In the movie Fight Club, Rule #1 states that, “You do not talk about Fight Club.” Likewise, rules within the cosmetics and skin care industry are like what Fight Club is to its members – no one talks about it.
Because what can you really say about rules that would allow manufacturers to put their products on the market even without FDA approval? Or rules that say it’s okay to mislead buyers by not putting all ingredients on labels? Or rules that can’t even recall harmful skin care or cosmetic products?
But we see the gigantic billboards, the perfectly airbrushed ad campaigns in magazines, the most beautiful Hollywood A-listers in commercials looking us in the eyes and saying “Buy Me.” Somehow, we get caught up in the razzle dazzle of the industry and our consumer common sense instantly leaves our body. So to help you make ethical skin care shopping decisions, here’s a new set of rules to help to get you back on track.
Rule #1: Skin care products should be all natural and all organic
Before going into the pros of going natural and organic, let’s define some terms first.
Natural - According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it’s “A substance that is derived from mineral, plant, or animal matter and does not undergo a synthetic process.” This means that if it’s not man-made and not grown in a laboratory, then it can be defined as natural under the USDA standards.
Organic – Although the USDA have the National Organic Program (NOP) and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), there currently are no set specific standards for what organic is for skin care and cosmetics products. As a rule of thumb, organic products are produced without the use of any synthetic fertilizers or chemicals. As per the USDA, any product with less than 70 percent non-organic ingredient cannot be marketed as an organic product.
So why is it important to choose natural and organic products? Statistics shows that our skin absorbs more than 60 percent of what we put on it. On the average, women absord more than 200 different kinds of chemicals through their skin care products. This accumulates to about 5 lbs of chemicals annually. Which means if you’ve been using skin care products from when you were in your teens, you would’ve absorbed a staggering 35 lbs by the time you’re in your 20s. Yikes!
Brands that are certified Natural and Organic:
Earth Mama Angel Baby
Origins Skin Care
MuLondon Natural Organic Skincare
Rule #2: Any type of skin care product should be paraben-free
For more than 70 years, parabens have been used as a cheap and effective preservative by beauty and cosmetics brands for their products. However, recent studies have shown that parabens have a direct correlation to increasing the risks of contracting breast cancer – both in men and women.
Staunch advocates of paraben-free products such as Philippa Darbre of the University of Reading in England who specialize in oncology and biomolecular sciences. According to her 2004 research, 90 percent of sampled tissue from breast tumor biopsies have parabens in it. She argues that long-term exposure to parabens, which mimic estrogen, greatly affects a woman’s risks of getting breast cancer. While in men, research shows that parabens absorbed through the skin (lotion, soap, etc.) can lead to male breast cancer, declining sperm count, and testicular cancer.
Origins Skin Care
Rule #3: No Animal Testing
Because, seriously, how can you feel pretty after knowing that cute, little animals suffered to make your beauty product? According to PETA, outdated product testing techniques that use animals harm more than hundreds of thousands of animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, and even fish.
But the good news is that more and more companies are adopting testing alternatives such as in vitro (cell culture) and in silico (computer simulation). These methods reduce or all-together remove the use of animals during product testing. While, non-profit organizations such as the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) further promotes humane science by developing and refining other alternatives to animal testing.
Companies with No Animal Testing Policy:
Dr. Hauschka Skin Care
Origins Skin Care
Liz Clairborne Cosmetics
Rule #4: Choose Socially Responsible Brands
If your favorite skincare brands can already make you beautiful on the outside, then make sure that it can also make you beautiful on the inside. Because isn’t that where real beauty comes from?
Skin Care and Cosmetics Companies with CSR Programs:
Origins Skin Care – Origins Plant A Tree in cooperation with the American Forests’ Global ReLeaf Project
Shiseido – Shiseido Social Beauty Care Center which specializes in developing therapy makeup to cover birthmarks, vitiligo, scars, and other skin blemishes.
Avon – Hello Green Tomorrow which aims to reduce the company’s environmental footprint as well as aid in reforestation projects across the United States.
Nu Skin – Nourish the Children Initiative which targets to end the problem of hunger and malnutrition worldwide.