Q: I like to use a little makeup and moisturizer. Do you have any recommendations for eco-friendly personal care products?
A: A dab of this and a spritz of that can turn your morning routine into a chemical bath. The average adult uses nine personal care products a day, containing a grand total of 125 chemical ingredients. The synthetic slather is even more intense for the one in four women who use over 15 products daily. While the $35-billion industry likes us to believe its shampoos and creams are oh so natural thanks to well-advertised ingredients like ginger and ylang ylang, the truth is you're drenching your lips, cheeks and hair in a largely untested and lengthy list of petroleum-derived, genetically modified, carcinogenic or animal- (even whale-) derived ingredients.
For a detailed assessment of everything from mascaras to shaving creams, see www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep/. The Environmental Working Group did a hell of a job ranking 7,500 personal care products for safety.
You're best off buying goods with a purely natural ingredient list, but don't sink your dollar into just any products labelled "natural" or "organic." Canada and most of the U.S. have no regs governing the use of these terms. In California, the only state with standards, a product with 70 per cent organic ingredients may call itself organic even if the rest is synthetic or petroleum-based!
Read ingredient lists carefully. You can generally spot chemical names pretty easily, and take note when only one or two ingredients are actually organic. Be aware that "hydrosol" is just a fancy name for distilled water, which is often used to pump up the organic contents on a label. On the other hand, it can be very difficult to make 100 per cent certified organic products, since many essential oils and other ingredients aren't readily available in that form.
By the way, despite what many people think, the Body Shop isn't all that natural. If you ask to see its ingredient lists, you'll notice that mango butter cream or coconut cleanser is chock full of synthetics. On the upper end of the price scale, Kielh's (Queen West) says it tries to use natural and organic ingredients whenever possible, but online label scans still pull up petroleum-based and synthetic ingredients. Aveda (now owned by Estée Lauder) also claims to include plant-derived ingredients whenever possible and to abide by strong sustainability practices, but it makes no promises about avoiding synthetics. And Aveda products only contain some organics.
A stronger bet would be Dr. Hauschka, a high-quality German line for body, hair and skin (including makeup). The company grows its own 100 per cent certified organic ingredients in line with planetary rhythms or biodynamic principles (available at the Big Carrot on the Danforth, Noah's on Bloor or Yonge and Whole Foods on Avenue Road, cleanser from $35.95, moisturizer $27.95). Just Pure is another German line that's almost entirely certified organic or biodynamic, but it's pretty pricey (available at Pure + Simple on Yonge or Bellair, cleansers or moisturizers from $69.95). Druide, a much more affordable brand from Quebec, offers shower gels, soaps, shampoos and facial products, 43 of which are 100 per cent certified organic (cleanser from $11.39, shampoos from $24.99 at the Big Carrot, Whole Foods, Noah's). Weleda employs a high percentage of organic as well as biodynamic and fair trade ingredients and is 100 per cent natural (toner from $18.49, body lotion from $14.99 at the Big Carrot, Whole Foods, and Noah's).
A master herbalist makes all Life Root products by hand in small batches of 30 or less with certified organic or wildcrafted herbs. All Life Root creams are edible (available at Whole Foods and the Big Carrot, eye cream from $13.99, body lotion from $11.99). Aroma Crystal Therapy products aren't entirely organic but are GMO- and cruelty-free and incorporate vibrational medicine using crystals (Whole Foods, Noah's, the Big Carrot, Zit Zapper from $9.49, Gardener's Dream Cream from $12.99). Other solid skin and body care brands include Terra Essentials (Big Carrot), Aubrey Organics (Whole Foods, Noah's, the Big Carrot) and Life in the Woods (Noah's and Big Carrot).
For makeup, check out Lavera (lip gloss from $19.99, foundation from $28.99 at Whole Foods, the Big Carrot, Noah's and T.H.E. Store on Avenue Road). Made from certified organic ingredients, Lavera makeup is synthetic-free, largely vegan and allergy-tested on humans. Hemp Organics makes vegan lipstick and lipliners (from $15.69 at the Big Carrot). Ecco Bella uses organic and wild-grown herbs and oils to make its animal- and petrol-free goodies (concealer $18.49 at the Big Carrot). For some serious all-natural, eco-friendly, animal-free selection, try the Organic Makeup Company at www.organicmakeup.ca.
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