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Chemical free living comes of age

My family was among many who, in the 1960s, were confident that science and technology could only make life better.

It sounded fair. After all, I owe my life to the discovery of  the RH blood system, and to a blood transfusion at birth. At eight, it was a relatively new form of Penicillin that cleared up (eventually, after a long hospital stay) a kidney infection that could have killed me a generation before.

A normal, happy family from the sixties who believed better living was possible though chemistry.

In the home, new countertop appliances, categories of cleaners, and plastic and wax food wraps were designed to reduce my mother’s burden.  And they did.

Looking back, though, there was a flip side: if there was a wasp inside the house, we pulled out a can of Raid. For a stain on the carpet, we used Carbon tetrachloride, which in retrospect, was probably not wise.

When I was four, I was woken by an explosion at the  Superior Propane site just ten kilometres down the road from where I lived. I have only the vaguest memory of looking out the window  and seeing the blanket of light that became know as the “Maple Blast”  but I often wondered what we breathed in over the next few days.

Personal care products  —  especially beauty — had a similar good guy/bad guy aspect. It was easier than ever for a woman to colour away the grey, smooth away wrinkles, or enhance her natural beauty with make-up. Avon called, and we answered. As it turns out, many of the products that did  all those things contained toxic petrochemicals.

These days, I like to know what’s in the stuff I put on my skin or clean my house with.

When I had kids, I began to read ingredient lists, and started looking for natural options.

That’s why I immediately noticed the products I received from eScential — a Canadian skin care and wellness company making small-batch, plant-based salves, cleansers, and inhalers — included a promise not to contain the “Toxin Ten” or “Dirty Dozen”.

The first refers to Environmental Defense’s  list of ten  common toxic chemicals that can cause cancer, disrupt hormones and induce allergies; the second to David Suzuki Foundation’s Dirty Dozen.

I tried Skin Rescue ointment and DermaCare Salve (which the company sent free of charge to me to test). The ointment is meant for minor cuts, abrasions, and bites. I think it’s also terrific for cuticles, especially in winter when skin around nails can get dry, cracked, or torn. DermaCare has Shea butter and essential oils that moisturizes dry, flaky skin. I liked it as a foot balm (putting on a pair of cotton socks afterwards will help it absorb.) It’s also been at least as effective and soothing as the prescription cream (a steroid) I was given for the annoying eczema on my elbow. I’ve also rubbed some on my face before going out snowshoeing to protect my skin from wind and cold.

The company attempts to source Fair Trade and Certified Organic ingredients wherever possible, and product is made in Canada from formulations created by owner Nancy Scott,  a Certified Aroma Health Practitioner, member of the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists and certified reflexologist. She’s also worked as a medical laboratory technologist, and has studied the organic chemistry behind the science of essential oils.

Products are made in accordance with Health Canada regulations.  It’s all very affordable. There’s more good information about the company on the FAQ page

You can but the products online.  I like them a lot. Let me know if you do too!

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