5 Steps to Keeping your Skin, and the Planet, Looking and Feeling Great

Green Skin CareGoing “Green” has been one of the biggest trends of 2009 in all things from the food we eat, the products we clean our home with, and yes, even our skin care products.  “Green” skin care doesn’t have to be difficult or break the bank. Here are some quick and easy tips to making your skin care routine greener. 

Start Smart and Make Sure "Natural" Is Really Natural – Don't be fooled by advertising.  Synthetic toxic chemicals are the biggest issue in the beauty industry today, so it pays to hone a keen eye when it comes to examining product labels, just as you would when grocery shopping for yourself or family.

Unfortunately, the words "natural" and "all-natural" are not regulated labeling terms. A great resource is the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database site, which rates popular cosmetics and personal-care products with hazard scores on a scale of 0 to 10, depending on their toxicity.

Green Skin Care Tips

Say No to Fragrance – A loophole in federal law doesn't require companies to declare any of the dozens of toxic chemicals that a single product's fragrance mixture can contain. Artificial fragrances can also trigger allergic reactions and other health problems. Be mindful of the hidden dangers that "fragrance" or "parfum" listed on ingredients labels can pose, and always choose fragrance-free products.

Choose Nontoxic, Recyclable Packaging – You can never go wrong with glass because it's recyclable and has no danger of leaching toxins into the product contained within. As far as plastics go, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), also known by the recycling code #1, and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), #2, are most frequently accepted by municipal curbside recycling programs and are considered safe.

Avoid containers that bear recycling code #3 and the letter "V", which refers to polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. Dubbed "the poison plastic," PVC poses great environmental and health hazards from manufacture to disposal. In addition to releasing hydrochloric acid, cancer-causing dioxins, and other persistent pollutants into the air, water, and land during its production, PVC also contains lead, cadmium, and diphthalate, a suspected carcinogen that is known to cause a host of reproductive and developmental defects.

Choose Organic Beauty and Grooming Products – Organic ingredients are those grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, which is healthier for the planet and healthier for our bodies. The USDA National Organic Program has been certifying personal-care products since 2003, and an increasing number of organic skin care products now bear the USDA organic seal. To tell if a product is biodynamic-certified, look for Demeter U.S.A.'s stamp of approval on the label.

Make Your Own Green Skin Care Treatments – The best way to know exactly what goes into your skin care products? Make your own. Not only will you save money and packaging, but you'll also get the satisfaction that no preservatives or toxic chemicals were used in the process. You can whip up a simple, effective face mask using little more than cucumbers and yogurt, or bananas and powdered oats.  And that's just for starters. Check out more of our DIY green skin care treatments to learn more.

Written by Malissa Nelson of Ferndale, MI – November 2009

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