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Eco-friendly mineral make-up

G Magazine

Make-up that rocks!

Mineral make-up eyeshadows

Credit: Louise Lister

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From the times of ancient Egypt, when Cleopatra outlined her eyes with kohl, women have used make-up as a means of enhancing their features.

But where our ancestors once used natural ingredients such as herbs, roots, essential oils, flowers and minerals, today's cosmetics are often more likely to contain a cocktail of chemicals that sound like they'd be better suited to a plastics laboratory.

Unfortunately, you're just as likely to be putting petrochemicals, preservatives, parabens and paraffin on your face as you are to be putting them in your petrol tank - in fact, it's estimated that the average woman will swallow approximately two kilograms of petroleum in her lifetime just from wearing lipstick.

Make-up wake-up

If that's not enough to make the cosmetics industry seem decidedly ugly, the list of environmentally hazardous ingredients certainly is.

Even the non-petrochemical components can have you reaching for the cleanser.

Palm oil for example, an ingredient you're likely to find in soap, moisturiser and lipstick, takes a significant toll on rainforest wildlife such as orang-utans in Borneo and Sumatra, while 'lanolin' and 'carmine' sound innocuous, but are actually animal by-products (of sheep and insects respectively).

Incredibly, the preservative BHA - which you'll find in many cosmetics, most commonly lipstick and eyeshadow - has not only been proven to bioaccumulate in the tissues of organisms and in aquatic ecosystems, but is, according to the US National Institute of Health, "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen".

Add in the still-common practice of animal testing and the use of crude oil derivatives in everything, and you've got yourself a devastating equation.

Earth-ware

Thanks to a growing number of ethical cosmetics companies and a rising awareness of the need for sustainability, there is a middle ground between going au naturel and having a bathroom cabinet full of environmentally damaging products.

Mineral make-up is different from its conventional cousin for a number of reasons, but the most obvious is in its name - it's made entirely from crushed, sterilised minerals.

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