In the UK, we spend £5 billion a year on cosmetics and toiletries, and on average a women uses up to 12 products a day. It is somewhat of a pernicious paradox that these very same chemicals we use to help us look, smell and feel good actually have worringly adverse side effects - from cumbersome rashes to catastrophic carcinogens, alongside animal affliction and packaging pollution.
In the UK £5 billion a year is spent on cosmetics and toiletries. On average they say a women uses up to 12 products a day. But it's a bit of a paradox that these chemicals we use to help us look, smell and feel good actually have worrying side effects and impacts- from rashes to cancer, animal cruelty to packaging pollution.
Check your favourite brands for animals testing and other ethical infringements, and be prepared to try new positive products.
In 2013, the EU ruled against animal testing. It assured that nothing created or sold in its borders was tested on animals. However, there are still loopholes for big dogs of the industry, so nightmarish practices have not yet fully ceased with product ingredients knowingly tested around the world, then sold here.
What to do...?!
Many brands still use these loopholes to use ingredients they see as important that are tested on animals, and these are owned by super companies like; L'Oreal, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Johnson & Johnson, S.C. Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Church & Dwight, Unilever, and Henkel.
To avoid using products that have been harmful to animals, check the status of your favourite products.
400 million tonnes of chemicals are produced each year, with 2 million tonnes from cosmetics in Europe alone. Common ingredients with unpronounceable names are invisible when washed away down the drain and into the seas, yet many are known carcinogens and consequently catastropic for the environment.
Chemical ingredients used in cosmetics may be absorbed through the skin and can enter the bloodstream. Substances absorbed in this way bypass the liver where detoxification takes place and can be circulated around the body, interacting with living cells.
In ancient Indian Ayurvedic philosophy the rule to live by is, 'if I put it on my body, I must also be willing to eat it.' Hello natural, plastic-free, organic coconut oil...
Bottles, tubs, tubes and pots produced out of plastic are pillaging the earth and oceans. There is already nearly more plastic than fish in the sea, with a dumper truck of rubbish being added every minute.
Be mindful of your plastic footprint with companies like Lush who accept black pots and lids back, and recycle the rest. It's great to find bulk buy shops in the local area to refill bottles of shampoo and conditioner and stuff.
Also, making your own could be a great challenge, a way to avoid chemicals, and a place to source glass jars more easily than big corporation plastic boxes.
Parabens are a type of preservative, which many cosmetic corporations combine in their concoctions to prevent the growth of microbes - this guarantees their products will sustain a long shelf-life. However, research on women being treated for breast cancer, revealed that parabens were present in 99% of breast cancer tissues. They are often under alias as methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben or butyl paraben
Spending that bit extra on certified natural, organic ingredients sustainably produced pays huge dividends to mother nature not to mention our skin, and of course our souls.
Concerns over cosmetic chemicals have created a demand for more 'natural' ingredients and products.
To meet this demand, big companies are searching for rarer resources, disrupting delicate ecosystems, diminishing the earth's riches at the detriment of human rights too.
Also, terms like 'hypoallergenic' (unlikely to cause an allergic reaction) 'natural', 'sensitivity-tested', 'non-irritating' and 'dermatologist-tested' actually still require no lab-work or development to legally substantiate, so don't expect any of the fancy wording on makeups or cosmetics to be life changing.
Microbeads & Microplastics
It's crazy, but tiny bits of actual plastic are being used in millions of popular face and body scrubs, lip sticks, foundations, moisturisers and toothpastes around the world. They're massively popular with corporations because they're cheaper than natural ingredients and offer a scrub texture, emulsion or bulk.
Then they're eaten by fish and birds. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. They're also found in 90% of birds too. They soak up toxins around them, which leaves them up to 1 million times more toxic than the water around them..
In June 2018, the UK government banned microbeads in rinse-off products amongst UK manufacturers after fantastic plastic campaigning. However, leave-on cosmetics such as lipsticks, face pastes, sun creams and glitter products will still contain plastics. Check out this group of Zero-Plastic brands, and if in doubt - email brands to find out answers, and get them responding to our positive pressure.
What can we do?
Find Brands that represent your morals, from organic, cruelty free, natural, vegan ingredients to packaging and plastic. I support Zao, which ticks most of the boxes (vegan, organic, with mainly plastic-free packaging which I LOVE), also Lush, Lily Lol, BareFaced and Green People products.
Good Trade offers a beautiful guide to 25 cruelty-free products.
Beat the microbead has a list of zero-plastic brands to help avoid plastic pollution.
Ethical Superstore has a good list of fair-trade bits of make-up.
See how major brands score across an ethical index below.