Organic Beauty Products: Three Things to Avoid When Shopping

When used to describe beauty products, the word ‘organic’ means that the product has been made from something that was once alive; if it has been extracted or refined from a plant or animal source, a substance is organic. But being made from a plant or animal is no guarantee that something is good, after all there are many plants that are poisonous. It is difficult to say what to look for in organic beauty products, but here are three things you should avoid.

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1. Faith in Standards

Surprisingly, there are no FDA standards for beauty products, so don’t put your faith in standards and government regulation. There are, however, some products which have obtained USDA certification. These have been able to prove that over 95% of ingredients have been organically grown, hence the addition of non organic chemicals is minimal.

2. Irritant Chemicals

Many cosmetics and beauty products have a major ingredient which is derived from one or more plants, but most products need something more, an additive to create the right texture, to extend the shelf life, or even just to make the product bubble or foam. Sadly that ‘something more’ often comes in the form of a chemical irritant.

Sodium Lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a common ingredient in many beauty products, it is an ester of sulphuric acid and is also known as sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt. The American College of Toxicology(ACT) has shown that as little as 0.5% of this can cause irritation, yet some products (often soaps) contain as much as 30%, which the ACT has described as ‘highly irritating and dangerous’. There is another form of the chemical, more commonly used in cosmetics, which is slightly less irritating: Sodium Laureth Sulfate is often abbreviated to SLES. Before you buy a product, check the percentage of SLS and SLES.

In the 1980’s these chemicals were studied to see if their long term use could cause health problems. Some were found to penetrate the skin, leaving deposits in the liver, lungs, heart and brain. Consumers were concerned, and in answer to those concerns, and a desire to produce more environmentally friendly products, the organic beauty products market was born.

Years later and despite the studies, these chemicals are still used in many beauty products.

3. Misleading labels

Organic beauty products are quite easy to make at home, yet their shelf life may be short, and they may have to stored in a refrigerator, which means they have a low convenience factor. For most of us, the DIY approach is not an option, so, when we go shopping for a commercially available organic product, we have to know what to look for, and sadly the label means very little. The product may be labeled ‘organic’, or even SLS free, but this is no guarantee.

As consumers, all we can do to avoid misleading labels s is check the product’s list of ingredients. Most companies with genuine ‘organic’ credentials want you to know what goes into their products, so read the list. If it includes a lot of long chemical sounding names, the product may not be as organic as the label indicates.