Natural cosmetics and personal care products

We should bear in mind that the vast majority of the products which claim to be made from “natural” materials, which may or may not be true, are trying to convince consumers to buy their beauty products. “Green” products, and those which appear to be so, always sell well.

The growing concern about certain substances in cosmetics products has led to some companies promoting their products as being free of toxins. However, to find out whether a product is truly ecological, and has made a real effort to get rid of harmful chemicals in its ingredients list, is a complex process. In many cases, we can only rely on advertising claims and take their word for it.

Often, a company says that they don’t use certain chemicals or they say that they use a small percentage of “natural”, “ecological” or “bio” raw materials, often by adding only a small amount of something “natural” to a complex mixture of various harmful substances.

The current lack of transparency, as well as the slack regulations, suggests that there are possibly products which claim to be as more “natural” than they really are. Also, on their labels (as well as on their safety data sheets) problematic chemicals are often not listed. According to some scientists who have done studies about this, this can even be the case for those products which claim to be free from fragrances but do, in fact, contain them.

However, there are more truly natural products on sale, often in eco shops.

There are some cosmetics brands which have been ecologically certified and which have all kinds of products on the market: shampoos, soaps, shower gels, moisturisers, hand creams, body milks, face lotions, sun creams, eye contour creams, face masks, cleansers, shaving foams, almond or rosehip oils, deodorants, haircare products, hair dyes, oral care products etc.

There are also currently efforts to have a common body regarding natural cosmetics which would join all those who have so far set standards (BDIH, Cosmebio, Ecocert, Soil Association, Natrue, Cosmos, IMO etc.).

There are often demands higher than those previously, with some companies now promising to put everything they use on their labels. The BDIH certificate, for example, prohibits the use of petrochemical derivatives such as synthetic fragrances and colourings. They also state that mild preservatives should be used prudently and that there should be an increased use of natural raw materials e.g. organically grown vegetables.

For specific items such as deodorants, apart from those which are sold as bars or roll-ons, rock salts can also be used.

Another option, apart from buying commercial products, is to make them yourself at home, if you have the time to. It is fairly simple and you can make soaps, shampoos, gels etc. with ingredients such as olive oil, aromatic herbs, lemon etc.

Some things which can be found in the home may also have cosmetic properties. For example, lemon juice closes the skin’s pores and cucumber naturally evens facial skin tone. Strawberries work well as an anti-wrinkle treatment, almond oil is hydrating and softening for the skin, calendula prevents allergic irritations and milk works well as a facial cleanser.

Get informed

One alternative, without worrying about the types of products we are using, is to only use those which are really necessary. There are many experts who have reported the excessive use of these products and the damage this can cause. Some gels, when used excessively, can end up removing the natural fat layer on our skin which is particularly sensitive in children, which then increases our need to use moisturising creams and lotions. We should also be wary of face creams, especially those labelled as anti-aging, as their effects are debatable. Remember that keeping your skin healthy does not just depend on external factors and the products you put on it, but more importantly on living a healthy life (adequate rest, exercise, not smoking, eating well, being happy etc.).