Currently at Growing A Green Family we’re looking at how to keep toxic body care products and cosmetics out of your home. The other day we looked at USDA Certified Organic body care products. However, while organic is good, it’s not everything in my opinion when it comes to choosing safe non-toxic body care products for your family. Organic, even certified, doesn’t always equal the greenest or safest products. Organic is one eco-friendly factor, but there are others you should consider.
*NOTE: When I talk about body care and cosmetics I mean the following types of products – toothpaste, soaps, body washes, lip gloss, lotions, shampoo, hair coloring, nail polish, essential oils and all related products. Body care products, to me, means products you use on or in your body (such as conditioner or mouthwash) or body care accessories such as razors.
Green body care product factors to consider:
Is it organic? If so is it certified organic? By who? For example, here in the U.S., although the USDA Organic program has some serious faults, the USDA Certified Organic seal is pretty much the gold standard of organics and the best organic guarantee you can get beyond growing your own ingredients and making homemade organic body care products.
Have you read the label? Don’t trust products that make claims such as “dermatologist-tested,” “natural,” or “organic.” Read the ingredient list and see what’s in that product. My general rule is that if I don’t understand an ingredient without looking it up in a chemistry book, the product could probably be safer. Look up products at Skin Deep before you buy. For example, Earth Mama Angel Baby products all score very well at Skin Deep.
What’s up with the packaging? Is the packaging excessive or even necessary? For example, you can buy bars of soap with zero packaging at my local natural food store. You can get unpackaged soap, solid shampoo and solid conditioner at LUSH as well. Zero packaging is much greener than packaging. If there is packaging can it be recycled? Was the packaging made with recycled or eco-friendly materials?
Can you get it in bulk? Bulk is the greenest way to go when it comes to body care products but few companies offer this option. Some do though. For example I can get Dr. Bronner – Castile Liquid Soap in bulk (using refillable bottles) at a local natural grocers here in Portland along with some hand soaps, shampoos and conditioners. That’s a better deal for the earth than buying new bottles of soap over and over.
Where is the product made? Does it have to be shipped a long way to get to you. Can you choose a local product instead? Check out small boutiques, the co-op and the farmers markets near you to find local products.
Is it a token green product? I hate token green products. A token green product is when a company has a slew of bad toxic products, such as the Clorox company and one good product (Green Works). You can find companies who make all safe and non-toxic body care vs. a company who just makes one or two.
Is it tested on animals? Why buy products that are tested on animals when there’s so many that aren’t. Look for the Leaping Bunny – this is the only seal in the USA that guarantees you that a product is not tested on animals.
A couple of other issues to consider:
- Why should you buy it? – Is the product useful? Does it do what it’s supposed to do. In my experience green body care products tend to cost more than their conventional counterparts. With this in mind they better work and work well.
- Is it safe? Many organic, natural and/or eco-friendly products use flowers, herbs, essential oils and other natural ingredients in their products but natural is not always safe. Make sure you know which flowers and herbs are safe for your family and check for any essential oil allergies.
- Do you need it? I love eco-lip gloss but I don’t need as many as I have (I’m trying to break my lip gloss addiction). The best way to go green with almost any product is to buy less of it. Also, make sure you stick with products that work for you so you don’t buy a bunch of unnecessary products. Use less and live greener.
Although I do feel it’s important to support the organic industry when you can, eco-friendly is still a little more than simply organic. When choosing body care products consider all of the above.