How green is your beauty regime?

Photo by sean dock |

We are all aware of pollution. In fact, we have been bombarded with information about what kinds of chemicals cause the most harm and how we can reduce our impact on the earth’s finite resources. But have you ever considered that some personal care products can be harmful to not only the environment, but also to your own health?

Personal care products are products that are manufactured for personal hygiene or cosmetic purposes. They include a diverse array of items such as chapstick, colognes, deodorant, eye liner, shampoo, shaving cream, lotions, body wash, and toothpaste.  Although these products help us stay clean, they can also have some negative impacts.


Lip gloss/balms contain synthetic waxes and petrolatum.  According to Health Canada, they are also known to contain traces of lead and gyclerin. The colouring comes from a variety of coal tar dyes, which are known to have toxic properties. Due to frequent use, we often replace our glosses and balms on a regular basis which can lead to excess production of waste (plastic, wrappings, etc.).  In order to alleviate health and environmental impacts, we can try home-made alternatives.

Greened-up balm Recipe

-2 teaspoons Olive oil

-1/2 tablespoon of shea butter or cocoa butter

-1/2 teaspoon Honey

-flavoured oils to taste, optional

-1 vitamin E capsule, optional

1. Melt oil, honey, wax, shea butter over low heat.

2. Allow few minutes to cool

3. Add flavouring or vitamin E capsule (optional)

4. Stir to blend and pour into container (eg: tin mint container)

Body wash and Scrubs

Bath products may contain contaminants with carcinogenic properties. These include formaldehyde (released via commonly used preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin or quaternium-15) and 1,4-dioxane.  Conventional body washes contain synthetic fragrances from coal tar and benzyl alcohol.  When these chemicals are washed down our drainage systems, they can enter the aquatic environment, causing detrimental impacts on wildlife. In order to play a role in reversing this cycle, we can buy or make our own natural bath products.

Coffee body scrub

-1.5 cups of sugar cane

-1/4 cup ground coffee beans

-1/4  cup shredded coconut

-1/4 cup olive or almond oil

-1 teaspoon honey

-3-5 drops of essential oil (oil of an extracted plant)

-tin/jar for storage

1. Mix sugar, ground coffee, coconut and oil in a bowl until fully combined

2. Add honey followed by essential oils

3. Transfer the mixture into a tin/jar (scrub will keep for 1-2 weeks when sealed)


Being aware of the contents in daily used products can have positive effects on the environment and our own health. 

Everything is interconnected and we are part of that web as well.