How to make better beauty choices: for you and the planet

A mystifying variety of multi-syllabic chemicals has certainly been found by someone who has ever looked at a lotion or shampoo bottle. They’re safe enough to put on our bodies, we believe, but how much do we know about the ingredients we slather on every day?

Anything from lipstick to shampoo, lotion and sunscreen is essentially self-regulated in the cosmetics and personal care industry. The industry has had only nine chemicals banned from use since it first came under FDA regulation in the 1930s. Today, over 12,000 chemicals are approved for use.

For years, consumer health advocates and some scientists have cautioned that at least some of them are dangerous. And they try to link the dots between these products that are intimately used and some troubling and unexplained trends in diseases, particularly in women.

How your everyday beauty products might be harming you?

In beauty goods, documented or suspected carcinogens such as formaldehyde-found in some keratin hair treatments, body soap and nail polish-and coal tar-found in some hair dyes and shampoo-are of great concern. There are heavy metals, such as lead used in lipsticks and clay-based goods, and chemicals such as parabens and phthalates, among others, which are endocrine-disrupting. Toxic PFAS chemicals used in flame retardants and Teflon have also been discovered by EWG in some cosmetics.

It was found that women had a higher body burden of certain chemicals found in cosmetics, including parabens and phthalates. Both are endocrine-disrupting compounds, which imitate human hormones. They may have effects at very small levels of unique interest to researchers and have been related to various health problems. TEDx has described over 200 potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals which are currently in use in cosmetics and personal care products.

You may potentially be more likely than if you were to consume them (where enzymes would break them down) to absorb harmful chemicals directly into your bloodstream through your skin.

For several of these controversial additives, the FDA believes that the quantity of products is not large enough to potentially do any harm, but you can never be too secure with breast cancer rates higher than ever.

How your everyday beauty products harm the environment?

The cosmetics industry, sadly infamous for its detrimental effect on the environment, leads to waste and drains natural resources in different ways, exasperating the issue with our daily behavior as customers.

Zero Waste estimates that the global cosmetics industry produces over 120 billion units of packaging per year, much of which is not recyclable. The majority of beauty goods come wrapped in plastic, which can take almost 1,000 years to decompose when talking about your typical moisturizer pot. Then there are plastic wrappings, paper inserts, sleeves of cardboard, rubber, mirrored glass and more, all of which are often included with one purchase.

It is surprising to absorb that every year eight million tonnes of plastic (not necessarily from cosmetics, of course) are poured into our oceans, contamination that is disastrous for marine life and contaminating our diets.

However, the problem with the beauty industry is not just plastic, but also the enormous waste of water. As the most used ingredient in the industry, there are concerns that water demand could outstrip supply. While some brands react by formulating with richer ingredients and less water, there is also a trend of ‘cleansing reduction’ involving less showering and bathing.

This leads to the most important question:

What to do to make a positive change?

This is where clean beauty comes in. Anything safe for the people and planet can be regarded as clean. Clean beauty means that a beauty product should have taken human and environmental health into account, using a non-toxic element as a basis for active results and plant-based ingredients. It delivers all the vitamins and antioxidants needed for healthy and glowing skin and hair.

The two most important points for a product to be Clean are:

  1. Ingredients that are non-toxic

Clean beauty, at its heart, ensures you can use a product without compromising your wellbeing. Only healthy, non-toxic ingredients must be on the ingredients list. Clinique products boast being free from parabens, phthalates and fragrance. They avoid using allergens, irritants and ingredients in ways that could potentially harm the skin. And they continuously keep involving their products with ingredient research.

  • Transparent markings

They are on the right road to clean beauty when a beauty company makes an effort to list all of their ingredients and mark them accordingly. minimalist is a skincare brand which lays its emphasis on transparency by showing active concentration used and by sharing ingredient trade name & supplier. Their products target the most common skin issues ranging from acne marks to sunspots in a highly effective and affordable way.

Not all labels, however, are translucent. The scent in beauty products is a prime example of the lack of accountability in the beauty industry. The fragrance is not an ingredient, but under the umbrella term ‘fragrance,’ businesses can conceal ingredients because the industry is highly unregulated.

There are no secret ingredients in Clean Beauty Plain, and clean beauty doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

How is Clean Beauty beneficial for the environment?

For our ecosystem and other animal species, substances that are not safe for humans are usually not good either. The chemicals we use on our skin and hair flow down the drain into our wastewater system when we shower or bathe, and join the water supply. They move deeper into our environment and contaminate our soil, our climate, our food supply, and other animals as we transfer polluted ingredients on to our water supply. In our climate and the food chain, this can cause disturbances.

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Since clean beauty products use non-toxic ingredients, it significantly reduces its negative impact on the environment. Both your body and the environment are saved from the harsh effects of the chemicals.

Clean beauty doesn’t use micro beads – a key pollutant that affects marine life in the ocean. Micro beads are tiny plastic pieces (usually used in scrubs or toothpaste) which make their way into the ocean when washed down the plughole and affect the lives and habitats of many sea creatures. Clean beauty products typically substitute sugar or sea salt for this harmful ingredient, which does the same job of exfoliating but retains the potential to breakdown over time.

Better still, pure beauty prefers to use organic and recyclable packaging and ingredients that are sustainably and ethically sourced. This means that not only are you doing yourself a favor, but also the world in which you work.

Author: Ananya Singh