Local natural beauty expert and Meadowsweet body product developer Elma Rivera tells us about her approach
What do you make of the latest trends being that of more towards ‘green’?
It is great to see the world and its people awakening to what we need to do to look after ourselves, our children and our planet.
The biggest problem this world has is unconscious people who believe that the world is there for their use and abuse. It is gratifying and exciting to see people evolving towards working together to make life a natural and eco-friendly place.
The Meadowsweet luxurious body butter made it onto the Fairlady 2011 Consumer Awards. How did this come about and what was your initial response to this kind of commercial acknowledgement?
In 2010 we entered the Fair Lady Best of Beauty Awards and Meadowsweet’s Lavender Body Scrub won our first award and that was such an honour! To be then nominated as one of the 10 best South African products with our Rose Body butter for 2011 was astounding.
We also did very well in the anti-ageing category last year where we competed against international names like Nivea, Neutrogena and IQ with our Rejuvenation and Circulation Lotion ranking as one of the top performers in this category – the only natural and South African product!
What are the greatest challenges of creating beauty products without the help of chemicals?
In our modern world, people want everything to last forever. What we all have to realise is that natural products cannot last forever without chemical preservatives and that puts a whole lot of pressure on us to create some kind of a shelf life with our natural and Ecocert – approved natural preservatives.
Unfortunately a lot of ‘green washing’ is going on in our world but I am praying that the new label laws get enforced vigorously so that the real dedicated producers of truly natural and organic products can stand tall and at long last make a living whilst working to protect our planet, people and children.
What are the realistic and possible repercussions of using chemical body products?
There will always be two sides to a story. Those who are the giant producers of chemical body products who will swear high and low that none of the chemicals they use are harmful to people or the planet. And unfortunately nobody wants to pay for research that will prove the harmful effects of these chemicals and preservatives…
Realistically, most people will not notice any negative effects on their bodies until it’s too late and then the furthest thing from their minds are to look at the body products they have used over a long period of time.
About 60% of body products we put on our skins are directly absorbed into our bloodstream so the possible repercussions that chemicals will have on our bodies and our planet is huge. Most of the chemicals used are carcinogenic, but other symptoms can also appear like skin rashes, eye irritations, reproductive system birth defects and many other worrying health problems.
What is it about parabens that we should avoid?
Parabens are used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mould in cosmetics, increasing shelf life. Laboratory studies suggest parabens can disrupt reproductive hormones and cause cancer and can also be described as ‘false’ estrogens which can cause the onset of cancers. Unfortunately parabens are also used in the preservation of foods and beverages and in some medications.
Society used to have a much more natural approach to things. In your opinion, what went wrong, and is there ever a place for those more scientific products and medicines?
We have to learn the Middle way. When I break a leg, I need x-rays and plaster of paris and doctors with skilled hands to put me together again. After they have worked with the gross part of who I am, I can use any number of other healing modalities to help me heal in a holistic way, like cooking Comfrey instead of Spinach because I know it will help to knit my bones. I can delve into my psyche and try and understand why I have a fear of standing on my own two legs and what it is about moving into the future that I might be scared about and get Reiki treatments.
Louise Hay talks about the emotions behind illness. Do we sometimes need some physical external assistance (e.g. products), or can we remain healthy purely by staying connected to ourselves in an authentic way? If so, how to we do that?
I have been practising the Louise Hay principals from the time that I read her first book just as it came hot off the press almost 30 years ago, and have since become a trained Louise Hay Practitioner. Every illness definitely has an emotion attached to it and that is an exciting journey.
I think in today’s life we need all the help we can get and if that entails healthy, holistically physical external assistance then go for it! We can practise to stay connected to ourselves in various ways and no matter what the practise, if it’s done with the right and honest intention to be authentic, then we will be so.
Simply find what makes you happy and what makes you feel truly at one with yourself!