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Natural hygiene products can make one feel better about themselves as well as their environment.

Whether it’s to help the environment or to be cautious about what ingredients one puts into their body, there are multiple reasons one should consider an organic, natural-based hygiene product before looking into name-brand labels. Reading the words “clean,” “organic” or “natural” on a brand-name bottle might initially be promising upon first look, but doing proper research on what those labels mean could be the main reason one decides to make the switch from their go-to favorites to something new. 

The desire for “clean” products has grown with people who want to prioritize holistic health and wellness in their daily lives. Depending on the brand and their overall mission, the words they use to describe their products can have different meanings. For some brands, it could be labeled as natural because it isn’t made with harmful ingredients. 

According to Safe Cosmetics, there are many ingredients that consumers should be aware of when looking at cosmetic products. A big thing to look out for is the use of preservatives, like formaldehyde, and parabens. Preservatives can be found in an assortment of items including fragrances, shampoos, body washes and hair care products. Their primary job is to reduce bacteria from growing to increase the shelf life of the cosmetics they’re in, but they have ties to cancer, endocrine disruption and skin irritation. 

If consumers take the extra step and do research to see what they’re putting in and on their bodies, they can protect themselves from future health conditions. Being more mindful of which chemicals are harmful allows people to make mindful and insightful decisions on what to use to take care of themselves.

Products could be “natural” because they’re environmentally friendly, meaning that they’re considerate of human health and  the environment. For example, an organic product may consist of biodegradable packaging and plant-based ingredients while excluding genetically modified organisms. Without research, a customer won't know which kind of "organic" product they're buying. These products could also be cruelty free, meaning they aren’t tested on animals, or palm oil free because palm oil has strong links to deforestation

If harmful ingredients aren’t enough to make one consider natural cosmetics over their usual selection, environmental factors should. These cosmetics can positively impact more than just the person using them if they’re sustainably made. One person can make an environmental impact by using natural products, even if it feels small in the moment. 

Helping the environment could mean using products that aren’t harmful to nature or animals. Switching to a cruelty free product might not feel like one’s doing much, but one can save a group of animals from being used as test subjects for wide assortments of harmful chemicals. 

Some research might be required for one to make an informed decision when selecting cosmetics, but making the switch to clean products requires minimal effort. Purchasing, switching out new products with old ones and making the effort to use them is no different than what one should normally do when it comes to their hygiene. The key difference is that clean products allow a person to look after themselves, as well as the environment. 

Joanna Sommer is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact her at sommerjj@dukes.jmu.edu.