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Makeup spawns a "Green movement"

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July 28, 2006  
by Peggy Pico, NBC News

It's called the "green movement" in makeup, as more women try to get that "natural look" from organic cosmetics.   But a mother nature "make-over" may not be as organic as it seems.  

In reality most women know exactly what they want. And right now that's nearly 5 billion dollars in natural and organic makeup sold in America last year. 

Doris Lew-Jensen, makeup artist says, "Organic makeup is becoming more and more popular." But she questions if the  "natural look" can really come from organic makeup.   "The question is, is it really organic?"

No -- is the answer we got from just about every cosmetic professional we consulted.  "The whole package can't be totally organic, it does have to have chemical ingredients in it because otherwise the makeup wouldn't last as long-- the preservative, that alone would counter-act anything that's organic."  

The makers of doctor Bronner's magic soaps -- an industry gold standard in natural and organic skin care products since 1948 warns buyers to beware of organic claims. 

David Bronner is the president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps: "The only way you can know it is, if you have a USDA seal or certifiers logo on a product."

A seal of organic authenticity we could only find on lip balms.  Janet Little of Henry's Farmer's Market says: "It's really hard to find 100% because most makeup, they have to have some type of preservative in there, so it doesn't create bacteria in the product, so read the label."

None of the makeup we found at natural food stores or online actually claimed to be 100% organic. Instead most claim to be a "natural" product."  Little says, "Natural can have only 10% of the product - maybe of vitamin a in it and the rest can be all synthetic and they can call it natural."

One very popular brand from Europe called Doctor Hauschka cosmetics firmly stands by its organic claims, saying quote: "All of our products are organic and bio-dynamic certified according to strict European standards. We've never had complaint about the quality or performance of our ingredients."

Bio-dynamic certification says the organic consumer association of America has tougher restrictions than USDA labeling of cosmetics.  Nancy Satur, M.D., dermatologist said, "The essential oils and herbs that may be used in the make up are taken from organic producers."

Dermatologists like Satur say organic can be good.  "So that pesticides are not present and also synthetic chemicals are minimized--in general I think that's a good thing. It's a positive thing for the world, for waterways and for our own bodies and our complexion."

Still, she warns, sometimes, mother nature make-overs can be less than "congenial."   "Poison oak is organic, it's natural so I think that some consumers perhaps mistakenly believe they will never become allergic or irritated by an organic makeup and that's not necessarily so."