Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

Well, I've been doing that darned reading thing again, this time about makeup. Now, I don't wear a lot of makeup. Even when I was working every day, I had a pretty low-maintenance routine, using the bare minimum of what I could get away with - just enough to look slightly less unkempt than my normal self. Now I've learned that the makeup, lotion, etc. that we put on our faces in a sometimes futile attempt to look better are actually hazardous to our health. Cosmetics and personal care products are not required to meet specific standards for health, and, in fact, according the the FDA, "a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from the FDA."

Lovely. According to Big Green Purse by Diane MacEachern (a really interesting, quick, and useful read, by the way), a good place to start to try to reduce these hazards is to read labels (not easy when trying to purchase something in the store with 2 kids whining about lunch...) and look to reduce these four things: Fragrances, Phthalates, Parabens, and Triclosan (what's in anti-bacterial soap). This is definitely easier said than done, as I discovered when I flipped over the products in my bathroom - fragrance and parabens were in almost every single one.

As I don't use lots of makeup, some of it is really old (we're talking college, here), so I've been hunting around for some replacements. I didn't want to have to buy makeup from the internet, so imagine my surprise when I came across Physician's Formula Organic Wear at my local CVS. It said it was all organic, and had Eco-Cert certification. I didn't know if this was a real thing or not, so I went home, surfed through the ever-helpful Google for a while, and lo and behold it is a real thing. I also found a really helpful site for finding the hazard levels of products you use (sunscreen, makeup and the like). None of the Organic Wear products were above the middle hazard level, and many of them were listed as low hazards (as opposed to some of the things I'm currently using, which were in the red, high-hazard section - always what you want to see), so I decided that I should take the plunge.

Unfortunately, it's quite a bit pricier than my normal Cover Girl/Maybelline purchases, so I had been putting it off. Imagine my surprise when my CVS circular came this week announcing that the whole line was 40% off! So, yesterday I toddled over and came home with these:

The stuff is interesting, and the packaging is completely recyclable, so the containers are like a really thick cardboard. It seems to work pretty well, but it was interesting to note that the line was quite limited - no mascara or lipsticks (they had a tinted lip-gloss kind of thing), and tinted moisturizer instead of foundation. I guess there's a reason the companies use the ingredients they do, as it's obviously not so easy to create some products without them. Judging by my past experience, these things will last me for about 10-20 years, so I'm glad I like them!


grmybmy said...

Thanks for the research! I hit the CVS and bought some of that line, but it seems to be different than what you came home with--we'll have to talk. Grmybmy

The Professor said...

Environmental awareness, a social conscience, and being a good role model make you even prettier, MN.

Good on you for taking the plunge and spreading the word through your blog!

Diane MacEachern said...

Thanks for the shout out for Big Green Purse. And I'm going to check my own CVS for a discount on that organic make-up you mentioned. That's a great way to shift spending to more eco products and services and keep things affordable.

Dana Seilhan said...

There *is* more environmentally friendly mascara, you just have to dig around on the 'net for it. I knew CVS had a good selection of eco-friendly stuff, but I haven't seen good mascara there yet. Also, unfortunately, the good stuff is pricey.

I've seen supposedly eco-friendly lipstick in natural-foods stores, but it's not as common as tinted lip gloss in those product lines.

If the site you found is anything like the Environmental Working Group, they list your stuff as "low-hazard" because it contains natural ingredients that haven't been fully safety-tested yet. I noticed that if a product had essential oils in it, for instance, the EWG would flag that as a low-risk or potential hazard simply because of the lack of safety testing. It's a valid concern because an herb or spice that's safe in whole form (like tea) might not be safe in essential oil form (such as pennyroyal)--on the other hand, if you used enough of most EOs in a cosmetic product for them to be dangerous, it'd be so stanky you wouldn't want to put it on your face!