Eco-Friendly Beauty Products
By Cara Birnbaum
Photo Credit: Svend Lindbaek
While I also faithfully slathered Alba Botanica Sun Mineral Sunscreen all over my body, I just couldn't deal with the dead-whitening effect on my face. I dotted on an invisible avobenzone formula, trying my best to ignore the likes of Epstein, who claims that chemical sunscreen ingredients, like homosalate, benzophenone, and the popular avobenzone, alter the balance of the body's hormones and even migrate into breast milk. Sounding like the voice of moderation, Jeffrey Dover, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine, suggests "minimizing the use of chemical skin products during pregnancy, although the ingredients are perfectly safe."
Well, you could argue that the "use sparingly during pregnancy" dictum says something about the safety of the substance in general. Still, I figured I was erring on the side of caution. I discovered Tom's of Maine lemongrass deodorant, which really works despite being free of aluminum which has been linked to both breast cancer and Alzheimer's and I began painting my eyes with Aveda Petal Essence Eye Definer, whose waxes are derived from organic jasmine petals and geranium leaves. And while I was reveling in the fact that my unruly waves could actually be tamed by Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer's organic peppermint, rosemary, lavender, and ylang-ylang, I couldn't help but notice its share of unpronounceable ingredients. Does phenyl trimethicone grow on trees? Indeed, all a product needs to call itself natural is a few flower extracts.
"If you want something that's truly chemical-free, look for the USDA seal on the label," says Joseph Smillie, whose private agency, Quality Assurance International, certifies organic products for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA started recognizing certification for personal-care products in August 2005, so only a few, like Origins Organics, have earned the seal so far. McCartney's Care is certified by Ecocert, an international organization recognized by the FDA, and that's good enough for me. If I can cut even a few potentially sketchy chemicals out of my routine and not sacrifice the beauty part I'm happy. At the end of my two-week trial, my hair is actually shinier, my lips poutier, and my skin clearer than it's been in quite a while even without Clearasil boosters. And I'm ready to work nearly all of the eco-friendly potions into my permanent rotation and keep them there after I've given birth. Well, all except the toothpaste.