There are hundreds of companies and suppliers, large and small, making and selling toiletries and cosmetics which they claim are ‘green’, better for the user and better for the environment. Most make much of using natural ingredients, though this is not defined, and of avoiding what they see as harmful chemicals, particularly parabens (used as preservatives), SLS and SLES (detergents) and DEA, TEA and MEA. The concern is generally with the risks to human health or the possibility of skin irritation, but powerful chemicals might also harm the environment, either when disposed of (by washing off the skin, for example), in manufacture or in the event of accident.

Other issues are the use of petrochemicals, synthetic colours and perfumes, animal products, organic ingredients, whether the product and its ingredients are cruelty-free, i.e. have not been tested on animals, complete and accurate labelling, and minimising packaging.

These issues are explored further below but there is a great deal of information and it is impossible for Green Choices to make a fair assessment of which products are green. One approach might be to minimise exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, to go for plant-based products where appropriate and to choose organic products as organic production encourages care for the environment. Few toiletries or cosmetics need testing on animals and minimising packaging is sensible whatever one is buying.