We use a large number of beauty products every day, from lotions and creams to sprays and balms. However, we rarely consider the ingredients and environmental effects of the products we use. Although the purpose of cosmetics is to improve the condition of skin, hair and nails, many products contain hidden toxic chemicals that have harmful effects on both the body and the environment. So when it comes to beauty products, all-natural is the way to go. With these home remedies and nature-based products, you can now pamper yourself and help the environment.
As a substitute for harsh hair dyes that might contain bleach, try henna, a paste derived from the flowering plant of the same name. Henna can give hair a natural reddish tint without chemical damage. The multi-purpose substance has been used as a cosmetic for thousands of years and acts as both a dye and conditioner, improving the health and shine of hair while adding pigment. For a subtle shade, try Lush’s Ultra Glossy Deep Chocolate Brown Henna ($26). It promises to make brunette hair richer and healthier, and it is infused with coffee and cocoa butter.
Many sprays and mousses that promise volume and body can also make hair weak and prone to damage. A simple fix for flat hair is a homemade sea salt spray that mimics the effects of sea water to create natural waves and texture. There are several variations of the basic formula of water and a tablespoon of sea salt, such as adding lemon juice, coconut oil or a dab of conditioner. Put this simple concoction in a spray bottle and when you use it your hair feel and smell like a warm summer day at the beach.
Overly fragrant and greasy lotions can actually cause the skin to react negatively or break out. Natural oils are a great way to add moisture to skin without additives and unnecessary scents and chemicals. For dry skin, a small amount of olive oil provides deep and lasting moisture, especially effective during the winter. Almond oil has a lighter feel and is great for the body and face.
Facial scrubs are also sometimes harsh and can extract the skin’s natural oils. Fancy face scrubs can cost a pretty penny. So make your own by using a combination of brown sugar and olive oil, a mixture that can be used on the lips and face as a gentle exfoliant to cleanse the pores while retaining moisture. Add a few drops of lavender or rose oil for a subtle but delightful aroma.
Lead and other harmful substances are prevalent in even the most high-end luxury cosmetics, especially lipstick. An easy, all-natural substitute is a homemade lip stain, which can be made from any kind of edible oil and fresh berries of your choice. Depending on your skin tone and desired hue, blackberries, raspberries or pomegranate seeds can be combined in different proportions to create a wide variety of shades. Simply crush the berries and blend them with the oil. The stain feels light on the lips and, since the ingredients are edible, they will not harm you if accidentally swallowed.
If you are looking for eco-friendly options to pick up at the drugstore or beauty supply store, popular brands Tarte and Butter London now offer products with natural ingredients. Tarte’s Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara ($19) is an eco-friendly formula that contains natural waxes, clays and mineral pigments that soften and condition lashes. The natural formula without harmful chemicals helps to improve lash health and strength. Butter London is also dedicated to creating environmentally friendly, toxin-free nail colors. Their 3 Free nail lacquers ($14) are made without carcinogens, which many polishes contain, and come in a wide variety of luxurious colors. Burt’s Bees is a favorite for all-natural beauty products. Their lip balms, which come in flavors like mango and grapefruit, are made from beeswax rather than artificial waxes, and their hair products and skin creams are either 99 or 100 percent natural.
The key to finding eco-friendly and toxin-free beauty products is to pay attention to the ingredients of the products you buy. Research cosmetics before purchase, read labels and if possible, go for the most natural, chemical-free option on the market. The environment and your body will thank you.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Oct. 24 print edition. Deeksha Mehta is a contributing. Email her at email@example.com.
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