Political Flavors


The Ethics of Origins Cosmetics – Organic Doesn’t Mean Good Labor Practices

Posted in Editorials on September 2nd, 2015
by
Tags:

There’s and article in Pacific Standard about the child abuse perpetuated by a Christian cult called “The Twelve Tribes.” The article asks how far the First Amendment goes – can religious freedom really protect the harming of children? It’s a disturbing but important article and you should read the whole thing.

Something that jumped out at me though was this paragraph about how the children in this cult were often taken out of school and made to work at businesses.

The Jones children were put to work at an early age. For several weeks when she was seven, for example, Shuah boarded a 15-passenger van at dawn with other grade-schoolers and drove to the Tribes’ Common Sense factory in Rutland, an hour away. One of the Tribes’ biggest clients was Estee Lauder, which contracted the group to make its popular Origins salt scrub. Shuah spent 10 hours a day labeling and packaging the scrub and other products. At a certain point, she told me, the elders passed out sleeping bags so the kids could sleep on the factory floor. “We’d take little breaks and run around and play and get spanked for it,” recalled Alicia Gonyaw, who worked at the factory when she was 12. “We weren’t allowed to be kids.”

I was shocked. I’ve heard that there is child labor and sweat shops in the United States, but it’s something I don’t like to think about. It’s something that happens in other places. And I felt guilty! I love Origins products and I have reviewed them glowingly on this blog. But my mistake was in assuming that because a product is organic, it’s produced in accordance with fair labor standards too. And as I have found, that is just not the case.

I buy organic products not just for my own health and for the quality of our water and soil, but because I believe it’s a labor and human rights issue. Farm workers who are exposed to pesticides can have serious health problems including higher rates of cancer, infertility and birth defects.

But makeup isn’t like a blueberry or an apple. It must be processed, and there are ingredients that aren’t plant based. Mineral ingredients must be mined, and there are numerous abuses in the mining of minerals for makeup.

Children toiling illegally in Indian mines are producing a key ingredient used in the products of some of the global cosmetics industry’s most prominent names.

A report by campaign group DanWatch said child labour is being used in the eastern states of Jharkhand and Bihar to extract mica, which is then added to the make-up produced by at least 12 multinational companies.

At least 5,000 children may be producing mica – used to add glitter to natural cosmetics – which is bought by intermediaries and then exported to high-profile international customers such as L’Oreal and Estee Lauder.

Estee Lauder is the parent company of Origins.

I tweeted at Origins hoping for a response yesterday – Shuah’s story happened many years ago and perhaps they have new safeguards in place. But I have received no response except for some conversation with Stacy Malkin from SafeCosmetics.org.

Knowing what I know now, though, a response from Origins stating that they don’t or won’t use that specific factory anymore isn’t enough. We need more transparency about how the ingredients in our makeup are mined, not just how they are farmed. The jewelry industry has the Kimberly Process and the No Dirty Gold campaign. Cosmetics companies need to get on board.

For me, makeup is something fun I like to use on weekends or special occasions. No matter how a person chooses to wear it, it’s production should not involve the endangerment or exploitation of children or adult workers.

Jonathan Product Mousse

Posted in Green Product Reviews on March 6th, 2013
by
Tags:

Ever since I read “Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” by Stacy Malkin, I’ve slowly started to change the way I purchase and use cosmetics. I frequently consult the Skin Deep Database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to purchase products that are at least one of the following: fragrance free, have organic ingredients and/or do not contain phthalates or parabens.

I will be reviewing some of the brands of natural cosmetics that I use regularly. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

I was browsing my local pharmacy’s hair care aisle to see if there was anything that fit my criteria that I could use because I was running out of styling product. I have thick, wavy hair and I generally use mousse to tame it, but sometimes a little bit of gel or anti-frizz spray can do the trick also. I noticed Jonathan Product Infinite Volume Thickening Foam:

I’m not particularly observant of the aesthetics of design, but I really did like the simplicity of the package and how clear and pure the liquid looked. The label assured me it was paraben free, and fragrance free. The ingredients included a variety of extracts (pear, almond, papaya, white tea, pomegranate, ginger) that I hadn’t seen before on a mousse label. I was intrigued.

At $24 I admit it was a little bit pricey. But I don’t use a lot of product and I would rather splurge on something I know is safe and support business that make products I know won’t harm my health than spend any money on something loaded with carcinogens.

Only after I got home did I notice that it was labeled “for fine/thin hair.” I am happy to report that it defined my thick curls very well and I have no complaints about the level of hold. I would recommend it for anyone who uses mousse. It also smells amazing, and I get complimented on that a lot, people think I am wearing a new perfume!

My one complaint is that like Yarok Feed Your Roots Mousse (which I also like) when traveling with Jonathan Product I have to pack it in a separate plastic bag because it leaks. It doesn’t leak as much as the Yarok did, and I think because the liquid is slightly thicker. But at $24 for 5.1 oz a bottle, it’s disappointing to lose any to the inside of my luggage.

Fun Friday Cosmetics Review – Juara Perfume

Posted in Green Product Reviews on March 9th, 2012
by
Tags:

Ever since I read “Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” by Stacy Malkin, I’ve slowly started to change the way I purchase and use cosmetics. I frequently consult the Skin Deep Database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to purchase products that are at least one of the following: fragrance free, have organic ingredients and/or do not contain phthalates or parabens.

I will be reviewing some of the brands of natural cosmetics that I use regularly. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

I have stated that I’ve gone “fragrance free.” What I mean by that is that I try not to use products that have “fragrance” listed as an ingredient. This is because that term doesn’t mean a specific ingredient. It’s a placeholder for a proprietary concoction that could contain carcinogenic chemicals. However, I still like to use perfume for special occasions.

During my last trip to Terrain I picked up

Juara Tiare Jasmine Tea Perfume Oil

Like the Yakshi perfume I have reviewed previously, this is a roll on made from essential oils. It’s a bit lighter and less greasy than the Yakshi however, and absorbs easily into my skin.

This fragrance is a lovely, light and floral. You can smell white tea and jasmine. It’s not overpowering, and quite pleasant. The package came with a small packet of Juara shower gel of the same scent.

Juara seems like a company that takes it’s social commitment seriously. Their website touts that all of their products are vegetarian and free of parabens phthalates, and sulfates and that they do no animal testing. In addition, their packaging is Forest Stewardship Council Certified.

Fun Fridays Cosmetics Review – Yarok Feed Your Roots Mousse

Posted in Green Product Reviews on May 20th, 2011
by
Tags:

Ever since I read “Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” by Stacy Malkin, I’ve slowly started to change the way I purchase and use cosmetics. I frequently consult the Skin Deep Database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to purchase products that are at least one of the following: fragrance free, have organic ingredients and/or do not contain phthalates or parabens.

I will be reviewing some of the brands of natural cosmetics that I use regularly. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Yarok Feed Your Roots

My friend Alexandra has seen my series on eco-friendly cosmetics and recommended I check out Terrain (disclosure, she is an employee). This mousse caught my eye because I have been looking for hair care products that fit some my criteria above. This one is 100% vegan, and contains no parabens or sulfates.

I was actually skeptical that it would work on my hair, but decided to give it a try. My hair is thick and wavy, and can be very frizzy in humid weather or for no reason at all. I usually add a lot of mousse to define my curls on special occasions. Last week, when Ebonmuse and I were going out on the town, I tried it, and it was fantastic. It smelled like rosemary and my hair looked just as good as when I use my typical, loaded with carcinogens, mousse. I would highly recommend this.

Edit: Many months later, I am still enjoying this product. I do have to add that the bottle leaks while traveling on an airplane. If you put this in your checked luggage, make sure you have it in a separate, sealed plastic bag.

Fun Fridays – Cosmetics Review #4

Posted in Green Product Reviews on February 4th, 2011
by
Tags:

Ever since I read “Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” by Stacy Malkin, I’ve slowly started to change the way I purchase and use cosmetics. I frequently consult the Skin Deep Database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to purchase products that are at least one of the following: fragrance free, have organic ingredients and/or do not contain phthalates or parabens.

I will be reviewing some of the brands of natural cosmetics that I use regularly. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Kiss My Face

I decided to try Kiss My Face Moisture Shave because I knew that other shaving creams were loaded with the synthetic chemicals I’m trying to banish from my grooming routine. I was skeptical that it would lather as nice as other shaving products, but it does. You do have to rub a slight amount more, however the difference is negligible.

Vanicream

My dermatologist recommended Vanicream Lite Lotion when I told her I was switching to fragrance free products, and also trying to avoid parabens and phthalates. I like it a lot, it feels like a very light lotion you would use on your hands or body. It’s not heavy at all, is absorbed by your skin quickly, and has no discernible scent. I think it compares well with Yes to Cucumbers.

A final note: It is possible to start small with using healthier cosmetics. Neutrogena makes an oil free fragrance free daily moisturizer I like almost as much as Yes to Cucumbers, and many national brands of products like deodorant and laundry detergent are also available fragrance free. Once you get going, it’s not too difficult to do a little research and read product labels so you can make an informed decision for what you put on your body.

Fun Fridays – Cosmetics Reviews #3

Posted in Green Product Reviews on January 28th, 2011
by
Tags:

Ever since I read “Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” by Stacy Malkin, I’ve slowly started to change the way I purchase and use cosmetics. I frequently consult the Skin Deep Database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to purchase products that are at least one of the following: fragrance free, have organic ingredients and/or do not contain phthalates or parabens.

I will be reviewing some of the brands of natural cosmetics that I use regularly. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Yakshi Naturals Botanical Fragrances

I have stated that I’ve gone “fragrance free.” What I mean by that is that I try not to use products that have “fragrance” listed as an ingredient. This is because that term doesn’t mean a specific ingredient. It’s a placeholder for a proprietary concoction that could contain carcinogenic chemicals. I do still like to dab on some perfume for a special occasion and Yakshi has some great products to choose from, where all the ingredients are listed on the label. My favorite is “Goddess Dreams” which is a blend of jasmine and other essential oils. They are made with a natural base of coconut oil so it’s not quite the same as using an alcohol based fragrance that most people are used to. However I’ve never had it stain my clothing or tarnish my jewelry.

Sun Rose Aromatics

I go to a salon that uses many products that are organic. This product line was recommended to me there. I purchased the “Organic Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel. It did the job, but it took a while to get used to the feeling of using an aloe gel rather than a cream or lotion.

Yes to Carrots

I first noticed this brand when shopping for some makeup to wear to an 80′s party I was attending. Most of my lipsticks are a deep rose color or a maroon. I needed something RED. I purchased their “C Me Shine Lip Gloss” in “Red Hot” and was not disappointed. I did have to reapply several times to get the color to stay, but that is to be expected from a gloss. I also use the Yes to Cucumbers Daily Calming Moisturizer, which I think is my favorite one of all right now.

Fun Fridays – Cosmetics Reviews #2

Posted in Green Product Reviews on January 21st, 2011
by
Tags:

Ever since I read “Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” by Stacy Malkin, I’ve slowly started to change the way I purchase and use cosmetics. I frequently consult the Skin Deep Database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to purchase products that are at least one of the following: fragrance free, have organic ingredients and/or do not contain phthalates or parabens.

I will be reviewing some of the brands of natural cosmetics that I use regularly. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Burt’s Bees

This is the quintessential granola cosmetics brand, and they don’t just sell lip balm anymore. My favorite of their products is the pomegranate lip balm, although I know the original has a somewhat fanatic following. The Honey scented one does nothing for me, and kind of smells like talc to in my opinion. I’ve used their lip shimmer, available in a wide variety of colors and it gives you the same minty feeling as the original balm. I am currently using their Carrot Day Creme as my daytime moisturizer. It smells heavenly, like a carrot cake. But it is very thick and should be applied sparingly. It hasn’t clogged my pores or caused a breakout but it can get greasy or make you look strange because of it’s yellow color if you put too much on. I have mixed feelings about their moisturizers and body washes. They do the job but the “Milk and Honey” scent smells more like buttermilk or sour cream to me.

Dr. Bronner’s

I couldn’t write a series about natural cosmetics without mentioning the father of all that is crunchy about ablations. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castile liquid soaps are a wonderful alternative to mass market body washes that contain harmful carcinogens, and I highly recommend them. My favorite is the almond, because I can use it every day. The peppermint and lavender, rose and citrus are wonderful too but made with the real oils and as my eyes are very sensitive I have to be careful with them. The bottle claims you can use it to clean anything but I stick to using it as a body, hand and face wash. The one time I used it as shampoo in a pinch was not very pleasant.

They also make a line of lip glosses, shaving creams and other personal care products which are worth a try.

Alba Botanica

I picked up the coconut lip balm when it was on sale at my local drug store. I loved the texture and scent, but it was difficult to find. On another shopping trip, I found the Terra Tints and they are the perfect mix of moisturizing balm and colored gloss. Try these if you can find them.

Fun Fridays: Cosmetics Reviews #1

Posted in Green Product Reviews on January 7th, 2011
by
Tags:

UPDATE 9/2/15: I must temper my glowing review below with the advisory that Origins uses child labor to produce it’s products.

Ever since I read “Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” by Stacy Malkin, I’ve slowly started to change the way I purchase and use cosmetics. I frequently consult the Skin Deep Database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to purchase products that are at least one of the following: fragrance free, have organic ingredients and/or do not contain phthalates or parabens.

I will be reviewing some of the brands of natural cosmetics that I use regularly. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Origins

Origins is my absolute favorite brand of makeup. I was first introduced to them when a friend gave me a gift set containing bar soap, lotion and lip gloss. When I was experimenting with different looks for my wedding, I splurged on a few different lip sticks (both flower fusion and rain and shine brands) and eye liners to test shades and was not disappointed. The quality is excellent. I have purchased the products from Macy’s department stores and also from stand alone locations. The staff are always very helpful and will always let you test products. This year they have put out a natural ginger scented perfume. It’s not quite my style but worth sniffing the tester if you see it around.

Physicians Formula Organic Wear

This is the brand of makeup I can use every day. It’s in most drug stores and fairly affordable. I’m not a fan of foundation in general but have used their line. My every day powder is Physican’s Formula, and they make cases out of bamboo and recycled cardboard and also sell refills for your compacts to reduce packaging waste. I like their mascara although it is not waterproof. Their eyeshadow is also good quality but they do not have many colors to choose from currently.

The Naked Bee

The Naked Bee products are usually sold in gift shops, and cannot currently be purchased online unless you are buying in bulk for retail sale. I do stock up when I come across them. The lip gloss has a nice honeysuckle scent and the lotion is one of my favorites to cool irritated or dry skin.