IF YOU USE READYMADE BEAUTY PRODUCTS
There are great readymade beauty products around. When buying and using them, just adopt four key eco-friendly habits:
know what to avoid,
cut open the tubes, and
buy solid or bulk
Know what to avoid
What do you look at when buying a beauty product? You might be looking for specific ingredients (the latest star ingredient recommended by friends or beauty magazines?). But it might be better to start looking at ingredients you want to avoid.
Here’s a list of some ingredients that are not recommended:
Sulfate - SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate)
Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Propyl, Ethyl)
Diethanolamine (DEA) – for foaming
Propylene Glycol (PEG)
Mineral oil, benzene, paraffin wax are petrolatum ingredients
DMDM Hydantoin & Urea
FD&C Color Pigments
Hydroquinone (for skin lightening)
2. Buy Organic – not just natural
In the world of cosmetics and wellbeing products, ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. The term natural refers to what is contained in the product. Natural products should come from natural sources, extracted from plants, minerals and flowers, rather than artificial (manmade) origins.
In contrast to 'natural', the term organic refers to how the product and its ingredients are farmed. Organic agriculture is a ‘whole system’ way of farming, that works with nature, benefitting soils, ecosystems, animals and people. In practice, this means growing without artificial fertilisers, using fewer pesticides, and cultivating healthier soils, by farming in a way that regenerates the land.
Unfortunately, unlike the food and drink industry, where organic products must, by law, contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients, this is not the case with cosmetics and wellbeing products. The lack of regulation means that terms like ‘green’, ‘clean’ and ‘natural’ and 'organic' can be used on almost any product. For example, an uncertified product can be described as ‘natural’ even if only 1% of its ingredients come from natural sources!
An easy way to spot good products is to go for certified ones. Certification bodies like Soil Association Certification in the UK offer assurance that a product has met strict organic or natural standards. For an organic beauty and wellbeing product to carry a Soil Association COSMOS Organic symbol, 95% of all plant, animal or microbial ingredients that have been subject to basic processing must be organic.
When you buy a certified organic beauty product, you can be sure it contains:
No GM (genetically modified) ingredients
No controversial chemicals
No parabens or phthalates
No synthetic colours, dyes or fragrances
Certified sustainable palm oil ingredients
Recycled and recyclable packaging where possible
...And that no animal testing has been done in the making of the product
Natural certification exists primarily for products like toners, bath salts and face masks which are often made with ingredients (such as clay, salt and water) which can't be certified as organic.
Note that the more organic the product, the more expensive it’s likely to be. It takes companies more time and money to source, test, and create natural beauty products. But here is a selection of lower cost products.
3. Cut open tubes to get the last drops.
Even if you squeeze your tubes, you never get the last bit of the product out. Simple trick: cut them open. There is a surprising amount of product still in there. You can "close" the cut tube by inserting one part into the other, or use clips.
4. Buy bulk/refillable to avoid containers
Avoid liquid products when you can (they require more energy and water to be produced and transported).
Buy in bulk, or refillable in order to avoid containers - or at least buy the larger bottles.
Only use what you need. Experiment to see what is the minimum amount of product needed. Just because the bottle is big, doesn’t mean you need twice as much shampoo as you usually do.