Because the U.S. government does not regulate cosmetics for safety the same way it regulates foods and medicines, some people are concerned about the ingredients in makeup. Many of the ingredients in cosmetics may be harmful to you and to the environment, according to the Organic Consumers Association.
Natural and organic are not interchangeable terms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Natural is a non-specific term. Generally, it means that the ingredients in a product are unprocessed. While fruits, vitamins, minerals and sugars are natural, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are organic. Manufacturers may mix natural ingredients–ingredients that come from nature–with synthetics.
Organic makeup contains ingredients that meet the national standards required by the USDA. Organic ingredients must come from farms or operations that are USDA accredited. Organic means that no pesticides or sewage sludge-based fertilizers are used. The USDA prohibits all synthetics in organic products.
Beware of Labels
Cosmetic companies can put the words, “natural” and “organic” on their products, even if they are not. Those words have no legal definition, according to the Organic Consumers Association. The result is that some manufacturers do claim that their product is natural or organic even it isn’t.
How to Tell
One way to tell that your product is organic is if it has a certification label on it from the USDA National Organic Program. If the product label has the word “organic” but does not have the USDA organic seal on it, the main cleansing products or preservatives are typically synthetics or petrochemical compounds, according to the Organic Consumers Association. Some products that claim to be organic or natural could be, but you can’t be sure unless you read the label.
Why Be Concerned
Some chemicals in cosmetics are carcinogens. For example, the foaming agent in some shampoos, cocamide DEA, is a carcinogen, according to the Miessence website. Another common product, isopropyl palmitate, can cause skin irritations and acne. Other synthetics can cause allergies, dermatitis or eczema.
What One Retailer is Doing
Whole Foods Market, as of 2010, adopted a requirement that forces its suppliers that claim to be organic to be certified by the USDA National Organic Program. Whole Foods believes that its customers should expect organic products to be the same for food and non-food items.
- makeup image by Franc Podgor…?ek from Fotolia.com