Why I quit chemicals in my beauty products - Recreation founder, Nedahl Stelio
March 12th, 2019

Why I quit chemicals in my beauty products - Recreation founder, Nedahl Stelio



I had never thought about chemicals in beauty products. And I had a lot of beauty products. I’d spent 12 years in women’s magazines - as a beauty editor, lifestyle editor, three as the Deputy Editor of Cosmo and five as the Editor of Cleo. My cupboards were bursting with free stuff I’d picked up over the years. There wasn’t enough space to house them, so I’d bought clear giant tubs from IKEA to ram more products in. I was a beauty junkie, I couldn’t get enough.

But then I started trying to get pregnant. And I struggled. It was such a strange feeling because we spend all our lives trying NOT to get pregnant, that you just think it’s going to happen immediately.

I began researching and one of the first things you read is that ditching chemicals can help with fertility. It was everywhere. How could I have not known how bad chemicals in beauty products were, after all this time?

Fact: Certain chemicals have been proven to have serious consequences when tested on mice (no human testing because who is going to put their hand up for that? Didn’t think so). Everything from being endocrine disruptors and causing the male reproductive hormones in fetuses to decrease in pregnant women, to allergies, rashes, itching, sensitivities, to even more serious concerns with links to various cancers.

Why were we voluntarily slathering these products - like, five or more at a time - all over our bodies and face? The skin is our biggest organ. IT ABSORBS.   

I discovered the EWG - Environmental Working Group - which is an American organisation where you type in the name of your favourite products, and they give it a rating out of 10 which shows how dangerous it is to use, according to the ingredients.

Basically none of my products were good to use.

I decided to throw out all my thousands of beauty products (I’m not even joking about the number!) and start fresh.

I found out so much about beauty products, even more than I originally knew. I avoided parabens like the plague and would never use anything with mineral oil or sulphates or PEGs or like, a billion other toxic ingredients in them. Perfumes are the worst because there are over 3000 chemicals that can be classified as ‘parfum’ on your ingredient list, and companies are under no legal obligation to disclose exactly what chemicals are in your perfumes.

I would spray perfume on my hair and on my clothes only, so it wouldn’t come into contact with my skin. That’s when I started to conceptualise an all-natural fragrance that I’d be able to use all over my body. Because spraying perfume on your clothes is not fun. It takes away all the luxury of it. 

Now, the only stuff I use that isn’t chemical-free, is hair colour - I’ve got grey bits and it’s positively unavoidable to use hair colour because most organic colours give a reddish brown which doesn’t suit me. I figure a colour every two months should be okay. And things like hair spray or styling products, because that only goes on your dead hair, not on your skin. Everything else comes from the ground. Or the ocean. Or somewhere naturally occurring on the planet.

Because we have better ingredients to use than chemicals now. We’ve come a long way since the 50’s and 60’s, which is when all your fave beauty products were formulated. Why are we still using old methods, old ingredients? We have new! Better! Better-for-you! ingredients to use. Aren’t we smarter than to use the ingredients they used 50 years ago? I'm pretty sure we are. 

We’ve come a long way scientifically in that time. Using old methods and old ingredients is positively crazy.  Natural products are harder to make, more expensive and less efficient - which is why big companies don’t use them.

But YOU have a choice you know. It’s 2019. Surely we know better than to put chemicals on our skin by now? Surely you want the latest in technology? It’s like saying you’ll still eat frozen microwave dinners every night, because that’s what you’ve always done, when we all know now that fresh food is best. Same with your beauty products ladies.

Products I love:

Fragrance Recreation, obviously. Our fragrances our 100% natural, no chemicals. We still have to list ‘parfum’ on the ingredients because of the archaic regulations (!!!), but all ingredients are on the site and I do believe this will change one day.

Body moisturiser: Recreation body + hair oil - I slather all over every day, it’s heaven and my daily dose of luxury.

Foundation: Two. Ilia Foundation - it’s too oily on its own for me, so I use Inika Mineral Foundation on top and it’s perfect.

Mascara: Ere Perez - I can’t go anywhere without mascara. Sometimes I will use either a Maybelline or a Model Co because natural mascaras do not do big lashes, so this is one other non-natural product I use if I’m going out.

Lipbalm:  Lanolips - excellent and no nasties.

Shampoo and Conditioner: Aveda Shampure - not 100% natural but no bad chemicals

Nailpolish: Butter, because, formaldehyde is actually on the government’s carcinogen list (meaning it definitively causes cancer) and that’s in most other nailpolish.

Concealer: - Bare Minerals liquid - I think concealer needs to be in a liquid form to actually work, powders do not cut it.

Cleanser: Two - Tatcha oil cleanser - This goes on every night to massage in my face and get rid of makeup. Rohrr Remedy cleanser - This is for the second cleanse, full of great Australian botanicals and really works on my combination/oily skin.

Moisturisers: Various face oils, it changes all the time, from The Jojoba Company, to Squalene, to Go To, to Vintner’s Daughter, I only use oil on my skin at night

Serum: Vitamin A from The Ordinary. Not organic but no nasties.

Exfoliant: Saya - Perfect to wakeup skin in the morning.

Eye Cream: La Mav Firming Eye Lotion

Hair product: Recreation Luxury body + hair oil. I put this in my hair while it’s wet, then blow dry straight. That will not work for everyone, my hair is really thick. I also rub a tiny amount on dry hair to seal ends once I blow dry.

P.S. I got pregnant eventually, after consulting doctors and naturopaths, giving up chemicals on my skin and in the home, going off soy, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, fucking everything. I tried Chinese medicine, Western herbs, hypnotherapy, acupuncture. I had an operation on the doctor’s advice to clear  tissue out. Do I know how I got pregnant? What eventually did it? Nope. I was trying so many things, one of them must have worked, or all of them, but I was doing so many things it would be impossible to pinpoint.

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