Lipstick’s initial destination is on the lips, but it’s final destination is often in the mouth. Likewise, some amount of eyeshadow and eyeliner will get into the eyes, powder that’s by the nose can end up inhaled, and even makeup that’s not near anything in particular can get absorbed into the first few layers of skin. So while cosmetics and beauty products are largely thought of as being for external use only, the fact is that those of us who wear makeup are eating it, breathing it, and getting it into our eyes. So I’d say yes, it’s worth the trouble and the expense to seek out cosmetics that are made with natural, organic ingredients that haven’t been processed too much. For those who only buy cruelty-free, there are even vegan lipsticks and eyeshadows that contain nothing that came out of an animal.
The only problem?
Cosmetics aren’t exactly regulated by any government industry – while there is a Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it doesn’t regulate the safety, long-term health impacts, or environmental damage of beauty products. The FDA’s list of ingredients that can’t be used in cosmetics is something like eight items long, compared to the list that the EU came up with, which contains thousands of suspect ingredients. And just because that sweet lipstick has the word ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ on the label or claims to be organic might not mean much. In fact, according to a TerraChoice survey, more than 75% of cosmetics labeling is inaccurate. Especially when it comes to the word ‘natural’ because there’s no actual standard for what is and isn’t natural in the US.
And it’s not always easy to figure out labels by one’s lonesome, either, since actual natural ingredients are often listed using chemical-y sounding names while another ingredient that sounds perfectly safe and green may be in reality derives from petroleum. That’s where sites like Skin Deep come in, with its database of common and less common products that outlines what the ingredients in each one do and whether they’ve been shown to be harmful. Before we switched baby wipes, The Beard and I checked to see just what was in our chosen brand, and I felt more comfortable for it. Then you have organizations like the Natural Product Association, which has a certification program, and the USDA National Organic Program, which will put its seal on cosmetics, provided 95%+ of the ingredients are organic.
Do you look for natural or organic certifications when buying beauty products? Do you take it a step further and consider what impact the ingredients have on the environment? Or do color and performance win out when you’re buying makeup?