Target has increased its natural beauty selection. CVS promised that by 2019 parabens and phthalates will not be included in about 600 of its in-house brands’ personal care products, including CVS Health, Beauty 360, Essence of Beauty and Blade lines. Ulta recently launched its own line of natural products. Sephora jumped on the bandwagon June 1 with its Clean at Sephora selection that includes 50 brands to make it easier for customers to navigate those products and shop knowing much of the research already has been done. And Nordstrom has launched Natural Outposts in stores and online.

A shift in consumer awareness and demand for safer beauty comes as no surprise. In 2015, the Environmental Working Group repo rted that women use an average of 12 products a day, containing 168 different chemicals. Teens on average use 17 personal care products a day, and after testing a group of teens’ blood and urine, the group found 16 hormone-altering chemicals, including parabens and phthalates.

Research and education has been improving since the 1990s when “natural” was the buzzword. Almost everything on the market has a natural origin, though. A brand can say it includes natural ingredients, and maybe it started out natural, but by the time other ingredients such as parabens and fragrances are added, the natural effect is ruined,

Mendez-Kelley said.

Under U.S. law, makeup or skin care can be labeled “natural” or “all natural” because those are not regulated labeling terms.

Marketing-wise, it’s extremely misleading, she said. It’s important to arm oneself with knowledge about which ingredients may not be the safest.

Organic is another often-used label in hair products, skin care and makeup.

Mendez-Kelley said a lot of products can be certified organic, but by law can contain a small amount of chemicals, too. Big words often can disguise lurking culprits. Some ingredients have been proven to disrupt hormone systems, contributing to girls getting their periods earlier, she said. It’s not just food that’s important, but “what we’re putting on the outside, too.”

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