Eco Entrepreneur Q&A: Andrea Galas
Have you ever struggled to find just the right moisturiser/shampoo/lipstick and just wished you could formulate your own to suit your particular skin type/hair type/complexion? Free from all of the questionable ingredients that are in so many mainstream beauty brands?
That’s exactly what Andrea Galas did when she founded Babs Bodycare in 2014, after an exhaustive search for the perfect deodorant.
“I just couldn’t find an effective deodorant without aluminium, toxins and harmful ingredients,” says Andrea. “I was trialling every roll-on, spray, stick, crystal deodorant from health food shops and online, and still nothing worked.”
“After doing some research I started making my own natural deodorant with a few organic ingredients and it actually worked!” Andrea says. “Family and friends tried it and loved it, and Babs began.”
Several years on and the eco conscious, natural skincare brand has grown to include face and body oils, balms, scrubs and masks, and of course, their flagship product – the popular natural deodorant.
What’s most impressive about Babs’ products is what is NOT in them: no petrochemicals, synthetic preservatives or fragrances, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulphates, aluminium, triclosan, parabens, silicones or palm oil.
In my latest interview in the Eco Entrepreneur series, Andrea and I spoke about what lead her to a low tox lifestyle, why sustainability – both in her business and at home – is so important to her and her advice on how to avoid harmful ingredients such as palm oil when searching for the right skincare brand.
What was the catalyst for you adopting a low tox lifestyle?
Firstly, I was feeling a lot of the things that we may just attribute it to a busy lifestyle or stress – lack of energy, fogginess, headaches, acne – and I didn’t realise at the time but I was also suffering from endometriosis. Many of these ailments we suffer day-to-day are actually due to chemicals in our environment.
Secondly, I watched a documentary called The Human Experiment, which was completely eye opening. I had always been aware of the impact our diet, stress, work and our environment has on our health, and was already mindfully switching from toxic products to more “natural” mainstream brands readily available at supermarkets and chemists.
However, after discovering just how many chemicals we come in contact with daily and how these products are impacting our health, I really started educating myself about the bad and good ingredients, greenwashing and what to look for in a truly natural product.
I did a complete detox of personal products – skincare, make-up, perfumes - as well as household and cleaning products, and have never felt better.
Tell us about Babs’ formulations. How are they different from mainstream beauty brands?
All of our products are made in small batches, contain natural and certified organic ingredients and are packaged in glass. We are extremely conscious of how the individual ingredients and materials we use to create each finished product impacts the health of our customers and the earth.
We source sustainable ingredients from a lot of local growers. What we can’t source locally we support fair trade to ensure the farmers and their communities have sustainable working conditions and fair pay. And almost all of our packaging, including boxes, flyers, paper tape and our packaging peanuts are biodegradable and compostable, reused and recycled or recyclable.
Why was it important to you to use sustainable packaging?
It seemed counterintuitive to be creating these beautiful natural products made from amazing organic ingredients to then package them up in a plastic bottle, wrapped in bubble wrap.
We always had the vision to produce products that had an impact or rather reduced the impact we made. At the beginning it was tough as a small business to find sustainable packaging options that didn’t require a housing deposit to purchase and a warehouse to store stock in, as minimum order quantities were so high.
But every day there are so many options and ways we are decreasing our waste and plastic use. Reusing and recycling is something we have done since day one. I’ll reuse boxes, sticky tape, bubble wrap, paper, anything and almost everything I can from what we receive from our suppliers.
The use of palm oil throughout the beauty industry is devastating for the environment. How can consumers avoid this problematic ingredient when it is in so many beauty (and even food) items?
Deforestation is causing real devastation to our planet and wildlife as we’ve seen recently with the Amazon fires. The reason palm oil is such a common ingredient is due to the amount of oil that can be produced from one tree, making it incredibly cost-effective for an extremely versatile ingredient.
However, the devastation to the rainforests to make way for these palm oil crops means it’s ruining the habitat of endangered species and harming the environment.
Palm oil basically makes things smooth and creamy, and is in everything from your moisturising cream and lipstick to almost every type of processed food on the market.
These days it is easy enough to be informed about what ingredients are in the products you are purchasing. Get educated, learning about ingredients and what they do will give you more understanding and power to choose. Do a little research, find out about the brand you’re wanting to buy from, read the ingredients list and if you’re stuck, Google it. I found this World Wildlife Fund (WWF) page extremely helpful.
Are you looking to expand the Babs range in the future? What can we expect to see from the business in the coming months?
We have actually just launched our newest product, which we’re very excited about – our natural perfume line.
Perfume is one of the first things I really missed when switching to non-toxic skincare products and I’ve been making it for my husband, Matt and I for about three and a half years.
Our organic perfumes are a blend of essential oils and natural ingredients, and do not contain any alcohol which most synthetic fragrances on the market do. The range includes Citrus Floral, Herbaceous Floral and Spiced Green Citrus.
What are some of the ways you try to live a sustainable lifestyle at home?
It’s been years since I’ve used produce bags. I just pop everything in my shopping basket and hope nothing falls out!
I never have a coffee if I can’t sit in or don’t have a KeepCup with me. My husband and I don’t buy takeaway much anymore; we always eat in and take our own container with us for any leftovers.
We also purchase a lot of our produce at local farmers’ markets and bulk foods stores. This means we can support locally grown produce as well as other small businesses. I buy in bulk where I can (nuts, grains, toilet paper) and choose to support ethical brands with sustainable practices.
This has infiltrated the way I purchase clothing too. Most of the time when we support sustainable practices it also translates to ethical practices like fair trade and equal pay. I’m finding buying less and buying quality pieces really helps reduce waste.