The demand for eco-friendly and responsible products have never been so strong. Embracing a greener lifestyle isn’t just about protecting the environment; it can also mean improving your health and your overall quality of life.
It is also about how to live more sustainably, to preserve the limited resources that we have and putting a value on the ecosystems that nature provides. We also want to understand that the products we choose to consume are produced in a sustainable manner.
All that and we can save our animals too. So many animals and insects are becoming threatened and facing extinction because of our habits.
Know what you are putting on your skin.
We all love pampering ourselves, but have you ever thought of the impact your favourite moisturiser or your scented scrub could have on the environment? Skin care companies make claims that if you use their product you will have glowing supple skin....
...with their promises many common skincare products contain suspect ingredients which can be detrimental to your health. Animal testing, toxic chemicals, nanoparticles, plastic pollution, synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals are some of the darker sides of the beauty industry.
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Also all these ingredients also lead to environmental contamination, the unethical treatment of animals and their habitats and unsustainable practises that all contribute to climate change.
So here's what you need to watch for and the 15 beauty brands you need to give up:
(Note: I have looked at the latest ingredient labels and sourced the latest information on the brands' websites as part of my research for this article so is deemed current at the time of writing).
Choose petroleum–free products.
Mineral oil and petroleum are the basic ingredients in many cosmetics today. They have the same origins in fossil fuels. Cosmetics such as foundations, cleansers and moisturisers contain mineral oils. One of the most obvious products using petroleum is lip balm and lip gloss.
The Lucas Pawpaw ointment, the beloved ‘cult’ Aussie product contains mostly petroleum jelly and only uses 4% paw paw.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
Another derivative of petroleum. Used as a moisturiser, skin conditioning agent, a carrier for fragrance oils (air fresheners such as Glade), a solvent and a degreasing agent. It is found in products such as anti-freeze and brake fluid. It does have a moderate hazard rating on the environmental database, but does have concerns regarding cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and more.
The one popular product found on our supermarket shelves is the Garnier Skin Naturals BB Cream with propylene Glycol, (the first ingredient on the label), talc, phenoxyethanol (an irritating preservative) and parabens being in their ingredient listing.
Aerosol fragrance sprays like Lynx Deodorant Body Spray and Impulse Perfume Spray are just alcohol, water, PG, and flammable propellants like butane, isobutane and propane and synthetic fragrance.
There is an undisclosed mixture of various scent (perfume) chemicals and dispersants labelled ‘Fragrance’ or ‘parfum’. So what is a typical fragrance actually made of?
Some common offenders include: Parabens, phthalates and synthetic musks.
Many of us also have a chemical sensitivity to fragrance. Fragrance is found in many of your personal care products including haircare, body wash, mascara and lipstick. Fragrances oils are made from petrochemicals, benzene derivative and aldehydes. Fragrance oils also are unable to duplicate the benefits of real essential oils. Fragrance oils are in soaps, scented candles, reed diffusers and air fresheners.
The one product to avoid is the Mor Nectar Hand and Body Lotion with paraffin, mineral oil,’parfum’, dimethicone (a silicon) and lanolin (a animal by product).
Plastic micro beads are minute pieces of plastic that are used as exfoliating agents found in personal care products such as body and facial scrubs, body wash and toothpaste. These tiny plastic beads enter our environment by being washed down the bathroom drains. Being too small to be filtered by sewerage systems, these travel into our oceans, rivers and lakes. They are then ingested by marine life that can be mistaken for a meal.
The other factor that is relevant to us is that micro plastics have been shown to bio-accumulate in species that we regularly consume including oysters and fish. The ingredient name to look for is polyethylene or polypropylene. One main offender is the Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Scrub with water as being the first ingredient, SLS, Fragrance and yes polyethylene.
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Surfactants and detergents in hair care.
Hair, like the skin, is extremely absorbent and we use many products: shampoo, conditioner, wax, gel, and hair spray. Watch out for hair dyes, dandruff and psoriasis shampoos with carcinogenic coal tar. Hair products also contain petroleum derivatives, formaldehydes, phthalates and synthetic fragrance.
The two ingredients that pretty are commonly known are Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS). SLS is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products, including toothpaste, body wash, cleansers and liquid hand soaps.
Although SLS originates from coconuts, the chemical is anything but natural. The real problem with SLES/SLS is the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in SLES/SLS being contaminated with 1, 4 dioxone a carcinogenic by-product.Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment Click To Tweet
Now finding products that contain these two nasties was pretty easy. So many product brands to choose from: Garnier Fructose Fortifying Shampoo, Head & Shoulders, Organix.
The Schwarzkopf Extra Care Ultimate Repair Shampoo not only has SLS but also other nasties like PEG’s parfum, PG and parabens. Pantene Ultimat 10 Shampoo also with SLS/SLES, dimethicone, fragrance and polyquartermum-6.
Animal testing and animal by-products.
So many animals and all manner of living creatures are becoming threatened because of our habits. Even if you are not vegan you would agree that testing cosmetics on animals is unnecessary and unethical. Thousands of animals worldwide still suffer in the name of beauty, despite the growing number of alternative methods for evaluating product safety.
The other area of concern is animal habitats; the biggest one is regarding the use of Palm oil, threatening the lives of the orang-utan and the tiger. We encourage you to choose palm oil free products or choose brands that source palm oil from sustainable sources. Also our pollinators are also having a hard time, choose products that have ingredients that are sourced from organic and biodynamic farming methods without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers
Many big name products still test on animals such as Dove, Mac, Revlon, Maybelline, and Lancome.
Don't forget to purchase makeup brushes that do not use animal hair.
Conclusion: It is fortunate that things are changing and the trend to go green is gaining momentum. We are seeing each day that more cosmetic companies and beauty brands are trying to reduce their impact on the environment and create healthier products.
And that is good!
Now let's see if the ones on this list make the change...!
Environmental working group (EWG) – www.ewg.org
The Chemical Maze - 4th Edition Bill Statham
John Mercola – www.mercola.com
5 Gyres – www.5gyres.org
Brands and suppliers Choice – www.choice.com.au
Australian Certified Organics – aco.net.au
Core centre for organic research and education – www.core.asn.au
Orangutans - www.orangutan.org.au
Save the bees - www.saveourbees.com.au