A Guide to Understanding Natural Beauty Product Claims
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A Guide to Understanding Natural Beauty Product Claims

Posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 at 8:00 am
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If you’ve committed to eating an organic and natural diet, you might just be thinking about switching to organic and natural beauty and body care products. After all, what you put on your body might just be as important as what you put into your body.

If you’re new to the world of natural beauty care, you may be a little confused about the claims plastered all over the bottles. Phrases like “no phthalates” or “paraben-free” could be foreign terms to many. We’ll break down several commonly used terms to help you buy the safest products:

Organic – The term “organic” is quite the buzz word in the natural beauty care world. Just like with food, the only products that are truly organic are those bearing the USDA Certified Organic seal. Some companies slip the word “organic” into their brand name to fool you. Look for the USDA seal if buying organic is important to you.

Parabens – Parabens are preservatives found in many body care products that contain a lot of water such as shampoo, soap, shaving cream, lotions, facial cleaners, etc. Parabens mimic estrogen and have been linked to several breast tumors. They’re listed as “propyl,” “isopropyl,” “butyl,” “ethylparaben,” “methylparaben,” and “isobutylparabens.” Keep an eye out for these ingredients when shopping for your natural body care items.

Phthalates – These chemicals are found in several different types of consumer products. Phthalates can do everything from soften vinyl in children’s toys to giving your new vinyl shower curtain that strange smell. They are also commonly used in air fresheners as part of the fragrance mixture and can be found in cosmetics to help hold the scent or color. Research suggests that phthalates disrupt hormonal systems, which could be harmful during critical developmental stages. They can also affect reproductive functioning in both men and women.  Phthalates aren’t commonly listed under the ingredients of a product, yet they are found in most artificial fragrances added to soaps, lotions, cleansers, hair care products, etc.

Formaldehyde – Believe it or not, this preservative can be found in several liquid based beauty products. It’s commonly used as an ingredient in nail polishes, hair gels, hair smoothing products, and nail and eyelash glues. Formaldehyde has been commonly linked to skin sensitivity and cancer. In some cases, certain products may not contain formaldehyde directly, but may include other preservatives that release formaldehyde. This is yet another reason why it’s important to know what’s in your beauty products.

Of course, these terms are really just the tip of the iceberg when dealing with natural beauty products. If you’re concerned about using natural or organic beauty products, be sure you know and understand commonly used ingredients. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a handy tool for learning more about several ingredients.

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