Conscious beauty products
Aubrey Organics (www.aubrey-organics.com, 1-800-282-7394) Considered the granddaddy of organic skincare, Aubrey Organics has been producing one of the most popular lines of skin and haircare products in North America since 1967 (carried by more than 4,500 retailers with 130 products in total). There's even a dog line. Handcrafted in small batches, everything, from the factory where the products are produced to the contents in the 100 per cent recycled bottles, is certified organic.
Dr. Hauschka (www.drhauschka.com, 1-800-247-9907) Available at most quality spas, this German line uses très holistic biodynamic agriculture practices (the scientific use of crop rotation, composting, integrated soil and pest management) to produce the choice organic plants featured in the full range of products, from shampoo to mascara and all the specialized creams in between.
Druide (www.druide.ca, 1-800-663-9693) Made in Quebec with organic cold-pressed oils, this chemical-free line is especially popular with enlightened parents. The infant product range should be on everybody's baby shower list. Come mosquito season, the citronella spray is definitely a must-have.
Inara Organics (www.inarainternational.com, 1-888-840-8826) Super-healing babassu oil is at the heart of the Inara Organics product range. Exclusively harvested by a women's co-op in Brazil, oil from this nut is mixed with other certified organic ingredients and made into skin creams, milk baths, body oils, lip balms and exfoliators. Women supporting women; not a bad idea, eh?
Jurlique (www.jurlique.com, 1-800-854-1110) A fave with Hollywood's high-profile veggies, this wrinkle-and-cellulite-fighting skin care line is pretty much the top dog in the designer organic beauty game. Here's a theory why: 95 per cent of the herbs and plants used in the products are grown organically and biodynamically on Jurlique's farms in south Australia. Primo stuff, mate.
Miessence (See Beauty Tip.)
Neal's Yard Remedies (www.nealsyardremedies.ca, 416-769-6125, 1-800-809-1808) A hit across the pond since its launch in 1981, NYR has recently expanded its retail fan base to include Canada. Points awarded for the solid selection of choice products, done up in neo-apothecary packaging. One thing: not all of the products contain the organic goods. The ones that do, though, boast certification by the UK Soil Association.
Organic Makeup Company (www.organicmakeup.ca, 905-479-9295) Based in Richmond Hill, the OMC has branched out with its message of chemical-free makeup and in just a few short years has acquired a committed international customer base. The MO of this mineral-based brand includes a ban on parabens, synthetics, y'know, and they even accommodate vegans by replacing beeswax with a plant-based wax.
Suki (www.sukisnaturals.com, 1-888-858-7854) Created by Suki Kramer, a former beauty junkie who started her own line when the designer brands she craved irritated her sensitive skin, this American line is one of the best we've tried. Magazine-spread-worthy packaging (made from recycled materials and printed with soy ink, no less) paired with a list of high-grade edible ingredients (though logic tells us there are cheaper snacks) make it worth overlooking the fact that there are no Canadian retailers yet. You'll have to make an e-commerce leap of faith.
And where to get 'em
Grassroots (372 Danforth, 416-466-2841; 408 Bloor West, 416-944-1993; www.grassrootsstore.com) From organic-cotton bed linens and baby clothes to synthetic-free face wash and green cleaning products, Grassroots is pretty much the ecoholic it-store to hit if you're looking for lifestyle items that are off the grid, so to speak. More than just hawking green-ware, Grassroots also acts as a community-builder by hosting guest lectures on topics ranging from organic gardening to alternative building practices. The eco book section ain't too shabby either.
The Big Carrot (348 Danforth, 416-466-2129, www.thebigcarrot.ca) Considered a superstore for the veggie set, this Carrot Common star features a vast - and I mean, va-a-a-st - selection of all the crunchy goodness money can buy; especially organically grown, non-GMO and environmentally safe items. Whether you're looking for a SAD-battling faux-sun lamp or a really exclusive bag of organic coffee beans, this worker-owned co-op is a preferred one-stop shop.
Noah's Natural Foods (667 Yonge, 416-969-0220; 322 Bloor West, 416-968-7930) Situated as an oasis of healthful living on two of the city's busiest streets, Noah's thrives in its retail role as the place to pop in and pick something up on the way home. Whether it's premade nibblies, organic groceries or just a chemical-free lipstick, Noah's doesn't disappoint.
Whole Foods Market (87 Avenue Road, 416-944-0500) A swish health food store? Nope, not an oxymoron, we're talking wholesome foods in the belly of Hazelton Lanes. While the massive chain carries most of the same brands as the indie competition, the merchandising-slash-production value can't be matched. No wonder it's captured the cents-es of Yorkville's fit mommas.
T.H.E. . See Store Of The Week.
Pure + Simple (2375 Yonge, 416-481-2081; 27 Bellair 924-6555, www.pureandsimple.ca) A one-stop shop for the world's best botanically based skincare brands, this modern spa's full range of aesthetic services combine Eastern and Ayurvedic principles with Western-style pampering. While its recently launched line of signature skincare items does use many organic ingredients, there are also some synthetics involved. So read the ingredients list - but you already know that, don't you?
Patricia Miller (458 Eglinton West, 416-485-0600, www.patriciamiller.com) Toronto's reigning queen of the aromatherapy scene, Miller has spent the past 25 years researching the medicinal benefits of plants, and her signature line of skincare products is evidence of her findings. Pick any skin or body care concern and Patricia Miller - who also teaches courses on this fragrant topic - has the corresponding food-grade lotion, tonic, gel, cream, milk or oil to cure what ails you. Do check out the three stories and 4,000 square feet of aromatherapy clinic and retail space.
Elixir (766 King West, Unit 5, 416-203-5261, www.elixirspa.ca) Get your organic beauty fix at Lynn Shulman 's synthetic-free spa, the first ever to rock Toronto. Not only does Elixir offer the full range of aesthetic services, but it also stocks a nice selection of take-home beauty booty, including its amazing signature line and Starflower Organic Skincare (www.starflower.com) from the States.
Chakra Spa (1184 Eglinton West, 416-784-3438, www.thechakraspa.com) Ayurveda rules at Lisa Julien 's earthy uptown spa. Exclusive all-natural beauty brands line the shelves, but it's the services that really draw the dedicated clientele. Whether you get your chakra realigned or just go for an herbal facial, the low lights and aromatherapy make this a maximum-chill zone.