Those of us striving to live a healthier and more environmentally friendly lifestyle pay attention to a list of green ‘To-Do’ or ‘Not-To-Do’. We search out the organic cotton clothing, do not use plastic bottles, recycle, pay attention to properly insulating our homes, use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, and avoid toxic household cleaning products. But in this quest for a greener lifestyle how many of us have considered the environment we spend a large portion of our lives in – our beds. How healthy and eco-friendly are our mattresses?
Choosing a mattress finds most making a decision based on the comfort test. Although comfort and support are to be considered, more importantly is the material the mattress is made from and how that material was produced. The mattress material is of great significance to your health and the health of the environment.
The most prevalent material used in non-organic mattresses today is polyurethane foam. This is synthetic foam that is made from petroleum-based chemicals. The off gases from these chemicals evaporate into the air and fill the environment with toxic particles that cause skin irritation, damage to mucous membranes, asthma, immune system disorders, and can also attack the nervous system. Production of polyurethane foam is energy intensive, increasing our dependency on fossil fuel and resulting in toxic byproducts. It is also not biodegradable. Polyurethane foam mattresses are required to be treated with PBDE – PolyBrominated Diphenyl Ethers – flame retardants that are known carcinogens. Other known toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing process include benzene, boric acid, formaldehyde, xylene, fungicides and pesticides. Synthetic foam holds moisture which creates the perfect condition for dust mites.
A better health and environmental choice is a natural latex mattress. Latex is a milky sticky substance drawn from an incision made in the bark of the rubber tree. A different substance than tree sap, it is stretchy, highly resilient, and waterproof. Trees are not damaged during the ‘tapping’’ process classifying them as a sustainable, renewable, natural resource. As a natural substance, latex is biodegradable and can be recycled and re-used in making eco-friendly cushioning material.
Two processes used to produce latex for mattresses are Dunlop and Talalay. The Dunlop method is the original and is not as state-of-the-art as the newer Talalay method. Two additional steps used in the process results in Talalay latex being softer and more buoyant. It is chemical free as the method uses natural light soaps and non-harmful curing agents, which are washed out after the process. As no harmful chemicals are used in the manufacture of natural latex mattresses, it is good for allergy and asthma sufferers. Among the benefits, natural latex is environment friendly, hypoallergenic, anti-microbial, and resistant to mold, mildew, and dust mites.
Considering one-third of your life is spent on your mattress brings the realization that what is lurking inside that mattress needs to be questioned. Non-organic and non-natural mattresses contain materials produced with the use of toxic chemicals that are detrimental to your health and harmful to the environment. Mattresses made from natural latex are kinder to the environment as they come from a sustainable natural resource and are biodegradable. Green manufacturing methods eliminate off gas concern as there are no residual chemicals on mattress materials. For a greener lifestyle choice pay attention to your sleep area and go with a Talalay produced natural latex mattress.
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”
Taken for granted 364 days of the year, May 12th will find millions of people throughout the world honoring their Mother. The foundation of most families, Moms have given life, taught right from wrong, and provided constant support. Mother’s Day is the time to pay them tribute in thanks for their efforts and love. This Mother’s Day make your Mom feel special, while honoring Mother Earth, with a unique organic or eco-friendly gift.
Following are a few green gift ideas to indulge Mom while protecting Mother Earth;
1. Luxurious Organic Beauty and Bath products including skin creams, body lotions, hand and feet moisturizers, bubble bath, and cosmetics made from certified organic or all natural ingredients are free of chemicals and preservatives. Pampers Mom and is good for Mother Earth.
2. Eco Friendly Jewelry – come on, what Mom doesn’t like a little bling! Earrings, Necklaces, and Bracelets made from recycled materials including recycled glass bottles, re-used sterling silver or leather, natural sea pearls, or parchment from organically grown fruits and vegetables.
3. Maintain an earth friendly eye with conscious fashion items that will have Mom feeling like a beauty queen. Shirts, blouses, dresses, skirts, and pants in the latest styles from organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, or modal will have her feeling oh so chic. Don’t forget the fashion accessories from sustainable fibers!
4. Feed Mom’s fashion sense with a handbag, makeup case, pouch, or tote made from organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, or recycled materials. Smart looking and environmentally friendly!
5. Flowers, the eco-friendly kind that are a gift to Mom and to Mother Earth. Plant-able tissue paper ribbon that contains perennial seeds that will blossom year after year. Easy to plant and comes in a reusable round box with a single, brilliant silk flower crowning the top.
6. Transform her space into a personal retreat filled with natural fragrance from a hand-crafted soy and vegetable blend wax candle. Loving says Mom, take some time to relax your mind and recharge your spirit.
7. Further enhance her space with an artistic vegetable parchment bowl that can be beautifully illuminated with a votive candle, hold potpourri, or keep her small lightweight treasures safe. More simply, the bowl can convey a quiet invitation to slow down, look closely, and rediscover the complex beauty of the natural wonders so often taken for granted.
8. For the more unusual, search out an eco-friendly piece of art. One-of-a-kind gems made with recycled papers, eco- friendly dyes & paints, finished with recycled vintage frames, salvages items otherwise headed for landfills. Tells Mom you think she is unique while protecting Mother Earth.
9. If Mom is a yoga enthusiast, carry through on Yoga’s philosophy of respect for all life on the planet, and give a gift of environmentally friendly Yoga equipment! Yoga equipment made from recycled and eco-friendly materials shows Mom you too are one with the Earth.
10. Celebrate the art of personal correspondence with Mom while being kind to Mother Earth with notepaper, notecards, or journals made from sustainable fibers such as hemp, or recycled materials such as paper, blue jeans, and yes even coffee grinds!
11. If your’s is a working Mom, a beautiful hand-dyed design reusable lunch sack kit lets her carry her lunch in style while touting ‘go green’!
12. Moms love fresh smelling clothing drawers and closets. She’ll love a sheer organza pouch filled with organic florets that present a natural fragrance at the same time acting as a moth repellent. Contained in a re-usable gift box for her tiny treasures.
With so many great organic or eco-friendly gift options available it will be easy to find the perfect gift to honor your Mom and Mother Earth.
Our children and Mother Earth are such precious commodities. The importance in safeguarding the well-being of both is the highest priority. Use of organic and eco-friendly products not only protect the health of our children but also contributes to the continued well-being of Mother Earth.
It is important that children’s apparel be good for kids as well as good for the planet. Baby, toddler, and youth clothing from soft sustainable bamboo, pure organic cotton, or a blend of both are great choices for conscious fashions for children.
Organic growing methods prohibit the use of toxic fertilizers, pesticides, or genetically modified seeds. Not only eliminating contamination of soil and ground waters where products are manufactured or harvested, organic methods offer consumers a purer product. Organic cotton clothing is a good choice for children as it is free of residual chemicals usually found in conventionally grown cotton. These toxic chemicals are not only responsible for skin irritations and allergies in children, but can possible result in more serious health problems. Considered a no fuss fabric, organic cotton clothing is soft, breathable, very comfortable to wear, and easy to care for.
Considered the fastest-growing and most renewable plant on earth, bamboo is an incredibly sustainable resource needing no pesticide or fertilizer to grow. Its root system continually sends up new shoots naturally replenishing the crop preventing erosion and damage to the environment. Bamboo is also biodegradable. It is a great choice for children’s clothing as it is very easy to wear. Extremely soft and highly breathable, its moisture wicking properties makes it perfect for warm weather wear as well as an ideal base for layering in cold weather. Hypoallergenic, bamboo clothing is great for children with allergies. The antifungal antibacterial properties keep bamboo clothing staying ‘fresh’ longer. It is extremely comfortable, drapes well, and is easy to clean.
Teaching children to be considerate of Mother Earth assures our planet will be healthy for future generations. There is not better way to protect their health and develop an eco-friendly attitude than with beautiful fun to wear organic and sustainable fiber clothing. Designs and colors inspired by nature encourage kids to be more thoughtful of the environment protecting natural resources, conserving energy, and being more in touch with nature.
Pure organic or sustainable fiber fabrics free of residual chemicals, designed with eco-friendly dyes, in the latest styles, keep kids healthy and fashionable. Better for Mother Earth and the kids who love her.
Nature inspired, beautifully designed organic children’s clothing encourages kids to think green.
With the increase of designers and manufacturers getting in on green fashion, it may be slightly more confusing than not to shop for organic or sustainable clothing. ‘Buyer Beware’ is the first form of business. Popular terminology that may normally describe organic or sustainable clothing is sometimes used in loose terms as marketing strategies to lure consumers into thinking they are making a green purchase. Words like organic, sustainable, natural and green have different shades of meaning that can greatly affect the choice in eco-friendly fashion. Armed with a little background information, your green purchase choices can evolve a little easier.
Defined as existing in nature or pertaining to nature or the universe, the term ‘Natural’ is surrounded by the most ambiguity. Both Organic and Sustainable fibers can be considered natural and some more environmentally friendly than others. It is important to note; no US government standards or criteria for certifying a product as ‘Natural’ exist, but the FDA references the term as coming from plant or animal. However in most cases the raw material has to be processed by some kind of chemical reaction in order to derive a substance that can be used. The trick is to find manufactures that use a ‘closed-loop’ system that captures and reuses these chemicals, keeping them out of the environment. Many manufactures are compliant with high environmental standards for production and carry certifications for renewable growing and harvesting. Natural Fibers include;
- Lyocell (goes under the trade name TENCEL®) produced with wood pulp cellulose from various hardwoods with the Eucalyptus Tree providing the greatest yield per acre and best fiber. It falls under the category Natural as well as Sustainable, being harvested from certified pesticide-free, sustainable, tree farms.
- Modal produced from natural wood chip cellulose from the Beech Tree, which is able to regenerate itself, is cultivated without chemicals or pesticides and requires minimal irrigation.
Referring to something that can maintain its own viability in a short amount of time allowing for its continual use, sustainable resources to create fibers for clothing is becoming very popular. These include;
- Bamboo – probably the best know sustainable fiber, maintains its own viability in a very short amount of time. It can flourish without the use of herbicides or pesticides.
- Hemp – probably the most controversial of the sustainable fibers is a quick growing robust plant that grows in diverse soil conditions. Hemp production is not allowed in the US but importation of raw materials is allowed.
Organic pertains to something that is derived from living organisms. Organic products are produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Production may include the use of fertilizers or pesticides that are plant or animal in origin. Organic Fibers include;
- Organic Cotton - In the US, the process of certifying a product as organic assures that product has met strict federal standards as established by the National Organic Program (NOP).
- Organic Wool must adhere to NOP standards that include the way the livestock is handled – use of certified organic feeds, use of good management practices to maintain livestock health and adherence to the natural carrying capacity of grazing lands.
Many of these fibers fit into more than one category. As an example, Bamboo can be both sustainable and organically grown. Or Lyocell which is natural but is also considered to be from sustainable resources.
There are as many labels out there as are countries and companies coming up with ‘standards’ for their natural or organic products. As with other green products, it is important to read labels for materials and processes used, know your manufacturers and whether they operate under green standards, and look up any symbols stating certain certifications that are unfamiliar to you. Following are some of the labels for green clothing.
Operations that produce and process organic agricultural products must be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-accredited certifying agents in order to carry the USDA Organic label. Certification is based on federal standards as established by the National Organic Program. These standards include criteria for quality, production, growing, storing, packaging and shipping that disallow use of synthetic or chemical pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, or genetic engineering. A good piece of information to know is there are shades of differences in the labeling of Organic products:
- Certified 100% Organic product label means that product’s ingredients and production methods are in whole certified organic. These products are also allowed to use the USDA Seal on labeling and advertising.
- Organic label refers to products that have at least 95% organic ingredients, with the remaining 5% another type of fiber other than the type of fiber in the organic portion.
- Made with Organic Ingredients is the label category for products that contain a between 70% – 95% organic ingredients with restrictions on what the remaining fiber can be.
Global Organic Textile Standard:
USDA Organic certified natural fibers meeting additional requirements carry the Global Organic Textile Standard label. Criteria relates to social and environmental responsibilities, like worker/consumer safety and chemical residue testing, through finished product.
Organic Exchange (currently known as Organic Textile Exchange):
Organic Exchange, now known as the Organic Textile Exchange, relates only to cotton and has two standards.
OE 100 allows a minimum of 95% organic fiber, but the remaining 5% cannot be cotton. And OE Blended requires at least 5% organic cotton content and allows the remaining fiber to be any fiber, including conventional cotton.
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and Oeko-Standard 1000:
The International Association for the Assessment of Environmentally Friendly Textiles is a set of international testing criteria for the human ecological attributes of textiles from raw materials to finished product. Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is the first step in the process and Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 poses additional criteria covering environmentally damaging chemical and dye use, noise pollution, waste water and exhaust controls, energy use and child labor practices.
The bluedesign® standard is used in several countries around the globe and aims at the entire textile manufacturing chain reducing the ecological footprint through responsible manufacturing processes.
It is also advantageous to know who the manufacturers of the clothing piece are. Again, there are many certifications that may apply and a little research will explain the criteria that apply. In the US and Canada, the following are most often seen;
Organic Trade Association:
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is an association in North America for the organic industry. They protect organic trade in support of the farmers and producers, the public, the environment, and the economy.
National Green Pages™ Seal of Approval
Green America is a directory of US businesses who have passed the screening criteria for “commitment to social justice and environmental sustainability”.
Organic and sustainable fibers are better for your health and the health of our environment. Many claims are made as to these properties in clothing for men, women, and children that may or may not be accurate. Armed with a little knowledge about the terminology, labeling requirements and manufacturing policies associated with a product, you will be heading in the right direction for purchasing truly green fashions.
Hemp is a major natural resource that can benefit both the economy and the environment. Industrial grade hemp, different from the hemp plant used as a drug, plays an important role in sustainable, organic, agricultural and industrial productions. Considered one of the purest, most complete plants on earth, hemp is often referred to as a carbon-negative raw material. It can quickly replenish, producing up to 25 tons per acre per year; enriches the soil by adding essential nutrients; controls the weeds; creates more oxygen than any other crop and it is biodegradable. Unlike other crops, hemp can grow in most climates, in most soil conditions, without fertilizers, and without pesticides.
Hemp is a versatile, eco-friendly material that is gaining popularity for responsible fashion, sustainable green home living, and natural care. Every part of the plant – outer stalk, inner stalk, seed kernel, seed husk, and leaves – are utilized to make natural products including textiles, paper, food, medicine, building materials, paint, detergent, oil, ink, and fuel. Although crop production is not allowed in the US, raw materials can be imported. An example is hemp fibers used in making fabric for home décor accessories and clothing. Quickly becoming a popular item, hemp clothing is durable, easy to wear and easy to care for.
Having long and very strong fibers hemp makes the most beautiful textiles. Rich in cellulose, hemp fibers are as much as 20 times stronger than cotton fibers. Apparel and home décor items produced from hemp fabric are very durable, more absorbent and mildew-resistant than cotton, anti-microbial, and are more effective than other fabrics at blocking the sun’s UV rays. Because of its hollow fibers hemp fabric is thermal in cold weather and cooling in warmer weather. With the discovery of softening techniques hemp garments have retained their traditional qualities with additional softness that makes it an attractive choice for linens as well as clothing.
For those who are earth aware, hemp paper too is becoming a first choice over wood pulp for paper products.Recycled hemp clothing, rags and fishing nets were used as input for paper production as long as 2000 years ago. Today, especially with its sustainable properties, hemp continues as a popular source for the production of paper. Hemp fibers are used in the production of notebooks, writing paper, copy paper, greeting cards and envelopes.
Hemp fiber products are a great sustainable green choice. Environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and versatile, hemp is helping to keep the world green. Do your part for our environment and search out products made from hemp as a delightful surprise of its versatility and also as a kindness to Mother Earth.
Because our skin is abused by external elements it is essential to our health to have a good daily skin care routine. Organic and all natural products are an important part in effective skin care.
With Valentine’s Day almost upon us the search for the perfect token of affection for that special someone is well underway. If you are one who loves Mother Earth as much as your Sweetheart, there are plenty of flirty, sexy, and cute green gift suggestions that say Happy Valentine’s Day without compromising your earth friendly eye.
Convey your sexy love for her with a gift of, not the usual, lingerie with an eco-twist. Flirtatious Ecolux Lace Edged Cami or Boy Shorts are made from a blend of corn-based elements with viscose from bamboo. Tell her how you want to wrap her up in your love with
Ecolux Lace Kimono Wrap made from extra soft viscose from sustainable bamboo.
Playful Grow Tee reminds her that like a flower you love for her grows each day. Printed using eco-friendly non-PVC inks on a lady’s short sleeve organic cotton tee and made in the USA.
Nothing says ‘… you are the bright star in my life… ‘ like Star Motif Knee Hi Socks. Made in the US of organic cotton.
Flourish Roll-on Perfume delivers a subtly sensual scent. Made in the US of all natural ingredients, it is Vegan, Gluten-free & Cruelty-free.
Let her know how much you love to pamper her skin with Geranium Jasmine Lavender Body Lotion. Made in the USA with certified organic ingredients, it is Gluten and Cruelty free.
Warm, exotic, decadently relaxing, and moisturizing, Jasmine and Orange Bubble Bath is infused with organic essential oils; Vegan, Certified Organic, Gluten-free, and Cruelty-free.
Organic Rose and Lavender Sachets in reusable gift box say – ‘like the “Fragrance from the Garden” the sweet aroma of your love is all I need.’ Box contains a sheer organza pouch filled with USA organic lavender florets and rose petals.
I want to surround you with my love – Recycled Glass and Sterling Silver Necklace says it so easily. Made in the USA, recycled glass droplet is set in a sterling silver pear shape hoop on a sterling silver chain.
Symbolic of wanting to hold her love hostage, Organic Cuff Bracelet is made in the USA from fruit & vegetable parchment paper over recycled copper.
Invite her to share her inner thoughts with Earth Journal made from sustainable hemp paper and Eco Pencils made from recycled newsprint.
With $397 million spent for cut flowers each Valentine’s Day only to be disposed of 3 or 4 days later, the Specialty Assortment Garden Box gives the gift of flowers in a most eco way. Each box contains three 5′ biodegradable, plant-able tissue paper seed ribbons of three different varieties. Gift comes with planting instructions wrapped around the inside of the box. She can plant the seed paper for lasting beautiful flowers and then use the silk flower topped box afterwards to hold trinkets.
Set the mood for romance with Khari Environmental Bedding. Collection combines the most sensual luxurious natural textiles to create a healthy, sustainable environment. This bedding line is made in the USA of the finest organic cotton, and plant and vegetable dyed.
Let him know he is your sexy hunk with Men’s Eco-Sport Brief made in the USA from soft highly sustainable modal fabric.
Say I love your muscles with Men’s Tank Shirt made from sustainable beech wood chip fabric.
Does he mean the world to you? Say it with Men’s Tie Dye Earth Motif Tee made in the USA from organic cotton.
Let him know how much you love the skin he’s in with Natural Herbal Aftershave made from a blend of natural fresh herbs and aloe.
Encourage him to write you love notes – Java Notepaper Set is handcrafted from recycled fibers from the chaff of roasted coffee beans!
‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… ‘ Veggie & Herb Assortment Garden Box then is perfect. Each box contains three 5′ biodegradable, plant-able tissue paper seed ribbons, of three different varieties: one vegetable and two herbs with planting instructions.
Give him the key to your heart and the Hemp Key Ring Wallet to carry it on. Smaller, compact, slim profile wallet features key ring with interior ID holder and credit card slot. Made in the USA of 100% hemp.
Handcrafted Soy Candles, let him know how much he lights up your life. Made in the USA of the highest quality soy and vegetable blend wax, premium fragrance oils, cotton and paper core wicks.
Let them know they’re your little princess, or prince, with child’s Royalty Shirt made in the USA from organic cotton.
Child’s Touch the Earth Tee made in the US from organic cotton portrays a gentle touch to the heart and to our earth.
Certified organic; cruelty free; pediatrician tested; free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates; no artificial colors, nuts, soy, wheat, or synthetic fragrances; hypoallergenic; and made in the USA, this Buble Bath for Children pampers them while it expresses your love.
Cute and cuddly just like your little one! Show the love with Children’s Bath Mitt made from organic and recycled materials.
Express your love – children’s Colored Eco Pencils and Doodling Pad, made from post-consumer recycled materials, is the perfect pair to let them know how much you love them to express themselves.
Cuddly cute just like them – Organic Velour Blankie Animal is made in the US of organic cotton and lets little ones cuddle while you give them Valentine hugs and kisses.
I love You Boxed Dog Treats say it all. Made in the US of all natural ingredients.
Show how much you care - Heart Organic Cotton Knit Ball with squeaker, for cat or dog, provides hours of entertainment while cleaning their teeth.
Fig Pet Tee Shirt truly says ‘love you’ with a display of red hearts. Made in the US of organic cotton and bamboo.
Surround them with soft love with Pet Eco Drop Bed. With a thick cushion of 100% recycled IntelliLoft fill and covered with soft fabric made with 85% recycled fibers, it is milled in the USA.
Use the following suggestions as containers that could be filled with organic beauty products like natural makeups and cosmetic brushes; toiletries like a natural toothbrush, organic toothpaste, and vegan lip balm; sweet treats like organic chocolates or other organic confections; stationery items like eco labels, hemp notecards, and pencils from sustainable woods. Get creative the possibilities are endless!
“… Brown paper packages tied up with string… ” the Package Eco Tote is bound to be one of your favorite things. Made from post-consumer recycled materials.
Flower Pencil Case- you can smell the flowers with this pencil or makeup case made from post- consumer recycled material. Say – Your love has me fluttering with a
Butterflies Coin Pouch made with recycled post-consumer materials which gives it a crushed, wrinkled look.
Pretty Print Eco Zippered Pouch display of flora and sooooo pretty. This Eco Zippered Pouch is made with recycled post-consumer materials. Give me a call!
Cell Phone Motif Eco-Zippered Pouch is made from recycled post-consumer materials so it has a crushed wrinkled look. Fill
Stainless Steel Round Container with special treats. Re-usable non leaching, eco-friendly stainless steel is unbreakable, dishwasher safe, will not retain stains, odors or residues.
Stainless Steel Water Bottle can be filled with goodies and re-used afterwards. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Re-hydrate, and think green by avoiding environmentally damaging plastic water bottles.
A gift within a gift, fill a handmade Grow-A-Note Heart Topped Box with goodies and when the goodies are gone the box can be planted. The wildflowers that grow can be a lasting enjoyment! A real expression of love and very eco-friendly!
SENDING A GREETING
Did you know that over 150 million cards are purchased on Valentine’s Day? That’s a lot of paper! Say ‘I love you, but I also love Mother Earth’; choose greeting cards made from sustainable fiber like hemp, recycled paper, or recycled seeded paper. Grow-A-Note Valentine’s Day Cards embedded with a colorful array of wildflower seeds communicate a sense of style and environmental responsibility. The gift that keeps giving the recipient plants the card and enjoys the bloom of your greeting long after the day.
Spiffing up for a party or just getting ready for work, think twice before applying your makeup as toxic ingredients may be lurking within! Get a magnifying glass and start reading the tiny print on your makeup labels. You will be horrified at the contents of some of your favorite beauty products. Be especially leery of unpronounceable names as that is the first clue that the ingredient is chemical and may be toxic. Be aware too that not all chemicals are required to be listed on the label. Endocrine disrupters like phthalates, carcinogens like formaldehyde, and neurotoxins like lead, are often found in cosmetics and personal care items.
Non-organic, non-natural makeups are chemical cocktails. Preservatives, coloring, fragrances, wetting agents, solvents, emulsifiers, coating agents, conditioning agents, and covering agents have been added to extend shelf life, make them adhere to the skin, and make them colorful and smelling good. These toxic chemicals create a variety of health risks not to mention the negative effect their production has on the environment.
Here are some of the chemicals to spot check for on your makeup labels:
Alcohol: found in many cosmetics as a solvent or denaturant (a poisonous substance) ingestion or inhalation of alcohol vapor causes headaches, dizziness, vomiting, mental depression, and even coma. If ingested, only one ounce is fatal.
Butylated Hydroxyanisolea – (BHA): is commonly found as a preservative in lipstick. Considered a carcinogenic it is recognized to cause skin reactions, sense organ toxicity, and cancer.
Ethanolamines – Di… (DEA), Tri… (TEA), Amono… (MEA): considered hormone disrupters, they are used as an emulsifier, pH adjuster, and preservative in foundations, concealers, eyeliner, and face powders. A carcinogen, these have been linked to liver and kidney cancer.
Ethoxylated Compounds: are used in cosmetics as a skin conditioner and emulsifier. These compounds are processed by adding ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen, to other chemicals to make them less harsh on the skin. Look for syllables “eth” or “PEG” like PEG-40 or ceteareth-20.
FD & C Color Pigments: are synthetic dyes derived from coal tar –petroleum! Easily absorbed into our bodies, coal tar is stored in our organs and fatty tissues. Although most colors are carcinogenic causing skin irritation, nausea, headaches, fatigue, mood swings, and skin cancer, the most dangerous are D&C Red 36 and D&C Red 22 – both have been linked to nervous system damage.
Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives: are used to prevent the formation of bacteria. Think about this… Formaldehyde is a chemical used to preserve corpses! What in the world is it doing in makeup? Urea (Imidazolidinyl) & DMDM Hydantoin are just two of the many preservatives that release formaldehyde. Formaldehyde irritates the respiratory system possibly causing asthma, causes skin reactions, can trigger heart palpitations, and has been linked to reproductive problems and cancer. Scary to think formaldehyde-releasing ingredients are common in many store brands of cosmetics.
Fragrance: this term is unregulated and indicates the presence of up to four thousand different ingredients. Most of these are synthetic and can be toxic or carcinogenic. Reported symptoms include headaches, dizziness, skin rash and discoloration, coughing, vomiting, and can even affect the central nervous system causing depression, hyperactivity and irritability.
Heavy Metals – (Other Than Lead): viewed a by-product of manufacturing heavy metals – arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc, chromium and iron – have been found in makeup ranging from foundation, nail color, lipstick and lip gloss to eyeliner and mascara. These have been linked to nervous system toxicity, as well as reproductive, immune and respiratory toxicity and cancer. These usually are not listed on a label but point to the importance of using certified organic from green manufacturing.
Lead: banned in the ‘70’s because of health dangers, it is a known neurotoxin that causes anemia, an increase in blood pressure, damage to the brain and kidneys and can in fact negatively affect almost every organ and system in the body. Lead is viewed as a production contaminant that makes its way into lipsticks through tainted raw materials and pigments.
Mercury: is an antibacterial that is thought to help prevent eye infections, but it is a known toxin. Trace amounts are used in certain eye products, including mascaras and eyeliners, when no other preservative can be used.
Parabens – methyl, propyl, butyl: are a group of synthetic chemicals that are used as antimicrobial preservatives. Used in more than 13,000 cosmetic products, these are endocrine disrupters. According to the Environmental Protection Agency these endocrine disrupters “…interfere with the human endocrine system and end up being stored in our body’s fatty tissue”. Parabens contribute to developmental, immune system, and reproductive disorders.
Petrolatum: is a mineral oil jelly and a common ingredient in lipsticks as a moisturizer. Ironically it can cause chapped lips and allergic reactions. Daily use may show skin as moist, but petrolatum does not allow moisture from the air or oxygen to penetrate and may actually suffocate the skin causing skin cells to die. Petrolatum comes from petroleum or crude oil which is easily contaminated and has been linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive damage, immune system toxicity, endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity.
Phthalates: are widely used in cosmetics and other personal care products to hold in the color or scent. They are hormone disrupting chemicals that can destroy the endocrine system. Not covered by strict enough laws these are rarely listed separately on labels but are included in the term “fragrance”.
Propylene Glycol – (PG): used to break down protein and cellular structure (exactly what skin is made of!) it is used in most forms of makeup as a wetting agent. It is actually the active component in antifreeze! PG can quickly penetrate the skin and is considered a skin and eye irritant and has been linked to liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
Talc: because of its coverage and oil-absorption properties, Talc is used in makeup as an anticaking, coverage, skin protectant, agent. Talc not only can clog pores, but it is toxic and carcinogenic. Cosmetic-grade talc is a form of magnesium silicate that can cause non-reproductive organ system toxicity and even cancer.
Tocopheryl Acetate: used in a variety of products, including lipstick, moisturizer and foundation as a skin conditioning agent, this vitamin E acetate can cause allergies, immunotoxicity and cancer.
Triclosan: is an anti-bacterial chemical that the EPA actually registers as a pesticide! Considered a hormone disruptor, it is stored in our body fat where it accumulates causing damage to liver, kidney, lungs, heart problems, birth defects, and cancer.
Just as important as reading the ingredient label is knowing the manufacturer of your makeup products. Loopholes in laws and unregulated areas have cosmetic manufacturers easily able to use ingredients that are cheap, extend the shelf life of the product or entice consumers to buy by looking or smelling attractive.
Because the term natural tends to be loosely used, it is worth the effort to look for makeup products that have certifications for being all natural or organic and are produced by manufacturers employing green practices. Pretty is as pretty contains and non-organic, non-natural ingredients are pretty ugly.