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10 Tips on How to Choose Natural Cosmetics

Posted Jan 21 2010 8:45am

It may surprise you that the average adult is exposed to over 168 synthetic chemicals each day from cosmetic products. Many of these chemicals are known to be toxic and can cause serious health problems like cancer, infertility, birth defects, and skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea.

Choosing natural cosmetics are a great choice for both the environment and your skin.

1. Don’t Read Labels

Unlike the food industry, there are no laws for words like “natural” or “organic” on cosmetic labeling. Many products advertise as “all natural”, "organic" or “pure” in their name but still contain synthetic petrochemicals, toxins, and harsh preservatives.

2. Read Ingredients

The most common toxic ingredients you want to avoid are: Butyl Acetate, Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Coal Tar, Cocamide DEA/Lauramide DEA, Diazolidinyl Urea, Ethyl Acetate, Formaldehyde, Fragrance, Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl), Petrolatum (petroleum jelly), Phthalates, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Laureth/Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Talc, Toluene, Triethanolamine (TEA).

3. Choose Fragrance-Free Products

By-law companies don't have to disclose what ingredients are in “fragrance” but most often it contains hundreds of hazardous ingredients. Look for products that do not contain the word “fragrance” and instead use natural essential oils. Be aware that some products may say “un-scented” but still contain fragrance to cover up the other chemical scents.

4. Avoid Big Brand Names

There are thousands of companies that make cosmetic products, but generally it’s the larger “big brand names” who are most often guilty of mis-labeling products and using synthetic ingredients. Though this is not necessarily true of every product so always try to read the list of ingredients; however avoiding big brand name products is usually a good start.

5. Buy Only Cruelty-Free Products

Make sure that the products you buy clearly advertise that they have not been tested on animals. Look for the PETA “cruelty free” or leepingbunny.org logos on the packaging.

6. Look for Eco-Friendly Packaging

Choose products that come in recycled or recyclable packaging, such as paper boxes or glass bottles. If the product is in a plastic container check that the fine print so see if it’s BPA free.

7. Choose Mineral Makeup

Mineral makeup can usually be a safer alternative to traditional cosmetics. Look for mineral makeup without talc, nano-particles, petrochemicals, FD&C and lake dyes, carmine, mineral oil, and irritants like bismuth oxychloride.

8. Use Water-Based Nail Polish

Conventional nail polish and removers contain toxic chemicals like toluene and formaldehyde which are linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and other negative health effects. Try water-based nail polish and remover which are odor free and have a very low hazardous rating.

9. Use Fewer Products

A simpler routine will reduce the number of chemicals you are exposed to.

10. Use the Internet

My favorite website for researching cosmetics is Skin Deep (http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/) - you can search any ingredient or product and get a detailed profile of its health concerns.

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