Are Certified Organic Cosmetic Products Costing You More in the Long Run?
That question above is certainly a compelling one, and we can answer it very easily: Opting to use certified organic cosmetic products such as organic skincare or organic makeup may cost you a bit more “up front” and yet keep you healthier, safer, and without any adverse health effects for the long term. Investing in organic products today is a way of investing in a healthier future.
We can also say the opposite of the non-organic skincare lines and cosmetics. As one journalist has written: “Over 80% of all ingredients in commercially available cosmetic products are of synthetic origin with all the associated health risks.”
And those health risks are not limited to skin irritation or sensitivity. Just consider:
US researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptor’s. Many products include plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), decreases (used to grime off auto parts) and surfactants (they reduce the tension in water, like in paint and inks). Imagine what that does to your skin and the environment.
If these statistics are to guide us in the right directions, surely it is to forgo the commercial formulations and opt for organic skincare and organic cosmetics.
The Costs Versus the True Costs
Certainly one of the most frustrating arguments that certified organic cosmetic producers hear is that the costs of their products make them less favourable to consumers seeking more affordable skincare ranges and cosmetics.
Why is this frustrating? Though it may seem that there is some initial truth in such statements, due to the higher prices that many organic cosmetics require, this is a very short-sighted perspective. After all, the problems with commercially produced beauty products, cosmetics, and skincare lines are now very well documented, and yet many consumers fail to recognize the threats these items pose.
Just consider the results of a survey done by the Environmental Working Group in the United States:
…the average adult uses nine personal care products each day, with 126 unique chemical ingredients. More than a quarter of all women and one of every 100 men use at least 15 products daily…12.2 million adults – one of every 13 women and one of every 23 men – are exposed to ingredients that are known or probable human carcinogens every day through their use of personal care products.
One of every 24 women, 4.3 million women altogether, are exposed daily to personal care product ingredients that are known or probable reproductive and developmental toxins, linked to impaired fertility or developmental harm for a baby in the womb or a child…One of every five adults are potentially exposed every day to all of the top seven carcinogenic impurities common to personal care product ingredients.
What that study shows is quite frightening. Consumers do not face exposure to just one compound, such as paraben or artificial colour, but also to a host of potential carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals.
And it is important to understand the flaw in the arguments that focus on exposure levels. For example, a manufacturer will insist that their formulation, while using some riskier compounds, uses so little of it that there is no risk to overexposure.
Any studies done on the levels of exposure look specifically at single compounds – one at a time. They consider the levels of exposure based on the use of a single formula or product. They also fail to consider the risks of prolonged exposure, no matter what the amounts, over the long or short term.
What does that tell us? The studies insisting that certain ingredients or specific levels of exposure are safe, yet they fail to see that most consumers not relying on organic beauty products are exposed to substantially higher saturations of harmful chemicals each day, and that testing must be as flawed because it does not determine the impacts of multiple exposures on a prolonged basis.
As a very simple illustration of this, you use a hand lotion that contains the preservative known as paraben. That lotion has been “tested” and proven to offer a safe amount of paraben exposure. However, if you are the average man or woman, you could use eight or more other products, and if half of them have paraben, your daily exposure could be much higher than the levels deemed safe by individual product testing.
For instance, that hand lotion could provide you with half of the amount deemed “safe” by the cosmetics industry. If you have two to four more products with this same level, you easily exceed the “tested” range each day. If you do this for many years, imagine the potential health implications.
Paraben is something linked to cancer, hormonal problems, endocrine issues and more. And here is where the long term, or “true cost” factor has to be taken into consideration.
The Long Term Costs
If we look at that report from the Environmental Working Group again, we get this well phrased explanation:
…people are exposed to hundreds of chemicals over the course of a day, and … face multiple sources of exposure from multiple consumer products for some of the common industrial chemicals used as cosmetic ingredients. Exposures can add up.
When exposures “add up”, the costs of treating any health issues they cause add up too. You can see the long-term impact of exposure to chemicals in reports by such noted groups as the National Institutes for Health in the U.S., the American Cancer Society and others. Here is just a very brief sampling of recent reports and studies:
From Environmental Health Perspectives:
In recent decades reproductive and developmental problems have become more prevalent—for example, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that male reproductive problems, including undescended testicles and hypospadias, doubled between 1970 and 1993. Environmental chemicals are strongly suspected to be contributing factors. Several recent reports highlight the presence of low-level concentrations of potential reproductive or developmental toxicants, particularly phthalates, in cosmetics and personal care products.
From the American Cancer Society:
Ingredients used to make consumer products (including cosmetics) have come under increased scrutiny for their possible effects on human health and on the environment. This is in part fuelled by the increase in information on the Internet about the chemicals in consumer products, including cosmetics… Particularly controversial are chemicals considered to be “endocrine disruptors,” which can mimic the natural hormone estrogen. When made by the body or given as a drug, estrogen affects reproductive organs and can raise the risk of certain cancers.
Cancers, hormonal and endocrine issues, skin irritation, allergies…these are problems that become chronic complaints when they are brought on through exposure to chemicals in our cosmetics and skincare products. Of course, many consumers wonder why there is not more of an uproar over this, and it tends to fall under the category of “trade secrets”.
You may often find that a top cosmetic features ingredients that may be described as a “proprietary blend” or a “patented formulation” and so on. One journalist explained such wording in this way: “Companies selling cosmetics and personal care products hide controversial or dangerous ingredients under the label of ‘trade secrets’.”
Such secrets can be quite disastrous to the health of those using the products over the long term. For example, rather than purchasing natural skincare or organic skincare products, which make no great claims of rejuvenating aging skin overnight or eliminating wrinkles in a few days, a consumer may purchase the latest product from a name brand firm.
That product may be designed to have two to three-year shelf-life, meaning it is full of harmful parabens. The rest of the “formula” is likely to be synthetics with their own additional health risks. When applied to the skin on a daily basis for several years, or more, it could easily lead to any number of adverse health effects.
What Can Be Done?
The answer is quite obvious, consumers who wish to avoid the costly mistake of trusting non-organic formulations should simply begin to scout out reputable sources for organic cosmetics, skincare and beauty products.
While one of the key benefits of certified organic skincare and cosmetics is that there are zero risks for chemical exposure, there are actually a substantial number of further benefits too.
Consider the costs of using organic makeup and certified organic cosmetics over the long term.
What are these costs? If you are looking at certified organic products, the only costs are the product themselves. You will never have to visit a physician due to some adverse reaction to chemicals in any facial products, lotion, or makeup. You will never be at risk for such drastic issues as cancer or hormonal changes due to the use of a product line.
Consider too that certified organic cosmetics are bound to work better than the non-organic formulas. After all, if our skin is the biggest organ of the body, it needs all of the same nutrients and fluids that the other organs require. While millions of us focus on organic diets in which foods are not exposed to pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and GMOs, we may be depriving our skin of this same “diet”.
Why does an organic diet offer greater nutrition? It is often made up of whole food sources and void of processed foods. This allows nutrients to enter the cells much faster and much easier than if they came from processed foods. Think of how much nutrition comes from consuming a handful of fresh berries as opposed to eating them in a jam or jelly. Do you get any of the berries’ nutrients in that jelly? Maybe, but when you eat them whole, you get the full package of nutrition.
This same theory applies to certified organic cosmetics and skincare products. To better understand this, let’s consider how one journalist described the reason behind the higher costs for certified organic beauty products:
You’ll use less of a more potent product since organic products have higher concentrations of good-for-your-skin ingredients… products are largely pure concentrated oils which make these formulas antioxidant powerhouses…[with] higher concentration of active ingredients in the formula, you need to use a lot less product to achieve superior results compared to cheaply made drugstore products.
That means you get a lot of “bang” for your money, along with optimal results and superior quality.
Of course, the costs for organic cosmetics can be higher because of the individual ingredients themselves, but it is of the utmost importance to consider this as part of the long-term costs too. After all, if you are regularly using non-organic products, they are the end result of many harmful manufacturing processes. Made mostly of chemicals, they are not healthy for the planet or environment in general.
When it is a certified organic beauty product, it will be composed of pure water (if it has water, it is often in much smaller amounts than non-organic formulas), certified organic ingredients never exposed to harmful compounds, and made in a way that is ethical and sustainable. It won’t be packed with preservatives and it is likely to be packaged in earth-friendly materials.
What this means is that your investment in slightly more expensive, certified organic skincare, cosmetics and makeup is an investment in a healthier planet too. Most companies that are certified organic also do not test on animals, do not use GMOs, and avoid processes that are harmful to the environment.
Though it may feel challenging to pay more for certified organic skincare ranges or organic makeup, the long-term costs cannot be ignored. Millions of people are exposed to chemicals and harmful ingredients, generating a lot of future medical expenses. All of that can be avoided by choosing to go “green” with your cosmetics, makeup and skincare. Not only will you get more for your money from these pure formulations, but you will look better and feel better for a much longer time.
“Exposures Add Up – Survey Results | Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database | EWG”. Ewg.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 June 2016.
“Cosmetics”. Cancer.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 June 2016.
Barrett, Julia. “Chemical Exposures: The Ugly Side Of Beauty Products”. Environmental Health Perspectives 113.1 (2005): A24. Web. 29 June 2016.
“Positive Health Online | Article – Hidden Dangers Lurking In Your Cosmetics And Personal Care Products”. Positivehealth.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 June 2016.
Burton, Natasha. “Why Organic Products Can Be More Expensive—But Are Worth It”. StyleCaster. N.p., 2015. Web. 29 June 2016.