Ways2GoGreen’s readership is always looking for ways to better their lives without hurting the environment; that’s an initiative with which I am very familiar. I write about ways for consumers to better their choices in cosmetics, skin care—and generally everything else—by educating them on green practices, manufacturing, packaging and, most importantly, ingredient usage. The simple fact is that the cosmetics industry represents an enormous hole in FDA regulation policy. Any brand can make a small improvement to their process and slap the terms “natural” and “eco-friendly” to their packaging in order to entice the eco-conscious consumer. However, these brands should be put on notice. Truly natural and organic brands are hard to come by, but will benefit your body and the earth in the long run. Therefore, I urge you to let this article educate you but also to extend your own research in order to choose brands and products that align with your personal ideals about preservation of the earth and the healthiness of your body.
Having said that, let’s talk ingredients. There have been a lot of advertisements on television—as you may have noticed—that proclaim their products to be paraben-free. So what is a paraben and why are they telling me it’s not present? Parabens are just one of the many disconcerting ingredients found in many cosmetics and they are basically preservatives. Parabens can be most commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels. The reason they’ve come under fire lately is because they have been found in breast cancer tumors. They are also said to mimic estrogen, which can alter your body’s natural processes.
Even more disturbing is the presence of lead in lipsticks, and lead-like materials such as cadmium. These kinds of ingredients should be avoided because they are linked with everything from cancers to kidney failure. The cosmetics industry is hoping that you will ignore these ingredients by stating that the amounts are too low to cause real issues. Is that a risk you’re willing to take? You have to remember that skin care products do not just lie on top of your skin. They are absorbed into your skin—your epidermis, more correctly—and can be just as damaging as ingesting chemicals in food.
So, enough with the scary stuff. What can you do to combat this abuse in the cosmetics and beauty industries? Well, it’s simple. Educate yourself about the ingredients used in non-organic products and what to look for in organic brands. If you see “phthalates,” you might want to stay away. Instead look for whole derivatives of natural botanicals like “corn germ oil” or “rose petal oil,” both proven to moisturize as well, if not better, than some petroleum-based gunk. Need anti-aging products? Look for other essential oils like avocado and aloe, and vitamins like vitamin E and C. These nutrients will restore your skin’s elasticity and youthfulness without compromising the earth and your health.
I hope I’ve given you something to think about—now go out there and get to reading those labels!
Amber Evans is the resident organic beauty expert at Charleston Naturally. We carry trusted organic brands so that our customers can be sure about what they’re putting in their bodies, as well as how it effects the environment. We have everything you need for the good life.