Clean beauty expert & campaigner, philanthropist, media commentator, global speaker on clean beauty, investigative writer and above all ……. a MUM
“The Clean Beauty movement is growing as increasing numbers of consumers become aware of the potential harm that certain ingredients commonly used within the beauty industry, pose to human health. Clean Beauty is about creating products that are naturally derived, high performing and do not include any questionable ingredients. Let’s join together to make changes that benefit your health and the wellbeing of our planet.”
Natalie Elliott 2020
My name is Natalie Elliott – a mum, to a beautiful daughter and part of a blended family that includes four wonderful children. We talk. We share. We run. We eat well – vegan and plant-based where we can. We care about climate change and the environment. We do our best.
Sadly, four years ago my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The same illness that took my beautiful grandmother.
I began to investigate the lifestyle choices and what I could do to minimise my family’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals that can negatively impact our health.
I was horrified to find them everywhere. The more I learnt about the ingredients of everyday cosmetics and beauty products the more alarmed and scared for my kids I became. Rather than sit back I decided to do something about it.
Today, I have decided to dedicate my life to learning more, educating others and making the beauty and personal care industry take more responsibility for the harmful effects their products are having on us.
My mission is simple – to generate awareness and dialogue to make the BIG GLOBAL BEAUTY BRANDS remove the unnecessary and questionable ingredients from everyday personal care and beauty products and help people along the way to make informed choices.
As a mother, I want to protect my own children and the next generation from the potentially harmful ingredients that are being put on our skin by families across the globe.
“Did you know that as inhabitants of an industrialised nation, we have an average of 700 synthetic chemicals in our bodies?* The average woman uses 12 personal care products a day containing a staggering 168 ingredients – due to widely accessible studies the clean beauty movement considers many of these ingredients to be harmful to human health. Ingredients derived from petroleum, explosives, paint and more; and yet they are permitted for use. How can this be right? Regardless of the reason for their inclusion – What place do these types of ingredients have on our skin? Especially when there is a naturally derived and safe alternative!”*https://www.theworldcounts.com
Natalie Elliott 2020.
4 years ago, I was a product fiend! By that, I mean it wasn’t uncommon to find my bathroom shelves and bedroom dresser packed full of products of all shapes, sizes, colours, and scents.
Deodorants, hairsprays, hair masks, lipsticks, body lotions, shampoos, foot creams, body sprays, nail varnishes. The list was literally endless.
Then there were the holiday products. A whole new set of products boxed and stored above the wardrobe ready for the seasonal venture to the sun: sun creams, after sun lotions, self-tan products, insect repellents and sea salt texture sprays (to achieve hair like a true mermaid!).
This obsession with products started, like it does most young people, as I ventured into secondary school. The pressure to look, smell and feel a certain way was incredibly persuasive, and the access to these products was both easy and affordable.
So, there I was synthetically laden from head to foot: permed hair, hair mousse, hair spray, deodorant, body lotion, matching body spray, and full face of make-up. I was 12 years old.
Thanks to the outstanding work of Anita Roddick and The Body Shop in the 80s and 90s, animal testing became one of the most disgraceful corporate practices at the time, and I like many young people fully supported the cause. Thankfully, the testing of products on innocent creatures is not common practice these days. Dare a company emerge that uses these methods today!
I adored Anita as a teenager. I still do. She single-handedly took on a corporate monster – the world of beauty. She called out their poor practices and asked them to justify the ‘whys’. They couldn’t of course. So, the ‘shift’ in social mindset forced these huge beauty dragons to address the issue. They stopped testing on animals. I was in awe of this woman. She was an inspiration and an explorer. She dared to step outside the social ‘box’ and suggest that there are healthier and less harmful alternatives to ensuring the chemicals we place on our bodies are safe. I think the effect Anita’s movement had on me ran far deeper than I initially realised. This would become apparent many years later.
My reliance upon products continued into adulthood. The only change being that my budget was greater and so the products became more lavish and wide-ranging. There is no disgrace in what I was seeking from them. I unashamedly sought to look younger, less wrinkly, more plumped, smoother, contoured, matt with a dewy sheen, effortlessly ‘natural’. When purchasing the products, my only concern was, will they work?
I had zero regard for the ingredients. I was hugely misinformed and uneducated. I didn’t know a sulphate from a phthalate and had no cause to. Was it tested on animals? Of course not! Was it in budget? Yes. Did it work? Hell yes!
This changed very abruptly, when one December, just weeks before Christmas my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Shortly after her diagnosis my carefree, product fuelled existence crashed into the spotlight as in a dawning moment, whilst watching my treatment exhausted mother potter around her bathroom, I made the blood chilling realisation that she and I were filling our bodies with a rampant cocktail of harmful chemicals. All seductively packaged in glossy bottles, jars and tubes, decorated with stealthy marketing dialogue; encouraging us to slather, spray and smoothe the most disgusting mix of what can only be described as potentially hazardous materials. These were not just body lotions and deodorants; they were not simply face creams and shampoo. What they were was potentially lethal and I didn’t want this near me, my mother or my daughter. I needed to find out if my fears were justified.
I started to do my research. In my mother’s deodorant there were 5 ingredients. Four hours later, I was engrossed and horrified to discover that these ingredients were damaging on so many levels. The list of potentially negative impacts on the human body were: hormone imbalancing, fertility impairing, endocrine altering and carcinogenic. Some had been linked to ADHD, thyroid imbalances, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, Alzheimer’s; the list was nauseating.
So, whilst my mother’s poor body was being pumped full of radiation in order to ‘kill’ her cancer, she was also repumping it full of substances that could potentially cause the cancer to return or worse, spread. The realisation was life-changing.
From this pivotal moment, I have made it my mission to grow my knowledge and understanding of self-care and cosmetics. Fully embracing my inner ‘Anita’, I realised there was no way I could continue to knowingly pump mine and my young daughter’s body full of harm.
At this time my daughter was only 4 years’ old. How on earth could I protect her from this? Who was responsible for ‘okaying’ the use of these chemicals? Why does everyone seemingly live oblivious to this situation? As this knowledge has expanded over the years, so has my overwhelming sense of fear and responsibility.
I needed to share the burden of this fear. My partner Nick is incredibly supportive and understanding. We have 4 children between us. We have a wonderful family life. It’s happy and healthy, explorative and collaborative.
Over a quiet cup of tea I blurted out my discoveries to Nick. He knows I can get quite passionate but what I didn’t expect was his response, ‘let’s do something about it, let’s tell people!’. The bleak reality of my discoveries had moved him to want to act immediately.
On this journey, I have faced many moments of wanting to simply throw out every single product that litters the house. And he mirrored this perfectly, ‘Let’s gather up every single product in the house right now and work out what our exposure to harmful chemicals really is every day!’ This is one of the things I love most about him, he’s audacious. It was a crazy idea but made perfect sense and it completely satisfied my urge to run fast from harmful ingredients and tell the world what I had discovered.
In the 1990s I had learned that chemicals did not need to be tested on animals. Fast-forward to 2021 and I now recognise that they should also not be tested on humans. In fact, we don’t require them at all.