Give your cosmetic bag an eco-friendly makeover

Give your cosmetic bag an eco-friendly makeover

Istockphoto Image by: Istockphoto Author: Canadian Living


Give your cosmetic bag an eco-friendly makeover

As more and more organic foods are added to our grocery lists, it only makes sense that we want to make the transition to safer, naturally derived ingredients in our makeup and personal-care products too.

This change-up can be a daunting task since many of us have been using the same tried-and-true beauty products for years – Maybelline New York Great Lash Mascara, anyone? We talked to Jean Eng, owner of Toronto-based Pure + Simple spas ( about ways to make the move to more natural makeup.

1. Natural versus organic makeup

There's all-natural makeup and then there's organic makeup. So what, exactly, is the difference?

"All-natural makeup often has both organic and natural ingredients. But organic makeup contains a certain percentage of ingredients that are derived from organic sources. The percentage varies from product to product," explains Eng.

No matter what the label claims, read the ingredient list carefully to weed out the truly safe from the toxic since the terms "natural" and "organic" are very loosely regulated by Health Canada and many companies use them simply as marketing terms.

That said, products that contain any of the following ingredients are neither natural nor organic, so be on the lookout for: synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, silicones, sulfates, mineral oils, phthalates, petro-chemicals, DEA/TEA, propylene glycol and, finally, preservatives such as diazolidinyl urea and parabens (which are often listed as methylparaben, probylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben and benezylparaben).

2. Where to start?
Giving your makeup an eco-makeover can be overwhelming – it's hard to toss favourite products that you've loved for years.

Eng suggests ridding your makeup bags of all products containing the chemicals mentioned above. However, she understands that a complete switch isn't always practical and that the process can be costly.

If you need to start slowly, the first products to go should be your lip products (including lipsticks, lip balms and lip glosses) as well as foundations and powders.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover great organic makeup brands to try on page 2

"Lip products are inevitably ingested and foundation and powder are usually applied to your entire face and are easily absorbed into your skin," says Eng.

While you're examining your makeup labels, do the same with your favourite nail polishes. Nail polish should be "three-free" – free from these three toxic ingredients: formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate. These ingredients are harmful and can be absorbed through your nail beds. Most nail polish companies have phased them out, but scour the ingredient label of your favourite brand to be sure.

3. What brands can you trust?

The good news is that now, more than ever before, there are a plethora of natural makeup choices that are not only better for you and the earth, but are also effective and a pleasure to use – unlike the goopy, inconsistent formulas of days gone by.

Specialty stores like Pure + Simple and Whole Foods offer a wide variety of healthy makeup choices. The Pure + Simple makeup line is a homegrown Canadian brand free of chemical fillers, dyes and fragrances.

Another organic makeup brand to try is Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, which offers an amazing, high-quality line of chemical-free makeup. Specifically, the Iredale concealers provide great coverage and are available in a variety of shades.

Other trustworthy brands include Nvey Eco Cosmetics, Revolution Organics, RMS Beauty, Vapour Organic Beauty and Dr. Hauschka Skin Care.

At larger chain stores like Sephora, ask for testers of products by eco-conscious makeup brands like Bite Beauty, Korres, Tarte and Josie Maran as you hunt for your new go-to products. At the most accessible level, Shoppers Drug Mart carries Physicians Formula Organic Wear, which is worth testing out.

4. Want to learn more?
Before buying, consider checking out product ratings on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. With over 65,000 ratings, you're likely to find out more about the product or brand you're interested in.

With this information, you'll be able to make educated and informed decisions on your journey to an increasingly safe, chemical-free makeup regimen. And don't stress if you can't be 100 per cent chemical-free: prices, availability and preference all play a factor in this transition. Even little changes can add up to a big impact for your overall health.

Read more:

5 eco-friendly brands you need to know
7 steps to eco-friendly shopping

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Give your cosmetic bag an eco-friendly makeover