Like the good millennial I am, I try to buy organic. My apartment is cluttered with crystals. I use ‘mindful’ unironically. It’s safe to say I’m onboard the wellness wagon – except when it comes to my makeup…
WE GET IT – YOU WANT TO DETOX YOUR COSMETIC STASH WITHOUT SACRIFICING YOUR PRETTIFYING POWER. MARTA TOPRAN LEADS THE WAY
‘This is a daily conversation in my office,’ dermatologist Dr Gary Goldenberg says. ‘Your skin is your largest organ and chemicals in products may cause internal issues, so I recommend makeup made with natural ingredients.’ Still, I’ve been reluctant, assuming I’d have to sacrifice too much. ‘Ten years ago, you’d be right – there wasn’t a lot out there,’ says Christy Coleman, chief artistic officer at skincare brand Beauty-counter. ‘But today, green beauty is an industry to be reckoned with.’
WHAT NATURAL REALLY MEANS
‘Nothing,’ explains RoseMarie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty. Any brand, regardless of what is in its products, can make claims like all-natural, botanical, and preservative-free (terms that happen to be completely unregulated) – a practice known as ‘green washing’. ‘It’s total confusion for the consumer,’ says Swift, who suggests always looking at ingredient lists for the truth.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
Parabens – really common preservatives that can be really disruptive to your body’s hormone activity.
Phthalates – chemicals that may be listed as DEP or DBP can also affect your hormones. Oh, and they’re completely banned in the EU.
'Today, green beauty is an industry to be reckoned with'
Synthetic fragrance – trademark laws mean that beauty brands don’t need to disclose what’s in their scents, but phthalates can be found within them.
Mineral oil – this oil is comedogenic, so while it helps the skin retain water (yay), it also blocks pores and doesn’t allow your skin to ‘breathe’ (not so yay).
WHERE TO SHOP CLEAN
Go to a site or store that’s done the vetting for you, such as Nourished Life (Nourishedlife.com.au). They have everything including skincare, makeup, fake tan and more, plus an ‘ingredients ban list’ – so even if a product claims to be green, they factcheck what’s actually inside it. They also have an inhouse naturopath and consult environmental scientists and organic, natural and eco certification boards to make sure everything they stock is of the highest standard.
WHY TESTING THINGS IS KEY
While swapping my goto products for safer versions for a sample period, I was introduced to so many brands that didn’t seem clean at all (and I mean that in a good way). That said, I did manage to find some differences between green and conventional products. I noticed how botanical the new things smelled (no synthetic fragrances!), but I also found that without longwear chemicals, cream eye shadows crease so fast (I switched to powder ones only), and the glide when you put on other products doesn’t always feel as smooth. (Swift told me to apply formulas with my fingers to help the ingredients melt into my skin easier.)
HOW TO GO GREEN FOR GOOD
Two months and hundreds of product tests later, I’m a convert. Not only did my new makeup withstand a roséfuelled ‘Despacito’ dance party at my uni reunion, my skin is much clearer and glowier. Of course, you don’t have to totally trash your current stash, but when something runs out, why not try a green replacement instead? (‘Especially your foundation – it covers such a large area,’ urges Coleman.) Slowly, you’ll build a new collection – one that you can feel good about putting on your skin and feel hot as hell wearing.