By Melissa Matthews Brown
plants and flowers
These days, the beauty aisle at your local drugstore is stocked with bottles labeled all-natural and organic. In fact, sales of these cosmetics reached $11 billion last year. And despite the abundance of options, adopting a greener routine doesn't mean pickling yourself in hemp seed oil or patchouli. "A good place to start is with your moisturizer and anything applied near your eyes and lips," says dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules. "The ingredients in these products are more likely to be absorbed into your body or ingested." For more natural know-how and some standout products to try, read below. Photo credit: Getty Images
Learn the Lingo
The Label Says: Natural
These products contain a higher percentage of plants and minerals, but may not be completely free of synthetics. To make sure what you're buying is truly natural, check the ingredients. The first five should be naturally derived (think essential oils and plant extracts). If you're unsure (glyceryl stearate-who?), consult CosmeticsInfo.org for a glossary of cosmetic ingredients. Photo credit: Corbis
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The Label Says: Organic
To put this word on their labels, a brand has to go one step further, using ingredients that are not only natural but also grown without chemicals or pesticides. Reputable companies usually authenticate their ingredients with an organic certifying agency and list these agencies right on the label. The crème de la crème display the USDA's seal, which means their products are at least 90% organic.
Some natural ingredients-rosemary, bergamot oil, cinnamon-can still cause redness and irritation. Test any new product on a small patch of skin before smearing it all over.
Most natural brands are committed to sustainability, using minimal packaging that's made of recycled paper or plastic. Photo creditL Corbis
YOU'RE CONCERNED ABOUT CHEMICALS
The research is inconclusive, but some synthetic ingredients have been linked to health issues.
YOU HAVE SENSITIVE SKIN
Products made up primarily of natural and organic ingredients tend to be gentler on irritation-prone complexions.
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1) Formulated with rice and wheat proteins to give your style hold and build volume. Kiss My Face Hold Up Styling Mousse, $8.95; at Whole Foods stores Photo credit: Kiss My Face, Organix, Burt's Bess, Jason, Alba, Neutrogena
2) Strengthen weakstrands and mend split ends--all while protecting your haircolor. Organix Repairing Awapuhi Ginger Shampoo, $7.99; at Target stores
3) Pamper tired eyes with cotton extract (to soften), rice extract (to moisturize) and aloe (to soothe). Burt's Bees Sensitive Eye Cream, $14.99; at drugstores
4) Wheat germ oil and vitamins A, B 5 and C restore lost moisture. JASON Wheat Germ Vitamin E Hand & Body Lotion, $9.49; Jason-Natural.com
5) Before bedtime, apply this rich cream to hydrate and boost radiance overnight. Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing Night Cream, $12.99; at drugstores
6) This lotion promotes cell turnover to even out skin tone. Alba Botanica Natural Even Advanced Sea Moss Moisturizer SPF 15, $16.99; at CVS stores
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Question: I've noticed a lot of labels that say paraben-free or sulfate-free. What are these ingredients and why would I want to avoid them? - Tara Hintz, Mesa, AZ Photo credit: Thinkstock
Answer: Parabens-methylparaben or benzylparaben-are artificial preservatives added to products to keep bacteria in check and increase shelf life. Sulfates (like sodium lauryl sulfate) are typically found in cleansers to increase lather. Both can be irritating--especially to sensitive skin--so many companies are making products without these ingredients. There's also some speculation about a link between parabens and cancer, but the FDA considers them safe for cosmetics due to a lack of data on the subject.
Did you know?
Notoriously chemical-laden, many nail polishes have cleaned up their act and are now 3-free, meaning they've removed three controversial ingredients-dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene and formaldehyde-from their products. Two brands to try: Essie and OPI.
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If you're looking for a more natural foundation or blush, go the mineral route. Made from finely ground mica or zinc oxide, this makeup is free from pore-clogging oils and irritants like talc, artificial dyes and fragrances. So it's a better option for women prone to acne, rosacea or dry skin, explains dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD, author of Heal Your Skin. Other pluses: It has natural sun blockers like titanium dioxide and won't settle into fine lines, providing even coverage. Here are a few options that really, well, rock. Photo credit: Yes to Carrots, L'Oreal, e.l.f.
tinted lip balm
Yes To Carrots Color Balm in Peachy Keen, $5.99; at Walgreens stores
L'Oréal Paris True Match Naturale Mineral Foundation SPF 19, $15.25; at drugstores
loose eye shadow
e.l.f. Minerals 100% Natural Mineral Eyeshadow 3 Piece Eye Set in Romantics, $5; EyesLipsFace.com
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Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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