Naturally Gorgeous? Sephora Has Their Own Definition

sephora-natural A recent trip to Sephora to replace my favorite (and highly toxic) lip gloss sparked a question: What is “natural” beauty? I would define it as something unchanged by human hands, as in a sunset, a wild flower, or a good-looking person with no make up. Sephora defines it as make up containing “natural” ingredients.

But here’s where we start getting into trouble. There is no official definition of “natural” when it comes to beauty products. Unlike Certified Organic, there’s no USDA when it comes to cosmetics. The government regulates what passes through our lips, but not what we put on them. This leaves the door open to companies like Sephora to create their own definition of what  natural products are.

According to their website, their natural products are “formulated with high concentrations of plant-based and naturally-derived ingredients, and fewer to no parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates, petrochemicals, and synthetic fragrances or dyes.” And the products in their organic section contain over 70% organic ingredients.

However, many of their “natural brands” such as Caudalie, Decleor, Korres Natural Products, and more, show up on Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database, as moderate or high hazard. (Then again, I’ve found that any beauty product I’ve ever purchased anywhere show’s up on the Cosmetic Safety Database as “will probably kill you while you sleep”).

But therein lies the question, would you rather be toxically beautiful or naturally ugly? If you live in San Francisco like I do, you know that many women chose the latter.

Audrey is a freelance copywriter. She has worked with every kind of company, helping them to communicate their message of sustainability. Careful to never greenwash, Audrey believes that transparency in marketing is just as important as branding. And that doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive. When she's not blogging, marketing sustainability or writing radio commercials for Chinese food, you can find Audrey rock-climbing, riding her bike around San Francisco, or looking for work (she's available for hire, call now!)

8 responses

  1. Nice post. I 100% agree that there ought to be a better definition of what exactly “natural” means in conjunction with cosmetics. But calling their lip gloss “highly toxic” seems a tiny bit off the cuff no?

    Or maybe that was exactly the irony you were attempting to illustrate. Who’s to say!

  2. On 13th and Folsom there is a grocery co-op I adore called Rainbow Grocery. I generally trust their idea of what is “natural” though I do not purchase cosmetics. Their body products (including lip glosses – I like eco lips bee free) seem pretty good to me.

    1. I agree 100%. I love how all of these things like “bare minerals” claim to be okay for your health but it has silicon in it!!! And it’s put on in powder form. As a geologist – I’m pretty surprised people fall for this. When we had to crush up rocks that included a lot of mica (which is used in a lot of make-up) – we had to use a vacuum and wore masks because breathing in silicon powder has the potential to be so toxic, it could be fatal and such silicon poisoning isn’t something you can reverse!

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