The organic world

The organic world

The organic world
Does the word ‘Methylchloroisothiazolinone’ sound familiar? Well, it should. The compound is just one of the numerous harmful chemical ingredients found in body care products. While some of these chemicals have a mild effect on your body, this biocide can go as far as to damage your nervous system. But since it is a preservative, it continues to be used in products like shampoo and eye-liner.

Most people are unaware of how many chemicals they expose their body to. This either stems from ignorance or indifference. But there are some who put in the effort to be chemical-free. Priya Singhal, who started ‘Cucumber Organics’, an organic skin care product venture, with partner Zaheer Khan, says that these days, people are in a hurry all the time, so they don’t have the time to even stay healthy. “If you want to be completely chemical free in terms of body care, it’ll take some effort but it’s possible. But most people want everything in an instant, which is the problem. Over a period of time, the side effect of these chemicals starts to show — hormonal imbalances, depression and nervous problems are just some of them,” she explains.

Priya adds that contrary to popular belief, it is possible to make skin care products like soaps, shampoos, creams, moisturisers, toners and oils without any chemicals. “You can use plant-based glycerine instead of the synthetic one, and supplement the other ingredients with items like milk, edible oils, plants, pulses etc.”

Body care product makers also say that it’s important to understand a person’s skin. Priya Jain, founder of ‘Mishikrafts’, started making soap and shampoo bars because of her skin. “I had bad skin and I visited many doctors who gave me different solutions, none of which worked. Finally, when I had almost given up, I attended a class on soap making. Since then, I’ve never had problems with my skin. I tried this on my niece as well; she had very dry skin and I made her soaps of milk and vanilla. In a month, her skin had cleared up and looked good,” she says.

Priya Iyer, founder of ‘Ida Naturals’, makes skin care products for different skin needs — oily skin, dry skin, skin prone to acne and pimples, unscented soaps for babies, cooling soaps for summer and spicy soaps for winter. But  she distinguishes between ‘organic’ and ‘natural’. “I like natural products, they are biodegradable. If you can eat it, it’s good for the skin. Soap is made using sodium hydroxide (aka caustic soda or lye) and oils.

Even if you use organic oils, due to the saponification, the molecular structure changes so you can’t call the end result as organic; it’s natural,” she says. Priya Iyer also makes shampoo bars, face packs, bug repellents and more, using ingredients like mango butter, shea butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, castor oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, argan oil, green gram flour, oatmeal, red sandalwood, milk, yogurt, mint, cucumber, papaya, watermelon, tomato and carrot.

While some have switched to chemical-free products for their health, other have done it to protect the environment. Aruna Padmanabhan says her skin is tough and isn’t affected by the chemicals but, “I am conscious of what goes down the drain so two weeks ago, I decided to make soap. It’s pretty easy and you can do it at home,” she says. Priya Jain agrees with this, “Anyone can learn to make such things. The easier way is to use glycerine and customise it however you want. If you use lye, you have to be more careful; the process is more tedious.”