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The Rise of Organic Makeup

January 22, 2008
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:
Many of you reading this probably realized long ago that the majority of personal care products sold in the United States are actually chemical cocktails that have no business being on your skin, hair or nails. 

What you may not know is that some products that claim to be “organic” or “natural” may not be any better. I find this disturbing, don’t you?

Take a look under your bathroom sink or wherever you keep your toiletries. Now think about this: none of those products had to undergo any type of testing before they reached you. The companies that make the products are pretty much left to police themselves, and the end results are products that use the cheapest materials possible, at any cost to your health. Do you trust the marketing claims of these “natural” products?

For instance, Alba Body Lotion, a "natural" body product, contains ingredients such as octyl methoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3, and methyl/propylparaben. The EPA has linked methyl parabens to metabolic, developmental, hormonal, and neurological disorders, as well as various cancers.

Here is a list of chemicals that are common in personal care products from shampoo and lotions to mascara and perfumes:
So when you slather on lotion, apply lipstick or lather up your hair with shampoo, what do you think happens to the chemicals in the products? They get absorbed directly into your body. It is well-proven that when you apply these chemicals to your skin, they enter your bloodstream and become integrated into your body tissues, In fact, it is probably safer to eat these ingredients than to rub them on your skin (although I strongly recommend you don’t do either!).

If You Wouldn’t Eat it, Don’t Put it on Your Body

Would you take a taste of your mascara or shaving cream? Probably not. However, if you do happen to eat these chemicals, your digestive system can produce specific enzymes to break down these toxins and excrete them … something that doesn’t readily occur when you absorb them through your skin.

In general, you need to seek out personal care products that are so pure you could actually eat them. Coconut oil is a great example here, as it makes a great moisturizer that you can also eat. Olive oil is another one that you can use to deep condition your hair.

Additionally, I am proud to report that my team has been researching this topic extensively and we are getting very close to launching one of the best, most pure skin care product lines out there. It is truly effective, has absolutely no synthetic ingredients, and is packaged in brown glass bottles. 

Until then, I suggest you scrutinize the labels on your personal care products and cosmetics just as closely as you do your food. If you’re not sure what an ingredient is, type it into the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, and you’ll get all the information you need about whether or not it’s safe.

And remember, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t use it.

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