Consumers are demanding safe cosmetics, according to the report made by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Despite economic downturn, safer alternatives have become the fastest growing sector in the cosmetics market between 2004 and 2011. At the end of the six-year campaign, 432 cosmetic companies either rid their products of harmful chemicals, fully disclosed the ingredients, or made significant progress towards safer products.
In 2011, the Cosmetics Organic Standard was established globally. When you see a product with the soil association logo, you can ensure that at least 95% of the ingredients, excluding water, are organic.
We’ve come far to eliminate what’s bad for us and the environment, producing healthier and safer options – but the world of billion-dollar business isn’t that straightforward.
Ask yourself if your ‘Natural’ and ‘Organic’ skincare products are really being truly faithful to what you expect. As discussed in the book, Beauty Confidential – Build Happiness, Health and Beauty with Homemade Skincare Products and Home Spa, greenwashing is a technique which has been widely used by big businesses and still today.
With the way cosmetic products are regulated, there are some products that claim natural and even organic, with majority or worse all of ingredients been synthetic origin. Judging the safety of the products with packaging can aid in this deceit. So how can we avoid being betrayed by greenwashing and protect ourselves?
1. Know the mind of big businesses
No sales means no business – and what sells is a whole different story from being ‘safe’, ‘sustainable’ and even ‘effective’. Marketing (including social media campaigns) and packaging are where the most expenses are spent. Fancy bottles and celebrity endorsements are a red flag.
2. Avoid these usual suspects
The first and easiest thing to do is to skim through the ingredients. If any of the following appear on the list, please do yourself a favor and avoid them.
Fragrance / perfume
Fragrance can be found in lotions, creams, cleanser, and serums, etc. When a product smells good, it will typically sell better. The problem with synthetic fragrance or perfume is that it alone can contain many different types of chemicals. Therefore, it may be only one ingredient on the list, but it could be loaded with chemicals. Most manufactures prefer to use synthetic ingredients opposed to essential oils because they are far more stable and inexpensive. That means that the scent you love in your favorite night cream might have been created in a lab using various chemicals.
When mixing materials that weigh differently, solublizer is used. For example, water and oil in makeup remover or particles that are incorporated into physical exfoliators. Although many of these emulsifiers begin as harmless ingredients, they are frequently treated with chemicals to make them more effective. However, these chemicals then make their way into your skincare, your skin, and your body.
Surfactant is used for better penetration of the ingredients into the skin. This irony of ‘what makes the product effective maybe harmful’ is seen in many other synthetic chemicals in cosmetics. Watch out for surfactant even derived from coconut oil or camellia oil and synthetic alcohol.
Preservatives are designed to kill bacteria, yeast and mould, and ultimately the cells. That is why they are effective, and at the same time, potentially hazardous – they don’t discriminate between good human cells and bad microbial cells. You can be sure almost all commercial products use preservatives, though low percentage.
There are easy and inexpensive natural materials to replace some of these chemicals. Seeds, nuts, essential oils, and oils used in jojo-moka recipes are full of that vibratory energy that constitutes life.
3. Read the labels and between the lines
Cosmetic ingredients, unlike food ingredients, are indicated using INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients). These include waxes, oils, herbs, and chemicals.
Indeed, trying to understand what makes up any personal care products by reading the list of INCI names printed at the back of the bottles may be meaningless to anyone without a pharmacology degree as Dr. Samuel Epstein, co-author of The Safe Shopper’s Bible and head of the Cancer Prevention Coalition once cited.
Do not be despaired with this. I still use the principle of ‘what you can’t pronounce is all dangerous’ approach and ‘less ingredients are less harm to my health and my environment’ approach.
Now, don’t you agree with me that homemade skincare products maybe the only way to stay safe and ethical? Join me today!