March 10, 2020
Hi there!My name is Mimi, and I have been working in the beauty industry as a hairstylist for almost 20 years. That means colouring hair and using synthetically fragranced styling products for all that time. I actually began my relationship with “beauty” at a much younger age, and I was always “that friend” who would want to give you a makeover. I was colouring hair for my friends as early as high school with no training whatsoever. I was also dabbling with any makeup and skincare products I could get my hands on. I completed my cosmetology training on PEI in 2001 and make-up artistry training in Montreal in 2006. Since then, I have taken numerous courses in the pursuit of furthering my skill, and was even an educator for a major colour brand. I am passionate about all things beauty, and believe that I was called to this career. The best part about what I do is having the opportunity to make people feel good. We are supposed to feel better when we look better, right?
Some years ago, I began to question whether the products I was using daily—both on my body and in my home—were actually good for me. That eventually led to my partner and me adopting a mostly organic and plant-based diet, and changing out traditional household products for cleaner alternatives. Over the years, I have gotten rid of all personal care products that contain any toxic ingredients. In all areas of my life, I had tried to become more sustainable and non-toxic, however, I continued to work with toxic chemicals in my salon each day. I spent years trying to source products that I thought were safer for me and my clients. Colour lines that claimed to have “natural” ingredients; claims of being ammonia-free, paraben-free or sulphate-free. While these claims are true, they constitute a movement by the beauty industry to green wash their products. Unfortunately, for a long time this worked on me, and I chose to believe that what they were selling me was safe. I did not know how to properly read labels, and if I saw the right word on the bottle, I believed it was a good product. After much more research, I came to the realization that everything I had been using for my entire career was full of toxic chemicals. Chemicals such as resorcinol, ammonia and PPD, just to name a few. The chemicals in hair colour are actually quite unsafe, in fact, significant personal safety equipment is required to safely colour hair. Would you feel differently about getting your hair coloured if your stylist came into the room wearing a respirator mask? It is hard to quantify the impact that these chemicals have had on my health throughout my career. I have noticed significant worsening of allergies, skin irritations, and fluctuations in mood. Many of the chemicals I listed above are hormone disrupting. Breathing in ammonia on a regular basis has left me feeling exhausted and drained. Hairdressing taxes the body, and with standing for long periods of repetitive exposure to chemicals, there is little wonder why so many of us suffer from health issues, both mental and physical.
I recently decided that I cannot wait for a non-toxic colour to come on the market. Safer options are not good enough, as the safest colours still contain harmful chemicals, and still require stylists to wear personal protective equipment. The risk is too great to my health and the health of my clients, and the environmental impact is significant. I have made the commitment to eliminate all toxins from my studio, while continuing to cut and style hair. I will be using only products that are organic and toxin-free.
Mimi Waiklen - Awakened Stylist
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