Going green with your beauty cabinet can make a positive impact on both your lifestyle and the environment. As enticing as "going green" may sound, it can be a confusing process. Rest assured that going green doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.
Ask yourself how many beauty products you use over the course of any given day. Even on a makeup-free day, you may realize that from body wash to facial moisturizer, you still use quite a few products. Each of those products may contain a laundry list of ingredients. With the skin being the largest organ of the body, it's important to know what you're applying to it.
Natural Ingredients to Look for
Look for products that contain proven natural ingredients that are gentle and effective on your skin. The easiest way you can do this is to begin reading labels and choose products that contain ingredients you recognize and are familiar with. Over time, this process will become easier and less time-consuming.
When you think of "green" products, plant-derived ingredients that come from the Earth may come to mind. Here are some that can work wonders for your skin. These ingredients may be included in skincare products as well as cosmetics:
- coconut oil
- green tea
- shea butter
- olive oil
- rice bran oil
- jojoba oil
- algae extracts
However, it's important to keep in mind that not all ingredients that come from Mother Nature herself are actually beneficial to your skin, even though they may be considered as "green" as it gets. For example, while chamomile extract is soothing and gentle on even the most sensitive skin, some essential oils, such as lemongrass oil, are shown to be skin irritants.
Convenient Substitutes for Daily Products
In addition to adding cosmetics and cleansers with natural ingredients to your routine, you can also make some changes to replace your everyday products with more natural alternatives. Here are some easy options:
- Sunscreen. Often touted as the must-have product to wear every day (and for good reason), sunscreen protects your skin from the sun's strong rays that can lead to skin damage. However, many sunscreens are derived from chemicals. Opt for a natural SPF product that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Both of these natural mineral sunscreens provide broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. [Naturally Savvy Editor's Note: Our favorite brand of sunscreen is made by Goddess Garden.]
- Skin Brighteners. You may find dark spots appearing on your skin thanks to the hands of time. This is also known as hyper-pigmentation, and it's most often related to sun exposure. Some skincare products contain hydroquinone, a chemical lightening agent. Consider a gentle vitamin C serum as an alternative. Vitamin C can help brighten the overall radiance of your skin and may be effective in fading brown spots.
- Soaps. Triclosan is a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps and hand washes. However, it's a chemical that some people would prefer to avoid. Look for products with tea tree oil instead. This is a natural ingredient that's effective at killing bacteria.
- Moisturizers. Look for a cold-pressed oil that contains a high level of antioxidants. This will moisturize your skin while nourishing it with ingredients that fight free radicals, which are those pesky little things that lead to skin aging. Argan, rose hip, and marula oil are all excellent choices. It's best to use these before bedtime so your face won't look oily during the daytime. However, if you find that your foundation isn't moisturizing enough, try adding a drop or two of your favorite oil into your foundation for a more hydrating effect.
- Lipsticks. One of the most simple and effective ways to green your beauty cabinet is to opt for a natural lipstick. Some natural cosmetics companies have started using fruit pigments in their lipsticks – a green way to pretty up your puckers. Beeswax and castor oil may be used as emollient bases in some lipsticks, making them nourishing and free of a toxic base ingredient.
Think About Preservatives
Preservatives are necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi in your personal care products. Many people think of all preservatives as being chemical-based. However, there are some natural preservatives available, including rosemary and citric acid.
Since natural preservatives don't tend to be effective for as long as chemical varieties, be mindful of expiration dates printed on labels and be sure to toss products that have expired. Some natural products are only considered good until six months after the package has been opened. To be safe, write the open date on the package as a reminder of when you need to discard the product.
Consider the Environment
As you clean up and green your beauty cabinet, you might not think about what happens when the products you use are washed down the drain. However, some beauty and skincare products can make an impact on the environment. Microbeads in facial scrubs can end up in waterways, which can have a negative effect on marine life and the ecosystem. Choose products that contain natural exfoliators such as crushed apricot seed, silica or oatmeal. You might also consider a product made with natural fruit acids or enzymes to exfoliate without the use of abrasive ingredients.
Many animal-loving consumers are concerned about the use of animal products in their skincare and beauty products. However, labels on products don't always clearly identify these ingredients. If you wish to avoid products containing animal-based ingredients, look for the Leaping Bunny logo or PETA logo on the label.
It's important to consider packaging when opting for green beauty products. Because green products may be free of some of the preservatives that other products contain, the shelf life may not be as long. Jar packaging should be avoided in cream products, as air exposure can break down the product over time. Opaque packaging is also beneficial at keeping a product fresh and effective. Exposure to light and air both work to break down a product and its efficacy.
Over the course of greening your beauty cabinet, it may take time and patience to figure out what works, what should stay, and what should go. In the process, try not to become overwhelmed or make rash decisions about throwing out certain products (and remember to recycle the packaging whenever possible). Your beauty routine should be a part of your life that is fun and uplifting, as well as healthy.
About the Author:
Pamela Miller is a dual licensed cosmetologist and esthetician and beauty blogger for Walgreens, where you can find skincare products like moisturizers. Pamela enjoys sharing her knowledge on how you can choose greener beauty products to help benefit the environment.
Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes for loss or damage due to reliance on this material. Walgreens does not recommend or endorse any products, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned in the article. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk.