The Same Chemicals that are Harmful to Your Body are also Harmful to the Environment
Story by Leah Thomas // @greengirlleah
The skin is the human body’s largest organ and absorbs a shocking five pounds of makeup every year on average. The same chemicals that are harmful to your body are also harmful to the environment. The extraction and manufacturing of these products contributes to carbon dioxide emissions, as well as toxic waste that is hard to dispose of. These tips will help you make purchasing decisions that are good for your face and the planet.
A few ingredients to avoid in everyday and popular products
Parabens are a household name in skincare, haircare, and cosmetics. They’re a commonly-used preservative, but can be easily absorbed through the skin and are harmful in large quantities. You can avoid parabens by looking for “paraben-free” labels. Without preservatives, the cosmetics may have a slightly shorter shelf life, but the pros outweigh the cons when you consider environmental and personal health.
DEA (diethanolamine) is a compound that gives cosmetics their creamy or sudsy nature. It also helps adjust pH and counteract toxicity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, DEA can cause irritation to the nose and throat when inhaled and irritate the skin with rashes when applied directly. These are less common and more easily avoidable with natural products.
Petroleum is another common additive in the cosmetic industry. When you first think of petroleum, you probably think of the oil industry—and you wouldn’t be too far off. The same crude oil used in fuels is a staple in many over-the-counter makeups, lotions, and sunscreens. One of the biggest health deterrents is that it can’t be metabolized, meaning once it enters the body, it’s hard for it to ever leave naturally.
Reduce // Reuse // Recycle // Repeat
Consider the health of the environment and how you have the power to create a healthier world around you with every purchasing decision
Big name brands like M.A.C., Garnier, AVEDA, and Origins all have well-established recycling programs for when you’re done with your cosmetics.
Instead of filling up landfills that release methane, you can mail in your finished items or take them to the specific store on your next shopping trip.
Gravitate toward brands that offer multiple-usage options like refillable eyeshadow palettes versus single-use items with a shorter lifespan. This will give you versatility in the colors you use and allows you to produce less waste from disposing of full, mainly plastic-based palettes.
Investing in good quality products will save you multiple trips to the store over the course of a year. Lastly, look for applicators that are bamboo-based or made from recycled materials.