Save Yourself and Save Mother Earth from Chemical-Based skincare Products
We all want to look good. Right? Absolutely!
This universal "want" is reflected in the global skincare products industry statistics, which is a multi-billion dollar industry, and growing at a rapid pace due to increasing demand with rising incomes and awareness levels.
Unfortunately, most skincare products have a significant negative impact on us and the environment. And the negative impacts on the environment also affect us ultimately, directly or indirectly. Some of these impacts on people are visible immediately on use like allergic reactions on our skins or even breathing difficulties with the fragrances.
My first experience with this was when we tried to move our baby daughter from vegetable oils for baby massage to a popular brand of "lighter" baby oil, and later we tried several different moisturizers from well known brands that claimed to being natural and organic. She immediately broke out into a rash. The possible triggers were mineral oil in the baby oil, or the innumerable chemicals in the moisturizer, each with complicated names that I could not recognise despite being a science and engineering graduate. We also found that she was allergic to strong or persisting fragrances or solvents present in the products, which manifested themselves as a breathing difficulty and later, when she was able to communicate, into a headache. Being already prone to breathing difficulties and being first on a nebuliser, and later on an inhaler, we became extremely vigilant to the chemicals and fragrances in skincare products.
On the other hand, some impacts go completely unnoticed for a long time, till things reach a tipping point and cause chaos either inside our bodies. Since there is a substantial time gap between the incidence and the end result, the causality is often unknown, but significant studies by reputed organisations are now coming to the fore-front which are linking chemicals in leave-on cosmetics and skincare to hormonal disruptions or even skin cancer. This, too, I came to know when I attended a medical conference in Grasse, France in 2015. When I subsequently experienced the taste of Neem oil that I had applied on my legs, suddenly these learnings and issues became real and no longer just in the realm of some internet or book-based research.
What are the negative impacts of chemical-based skincare products?
A. Chemical Toxicity
The chemicals used in skincare products are often extremely toxic for people and the planet. They cause problems at 3 stages - to the people and planet during production, to the people when used by them, and to the people and planet when they are washed off. Some health hazards are immediate and some may occur after prolonged usage. Here are some examples of their negative impacts -
1. People's health
Most skincare products have added fragrances, which can irritate the lungs and airways, leading to breathing problems and asthma on account of such perfumes and deodorant sprays. Asthma and respiratory issues are also attributed to long term or continued exposure to ingredients like parabens, formaldehyde (most common preservatives), phthalates (which are typically used as solvents) or even propylene glycol (added as a filler or base) which is normally considered safe. Headaches are often caused by strong or lingering perfumes.
Endocrine disruptions that harm the reproductive cycles of women like PCOD, PCOS from use of ingredients like parabens, PFAS and phthalates in skincare. Developmental growth of foetus is affected by plasticizers like phthalates, and also active chemical ingredients like the retinol.
Several chemicals in skincare products have been linked to cancer - preservatives like parabens or formaldehyde, solvents like phthalates, some ingredients for treating skin conditions like coal tar and some active ingredients for skin lightening like hydroquinone
2. Water pollution - Chemicals in skincare like preservatives and surfactants make their way to waterways during their production, and during wash-off from the body after use. Preservatives include parabens, formaldehyde esters, triclosan, and benzalkonium chloride are very harmful for people. Some like methylisothiazolinone (MIT) can be outright toxic, while some others are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors in humans and these can persist in the environment, in the bodies of aquatic organisms. Surfactants (for emulsification or cleansing), preservatives and even fragrances, if not processed properly before disposal, can be harmful for aquatic life and also human health, if the fish are consumed by people.
3. Soil contamination - Chemicals also leach into the soil through the water ways and during direct wash-off, where they can harm plants and other organisms. Hazardous wastes like solvents, if not processed properly can lead to soil contamination, either directly from the factory which produces them, or after use or even from the garbage dumped into land-fills. These cause allergies and skin problems in people who work with the soil like farmers and gardeners and also construction workers. Through the plants that grow on them, these chemicals find their way into human bodies too.
4. Air pollution - Chemicals like phthalates, typically used in fragrances, or chemical solvents, pollute the air and can be allergenic and often toxic to those who inhale them during production or during use. These can lead to breathing disorders like asthma and chest congestion or COPD.
What are the other negative impacts of skincare products?
1. Packaging Waste
The skincare and beauty industry produces over 120 billion units of packaging per annum. Not only is most of it non-biodegradable, it is not even recyclable because it may be multi-layered or the single-use packaging items may be too small to collect. In the United States alone, an estimated 1 billion plastic bottles only from beauty products end up in land-fills each year. Landfills lead to soil toxicity through leaching and air pollution through harmful emissions.
2. Water use
Skincare products require significant amounts of water during production, in the formulation and during wash-off. While they are convenient to use, liquid cleansers like face washes and body washes contain a very high percentage of water. Similarly is the case with moisturizers which have a small percentage of oils or humectants, but a large percentage of water. In serums, the water percentage may be a little lesser, but in all these products, water (or aqua) may comprise anywhere between 50-95%. While this means increased packaging, it also means increased amounts of chemicals for emulsification and preservation.
3. Carbon Emissions
An estimated 5% of the global greenhouse gases is attributed to the beauty industry, most of which are due to choosing the environmentally unsustainable packaging materials (70%), manufacturing processes, and even consumer behaviour like using hot water or chemical solvents and cleansers or inappropriate disposal of trash.
What is the way forward?
So what are the options to ensure that we get the benefits of the beauty industry without the disbenefits to us and the planet?
While most things are a multiple-level responsibility - the industry (manufacturers) and the regulators, but the biggest responsibility lies with each one of us as users of the products. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
So, to create a better world for future generations it is up to each one of us to make the right choices, and here are some of them -
1. Choose products with "natural ingredients", "no chemicals", "no mineral oil"
2. Choose moisturizers and lotions with "no fillers", "no water"
3. Choose products made using "green technologies and manufacturing processes"
4. Choose products that are versatile and minimalist, across uses, people, seasons
5. Choose products with sustainable packaging like recycled materials, recyclable packaging, no single use plastic
Ultimately, choose only sustainable and 100% natural skincare products, products that are sustainable for you, and sustainable for the planet. Choosing sustainable products shows that you care for yourself, your loved ones, for the society and the planet. That you care for the generations that are coming in after you, of people, animals and plants. That you honor and protect Mother Earth, not just in words, but in action.
The Parama Promise to Mother Earth
With sustainability as part of its core philosophy, Parama Naturals products are 360 degree sustainable for our biggest stakeholders - Sustainable for the users, sustainable for the planet, and sustainable for society (which includes our employees).
Sustainable for users:
- Our products are safe and hypoallergenic.
- We use 100% natural time-tested ingredients, with zero chemicals in any form whatsoever making it safe to use over a lifetime.
- The products are safe and effective for everyone in the family from babies to senior citizens, pregnant ladies or even people with sensitive skin.
Sustainable for the planet:
- Cruelty-free--no animal testing is involved in the making of our products.
- Our products are versatile--a single product can be used for multiple purposes.
- No separate His and Hers products to clutter your vanity shelves.
- No water means no chemicals and lesser packaging
- Zero chemicals means no toxic wastes are released during production or on washing off of our products thereby making them harmless for soil and water bodies.
- Our packaging makes use of recyclable glass, PET, metal, recycled or wood-free paper and cloth which is dyed using the residual turmeric post-extraction.
Sustainable for Society as well:
- The ingredients for our formulations are sourced directly from farmers, with minimal or no processing
- We source from marginal farmers using natural/organic farming methods.
- The processing is done using eco-friendly technologies--supercritical CO2 extraction, cold-pressed oils, steam-distilled essential oils, and no harmful effects on the staff (due to toxic ingredients)
- We support sustainable livelihoods by involving women micro-entrepreneurs from local communities
- Women entrepreneurs from local communities are encouraged with earn-while you-learn programs.
- Our ingredients, products and packaging are artisanal and hand-crafted.
In summary, Parama Naturals products are -
Sustainable in concept: Versatile oils and butters with healing power of plants and no other additives. With no added chemicals as emulsifiers, preservatives or perfumes, there are no wastes during the manufacturing process, nor post usage.
Sustainable in creation: Raw materials sourced from farmers following natural farming practices and processed using green and eco-friendly technologies. No animal testing.
Sustainable in usage: Use of 100% pure and natural time-tested ingredients ensures there are no short- or long-term side effects, and sustainable for people to use over a life-time.
Sustainable for the environment: No toxic wastes, minimalistic hand-crafted packaging with recycled/handmade paper, chemical-free cloth. Reusable and recyclable plastic and glass.
Sustainable for the society: Inclusivity, diversity and affirmative action; supporting livelihoods for community women and micro-entrepreneurs.
So do yourself and the planet a favor by making Parama Naturals as your skincare companion for life, for a healthy you, and a safe and sustainable future for yourself, the society and the planet!
Parama, ultimately, sustainable.
Natural | Minimalist | Nurturing