Increasing numbers of women and men are trashing their conventional, chemical-laden cosmetics and personal care products in favor of more natural, organic varieties.
Sales of organic personal care items reached $350 million in 2007, increasing 24 percent from 2005. Sales among the top three natural personal care brands -- Burt’s Bees, Jason Natural Cosmetics and Tom’s of Maine -- brought in $155 million alone.
But are organic and natural cosmetics any better than the others? Maybe, and maybe not.
Cosmetics and their ingredients do not have to undergo any type of government approval before hitting store shelves, and the terms “natural” and “organic” have no definitions. In other words, when it comes to cosmetics labeling, it’s a free for all.
Some products may include a few organic ingredients, for instance, along with several chemical ones -- and still claim to be natural or organic on the label.
Reading labels carefully can be an effective way to sort out which products are truly natural. Researchers recommend watching out for, and avoiding, at least the following three ingredients in your cosmetics:
- Parabens, preservatives that have been linked to cancer
- Phthalates, chemicals used in fragrances that are harmful to your reproductive system
- Talc, which has been linked to ovarian cancer