Cosmetics are a part of everyday life for both men and women. Many people want to look good and feel good, and they use cosmetics to achieve this.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating consumers on the content of cosmetic products, states that women use an average of 12 personal care products a day, and men use about half that.
Because of the prevalence of cosmetics in society, it’s important to be an informed and educated consumer. Learn what’s in cosmetics and how they affect you and the environment.
According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, surfactants are found in products used for washing. They break up oily solvents produced by skin so they can be washed away with water.
Surfactants are combined with additives like dyes, perfumes, and salts in products like foundation, shower gel, shampoo, and body lotion. They thicken products, allowing them to spread evenly and cleanse and foam.
These retain moisture on skin or in hair. Glycerin, a natural component of vegetable oils and animal fats, is produced synthetically in the cosmetics industry. It’s the oldest, cheapest, and most popular conditioning polymer.
Conditioning polymers are used in hair products to attract water and soften hair while swelling the hair shaft. They keep products from drying out and stabilize fragrances to keep the scents from seeping through plastic bottles or tubes. They also make products like shaving cream feel smooth and slick, and they prevent them from sticking to your hand.
Preservatives are additives that particularly concern consumers. They’re used to slow bacterial growth and prolong a product’s shelf life. This can keep a product from causing infections of the skin or eyes. The cosmetics industry is experimenting with so-called self-preserving cosmetics, which use plant oils or extracts to act as natural preservatives. However, these can irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions. Many have a strong odor that can be unpleasant.
Fragrance can be the most harmful part of a beauty product. Fragrance often contains chemicals that can cause an allergic reaction. You may want to consider avoiding any product that includes the term “fragrance” in its list of ingredients.
Choosing healthy makeup also means opting for packaging that’s safe for you and healthy for the earth. Jars with open mouths can become contaminated with bacteria. Airless packaging, which doesn’t allow bacteria to reproduce, is preferred.
Pumps with one-way valves can keep air from entering the opened package, making contamination more difficult. Careful manufacturing processes keep the product sterile as it enters the bottle or jar.
Cosmetics are a part of life for many people, and their marketing can be misleading. If you use cosmetics or personal care products, be informed as to what exactly is in them. By reading the labels and doing some research you can make educated, healthy decisions when purchasing and using cosmetic products.