¿Cómo leer las etiquetas de los cosméticos?

Vamos ir por partes, para empezar, ¿cómo averiguar el tiempo de conservación de un producto? En ausencia de una fecha determinada específica (algo que muchos productos de fabricación eco suelen hacer), para saber el tiempo óptimo de uso de un cosmético debemos observar un pequeño símbolo representando un ‘botecito abierto’ con un numero inscrito en el interior seguido de la letra M. Esto indica el tiempo estimado recomendado de uso del producto una vez abierto el envase. Por ejemplo 6M significa 6meses de uso recomendado.

Hablemos de los ingredientes, según el INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients), los nombres de las sustancias químicas aparecen en inglés mientras que los nombres de los ingredientes naturales se escriben en latín (por ejemplo agua: aqua), ordenándose en función de la cantidad incluida en el producto de mayor a menor. Estos son algunos de los ingredientes mas conocidos que actualmente están resultando polémicos :

  • Parabenos: son conservantes químicos que están cuestionados por algunos estudios como potenciales disruptores endocrinos y por estar relacionados con casos de cáncer de mama. Algunas marcas cosméticas alegan que los parabenos que son potencialmente dañinos son los llamados de ‘cadena larga’, afirmando que los que ellos utilizan no son perjudiciales, los conocidos como de ‘cadena corta’ (como por ejemplo el metilparabeno y el etilparabeno. En general para localizarlos en la lista de ingredientes podrás encontrarlos con la palabra ‘paraben’ (ejemplo methylparaben) o las palabras que terminan en ‘zoate’ (por ejemplo: parahydroxybenzoate).
  • PEG o PPG: es un derivado de la petroquímica fabricado a partir de óxido de etileno. Se utilizan principalmente como emolientes para poder mezclar de forma homogénea ingredientes que normalmente no son miscibles como el agua y el aceite. Está cuestionada su toxicidad para el hígado y los riñones y provocar alergias además de ser cancerígenos. No son biodegradables. Aparecen en general con sus nombre PEG o PPG asociado a una cifra y a veces aparecen bajo denominaciones como ‘propileno’ o ‘polietilenglicol’.
  • Siliconas: se utilizan en cosmética para mejorar las texturas de los productos (sobre todo barras de labios y productos para el cabello) pero resultan muy poco biodegradables, lo que significa que se acumulan en el entorno. Además se cuestiona que pueda obstruir los poros de la piel. El ciclotetrasiloxano (D4) es sospechoso de tener efectos cancerígenos, mutágenos o tóxicos para la reproducción. Este ingrediente está prohibido por la Reglamentación Europea. Para reconocer otros tipos de siliconas observa los nombres de los ingredientes que terminan por lo general con ‘cone’, ‘one’ o ‘xane’.
  • Parafina es un derivado del petróleo, que se purifica para su uso en cosmética. Se utiliza como espesante y para dar una textura suave, semisólida o solida a los productos. Se cuestiona que también pueda resultar ser comedogénico, bloqueando los poros. Los aceites minerales se añaden a la composición como estabilizante. En los productos ecológicos se suelen sustituir por los aceites vegetales, como el aceite de aguacate, el aceite de coco y el aceite de argán. Para encontrarlos en el INCI hay que buscar contenido como ‘paraffin’ o ‘mineral oils’.
  • Ftalatos, pueden utilizarse en numerosos productos cosméticos tales como lacas de uñas, perfumes y fijadores para el cabello. Se cuestiona si los ftalatos son disruptores hormonales en el desarrollo de la mujer y pueden favorecer la esterilidad en el hombre.
  • Sales de aluminio y clorato de aluminio, están presentes en algunos desodorantes y se cuestiona si podrían ser responsables de cáncer de mama y casos de Alzheimer. Puedes encontrarlo en el INCI bajo diferentes formas, en general los nombres se componen de la palabra ‘aluminium’.
  • Sulfatos: son los ingredientes que crean el efecto espumoso en champús y geles de ducha y limpiadores faciales. Se cuestiona su potencial irritante y desecante, además son sospechosos de eliminar parte del manto hidrolipídico protector que está presente de forma natural en la piel y el cuero cabelludo. Puedes encontrarlos en la lista de ingredientes generalmente con los nombres ‘sodium’, ‘lauryl sulfate (sls)’, ‘sodium laureth sulfate (sles)’ o ‘ammonium lauryl sulfate’. Los más utilizados suelen ser los SLS y SLES.

RECYCLING, ARE WE DOING IT RIGHT?

To improve our recycling systems, we need to design products to be recycle. But what does that mean? When we say design, we’re not talking about the shape of a product – WE’RE TALKING ABOUT DESIGNING IT WITH AN END-GOAL IN MIND. Currently products are designed for ease of use, not reuse.

THAT MEANS WE NEED TO ASK: What is it made of? Are there additives? How easy is it to clean? How easy is it to sort? How easy is it to recycle?

LET´S START WITH WHAT IT’S MADE OF: Currently, we often mix polymers to create products or use additives that make it hard to reuse or cause it to degrade during the recycling process. WE NEED TO TRANSITION TOWARD SINGLEPOLYMERS IN OUR PRODUCTS – just one type of plastic per product!

 

WE ALSO NEED TO DESIGN OUR PRODUCTS TO BE CLEANED EASILY,  allowing them to be recycled without loss due to residue.

AND WE NEED TO CUT DOWN ON THE VARIETIES OF PLASTICS WE USE:

The more that are used, the harder it is for recycling systems to keep up. Because the truth is, some plastics are harder to recycle than others: we currently don’t have the technology or infrastructure to recycle some plastics, even when they say they’re recyclable.

 

AND THAT’S WHY WE NEED TO ASK GOVERNMENTS AND CORPORATIONS TO TAKE ACTION!

MAKE NO MISTAKE: our ability to recycle is directly tied to how things are made. BUT IF WE DESIGN OUR PRODUCTS TO BE RECYCLED, NOT DISCARDED, THEN WE CAN BEGIN TO CLOSE THE LOOP AND BUILD A TRULY CIRCULAR ECONOMY.

WHAT’S GREENWASHING?

Greenwashing is a commercial practice used in advertising with the aim of promoting the sales of a product through the natural or ecological concept, when in many cases it is not. Many times the claim on its packaging with the words bio, organic, eco or images of green leaves, flowers or fruits transmits the message that we are dealing with a product that is almost like it came out of the earth.

So how to know if a product is truly what it claims to be?

An environmentally friendly product could be, for example, one in a refillable format that should also be cheaper, however this does not guarantee that the product formula is made with ingredients from organic farming.

To know if the formulation is as ‘natural’ as it claims to be, we must read the list of ingredients and be able to recognize them.

We can also see if these are backed by a recognised certification. It is important to note that the certificates are awarded to the product, not to the brand, which means that within a cosmetic brand we can find some that have an ecological certificate and others that do not, hence the importance of knowing how to read the label and recognise the seals.

 

Source:

https://inci.es

https://interior-productos.loreal.es/ingredients/

RECYCLING IS NOT ENOUGH

Until The Mid-20th Century, plastic was a material that was rarely used. Modern plastic started to be manufactured after the 2nd World War when the army realized how versatile this material could be, so it went to be used to protecting cargo to keep our food fresh as packaging and household products. Synthetic materials such as nylon went to be used to manufacture parachutes to being used as stockings, and plastic began to be part of our lives. Clearly this material also helped to lower production costs, but at what price?

 

It is fairly common to find food containers, bottles, wrapping materials and other leftovers that we use on our daily basis not only in parks and streets of some cities, but also in natural spaces such as beaches and mountains. This ´phenomenon´ that invades natural environments with our waste it is called littering and despite its obvious consequences it is an increasing problem of our time.

 

Perhaps what you might not know, is that these debris are not only found around us but thousands of kilometers away, and that there is so much plastic in the sea that 5 huge islands have been formed in the 5 oceanic gyres that are produced by its water currents on the planet. These currents are eddies produced by the rotating action of the earth and the winds that move from the tropics to the Polar zones. These currents act as carrier belts on which the plastics go from the coasts to the distant waters where these islands are being formed. The largest, located in the North Pacific gyre is estimated to have more than 2 billion pieces of plastic, 10 times as many units as there are stars in the Milky Way, and which extends over a surface area of ​​approximately 3 times the size of France. Together the five large spots contain more than 5 billion pieces of plastic that would weigh almost 270,000 tons.

According to a study in the journal Science, each year more than 8 million tons of plastic are thrown into the oceans. The causes, probably besides of careless individual actions, are insufficient or poor waste management. It must be taken into account that what causes garbage is not the material itself but the way it is managed. It is estimated that 20% of the plastic in the oceans is the product of oil rigs and ships, while 80% comes from onshore production. The rivers are the main routes by which plastic reaches the ocean, a problem that particularly affects Asia, that has 20 of the most polluting rivers in the world. The most prominent contributor to pollution is China followed by the United States, Germany and Brazil.

 

For those who like me, are concerned about the environment, we wonder what we could done about this besides recycling or the occasional volunteering work. Hence thinking about all these data and conscious about what social media could do, I came up with this project where I’m determined to raise awareness about sustainability within the cosmetics industry.

 

I have been working as a make-up artist for more than 10 years, so a countless number of high end cosmetic brands have passed through my hands. Most of them using plastic in their package, something that makes me wonder – Would it be possible to supply these products in a more eco-friendly. way? This concern is nothing new that has just crossed my mind, luckily this philosophy is increasingly popular, so fortunately we can say that there are more and more companies that produce their products taking into account factors such as packaging and production proximity.

 

When I began to become aware of the environmental damage that my lifestyle caused, I wanted to change radically, buying only sustainable package products, but soon I realized that the goal of being 100% sustainable was not achievable and I accepted what many activists are stating, and that is simply that what the world needs is not a person who does everything perfect, but a lot of imperfect conscious people, with their contradictions but committed to changing step by step their habits to improve and achieve a more sustainable future.

 

Reversing the damages caused to date is an inescapable duty. Not just for ethical reasons, but because, as Woody Allen said, the future should concern us because it is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com.es/ciencia/grandes-reportajes/lo-que-el-oceano-esconde-2_8611/5

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6365/843.full

 

 

If you´re inspired and want to know more about this, you can also check:

https://noplasticwaste.org/

https://cleanseas.org