Going Green: Organic, Natural, and Vegan Cosmetics
Do you know the difference between Organic, Natural, and Vegan cosmetics?
Scrutinizing ingredient lists and staying current on the latest health and eco-headlines can be overwhelming. But “going green” while staying pretty is easy and fun when you have a handle on the basics.
Photo by Amy Clarke, courtesy of Flickr.com
A series of three articles on GreenOptions.com delves deeper to identify specific characteristics of organic, natural, and vegan beauty products and recommend body- and earth-friendly alternatives to conventional drugstore brands.
An educated consumer equals a healthy and beautiful consumer. Didn’t your mom always say brains wins over beauty? Now you can have both. Here are the straight facts for styling yourself eco-pretty:
Did you know that products claiming to be “hypoallergenic” are not necessarily free of potentially toxic or carcinogenic chemicals, even if they don’t irritate your skin as much as “regular” or “normal” products? The Cosmetics Bureau of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that no such federally regulated standard definition exists. This means that consumers should always test products and educate themselves about potential reactions to ingredients whenever possible, regardless of such labeling as “formulated for sensitive skin” or “hypoallergenic.”
Eco Tools, Bronzer Brush / Made from cruelty-free taklon bristles, sustainable bamboo handle, reusable storage pouch, recycled aluminum ferrule.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosts a free database of the most popular personal care items. There, you can browse popular products by function and brand, and view ingredient lists, health effects, and any health warnings. Not all conventional products have health warnings or negative side effects, so don’t panic or toss your entire makeup bag in the trash. Going green is a journey, so take your health and beauty education one day at a time and get ready to experiment.
Rest assured that cosmetics are also nowhere near as dangerous to ingest as common household cleansers, because the potential chemical dose at any single exposure is far less significant than, say, swallowing a glass of chlorinated bleach. That being said, chemicals are prevalent in conventional drugstore and even luxury cosmetic brands, and repeated exposure to certain products over the course of a lifetime may result in elevated blood and tissue toxicity levels. Research continues, so keep abreast of developments and publications issued by the HHS and FDA and talk with your doctor.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), a nonprofit advocacy group based in San Francisco, California, reports that the average U.S. consumer uses approximately 9 cosmetic products every day. This includes makeup, soap, shampoo, moisturizer, hair styling products, and fragrance.
Because of present regulations and industry standards, consumers are regularly exposed to approximately 126 different chemicals every day, many of which have not undergone extensive testing. "We're operating in a vacuum in terms of safety," stresses Lisa Archer, national coordinator for the CSC, which receives funding from the nonprofit Breast Cancer Fund. More information regarding chemicals and cosmetics can be found online at the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Library of Medicine on Cosmetics.
Photo by Robby Mueller, courtesy of Flickr.com
The beauty industry is actively engaged in keeping consumers healthy and educated, and moving towards sustainability and a higher standard of health and safety. Thanks to consumer, producer, and governmental advocacy over several decades, many brands have reformulated marketplace favorites or stopped selling potentially toxic or carcinogenic products.
Eco-brands are also increasingly available, thanks to the Internet and growth in the availability of alternative, organic, and sustainable ingredients. Like many other areas of consumer life and work, beauty trends are also going green. The beauty industry is no slouch when it comes to making pretty for the planet and consumers, so get ready to be even more gorgeous.
Photo by Mr. T in DC, courtesy of Flickr.com
Want to learn more? Check out these articles on Organic, Natural, and Vegan beauty products. You can also browse community threads and join the conversation to share your eco-beauty secrets and find great deals on green products: