You reduce, reuse and recycle your household goods. You buy organic foods whenever possible. You even own an electric car. But how green is your beauty routine?

It's estimated that the average woman uses 12 products every morning that contain well over 100 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are not regulated and can be harmful – or at least irritating – to the skin. Read labels and try to avoid ingredients such as these that may cause harmful health or environmental effects:

  • Phthalates.
  • Preservatives such as parabens and formaldehyde.
  • Petrochemicals such as isopropyl alcohol or ethanol.
  • Sulfates such as sodium lauryl ether sulfate.
  • Propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol.
  • Artificial fragrances and dyes (those starting with F&DC).

Choosing products with safer ingredients is just one of the steps eco-conscious consumers can take to feel great about their daily beauty routine. Here are some other steps that can not only ease your impact on the environment, but also ease the burden on your wallet.

  • Buy in bulk. If you have a favorite shampoo or body wash, buy it in the largest container possible to cut down on packaging waste.
  • Look for the least amount of packaging. Avoid the frustration and wasted plastic involved in those rigid clamshell packages and choose something in a recyclable box or glass bottle.
  • Think about what you can avoid buying. Conditioner not only works great on your hair but it makes a wonderful shaving cream, allowing the razor to run smoothly over your legs. This keeps you from buying multiple specialty products.
  • Grab ingredients from your kitchen. Olive oil can be used as a makeup remover. A combination of sugar and olive oil – with a few drops of your favorite essential oil – is a perfect body scrub. Try a facial mask of warm honey, whipped egg whites or plain yogurt.
  • Avoid specialty products that don't do anything special. Neck cream? It's not formulated any differently than your face cream; just use your face cream on your neck and décolletage.
  • Look for "organic" on the label. However, be aware of what the different organic seals and phrases mean. Other terms such as "natural," "earth-friendly" and "hypoallergenic" are not regulated, so beware and investigate products that use these terms without further explanation.
    • USDA Organic seal: The product is certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is a trustworthy label for farmed ingredients such as honey and avocado, but doesn't cover ingredients such as essential oils. Products with at least 95 percent organic ingredients can qualify.
    • IOS Natural & Organic Cosmetic and BDIH Certified Natural Cosmetics seals: These independent organizations offer certification that the product's growing and production methods are ecologically sound.
    • "100% organic": All ingredients must be organically produced.
    • "Organic": At least 95 percent of the ingredients must be organic.
    • "Made with organic ingredients": At least 70 percent of ingredients are organic.
    • "Organic ingredients": Less than 70 percent of the ingredients are organically grown.

With just a little bit of creative thinking and effort to read labels, you can green your beauty routine in no time. Along the way, you'll most likely discover a new product or trick you love and even save a little money!

Visit our Learning Center for even more green tips!

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