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Choose natural after-sun lotion

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Your skin absorbs as much as 60 percent of what you put on it: so, when you rub on conventional after-sun lotion to relieve parched skin, petroleum-derived and health-endangering chemicals can enter your body. They can also pollute the environment when they are washed off the body and during the manufacturing process. The best way to make the eco-friendly choice for your after-sun soothe session is to choose a lotion containing natural, plant-based ingredients. While you're at it, opt for those packaged in recycled or minimal packaging.

What to look for when choosing natural after-sun lotion

If you've gotten too much sun and you need to buy some after-sun lotion on the fly, read the ingredient list carefully and keep these attributes in mind:

  1. Avoid after-sun lotions that contain parabens: Parabens (which includes methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl-parabens) are a family of preservatives that can affect the endocrine system, which produces the body's hormones. Studies have shown that some parabens can mimic estrogen in the body, though the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asserts that parabens are safe because their estrogenic activity is much lower than the body’s own estrogen. To avoid these chemicals, check labels for the phrase "paraben-free".
  2. Choose after-sun lotions that contain plant-derived, instead of petroleum-derived, ingredients: Ingredients such as petrolatum and mineral oil are derived from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource whose extraction and production cause air and water pollution, and can trigger allergic skin reactions. The European Union (EU) has petrolatum listed as a probable human carcinogen in its Dangerous Substances Directive. To avoid petrol-based products, look for lotions that list plant and vegetable oils as their main ingredients.
  3. Avoid products that list sodium laureth sulfate and those that have "PEG", "xynol", "ceteareth," and "oleth" in their name: These ingredients can contain 1,4-dioxane, which has been detected in about a third of body lotions tested by the Environmental Working Group.[1] In scientific studies, 1,4-Dioxane has caused cancer in animals; scientists have not yet confirmed the long-term effects on humans.
  4. Avoid synthetic fragrances: Fragrances are volatile organic compounds (VOC), which add to air pollution, are persistent in the environment and contaminate waterways and aquatic wildlife. An estimated 5.72 million Americans have skin allergies to fragrance, while around 72 percent of those suffering from asthma claim that their condition can be triggered by synthetic fragrance.[2]
  5. 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, lotions 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." The only way to be sure that the product you are purchasing is, in fact, organic USDA Organicis 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.
  6. Look for after-sun lotions that do not contain animal fats or 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.

Find it! Natural after-sun lotion

Using natural after-sun lotion helps you go green because…

  • They use water- and plant-based ingredients in lieu of combinations of chemicals that are harmful to the environment and pose various health risks.
  • Many makers of natural sunscreens also follow green business practices, such as using recycled packaging and supporting organic agriculture. Alba Botonica's office and warehouse, for example, run completely on solar power.

Controversies

With the race to be the first to offer eco-friendly products, especially in the personal care industry, companies are touting their products' green attributes with claims that at times can be confusing and misleading. Making sense of environmentally friendly standards is an important part of being a wise consumer.

Organic labeling

One murky area is the term “organic.” While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains clearcut standards for organic food, the same can’t be said for body care products. The industry is in turmoil trying to agree upon a set of standards. 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.

In the meantime, 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.

Glossary

  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Organic solvents that easily evaporate into the air, where they may cause immediate and long-term health problems.

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