Finding the right colours and products that work best for your skin is enough of a cosmetics challenge; you shouldn't also have to also figure out which products really are safe to use.
Unfortunately, sleuthing is often called for at conventional retailers if you want to be sure your make-up is as green as it seems. Here are some tips to help you identify which cosmetics culprits to avoid.
Leave your preconceptions at the door.
In books and movies the “bad guy” is often the one you least suspect. The same goes for cosmetics shopping. Not all synthetic ingredients are harmful, and not all natural ingredients are safe (after all, arsenic is completely natural!)
Synthetic substances are chemically altered materials made from plants, minerals or animal sources, and are sometimes used in cosmetics when there is no natural equivalent. As long as they’re non-toxic, synthetic ingredients can offer a safe way for companies to make cosmetics without falling back on harmful substances that include formaldehyde or parabens.
Things aren't always what they seem.
Cosmetics companies love throwing around high-impact marketing words – Botanical, Eco-Friendly, Herbal, Hypoallergenic, Natural and Organic are just a few. The trouble is that none of those terms are clearly defined, even by Health Canada’s guide to cosmetic ingredient labeling. So pull out your magnifying glass and pore over the fine print; examine the ingredient list and search for third-party certifications, like USDA Organic or Eco-Cert.
While we’re on the subject of misleading labels, have a close look at anything that claims to be Cruelty-Free or Not Tested on Animals – those terms don’t guarantee that the product’s raw ingredients weren't tested on animals, or that the product is entirely free of animal ingredients. terra20’s Vegan icon will help you identify cosmetics that are fully animal-friendly.
Crack down on repeat offenders.
When sleuthing for healthier “skin-safe” cosmetics, be aware of repeat offenders in some of your favourite make-up items:
Mascara: Be on the lookout for toxins such as parabens, phthalates, Sodium Laureth/Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), mercury and formaldehyde. Truly natural mascaras are free of ingredients like preservatives, mineral oil, chemical dyes and fragrance.
Eye Shadow: The following ingredients should be considered armed and dangerous: crystalline silica, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and petrochemicals, like acrylates, petrolatum and polyethylene.
Lipstick: >Watch out for lead, coal tar derived dyes, Propylene/Butylene Glycol (PG) and petroleum distillates. Safe lipsticks won’t contain any of those ingredients, and they’ll also be free of parabens, BHA and heavy metals.
Keep an eye out for ingredients that are on the David Suzuki Foundation’s Dirty Dozen cosmetic chemicals list.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to stopping cosmetics crime from happening when you apply your make-up.
For more information, feel free to ask our in-store experts or leave us a comment below.
Book your full cosmetics consultation today by calling 1-855-terra20. $25 fee applies; the session is free if you spend $25 on cosmetics after your consultation. See a cosmetics specialist for details.