The Guide > Personal Care > Beauty > Cosmetics
Animal testing rests on a logical contradiction. It is 'because animals are like us' that experiments are useful, yet it is 'because animals are not like us' that makes it morally okay to experiment on animals.' - Prof. Charles R. Magel. In March 2009, Europe introduced a ban on animal testing of cosmetics, prohibiting the testing of cosmetics on animals in cases where non-animal alternatives are available, and the sale of animal tested cosmetics no matter where they are produced.
  • Have your say in the Australian campaign to ban animal testing of cosmetics, and find non-tested products. Choose Cruelty Free
  • Search PETA's database of companies that do and that don't test their products on animals. PETA
In Australia, cosmetics must comply with safety standards, but there is no international consensus. Some chemicals banned in Europe and the US are still considered safe by Australian authorities. These include DBP in nail polish, BHA in lipsticks, lead acetate in hair colour, and coal tar in anti-dandruff shampoos.

Other chemicals, although safe in small amounts, do build up over time and this intensive long-term exposure does seem to present unnecessary health risks. These include mineral oil, DEA/TEA/MEA, D&C colours, aluminium, talc, and synthetic fragrances.
  • Avoid known toxins. Decode the chemical nasties with the Chemical Maze app and book. Chemical Maze
  • Check out the Skin Deep cosmetics database with over 88,000 different products and a safety assessment of ingredients (US). Skin Deep
Microplastics (often labelled as 'polyethylene' on product labels) are used in some personal care products such as facial scrubs, cleansers and toothpaste. These particles are not retained by wastewater treatment so end up in the ocean. While microplastics aren't thought to be a health hazard to consumers, they are a threat to the marine environment.

As microplastics (plastic pieces of less than one millimetre diameter) are indistinguishable from plankton, the potential for ingestion by tiny crustaceans is wide. If these creatures ingest them and are eaten by other larger creatures and so on, microplastics can travel up the food chain. And because polyethylene is well known for absorbing toxins, these toxins could also end up in the seafood we eat like shellfish, white fish and tuna.

The three main sources of microplastic in marine environments are:
1) consumer products such as cosmetics,
2) breakdown of larger plastic material, and
3) the shedding of synthetic fibres from textiles by domestic clothes washing.

To reduce the amount of microplastic getting into our waterways:
  • Avoid clothing made from synthetic fibres
  • Keep plastics, such as plastic bags and bottles, out of waterways
Studies suggest nanotechnology ingredients in cosmetics pose serious health risks to the women wearing them. Nanoparticles are incredibly small ' measured in nanometres (nm), or one-billionth of a meter. They are found in cosmetics, moisturisers, and some sunscreens, and are used to increase products' penetration into the skin. Concerns have been raised that if nanoparticles are absorbed into living skin cells, they could increase the risk of skin cancer. Testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth, found nanoparticles in foundations and concealers sold by 10 top name brands ' including Christian Dior, Revlon, and Yves Saint Laurent. Only one of these, Christian Dior, labelled its use of nano ingredients. Companies are not legally required to test the safety of nanoparticles before using them in products, or to label their products as containing nano ingredients.
  • More on nanotechnology in sunscreens EWG
Features: Certified organic, cruelty free, Australian owned, carbon neutral
Miessence has an extensive range of certified organic products for skin, hair, body, cosmetic and oral. Available online.
Manufacturer: Miessence
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