Normally, Frankenstein gets away with green face paint, but green makeup, which means earth-friendly, ecologically sustainable, and eco-friendly beauty products, has become a popular new trend. In the long run, products that don't contain harsh chemicals or carcinogens are also healthier for you. It is a movement toward more ethical and eco-friendly products that beautify your face without damaging the environment.

It's hard to know where to begin when life after L'Oreal gets a little complicated. With so many natural and organic products, it's hard to know what to do. Here are some of the labels you'll likely see, what they mean, and how they can help you and the planet make greener decisions.

The organic way

As the organic industry grows, fewer toxic chemicals enter our water and air as organic crops are grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetic modification. The glossy 'organic' lipstick you're tempted by may contain as little as one organic ingredient unless the claim is USDA Certified Organic. The USDA green and white label guarantees that your product contains 95% or more organic ingredients. Other organic certifications, such as EcoCert, have less stringent requirements.

The advantage of buying organic products is that they do not contain 1,4 dioxane, which is a carcinogenic contaminant found in many foaming products, especially those with sodium laureth sulfate.

Veggie / Vegan / Cruelty-free

Being green also includes being kind to animals. Vegetarian cosmetics may contain beeswax, honey, and milk that were obtained without harming animals; Vegan Bougie Cosmetics do not contain any animal products.

Developed without animal testing, cruelty-free products (look for the Leaping Bunny or PETA logos) can still contain animal products. Stearic acid (derived from cow and sheep fat), oleyl alcohol (inedible beef fat), and carmine (red dye derived from crushed beetles, often found in natural lipsticks as an alternative to chemical dyes) are examples of ingredients to watch out for.

MINIMAL packaging, biodegradable, and recyclable

You should always choose makeup that has eco-friendly packaging -- recyclable, recycled, minimal, or biodegradable. Cargo Cosmetics has pioneered a lipstick that is not only made with eco-friendly ingredients, but also comes in a biodegradable corn-based tube. In most cases, the less packaging, the better.   

Lastly, here are some things to avoid when shopping for cosmetics:

Things you can't pronounce (Latin plant names aside). Synthetic chemicals have long, chemical-sounding names. Natural ingredients don't. In general, the shorter the ingredient list, the better. Parabens (preservatives), sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate (foaming agents), and phthalates (binders) are among the many synthetic ingredients that can cause mild irritation to potentially carcinogenic effects.

More info:

Oils derived from petroleum and petrochemicals are not renewable sources and are ineffective moisturizers as they are not absorbed into the skin. Instead, choose a plant-based oil, such as jojoba, shea butter, or sunflower oil.

Unless the ingredients and a USDA organic certification back it up, the label "pure" or "all-natural" is not regulated.