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Be Green

Green Makeup

Image courtesy Splendicity

For most women, makeup is a necessary evil. How evil? Well, there's the chemicals, the packaging waste, the animal testing... not to mention the sheer cost of it all! So what's a frugalista to do? Freelance makeup artist Liz Furlong has some tips on greening your makeup regimen--on the cheap!
(Including tips on how to make your own delicious-smelling natural brush cleaner!)

Read? Let's do it!

1. Read labels:
Lots of cosmetics these days are marketed as "natural" or "organic". Thing is these labels don't mean anything because they're not at all regulated. So a so-called natural cosmetic may be as full of parabens, phthalates, fillers, talc and other things you might take issue with as its cheap, mainstream counterpart. For a primer on how to buy actually green makeup, read this.

2. Use less makeup: Hmm, less makeup = less money spent on makeup. Doh! But seriously. Take me for example. I always thought you HAD to wear mascara on TV. I don't even like mascara. It's itchy and a pain to take off. So I did a sneaky experiment. I started doing shoots without any mascara on. Guess what? The sky didn't fall. I didn't immediately get fired. Actually, no one noticed. Except me--because it was 4 tubes of mascara a year less to buy. Not too shabby! I've done similar experiments with eye shadow (yup, I can make do without it!) and lipstick (nah, need it. But found a natural, made in Montreal version)

3. Buy stuff that comes in greener packaging:
Or better still, stuff that's minimally packaged. A lot of companies now put their products in recycled cardboard with soy-based inks (less toxic and compostable). Some are even using recycled egg cartons! Squee! For power users (like makeup artists or girls who just want to have fun), consider modular packaging for items like eye shadow or lipstick boxes. That way you only need to replace the single square of used up product and not the whole box.

4. Recycle your packaging: Check to see if your makeup company has a special recycling program. Many do. MAC for example, allows you to bring back your empty lipstick, foundation, eyeshadow, etc cases. For every six you bring back, you get free lipgloss, eye shadow or lipstick. MAC isn't the greenest or most natural makeup out there-- but they are cruelty free and have a neat recycling program.

5. Make your own toner:
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on expensive natural toners, simply head for your nearest Middle Eastern market (or even some grocery stores) and buy a big ol' bottle of rose water. It smells delicious, is wonderful for all skin types and it's VERY cheap! Simply put it into a spray bottle and mist on. It actually helps control oil on the face. If you have very dry skin, consider adding a few drops of glycerin to your spray.

6. Ditch the disposables: You'll save the planet (and cash) if you invest in a good set of brushes and a few cotton cloths (cut an old sheet or T-shirt) instead of disposable sponges, Q-tips, wipes and such. And please, don't use those terrible makeup removing wipes or oil blotting cloths. I know they're convenient, but they're probably full of chemicals you don't want near the organ you think with and they pollute our world.

7. Make your own makeup brush cleaner: This is the simplest (and most delicious smelling) recipe ever: Fill a spray bottle full of vodka and add about 15 drops of your favourite essential oil. I recommend lavendar or geranium. Voila! A wonderful germ-killing potion to keep your brushes (and skin) in the best health. Of course, you'd best use a cleaning cloth and not paper towels to clean them brushes! To help them dry, put them bristles-up in a jar. Don't pack them away when they're still damp.

So there you go. It's your turn now. Have you learned some amazing tips for greening your makeup routine on the cheap? Share please.

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Comments (2)

Joan Mercantini


The use of nanoparticles in mineral make up was also an attempt to improve the appearance of the product. Pulverizing the minerals to nano-size gave the cosmetics a smoother, more glowing appearance. Consumers liked the change but didn't realize there were associated health risks.

Hundreds of personal care products already contain nano-sized ingredients, and thousands more contain ingredients that are available in nano form but don't include information about particle size on the labels, according to a Skin Deep analysis.

Since nano-sized ingredients are absorbed differently into the body, they require separate safety studies. Manufacturers seem to be following the pattern they established with conventional chemical ingredients-put poorly tested chemicals into personal care products and do the science later, if at all.

Stick with mineral make up that uses titanium dioxide in cream form rather than powder form. This prevents the particles from being absorbed through the skin or becoming airborne and getting into the lungs.

If you are concerned about the health risks of nanoparticles, consider using one of the many great choices in natural and organic cosmetics that allow you to look great without risking your health.

Numerous research studies have showed the dangerous effects of nanoparticles and there is little doubt that they pose a significant health threat. A movement is underway to have the FDA regulate engineered nanoparticles much more rigorously. Until that time, consumers have to be smart shoppers.

www.cosmeticsdata.com.is a great place to check the rating of any cosmetic product.

Posted May 29, 2009 07:22 PM

Joan Mercantgini


Not all mineral makeup is created the same, they generally fall into two categories - those that stay true to the origin of mineral makeup without the extra ingredients and those that add the synthetic fillers, fragrances and preservatives (such as parabens) just to name a few.

An ingredient to be wary of is bismuth oxycholoride, this ingredient gives the mineral makeup a candlelight glow. Bismuth oxycholoride is a byproduct of lead and copper processing. Although lead and copper are minerals the byproduct through processing is not found in the earth. This mineral is used as a fill product which is not found in the earth naturally. Bismuth oxycholoride is a skin irritant and can cause itching and rashes and in large amounts can cause cystic acne. If you suffer from any skin irritation such as acne or rosacea or have sensitive skin, avoid any cosmetic that lists bismuth oxycholoride. However, some mineral makeup may contain just a small amount and may not cause a skin reaction, but you will never know until you try it. Again mineral makeup can be labeled pure and/or natural and contain the skin irritant bismuth oxycholoride.

In order to make mineral makeup smooth manufacturers pulverize the minerals into microscopic or even nanoparticle size. Research studies have shown that that molecules that are dramatically reduced in size to a level of a nanoparticle will change the properties of that molecule leaving the nanoparticle with toxic properties. There is also concern about the health effects of inhalation of these nanoparticles. Zinc and titanium are safe when applied to healthy skin but in a micronized nanoparticle form; there remains a concern, particularly when applied to damaged skin, or when inhaled according to the Environmental Working Group. Go tyo www.cosmeticsdatabase.com and check out their website for rating on cosmetic products

Geeta says: Thanks for all the great info, Joan! Much obliged.

Posted May 30, 2009 10:01 AM

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