Green Your Beauty Routine

by Lauren Verini

We’re all becoming more educated and more aware of what we’re eating and putting into our bodies, but what about the makeup we’re putting on our faces? But let’s face it, as women, we love our beauty products and over the years become attached to certain things like our favorite shade of eye shadow or bright red lipstick.

The fact is there are toxic chemicals lurking in makeup, and whether we realize it or not a lot of these chemicals make their way off of our skin and into our bodies. The average woman absorbs on average up to five pounds of toxic chemicals per year from cosmetics, according to the Organic Consumers Association, and will eat nine pounds of lipstick over her lifetime, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. So while a small amount of toxic chemicals in our makeup may not seem like a huge deal, it adds up and has to potential to cause harm to our bodies.

On a daily basis, we expose thousands of chemicals to our bodies all before we even walk out the door, between washing our faces, showering, and applying our makeup. If you aren’t familiar with the ingredients in cosmetics, trying to decipher labels can be a bit confusing. There are a few basic ingredients you’ll want to avoid, the first of which is lead, which is commonly found in many of our favorite lipsticks. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics conducted a study in 2007 testing the top 33 most popular brands of lipsticks, and 61 percent of the lipsticks contained lead.

You’ll also want to avoid parabens, which are preservatives commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products to extend shelf life and prevent bacterial growth. Parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue and also have been linked to fertility issues. Other ingredients that are found in many personal care products are phthalates, which can cause reproductive and neurological damage, and any cosmetics with petroleum by-products, like petroleum jelly, which actually dry out skin.

The good news is that the demand for safe and non-toxic cosmetics is rising as more women are looking to go natural. According to a recent survey by the Freedonia Group of Chicago, the demand for natural products is rising 4.8% annually. As the demand for these products grows, more and more companies will start to provide natural, green and organic products that are safer for women. There is a good range of natural cosmetic lines available to women that feature natural ingredients like beeswax, which naturally nourishes and soothes skin, shea butter, honey, which has great antibacterial properties, Argan oil rich in vitamin E and Jojoba oil. These are truly natural ingredients that you want to see in your green beauty products.

The important thing to remember, like anything, is to do your homework and stay up to date on the list of toxic ingredients. And remember, just because a products says “natural” doesn’t mean it does not contain toxic ingredients. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to see an extensive list of ingredients in cosmetics that are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. The Campaign for Safe cosmetics is also a great resource to stay up to date on the latest information available on natural and safe beauty products.

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