We recently caught up with Tracey Bailey, Founder of Biome Eco Stores, who kindly gave us an exclusive interview:
Tell us about Biome’s Naked Beauty Bars:
Biome’s Naked Beauty Bar is Australia’s first zero-waste bulk beauty bar revolutionising the way people buy skin care products while offering a truly unique and memorable in-store experience. Located in all Biome stores and online, Biome’s Naked Beauty Bar offers customers the opportunity to buy bulk and premade natural ingredients to make zero-waste body care products at home. From lip balm and body scrub to deodorant and toothpaste, customers can make a range of beauty and cleaning products from over 40 natural ingredients. The concept allows customers to become more involved in making their own products while reducing packaging waste.
How did you get interested in the eco-beauty industry?
I’ve been interested in sustainable and toxin-free living for over 14 years. Before launching Biome, I became more aware of the toxins in the products I was using every day such as cleaners, beauty and body care products. Since then, I have continued researching the thousands of chemical ingredients used widely in the beauty industry, and their potential health and environmental effects.
Making your own natural beauty products at home is an easy and affordable way to significantly reduce your daily exposure to harmful chemicals. Women are using between 9 and 15 beauty products every day which is exposing their skin to approximately 515 chemicals through the use of cosmetics, beauty products, and perfumes.
The beauty industry selects from a palette of approximately 12,500 chemical ingredients to produce a range of products with the average beauty product containing between 15 to 50 ingredients. Each product formulation varies slightly, however, most cosmetics contain a concoction of ingredients including fragrances, emulsifiers, emollients, colouring agents, preservatives, thickening agents, and pH stabilizers.
The main chemicals of concern used in the production of cosmetics include Phthalates, Parabens, Talcum powder, Nanoparticles, Formaldehyde and formaldehyde donors, Lead acetate, Coal tar, UV filters, Triclosan, Resorcinol, Toluene and Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) due to their links to cancer and hormone disruption. The production and disposal of these chemicals affect our environment as most beauty waste is washed down the drains. This threatens our marine biodiversity and the quality of our oceans and waterways.
What products do you offer in the Naked Beauty Bar?
Over 40 natural ingredients are available at the Naked Beauty Bar in bulk and premade options including clay, salt, oil, shea and cocoa butter, honey, vinegar, sugar, soap berries, charcoal, petals and herbs. We also stock a large range of glass containers, DIY packaging and utensils to help customers make and store their own products.
What’s your favourite way of using these natural ingredients?
The benefit of DIY beauty is that some recipes can be simple to make and only contain two ingredients. One of my favourite recipes uses Australian pink clay, an ingredient currently trending in the beauty industry. Mix the clay with floral waters or oils to form a paste and apply it to your face. This simple but effective face mask will gently exfoliate and cleanse your skin
It’s also easy to make your own natural deodorant to avoid aluminum compounds and other harmful toxins including parabens, synthetic fragrances, and triclosan.
Do you have a favourite website or book to source beauty recipes?
We have developed in-house a range of natural DIY beauty and cleaning recipes using our DIY natural ingredients. This provides a fantastic source for beauty recipes and inspiration.
Two books I enjoy flicking through for inspiration and recipes include Hello Glow Written by Stephanie Gerber, and Make It Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care Written by Marie Rayma.
Why is zero waste so important to you?
I have always deeply appreciated nature and believed it’s important to live with little impact on the environment. We currently live in a convenience-driven society where multi-national profit-driven companies are continually developing and promoting products without any consideration for the environment. As a consumer, you possess immense power to effect larger changes through your everyday purchases and actions. Living zero-waste and avoiding conveniently packaged products is one way you can challenge these multi-national corporations and reduce your impact on the environment.
Can you describe a typical day?
Every day at Biome is different, but my typical day starts with a coffee in my KeepCup. I then head into the office where my day is filled with meetings, phone calls, and planning Biome future growth. I then might head out to one of the stores for a specific request or to see our store managers. Then it’s usually time to head home to my family.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Transitioning Biome to a store 100% free from untraceable palm oil has been the highlight of my career so far. After 14 years of asking companies to declare palm oil on their packaging or not use palm, I decided to take action and make Biome a store entirely free from palm oil grown on plantations where orangutans and other wildlife are harmed. Around 300 football fields of rainforest are felled per day for palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, killing around 6000 orangutans, plus Sumatran tigers and many other species every year.
Working closely with information from Palm Oil Investigations Australia (POI), I eliminated from all Biome stores hundreds of products that contained hidden palm oil ingredients, and Biome became the world’s first (POI) approved store. The process was lengthy, arduous and big financial risk, but the only ethical choice for me. This project which was initially undertaken to dramatically improve Biome’s ‘triple bottom line’ set off a chain reaction, influencing other brands to eliminate palm oil from their formulations and apply for POI approval.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love seeing how Biome has impacted the community in various ways from the local employment it provides for our 50+ employees, to the support for small Australian businesses and producers, and seeing how the collective power of like-minded individuals can create significant change.
Last year, we calculated and revealed Biome’s customers eliminated over two million single-use coffee cups, 500,000 straws, two million disposable water bottles, one million plastic produce bags and 100,000 shopping bags from the environment by using their reusable products.
Results such as these make me reflect on the work we do each day at Biome to support a healthier future for all.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired daily by our community of conscious consumers, our small local eco-suppliers, the dedicated Biome team, and the relentless quest to improve the current conditions of the environment.
Do you have any predictions for the beauty industry?
I predict palm oil free will be the new claim heavily promoted by beauty brands in the coming years. Currently, there is a significant ‘glossing over’ occurring in the industry where most brands are choosing to not disclose the use of palm oil on their packaging. Inadequate government labeling regulations allow brands to hide palm oil behind more than 200 alternate names such as vegetable oil, Glycerine, Plant Surfactant and Caprylic Triglyceride, making it extremely confusing for consumers to identify. While some brands claim to be cruelty-free and promote everything they do not contain, palm oil is used and hidden in their formulations.
Consumers are aware of claims and certifications such as organic, cruelty-free or vegan, but this is no indicator of it being palm free, nor being ethical palm. As society becomes more aware of the detrimental environmental impacts of palm oil in both food and beauty products, there will be an increased consumer demand for easily identifiable palm oil free products.
Do you have any plans for the next 12 months?
Biome has experienced solid growth year on year since we launched in 2003. Due to this, the next 12 months will be spent strengthening the foundations, our procedures and guiding principles to support our future growth while looking out for innovative products that help people to live more sustainably.
Biome Eco Stores provides Australia’s largest range of eco-friendly products in-store and online, offering deliveries nationwide. From natural skin care and green cleaning to safe, reusable water bottles and food pouches, Biome helps Australians live waste free, toxin-free and ethical lives. The Naked Beauty Bar at the Balmoral store offers beauty products and more natural ingredients in bulk, so you can buy just the right amount. Visit www.biome.com.au.
Biome’s Naked Beauty Bars can be found in Indooroopilly, Balmoral, Brisbane City and Paddington.
Brisbane City: 33 Adelaide Street, Brisbane City
Paddington: 2 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington
Balmoral: 216 Riding Road, Balmoral
Indooroopilly: Level 3, Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (towards the Myer end)