Green & Gorgeous

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Friday, July 29, 2011 

under Health by Bolette Rahder

The organic movement, with roots stretching as far back as the 1900s, has grown to encompass several fields, including cosmetics.

Nowadays, products are defined and certified as "organic" by several different organizations and countries. Every organization has a slightly different interpretation, as it's actually quite difficult to make products 100 percent organic. Usually, an item is labeled organic if at least 95 percent of its content was organically grown. This means no pesticides and no chemicals. That extra five percent usually comes from the various minerals either present or used during the production process.

Back in the early 1950s, cosmetics started playing a part in the booming chemical industry. Almost everything was based on chemicals, whereas before that almost everything was naturally organic. While much fanfare has been made over organic food products, the cosmetic industry's reliance on chemicals hasn't attracted as much attention - until recently.

"If you care about what you eat, you should care about what you use", says Michelle Yeh, founder and CEO of myLOHAS. One of the first questions she asks her customers is, "Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body and it absorbs up to 64 percent of what you place on it?"

Michelle Yeh started myLOHAS, the first organic beauty and lifestyle shop in China, with the intent of bringing China back to a more eco-friendly environment. Having previously spent 19 years in health-conscious San Francisco, she moved to China, currently the third largest cosmetic market in the world, and discovered a great void of information about the organic lifestyle.

"The industrial revolution made everything so plastic and that's why the cosmetic industry became so dependent on petrochemicals. We are trying to change that, and we believe that science has evolved as well," says Yeh. She goes on to emphasize that instead of looking to the past, recent scientific innovations have helped to facilitate the use of effective natural and organic ingredients in cosmetics.

LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability, the ethos which underpins Michelle Yeh's company. The concept started about a decade ago in the United States and was brought to China by LOHAS magazine.
It is a philosophy, helping people understand the continuity of our world. Whatever we use goes out in the system and comes back to us in another form.

When she arrived here, Michelle realized that LOHAS was still a foreign concept in China. "The government is doing a good job talking about the environment. People hear about it, but they don't know how to practice it, there is no system for it. You have to give the recycling stuff to the people in order for them to practice the program. What I think we can do with myLOHAS is to facilitate that process, make it easier in terms of choice."

MyLOHAS, therefore, is not just about cosmetics. It's a lifestyle, educating people and helping them see how important their personal choice actually is, considering the size of the population. "Everybody starts with a selfish reason and thinks bigger after that, and that's okay. It's an ongoing evolution," says Michelle, when explaining her choice of company name. Everybody has to find their own LOHAS, which is something that changes from day to day as people learn and grown. The most important thing is to take that the first step in the right direction.

A lot of the brands Yeh stocks and recommends are new, like Snowberry, which is a clinically proven natural anti-aging and brightening skincare line from New Zealand, and claims to contain more fruit extract than any other brand. Currently, myLOHAS carries eleven dermatological and hair brands - for women, men and children - all carefully vetted, with both a quality and clinical certificate. In the future, it will expand to stores in Shanghai, Beijing and several other cities.

"It's a big business and we have big goals for it. The showroom is just a temporary office", says Michelle Yeh with true excitement in her voice. Her passion for both her business and her mission is self-evident; her resolve to build upon China's ecological initiatives formidable. And her skin looks pretty good too!


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