Monday, January 21, 2013

How Do Our Beauty Choices Affect the Environment?

By now, we are all pretty aware of the effects our beauty choices have on our skin and health.  We make better choices every day by avoiding toxic, cancer-causing chemicals in our skin care and makeup, and by opting for natural, organic lines that use less preservatives.  But not many of us stop to think about the effect these beauty choices have on the environment... and it turns out these effects could be devastating

How many of us use and love argan oil?  It's been all the rage lately, showing up in hair products, skin care, makeup and everything in between.  I know I've fallen in love with this natural oil from Morocco.  While I'm excited that this natural product has been making headlines over chemical alternatives, this newfound craze has had some detrimental effects on the local economies and argan tree farms that produce this precious oil.
Argan oil isn't the only example of this - there are countless health and beauty products that use rare extracts found in certain parts of the world and, once the secret's out, the huge demand devastates the local communities and forests that supply these precious ingredients.  Here are a few links to articles that I've come across just in the past few days that detail the issue:

Scary, isn't it?  While these articles call out just two specific ingredients, this is a widespread problem.  Think about the rare ingredients touted in your favorite product; whether it's sea buckthorn berry, a rare form of sea algae, centella asiatica, Rose of Jericho, or countless others, these are all limited natural resources that come from somewhere far away.

So what do we do?  It's all about supply and demand!  That doesn't mean we can't treat ourselves to these luxurious natural goodies.  As consumers, we make the difference in how companies choose to source their ingredients and treat their suppliers.  It all starts with knowledge, so do your homework!  If we all take a little time to research the companies' policies that are using these rare ingredients, we can choose to support those that are ethically and sustainably sourcing these precious extracts rather than those that are leaving devastation in their paths.  Make sure that the companies you choose to purchase from disclose their source and are working to replenish the resources they are mining, and that they are participating in Fair Trade.

You can even take things a step further by going local with your beauty.  There are literally thousands of local, small batch manufacturers making skin care specific to the environment you live in, often using locally-sourced ingredients.  Try checking out your local health food store or farmers market for a surprising array of beauty products you may have never heard of!  By shopping locally, you're not only supporting your community, but you're saving the environment by cutting down on emissions from shipping products all over the world, and by utilizing ingredients that you could even find in your own back yard.

Here are a couple of my favorite brands that are doing their part to make sure their products don't harm the environment:

Farmaesthetics - this natural brand is "Committed to "Sustainable Beauty©", all Farmaesthetics products are 100% natural utilizing certified organic herbs, flowers, oils & grains from American family farms."

Pangea Organics - this Boulder, CO company promises to "Intentionally sourced from organic farmers through fair trade practices whenever possible."

What are your favorite brands that are working to beautify you and the earth at the same time?

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