Exploring Eco-conscious Terminology
By Alexis Atkins
How often are you able to pronounce the ingredients found in your face wash? What about in your foundation or moisturizer?
It’s scary to think about how normal it has become to not pay attention to what we use on our bodies. Our purchase behavior is often dictated by what packaging looks the best or what smells the best.
The truth is, harmful ingredients like carcinogens, chemicals and preservatives are masked by aesthetically-pleasing graphic design and man-made fragrances.
To put this into perspective, The Beauty Counter reports that The United States has only found 30 chemicals to be unsafe for use in personal care products. This figure is shockingly low in comparison to the 1,400 chemicals that the European Union has reported as harmful.
Now more than ever, people are turning to green beauty as a new way of life. We are reading labels, researching ingredients and striving for minimalism in our beauty routines.
The rise of conscious living has inspired a whole new list of words that can be tricky to understand. What’s the difference between natural and organic? How are products ethically made?
But what do these words actually mean? We have decided to break down the most common words found on our beauty products to give you a better explanation of what these terms mean.
In the beauty world, “natural’ can be used as a blanket term for a product. It’s not a word that is approved by an organization like the FDA. Nor, does it mean that all of the ingredients are naturally occurring. To be safe, always read the back of the label to ensure that none of the ingredients are lab-created. Also, don’t be afraid to Google an item if you are unsure. For example, Persea Gratissima Oil may sound scary but it is simply Avocado Oil.
Unlike the word “natural’, “organic” is typically certified by an institution like the USDA. Products that have been certified as organic are made without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, dyes, industrial solvents or other synthetic additives. Any product that has been deemed as “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” will have an accompanying logo to prove its certification. With this in mind, not every product that says organic is certified but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t follow the same ethical standards of products that have been approved by the USDA.
Beauty products that are marketed as non-toxic, do not use ingredients that are known to be harmful to us. Some ingredients that would be omitted from use would include anything that may lead to death, cause cancer or even cause neurological disorders.
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Many of us are familiar with the word “sulfate” but we don’t know what it actually is. Sulfates are industrial-strength detergents. From haircare to household products, sulfates are used to get deep clean results. They are also the key to the perfect lather. In the beauty industry, we commonly see these in our face washes and shampoos as Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Sulfates are harmful because they can irritate your scalp, they destroy the natural oils in your hair, and even cause dry skin.
Parabens are chemicals that are used as preservatives for beauty products. The main concern with parabens is that there have been a number of cases where doctors have found that parabens can be absorbed into the body. Now, many brands are switching to paraben-free formulas to place quality over cost-efficiency.
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