From Our Lips to Green Ears: Expert Tips on How to Shop Green Beauty


The green world is getting tough. Not tough like Afghanistan, more tough like an organic West Side Story. Still, it is stressful. Why? Because it seems you need a PhD in product just to make sense of what’s organic, what’s natural, and what’s really nuclear waste disguised as delicate organic face cream created by monks living in seclusion in the Alps. Or something.

Luckily, there’s been lots of help as late for consumers to make good, green choices. Whole Foods recently announced that they will make personal care product companies prove their organic claims. And here at EcoSalon, we’ve studied green labels to help you understand them. Now, we’re going straight to the source for more information. Because who knows green product better than an EcoSalonista?

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Melissa Tornay, co-owner of Primrose Organics Salon and Boutique in Los Feliz, California. Primrose Organics Salon and Boutique is an eco-friendly full-service salon, focused on sustainability in both its products and practices. They carry lines such as John Masters Organic, The Body Deli, Strawberry Hedgehog and more. As a green beauty business owner, Melissa is out there dodging the green bullets and, well, bullsh*t. She recently shared her take on corporate green washing and how the rest of us can keep our beauty regime eco-friendly.

EcoSalon: What would you say is the “green mission” of Primrose Organics Salon and Boutique?

Tornay: We want to help navigate the confusing world of green products. It can be very overwhelming (mentally and financially) for people to go green. We have information and tips on how to do it in a way that will work for anyone. We are also committed to being environmentally friendly in an industry that tends to be toxic and wasteful.

EcoSalon: As the owner of a green beauty business, what is your take on the great green washing of products? How can a consumer know for sure that she’s getting truly safe products where there is such a little real regulation

Tornay: It is frustrating that so many companies are green washing; there are very few truly green companies. Trying to steer your way through the mountains of products that claim to be natural can be exhausting! It is quite clear that it has just become a marketing ploy. That’s one reason I like to source products, for the most part, from smaller businesses. Then I know I can speak to the owners and employees and get a feeling if they are truly passionate and really know their business. I shouldn’t be able to stump them with questions regarding chemicals.

EcoSalon: So how do you know if you’re getting safe products?

Tornay: There really is no easy way to know you are getting truly safe products right now; you just have to read ingredients, ask questions, and find companies that you trust.

EcoSalon: What do you do to weed out the green washers?

Tornay: Like I said, we only purchase from companies that we know well. In most cases I have met the owners face to face. You can tell easily when someone is giving you lip service or when they are truly knowledgeable and passionate.

I also check on things like packaging, animal testing, and how they run the company because those things can tell you a lot. It is not easy to make the sacrifices it takes and the extra expenses to do everything green, so when I see a company is really going above and beyond it makes me want to support them. We don’t put our money into a line that isn’t one of the best things we have ever tried. It just wouldn’t be smart business – no matter how green a brand is.

Want to learn more? Check out Melissa’s easy, quick tips on making sure your product is healthy and eco-friendly!

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.