed wrinkles.
- Managing stress is such an important part of the health and beauty equation. What are some of your own tips for dealing with stress?
That’s so true. Stress affects the hormones and any imbalances can wreck havoc on the skin.
My number 1 de–stress mechanism is exercise. I run two to three times a week. I only aim for 35 minutes at a comfortable pace. Running is my meditation as I focus on my breathing, not my thoughts. I also love the way running gets the blood and energy flowing. It improves circulation to the skins’ surface and helps rid the body of toxins.
Setting aside some bath and mask time once a week. I usually apply a homemade facemask and prepare a bath enriched with a few drops of essential oils and a cup of magnesium flakes. This special time not only gives me a few minutes to myself but also allows my skin to absorb all the goodness in the mask and provides a natural immunity boost from the magnesium flakes and essential oils.
If I’m working in front of the computer for a few hours, I make sure I give myself mini breaks by getting up and making myself a cup of tea (organic of course). I’m a huge herbal tea drinker and I find the simple act of putting on the kettle and making freshly brewed tea refreshes my mind and offers a simple de-stress mechanism.
- If you could turn back time, what is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self with regard to inner and/or outer beauty?
I think I would say ‘beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Perfection is NOT beauty. Believe you are beautiful, fill your life with beautiful acts of kindness and trust that everything else will fall into place. ’
- What is one simple change you recommend people make to leading a more toxin-free lifestyle?
The first rule of living a toxin free lifestyle is to read labels when doing the shopping. It is the most simple yet effective way to ensure that you are not being influenced by ‘natural’ advertising. Invest time into reading labels on food, skincare and cleaning products.
I also remind everyone to look at a toxin free lifestyle from a wider holistic angle. Too often people focus only on clean eating. However toxins can enter our bodies through our gut, our skin and our respiratory systems. Therefore reducing the amount of toxins we apply on our skin and in our cleaning products is as important as eating chemical free and organic foods.
- Do you have a favourite natural beauty remedy/recipe you wouldn’t mind sharing?
I’m a big fan of home made masks and essential oils. My top easy messy mask when my skin is stressed is to combine ¼ teaspoon of :
- mashed avocado
Add a squeeze of lemon and two drops of lavender essential oil.
Mix together and apply on face and neck. Leave on for 15 minutes and remove with a soft facial cloth and warm water. No doubt it’s a bit messy but it’s worth it.
Why this mask works.
Avocado is full of good fatty acids and a rich source of Vitamin A, C and E. It also contains a high level of Biotin; a B vitamin compound that prevents dry, scaly skin. Avocado is also a rich source of antioxidants and one in particular; Lutein promotes skin elasticity.
Honey is full of antibacterial properties that are great for acne prone skin. It’s rich in enzymes and is a natural humectant so it draws moisture from the air into your skin.
Oatmeal is packed with essential minerals and vitamins like folic acid, Vitamin E, thiamin and beta glucan. It’s anti inflammatory, soothing and nourishing properties make it great for a mask. Plus it also doubles as a natural gentle exfoliant.
- Lemon’s Vitamin C content helps fade brown spots and scars.
Lavender essential oil contains compounds that promote cell regeneration and help eliminate acne-causing bacteria.