3 smart shopping tips for eco-friendly cosmetics

June 23, 2015

Many cosmetics and personal care products contain petroleum derivatives, preservatives, synthetic fragrances and other potentially harmful chemicals. When the seasons change and you're looking for an updated product, why not try these tips to shop for cosmetics that are easier on the earth.

3 smart shopping tips for eco-friendly cosmetics

1. Look for friendly ingredients

When shopping for cosmetics, keep an eye out for these natural ingredients, which are easy on your skin and on the earth.

  • Aloe vera: Gentle, healing and anti-inflammatory.
  • Ginseng: Has regenerative and stimulating properties.
  • Glycerine (vegetable): A thick plant-derived liquid that acts as a rich moisturizer.
  • Horsetail astringent: A herb used to strengthen hair and stimulate healthy growth.
  • Lavender: Soothing and anti-inflammatory; widely used to treat burns.
  • Lecithin: Soya bean extract that nourishes and hydrates skin.
  • Lemongrass: A toning and mildly astringent herb; used in preparations for acne.
  • Neem: Leaves from this tree can be used to treat dermatitis and eczema.
  • Oats: Used to soften water, reduce redness, and relieve itching and inflammation.
  • Vitamins E and C: Both are antioxidants that help skin counter damage from the sun and other environmental hazards. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen and elastin production and has some mild bleaching properties.

2. Make earth-wise choices

The options are almost endless when it comes to cosmetics and personal care products. Here are some suggestions for ways that you make eco-friendly choices.

  • Shop for toiletries in health food shops rather than supermarkets.
  • Consider using beeswax-based cosmetics, such as skin creams, lip salves, eyebrow pencils, lipsticks and stick eye-shadows.
  • Long chemical names in ingredient lists aren't necessarily an indication of something toxic. Consider doing some online research so that you can make an informed decision.
  • Buy pump spray, roll-on or stick products rather than aerosols, which contain greenhouse gases.
  • Look for cruelty-free, organic and plant-based products.
  • Many items labelled "cruelty- free" or "not tested on animals" may still contain ingredients that have been tested on animals. Examples include collagen, glycerine, keratin and lanolin.
  • Avoid cosmetics and toiletries whose ingredients include the terms "fluoro-" or "perfluoro-" as these indicate the presence of PFCs, or perfluorochemicals. PFCs persist in the environment and have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage.
  • Cosmetics may contain penetration enhancers such as PEG and TEA, which sensitize the skin and allow chemicals to enter the body. TEA (triethanolamine) can form carcinogenic compounds.
  • Look for the most natural options with the least added fragrance, preferably preserved with vitamins A, C or E. Use the internet to check your favourite brand or to find a better one.

3. Choose better skincare products

Not all skincare products are equal. Use the tips below to make smart choices.

  • Look for moisturizers, body lotions and hand creams that are fragrance-free (or scented with essential oils) and contain no artificial colours.
  • Try to avoid paraben preservatives, which are commonly included in skincare products. Instead, look for safer products that use vitamins A, C and E as preservatives.
  • Seek out skincare products that are based on vegetable oil. Better still, consider making your own creams.

By ensuring that you are well informed about your options, you'll be in a better position to make eco-friendly decisions when shopping for cosmetics and personal care products.

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