Put a 'Green' Face Forward With Eco-Friendly Cosmetics

Although the saying is "You are what you eat," what you put on your face and body can be affecting who you are as well. Makeup choices might be more than just good for the body. They might also be good for the planet.

Did you know that approximately 60 percent of what you put on your skin is absorbed into the bloodstream? If the cosmetics you frequently use are full of chemical preservatives, then you may be adding impurities to your body. What's more, additives in cosmetics may take a toll on the planet. Some are derived from petroleum, while others may be animal-based or tested on animals -- both scenarios are poor for the planet.

Certain repeat offenders in cosmetics are parabens and phthalates. Parabens are preservatives used in makeup to prevent microbial growth. However, these substances may mimic estrogen in women's bodies and contribute to some cancers. Though research is ongoing, parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue. Phthalates are used as plastic softeners and in some solvents, like nail polish remover. They may also be carcinogenic in high doses or with repeated use. You may be surprised to find that mercury, coal tar colors and formaldehyde are also found in many cosmetics. These, too, are thought to be known human carcinogens.

Choosing environmentally friendly cosmetics can improve your health and the environment's as well. Here are some brands to consider.

* The Dr. Hauschka brand offers lip glosses, eye products and facial powders that are safe and reasonably priced.

* Check out the many brands of mineral makeups that have exploded onto the cosmetic market. Make sure the ingredients are free of talc, which can be an irritant. E.l.f., L'Oreal and Everyday Minerals are brands that use 100 percent natural minerals.

* Burt's Bees has long been providing all-natural cosmetic products, from lip balm to body cream to toothpaste. The company says it's goal "is to help create a world where people have the information and tools they need to make the highest ethical choices and do the best for themselves, their families and the environment." Their products are all-natural and never contain sulfates, parabens, phthalates or petrochemicals.

* Recipient of the first ECOCERT certified organic natural makeup lines in the United States, Physician's Formula Organic Wear Makeup features products that are 100 percent free of chemicals, parabens and synthetic preservatives. Plus, their packaging is eco-friendly.

Going green involves subtle lifestyle changes, such as switching cosmetics to eco-friendly options. With growing interest in environmental issues, it's now possible to find green cosmetics at nationwide retailers and not just specialty shops.

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