3 easy tips for more mindful buying

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Today’s consumers know it’s possible to feel good about looking good.  As such, there is an escalating demand for more eco-friendly, cruelty-free, local and organic products. Consumers’ growing interest in being a ‘mindful’ buyer should translate into how companies formulate and market to fit this ‘mindful’ and eco-friendly desire. So how do you know for certain the products you’re buying are eco-friendly or cruelty-free? If you’re shopping at Essential Wholesale & Labs, you can easily tell by our product attributes icons right on the product description. If you’re buying elsewhere, remember these helpful tips to help you stay more mindful about your cosmetics and body care purchases.

1. Shop local

First things first, you can always buy locally. Local buying is a great way to support your community, the environment and yourself! Local products cost less to ship, not just out of your pocket, but theirs as well. When you buy from big name brands, a lot of time, money and gas is put into your shipment. The closer to home you buy, the more you will save. Less time, less money and most importantly, less travel! Many local farmer’s markets or summer fairs are a great place to have a ‘local’ presence for your hand made soaps, lotions, and body care.

2. Read Labels & Look out for Logos

It may seem like a no-brainer, but closely reading product labels is the best way to find out what’s in your product and how it was made– and they’re right on the packaging! Same goes for logos. Almost everyone recognizes the green and white USDA-certified organic seal, which tells you that the product was created using 95% or more organically produced ingredients. Other organic standards, exist around the world so be sure to do your homework.  Many companies claim their products are ‘organic’ but don’t include the seal and can’t produce documentation to back up their organic claim.

Another example is the Leaping Bunny logo, which certifies that a product is cruelty-free. Even though animal testing is banned in many places, there are some ingredients that are used in other products, not just cosmetics, that could be tested on animals. That’s why the Leaping Bunny label is so important– it guarantees that no matter what ingredient was used, no animals were harmed.

Reading labels and logos are important when you buy your ingredients, but can influence your overall label design, marketing copy, and product formulation.  Not every product can be certified organic, but you can always be transparent about your ingredients– something equally important in the natural and organic field.

3. Try Vegan!

Vegan cosmetics are any lipstick, perfume or shampoo, body scrub, etc.,  made without the use of ingredients from animals; no bees wax, honey, silk protein, blubber or sheep sweat! Yeah, sheep sweat. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when a product is vegan–not all companies have a logo on their products– so here are some examples of what to look for in the ingredients deck of your products.

  • Earth’s bee population is declining at an alarming rate, help protect them by avoiding products with beeswax or honey!
  • Whales are another contender in population decline. Whale oil, also known as train oil, can be found in your lipstick! Instead look for jojoba oil; it is a plant-based oil and a great substitute.
  • Lanolin is a woolen byproduct and collected from sheep wool. Basically, it’s the sweat and grease that is locked in sheep wool. Substitutes for lanolin include cocoa butter.
  • Silk proteins are also not allowed in vegan products because the silk is a by-product of the silk worm.
  • Goat’s Milk, which excellent for your skin, is also something you’ll want to avoid if you’re looking for a vegan product.
  • One more example comes from sharks, called squalene. This product is shark liver oil and is a major reason why sharks are hunted. BUT look carefully, there is another product called squalane– with an a, which is extracted from plain old olive oil.

4. Look beyond the hype to the science

As any statistician, and they’ll tell you a fact can be both true and misleading at the same time.   This is true of the internet discussion around squalene and how it fell out of disfavor because it was harvested from sharks.  That’s actually only part of the story, and misleading.

Squalene molecules are found in rice bran, olive, and wheat germ oil, as well as sharks livers.  (Note the “-ene” at the end indicating it contains double bonds. )

Squalene makes up about 12% of our skin’s sebum, so our skin identifies it as “ours” and soaks it up quickly. Squalene is a vital part of cholesterol, steroid, and Vitamin D synthesis in our bodies.

It is often NOT used in cosmetics due to being highly unstable with all those double bonds. So instead the industry uses squalane, a hydrogenated version with no double bonds that offers us a lot of stability, such as a longer shelf life. So squalane is a hydrogenated version of squalene. If we are to say that squalane is from olives- and therefore environmentally friendly —  (btw, it can be from other things too as I listed above) then we should also note that squalene, too, is from olives. The EU banned shark liver squalene (and even squalane) in the 80s. While I cannot say there is no shark liver squalene or squalane, I can say that to see it in cosmetics would be extremely rare.

These are only a few examples of how to become a more mindful buyer, but they are some of the most important. Try applying some of these tips when you’re buying your next shampoo, lipstick, or soap. We can all do more for our environment, and look good while we’re at it!


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