All posts by ohohorg.com

Cold Pressed Oil?

We frequently get the question: “is your oil “cold pressed” ?”.

Well – yes and no.

First, some transparency:

The references we mainly use for oil quality are:

  • The American Oil Chemist Society (of which we are members).
  • Codex Alimentarius (a document supported by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations – Guidelines and Codes since 1963 for food   safety and quality – Link to Codex
  • Bailey’s Oils and Fats, 6th Edition.

These resources represent the collective knowledge of many oil producers and analytical labs gathered over many years to establish best practices for oil quality and safety. After all – we are selling food ingredients to be used in cosmetics that sit on peoples counters for… unknown years so quality is crucial.

Back to “cold pressed”: the term is generally a marketing term. Why?

A few facts about the organic oils we sell:

            1 – most organic vegetable oils are mechanically pressed using stainless steel equipment. These presses have different designs but the goal is always the same: get as much oil as possible out of the seeds or fruit. For organic they can only use mechanical methods (no solvents).

            2 – The pressure plus the friction used to press the oil out of the seed will always generate some amount of heat. That is unavoidable.

            3 – Every oil has a different tolerance for heat – most of us know you do not fry with olive oil but you can fry with canola, for example. So – what is the significance of the heat for a specific oil if all oils are so different?

            4 – All of the references cited above agree that the technical meaning of “cold pressed” from someone that actually makes the oil is a) oil pressed without the addition of heat, or b) an agreement between the buyer and oil producer. So, unless you are buying 80,000 lbs. of oil it is unlikely you can have any say on the production method.

While there are companies all over the internet making claims about “cold pressed’ I suspect that few of them have any idea how their oil is actually made (with the exception of Laurel Skin!).

When we contract with a supplier we go to the manufacturing press, if at all possible. We require a production flow chart and we analyze the oil in addition to the analysis that they send us. We spend money every month monitoring the quality of the oil – because that is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than making random claims. We want to know how the chemistry of the oil is changing over time to ensure the you have the best quality oil possible.

The important thing about oil is to know what it’s chemistry looks like. Check out our blog on “Peroxide Value” to learn more about oil quality.

A Note on Quality: Peroxide Value and other Quality Measurements

I am always talking about Peroxide Value (PV) when I talk about oils. This is part of how we assess the quality of an oil.

When we receive a new shipment of oil, we check:

  • The Production date,
  • The test date,
  • The Peroxide Value,
  • And the Free Fatty Acids (not to be confused with the Fatty Acid Profile – 2 different things)

“Peroxide Value” is a chemical measurement of the peroxide (aka hydroperoxides) in an oil that indicates how an oil is aging. The PV on the Certificate of Analysis from when they made the oil is a snapshot in time. Six months later we may run another PV test. The free fatty acids should be within the limit set on the spec and will go up when the PV (or oxidation) has increased measurably.

You should also always look at the production date and the shelf-life so you know what you are dealing with.

Recently Isabel (our QC/QA manager) and I did a deep dive into the international picture of safety in oil and decided to make a couple of changes to our specifications. We have raised the limit on PV on our Specifications to a PV of 5 for refined oils and 10 for unrefined oils. This does not mean they are “bad” above those limits. It means they are starting to age and will eventually go rancid.

Our recommend USE limit for safety is a PV of 20 for an unrefined or virgin oil and of 10 for a refined oil. We will not sell an oil over 10 for Virgin and over 5 for refined (except olive oil – different story)– because we know they will continue to age.

We also recommend that you use a good antioxidant in your blends. We sell a sunflower derived natural tocopherol that will often, at the least, double your shelf life.

So – remember – these are food that we are using in cosmetics, they are made from plants and they all have different rates at which they age. You can always call us with questions.

How to Make a Cosmetic Black List … (Hint: Don’t)

I’ve no idea how many “green” brands and retailers there are but all of them seem to have a “black list”. They choose some number of nasty chemicals and promise that they are not in the products they sell.

Further – everyone seems to copy everyone else’s Black List – so you see the same list over and over.

Here’s the problem: there are 60,000 different cosmetic ingredients.  A list of 20 or even 200 chemicals is never going to capture all of the problem chemicals.

What is the solution?

First: everything this a chemical. H2O is a molecular description of the chemical, water.

Second: all chemicals are made using a finite number of methods. Some chemicals are made using biological methods like fermentation or production using yeast. Some are naturally occurring like oil in a sunflower seed. Most, however. are made using a set of reactions that require reacting one chemical with another chemical. If you are not a chemical engineer, how do you know what is “green”?

If you want to convey to a chemist your goal to use “green” ingredients, giving them a list of 30 chemicals just won’t do the trick.

One solution is to explain that you want “green chemistry” per a wonderful paper that was published in 1998 by John Warner and Paul Anastas*. The link below is to the American Chemical Society site which explains (in very clear language) these principles.

If an ingredient meets these standards, then it is a pretty sure bet that it is safe for skin and for the planet. Many chemists were never taught about this in school but it is high time that they learn.

Spread the knowledge and save the planet. Use ingredients that meet the Principles of Green Chemistry.

*Green Chemistry Link

Ingredients & the Sin of Omission

🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃

There are a few ingredients of concern that keep popping up on “clean“ personal care labels that we all need to know about.

Are you using these ingredients?

Propandiol (also known as Zemea): This ingredient is wonderful – except that it is made from GM Corn. When asked directly, Lyle and Tate (the manufacturers of Zemea) will tell you that it is made from GM Corn. It does not test positive for GMOs so they can say, “GMO Free”. Why? When you process the corn sugars to make the product, the protein, which is where the GMO – DNA would show up, is gone due to the processing. Omission #1.

Emulsifying Wax: some of the other INCI names for this ingredient are:

• Cetylstearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60

• Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Polysorbate 60 (and) PEG-150 Stearate (and) Steareth-20

Everything in red is ethoxylated – that means it contains 1, 4 Dioxanes, known carcinogens. You’ve probably seen a hundred sites that claim that they do not have “1, 4 Dioxanes” but… emulsifying wax does contain this contaminants. The INCI Committee grandfathered this INCI name into the dictionary many years before chemical names were required. It still may be called Emulsifying Wax even though it is actually a compound of 2 to 4 other chemicals. Omission # 2.

Lavender Oil (non-organic): the larger producers of lavender oil will tell you that twice as much Lavender Essential Oil is sold as is actually produced from plants. This has been going on for many years. This is because it is pretty easy to make a “nature identical” chemical that smells like lavender oil and add a bit of carrier oil and some natural lavender oil and you are off to the races – the cheap races where you pay more but get less. Real lavender oil or any real essential oil, is grown in small batches, harvested by hand, distilled by hand and then consolidated and sold to the larger oil traders. It is expensive and a little goes a long way. Organic does not have this problem because it is audited every year (think IRS). Omission # 3.

“Bio-synthesis”: this term usually means that a yeast has been genetically modified, fed sugar and then it makes all sorts of wonderful ingredients: squalene, rose oil, a lot of new and interesting ingredients. I personally do not think that this is bad. From what is known now, it seems very sustainable. The problem comes when the manufacturers do not tell you about the GM Yeast part. No problem with the ingredients, the problem is with the people committing that “sin” again. Omission # 4.

If you are making personal care products, study up on these issues. We want consumers to get what they pay for and we want them to come back for more – so that means quality ingredients and supported claims. Know what you are buying, hold your suppliers accountable and require that they prove any claim they make about a product you buy from them. It is professional. We do that every day with every ingredient we sell. You’re customer is worth it! 🎃

Organic Documents for Organic Ingredients – MiniBlog

Do you have the organic certificate for each of the organic ingredients you call out on your
ingredients list?

Think about it – a label is a promise to a consumer. If you have not verified that you have a duly certified product, you could be in trouble and that would be a problem for your growing brand. Maybe you only use organic ingredients. That is great but…the USDA-NOP (National Organic Program) has the right to ask you to show them an organic certificate for each ingredient at any time – especially in California (where we have a State Organic enforcement program). Do you have those certificates on file?

Here is some info about requesting organic certificates:

  • What Standards are acceptable? The USDA-NOP is a LAW in the US that establishes the rules for organic production – from seed to finished product. There is an equally rigorous law in the EU member States and the US and the EU have reciprocity – we accept each other’s organic certificates by any ACA.
  • What is an ACA? An Accredited Certification Agency – these folks have been inspected and approved by the USDA. The link takes you to a list of US ACAs that are in good standing.
  • Do I need to have a finished product certified? You do not – however, if you claim that an ingredient is organic, it must be certified. If someone won’t send you a cert, they may not be certified and the ingredient may not be organic.
  • What if I want to be certified? Since cosmetics may contain ingredients that cannot be certified
    (surfactants, emulsifiers, and preservatives) under the food rules you may want to look at the Cosmetic Standards: COSMOS, NaTrue, or NSF-305

We are certified by Oregon Tilth (aka OTCO) and we are inspected once a year and receive a new
certificate each year. If you are using organic ingredients you are responsible for requesting a copy of the certificate each year.

“Natural” Documents – MiniBlog

Have you defined what NATURAL

means to you?

If you use the term “natural” to describe your ingredients or your finished products you may want to consider writing a definition of “natural” on your web site.

First, let’s make clear that a synthetic, in my world, means a human has made a new molecule.

What? New molecules? Well, oil, for example is naturally occurring in seeds and nuts and the molecules that make the oil is not changed when it is pressed out of the seeds. A simple example of a new molecule is soap: oil and lye are reacted. The mixture gets hot, a new molecule is formed and, violá, you have soap or Potassium Cocoate (made from Coconut Oil plus Lye – for example this is how they make Dr. Bronner’s soap).

I further categorize synthetics as good chemicals or bad chemicals. Good chemicals are made using a renewable resource plus using the Principles of Green Chemistry (see previous mini-blog for the reference to this paper). Bad chemicals are everything else and usually bad for the environment and most living creatures.

A “natural” ingredient is extracted from a plant using mechanical means like pressure, steam, or water extraction. This definition is published in the EPA regulations, although people seem to believe that “there is no legal definition of natural”. Wrong, it is in our existing laws.

Different companies define “natural” different ways – but you need to be clear. If you can verbalize a definition to your consumers, the courts are more likely to support you. Also – if you can’t explain it, how can you mean it?

For more on definitions, check our Definitions & Links page.

My Product is Certified Natural – Isn’t It “All Natural”?

The problem with “All Natural” or “100% Natural” claims

There is some confusion about the claim “All Natural” or “100% Natural” or even just “natural” by
companies that are certified to a “Natural” standard.

This is how it works: both the natural and the organic cosmetic standards allow the use of
synthetics (human made molecules), however they need to be made using plant based feed stocks and the Principles of Green Chemistry*. This means that people use ingredients that are “allowed” because they meet these rules but they are synthetic ingredients. They also use natural ingredients that are not synthesized like oils and waxes and plant extracts.

Example – the Principles of Green Chemistry allow hydrogenation as long as the molecules are fully saturated (not trans-fats). That means we are allowed to use vegetable waxes in COSMOS (formerly EcoCert) products if they meet the requirements of the standard. But they are still synthetic. Another example is plain old Castile Soap: coconut is reacted with potassium hydroxide to make “potassium cocoate”. Clearly a “chemical” even when “made from organic” ingredients.

In summary, companies claim “All Natural” because they are certified to a natural standard but
they clearly list synthetic ingredients on their ingredient list.  This is confusing to the consumer. It also means the Brands don’t really understand the standard they are using. Sometimes it means the Brand may be sued by mean attorneys who give nice attorneys a bad name and harass sweet brand owners. (Okay – I’m defensive.)

Synthetics are not “bad” if they are made from renewable inputs using safe methods and resulting in safe chemicals.

If you have been threatened by one of these suits and need a referral, let us know.

* The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry defined by: Anastas, P. T.; Warner, J. C. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press: New York, 1998

Mislabeling: The FDA and the The No-No Words

A lot of cosmetic brands seem to have a “No-No List” of ingredients. I think it is time for a list of “No-No” words – because, you know, FDA and “mislabeling”.

The basic thing you need to keep in mind is that unless you are selling a registered, approved DRUG, you may not any use words that promise a medical outcome. That is considered mislabeling and mislabeling is against the law. So – here is a partial list of “No-No” words:

  •    HealMislabeling
  •    Healing
  •    Anti-inflammatory
  •    Anti-microbial
  •    Anti-bacterial
  •    Cures
  •    Penetrates to (heal, sooth, etc.)
  •    Stimulates circulation …
  •    Treats
  •    Alleviates eczema, rosacea, scarring, acne, etc
  •    Improves circulation
  •    Minimizes
  •    Improves the skin’s immunity
  •    Boosts collagen
  •    Protects from UV Rays (this = sunblock – and must be registered with the FDA)
  •    Protects against infection
  •    Cellular regeneration

Oh, I could go on. What these all have in common is what the FDA calls a “structure-function claim”.  Structure = a body part (skin, muscle) and Function = changing the physiology of that body part. These sorts of claims = DRUGS and are seen is mislabeling by the FDA. The USDA-FDA makes a lot of money approving drugs so if you have not sent them a couple 100,000 dollars, you are probably not selling a drug.

Look at your website – are you making structure-function claims? If so – use that wonderful, free thesaurus on Google and fix it before you get a scary letter from the FDA. You can “change the appearance of”, you can “sooth the symptoms of” you can do all sorts of things, but no structure function claims! You do not want a letter from FDA accusing you of mislabeling.

The organic and natural cosmetic industry needs to look good in the eyes of the law. We do not need big manufacturers telling the FDA that we should be heavily licensed or regulated. We need room to grow. Know the laws. Respect them. Do good work.

Hugs                   Resources:    Choose Your Words                          Link to FDA Article

 

3 Things to Know about Ingredient Quality

Organic Ingredient: Castor Oil
Castor Oil – I think it is beautiful!

You probably use a number of ingredient suppliers…

 

1 – When buying organic ingredients, always ask for a Specification from the supplier. This describes the physical and chemical characteristics of what you bought. Like: Color, Aroma, Form (liquid, solid, etc.), pH, and so on.

 

2 – Okay – you just received the ingredient shipment. You asked that it be sent with a C of A (Certificate of Analysis). This is the proof that the product meets the requirements described in the Specification. First, compare the C of A to the Spec. and make sure the C of A meets the description in the Spec. Now look at a small sample of the ingredient. Does it match the description on the Spec? See the example below.

 

3 – Small companies (us included) have neither a chemist nor the equipment in-house to test the product. If you compared the physical characteristics and they all passed, then you can trust the chemical characteristics EXCEPT: you should have a program that specifies that you send samples to a testing lab on some schedule.

 

Every other month we sent samples of at least 3 of our oils and other ingredients out for various types of tests. Since we sell oil, we like to know what the Peroxide Value is. This tells us if the oil is “stable” and not going rancid. We usually test the peroxide value and compare it to the Specification to assess the quality.

 

Sometimes we’ll send samples of our ingredients out to test for bacteria, yeast and mold. Although – oils do not support microbial growth so we’ve never had a positive.

 

You don’t need a full lab to assess quality. You need eyes, nose and commons sense and a written procedure to randomly test your ingredient quality at a reliable analytical lab.

 

If you need help finding a lab, let us know. We may be able to refer you to one near you. If these documents are still a mystery, come take a class. See the classes listed in this site: http://ohohorganic.com/class-description/

 

For more information about why this issue is important, check out: https://www.beautyindependent.com/gay-timmons/

 

Plant a tree, start a compost pile, smell the glorious roses. Join www.nohba.org

Choose Your Cosmetic Claims Carefully

Is Your Product “Organic”, “Natural”, or “100% Anything”?

In a quick Google search there were at least 12 cosmetic companies involved in class action law suits over the past 9 months for using the word “natural” to describe a cosmetic or some aspect of a cosmetic. There are a number of others law suits based on other cosmetic claims. Are your cosmetic claims** verifiable and truthful?

We went down this path with the claim “organic” a number of years ago and now the class action suit attorneys have found a new piggy bank – small “natural” cosmetic companies. I’m so sorry.

As my mom used to say, “Being sorry doesn’t change it.”. It is time solve this problem.

When this issue comes up we often hear: there is no FDA definition of “natural”.

True – there is no legal FDA definition of natural or organic cosmetics. However, there is a way to publicly define the word “natural” for cosmetic companies. Below is a short history of the organic food industry; think of it as a model, a potential path to a solution.

A Possible Model:

The history of the USDA- NOP* seal and standard is a great model for how laws get written.

– 1970s: Multiple organic farm certifiers came into existence. They evolved to add food processors by the early 90s.

– 1990: The Organic Foods Production Act was passed in the Federal Legislature (Yeah Senator Leahy).

–  Mid-1990s – There were over 45 certifiers, each with their own private organic standard.

– 1990s: The Organic Trade Association created a harmonized version of these Standards that most of the largest certifiers signed on to.

– 1998: USDA-NOP came out with the first (reviled) version of the NOP regulation. It was amended after over 350,000 Americans wrote in to the USDA. The final regulation was passed in 2001.

– 2002: The Final Rule was implemented and the NOP Food Standard became law!

Contained in the very brief review above is the fact that a large industry had to work together over a 30-year period to 1) establish a recognizable market place for “organic” food and then 2) come to sufficient consensus about what “organic” meant so that the government felt justified in creating a law and then the regulations to implement the law. Please note: we do not need to create a law about “natural”.

What Can We Do?

We, as the “organic and natural” cosmetic industry need to carve out definitions for these words and we need to work together to establish consensus. Got that? We’ll need to agree to abide by the definitions we settle on. Consumers deserve consistency and the attorneys can go jump in a lake.

We can use private standards and we can work in a Trade Association to show a united face to consumers and to the government.

For now, educate yourself. I encourage anyone using organic and/or natural claims to become familiar with the Calif. Organic Products Act language on cosmetics, look at the COSMOS and NSF 305 Standards and, even if you don’t want to become certified, use them as a guideline. Then join the Natural and Organic Health and Beauty Alliance and work on “best practices” with us for using these terms.

We need to do this together. That means public conversations, people working on committees and patience. Lots of patience.

*NOP – National Organic Program

** This is a link to an FDA article on cosmetic claims**.

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