Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Green Your Beauty Routine

When it comes to beauty, most people have set products that
they rely on for everyday and special occasion events, but
no matter how committed you are to the products and brands
that you usually use, it is worth considering a switch to
greener products that make less of an impact on the Earth
and can be equally good for you.

The number of beauty products that you use each day varies
based on your personal style. But even if you consider
yourself to be "low maintenance," you likely use many
everyday products to take care of yourself. Here are just a
few:

* Toothpaste
* Shampoo
* Conditioner
* Hair styling product(s)
* Body soap
* Hand soap
* Sunscreen
* Body lotion
* Hand lotion
* Face lotion
* Deodorant

In short, most people use more than 10 beauty products per
day. If you use makeup, you might add 5-10 more products,
and, of course, the list expands when you include hair
removal, nail care, and any age reduction products that you
use.

These beauty products can impact the health of our
environment by: utilizing toxic ingredients; using
non-recycled and difficult-to-recycle packaging; using
toxic pesticides and herbicides on ingredients; and testing
products on animals, to name just a few of the drawbacks.

If you changed just a few of your beauty products to
greener options, you could reduce the strain on the Earth
while simultaneously decreasing your exposure to toxic
ingredients.

Unfortunately, it can be surprisingly difficult to
determine which products are truly "green," versus those
that are merely labeled as such. Some of the labels that we
naturally look for when searching for green options include:

* Eco-safe
* Environmentally preferable
* Green
* Organic
* Pure
* Natural

Unfortunately, according to the Consumers Union, these
general claims are completely meaningless. First of all,
the manufacturer or marketer creates the label based on
what will sell best, but there isn't any independent
organization verifying that the label claim is accurate.
Secondly, there is a broad range of factors involved in
using terms like "organic" or "green," making them, in
fact, very loose terms of attribution. Finally, often a
very tiny amount of "natural" ingredients is mixed with
chemicals to produce many of the products that we believe
are safer for our bodies and the environment.

Toxic chemicals that are bad for the Earth as well as our
personal health are sold every day. This is because no
independent or government entity is assigned to testing all
the products that you can buy, whether at the drugstore or
a high-end department store counter. In other words, the
manufacturers can put whatever they want in their products
and nobody tests them for safety. That's right: while your
medications are tested by the FDA, your cosmetics are not.

One of the words we look for most on "green" products is
"organic," but in fact the term is not regulated on
personal care products as it is on food products. In other
words, for food, suppliers must be certified by the USDA
National Organic Program to label a product "organic," but
in personal care, that is not the case.

Here is the problem with what we have discovered so far:

1. You can't trust the label on the product to tell you
what it really contains

2. You can't trust the government to protect you by
restricting the claims made on labels

3. Most beauty products on the market contain toxic
chemicals that are harmful to our bodies and the Earth.

What can you do about this? Be more careful about which
products you buy. Although it is difficult to be completely
sure of a product's impact on the Earth and your body, you
can take a few simple steps to be safer.

1. Read all of the ingredients on the label. If you have
trouble pronouncing an ingredient, if ingredients are
grouped together, or there is anything else suspicious,
look the product up on the Internet to see if you can find
out more. If the label says that not all ingredients are
disclosed, it is a good idea to call the Company to
determine what is not listed. If nothing else, avoid the
biggest dangers commonly found in cosmetics:
antibacterials, coal-tar dyes, 1,4-dioxane (a contaminant
of "PEG," sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate and other -eth
ingredients), formaldehyde, fragrance, mercury,
nanoparticles, parabens and petroleum distillates.

2. Consider the packaging. The best option is glass,
though it can be cost-prohibitive based on shipping costs.
A good alternative are products packaged in Recyclable #1
or #2 plastics.

3. Look for logos: There are a few logos that you can be
fairly certain mean that the product you are buying meets
some green standards, including "USDA Certified Organic,"
and "Leaping Bunny," a logo designed by the Coalition for
Consumer Information on Cosmetics that indicates a
commitment to not testing on animals.


About the Author:

Virginia Ginsburg writes about sustainable products, green
living, and her quest for a socially-conscious lifestyle.
She is founder of Green Baby Gifts
(http://www.greenbabygiftsonline.com), which offers
beautifully-wrapped baby gifts made of bamboo fiber and
packaged in completely recycled and recyclable packaging.