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Deciphering earth-conscious beauty lingo
Finding chemical-free skin care and makeup products isn't always as easy as you'd like. It makes sense that cosmetics companies aren't going to label their products with things like "full of chemicals!" or "tested on everything but the kitchen sink," but even the more eco-friendly products use terms that can be a bit confusing.
Natural^ Natural products are derived from ingredients — you guessed it — found in nature. Plants and minerals will be major sources, but even animal products can be used in natural products, something with which some users may not feel comfortable. Check ingredient lists to be sure, especially if you'd prefer not to use a common natural ingredient like beeswax.
Organic^ To find truly organic products, look for the USDA certification seal. Not all products that contain one or two organic ingredients are completely organic, so the seal is the best way to guarantee a product is produced without synthetic fertilizers, irradiation or genetic engineering. Organic certification is only available for plant products, because of the strict regulations tied to farming and harvesting practices. Something like mineral makeup can claim organic ingredients but can't be certified.
Naturally Derived^ This one gets a little tricky. Naturally derived means that the ingredients — or most of the ingredients — came from natural products but were chemically processed in some way.
Sustainable^ Sustainable products are developed and produced in ways that take an eco-conscious view of the product as a whole, not just the ingredient list. Sustainable products often use recycled materials or are packaged in a way that uses biodegradable materials.
Eco-friendly skin care
Cleaning your face with oil might sound counter-intuitive, but Josie Maran's cosmetics line is based on argan oil, a product she discovered when she admired a woman's skin while visiting France. Try Argan Cleansing Oil, a cleanser that combines 100 percent argan oil with other natural oils to heal, cleanse and protect your skin (Josie Maran Cosmetics, $32). For a face that fakes a good night's sleep, use Argan Illuminizer to brighten your skin (Josie Maran Cosmetics, $28).
Most natural deodorants don't even try to stop underarm dampness, citing that the aluminum used in many antiperspirants is potentially dangerous. Clean and Fresh Organic Deodorant strives not to stop perspiration but to dry it quickly — with cornstarch — to minimize wetness (Nourish Organic, $10). Available in four natural scents, plus pure unscented, this deodorant also soothes dry skin, which is important with tank tops and swimsuits on the horizon.
Makeup that's not loaded with chemicals
There are only six ingredients in "un" cover-up, a creamy foundation — or light concealer — designed to enhance skin while minimizing pores and evening out skin tone (RMS Cosmetics, $36). The moisturizing formula is designed to be used with other RMS products or similarly natural ones.
Afterglow's Eco Eye Shadow comes in twenty-two shades (Afterglow Cosmetics, $21). All Eco Eye Shadow is 100 percent natural with 65 percent organic botanicals, and Afterglow is certified gluten-free. With a wide variety of colors and a mixture of matte, satin and shimmer finishes, you'll be able to load your makeup bag with gorgeous, chemical-free eyeshadows.
Mascara is one of those products that seems like it would have to be loaded with chemicals to be truly effective — after all, voluminous, yard-long lashes aren't often found in nature. There are natural mascaras out there that will satisfy your craving for lush lashes, like Tarte's Lights, Camera, Lashes™ 4-in-1 mascara (Tarte Cosmetics, $19). The promised four effects are: curling, lengthening, volumizing and conditioning, which it does with olive esters.
Swipe on Noya Empire Red Lipstick for a gorgeous red shade without loads of red dyes (Noya Beauty, $18). The semi-matte shade is made from hydrating ingredients, resulting in a creamy lip color made completely from natural ingredients. If iconic red lips only work for special nights out, there are three other shades from which to choose.
Minimizing the chemicals in your beauty routine should result in positive changes in the look and texture of your skin, but remember there are some drawbacks to chemical-free products or products with fewer chemicals.
Natural deodorant or antiperspirant won't have the same mega-effects as prescription-strength products. Naturally-pigmented cosmetics don't have the same staying power as chemically-created, long-lasting formulas. You may find yourself having to reapply deodorant or lip gloss more frequently, or you may need to sneak in an extra moisturizing session for your face.
Keep in mind that the changes you're making are for your long-term health and well-being, and an extra swipe of gloss won't seem like such a hassle.