Bronwyn here, welcome to Veganuary! I didn't start Bodylushious with a conscious decision to create products that were 100% Vegan friendly. Far from it. But Veganuary has got me thinking. All these years on as I write this post and reflect back over my journey, I love that I have created a business that feels in alignment with some fundamentals that really matter to me. And unintentionally it turns out to have been a really good move for the vegan/plant based movement the world now finds itself in. And so at this point you may be thinking 'hang on a minute, is she just saying its a good move because it makes her money'? Or, 'is she not actually as conscious as she makes out to be'? Or maybe you're not thinking any of that, maybe that's just me getting carried away with my over active imagination!
I'm a big fan of doing things traditionally, sticking to the facts and feeling good about what I do, personally and in the world.
Let me explain myself.
Soaps made with animal fat [tallow]:
It's a fact and was a traditional practice to use 'tallow' (rendered animal fat) in the production of cold processed soaps. And in this modern society we live in, it's a fact that there is ALOT....I mean TOO MUCH WASTE! I'm addicted to 'using everything up' and 'minimal waste'....(trust me this too can present problems). It felt completely reasonable and logical to me to be realistic about the fact that animal products ARE being consumed and that perhaps I could do something 'good' to honour the end of an animals life by using what might otherwise be waste material, by turning 'waste products' into something both useful and beneficial. [Remember I'm a resourceful, practical kiwi lass].
I decided against using animal tallow because I never got round to sourcing some! True story! In my very own kitchen while my son 3yr old son slept I trialed my first batch using coconut, almond, olive oils and cacao butter (all of which I had in my kitchen and bathroom cupboards) and basically continued from there. And as the years have spun on, along with the increasing demand of oils and butters for the products we churn out I feel quite good about not having buckets and buckets of animal fat [tallow] sitting in my studio.
I also have a super conscious son (now 6 who refuses to eat meat) who I view as one of my greatest teachers. Without all the conditioning and years of everyone else's rules and agendas, he has a deep sense of what is right and wrong in his world. With a thirst for knowing the facts and the truth he's just so matter of fact about it, he doesn't need to know all the A, B & C reasons, 'its just not kind to eat animals mum'. Which for me now, the thought of potentially using in excess, an ingredient which is the byproduct of killing, that no longer feels ok....and that little human is here to remind me of that everyday. I may however still try out some tallow soap for personal use though, I am after all a curious sort (rest assured I'd make that in my home kitchen, away from studio Bodylushious).
Soaps made with milk:
It may come as no surprise that milk is an ingredient said to create soap with a luxurious feel and creamy lather. In the making process, all or part of the water is replaced with milk, this can include cows, goats and even breast milk (yes!!! I too considered that as I was a breastfeeding mum when this all kicked off, and my middle name should have been 'resourceful'). I've discussed with an animal loving/nature enthusiast the possibility of having land and keeping goats and using their milk in soaps. In fact here's a lovely website (Chuckling Goat) which will hopefully get you thinking of some benefits instead of just the 'bads' when it comes to animal milk in soaps.
And of course nowadays we're spoilt with gazillions of plant based milk options too. Infact I started out by trialing coconut milk soaps, it added too much 'handling' to what was already quite a hefty 'handling' affair, so I gave up on that one. So now this isn't the time or the place to go deep into this, but let us not lose sight of the fact that the 'mass production' of plant based products (including milks) WILL 100% be having an impact on our environment; and I'm sure that those of us (me included) that consume these products don't know as much about the production of these that we probably should. I will be bold though and say, consuming these products/ingredients WILL NOT be as kind and conscious as we convince ourselves they are. Oh god I've said too much, and yet not enough.... arrgghh.
I decided against using animal milks in Bodylushious due to storage being a problem. This would require fridge space, with all the food concoctions already ramming my fridge I simply didn't have any to spare. I also had the foresight to know that if my production grew out of my kitchen, I'd need a fridge in other premises, a 'no brainer' expense I could do without. As with the tallow, I may still at some point trial milk based soaps for personal use only.
Salves & balms made with Beeswax:
Lets keep it real. There's a lot of bees producing a lot of honey. The Bee movie says it all. Humans are using ALOT of it. And I refuse to sit in ignorance of the fact that when anything gets popular, a cycle of creating MORE is triggered. This can oftentimes result in the mass production of a lesser quality product which oftentimes uses cheaper synthetic alternatives, and what about the labour required to churn out a mass produced product...there's an endless stream of realities and facts to consider, its never ever straight forward. And so moving on, what happens to all the Beeswax that results from the production of honey. Yeah sure, some folk have created businesses out of making Beeswax candles (I'm a BIG fan). But I know for a FACT, ALOT also goes to waste, because as with many things, the effort involved in preparing the wax from its natural state into a form ready for turning into something else is big! I've seen some pre-loved beeswax complete with wings and other waste materials attached, that stuff takes work to 'prettify' for re-use.
I used to make lip balms, salves and balms with beeswax - truth is, it results in a softer smoother 'gliding' product, it just felt really nice. Then when I realised it was the only ingredient I was using that wasn't Vegan (in this rapidly converting to Veganism world) I looked into alternatives. I trialed both Candelila [Euphorbia cerifera botanical] and Carnuaba [Copernicia cerifera] waxes (both of which came with moral 'importation' dilemmas, with Scotland not being tropical enough for producing said waxes). I ended up settling with Candelila Wax and now have products that often become 'grainy' in texture (its because these waxes are highly heat sensitive, so they change form when kept in different temperatures....I could add synthetic extras to keep them 'perfect' but this is a 'Big Bronwyn no no'). Anyone who knows me will attest to my commitment to finding the benefits or bonus in something that might otherwise be perceived as 'substandard, imperfect or grainy'. And so here's the bonus of ditching the beeswax (and all the dilemmas that go with it), you now get a product that not only soothes and moisturises but actually exfoliates in the process - which 'is phenomenally good for your bodies largest organ - YOUR SKIN'. And hello, we're all about the skincare here.
I knew all of this before I embarked on making skincare products and it felt important to keep it all in mind. I am also conscious when it comes to knowing where my food and Bodylushious ingredients come from, it just needs to 'feel like good and conscious consumption' and ingredients need to be as close to their original form as possible.
I've gone on a bit, I tend to do that. I only intended to come in here and write a little something about the some cutsie benefits of vegan skincare products to tie in with Veganuary but I've instead spouted off about some deep core values and beliefs which sit deep in my DNA, and it just doesn't feel authentic not to share these. Bodylushious is a brand, and in many ways an expression of some of my core values, and with a topic as big as Veganism it feels fair to be realistic with all you treasures out there about who you're dealing with when it comes to Vegan Friendly Skincare. And well, actually this has served as a diary entry of sorts, I feel like I've shared some really important stuff, and for that I feel proud. Thank you to the team at Dunfermline Press and their recent shout out of Bodylushious for the nudge to get me thinking about this!
All that feels left to say at this point is, I assure you, you can trust that I have done my homework and Bodylushious products are the result of some super conscious decisions. I'm super passionate about supporting overall wellbeing and the purpose of each and every product is to celebrate, cleanse and nourish you from the outside in. I don't want you to have to worry about weather or not the ingredients I've used are logical, ethical or suitable - that's my job. Don't take my word for it, take a look at my fancy new website www.bodylushious.com and see for yourself how the products make you feel, then you decide.
Dunfermline Press covered it nicely in their feature, with "Nourish your skin using only nature’s finest ingredients with Bodylushious natural skincare products, suitable for all skin types. Enjoy a wonderful blend of essential oils, herbs and botanicals to make you happy from tip to toe, inside and out. Get ready to fall in love with yourself".
Happy Veganuary all!