Ever since I learned about animal testing in the early 90's when I was a teenager, I've scrutinised the ingredients list of every product I buy, I've researched and contacted companies directly to check whether their policies are truly cruelty-free and I've learned how to identify ingredients which have many ambigious names.
About 5 years ago, my husband and I made the choice to replace most of what we were eating with certified organic, free range and/or grass fed and unsprayed produce. Whilst we do eat meat most days, I am concerned about the ethics of how the animals are raised and treated. We may not be vegetarian or vegan, but we do care about how the animals are cared for. After 20 years of personally buying cruelty-free skincare and cosmetics, making more conscious choices in other areas of our life made sense. Recently I had a conversation with a friend about how baffling the ingredient lists are and how it's not always easy to find products which meet our criteria, so I thought I would write about it and in the follow up post I'll share with you my go-to products. When it comes to skincare and haircare I always choose cruelty free, palm oil free & natural and where possible, certified organic. I will note here that it is costly to become certified organic accredited so for many small businesses, accreditation is beyond their financial reach. In this instance they will identify which ingredients are certified organic and may state the overall percentage of certified organic and natural ingredients.
There are many companies in the marketplace that profit from greenwashing consumers. It is not always immediately obvious that they are concealing some of their practices behind natural sounding or environmentally friendly brand names and product lines. I also keep an eagle eye out for palm-oil and the hundreds of names it is disguised under.
It's hard to be a conscious shopper when I have list of criteria like this!
These are the things I look for:
Is it cruelty-free?
Are the ingredients natural?
Is it certified organic and what percentage of ingredients are organic?
Are the ingredients sustainably sourced and/or Fair Trade?
Does the ingredient list contain toxic ingredients i.e. petrochemicals, phthalates, parabens, sulfates, 1,4-dioxane, urea, propylene glycol?
Does it contain synthetics or the ambiguous 'Fragrance'?
Does it contain palm oil?
What accreditations appear on the label? Are these legitimate accreditations?
Is the company transparent about its practices i.e. do they clearly state on their website or product labelling that they are cruelty-free, palm-oil free and against animal testing?
There have been times when I've been caught out and purchased a product which I've later discovered contains toxic or palm oil derived ingredients. By educating ourselves and taking the time to do the research we are taking taking back control and dictating to the market what we as consumers really want. Last year I upped my research before buying and that has made all the difference! For me personally it is about making choices that make me happy, reducing the amount of toxins that my family are exposed to and educating my daughter about the impact our choices have on the environment and our bodies. Remember: your skin is your largest organ and absorbs about 60% of what you put on it. Do you really want to be washing in petroleum and sulfates?
Future posts will include a money conscious buyers guide too. I know we don't all have $$$ to spend so I will let you know my top picks for cruelty-free, palm-oil free, natural and organic by price range :) along with a little DIY.
Here are some great resources to get you started!
http://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/ - Handy wallet sized guide on palm oil ingredients in disguise
http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/index.php -Educating consumers on the palm oil crisis
http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/ - Accredited cruelty-free and vegan brands
http://orangutanfoundation.org.au/the-cause/ - A great organisation to support
http://www.janegoodall.org.au/palm-oil/ - A truly inspiring woman
http://beautycalypse.com/ - Informative articles and reviews on products and brands
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ - Research your product ingredient or brand for toxicity rankings
http://www.biome.com.au/ - Brisbane based eco friendly store
http://foreverglow.com.au/ - Brisbane based beauty services, beauty cabinet makeovers and toxin-free shop
http://www.nourishedlife.com.au/ - Shop for natural, organic beauty and health products
Hello, I'm Sharyn: Founder of of Gutsy Girl and Gutsy Girls Will Rule The World. I am the Creatrix of Sacred Circle Leadership Training and Gutsy Mantras.
Get to know me on my About page.
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