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What's Good for "Big Beauty" May Not Be So Good for You!

Lauren, the founder of Naked Truth Beauty, shares her criticisms of the commercial beauty industry, and how she’s righting some wrongs with her natural, organic and biodegradable make-up.

Navago: Naked Truth Beauty products are natural and organic. Can Big Beauty lipstick or make-up companies also make this claim?

Lauren: At Naked Truth Beauty we refuse to use color additives. Although many companies use healthy bases for their products, they still often rely on FD&C color additives, such as Red 30, for their brilliant hues.

There’s no arguing that these colors are beautiful, but they’re derived from petroleum and coal tar. Although legally allowed by the FDA to have low levels of lead and other heavy metals, many leading agencies agree there is no safe dose of lead.

This is especially troubling in light of the fact that these colors appear frequently in lipsticks. Because our lips allow easy absorption (the mucous membrane is more porous than our skin), these toxins are also more easily ingested.

Interestingly, FD&C color additives are the only cosmetic ingredient tested by the FDA.

Navago: We know you consider the environment in your natural make-up production. How do you maintain your commitment to sustainability and eco-consciousness in manufacturing?

Lauren: Processing affects the quality and therapeutic properties of ingredients. Botanicals, for example, may be extracted either by using a carbon dioxide-based process or by using chemical solvents. But in the case of the latter, harsh chemical solvents not only leave harmful residue in the products themselves, but they also produce a toxic waste, which requires disposal.

New batches of solvent must be used with each extraction, whereas the supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) clean and green solvent, can be used over and over again with little loss or waste.

Heat processing, often used with oil extraction, is another method of treating a component that can deplete it of its therapeutic properties.

What's frustrating for us about the differences in ingredient processing is that labeling regulations make it very difficult for consumers to know the method used. If an ingredient label lists "rosemary extract," there's no way for the consumer to know if that's solvent- or CO2-extracted unless the company decides to disclose it.

Navago: You’ve been a very fervent proponent of the recyclability of products. Can you expand on your thinking?

Lauren: For us, the ethos of the product begins with the packaging. If we can deliver our skincare and make-up knowing there won’t be a blot on the earth when it’s finished, we have been successful.

We are committed to 100% biodegradable packaging from start to finish for important reasons. Many other green brands celebrate their recyclable packaging.

But we can’t overlook the staggering statistic that only 14% of Americans recycle bathroom, or personal care items. If a recyclable aluminum, glass, or plastic lipstick tube isn't recycled, it's just trash. That means it goes to the landfill as if it weren't recyclable.

To put in perspective how damaging this is, the average plastic bottle takes 450 years to break down. This statistic doesn’t consider the toll this process takes on the environment and on wildlife, leeching toxic chemicals or decomposing into micro-plastics as it does so.

Only thinking about what's in the tube isn't enough when it comes to eco-friendly cosmetics. No one has committed to truly biodegradable packaging at a mass level. That's where we hope to come in!”

And Lauren’s final and very important comment on labeling: FDA cosmetics labeling requirements do not require the listing of incidental ingredients, which is defined as ‘A substance added to a cosmetic as a component of a cosmetic ingredient and having no technical or functional effect in the finished cosmetic.’ This means that, a paraben added as a preservative to Aloe Vera for example, that is then used as a component of a face cream, would not need to be disclosed on the label. This is unacceptable.

Navago: Thanks, Lauren, for raising these issues and the broader question of transparency in the 'big beauty' industry today.