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Terra20, Gillian Deacon, and My Cosmetics Quest

In my quest to learn more about what chemicals are in my cosmetics, I took a second visit to Ottawa’s new eco-store Terra20 this past weekend.

Gillian Deacon, who wrote Green for Life and There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, was scheduled to be in the store to autograph books and to chat with store visitors. As soon as I walked in, I thought: Where have I seen her before? Take a look at this photo and see if you have the same reaction:

Gillian Deacon and Julie Harrison

So, it took me a while to “click in,” but Gillian is also a host on CBC. That’s why she looked so familiar! In addition to being a bestselling author, award-winning broadcaster, board member of the Evergreen Foundation, and mother of three, Gillian is a breast cancer survivor.

Speaking with someone as accomplished as Gillian can be very intimidating, but not with Gillian … it was like speaking to another mom on the neighbourhood street corner. She was refreshing and I’m looking forward to reading through her book in its entirety.

It is overwhelming to consider all of the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. But I feel I need to start. I can’t turn a blind eye any longer as my friends are dealt cancer diagnoses and children I know are saddled with life-long autoimmune-related illnesses. I’ve decided to start with householder cleaners and body care products. This quote from There’s Lead in Your Lipstick explains why:

“…Even if you believe that the 3 percent safe levels of ingredient X in your favourite soap or lotion or shaving cream are, in fact, safe for human use, we have no way to measure the impact of that ingredient combined with every other chemical you encounter day after day, year after year. Very few long-term studies are done on the chemicals used in our personal care products, and safety test are typically performed on animals, not humans. No research is available on what is referred to as the synergistic effect of them all — what I like to call the cocktail effect. ” p.21

She goes on to cite research that shows that each morning, the average woman applies 126 different chemicals, many of which are known toxins.

I understand that this kind of information causes eye-rolling in some people. However, I feel like it’s worth considering … that my health and my family’s health might be negatively affected by products that I bring into the house? Yes, I think it’s worth considering.

In trying to change purchasing habits, one can look to their local natural foods/health stores. These kinds of stores have been diligently and loyally serving their community for years with alternative products.

And then there’s also Terra20. This new store in Ottawa is taking a different approach in that they’re trying to reach a more “mainstream” audience — that consumer who’s perhaps never shopped in a health food store before. It’s a interesting approach, and I hope it succeeds.

Purple Urchin at Terra20

The people who work here certainly hope so too. I’ve found that everyone — from the sales associates I met while browsing the store (hi Angela, Steve, Krystal!), to the community manager (Pamela Tourigny, pictured on the left below) all the way up to the founder (Steve Kaminski, pictured on the right below) to be committed and genuinely enthusiastic about their mission.

Terra20 Community Manager and Founder pictured with @coffeewithjulie


Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what cosmetics I tried out at Terra20, how they felt, and how you can too … stay tuned!

makeover at Terra20

In the meantime, here is a short interview with Gillian Deacon that you might enjoy over on the Terra20 blog.


  1. Can’t wait to read about what you tried.  I hope there are after shots with your new make-up too!

  2. Our household is very aware of what ingredients are in our personal care, cleaning and food products.  It is great to continue to share the knowledge.  Thanks!

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