Should you toss your non-green makeup?

The path to greenness doesn’t have to be absolute. Just take it one baby step at a time.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to questions about ethics and the environment, I sometimes have a hard time being moderate. I guess I feel a certain responsibility to act; to balance out the actions of those who aren’t necessarily thinking about their impact on our world.

Although this sort of thinking makes sense on one level: after all, you need idealists to make any great change, I find that overall, it’s restrictive and can be counterproductive. How many people have been scared off the idea of eating more vegetarian by the idea that they can never eat any meat ever again?

What I’m trying to say here is that you might find yourself shocked and appalled by some of the items you have in your current makeup kit. You might find yourself stressed out by how much more green makeup costs (although that’s not always the case). You may find that there are a couple of chemical-laden, animal-tested products that you just can’t bring yourself to give up. And you know what?

That’s cool.

Just keep reading and learning more. Don’t force yourself to go cold turkey if that doesn’t feel right. Just promise me that you’ll think about it and that you’ll keep an open mind.

So. Here are some of the questions I often get from people when we talk about switching over to healthier makeup:

1. Should I throw out my current stash?

Well, that depends. If you’re kind of sort of due for new products, then it might be worth it. Just please recycle whatever you can. Just empty any unfinished product into the trash, not the toilet– sewer treatment systems don’t always filter for some of the chemicals in cosmetics.

Obviously, if you’re horrified about the reproductive effects of the ingredients in your mascara and are thinking of getting pregnant, toss it! However, if you’ve just acquired a new product and aren’t too concerned about the chemicals in it, it might be more respectful to the animals that product was tested on to just finish using it. After all, waste isn’t very green.

2. But doesn’t natural makeup cost more? Lots more?

While many natural products do cost more than their synthetic counterparts (man-made chemicals are usually cheaper to mass produce), this isn’t always the case. For example, Physician’s Formula makes a lovely green line called “Organic Wear” that is priced in the same range as most other drugstore brands. A bonus– their packaging is made with biodegradable corn-based plastic! Yay!

Also, brands like Bare Minerals, though more expensive up front, can actually be cheaper in the long run. This is partly because their packaging ensures that there’s minimal contamination of the product, so really can use it up till it’s all gone. And many natural makeup brands tend to focus their money on the product itself instead of wasteful overpackaging designed to mislead you into thinking you’re getting more product for less money.

3. But will I be able to find makeup to match my skin tone?

As a brown-skinned woman, I’ll confess that it’s sometimes harder to find shades that work well for my complexion. I notice that when a mainstream brand releases a mineral side-line, it can sometimes be hard to find a perfect match. I suspect it’s because companies still suffer from the illusion that only white folks have money, or that the rest of us haven’t yet embraced natural makeup. Whatever the reason, the change is coming. Already I’m seeing a greater diversity of shades out there. If your brand doesn’t offer something that works for you, take 15 minutes and write to them. And keep looking, because there are a TON of green makeup companies out there and it’s a segment that’s booming.

Some of my favourite picks for darker skin are: Bare Escentuals and Jane Iredale.

4. What about performance?

You know what? I can’t answer this one in any way that’s going to satisfy you. Everyone has their preferences and you might find that natural brands lack some of the attributes that you prize. For example, I have yet to find a natural mascara that’s waterproof (if you have suggestions, please share them in the comments section).

That said, I’ve found that most green products outperform their synthetic counterparts. There’s usually a learning curve (using Bare Minerals powder foundation when you’re used to liquid makeup, for example, can be challenging). The up-front costs of special brushes, etc can be a little daunting.

But speaking for myself, I can tell you that the improvement in my skin’s texture and glow is totally worth it. No more dry, scaly patches (even at -30°C). I feel less guilty about the moral and health-related costs of my makeup obsession. And I’m voting with my wallet and letting companies know which direction I’d like them to take.

So what do you think? Are you ready to make some changes? What’s the first thing you’d get rid of ? What’s a green product that you’re lusting for? And do you know of a good water-resistant natural mascara? Please share!

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2 Responses to Should you toss your non-green makeup?

  1. Shelley Miller says:

    The first thing I gave up was my old foundation for a healthier version of mineral powder. It’s the one thing I always wear, so I figured it was best to start with that! I didn’t know that mascara contained ingredients that were so horrible! I guess I’ll toss that one next…

  2. geetagoesgreen says:

    Thanks for writing Shelley! Glad to hear you’ve switched to a mineral foundation. What do you use? Did you find the switch hard? I found there was a learning curve when I switched to mineral powders. They’re so different from the talc-based compacts I had gotten used to.
    I agree about the mascara. Oh, and lipstick or gloss if you use it. They say the average woman consumes about 2 sticks of lipstick over her lifetime. And there’s some scary stuff in there too! A great place to check how your product measures up is the “Skin Deep” cosmetics safety database:

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