Is It Possible to Avoid GMOs in Cosmetics?


Is It Possible to Avoid GMOs in Cosmetics?

Are you concerned about the presence of GMOs in your beauty products? Regardless of your answer, taking a few moments to educate yourself is important. Read on to learn more about GMOs and why you might not want them lurking in your everyday beauty staples including skincare products, makeup and other personal care products.

If you’re conscious about green or “clean” beauty, then you are likely aware of the often harmful culprits that can be found lurking in personal care and beauty products, such as parabens and artificial fragrances. As such, toiletries and beauty products can come with the label ‘paraben free’ but still may contain GMOs. When selecting a product, you will want to check if it is labeled as GMO-free.

[bctt tweet=”We’ve all heard of ‘paraben free’, but how many of us check if our beauty products are GMO-free?”]

GMOs are a hot buzzword these days, but you still might not fully understand what they are or why so many people are pushing for products to be labeled to reflect whether or not they contain GMOs. The media highlights GMOs in food products, but what about beauty products and cosmetics? Before we further delve into this topic, let’s take a moment to discuss what GMOs actually are.

What are GMOs?

The term ‘GMO’ stands for Genetically Modified Organism. A GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. This is commonly done by taking genes from organisms (such as bacteria or an animal) and inserting them into the code of another species.

As mentioned above, when we hear about GMOs, we commonly think of genetically modified foods, or GM foods as they’re often referred to as. The genetic modification of organisms is common practice in the food industry –  it is estimated that up to 92% of U.S. corn is genetically engineered, as are 94% of soybeans and 94% of cotton in the United States! If predictions are anything to go by, this number is set to rise. See the figure below from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.


The rise of GMOs in food production as information about GMOs in beauty products

Source: USDA ERS

It therefore seems logical that anyone making money from agriculture would want to adopt this practice. By genetically modifying crops, food producers can create desirable characteristics such as larger organisms, higher yields, and greater resistance to pests, thus decreasing the needs for pesticides.  In short, GMOs mean a higher profit. However, it isn’t so black and white. Despite these ‘benefits’ of GM food production, a considerable amount of people still maintain that creating new organisms through genetic modification can pose serious and unknown risks to the environment. The safety of GMOs has not been adequately studied in a long term fashion so it is largely unknown about whether or not GMOs are harmful in our food – OR our personal grooming products.

What Do GMOs Have to Do with Beauty Products?

You might be thinking that GMOs have no place in beauty products, but you’d be surprised to find that they are often lurking in many of your staples! There are many ingredients commonly used in cosmetics that could actually cause them to be ‘GMO-toxic.’ Some of main offenders are the following:

  • Corn starch (often an ingredient in makeup)
  • Glycerin
  • Alcohol
  • Vegetable protein
  • Amino acids
  • Soy and canola oils

This is just a mere selection of some common ingredients that can be derived from GMOs. When you conduct a little research, it seems like GMOs are everywhere, and not just in our food!

What Can You Do to Avoid GMOs in Skin Care and Makeup Products?

Now that you’re aware of this information, what can you do to make sure your beauty products are GMO free?

If you’re looking to boycott GMOs completely, one idea would be to start creating your own toiletries and cosmetics with organic ingredients that you grow yourself.

If this sounds unrealistic for your lifestyle, just be vigilant and do your research when selecting beauty products and cosmetics. It can be tricky because GMOs are not required to be labeled in the US and Canada. Even if you read the list of ingredients on your toiletry labels, you might not know if the corn starch in your eyeshadow was derived from a genetically modified crop. You also might not be aware if the Vitamin E in your face cream was synthesized from GM soy beans.

The current best option when it comes avoiding GMOs in beauty products is to purchase from a trustworthy, responsible manufacturer or supplier of green beauty products. If you are in doubt about the ingredients, you can always ask! Keep an eye out for products that are labeled specifically as GMO free – they should display the ‘Non-GMO Project Verified’ seal of approval.

Products displaying the Non-GMO Project Verified label

Products displaying the Non-GMO Project Verified label

The Non-GMO project is a non-profit organization which offers a third party non-GMO verification program for food and products that want to communicate to consumers that they are proudly free of GMOs. When selecting products, a general rule of thumb is to select responsible brands with an ‘eco-friendly’ reputation. If they have not yet attained ‘GMO-free’ status, then you can always get in touch with the manufacturer directly, ask for a list of ingredients, and inquire as to whether or not any of those ingredients are genetically modified.

How about you? Do you have any tips for ensuring that your beauty products are free from GMOs? We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to comment below!


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