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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Where to find eco-friendly cosmetics

Woman reading the back of a shampoo bottle

Credit: Caseywest on Flickr.com, Creative Commons licence

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So how did you go looking for petroleum-based stuff in your cosmetics? Did you find as much as I did, or less?

I’ve decided to look for some organic or at least petrochemical-free replacements now. I don’t want to waste what I’ve already got, and I want to be prepared for when my current products run out.

That’s usually the risky time for me making environmentally-friendly decisions - if I need something quickly, I make do with less eco-friendly options because I haven’t done my research. This way I’ll have time to look at all the choices and buy something before I’m in a rush.

Websites like the Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep cosmetic database are handy for looking up brands you’re not sure about. G Magazine also regularly shows organic and ethical moisturisers, makeup and hair care products.

You should check your usual source of eco-friendly goods. I’m seeing a lot of choices on the online eco-stores, many of them certified organic and with minimal packaging. But for things that you’re going to rub into your hair or put on your face, you might prefer to check them out in person first! If so, don’t rule out the large department stores: they stock so many ranges of products that they’ve got room for some sustainable ones as well.

However, I should sound a bit of a warning: do be careful of greenwash. Just because something’s got pictures of flowers or fluffy clouds on it, or has the word “natural” in big letters, doesn’t mean that it’s free from petrochemical ingredients you’d rather not put on your face. Always check the fine print - read the ingredients list, and look for certification of any claims they make.

I’m thinking of trying some of the shampoo bars I’m seeing - they have hardly any packaging at all, and come in some really interesting scents. I have very short, fine hair, so I rarely need to condition it. But I’m fascinated by this Apple Cider rinse and want to try it just to see what it’s like.

On the other hand, it’s not essential to buy any replacements at all if you don’t want to. You could go without makeup (I only wear it for special occasions) or make your own hair and body care products. Next time we’ll take a look at how we can do that with ingredients you can find in your kitchen...