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Beauty Goes Green with Organic Products

by Kaylie Nelson, Health Editor

Forget what you're reading about this season's trends in all the fashion magazines, though you've probably heard it there too: Green is definitely the new black.

Environmentally friendly products range from light bulbs to t-shirts, and recently organic beauty companies have found a larger audience of planet-conscious consumers looking to do their part in saving Earth.

Even big-name designers like Stella McCartney, who recently launched her Care brand of cosmetics – “everything your skin needs and nothing it doesn’t” – have been feeling eco-friendly. Smaller businesses who have been promoting natural beauty care products have seen a rise in their business as of late, some spreading their organic seed to promote not only a healthy planet, but healthy skin with benefits other products can’t offer.

“I’m thrilled to see people reading their ingredients, throwing out toxic beauty and grooming products, and using their money as their voices when purchasing their ‘truly’ natural products, ” said Sharon Houghton, director of the all natural beauty Web site. Houghton launched her company after discovering that her own formulas, created from plants in her garden, worked better than the non-natural products she had been using when she worked as an esthetician for over 20 years.

When she couldn’t find the all-natural products she desired in stores, she created her company SharAmbrosia as a portal for those searching for organic products. From her site, she sells her own products as well products from other companies with the same mission.

“The more I studied, talked to manufacturers and experimented myself, I realized that not only did all-natural beauty products work better, they were also safer for my health,” Houghton said.

Houghton said one of the greatest benefits of natural products is that they do not dry out your skin or make the skin tighter the way synthetically-based skin care products might.

“Baby softness becomes the norm," Houghton said. "Sure, you may still want to exfoliate once a week perhaps, but skin stays more plump, soft and radiant all the time. Needless to say, this is a healthier skin that will not be as quick to wrinkle, and will remain better longer.”

Founder Lula Lewis created her Web site, based in the UK, as an extension of her passion for natural beauty products.

“Trying to source good quality, high performance and pure natural products as a consumer was difficult, which is what gave me the idea to start LoveLula.com,” she said. She began spreading all-natural beauty products to fellow consumers and found that her sales are increasing as people become more interested in using cleaner, less chemical intensive products. The benefits of her products support healthier skin without artificial ingredients.

“Natural and organic products are naturally rich in nutrients such as essential fatty acids, vitamin A and antioxidants. Numerous studies have shown how these ingredients can help improve moisture levels in the skin, prevent aging and heal skin conditions such as acne or eczema.”

Products can be classified as organic in a number of different ways. Usually, it is from a third party agency, such as Ecocert or the Soil Association, who certify products based on pre-defined standards. In the United States, the Federal Drug Administration, who regulate cosmetics, have not imposed standards for the words "organic" or "natural" for cosmetics.

The Natural Organic Association, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that is responsible for certifying organic foods, has certified products for brands such as Origins to meet their predefined notion of organic, though this does not equate the products with being healthy or safe.

Houghton adds that she qualifies her products as all natural because they could be made in anyone’s kitchen, from heating together butters and oils, and blending in ingredients like oats and nuts or steam-distilled flowers and herbs.

“One of the potential drawbacks (for some people) to using all-natural beauty care is that you must diligently use up your product in a timely manner,” Houghton said, noting the shelf life of the majority of products sold on her Web site is three to six months. “You must think about all-natural products like food. Yes, they are more susceptible to heat and light, but it’s so worth it because these products are the real deal when it comes to purity.”

Even most synthetic products, especially eye pencil and mascara, should be replaced every three months to avoid infection, according to the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.

The drawbacks are a small factor to consider when it comes to a product healthier for both your planet and your body. Houghton adds, “doesn’t your all-natural body deserve all-natural care? It just makes sense.”

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