You see ‘natural’ in print everywhere these days, but in the true sense, there are very few such industries out there. I mean really natural. And I’m not referring to toiletries. No, this is makeup, like paint, but from non-chemical sources.

All of the truly natural cosmetic companies in the world share common standards of purity. Their makeup is biodegradable, does not contain synthetic chemicals and is never tested on animals. It is highly recommended for allergy sufferers as well as persons with MCS, multiple chemical sensitivities. If a dermatologist advises no makeup, there is an alternative. Thus, to many people, natural is the safest proven makeup.

Why bother? The reason to start paying attention to who is truly natural is because with minimal FDA regulation for cosmetics, there are many toxic and carcinogenic ingredients found in so-called natural body care products. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that over 800 of the chemicals available for the use in cosmetics (not only makeup) have been reported to the government as toxic substances.

“Aren’t you afraid of bacteria?” one usually asks when I inquire about organic purity. Indeed, such a curse is the greatest threat to a natural cosmetic manufacturer. With chemical preservatives, a typical gal doesn’t worry about the chemicals she’s putting on her skin. Even though it soaks through her skin pores and into her bloodstream. Makeup wearers are poisoning themselves, but the idea of ingredients not being protected with chemical preservatives is scarier to most.

Why heck, women have been eating an average of four pounds of lipstick in their lifetime without any reported problems. Mascara wearers have absorbed fallen bits of plastic and synthetic materials into their eyes daily without ever going blind. Why not leave well enough alone?

As always, times are changing. Consumers and manufacturers are increasingly concerned with the amount of chemicals we absorb in our daily lives. But cosmetic education doesn’t originate from standard media and teaching is just one of the many challenges these few businesses are facing. Their accomplishments and determination deserve respect.

If you haven’t had a skin reaction, don’t freak out, just start reading labels. If you do have a skin problem, stop using what you have, see a dermatologist and start reading labels before you use anything else. In either case, don’t panic about this. Simply become more aware of ingredients and think more about the products you purchase as a result.

Now about reading labels, do you think the average consumer knows what all of those foreign-sounding ingredients are? Do you know how to draw the line between natural and synthetic? I am still having a difficult time reading labels. I even have an expensive chemical dictionary to help. I never studied chemistry before and I find that trying to analyze ingredients from the label makes me feel pretty stupid. But as an eco mentor, I must learn who and why each manufacturer qualifies as one of the special few natural cosmetic industries. I reiterate there are few, less than a dozen, truly natural ingredient makeup sources. Each one of those few has limited offerings.