Are all cosmetics really safe, natural and earth friendly? August 02 2015

As a people, we are collectively becoming more concerned about toxins in our earth and environment, the pollution spewed into our air and oceans. This is a good sign and very encouraging. 
 However turn on the TV, leaf through a magazine, even the contemporary "alternative" ones, and you will see more and more skin care companies are on the "natural" “safe” and "organic" bandwagon for cosmetics and personal and body care products. But how natural are they really ?

Before I go any further I must emphasize that I do love to beautify myself, and I am totally in awe of what a good jar of cream or a case of mineral blush can actually do for my skin and looks.

Fundamentally, cosmetics in one form or another have been around for over 5000 years – and will continue to be part of life. It is up to us, the consumer, to educate ourselves about what we use. An average of one fourth of every dollar we spend on cosmetics is spent for skin care products. By God – I for one want the most for my dollar!

While many companies are truly ethical in their approach, and give to the earth a bounty of goodness, a hundred others are driven only by the bottom line! It is imperative that we learn to understand what safe, natural and organic really means, especially in the world of 'powder and blush'!

Here is the top culprits you must look for and try to understand the constituents of, in all cosmetics: Adhesives, Emollients & Emulsifiers. Understanding some of these ingredients & most common synthetic (I would label dangerous) to watch out for:

  • Adhesives: Polybutene: Used in cosmetics as a plasticizer. Derived from petroleum. Also used for manufacturing common adhesives. In common industrial products this ingredient should carry a “cause to asphyxiate warning”. Not required to be so labeled in cosmetic use as currently defined.
  • Emollients and Emulsifiers:  Synthetic emollients are occlusive i.e. they coat the skin and do not allow it to respire (much like plastic wrap), which can cause skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients can accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are also mostly non-biodegradable, causing a negative environmental impact. All synthetic emollients are tested on helpless animals.

The best natural emollients are: water, aloevera, all seed and nut oils, fruit butters, fruit and vegetable juices, floral hydro-sols and an emulsion of fat in water.

Common Emulsifying Compounds found in cosmetics:
Glycearyl Stearate (glycerin & stearic acid), Ceteareth 20, Cetereath 12, Cetearyl , Alcohol (cetyl alcohol & stearyl alcohol), Cetyl Palmitate (cetyl alcohol & palmitic acid):please ensure that they do not appear in the top of your ingredient list – which shows that the particular product may contain more than recommended quantities.

Natural Emulsifiers are: all plant gums, waxes and butters, beeswax, clays and mud. Algae, Acacia, Carnauba, Candelilla, Tragacanth, Xanathum.

Make a pledge to yourself to continue to search out and wherever possible use natural alternatives to harmful chemicals.Try and look for organic or certified organic ingredients, and also support manufacturers who will continue to avoid using unnecessary synthetic chemicals in their products. If you don’t already use safe cosmetics, ask yourself if the company who makes your personal care products is as open about the ingredients they use. If you have any doubts about their ingredients, simply refrain from buying that product line!

It is ultimately the consumer who will force manufacturer's to run their companies with enlightened principles of leadership and responsiveness, fair-minded global policies and objectives, treating their employees and customers with a sense of pride & civic mindedness.