How Green Is Your Beauty?

Cool Summer Skin

Parabens, SLS, PEG, DEA are scary in our shampoos, washes, and creams especially if you are concerned about the long term effect they have on your hair, skin, and the environment. The easiest way to avoid further damage is to opt for products that have natural ingredients are grown organically – minus the pesticide overdose – and sourced ethically so that environmental impact is low.

In fact, a recent issue in the US regarding the plastic microbeads in the face and body scrubs clogging the natural waterways highlights how lab created beauty actives and ingredients can harm the environment. Now the environmentalists are pushing for a ban on scrubs and exfoliants with plastic microbeads. Major beauty and personal care brands like Unilever, L’Oreal, P&G, Johnson&Johnson have now promised to cut the pollutants from their care products.

Non-organic beauty products consist of ingredients that have been synthesized in laboratories for a longer shelf life or to make them more bacteria resistant. But these ingredients, especially foaming and lathering agents take a long time to break down and are often not biodegradable; which directly impacts our water sources and soil. So going organic is any day better since they don’t pollute the environment, they are not tested on animals and they don’t have any side effects on skin.

What’s in organic beauty products?

Broadly the term ‘Organic’ refers to cultivation or animal husbandry without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers or feed. When used in the context of beauty products which are far more complex than foods or dairy products, it refers to cosmetics that are made from organic botanicals (herbs, oils etc.) and other complex ingredients which are of natural origin. These complex ingredients could be foaming agents, emulsifiers, fragrances etc. which are necessary to deliver the benefits of botanicals in a safe and convenient way.

A truly organic beauty product will not have artificial preservatives, and lab created emollients or surfectants. Both industry and skin care experts say that if you want only the purest of the pure then read the labels carefully and avoid products that lists ingredients like petrolatum, mineral oil, urea, parabens, phenoxy ethanol, silicones, DEA, TEA, SLS and SLES (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate).

A product can only be termed as organic when they follow certain standards of manufacturing and packaging. A product by just claiming to be organic is not really organic. Experts say that when picking up an organic beauty care product you have to look for certifications. The most relevant ones include ECOCERT, NPOP, Australian Certified Organic, BDIH, COSMOS Organic, NaTrue, Soil Association Organic Standard.

Finally what really differentiates a natural or organic product from a regular brand is the use by date of the product. A truly natural brand with natural preservatives or being preservative free will have a short shelf life of anywhere between three months to ten months. So when picking up an organic beauty product always check for the certification, the ingredient list and the use by date.

Moving to organic beauty

The good news is that women globally have become more aware of the benefits of using 100 percent natural or organic beauty care products. Many have realised the potential side effects of many artificial substances used in personal care items, such as parabens, petrochemicals and toxins. In fact, sometimes the artificial, lab created foaming agents, emollients, and shine boosters can have an adverse effect on our skin and hair, especially if one is prone to allergies or has sensitive skin.

With this growing awareness of the many women are taking a greener approach when it comes to beauty. According to a recent market study by research organisation Kantar World Panel, nearly 40 percent of women globally prefer beauty care products with natural and organic ingredients. Of the women globally, over 50 percent women in Asia prefer to use natural and organic products and find them more effective. They are looking for products that do not harm their skin, nor the environment or society; products that are all-natural or free from artificial additives.