We all want to do our part to help save the planet. After all, we only have one earth. So we try to keep our carbon footprint small. We try to reuse products instead of buying new ones. We recycle. We try to buy eco-friendly “green” products across the board – even down to our beauty products. We have heard the reports that on average our skin may absorb up to 60% of more than 200 chemicals we are exposed to every day. And we have responded to our purchasing. From lipstick in recyclable packaging to locally manufactured natural cleansers, the natural beauty market has mushroomed (organically, of course) in recent years.
But how do we really know if what we’re buying is making a difference? And even closer to home, how do you know that what you buy is truly organic or natural? Here are some tips to help you read labels more effectively in your attempt to go green in your beauty regimen.
What to avoid
Since there are currently no hard and fast government standards for natural beauty products, words like “organic” and “natural” can mean almost anything. Some companies can get away with using them because they do include small amounts of natural or organic ingredients in addition to the other harsh industrial compounds that were always there. In most cases, those terms do not mean that the only ingredients are natural, just that some are.
It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid labels where it is difficult to pronounce the majority of the ingredients.
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In particular, steer clear of products that include petroleum-based chemicals, parabens, and synthetic preservatives. Most natural beauty product manufacturers avoid these compounds anyway but always read the label to be sure.
Another common-sense approach to this dilemma is to pay attention to the packaging. When it comes to packaging materials, it is easy to see which companies are committed to the green agenda and which ones aren’t. Of course, judging a product by its bottle is not a replacement for a careful reading of the label, it can be a good way to narrow the field. Look for recycled or recyclable packaging and companies who don’t use extraneous packaging (like boxes for lipsticks or disposable plastic cases). Also, beware of huge manufacturers who may simply slap an organic label on an existing product as a marketing ploy.
What to look for
If your goal is to do your part to save the planet (and your skin) from the effects of harsh chemicals and non-eco-friendly manufacturing processes, then do some research before you buy. You can learn a lot from a website. If the company whose product you are thinking about buying has made a true commitment to being eco-friendly, it will be reflected in their overall company image and you won’t have to dig too deep to find it. Typically, the companies who are on concerned with the environment make a big deal about it – not simply to attract business, but also to help educate consumers.
Some ingredients to look for are herbs like fennel, ginger, and rosemary. Also look for products that include essential oils and honey as well as words like “wild-harvested” or “biodynamic.” Wild harvested ingredients aren’t grown on farms but are harvested right from the source: Mother Nature, while biodynamic growing is a more holistic approach to organic farming.
If going green in your beauty regimen is important to you, some preliminary research and careful reading of product labels can help put you on the right path.