According to the U.S.–based Environmental Working Group, one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients found in cosmetic, skin-care, and body-care products contains toxins that pose a threat to human health and the environment. So it’s no wonder that, as this knowledge becomes increasingly commonplace, more and more people are making the transition to naturally derived and plant-based personal-care regimens.
But with so many products on the market, the abuse of terms like all-natural and organic, and the rise of “greenwashing”—the act of advertising or promoting a brand as environmentally friendly while failing to follow through with the appropriate practices or policies—it can be difficult to know what to look for and where. Enter Vancouver’s Green Beauty Collective.
“We saw a need from women who just didn’t know where to shop [for natural beauty products],” Jacqueline Parker, cofounder of the Green Beauty Collective, tells the Straight during an interview at the group’s Fraserhood studio. “And they didn’t necessarily trust just going online because something might not be the right match for their skin or it might not be the right fit. So for us to actually be there physically, and have the products for them to try, has been huge.”
Billed as an “education and shopping hybrid experience”, the Green Beauty Collective has been helping Vancouverites discover, learn about, and sample a range of cruelty-free, vegan, and plant-based cosmetic, body, and skin-care goods since late 2016.
As makeup artists who are committed to holistic beauty—which considers your diet as much as your makeup routine when it comes to your health—cofounders Parker and Amanda Gangoso are careful to share only items that perform. Often, they’re eyeshadows, lipsticks, and liners that the duo stock in their own professional kits.
“Part of our job is sifting through a lot of the different brands and products that are out there and learning what actually works with cleaner ingredients,” explains Gangoso. “So that’s important for us, too, to be that resource for people.”
In less than a year, the Green Beauty Collective has grown to carry products from a dozen ecoconscious companies, many of them homegrown. Sappho New Paradigm, a luxury natural cosmetic line founded by local Emmy-nominated makeup artist JoAnn Fowler, and Elate, a Victoria-based brand best known for its moisturizing lippies and sustainable bamboo packaging, are two long-time favourites of Parker, Gangoso, and clients alike.
Other bestsellers include a nonabrasive, ginseng-spiked exfoliating gel from Richmond’s Viva Health Products; a paraben- and gluten-free mascara by Manitoba-based Pure Anada; and an acne-fighting fireweed toner from East Sooke’s Wild Hill Botanicals.
The Green Beauty Collective also carries sustainably and ethically crafted foundations, liquid lipsticks, and concealers from labels like Evelyn Iona, ZuZu Luxe, and Spela, plus natural hair care from Vancouver’s own Coast Beauty Co. Most of the stock is produced in B.C. with ecofriendly packaging. “The fact that we know who’s actually making the products and where our money is going,” says Parker, “that’s a huge deal.”
Rather than carry each label’s entire range, Parker and Gangoso take care to curate the Green Beauty Collective’s offerings to ensure a well-rounded assortment that doesn’t overwhelm newbies to natural makeup. By learning about their customers’ needs and walking them through each product via one-on-one shopping sessions, the pair is educating both men and women about the ingredients they’re exposing their skin to, how to more effectively apply makeup, and the factors to look for when browsing natural personal-care products in the future.
“We want to be a relaxed place for people to come and feel comfortable,” says Gangoso, “because the word beauty…it doesn’t have to mean surface or shallow.”
In addition to consultations and lessons, the Green Beauty Collective conducts how-to workshops at its East Vancouver space (4225 Fraser Street), including an upcoming “glam eye makeup” session, where attendees will learn to create a glitzy, smoky eye, on September 21. (Tickets are available online.) A natural makeup pop-up will also take place at Silk Road Tea Shop (2066 West 4th Avenue) on September 23.
Parker and Gangoso have dreams of opening a holistic beauty hub—complete with a dedicated retail space, on-site nutritionist, and hair and facial services—down the line. For now, they’re working to make natural beauty more accessible to Vancouverites, one shopping and education appointment at a time.
“There is depth to beauty,” states Gangoso. “There’s much more to it than just putting products on the skin. I think we offer a lot more than that.”