son, Henry, and came across an article on the toxins found in breast milk as a result of the everyday use of household and body products. “I had always thought of myself as being environmentally and health conscious, but, after some investigation, I realised that just about all our cosmetic and household products contained untold numbers of toxins. These toxins were penetrating our bodies through the skin and poisoning our systems, and I realised that my breast milk would not be as pure as I had thought unless I cleaned up my act. I turfed out all my expensive body products and perfumes, and I tried a few imported, organic cosmetic alternatives. I even went as far as importing a lovely range from the United Kingdom, but it was a little ahead of its time. I sold some products to health shops, but it was not a great success, as it was too expensive for most people. It was then that I just decided to make my own,” she says with her trademark enthusiasm.
Today, Anthea is the founder and owner of the successful organic brand Enchantrix (www.enchantrix.co.za), based in Cape Town. “Our mission is to provide a whole range of harmless organic products that will allow people to live their lives free of toxic chemicals and do the least damage possible to the earth and all creatures in the process. We don’t compromise for the sake of money, but we do try to keep our prices reasonable so as to make our products affordable to most people. We also believe in supporting the local economy by using manual labour and local ingredients as far as possible,” she explains. Enchantrix supplies its organic range of body, facial, hair, baby, cleaning and pet products via stockists such as Dis-Chem, selected Clicks stores, and health shops nationwide, but also sells via mail order and bulk directly from the factory in Retreat. These products are formulated according to the strict standards set down by Ecocert France, even though Enchantrix’s individual products are not certified – the cost, she says, being a deterrent for such a small company.
“We use certified organic ingredients wherever possible, and we have all the necessary documentation to support our claims,” says Anthea. Although Enchantrix has become a household name, it remains a small operation. “We are all involved in every step of the process, from manufacturing and production to the printing of our own labels and the sending out of our newsletter.”
But what are the most important toxic ingredients to watch out for in beauty products? Anthea suggests you look out for parabens, sodium laureth or laurel sulfate, petrolatum or mineral oils, phthalates, fragrances, talc and triclosan, the reason being that all these ingredients have been linked to cancer and other health issues. It’s worth spending some time on the Internet to research the effect of each ingredient on the body. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database, at is particularly interesting for its analysis of the ingredients of more than 69 000 beauty products.
“When shopping for beauty products, try to use the same criteria as you would for choosing food: look for those listing plant-based ingredients that you can actually recognise, such as herb, flower, fruit, vegetable and nut derivatives – the fewer the ingredients, the better. And, if you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients, don’t buy the product,” is Anthea’s sage advice. As for her favourite Enchantrix products, she lists her Shea Butter & Lavender Organic Body Butter, her Family Shampoo and Family Conditioner, and her Babies Bum Balm, made with various oils and beeswax. “These, in addition to our Clean-It-All product, are our bestsellers,” she says. And she’s particularly thrilled to reveal that, in the coming weeks, Enchantrix will be launching five new facial products, including two gorgeous new face creams, a cleanser, a skin freshener and an exfoliator.
Overhauling your entire beauty and make-up regimen to include green products may seem overwhelming at first, but Anthea suggests you begin with those products you use most often, such as your soap, shower gel, body lotion and shampoo. “Perfumes, antiperspirants and lipsticks are the biggest toxicity offenders in my book, so perhaps finish what you are currently using and then choose a greener alternative thereafter,” she says. There is also much to be said for natural, at-home beauty treatments, such as olive oil, cucumber slices and lemon juice which our grandmothers turned to for their beauty remedies. ‘Green’ may have become a buzzword in everything from food to household cleaning products, but choosing beauty products that are made from sustainable, plant-based ingredients and which use environment-friendly packaging not only means a healthier planet, but also a healthier you.
The skin is our largest organ, which, in protecting us, ends up absorbing up to 70% of what we put on it. Think about all the products you use on your skin each day – shower gel, lotion, deodorant, perfume and make-up. Then consider the hundreds of chemicals used to create these commercial beauty products, many of which have been found to contribute to everything from allergies and hormone disruption to cancer and liver damage. It’s time to green your beauty routine.
It’s a common sight in most bathrooms: a cupboard full of colourful tubes and bottles that promise to clean your hair, moisturise your skin or lengthen your eyelashes. But what is actually in all those bottles? The labels list ingredients with unpronounceable chemical names and abbreviations, making it well-nigh impossible to sort out what’s dangerous, both to you and your family, not to mention the environment.
Enchanted by Organics
Former interior designer, Anthea Torr, faced the same dilemma 13 years ago when she was pregnant with her second
Green and Gorgeous
by Laura Franz-Kamissoko