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How to Find “Green” Cosmetics

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“Green-ness” is becoming more and more important to many of us, and we are continuously looking for ways to green up our homes, cars, clothes, kids toys, health care products and even beauty products. It’s not always easy to know if the cosmetics you are purchasing are green, or relatively safe for you to use, but there are ways to find out.

The best way to know what you’re buying and using on your skin and hair is to read the labels. Since the FDA does little to regulate what ingredients are being used in cosmetics, you should educate yourself about the words you don’t want to find on the ingredient list. They are: mercury lead acetate, formaldehyde, thimerosal, toluene, petroleum, ethlyacrylate, dibutyle phthalate, coal tar and potassium. Not only bad for people, these ingredients are bad for the environment. You will notice that petroleum is one of the no-no ingredients listed. That’s because it’s a fossil fuel. If you don’t see petroleum on a label, you still might have petroleum products in your cosmetics. Look for mineral oil, paraffin, and propylene glycol – all pretty common in lip glosses and balms.

If you want to make things easier on yourself, look for the USDA Organic seal. Organic is better because it’s safer for you and better for the environment. Simple and easy. Organic products may expire before those that are made with our long list of bad ingredients, so pay attention to expiration dates.

Beware of what you’re putting on your hair. Even though you rinse off what you put on your hair fairly quickly, some products still contain toxic elements, and your hair and scalp are absorbent. Check ingredient lists for these: SLS or SLES, coal tar, petroleum or petroleum derivatives (see list for cosmetics above), formaldehyde, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances.

It’s sobering, isn’t it? We want to wear cosmetics and have clean hair. We may even want to cover the gray. Is that so wrong? Certainly not, but caution is still advised. The products that rest on our skin every day and soak into our hair and scalp could be toxic to us and toxic to the environment. But the good news is that good, safe alternatives can be found. Read your labels and do your research. Here’s to your good looks and your good health!

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