Friday, August 30, 2013

Guest Post from Savannah Scorpion: Greenwashing and "Eco Friendly" products

While I'm away for the week, Savannah Scorpion is back to entertain and inform you with more of the insider scoop on how to buy beauty products without throwing your fucking money away. As always, comment below or email with any questions or future topics you'd like her to address! 

This is Savannah Scorpion, returning with a short post about all of the hype surrounding "green", "organic", and "eco-friendly" cosmetics and skincare.

Now, I'll be straight-up and admit that my preferred cleanser is one of those fancypants products that is made with volcanic ash and has an expiration date on it. I use it because I have Weird Skin (TM) that gets oily throughout the day, but gets dried out by pretty much everything except this cleanser. I also may or may not have ordered a dickton of products from the LUSH website after I got my last paycheck.

Panic about parabens, pthalates, and the planet mean that there's a huge trend in so called "green" products. Even mass brands like Neutrogena are creating "eco" lines. Now, here's the straight talk on these products:

1. Read the label. Some "natural" and "organic" ingredients can irritate your skin.

If you have really sensitive skin, I'd recommend getting "boring" skincare products like Cetaphil and Cerave. All of those natural oils and plant extracts in "organic" skincare can do a number on sensitive skin. READ THE LABEL. If you can't eat the product without having an allergic reaction, don't put it on your face.

2. Brands loooove to dilute shit.

Diluting products like rose water and tea tree oil, and then reselling at a markup have been discussed on the blog before. Natalie Dee happily tore Josie Maran a new asshole for marking up argan oil. It's really easy to find pure teatree/neem/argan/jojoba/etc oil online, and in many grocery stores. You do not need to fork over loads of cash for products that only have these ingredients in small quantities.

3. Botanical skincare will not do much if you have serious skincare concerns.

If you have rosacea, cystic acne, or another serious skincare issue, take your ass out of the Sephora/Ulta and talk to a dermatologist or esthetician. Cystic and/or hormonal acne can only get taken care of with medications, not fancy Miracle Bullshit extract.

4. If it does not have a "USDA Organic" label on it, it's not organic. Period. Full stop. End of Story.

5. Your "green" beauty products are manufactured and shipped in very un-green ways.

Let's talk about shipments.
A factory manufactures a variety of cosmetics and skincare products. A retail store will put in an order for a specific amount of units. The products are shipped from the factory to a regional warehouse. A big semi truck takes those products and delivers them to the store at the asscrack at dawn. A tired, usually hungover employee like me gets tasked with stocking these products on the store shelves. A lot of electricity and fossil fuels go into making all of your cosmetics, including your "green" ones. There isn't' a special "eco" corner in a factory where your products are tenderly hand made by Luddites. The "eco" products don't get loaded into pedicabs, Toyota Priuses, or biodiesel powered school buses. They're put on big, not eco friendly semi trucks. If you order "eco" products online, they get shipped via trucks and planes. Also, in all likelihood, your favorite "eco friendly" company is owned by a not-so-eco-friendly corporation. L'Oreal owns The Body Shop and Urban Decay: two brands that won't shut the fuck up about how much they don't test on animals.

6. Your eco shit will expire quickly.

When you don't use a whole lot of chemicals or preservatives in your products, YOUR SHIT WILL EXPIRE. So if you're interested in buying any sort of "eco" product, read the expiration date, and toss it out when the product expires, or if the color, consistency, or smell changes. Buy the smallest size available, unless you're buying skincare for the whole commune.

7. And finally, buy an "eco" product because it is what works best for your skin, not because of it's "eco" properties.

Let's face it: unless you are planting your own plants to be made into your own beauty products, buying any cosmetics or skincare products is highly un-eco-friendly. Purchase what works best for your skin/your wallet. And if that's an expensive product made by a company boasting about their "botanical" ingredients? Cool. Just remember, you can't buy your way into reducing your carbon footprint.

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