Eco-Friendly Beauty Products

As our society grows increasingly "green," rising numbers of people are looking for new ways to live more harmoniously with Mother Nature. This has led many commercial retailers looking for innovative ways to make their products more "eco-friendly." In fact, you can now find everything from cars to clothing being marketed towards this budding sector of the population.

Never one to miss a beat, the beauty industry has recently jumped on the environmental band-wagon, and is now offering a range of products claiming to be better for both the environment and our health. The tricky part is figuring out what to look for when it comes to product labels and ingredients. So read on for helpful tips on how to separate fact from fiction when it comes to your cosmetic routine.

1. Read the labels.
Just as you do with the foods you buy, it is important to read the labels on your beauty products. In fact, it may be even more important, as presently there are no regulations in place with regards to what kinds of chemicals are safe for use in cosmetics. However, there are certain ingredients to look out for including: mercury, thimerosal, lead acetate, formaldehyde, toluene, petroleum, ethlyacrylate, coal tar, dibutyle phthalate, and potassium. These toxins have not only been proven to be unsafe for human use, but some are also harmful to the environment.

2. The Proof is in the Packaging
Of course, it can sometimes be difficult to read every label attached to your cosmetic products. To make things easier, you can simply choose to buy products from companies that are certified organic, as these are regulated to be free of harmful toxins. The key, however, is determining which ones are, in fact, organic; to be sure, look for the USDA Organic seal.

Not only are organic cosmetics safer for human use, they are also better for the environment, as they are grown without pesticides that can leech into the soil. The only downfall is they normally don't last as long as other brands, so be sure to keep an eye on the expiry date.

3. Go Petroleum-Free
The fact that fossil fuels are harmful for the environment is by no means a revolutionary concept. And while coal, oil and gas companies have recently come under pressure to make changes, the beauty industry is not receiving the same attention.

The fact remains, however, that petroleum derivatives are showing up in all kinds of beauty products - in fact, mineral oil, paraffin, and propylene glycol are normally among their first listed ingredients, particularly in lip gloss and lip balm.

4. Toxic Tan
Recently, there has been much debate regarding how effectively sunscreens actually protect us from damaging sun rays, as well as whether or not the ingredients used in them are safe for our skin. Some experts warn that the advent of sunscreens has given us a false sense of security in being out in the sun. As a result, many of us are staying out in the sun far longer than we should, while at the same time not reapplying our sun protection as much as we need to.

In addition, scientists are now finding evidence that some of the chemicals contained in sunscreens are actually estrogen mimics, which persist in the environment as well as our bodies. To be safe, therefore, stick with natural sun creams- and don't forget to cover up with appropriate clothing and hats. It's also best to avoid the sun around midday, as that is when its rays are most harmful.

5. Hair Care Beware!
Although it is important to be aware of the chemicals we are putting onto our skin, you might be surprised to know that the ones we put in our hair are far more rampant. Just like skin, our hair is extremely absorbent, leading to concern over the number of potentially harmful chemicals being put into everything from shampoo to hair spray.

What to stay clear of: shampoos and conditioners with SLS and SLES in them; hair dyes with carcinogenic coal tar; and hairsprays and hair gels containing petroleum derivatives, formaldehyde, phthalates, and synthetic fragrance.



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