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Non-toxic beauty tips for the whole family

Geste - Cosmétiques écologiques

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spent more than $2.2 billion on cosmetics in 2010. Women use makeup; men, aftershaves and colognes… Although beauty products may promise confidence, they don't always respect basic environmental rules.

To begin with, cosmetic manufacturers rely on attention-grabbing packaging.

What can you do?

Look for companies that offer packages made of:

  • paper
  • recycled materials

Look for:

  • products that can be refilled
  • packages that can be recycled

Cut tubes to get the most out of each container. You can sometimes get two or three more squirts out of a tube that seems empty.

Harmful chemicals

The word “fragrance” is commonly used in the cosmetics industry. But what does it mean? According to the David Suzuki Foundation, it can refer to any one of nearly 3000 chemicals. The current Canadian standards for labelling do not require companies to list each of these substances on ingredients lists.

Keep in mind that lipstick, eye shadow and mascara are applied near absorbent mucous membranes. These unlisted ingredients may provoke:

  • allergic reactions
  • migraines
  • asthma symptoms

These chemicals can also be disruptive to the environment. The synthetic musk that they contain can end up in our waterways, where it contaminates aquatic life. Inevitably, it ends up in our food chain.

Exit diethyl phthalate (DEP)

DEP is commonly used in cosmetics to make a perfume last longer. The U.S. Clean Water Act identifies it as a major toxic pollutant. Health Canada has banned certain phthalates in toys for children, but DEP is still allowed in cosmetics.

What can you do?

  • Choose 100% natural soaps and creams made from plants and flowers.
  • Use unscented deodorants.
  • Ask your favourite stores to stop carrying products that contain DEP.
  • Check ingredient lists before buying cosmetics.

Beware of false claims

To be certified as “organic” or “ecological” in Quebec, a cosmetic must meet the standards of the Conseil des appellations agroalimentaires du Québec (CAAQ).

According to Ecocert, for a cosmetic to be called “organic” it must comply with these criteria:

  • at least 95% of the plant ingredients must be organic
  • at least 10% of the total ingredients must be organic
     

To be called “ecological”:

  • at least 50% of the vegetable ingredients must be organic
  • at least 5% of the total ingredients must be organic

What about your hair?

Conventional shampoos contain such controversial ingredients as:

Some studies claim that cocamide DEA, which is often uses as a softening or thickening agent, could cause cancer in humans.

What can you do?

Buy your shampoo in bulk, using a reusable bottle.

Look for such ingredients as:

  • chamomile
  • lemon
  • essential oils

Be wary of the term “100% natural.” Look instead for these magic words:

  • PEG-free
  • Silicon-free
  • Paraben-free
  • 100% natural fragrance

When the weather permits, let your hair air dry.

Limit the use of heated straighteners or curling irons.

Limit your use of hair sprays in aerosol cans. They contain toxic volatile organic compounds that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Always dispose of aerosol containers at eco-centres.

For a green shave

According to French website Ékopedia, in 2010, BIC sold approximately 6.2 million razors a day, nearly 4300 every minute!

  • Do like the barbers of old… Use a reusable straight blade or safety razor.
  • Replace shaving cream with natural soaps with less packaging.
  • Make your own waxes at home. 
  • Electrolysis tools, if used for many years, can be much more environmentally friendly than disposable razors.
  • Avoid depilatory creams that contain sulphur and products that are not biodegradable.
  • Bleaching products contain ammonia and petroleum products. Their manufacturing process is very polluting.

Make your own cosmetics

Some businesses offer customers the opportunity to learn how to make their own soaps and shampoos. Look for a workshop in your area.

Trust in your natural Beauty

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again, because it’s true: you’re beautiful just the way you are.

Instead of using cosmetics:

  • Invest in jewellery made by local artisans.
  • Treat yourself to a daily dose of beauty sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water: it's good for your complexion.

Most of all, accept yourself as you are. Our "flaws" are part of our charm.

Sources:
Statistics Canada
David Suzuki Foundation
Clean Water Act
Ékopedia
Conseil des appellations agroalimentaires du Québec
Ecocert
Health Canada
Émission La vie en vert