W3LL PEOPLE – Green Makeup

I read about W3LL PEOPLE on the mbg blog post 9 Sustainable Items To Add To Your Target Cart.  Green makeup.  Sometimes you don’t know you need something until you read about it.  I never thought of makeup as being green or not. As Jessa Blades explains your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs everything you put on it.  When you put it that way, it makes total sense that you’d want to be picky about what you’re using!  Although it’s not very innovative, I thought I’d try it. Bonus points for it being available at Target because, well, that’s pretty much my only retail shopping destination these days.

ABOUT THE PRODUCT

W3LL PEOPLE offers a line of high quality makeup made from cruelty-free natural ingredients.  They use organic botanical ingredients such as aloe, chamomile and green tea. They contain no petrochemicals, artificial preservatives, GMO, parabens, dyes, fragrance, sulfates, phthalates, glycols, nanoparticles.  Their line consists of products for your face, eyes, cheeks and lips, but the primary line seems to focus on face. They are available on the W3LL PEOPLE website, as well as local Targets and some Whole Food Stores.  They receive high ratings from EWG which is reassuring.

USING IT

My current makeup routine is I use Kiehl’s BB Cream moisturizer with tint.  My next level up is I might use a Chanel blush, under eye concealer by Benefit and/or L’Oreal mascara.  If I’m really getting dolled up I might use the Benefit Gimme Brow, maybe some lipstick and L’Oreal black liquid eyeliner.

I purchased the Expressionist eyeliner, Expressionist mascara and Bio Correct Multi-Action concealer.  Target carried a few other items but they were beyond my makeup know-how. Looking back I’m not sure makeup is the best item for me to review because I’m pretty makeup illiterate.  I didn’t know what contouring was until my teenage niece put it on her Christmas list two years ago. Putting that aside I have been using eyeliner, mascara and concealer since I was a teenager myself.

w3ll people concealer
Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer.  Photo Credit: Kimberly Offenberg

Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer:  The first few times I used it I found it to be a little thicker than I expected and it was noticeable.  Mostly around my chin.  It was very obvious I had makeup on. Perhaps the wrong shade or maybe I wasn’t blending it well? They only have three shades available.  It covered up sun spots on my cheeks by I’d guess 70% give or take? But that didn’t last all day. It also made my crows feet way more noticeable only minutes after using it.  So, I decided to google concealer to see what the deal was. Turns out everyone recommends you use a primer first and had other tricks to offer to make concealer work well around your eyes. The problems I was experiencing were not strictly with this brand.  I do not have a primer. What the concealer and subsequent research has told me is that I need to invest better in skin coverage if that’s what I’m looking for.

w3ll people products 1
Expressionist Eyeliner.  Photo Credit: Kimberly Offenberg

Expressionist Eyeliner: When I first opened the box I was really surprised at the size!  The box is the same size as the mascara box but about ⅓ the size. However, I know at retail having uniform packaging is important as well as all of the information needed to communicate to consumers.  The eyeliner goes on smoothly. The applicator is a firm brush-like piece which I’m not used to.  My other eyeliner is a soft brush and I worry with my aging eyelid skin that I’m pulling the skin more than I want to. I like that it washes off easily with my face wash so I don’t need a separate makeup remover. However, it bleeds fairly quickly.  I compared it to my L’Oreal eyeliner and that one stayed while this one bled. I then tried it with a Stay Don’t Stray on my upper lid in case that helped but it didn’t.  I have tried it over and over, hoping for a different result but it’s been the same every time.  It’s likely that other people who have different skin than me it will work just fine and/or if you use primer or other products it won’t bleed but for me, given that my current one works just fine it’s hard to justify additional steps and products to use it.

w3ll-people-mascara-2.jpg
Expressionist Mascara.  Photo Credit: Kimberly Offenberg

Expressionist Mascara: I liked how it went on – it separates the lashes well and went on evenly.  No clumping. It also washes off easily with no need for a separate makeup remover. The first few times I wasn’t sure I liked it – I did have a bit more running under my eyes.  But this is why I review items for a month.  I gave it another go, going more lightly on my under eyes and now I like it. It provides a lighter coverage than my L’Oreal so it took me a little while to get used to it.  The skin around my eyes is a bit more oily so I think it also depends on what’s happening with my skin on a given day.  However, I had it on recently at my daughter’s preschool graduation and might have cried a bit, and it burned my eyes.  By burned I mean stung, pretty bad, nothing permanent but still…

Animal Testing

W3LL PEOPLE sells cosmetics that are cruelty-free.  My goal with this blog is not to preach to the choir but to search for and present information that might appeal to those in the audience.  To some degree, respect for wildlife and animals goes hand-in-hand with respect for the planet. And it turns out, most people agree that animals should not have to suffer when it comes to our vanity and cosmetics.

Companies are required in almost every country to prove that their products are safe. Historically that has meant testing on animals. Currently many countries have banned testing all together, some allow it but it’s not required including the U.S., and at least one, China, requires it.  Within the U.S. regulations vary across states with some banning testing. To read a global report about where various countries stand on animal testing, check out this link.

There are an estimated 100,000-200,000 animals used each year globally for cosmetic testing.  The majority of those used are rabbits, rats, mice, guinea pigs and hamsters, most of which are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act and therefore not regulated in terms of pain medication, comfort, anesthesia etc.  Products that can claim a medical purpose can be exempt from animal testing bans, which ranges from cavity protection, anti-dandruff, sunscreen and even Botox.  To read about the various tests conducted, click here.

Looking back at our history can provide some explanation as to why we are testing cosmetics on animals.  In the first half of the twentieth century, we had a horrible record of human testing with and without consent.  As a result of the atrocities in WWII, the Nuremberg Code was written and has had a big influence on global laws regarding human experimentation.  Out of obvious concern over human participation in testing, one of its tenants basically states that tests should be conducted on animals prior to human testing.  The FDA started to regulate cosmetics in 1938. Before regulation there were many horrific incidents of cosmetic products that caused paralysis, blindness, eyes being eaten away as if by acid, baldness, blisters, ulcers, and infections including one woman who died.  Products contained mercury, toxic coal tar dye, rat poison to name a few.

There are a few ways to prove ingredients and products are safe without animal testing.  1) Using ingredients that were already tested on animals and deemed safe, and/or avoiding ingredients that are “new” or unknown.  That’s what most cruelty-free companies do. 2) Using human subjects. 3) Technology. Technology is our friend. And a big help to our fellow furry friends.  Some options available now include computer models, using human cells and tissue, fake skin tissues, and 3D models.  In fact, according to some, technology can provide more reliable results. Animal testing can be expensive, slow and inaccurate.  Additionally, it turns out that humans and the test animals aren’t exactly alike and test results don’t always transfer.  There have been serious cases where drugs that were deemed safe on animals killed or caused severe problems with people. Inversely, some vital drugs for humans are harmful to some animals, like aspirin, and can therefore deter further research when it could be helpful and even life saving for humans.

Leaping bunny logo
Leaping Bunny mark

If you are interested in finding out what products are cruelty free check here.  There are several websites that have this information and a few offer apps you can download as well.  If you want to read more about big companies that still test, read here.  Leaping Bunny is a certification that companies receive that are completely cruelty-free.  After researching for this blog I’ve discovered all of my cosmetics sell into China and therefore are not considered cruelty-free.  Additionally, L’Oreal (parent company to Kiehl’s) tests new ingredients on animals. It’s unfortunate because they are making big strides in being sustainable, but they’re not applying that same dedication and leadership in respect to animals.  Looks like my makeup is due for a complete makeover! (Lame, I know but I couldn’t help it.) As with any complex issue, I think you can find statistics on both sides of the argument to support what you want to hear, if you’re looking. This link provides a good pro/con if you’re still on the fence.

w3ll people free list

Ingredients

The trend is on the rise for consumers wanting more natural ingredients, and sales of products that are free from chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and/or gluten are on the rise. In fact, Walmart and Target have teamed up to create a science-based scorecard to help manufacturers make safer and more environmentally conscious products and help consumers know how various companies are doing.  It might be surprising to know that the FDA does not need to approve ingredients in cosmetics before being sold.  Although legally they need to be considered safe. To take action against a product there must be scientific evidence to support the claims.  According to a study by EWG, women use on average 12 personal care products a day, translating to about 168 unique chemicals.  Several of these chemicals are controversial.  I’m going to focus on two areas to keep it simple but to read more about what ingredients to avoid, click here and here.

Parabens

I see “paraben-free” on many products now and sometimes wonder if this is a marketing ploy or something I should really be avoiding.  What are they and why should I care?  Parabens are preservatives.  A very powerful one that has been used for many decades.  They are used to keep out mold and bacteria, and extend the product shelf life.  The FDA doesn’t currently believe they are a danger but are continuing to review information.  The EU just banned five of them but allow other forms in cosmetics.  You can easily tell if a product has a paraben as their full name ends in “paraben”.  Parabens mimic estrogen and could interfere with estrogen production in the body. There are studies linking it to cancer, infertility and fetal development.  But they are not large enough or done in such a way as to actually prove anything.  What they do prove though, is that parabens go through our skin and into our bodies.  On the flip side, one concern is that without some sort of preservative bacteria could grow and be harmful (going back to our history with unsafe cosmetics).  Additionally, alternative preservatives could very well be worse than the parabens they are replacing.  I wasn’t able to find information that swayed me one way or the other. I’m leery of the slow-moving FDA and that we could be using harmful ingredients for years before they get around to making a recommendation.  However, I am also equally concerned with using other random preservatives that are also not studied or regulated.  I have used the same foundation for 6 years, waaaaay past its suggested 12 month expiration date.  In fact, I only learned about makeup expiration dates less than a decade ago when I bought my first department store makeup.  I don’t remember seeing expiration dates on drug store products?? Bottom line is if you buy products without parabens, make sure you are adhering to the expiration dates.  If you want more details about parabens, here is a good article.

Fragrance

Right now, the FDA considers “fragrance” a trade secret and therefore the ingredients that makeup “fragrance” are undisclosed.  The term fragrance can include as many as 3,000 different chemicals, all unregulated.  Unilever just announced they will be disclosing their fragrance ingredients by the end of this year.  Let’s see if other companies follow suit.  Best bet, avoid fragrance when possible as there is no way of knowing what it includes.

 

ECONOMICS

The W3LL PEOPLE product line is pricier than my current makeup, 2-4 times higher.  However, it seems on par with other products in the natural beauty market as well as higher end department store brands.

 

COMPETITION

It turns out that there are several natural cosmetics companies out there.  I found one website that offers a wide range of products, Credo BeautyTarget has a new dedicated section in stores and online for natural products.  In fact, most major beauty supply stores also carry natural makeup.  The key is to read up on them (natural is not always better).  Even natural makeup is not always cruelty-free.  The good news is it seems this is a trend that isn’t going away and even though the FDA isn’t regulating what we use, the retailers have listened to what consumers want and are stepping up.

DO I RECOMMEND IT?

I am convinced that buying green makeup is a good idea.  But I’m still a little on the fence on this particular brand.  I would not recommend the eyeliner as I just couldn’t get it to work for me.  As for the concealer and mascara, I am enjoying them now.  However, I plan to keep looking into various options and may come back to them in the future.  If avoiding toxins and using cruelty-free makeup is important for you but you’re feeling overwhelmed by replacing a dozen or more products, I would just start with one item and go from there.  Voting with our wallets is one of the best ways to let companies (and retailers) know what’s important to us.

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