The organic movement is reaching far beyond food. More and more, women today are taking a second look at what they put on their faces day in and day out.
Today, skin care and make-up combined equals one of the fastest growing, multi-billion dollar industries in the United States.
But do you know what's in your make-up?
The global cosmetic industry is expected to generate more than $18 billion this year. Retail watchdog transparency market research says the organic and natural beauty market is expected to reach $13.2 billion alone.
“I'm seeing people inquire about organic in general, skin care, hair care,” Doctor Yolanda Lenzy, a dermatologist in Chicopee, explained. “So it's a really booming industry.”
Lenzy told Western Mass News that her patients are increasingly concerned about the ingredients in the make-up they use, with good reason.
“Some of the big categories are things like parabens and phthalates and formaldehyde releasing agents,” Lenzy said. “Some of these things can cause contact dermatitis which is a huge thing that dermatologists see. Some of the phthalate containing products can be converted to estrogen which can have effects on our reproductive systems.”
Parabens. Phthalates. Formaldehyde. Buzz words you may have heard before. But what do they mean?
Those formaldehyde-releasers are described as preservatives, according to the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA.
The FDA said that parabens are chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics to stop bacteria and mold.
Whereas phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastic and vinyl in hundreds of products like: toys, vinyl flooring, packaging, detergents and, of course, cosmetics.
“Studies have shown that your skin can absorbs 60 percent of what's placed on it.” Pregnant with her first child at the age of 40, Karen Behnke started reading skin care labels.
“Whether they were low-end drug store or high-end department store, you know, formaldehyde releasing ingredients, methyl parabens, phthalates, and on and on and on and I thought who needs this!” Behnke said.
So in 2005, she founded an organic skin care company called: ‘Juice Beauty.’ We face-timed Behnke from her California headquarters.
“What Juice Beauty set out from day one to do is to meet or exceed conventional chemical efficacy,” she said.
Critics argue non-organic make-up and skin care is safe. In fact, according to the FDA, it's not clear what effect, if any, phthalates have on human health.
Regarding parabens, the American Cancer Society said, larger studies are needed to find out what effect, if any, parabens might have on (such things as) breast cancer risk.
Critics also say, organic skin care and make-up simply aren't as good.
“We hire the same outside clinical labs that the big companies do,” Behnke explained. “When our clinicals started to meet or exceed conventional chemical efficacy, all of that went away, all those nay sayers couldn't say much anymore and that's when we really started to grow.”
Juice Beauty is now one of the leading organic skin care companies in the country.
“I think a lot more research needs to be done but it's really exciting to see more people try to go clean with less ingredients, products that are simpler,” Behnke said.
Doctor Lenzy said either way, it's a good idea to take stock.
“I think we should do just like we do with our food labels, Lenzy stated. “Do an inventory. Go through and look at your products, and if there's a product that has 10 ingredients and there's one that has 5, maybe go for the one with 5 ingredients.”
Going organic, however, may come with a higher price tag. Many such skin care and make-up products are considered perishable and have a "use-by" date within six months. Conventional drugstore brands give a window of 2 or 3 years.
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