Ingredients are Everything
Have you made steps to clean up what negatively affects your skin? Baby steps are fine, just keep moving! You’ll get your rhythm and create new habits. You will find that things besides your skin begin to improve. Your digestion, mood, sleep, hair, the way you see yourself and others should all improve. Let us know the benefits you experience! If you stumble off your path, pick yourself up and congratulate yourself for how far you made it and get back to your healthy habits as soon as you’re able. We’re so grateful you’ve allowed us to spend this time together!
Today is the day we’ll talk about things near and dear to our hearts. It is what led us to create our cosmetics but it’s useful whether you choose to use our products or not. We know we’re not the only choice you have and you deserve to be informed. It’s our passion to educate first and then provide a solution. We want you to trust us, even if you don’t purchase from us!
Now let’s deal with detoxifying your personal care products. What you put on your skin, gets under your skin. Some to a much greater extent than others depending on the ingredients and combinations of ingredients. Clean, nourishing products are great but chemical laden products...not so much. For starters, let’s learn how to read labels. They’re similar to food labels with a few exceptions so here we go.
FDA regulations state all ingredients must be listed on cosmetic labels in descending order of the weight/volume of each individual ingredient. In other words, if your product says it contains ‘water, olive oil, fragrance’ as it’s only ingredients, it has more water than olive oil, and more olive oil than fragrance. This isn’t a realistic product, but it serves to explain the point. This applies to all categories of cosmetics such as makeup, shampoo, deodorant, etc. The only exception to this order is colorants. Colorants must be disclosed but may be placed at the end of an ingredient list. Our best guess as to why this is allowed is for the ease of labeling when using the same basic formula in different colors.
We often see ‘mica’ listed on cosmetic labels with no other colorants listed. Micas come in whites to off-whites and sometimes, but not always, have iridescence. They do not come as the sole colorant in colors other than white to off-white. If you see mica as the only colorant in a red lipstick, they have not listed all of their ingredients. You also may see an ingredient such as ‘carrot butter’ (not to be confused with carrot seed oils). Many herbs, such as carrots, don’t have extractable 'butters'. These are carrier oils infused with macerated herbs or herbal extracts. Anything that makes up an ingredient or product must be disclosed even if it is sold by a wholesaler under a trade name. Manufacturers and suppliers may name ingredients but must still list what they consist of to the manufacturer for disclosure on the label. Not disclosing all the ingredients that go into a product is misleading to the customer and against the law. The INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) is a standard that includes each component of an ingredient and must be disclosed to the consumer. If you see ingredients like those mentioned above on your labels and suspect there are more components to the ingredients, you should contact the company and ask for more information and/or clarification. If they cannot answer your questions to your satisfaction, you may want to do business elsewhere. Companies should be familiar with all laws and regulations concerning their business.
Companies that have a trade secret or ‘proprietary’ ingredient or combination of ingredients may list something such as ‘proprietary blend of essential oils’ or the name of the patented or trademarked ingredient instead of its components. They may provide you with some of the essential oils or the originating source of the ingredient. While we understand not wanting to give away your formulation secrets, this may not be helpful to those who have an allergy, sensitivity or other reason to avoid ingredients.
Labeling rules are different when it comes to soap. Soap is the general name for saponified oils. Saponification happens when you mix oils, a liquid and either sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide (technical names for what is commonly known as lye). Both types of lye are completely neutralized and safe once they have been through the saponification process and cured. Surfactants (surface active agents) aren’t considered ‘soap’ and are often sold as ‘soap free’. Because soap manufacturers are not required to list ingredients, we like to use caution and purchase from those who do. We have allergies in our household to specific oils and butters and can’t risk exposure. We have encountered soapers that create one generic ingredient label for all of their soaps even if they do not contain the same ingredients. This caused a major allergic reaction to a soap we thought was safe.
Let’s talk about a few ingredients that you’ll want to consider carefully before passing them off as safe. There are mountains of ingredients that are permissible in personal care products so please do research on any ingredient you may not be familiar with. We’re going to touch on a few seen in ‘natural’ products you may want to learn more about before you decide to use them. (You should know that there is no regulation concerning a ‘natural’ claim. It is simply marketing and may or may not actually be ‘true’ or, at least, it may be defined in different ways by different people.)
Perhaps one of the most frequent questionable ingredients we see is fragrance, sometimes listed as parfum. This can come from many different sources. It may be as innocent as a proprietary blend of essential oils, as dangerous as a formaldehyde emitting chemical, or anything in between or worse. If the manufacturer won’t at least hint at some of the sources when you contact them, you may want to steer clear. Even some essential oils, although natural, can cause reactions such as rashes or headaches for some and could harm those around you who may have multiple chemical sensitivities.
Another category of concern is preservatives. If there is water in your product combined with oils or dry ingredients (with the exception of steam distilled hydrosols), it needs to be preserved or used within days in order not to grow mold, bacteria or fungus. You may not be able to see, smell or detect this growth without lab testing but it can cause dangerous health issues. While we don’t love preservatives as an ingredient, it is far better to have them in small amounts when necessary to keep your product safe than to not use them. More recently some naturally derived preservatives and carefully combined ingredients have been introduced that appear to be effective and safe. You’ll want to research them when you see them listed on a label to know if you are comfortable with their use and source. You should know that Vitamin E is NOT a preservative. It is an antioxidant which extends the shelf life of oils but is not an effective preservative alone for water containing products.
The last concerning ingredient(s) we’ll discuss are the laureth and laurel sulfates. These help create lather and increase cleansing. You may have heard you need to stay away from sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) because it is an irritant. We have sensitivities to it in our household. You may find a synonym listed such as ‘coconut derived surfactant’ or ‘plant derived surfactant’. It is true that that is sourced naturally but it generally contains the same ‘irritation gene’ and boils down to ‘greenwashing’ of a chemical that simply began in nature. I suggested a friend check shampoos and detergents for any SLS or it’s relatives and remove it from use when they could not get relief of burning, itching, swollen eyes with prescribed creams or lotions. This resolved the issue within a week. Ingredients don’t affect everyone the same but if it can do that, it’s worth considering avoiding.
A commitment to transparency compels us to list all of our ingredients on our website clearly and also offer a resource page summarizing each ingredient we use. Everyone should be forthcoming with what is in their products and you shouldn’t have to chase down their ingredient list. As discussed, even good things from nature can cause the rare reaction in some. You may not be generally sensitive to ingredients, yet there is one you must avoid. You have a right to know what you are buying and applying to your skin. You should be informed if your products contain nano particles, that can penetrate your skin, or, as we use, large particles, that simply sit on the skin as a barrier and are then washed off. If there are any questions about a product you use or would like to use, contact the manufacturer. If they cannot or will not answer questions to your satisfaction, you have other choices. Now have fun exploring ingredients and learning to choose wisely!