I had the opportunity to hear a lot of enlightening information on beauty products in a session about mineral makeup from Christina Marcaccini, the founder of beauty company Raw Natural Beauty. Christina told us a lot of things I didn’t know about the mineral makeup trend and all-natural beauty products in general, some of which was a bit shocking.
Christina used a term I’d never heard called “body burden,” referring to the total amount of harmful chemicals that are present in the human body at a given point in time. She explained that the average person has a body burden of 140 harmful chemicals present in their bodies. Scary! As well, a study found that 6 different types of parabens (chemicals widely used as preservatives in cosmetics products) are present in breast cancer tumors. Some other startling information: trace amounts of pesticides can be found in newborns, as well as rocket fuel in nursing mothers’ breast milk! Is this all simply fear-mongering – or could information like this suggest that the formulations used in common makeup products could end up doing us more harm than good?
Of course, as Christina noted, not all synthetic materials are bad for the body and not every natural ingredient is good. Raw Natural Beauty is attempting to find natural ingredients that work just as well as their synthetic brethren; most notably, they’ve discovered that ambiaty extract (a plant extract originating from Madagascar found in the bulk of their skincare products) stimulates collagen growth in a way similar to many popular synthetic alternatives.
Unfortunately, with the growing interest in all natural beauty products has come some misinformation on the part of the cosmetics industry. For example, the use of the term “organic” is not regulated by any entity as of yet, so the label claiming it’s organic doesn’t necessarily mean anything. However, the term “certified organic” is governed by a number of bodies and means that a product is guaranteed to be at least 95% organic. USDA regulated products carrying the seal shown to the right are pretty trustworthy. (However, it’s important to note that certified organic means that the products should also be 95% oil, so those prone to clogged pores should be careful.)
These new regulations aren’t limited to the term “organic”; use of the word “natural” is now under examination as well. Christina went to Washington, D.C. to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics with the Natural Products Association, a group instituting a standard for defining the term natural. The association’s seal (pictured left) certifies that a product carrying it meets the group’s stringent criteria for a natural product. The criteria includes (but isn’t limited to) the following:
- No ingredients present with any potential or suspected human health risks
- 95% of all the ingredients are truly natural
- No processes used that significantly or adversely alter the purity or effect of the natural ingredients
- Ingredients come from a purposeful, renewable and plentiful source found in nature (such as flora, fauna or mineral sources)
- Processes used are minimal and don’t involve synthetic or harsh chemicals
- Unnatural ingredients are only used when viable natural alternatives are unavailable and there are no potential health risks