Cosmetics and toiletries
Cosmetics, toiletries and personal care products generally have a number of impacts on human health, animal welfare and the environment generally. Issues include:
- The testing of products on animals
- The use of synthetic chemicals made from unsustainable, non-renewable sources
- The use of toxic ingredients – in some cases causing birth defects, cancer and other serious health problems
- The use of unsustainable natural products. According to the WWF, as many as 10,00 plant species threatened because of the demand from herbal remedies. The ingredients used in natural cosmetics and toiletries very likely have similar impacts.
- The need for large quantities of ingredients such a palm oil is causing changes in land use, deforestation and resultant biodiversity loss. Another example is the mining of a non-renewable resource, soapstone (used for making talc), in India is causing major social and environmental problems.
The plethora of issues makes it very difficult for the consumer to make good choices about what products to buy. Some general guidelines are to use products that:
- reject animal testing and are made from ingredients whose safety is well established
- are made from quality raw materials ideally from plant oils and extracts including natural plant colourings – avoid mineral oils or petrochemical based ingredients
- don’t have ingredients that commonly cause allergies or other problems for sensitive skins
- are biodegradable and contain nothing that is harmful to the environment
- do not exploit or adversely affect the environment or its people
- has minimal and/or recyclable packaging