Sustainability and the Cosmetics Industry.

Is our love affair with cosmetics sustainable? Is there more to sustainability than an organic’s sticker and biodegradable packaging? and What on earth is a “Fit Product”. Listen to the podcast above for some Realize Beauty sustainability musings.
Amanda is a cosmetic chemist and consults to the industry through the Institute of Personal Care Science. She also facilitates a sustainability workshop “Natural Personal Care” for the Watershed in Newtown, Sydney.

We would love to hear your views on the sustainability of the cosmetics industry. Let’s talk!

UPDATE: 14th December 2009.

Sustainability was the theme of a recent conference in Sweden (SCANCOS Malmo, 5-6th November) so I thought that I would share with you their findings.

Sweden and its neighbours use the Nordic Swan label as its label of choice for sustainable and green consumer products and many cosmetic brands have adopted this.  Up for debate was the place of Nanotechnology under the certification – a tricky one as this science has only recently taken off in the cosmetic arena meaning that environmental impact data is few and far between. So far it looks like Nordic Swan will allow nanoparticle UV filters (and they favour Titanium Dioxide over Zinc due to environmental impact) but only for sunscreen use. 

Parabens were also tabled by SCANCOS and a new report on the toxicity of Methyl Paraben was discussed. As usual, parabens were found to be perfectly safe due to them being rapidly metabolised by the body should they manage to enter it. However, SCANCOS like the rest of the world has given up trying to talk sense to the media, NGO’s and eco labelling people who are hell bent on removing Parabens from the cosmetic toolbox.

The full report from SCANCOS is available here […]

515 Reasons why Women need to stop reading rubbish

This morning many of us (in Australia) would have been chomping down on our corn flakes while watching the piece about the 515 chemicals that us women douse ourselves in each day in the name of beauty.  Fact? Possibly, so what is the problem?  Let me give you just the first five of my 515 reasons why women need to stop reading rubbish.

1)  Who funded the segment. Why?  Because if it was meant as a “news” item I would love to see the balanced and fair journalism stats. If not, we need to know who and why so that we can work out how to act.

2) If all of these chemicals are putting us at harm can the health minister  and the cosmetics industry “please explain”.

3)  How do you think we all feel now after hearing that our shimmer body lotion may give us cancer and our “Eau De Beauty” body spray will deform our developing offspring?  Can you dish out the phone number for the mental health clinic while you are at it please?

4) Stating that a chemical that is in your body lotion is ALSO IN OVEN CLEANER is pointless.  It is like saying Glycerine is ALSO FOUND IN   epoxy resin.  Chemicals have thousands of uses and are refined and manufactured according to their end market.

5) Parabens are going to kill us?   Based on the column inches that parabens receive I could surmise that parabens worry more people  than global warming.   Parabens do have a slight estrogenic effects but so do some foods (including Soy and some fruit and veggies). They  have been scientifically proven to be have no adverse effect on the body.   However,  the cosmetics industry has taken notice and it is now easy to find paraben free cosmetics.

So, do I believe that the chemicals in your […]

Is the Future A Jar?

I bet that Darbre and friends never thought that their 2004 paper evaluating the concentrations of parabens in breast tissue would lead to the demise of the jar in the cosmetics industry. After all, why should they? 

It didn’t take long before the above paper was splashed all over the newspapers, picked up by consumer groups and turned into a “point of difference” profit making tool.  Now, I say all of this with a degree of flipancy because the study is as perforated as a tea-bag and was mis-reported and mis-construed so much that most people in (and out) of the cosmetics industry have given up hope of re-installing consumer faith and have moved on to using other preservatives.  I must at this point note that while parabens are not the worlds most dangerous chemicals, they like many other things do carry with them environmental and health implications albeit quite a lot less dramatic than many others.  Therefore, the fact that some people want to avoid them is perfectly acceptable.
Anyway, what about the jars?
The  negative reaction towards  parabens by the public  (which are used to preserve products) has lead  cosmetic  formulators to move away from what happen to be a family of very effective (and pretty safe) bug killers. That, teamed with our desire for all natural and dare I say it, “chemical free” products has meant that we have to think about our packaging more than before.

You see jars are great but the wider the mouth of the jar, the more likely you are to introduce bugs and critters into the product. Cosmetics are just perfect places for microorganisms to set up home as many have high water contents, are pH balanced, are kept at room temperature and are continually prodded by fingers, brushes or […]

Gender Bending Chemicals under the spotlight

These days you can’t visit a cosmetic counter without seeing a product that is “free from” something. Be it petroleum derivatives, palm oil, parabens, SLES or Silicones there is always something grabbing the headlines.  However,  much of this hysteria has stemmed from somewhat sketchy arguments, incomplete scientific evidence, a bad vibe or just a general feeling of unease over our addiction to chemical cocktails.

Now, after years of hearsay and urban myth making the BIG issue is being addressed (n.b: work on endocrine disrupting chemicals has been going on for some time but had also been classed as a bit whacky to be taken notice of. That is starting to change) Sweden is investigating what happens when you are exposed to various chemical cocktails over a period of time.

Before I go on I will very briefly touch on what has been a very difficult are for the chemical industry – the fact that in the chemical world 1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2.

Every industry using chemicals (and all industries do) has to prove the safety of their products for the purpose that the products are designed. Food has to be safe to eat, cosmetics have to be safe to wear on the skin (and in it if it is lipstick), paint has to be safe to chew within reason (which means lead is out) and pesticides have to conform to strict guidelines.   While each industry carefully toes the industry standard line (of course there are good companies and bad companies AND good governments and bad. That’s life) it is pretty hard for everyone to get together and test to see what happens when you use everything together over a lifetime. Too many variables.

Anyway, the […]

Internet Scare Stories. Fact Vs Fiction the Realize Beauty way.

Here at Realize Beauty we are comitted to bringing you fact based information rather than just jumping on the latest band wagon of chemicals that are bad

Should I avoid Parabens?

What is the deal with parabens? Will they give you cancer? Why are they used anyway?