Natural Beauty: Eco-Friendly Cosmetics
They say my lip gloss is cool
My lip gloss be popping
I’m standing at my locker
And all the boys keep stopping
They say my lip gloss is popping
My lip gloss is cool
All the boys keep jocking
They chase me after school
“Lip Gloss,” by rapper Niatia Jessica Kirkland (aka Lil Mama), was released in 2007, the first single from her debut album, VYP: Voice of the Young People. The song was prominently featured in the Prada Spring/Summer 2010 Womenswear fashion show in Milan, where trendsetters and tastemakers converge twice a year to view the latest in haute couture. And while clothes play a large role in how a woman reflects her personal style, her cosmetics and personal care products also play a part, from lip gloss to eye shadow to signature scent. I bet you know what material your favorite new fall wardrobe item is made of, but have you ever thought about what’s in your favorite new cosmetic?
“The average person’s morning routine puts him/her into contact with over 100 chemicals before breakfast,” according to Aubrey Hampton, founder of Aubrey Organics. That’s not a surprising statistic really, considering lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc, chromium, and iron are found in everything from lipstick and whitening toothpaste to antiperspirants and nail polish. Thanks largely to limited government regulation over the cosmetics industry, though paint and gasoline can no longer contain lead — a toxin that damages the nervous system and causes brain disorders — your lipstick and nail polish can.
If you believe the government is looking out for the average consumer and that you don’t need to be concerned with the safety of your cosmetics’ ingredients, I’ve got three words for you: Gulf Oil Spill. If the government can’t be trusted with the big stuff, they’re most certainly not sweating the small stuff like a little lead in your lipstick. We’re talking about a government whose agencies typically set “acceptable limits” for toxins, carcinogens, and endocrine disruptors (synthetic chemicals that when absorbed into the body either mimic or block hormones and disrupt the body’s normal functions) based upon “ … the information available to us at this time.” Well, not so long ago, with the information that was available to them at that time, most of the Earth’s human population thought the world was flat. I’m just sayin’.
What’s a girl to do? How do you look good without poisoning yourself? Knowledge is power, so here’s your crash course syllabus in safer personal care.
Fundamentals 101: SafeCosmetics.org
This site is a terrific resource for just about anything you need to know about toxins in cosmetics. Find out which ingredients to avoid and where to buy safe, natural, organic cosmetics. Also, learn how to get involved and fight the good fight for safer beauty products with grassroots gumption.
Graduate Study: ewg.org
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s homepage, and familiarize yourself with all-things-toxic in our 21st-century environment. The information provided, while broader in scope, is a fabulous resource for self-education. From there, click through to CosmeticsDatabase.com and search for your favorite products. How do they rank on the safety scale?
To get started on your path to non-toxic living, log on to Care2.com and search “non-petroleum jelly formula.” There you’ll find a recipe for an easy, homemade alternative to standard store-bought petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly, which is used for everything from lip gloss to wound care, is actually a byproduct of a non-renewable resource. Additionally, it’s an unwise skin-care choice as it actually draws moisture from the lower layers of your skin to the surface, moisture which is then washed away when you bathe, making your skin dryer than it was to begin with. Non-petroleum jelly, however, is a better choice as it consists of three simple eco- and human-friendly ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, and grapefruit seed extract. Whip up a batch and see what you think!
What are you waiting for? The quicker you get finished with your assignments, the sooner you can get back to standing at your locker, where the boys keep stopping ... to admire your natural beauty, no doubt!
Required Reading: Crack These Books
To truly educate yourself on the topic of non-toxic cosmetics, there are a few standard readers you should consult. Here’s what I recommend:
• Dying to Look Good: The Disturbing Truth About What’s Really in Your Cosmetics, Toiletries and Personal Care Products by Christine Hoza Farlow (KISS for Health Publishing, 2006)
• Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry by Stacy Malkan (New Society Publishers, 2007)
• Toxic Beauty: How Hidden Chemicals in Cosmetics Harm You by Dawn Mellowship (Gaia Thinking Books, 2009)
Dana Birdsong didn’t have time for a headache that day. The (then) 35-year-old lobbyist and advocate for the American College of Cardiology in Washington, D.C. had a meeting on Capitol Hill she couldn’t miss.
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