It would be nice to be able to say that Sephora is reaching for the stars with its Natural Believer Palette Star Gazer Edition ($30), a set of six celestial eyeshadows and a blush from Sephora's eco-friendly Pure line. Unfortunately, it would be stretching the truth. Sephora has certainly gone green, but the hue is still a little on the pale side. Mind you, Sephora Pure has secured organic ingredients and is making makeup good for you by introducing antioxidant olive oil. It may not be perfect for purists, but we should support it. Here's why.
Europe started to go green two decades ago. But in those early years, it was all hesitant baby steps. I would buy recycled toilet paper and organic apples and some of my friends would say I was wasting my time and money. Their arguments went along the lines of: environmentally friendly dish soap doesn't clean anything; the production process is as inefficient as with non-eco lines; organic standards are too lax and your apples were still grown with chemicals. My view was that the only way we'd change any of that was to demonstrate our purchasing power. If we demonstrate that there is a consumer market by buying these imperfect goods, the producers will listen when we ask for better.
And so it is with green cosmetics and makeup that is "good for you". I commend Sephora, Clinique (with its Lip Smoothies)
and other mainstream brands that recognize a growing market of consumers who care about what the label says and I will support them by buying their products and promise to remain loyal as they get better at being green.
In that spirit, it's great that Sephora's Natural Believer Palette has olive oil and jojoba oil, both of which are organic. Even the corn starch is organic. The dominant ingredient at least does no evil - lauroyl lysine is considered 100% safe by the Environmental Working Group. Potentially less benign is zinc stearate, an irritant and possibly a weak carcinogen. Glyceryl caprylate is an irritant and penetration enhancer and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel (a body representing the cosmetics industry) concedes more research
is need on its toxicity.
The real issue for makeup makers is color. Carmine, for example, can cause severe allergic reactions and is regulated for use in food. I am sure that finding safe alternatives to color ingredients such as chromium hydroxide green, which the FDA has only approved for products not intended for the lips, is difficult to say the least. They need to be long-lasting, intense, blend with other ingredients..... Still, I'm not keen on putting something on my eyelids that regulators tell me shouldn't go anywhere near my lips. And then there is ferric ferrocyanide, a pigment that the FDA considers it safe. The EPA, on the other hand, says it is toxic if it ends up in the water system. The problem is that it does not dissolve easily and it is a cyanide. It might be OK on your skin, but it is hard to manufacture a product with ferric without it getting into the eco-system as harmful waste.
When Sephora and the rest of the industry can nail down safe pigments, they will be showing their true green colors. Until then, its a stride in the right direction.
Ingredients in eyeshadows:
Lauroyl Lysine, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Zinc Stearate, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch*, Silica, Olea Europapea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Sodium Levulinate, Glyceryl Caprylate, p-Anisic Acid, Tocopherol, May Contain +/-: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Chromium Hydroxide Green (CI 77289), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Carmine (CI 75470).
Ingredients in blush:
Mica, Lauroyl Lysine, Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Silica, Zea Mays (Corn) Startch*, Zinc Stearate, Sodium Levulinate, Olea Eutopapea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Glyceryl Caprylate, p-Anisic Acid, Tocopherol, May Contain +/- Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Chromium Hydroxide Green (CI 77289), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Carmine (CI 75470).
* Ingredients from organic farming.