New Year, New Skin… New Attitude!

By Ariane Gagnon

So you've made a resolution to pay more attention to the ingredients in all those little jars and tubes in your vanity. That's great! But with so many choices to be had out there, it's easy to get a bit lost. To help you make sense of it all, here are some tips on how to shop for environmentally friendly cosmetics.
Why go green?
You've undoubtedly heard this factoid before, but it bears repeating: the skin is the largest organ in your body. Everything you apply to the surface will eventually be absorbed into your bloodstream. You wouldn't go out of your way to ingest petroleum or toxic chemicals, would you? So why would you slather them all over your skin? Many brands insist that the quantity of chemical substances contained in their products is negligible, but remember: they can build up over time.
Where to start?
First off, it's important to realize that the rules concerning the use of words like "natural" and "organic" are fairly lax in North America. It's up to you to do your homework. Take a closer look at the actual list of ingredients on the product packaging and you may notice a few that aren't very natural-sounding at all:

  • Alcohol


  • EDTA

  • Glycol ether

  • Formaldehyde

  • Mineral oils

  • Parabens

  • Phthalates

  • Polymers

  • Aluminum salts

  • Sulfates

  • Triclosan

If you want to ease into your new green habits, start by replacing products you use daily – deodorant, soap, shampoo, moisturizer, foundation, etc. – with organic substitutes. Then gradually phase out the ones you apply less regularly, such as exfoliants, masks and the like.
Do you have any suggestions for easy-to-find items that aren't too hard on the pocketbook?
Most pharmacies and department stores now carry sustainable alternatives to conventional beauty products.
At Pharmaprix, for example, there are some great picks from Burt's Bees (natural lip, skin and body care for all ages), Maui (shampoo), Bio-Beauté (skin care), Live Clean (adult/baby skin care and shampoo), Physician's Formula Organic (makeup) and Dr. Hauschka (skin care).
Murale also stocks a wide range of high-end organic products, such as Juice Beauty (skin care and makeup), Tata Harper (skin care, tinted lip treatment, illuminating moisturizer), RMS (makeup), Mychelle (skin care) and Organic Pharmacy.