Trying to go organic when it comes to beauty products can be rough when you consider they are fundamentally made with chemicals and many don’t have easy-to-understand ingredient listings. Even the purely natural ingredients can sound harsh and unfamiliar when listed out by chemical name.

It can also be easy to ignore this part of your daily routine because these are not really things you eat or ingest at all. Just remember that your skin is extremely absorbent and will take in many of the chemicals in your makeup, moisturizer, shampoo, soaps, and anything else that gets rubbed on your body. So this is not an area to ignore.

Unlike chemicals that work their way into your food due to farming and processing practices, cosmetics are generally made from chemicals. That can and will make it harder for you to get around the potentially toxic stuff.

A short list of additives that are common (and likely hazardous) in beauty products include:

  • BHA and BHT
  • Phthalates
  • Coal tar colorants
  • Petroleum byproducts
  • Parabens
  • Propylene glycol
  • Tricolsan
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate

Their purposes can vary by product. Some of these chemicals make soap products foam more, some make cosmetics creamier for smooth coverage, and some are used as preservatives. This list is really endless once you start looking.

Just like with foods, the term “organic” is fully regulated and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture. Which means that only agricultural ingredients fall under their jurisdiction. This means many cosmetics and beauty products are not regulated, and will not bear the familiar green/white label. Unfortunately, this can mean a chore for the consumer to learn about what is in their products.

Your best bet is to educate yourself on the chemicals in your products, and scour ingredient lists to find products that suit your desire for more natural items. Even very mild and natural products may have some synthetic ingredients, so you will have to decide what your personal threshold is for these things. For example. Lush sells many natural beauty products but their shampoos do have sodium lauryl sulfate in them.

Even though there are no single labels to look for, the ingredient list will always be the final say on the contents. Many are not truly organic but are still far kinder to your skin and to the Earth than those packed with more toxic chemicals.