• By: OLM Staff

Pink Ginger: Ottawa’s local organic beauty source

With the range of toxins we seem to subject ourselves to in our day-to-day lives, doesn’t it make sense to try and minimize exposure where possible? For women, surprisingly enough, the creams, make-up and other beauty products we slather on our skin could actually be hurting us.  Pink Ginger in downtown historic Merrickville has just the answer.  The inviting shop has shelves of natural cosmetics and skin care products in simple, clean packaging – a telltale sign of its mandate to make healthy cosmetic alternatives accessible. With fresh pink accents of the store’s signature flower after which it is named, Pink Ginger has aims to not only provide top quality products but also to educate its customers on the benefits of going natural.

“There has been a huge shift with the smart consumer as people are more

engaged and educated about the food they put in their body, so why not do the same with those products you apply topically?” says Chay Geauvreau, founder of Pink Ginger and busy mother of two who also consults for a high-tech Ottawa company. “One of the reasons I went ahead with the store is because I’ve bought these products in the past for my personal use and I’m cautious about what I put on my skin.”

Masked within revitalizing lotions, anti-ageing creams and other potions of the like, parabens, phytates, formaldehyde and sodium laurel sulfates read like a periodic list in a chemistry textbook, yet are found in many body care products in your medicine cabinet. These cosmetic fillers and chemicals are indicated in recent studies as toxic to the health of the largest organism on your body – skin – and while Health Canada does regulate the amount of these ingredients and cosmetic labeling, there are still unanswered questions from the long-term effects of exposure.

“There are studies that show 50 to 70% of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream. I became concerned and did my own research on cosmetic brands that were healthy for my family and me, purchasing them online for several years,” she said.

Synthetic-free, all Pink Ginger products are made with natural ingredients and most are certified organic. To hold a place on Geauvreau’s white shelves, each brand is heavily researched and she selects only her favourite products she feels will help those with differing skin aliments.

“There are however, essential oils, strawberry seeds, nuts and other natural ingredients in our products, so we ask customers if they have allergies and have detailed conversations to ensure they are buying products to best suit their individual needs,” said Geauvreau.

“We offer specialized products for babies, children and adults,” she added. “There’s something for everyone and many of our clients are men too, looking for specialized skin care solutions.”

One of the exclusive brands she sells is Nvey Eco, a certified organic cosmetic line from Australia that formulates makeup without talc in any of the eyeshadows, foundation or powders. Instead, the line has vitamins A, C, E in its products and comes in a full range of true colours. Once a month, Geauvreau invites an esthetician to give free Nvey Eco makeovers as well as customer education with tips and hints for seasonal trends.

Pink Ginger’s products are also sourced from the United States and locally, including Ottawa’s Revolution Organics, a multi-purpose body care series using only certified organic plant-based ingredients. Carrying the United States Department of Argiculture (USDA) seal, their products are 95% certified organic. Those containing 70 to 95% organic ingredients can state “made with certified organic ingredients” on their label but cannot have the USDA seal on packaging. According to their website, this symbol is the “highest level of organic certification, beginning with the soil plants are grown in to how they are harvested and processed.”

Revolution Organics’ multi-tasking products allow consumers to do more with less, creating a sustainable beauty source that is also healthy and less harmful to the environment. The line’s best-selling balm available at Pink Ginger can be used to calm frizzy hair or moisturize lips, chapped elbows or cuticles.

When choosing to follow the natural route, price points tend to increase because of the high quality and rigorous standards products must adhere to in order to declare organic certification. Identifying a trend in the new wave of smart consumers now conscious of their health, companies are attempting to make their products more accessible.

“Products with fillers are less expensive and phytates for example, make perfume stick to your skin longer, so from a consumer perspective, many people thing they’re getting a better deal because they’re buying a huge bottle that will last a long time versus buying a smaller, pure essential oil bottle that is very expensive,” explained Geauvreau.

Artificial ingredients and petrochemicals are not the only substances high on the radar list for skin and cosmetic products. In 2009, Health Canada also drafted a guide on heavy metal impurities in cosmetics, later producing a report from a public consultation: “Lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, antimony and chromium are heavy metal ingredients prohibited in cosmetics sold in Canada. Accordingly, these elements, or compounds containing these elements, cannot be intentionally added to cosmetic products, and are listed as prohibited ingredients on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist,” it states. While there are no international standards in place currently for impurities in cosmetics, Health Canada has taken a similar approach to Germany, whose restrictions are “based on levels that can be technically avoided.”

For Geauvreau, beauty products are not governed enough as she aims to educate as many people as possible on the benefits of going organic. However, to transition to organic products, she advises not to throw all current supplies away. “Start with one product and see how you like. If you’re done with your mascara, try an organic brand and slowly build up to see which works for you.”

Founded in 2009, Pink Ginger also has an online shop (www.pinkgingershop.com) with clients from across the country, primarily western Canada and Ontario. Attributing her success to a support system led by her husband and family, Geauvreau says the store has been personally uplifting.

“A lot of our clients are recovering breast cancer survivors, have autoimmune diseases, extremely sensitive skin or have children with eczema and psoriasis. They’re almost in tears when they come in and return with emotional stories because they have finally found products that work for them.”