Friday, August 8, 2008

Naturally inspired

Today, with the help of my girlfriend, I bought my 1st set of natural personal care products from Weleda. Ever since I started on this project at work, I've researched dozens and dozens of websites featuring "Natural" and "Organic" personal care lines. There's a fine line between what is truly considered "Natural" and "Organic" and what is now commonly known as greenwashing. Its been a hefty amount of research but hopefully when I present to the Product Development directors, they will feel that going "green" in this case requires a lot of effort but can also reap a lot of profit.

There is a growing number of personal care/skin care companies who specialize in producing all natural consumer products - we saw this "green" craze begin with organic and fair trade foods but the green movement is growing into the realm of other non-food consumer products like personal care products and house cleaning agents.

It is a little bit more expensive and a little more challenging to find products like these but with a growing presence of Whole Foods & other small boutiquey natural food stores, along with websites like - going green with your skincare is getting easier.

I've decided to slowly try to make a change towards natural/organic products and I'm starting out small. I'm slowly replacing all my bath products with natural ones and will eventually replace my facial products too. However, this task proves to be quite the challenge seeing how I have accumulated a large amount of products in my tiny bathroom. But slowly and surely, these products will eventually need to be replaced and I've decided to make an effort to consciously try to buy natural products.

Some things are difficult to change though, such as cosmetics. I love Sephora - and thankfully, they now have a natural and organics section on their website which highlights the products that are natural, though not necessarily USDA certified organic. I'm already a fan of Bare Escentuals whose foundation, concealer and mineral veil, I use on a daily basis. Korres has come up with a great line of makeup which I'm eager to try and Tarte has a natural line as well. So the options are beginning to open up for the green consumer.

However, it must be noted that not everything that is advertised or labeled are "natural" or "organic" is truly natural or organic. Often many companies take advantage of the fact that the skin care or personal care industry isn't heavily regulated by the FDA unless its a drug. Also, there isn't a standardized definition for natural in the personal care industry and currently in the US, it is the USDA which certifies product as organic according to the National Organic Program. The European products will have their own European standards and certifications, along with the corresponding governing bodies (eg. Ecocert) There is much contention as to what is natural as many personal care products contain a large percentage of water and so many companies can get away with calling their product "natural" based on their ingredient list, which can often be misleading. This list might still contain chemicals like PEGs, Sodium Myret/Laureth Sulfate or parabens.

However, there is an on-going debate with regards to how much is too much. Since it has been reported the chemicals in our products are minute quantities and are supposedly harmless even if used daily over long periods of time. So, what's the verdict? Its still out to jury really. For every website out there and association that exist to serve as a watch-dog agency to monitor consumer products and public health, there are arguments from the FDA which assure us, it's all safe. But who's to know right? Regardless, no harm giving it a try. So I'm slowly making the switch, with whatever I can. Which doesn't mean to say I'm never buying generic products ever again...Sephora is simply too irresistible *grin*

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