The safe-for-you, save-the-environment beauty movement has taken the cosmetics aisle by storm. So what’s all the fuss about? Fans of Earth-friendly formulas think they’re safer because they contain fewer synthetic chemicals that cause health and environmental concerns. Skeptics say these amounts are too minimal to matter and this is just smart marketing at its best.
There’s a silver lining to this cloud of beauty banter. Natural and organic companies are popping up right here in the South, and these products are fun and equally effective. Your biggest challenge will be narrowing down the plethora of choices.
Learn the Lingo: Organic vs. Natural
“Organic” is anything that isn’t synthetic or man-made. The USDA seal appears on products that use at least 95% organic ingredients. Anything containing at least 70% organics says “made with organic ingredients.” Bottom line--organics are the safest way to feel confident in what you’re buying.
Natural products are trickier to navigate. Cosmetic companies call just about anything natural because the government doesn’t regulate use of this particular word. The best solution is to know what most experts agree we should avoid.
Here are a few ingredients in the hot seat now.
- Lead―Found within coloring agents of some lipsticks and hair dye.
- Mercury―Found within preservatives used in some mascaras and eye liners.
- Phthalates―A chemical used in fragrance to stabilize scent.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate―Used in soaps such as shampoo and hand wash.
Read Beyond the Labels
Don’t count on product packaging to clearly disclose ingredients. You’ll still have to do your beauty homework. Environmental Working Group’s Web site, www.cosmeticsdatabase.com, offers a comprehensive summary of ingredients of concern and has a database that gives safety ratings for specific products. Another tool is the FDA’s Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition Web site (www.cfsan.fda.gov).
Sensitive Skin Safety Tips
Keep in mind that natural and organic products aren’t for everyone. Botanicals--a primary ingredient in these lines--are a major allergen. Consult a dermatologist before trying these varieties.