Is there a valid concern about certain ingredients in skincare and cosmetics? Yes, but I think it truly depends on the particular ingredient and the quantity present in that product. For example, because our product line is natural oils and butters only, we can avoid using preservatives, however, other products that do contain water must have a broad spectrum preservative to remain safe for use. Some people see those names and immediately think bad chemicals, but having bacteria, mold, mildew or fungus in a product is much worse.
Certain ingredients I will avoid all together, like a facial item that contains alcohol. I simply will not use it. I learned a long time ago that the more you dry out skin, the more it will hyper produce body sebum body oil and result in oily/dry skin syndrome. I also avoid any harsh detergent soaps on my body and clothing and anything with color that is not mica and/or naturally derived.
Natural: Unlike organic products, the FDA and USDA do not have any standards or requirements for labeling products as natural or all natural. The FDA defines natural ingredients as derived from natural sources. Natural products typically contain plant-based ingredients like aloe, beeswax, and Shea butter, but don’t have to meet the same standards as organic products. But in other cases natural means items like soybeans and corn which provide lecithin to maintain product consistency; beets provide beet powder used as food coloring. These have undergone a process but are still naturally derived. Some ingredients found in nature can be produced artificially and more economically with greater purity and consistent quality than their natural counterparts. For example, vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, may be derived from an orange or produced in a laboratory. There is no specific distinction when looking at natural ingredient labels. This is where things can get confusing and I always recommend you read the specific ingredient label of a product and not just the front label.
Vegan vs Cruelty-free are two more terms that are often confusing to people new to natural skincare and makeup.
Vegan: The product you’re buying is not made with any animal products, like milk or honey. But that doesn’t mean it’s 100% natural. Vegan products can still contain synthetic preservatives like parabens.
Cruelty-free: These products have not been tested on animals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are vegan, natural, or organic. The Leaping Bunny Association is the go-to when you need to check if a product has been tested on animals.
Organic: USDA certified Organic products are produced without the use of synthetic preservatives, petrochemicals, ionizing radiation or pesticides. The USDA has established a national standard for organic labeling.
• 100% Organic: Must contain only organically produced ingredients. (The USDA seal may appear on the package.)
• Organic: Must contain 95% minimum organically produced ingredients. Products cannot be produced using synthetic preservatives, petrochemicals, ionizing radiation or any other excluded methods. (The USDA seal may appear on the package.)
• Made with Organic Ingredients: Contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. (The USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package.)
• Use of farmland that has been free from synthetic chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more)
• Keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
• Maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
• Undergoing periodic on-site inspections.
Many products are Organic, Vegan and Cruelty Free, (or) Natural, Vegan and Cruelty Free. Again, read up on the company and the ingredients for a clearer picture of a particular product.
Despite the labels on certain “natural or green” products, brands can still sneak in synthetic chemicals, like:
1,4-dioxane (sodium laureate sulfate, sodium myreth sulfate, polyethylene glycol)
Parabens, triclosan, and phthalates may cause endocrine disruption.
Sulfates (especially sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, or “SLS”) due to skin irritation.
Petrochemicals are known for pore clogging.
Ethoxylated ingredients (anything that ends in “eth,” phenoxyethanol, polysorbates)
Synthetic color is often derived from petroleum or coal tar, which has a possible link to behavioral issues.
Synthetic fragrance that contain petrochemicals and phthalates.
Once again, I know this is so basic, but read labels. Read up on all of the ingredients and educate yourself on what they are and more importantly why they are in that product. Also, if you are trying a new product, do a test on a small skin area (called a patch test) to ensure there are no interactions and sensitivities.
Luckily consumers are getting more sophisticated and better educated on skin care ingredients, so more companies are producing really quality products with really great ingredients.