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WHY ECOLABELS DO NOT WORK

Benedikt Záleha
Opinions expressed by Clarenzy contributors are their own.

If you got here, it means you you want to live your life in a more sustainable way. Same as me.

However, we are facing problems concerning how to do it. In my case, I face confusion when buying daily products. Wondering, which product is a better choice or even the best choice. A Solution for that might be eco-labels. Yet, there are more than “456 registered Eco-labels,” (ecolabelindex.com, 2020) which represent different standards and are valid in different countries. To name just a few examples: locally grown, organic, GMO-free, natural, paper packaging, and recycled packaging, and I could continue for hours.

Reasons why ecolabels do NOT work

  • First, for a casual user, it is almost impossible to keep track of all the eco-labeling as it makes the decision process even more complicated. With this number of ecolabels, it is impossible for me to educate myself on this.
  • The second problem regarding the labeling system is that it creates a safety box in the mind of the consumer which can give them a feeling of making a safe choice. This feeling is only based on what the buyer sees from the label however it does not assure that the product is the best choice for the buyer based on what they are looking for. That is why it can be argued whether labeling is sufficient for the right buying decision.
  • The third problem is the complexity of the market. In this labeling system, many sustainable aspects are not included and addressed, only a few of these aspects may be considered.
  • The fourth factor to be considered in a product is the distance, that the product has traveled through to get to the store.

Additional problems

There are additional concerns to it such as: How the product was transported? How it was made, the production process? Working conditions in the company, CO2 footprint of the product, the possibility of recycling or upcycling the product, and many other considerations. All those things we care about when we want to make a real sustainable purchase.

You need to know the story behind

These factors are extremely complex and labeling cannot cover them all. Moreover, your choices and mine might be completely different and at the same time, they might be both correct. Based on location, situation, and opportunities. Most companies are reluctant to disclose this information to consumers. For this reason, it is rarely mentioned on the product label. What happens is that consumers need to search and ask around for such information about a product and this will make the decision-making and buying process annoying.

That is why ecolabels do NOT work for me. They might solve the problem part, but for me, it is too complicated to go further in it. Therefore, I believe that Clarenzy is a better solution for this. You can find specific information about products, filter them by your location, and make a wise buying purchase specifically for you.

Most transparent products on Clarenzy:

Iron Roots Eucalyptus Performance Singlet – BlackRating: 4.8
Iron Roots Eucalyptus Performance T-Shirt – BlackRating: 4.8
Iron Roots Beechwood Performance T-Shirt – Jade GreenRating: 4.8
Iron Roots Unisex Hemp Performance Hoodie – Sand GreyRating: 4.8
Iron Roots Hemp Performance Jogger – BlackRating: 4.8
Cotton Bees For Life Kids T-ShirtRating: 4.3
Coconut BowlsRating: 4.2
Flap MD Leatherette In Purple Patent LeatherRating: 4
Flap MD Beige Suede Leatherette With Rosette PatternRating: 4
Flap MD Leatherette With Military Green PatternRating: 4
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IF YOU LOVE YOUR SKIN PLEASE BID GOODBYE TO MAKEUP WIPES


Aunkita

Find more on @ecofriendly_planet.
Opinions expressed by Clarenzy contributors are their own.

With the advancement of science and technology over the past few decades, the world has literally and figuratively come to our doorsteps. Being said that, it has also opened our eyes to the areas which, before that, were unknown and unproven. Cosmetics being one such area. We can put our skin under a microscope and observe the effectiveness of a particular product if we want to, which, earlier was only availed by researchers and scholars. 

Does that mean that companies, especially cosmetics, are petrified since they can’t fool us anymore with their products? Unfortunately, not so much. Reason? Because we are STILL ignorant. So, let us dive deep into one such misunderstood product of all time – Makeup wipes. 

Makeup wipes are supposed to easily remove makeup since they come in a small box of tissue paper-like material which is portable and apparently economical. Gym, party, night out, wherever you are, if you need to remove makeup easily, just take out that small box, pull out a wipe, rub it on your face, and experience hydrating and convenient removal of makeup after a long day (Let’s face it, we all have been there). 

So why are they bad, you ask, because they do remove your makeup? Sorry to disappoint you, the answer is NO. They do not completely remove makeup. Let us talk about the science of why you shouldn’t be using them – 

  • At the end of the day, our skin becomes oily, dirty, and party house for bacteria but they just stay on the epidermis i.e. the uppermost layer of the skin (Fig. 1). When you rub your face with makeup wipes, it creates micro abrasion on the skin opening a gateway for those bacteria on the surface of your skin to go inside and party even harder, leading to various skin conditions including premature aging (yep, that’s right folks, your dream of looking like Liu Xiaoqing is long gone, sorry!!). I understand the laziness and tiredness at the end of the day and wipes are more convenient, but at the cost of what? That is something you need to ask yourselves. 
Fig. 1 – Layers of skin Source
  • They are extremely harsh on the skin. Most makeup wipes have alcohol in them which may have an instant cooling effect on the skin but at the same time, they strip your face of its natural oils making it dehydrated and dry. The hydrated feeling is temporary and in the long run, it makes your skin extremely dry. To combat that dryness you will use ‘hydrating’ makeup wipes and this vicious cycle keeps on and on. 
  • Have you seen your skin becoming red and itchy after using wipes? That’s because they also use formaldehyde as a preservative to increase the shelf life of the product but formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and irritant. They also have a fragrance which can cause irritation and skin sensitivity over time. If you see your skin is having an adverse reaction to the product causing erythema and itching, immediately discontinue using the wipes and get help from a physician. 
  • Most of them have phthalates, triclosan, and parabens which are known endocrine disruptors i.e. they get absorbed into our body and mimic the body’s natural hormone which can increase or decrease hormone levels. In short, they can cause hormonal imbalance (pretty scary!!). 
  • Do you get breakouts a few days after wiping off your makeup using makeup wipes? That is because makeup wipes DO NOT remove all of the gunk. They have been formulated to breakdown the organic matter of the makeup so the oil, waxes, and other residues of the makeup cannot be removed using makeup wipes, which then sits on your pores, clogs them, causing breakout after few days. If you have acne-prone skin, makeup wipes can be a contributing factor (Fig. 2). 
Fig. 2 – Skin under a microscope (Makeupbypita)

Fig. 2 – Skin under a microscope with makeup on (left) and the same skin under the microscope after ‘removing’ makeup using makeup wipes (Right). Look at all the glitters that barely got removed and not to mention the clear picture of clogged pores (in yellow circles near hair follicles on the right). When I said we can view our skin under the microscope, I was not kidding!! 

  • They cause over-exfoliation. These wipes mostly work as a mechanical exfoliator and usually, people already use some sort of exfoliation in their skincare, so this may cause over-exfoliation leading to an imbalance of the acid mantle of the skin. Basically, the pH of the skin gets imbalanced. 
  • Now the most important point – most makeup wipes are made up of non-biodegradable plastic fibers which means that after you dispose them, they stay on even after you are gone. How many wipes do you use in a month? If I assume you use them daily, then 30? In a year? 30×12 i.e 360. Now multiply that by how long you have been using them. That is how many wipes used by YOU have landed up on landfills, water bodies, ocean, or worse – consumed by an animal and killed it. That is YOUR, a single person’s contribution to this planet. 
Fig. 3 – Tons of wipes found clogged in the sewer treatment plants Source

Fig. 3 – Tons of wipes found clogged in the sewer treatment plants daily worldwide. Just because they say ‘flushable’ doesn’t mean toss it down the toilet, y’all!! (PC-dfw.cbslocal.com) 

One group estimates 20 million pounds of single-use wipes (including baby wipes and disinfecting wipes) are being disposed of every day in the U.S. What’s worse is that some are actually individually wrapped in plastic, doubling the waste. Of course, that’s just a landfill, many people end up flushing them down the toilet which is devastating for the sewer system since they cause a massive blockage (even if they claim to be “flushable” they are not, Fig.3). Cities, sewer providers, and wastewater treatment plants are suffering massive blockages caused by flushed wipes which are not only gross by also exposed humans and animals to unhealthy bacteria. And those that can’t be removed during wastewater treatment end up in oceans and beaches. Have you ever complained about how beaches look dirty? That doesn’t happen automatically, we are the reason behind it. 

Those big companies who want to sell you their makeup wipe stating they are biodegradable or alcohol-free or harsh chemical-free, always remember, anything that you have to rub and scratch on your skin, is extremely harsh for your skin. Unless you want to tear open your skin and welcome the surface bacteria inside your skin, DO NOT USE MAKEUP WIPES. Those big companies, all they care about is making a profit and so that you stick to their product no matter what. Don’t fall for that. 

So what is the alternative?? Double cleansers. Those are far safer for your skin and Mother Earth. Reusable cotton pads are also widely available in the markets and online shopping apps. Reusable cotton pads, on the plus side, can be reused as many times as you want. Still, want a more economical option? Take an old cotton t-shirt, cut it in circles, sew two circular pieces together and voila, you have now saved your skin and Mother Earth at the same time. Use it, wash it, dry it, and repeat!! Put your money where your morals are!! PS: One of the most important things this year has taught us is to give the respect Mother Nature deserves from us.

References:

Sorry, But Makeup Wipes Are the Actual Worst by Amber Rambharose, August 23, 2017, Glamour.com.

Do Makeup Wipes Clean Your Face Properly? Dermatologists Weigh In. by Julia Brucculieri, August 11, 2018, huffpost.com.

Are Makeup Wipes Bad? 5 Skincare Mistakes We All Make by Susan Yara, March 13, 2019, Mixed Makeup.

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READING SUNSCREEN LABELS

Tara
Founder of Greenify Organics.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever checked your sunscreen label? 

Most of us may be curious but if you live on your own principles and preferences and are conscious about the products you use, checking a label will be a part of your shopping.

Figure 1 sunscreen vs. no sunscreen skin effects. Source

What Does SPF Mean? 

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. 

The number indicates the level of protection against UVB rays. 

A higher SPF DOES NOT mean the amount of coverage jumps up significantly. 

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays. 
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays. 
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.
  • SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays.

What Does Broad Spectrum Mean? 

SPF is a measure of protection against UVB rays only. But remember that protection against UVA rays is important too, so choose a “broad spectrum” sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Read more about it here.

Does Mineral Sunscreen Expire?

Sunscreens are required by the FDA to remain at their original strengths for at least three years. This means that you can use leftover sunscreen from one year to the next. Read more here.

Mineral sunscreen contains the active mineral ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which offer protection against UVA and UVB rays by reflecting and scattering the rays from the surface of the skin. Because they are minerals, Zinc Oxide, and Titanium Dioxide do not change over time and remain effective. 

However, when put into a sunscreen cream or lotion other ingredients can spoil the texture or be separated, meaning that although the sunscreen itself may be effective, it may not be very pleasant when applied to the skin. Read more here.

Nano vs Non-Nano Sunscreen

At the nano level, it is virtually impossible to ensure that a product is 100% nano-particle free because the shapes of the particles make them hard to measure.

A nano-particle is a piece of material that is so small it has to be measured in nanometers. 

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can be manufactured at nano sizes, and are used in sunscreens to avoid using hormone-disrupting chemicals while providing sun protection.

Do Non-Nano-Particle Sunscreens Work Differently?

It turns out that nano-particles do work differently from non-nano-particles. Zinc is a good example. One of the reasons that nano-particles are more visible and sheer is that they reflect less and less visible light as the particle size becomes smaller and smaller. Thus nano-particle zinc may not be as good as blocking the blue light. 

Nano Zinc vs Non-Nano Zinc

Para Amino Benzoic Acid was introduced in the 1970s as a UVB filter. More recently, its use has declined due to allergic dermatitis,

Non-Nano Zinc

  • Advantages | Broader coverage against UVB, UVA, and blue light
  • Disadvantages | Whiter and visible

Nano Zinc

  • Advantages | Broad coverage and less visible on the skin
  • Disadvantages | Coverage is not as broad and may not cover every long-wavelength UVA and blue light
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CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS AND POTENTIAL HARMFUL INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

Tara
Founder of Greenify Organics.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Oxybenzone

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 97 percent of Americans have this chemical circulating in our bodies, as it can accumulate more quickly than our bodies can get rid of it.

Oxybenzone can permeate across the skin and accumulate in the blood, the kidneys, and the liver, and it may be toxic to liver cells. Read the article about the toxicological evaluation of Benzophenone. Another study done in 2007 with rats showed that there was some evidence of carcinogenic activity of Benzophenone in male rats. (One of the derivatives of Benzophenone is Oxybenzone)

Octinoxate

Though SPF products are designed to protect skin from sun-induced aging, Octinoxate may be a culprit for premature aging, as it produces free radicals that can damage skin and cells. It has been detected in human urine, blood, and breast milk, which indicates that humans are systemically exposed to this compound. Octinoxate increases cell proliferation in cells that grow in response to estrogen exposure. Lifetime estrogen exposure is an established risk factor in the development and progression of breast cancer. Read more at SafeCosmetics.org

Octocrylene

When this chemical is exposed to UV light, it absorbs the rays and produces oxygen radicals that can damage cells and cause mutations. It is readily absorbed by your skin and may accumulate within your body in measurable amounts. Plus, it can be toxic to the environment.

It is efficient at absorbing into the skin and can penetrate to the deepest layers of the skin. This deep absorption leads to interactions with other chemicals which cause changes deep in the skin, producing oxygen radicals that can lead to cell death and may be implicated in cardiovascular disease.

Octisalate

It is less of a health and safety concern than other sunscreen ingredients like Oxybenzone, but Japan’s Standards for Cosmetics has restricted its use in certain types of cosmetics. Health concerns associated with exposure to Octisalate include immune effects and allergenic effects.

Avobenzone

A very common ingredient in FDA approved chemical-based sunscreens.  It is often used in replace of Oxybenzone but is still holds with it similar risks associated with Oxybenzone.  

This ingredient works the same as Oxybenzone in that it penetrates the skin and increases free radicals in the skin which increases the risks of types of skin cancer as well as photo contact allergies to sunscreens. Research shows Avobenzone reacts with chlorine and might cause toxic reactions.

Homosalate

This UV-absorbing sunscreen ingredient helps sunscreen to penetrate your skin. Once the ingredient has been absorbed, Homosalate accumulates in our bodies faster than we can get rid of it, becomes toxic, and disrupts our hormones.

Homosalate at a maximum concentration of 10% or less does not pose a risk EU scientific Committee concluded, however, I wouldn’t want this ingredient to accumulate in my body as I apply sunscreen every day!

Retinyl Palmitate

As an ingredient in sunscreen, its function is to improve the product’s performance against the aging effects of UV exposure, However, certain forms of vitamin A found in sun protection products—namely Retinyl Palmitate can be cause for concern.

When exposed to the sun’s UV rays, retinol compounds break down and produce destructive free radicals that are toxic to cells, damage DNA, and may lead to cancer. FDA studies have shown that Retinyl Palmitate may speed the development of malignant cells and skin tumors when applied to the skin before sun exposure, so steer clear of skin sun products that harbor the stuff. National Toxicity Program study on Retinyl Palmitate.

PABA

Para Amino Benzoic Acid was introduced in the 1970s as a UVB filter. More recently, its use has declined due to allergic dermatitis, photosensitivity, and a tendency to stain clothing. Some research links PABA with thyroid-disrupting activity, raising concerns about long-term health effects.

Currently, PABA derivatives are used in place of PABA, but these derivatives may also cause health problems. The most commonly used PABA derivative is Padimate O (OD-PABA) which may disrupt endocrine activity. PABA does cause some health problems such as endocrine disruption, sensitization, and bioaccumulation. Read more here

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NATURAL VS. CHEMICAL-BASED SUNSCREEN, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Tara
Founder of Greenify Organics.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What Are Natural (Mineral-Based) Sunscreens?

The short answer is that they use naturally sourced sunscreens, instead of synthetic chemicals. Rather than chemicals such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, they’ll use zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or another natural sunscreen. Natural brands also tend to avoid parabens, phthalates, and other harsh preservatives.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends avoiding ingredients such as Oxybenzone, which is a known-allergen and may affect hormone levels. Octinoxate is also an endocrine disruptor and is believed to have other potentially unpleasant side effects. These types of synthetic ingredients are easily absorbed and can make their way into breast milk. So you might want to go natural if you have sensitive skin, are pregnant, or are buying sunscreen for babies or children.

What Are Chemical Sunscreens?

Chemical sunscreens are sunscreens that contain compounds like Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, and Avobenzone. These compounds work to protect the skin by absorbing into the skin and creating a chemical reaction that absorbs UV rays keeping them from ever penetrating the skin.

However, because chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin they also pass into the bloodstream and can make their way into other body fluids like breast milk, making chemical sunscreens potentially hazardous especially for breastfeeding women.

What Are The Pros & Cons of Chemical Sunscreens vs Mineral Sunscreens?

Pros of Chemical Sunscreen

  • Easier to rub into the skin and is usually invisible once applied.

Cons of Chemical Sunscreen

  • Endocrine and hormone-disrupting qualities.
  • Found to irritate the skin in those with sensitive skin and children.
  • Chemical blockers have been linked to coral bleaching, which has had an impact on marine life.
  • Some chemical blockers have been shown to increase the risk of free radicals and cause photosensitization.

Pros of Natural & Mineral-Based Sunscreen

  • Immediately protect the skin from the sun and do not require any wait time after application.
  • Ingredients are safe for our skin and do not cause damage to the environment.
  • Physical sunscreens naturally block both UVA and UVB rays meaning that they are always a broad-spectrum sunscreen and will protect your skin from both kinds of harmful rays.
  • Better for sensitive skin and acne-prone skin as the ingredients using in physical sunscreens are less likely to irritate the skin or clog pores.

Cons of Natural & Mineral-Based Sunscreen

  • Tend to be more difficult to rub into the skin when compared to chemical sunscreens and can leave a whitish color on the skin
  • Need to be reapplied frequently and can be rubbed off more easily when doing activities or swimming.

In our next article you will find out about the common sunscreen ingredients you would better avoid, to stay on the safe side.