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Go Green - Body Beautiful Print E-mail
Lenny Balston   
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Go Green - Body BeautifulIt will come as no surprise that the beauty industry is one of the biggest in the world with the top five corporations in the US alone turning over more than $200 billion annually. What is concerning for the consumer is that many of the popular brands and manufacturers rarely feature environmental responsibility and ethical concerns in their philosophy or practices.

Slick advertising campaigns and the green washing attempts of the beauty houses trick many but if you want to be a conscious and conscientious consumer then here are some tips to help you.

Pretty Boxes
Most of us judge a book by its cover and when shopping for beauty products it’s probably even easier than usual for us to be lured with sexy and eye-catching packaging. If you’re feeling drawn to a product because of its packaging then think carefully about exactly what it’s made of and how easy it’s going to be to dispose of when its empty.
Only choose plastic packaging if it has the recycle symbol embossed on it.
The top packing choice is glass as it's the easiest to recycle and results in no loss of quality in the recycled product. Paper or cardboard should be your next choice as it takes less energy to recycle than plastic. Only choose plastic packaging if it has the recycle symbol embossed on it. Never choose packaging made from a combination of plastic or materials, such a plastic lined cardboard box, as this is extremely difficult to recycle. Read Recycling Plastics Is Easy to find out more about plastic recycling.

Some manufacturers are cottoning onto the benefits of going green so you should also be looking out for products with bio-degradable or recycled packaging. Be aware of green washing on packaging, these are often products with certain colours (usually shades of green) or phrasing and keywords like ‘essential oils’ and ‘deep sea mud’ that imply green credentials.

Read the Label
When searching for a new moisturiser or face cream we spend so much time looking for the most appealing product yet rarely flip the container over to study the ingredients. Many chemicals used in beauty products are unsafe for bodily use and impact negatively on the environment. Visit The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics to find out which companies have agreed to produce products that use only natural and organic ingredients.

Petroleum Free
Mineral oil, paraffin, and propylene glycol are common petroleum derivatives found in a surprisingly vast number of beauty products like cleansers, moisturisers, shampoos, gels and body washes. These have the same origins as fossil fuels which are non-renewable resources. Once again read the label and go for natural ingredients. Petroleum derivatives are particularly prevalent in perfumes, which incidentally still lack ingredients labels, so opt for trusted brands if ‘au naturale’ is not your style. The Environmental Working Group has put together The Skin Deep database to assist consumers in finding out more about the environmental and health impact of specific ingredients, products and brands, so if you’re not sure who to give your loyalty to then use the database.

Cruelty Free
Did you know that 38,000 animals are killed for animal testing in Europe each year and considering that many of the products that we buy in South Africa are ‘invented’ there this is an ethical burden that we also need to be aware of. The alarm bells might also be ringing at this point and the question you’re probably asking is, “what ingredients are in these products that make them unsafe for human testing?”

Humane Cosmetics Standard
You might be surprised to learn that many of the brands positioning themselves as being family friendly are not that keen on our furry friends. Find out if your ‘must have’ beauty buy is tested on animals on the Caring Consumer website, also look out for the Humane Cosmetics Standard logo on products.
Go the old fashioned straight-razor route - think Johnny Depp and Sweeney Todd, without all the blood of course
Disposable razors are a big no-no (we don’t think we need to say anymore about landfills), electric razors use electricity and also contain batteries that are difficult to dispose of safely, and so a razor with a replaceable blade is probably your greenest option.

For men you can of course go the old fashioned straight-razor route (think Johnny Depp and Sweeney Todd, without all the blood of course) where no blade replacing is required, just sharpening. You should also be using an environmentally friendly foam or gel to get the perfect green and clean shaven look.
Sugaring is less painful than waxing as you’re only tugging the hair and not the surrounding skin.
For ladies the straight-razor is probably not going to replace your wax or chemically instensive depilatory creams, however sugaring might be a viable and natural option for you. According to the sugaring fans out there it is less painful than waxing as you’re only tugging the hair and not the surrounding skin, you can try it out for yourself using this home-made sugaring recipe. Of course if you prefer to have your hair removal done professionally then consider threading – only a length of cotton and some very expert hands are needed for very green method.

Feminine Hygiene
Tampons and sanitary pads are not only known to cause toxic shock but they also contribute to the landfills or end up in the sea via our sewerage systems. The average women will use 10,000 tampons or sanitary pads in her lifetime and the dioxins contained in these products then continue to make their way into the water tables and oceans contaminating our fish and plant life. Opt for unbleached products made from natural ingredients or use a product like the Mooncup which is re-usable with a considerably longer life span.
Flawless skin and shiny locks are infinitely more beautiful than
heavy make up and over-processed hair.

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
We can of course all dramatically reduce our use of beauty products if we paid more attention to and supported the natural processes of our bodies. Make the effort to drink six glasses of water a day and eat a nutritionally balanced diet. You will not only look more radiant but you will also need to spend less on your beauty purchases. Flawless skin and shiny locks are infinitely more beautiful than heavy make up and over-processed hair.

For more information on cruelty free products available in South Africa please visit Beauty Without Cruelty and Animal Rights Africa.
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