“One must suffer to be beautiful.” This is one of those little sentences that you use when you are trying to brush the tangles out of your hair. But to what extent must we suffer? And… is the planet supposed to suffer too? Oddly enough we don’t use this sentence as much when it deals with applying our usual and apparently “innocent” cosmetics on our skin. Perhaps it’s because we are not aware of the potential damages they can cause.
The purpose of this article is not to list the harmful components present in some of the cosmetics that we can buy in every supermarket but to raise awareness about this not-so-well-known issue. To avoid using products that are damaging to your health, be informed! Indeed, it is important to note that the US Food and Drug Administration’s “legal authority over cosmetics is different from other products regulated by the agency, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives.” Moreover ,“manufacturers are not required to register their cosmetic establishments, file data on ingredients, or report cosmetic-related injuries to FDA.” Those two points aim at underlining the potential danger that cosmetics can represent since regulations are really limited (even if, of course, a list of prohibited components exists but it is restricted to very few of them).
Some European countries have certifications for cosmetics and personal care products– some examples include Germany’s BDIH certification and France’s Ecocert Cosmebio label. However, in the US, no real “eco-label” exists. Consequently, there is no authority to assure products’ safety. So, when you look at brands presenting themselves as “bio” or “fair” or “eco”, you need to know what they mean by those terms (nobody is there to check for you). If you order your products on the internet, take a look at their philosophy and, if they list ingredients, what those ingredients are; if you buy them in specialized shops, don’t be shy about asking for information. Also, check out Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s guide to cosmetics and personal care product labeling.
When choosing a product, make sure that is does not include petrochemical products, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or animal raw materials. In addition, check that it has been produced through eco-friendly transformation processes (with a restricted use of synthesis components as well as colorants and perfume). Just as important is the company’s social and environmental impact. Here are some basic questions to ask when choosing a product:
- What are the working conditions of people producing the cosmetics? Is the company ethical? Does the company provide accessible information about their suppliers and how it treats its employees?
- How are products tested? Are they tested on animals? Choose “cruelty-free products”
- What is the company’s sustainability policy? Are the ingredients used eco-friendly? Is the packaging made from recycled materials and recyclable? Is it kept to a minimum?
Let’s Shop Together!
Remember: It is always preferable to buy products that are locally produced or manufactured. If you decide to shop online, think about transportation and its cost in terms of carbon footprint. Hence, when you order some products, try to buy more of them once (instead of reordering the same cosmetics) three or four times a year.
Your Lips: What’s about the Body Shop “Lip Gloss Bloom” ? This gloss is a fair and supporting-community-trade product. Body Shop works with Eudafano Women’s Cooperative based in Namibia. This permits to more than 500 women in rural communities “who have very few opportunities to earn money” to “benefit from fair trade”.
Your Hands: It’s cold out these days, take care of your hands with Lush (Fresh Handmade Cosmetics). Lush products don’t contain petroleum oil and the moisturizing ingredients come from plant.
Your Cheeks: Check out Aveda’s Petal Essence Cheek Color . This is a talc and mineral oil-free products packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled clamshell and paper sleeve.
Your Lashes: Take a look at this Natural Mascara by Earths Beauty. This “mascara with organic beeswax builds thick, luscious lashes without lab-created chemicals!”.
Your Face: A Daily Face Cleanser by GrateFulBody only made of botanicals (no synthetics). All is biologically and environmentally sustainable in that product!
Take care of yourself, take care of the planet too !