Minimalist beauty swaps | Less waste series
Sign Up for OurHealthy LivingNewsletter
Thanks for signing up!You might also like these other newsletters:
If you eat organically and locally whenever possible, carpool to work, and recycle on a regular basis, you may think you're doing everything you can to protect the environment. But there may be one more area with room for improvement: your cosmetics and toiletries.
The Basics of Eco-Beauty
Reduce, reuse, and recycle are guidelines that hold true for beauty products too. The fewer products you use, and the more products or containers you can reuse, the less waste you'll produce.
Start by reducing the number of products you buy. Do you reach for a new bottle of shampoo when there's still enough for several washes at the bottom of the old one? Do you buy three shades of berry lip gloss when you only ever use one? Individual choices such as these may seem insignificant, but they can add up to make a big difference for the environment.
Next, consider packaging. Avoid products that come with too much packaging material, including faux syringes, individual tubes for daily use, and unnecessary plastic wrapping. A few brands known for minimal packaging are Mario Badescu, Stila Cosmetics, Smashbox Cosmetics, and Aveda.
Packaging in the future, says Stacy Malkan, author ofNot Just a Pretty Face(New Society Publishers, 2007) and spokesperson for Health Care Without Harm, a coalition of organizations that seek to reduce pollution in the healthcare industry, will follow Pangea Organics, a line of vegan personal care products. The company's packaging is made of 100 percent recycled paper, is folded in origami-style so it uses no glue, and contains seeds like sweet basil and amaranth that can actually be planted.
A Second Life
Try to come up with creative ways to reuse your cosmetics and toiletries. For example, if a conditioner left your hair too flat and you don't want to rinse with it again, use it as a makeshift shave gel for your legs. Old toothbrushes can be used to clean jewelry or tile.
Containers themselves can also sometimes be reused. Many cosmetic companies sell refillable compacts and other containers, including Mary Kay, Laura Mercier and Prescriptives. Even if a product can't be reused for its original purpose, sometimes it can fill a need elsewhere: Shampoo bottles, for instance, can turn into bathtub toys for kids or can be used to hold paint.
Support Companies That Recycle
As of 2008, only a few beauty product companies, including MAC and Aveda, offer recycling of their used containers. However, many more use recycled glass and aluminum as packaging and produce containers that can easily be recycled. For example, Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins products come in a box that was manufactured using wind power, and lids on the Clinique skin-care treatment line are made with 80 percent recycled aluminum.
It's What's Inside That Counts
The next step is to start taking a closer look at the ingredients in the products you buy. Chemicals like formaldehyde and ammonia, and preservatives like parabens lurk in many common cosmetics and toiletries. These substances pose a potential threat not only to your own health but possibly to that of the environment.
But there is good news: The Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and many states are setting new standards for biological and environmental hazards in personal care products. In addition, many companies are taking the initiative and producing less harmful formulations, using organic, natural, and fair-trade ingredients.
Chances are you've read that mineral makeup is a less irritating option for your skin. What you may not know is that mineral makeup is better for the environment, too. Brands such as Jane Iredale and Bare Escentuals have full lines of mineral makeup, which contains micronized minerals and is made without fillers, binders, chemical dyes, or preservatives.
More and more cosmetics and body products are being labeled "organic," but consumers need to be cautious, because there is currently no regulation or criteria for such labeling. A safer option is to look for ingredients that have been certified as organic by the French certifying organization Ecocert.
Recently, the Whole Foods Market chain became the first major retailer in the United States to create a private standard for natural personal care products. The new Premium Body Care seal will appear on products that are free of synthetic fragrance and some 250 commonly used synthetic chemicals, including parabens.
Burt's Bees is teaming up with the Natural Products Association and launching the Natural Seal in summer 2008. The seal will appear only on products that contain at least 95 percent natural ingredients. Currently, there is no standard for a "natural" product.
In addition, some body products now have ingredients that are Fair Trade Certified, which means that a specific ingredient or ingredients were produced in a socially, economically, and environmentally sound way. A new line of products from Kiehl's, for example, features certified organic argan oil from a cooperative in Morocco.
Many spas are moving toward environmental awareness. The Green Spa Network, founded in 2005, now counts 11 voluntary member spas. The group's goals are to reduce energy and water use; promote recycling and the use of products like paints, flooring, and adhesives that contain low levels of volatile organic compounds; and increase overall environmental awareness in the United States. Find a member spa online at: www.greenspanetwork.org
At the Doctor's Office
Looking to plump your lips or fill in lines? Opt for hyaluronic acid filler (Restylane, Juvaderm) rather than a bovine filler (collagen). Because they are synthetic and not derived from animals, hyaluronic acid fillers are gentler on the environment, says Neil Sadick, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. They're also better for patients because they're less likely to cause . And good news for Botox fans: The treatment itself has not been shown to cause any harm to the environment, though the needles, as with any used in medical treatment, cannot be recycled.
Many people still believe that the use of aerosol hair spray puts holes in the ozone layer. In reality, chlorofluorocarbons, which do destroy the ozone layer, were banned from hair sprays and other aerosols by the United States in 1978. In addition, since 1999, most major hair spray brands have been reformulated so that they contain a smaller percentage of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which increase smog, to meet tighter standards introduced by the California Air and Resource Board. Although these tougher standards are currently enforced only in California, most national brands offer the same product across the country — so even if you live in Nebraska, your hair spray is probably less harmful today than it was ten years ago.
Parabens, a group of chemicals used as preservatives in many shampoos, pose a threat to the endocrine system. A study published in theJournal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacologyfound that prolonged exposure to parabens can increase estrogen in the body, which can elevate a woman's breast cancer risk. When rinsed down the drain, parabens can also be hazardous to the water supply and aquatic life. Natural and organic brands such as Burt's Bees, Aubrey Organics, and Ole Henriksen offer paraben-free formulas. Another way you can minimize harm is to wash your hair every other day instead of every day. You'll save water too.
A majority of commercial hair dye products contain chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and phenylenediamine — all of which can add to water pollution when washed down the drain. If you're not ready to go gray just yet or are simply attached to your color-treated locks, opt for an alternative such as a vegetable dye. Aubrey Organics, sold at Whole Foods and other stores that sell natural products, offers an at-home vegetable dye. Do be warned though: Vegetable dyes aren't as strong as chemical dyes, so you won't get the same results. A salon option is Aveda's Professional Hair Color dye, which is 97 to 99 percent vegetable-derived and stronger than at-home dyes. To find a salon near you, log onto: http://www.aveda.com/templates/door/locator.tmpl?ngextredir=1
Hair Straightening Products
Salon hair straightening relies heavily on formaldehyde, which is rinsed off into the water supply and has been found in drinking water around the globe, according to the World Health Organization. Ingested formaldehyde has been shown to increase stomach irritation in rats and affect their sperm quality. It's best to avoid this treatment until new alternatives are developed.
Examine your home beauty products for those that list "fragrance" as an ingredient — this term is loosely applied to any number of substances, including phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals that have been found in our nation's lakes and waterways and that affect the health of fish. Phthalates are also found in most antibacterial products, including soaps, gels, and lotions. With the health of the environment in mind, it's best to use fragrance-free and non-antibacterial products, even though they may seem to be a "healthier" choice.
Video: World's most Eco-Friendly Beauty products & Brands
Falafel Salad with Turmeric Houmous Recipe
You Wont Skip Your Run Again With These Running Jackets
8 Things That Go Through Every Bride’s Head When Shopping For A Wedding Dress
The 13 Most Inspiring Malala Quotes To Live By
5 Tips For Breaking Up With Your Therapist
How to Text Back Your Ex
How to Grill a Perfect Steak
How to Be a Popular Guy
Poliovirus Vaccine, Inactivated Reviews