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Use natural hair removal creams and products

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Use a natural wax hair remover or hair removal cream to avoid making contact with skin- and earth-unfriendly chemicals. Gentle, chem-free, no-waste techniques, such as body sugaring, can be performed at home or at your favorite salon or spa.

What to look for when choosing natural hair removal products

  1. Look for plant-based ingredients: Conventional waxes used for hair removal commonly contain petro-based mineral oils and paraffin, a byproduct of petroleum. The search for and procurement of petroleum has had major detrimental impacts on the soil, ground water, surface water, and ecosystems of the United States and around the world. Petroleum refineries release toxic, hazardous air pollutants, such as BTEX compounds, and criteria air pollutants, like sulfur dioxide. Hair removal products that use plant-based ingredients replace these dangerous ingredients with ones that are healthier for you and the earth. One natural and effective alternative to conventional waxing is the ancient technique of body sugaring, which completely replaces the wax with sugar and other natural ingredients for hair removal.
  2. Avoid depilatory creams: Depilatory creams, such as Nair and Veet, contain chemicals like sodium calcium, titanium dioxide, and calcium thioglycolate that actually melt—through dissolving the protein structure of hair—unwanted hair away from your skin. Some depilatory creams contain chemicals that are thought to be carcinogenic; these chemicals can easily be absorbed into the body with the aid of absorption enhancers also found in depilatory creams. Depilatories, if used incorrectly, can cause irritation or even second- or third-degree chemical burns.
  3. Find home waxing kits with reusable strips and applicators: In addition to the wax itself, waxers generate additional waste due to the applicators and strips used to apply and remove the wax to and from the target areas. While waxing creates less waste than shaving with disposable blades due to its longer-lasting nature, reusable applicators create no waste at all.
  4. Go organic: Because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spends only a tiny portion of its budget investigating the chemical composition and toxins in skin care products, hair removal products can tout their use of organic ingredients and still have up to 30 percent synthetic materials, even the ones labeled "organic" or "made with organic ingredients." USDA OrganicThe only way to be sure that the product you are purchasing is, in fact, organic is too look for the USDA Organic Seal on the label. This seal guarantees that every ingredient is organically produced as defined by the National Organics Standards Board, which bans the use of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetic engineering.
  5. Look for hair removal products that do not employ animal testing: While you're contemplating green attributes, you may also wish to join the cruelty-free movement. Just keep in mind: a company may claim that they don’t employ animal testing for their products, but without third-party verification, it’s hard to know whether these statements are in fact completely true. Leaping BunnySo stick to those products certified as cruelty-free by looking for products with the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo. You can rest assured that no bunnies (or monkeys or cats for that matter) were harmed in the making of these non-animal-tested products.
  6. Choose an eco-friendly salon for your hair removal needs: If you don't wax at home but do seek these treatments at salons and spas, make sure that the place you choose uses plant-based and natural products. Body sugaring is becoming more and more popular at spas throughout the US, so it may be a more readily available alternative for an eco-friendly wax outside the home. You can locate a green salon or spa near you using Spa Index, and call or e-mail to see if the spa near you offers chem-free waxing. While you're at it, ask what other green features the salon boasts. For example, do they use renewable energy? Recycle? Use energy-efficient equipment? And, of course, make sure "double-dipping"—reusing the wooden wax applicator on more than one client—is not being practiced as it can spread bacteria and lead to infections.

Find it! Natural wax or wax alternative hair removers

Using a natural wax hair remover helps you go green because...

  • It provides an effective, long-lasting alternative to shaving and other hair removal procedures sans petroleum-derived chemicals and additives that pollute the earth and threaten human health.
  • Hair removal kits with reusable applicators cut down on the waste associated with conventional waxing kits.

Controversies

The personal care industry is in turmoil trying to agree upon a set of standards for organic labeling of personal care products. While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains clearcut standards for organic food, the same can’t be said for body care products. Some companies use the USDA certified organic food standard, which requires 95 percent of the ingredients to be organic. Others use the less stringent California state standard for organic cosmetic products, which requires at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. And still others label their products organic without meeting any external criterion. Fortunately, the guidelines for labeling a soap as "100% Organic" are strict. Products carrying this label maus contain all organic ingredients.

To clear up this confusion, a nonprofit standard-setting group called NSF International has released a draft set of rules for organic personal care products and a group of 30 cosmetic companies recently devised their own set of specifications called Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards (OASIS). How it all washes out remains to be seen.

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