Natural Cosmetics

10 Tips on How to Choose Natural Cosmetics

January 21st, 2010  |  Gramology  |  Green is the New Pink

It may surprise you that the average adult is exposed to over 168 synthetic chemicals each day from cosmetic products. Many of these chemicals are suspected or known to be toxic and may cause serious health problems like cancer, infertility, birth defects, and skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea.

Choosing natural cosmetics are a great choice for both the environment and your skin.

1. Don’t Read Labels

Unlike the food industry, there are no laws for words like “natural”, “organic”, “herbal” on beauty product labels. Many products advertise with these in their name but may still contain synthetic petrochemicals, toxins, and harsh preservatives. Don’t trust labels, they’re just marketing gimmicks.

2. Read Ingredients

What ingredients are in a product is the most important thing to look at. It’s impossible to memorize all the hazardous ingredients to avoid but as a rule of thumb – if you can’t pronounce it; it may be toxic. Take for example: METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE, it’s used as a preservative in many personal care products, is difficult to pronounce (and spell), and is known to be hazardous.

The most common toxic ingredients in skincare products you may want to avoid are:

  • Butyl Acetate,
  • Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Coal Tar
  • Cocamide DEA/Lauramide DEA
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Ethyl Acetate
  • Formaldehyde
  • Fragrance
  • Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl)
  • Petrolatum (petroleum jelly)
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Sodium Laureth/Sodium Laurel Sulfate
  • Talc
  • Toluene
  • Triethanolamine (TEA)

3. Choose Fragrance-Free Products

Fragrance is found in many products like shampoos, deodorants, lotions, and shaving creams. By-law companies don’t have to disclose what ingredients are in “fragrance”. But most often fragrance contains hundreds of potentially hazardous ingredients which may be toxic to the brain and can cause immune system damage. Look for products that do not contain the word “fragrance”, instead choose products that use natural essential oils. Be aware that some products may say “un-scented” but still contain fragrance to cover up the other chemical scents.

4. Avoid Big Brand Names

Assorted cosmetics and tools
Assorted cosmetics and tools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are thousands of companies that make cosmetic products, but generally it’s the larger “big brand names” that are most often guilty of mislabeling products and using synthetic ingredients. Though this is not necessarily true of every product so always try to read the list of ingredients; however avoiding big brand name products is usually a good start.

5. Buy Only Cruelty-Free Products

Make sure that the products you buy clearly advertise that they have not been tested on animals. Look for the PETA “cruelty free” or logos on the packaging.

6. Look for Eco-Friendly Packaging

Choose products that come in recycled or recyclable packaging, such as paper boxes or glass bottles. If the product is in a plastic container check that the fine print so see if it’s BPA free.

7. Choose Mineral Makeup

Mineral makeup can usually be a safer alternative to traditional cosmetics. Look for mineral makeup without talc, nano-particles, petrochemicals, FD&C and lake dyes, carmine, mineral oil, and irritants like bismuth oxychloride.

8. Use Water-Based Nail Polish

Conventional nail polish and removers contain toxic chemicals like toluene and formaldehyde which are linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and other negative health effects. Try water-based nail polish and remover which are odor free and have a very low hazardous rating.

9. Use Fewer Products

A simpler routine will reduce the number of chemicals you are exposed to.

10. Use the Internet

The best website for researching cosmetics is The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database – you can search by ingredient or product and get a detailed profile of health concern and referenced medical studies. You can also view lists of alternative non-toxic beauty products as well.




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From a Yellow Canary of the 21st century, living in our disabling biosphere

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