Cosmetics and the Environment- An ugly connection

”Chemical” or natural- your choice of skin care products not only influences your skin, but also the environment. The awareness efforts of the consumer agencies have mainly remained focus on health risks from skin products and make-up. As a result, most of us are only concerned about the harmful impacts certain chemicals in our daily skin care products can have on us. The disastrous impact these products can have on the environment is not widely discussed.

Skin care and make up products can harm the environment in many ways. From being lethal to aquatic life, entering the water cycle to damaging the ecosystem balance. The threat these products pose, is mainly through packaging and contents. Bottles, tubes, tubs and other packaging containers made of recalcitrant, non-reusable materials, when trashed, tend to accumulate over the time and add to the ever growing piles of landfills. Chemical ingredients on the other hand, when discarded or drained, tend to accumulate in soil or water bodies instead of breaking down. Some of the most damaging chemicals are: P-phenylenediamine (in hair color and lipsticks), BHA and BHT (preservative and antioxidant in moisturizers), Dioxane (toiletries), Dibutyl phthalate (nail polish), Triclocan (toiletries), Diethanolamine (almost every cosmetic product in the market), Oxybenzone (chemical sunscreen), silicones (anti-aging, cosmetics) and products containing exfoliating microbeads.

The awareness against ”chemical” based products has set ”natural” products trending across markets. But the question that one needs to ask is- how natural are these natural products and where do they come from? Adding one natural ingredient to scores of chemicals is a marketing trick and not an organic revolution! How big is the company manufacturing these natural products? Does it boast of a ‘rare’ herb or other plant variety in it’s ingredients? Was the rare ingredient procured without causing damage to its ecosystem and to the survival of it’s species? The chances that a ‘natural’ company might instead cause damage to the environment than protect it are directly proportional to its size. Smaller natural product companies on the other hand (Especially the ones based on the passing of traditional knowledge through generations) manufacture and sell products without causing a significant damage.

Think before you buy!

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