Women can choose what they use on their skin and hair as part of their daily regimen. And natural cosmetics and skincare have become popular options.
According to the 2017 Green Beauty Barometer survey, 74% of women with children at home and 60% of women without children at home claimed that purchasing green or natural beauty products was important to them.
This can be seen locally as well.
“Our clients are inquiring about natural or organic products,” explained Julie Drake, manager of Body & Soul Wellness Center and Spa in Dubuque. “They are more aware of ingredients and how they will affect their overall health. They are becoming more conscientious about what goes into and on their bodies. Because they also are more aware of the environment and how production and packaging of products affects it, where possible, we prioritize all-natural,
What is natural?
Natural products generally are considered those that are made with raw materials, such as fruit, flowers and spices. But just because the word “natural” is on the label, it doesn’t mean that the product is natural.
The Food and Drug Administration has not legally defined the term “natural” and has no regulations on its use.
Organic rules for personal care products also are not as defined as those for food. The FDA regulates personal care products, but the agency does not regulate the term “organic” for personal care products. Organic claims on cosmetics are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the term only applies to the agricultural ingredients used in personal care products.
Only personal care products that are certified to be at least 95% organic will bear an official USDA Organic seal. The agency allows two categories of certification to display the USDA Organic seal:
• “100% organic,” which indicates that a product only contains organically produced ingredients.
• “Organic,” which signifies that at least 95% of a product’s ingredients are organically produced and the remaining 5% of ingredients are on an approved list of substances.
In addition to ingredient specifications, products bearing the USDA Organic seal also must comply with handling and manufacturing specifications. The use of genetically modified organisms is prohibited.
Body & Soul uses and sells Eminence Organic Skin Care, which uses sustainable farming and green practices to create natural, organic and Biodynamic products.
Biodynamic ingredients are grown on a farm where the practices regard the farm, plants and animals as a self-supporting ecosystem that lives and breathes. Biodynamic products also contain no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Eminence products are made with fresh fruit pulps, plants and exotic spices, which are rich in nutrients. The ingredients are combined with thermal hot spring water to create products that contain potent healing and beautifying properties. For each product sold, Eminence contributes to sustainability by planting a tree.
Eminence products contain a minimum of 70% and up to 95% organic ingredients. The remaining percentage of ingredients follows the Eminence company philosophy which is:
Believe in: Organic, natural, biodynamic, sustainable and cruelty-free.
Say “no” to: Parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol and animal testing.
For those with sensitive skin or allergies, natural cosmetics and skin care are good options.
Body & Soul uses and sells bareMinerals, a naturel mineral-based cosmetics line.
“The products are free of talc, parabens, phthalates, fragrance, preservatives and chemical sunscreen,” Drake said. “The ingredients in natural cosmetics are usually ones that you’ve heard of rather than long chemical names. And the number of ingredients is typically less for natural cosmetics.”
The staying power of natural cosmetics is the same as regular cosmetics. Drake pointed out that because organic products tend to be more concentrated, less of the product is needed meaning that natural cosmetics will last longer before needing to be replenished.
Contempo Salon Spa in Dubuque uses and sells Aveda natural cosmetics, hair care and skincare.
“The products are made from pure, organic plants and flowers and are never tested on animals,” said Lisa Ploessl , co-owner.
Aveda’s cosmetics are 100% vegan.
“Aveda’s natural and vegan products differ from drugstore or department store cosmetics because they are petroleum-free and don’t contain artificial ingredients and chemicals,” Ploessl said.
Body & Soul uses Pureology hair products, which are 100% vegan and contain zero sulfates. The concentrated shampoos use a blend of corn, coconut and sugar to gently cleanse without stripping color. The bottles are made of 50% post-consumer recycled materials and are 100% recyclable.
Is natural really safer than regular cosmetics?
Yes and no.
Natural ingredients can be safer and better than synthetic alternatives, but there naturally are occurring substances that are not safe that could be used in personal care products. For example, clay used as a natural ingredient could be contaminated with toxic heavy metals.
Some synthetically-derived ingredients used in regular cosmetics have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, development disorders and other harmful health issues.
On the other hand, there are many synthetic chemicals that play an important role in personal care products that have not been associated with health problems.
To put your mind at ease and determine if your favorite product is safe, check the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep cosmetic database at ewg.org/skindeep.
The database was launched in 2004 and lists hazard ratings for 70,000 products and 9,000 ingredients on the market.
To use the database, enter a cosmetic brand name in the search bar or click on the EWG Verified Green Bar on the top right to see the products that have earned the EWG seal of approval.
Jill Carlson is a freelance writer from Madison, Wis.