Category Archives: Non-GMO

Ingredients & the Sin of Omission

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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! 🎃

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:


For more information about why this issue is important, check out:


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

Ingredient Transparency and Quality for Your Products?


Getting Transparent About Your Ingredients
Castor Oil – I think it is beautiful!


We only sell organic and sustainable ingredients. It seems pretty dumb to do anything else (hello Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and the gang) – agriculture adds about 50% of all un-sequestered carbon to the atmosphere. Organic agriculture helps solve that problem. We want you to have full transparency about the ingredients you receive from us.

Over the past 20 years we’ve developed a group of people who call to find ingredients. The job tends to be split between two major types of inquiries:

1 – Chemists who have no idea or concern about where an ingredient comes from but “a customer (Cosmetic Brand) wants xyz in their product. Do you have it?” and,

2 – Brand Owners who are serious about their brand and work with us because they know we care and that we will not sell them something just to sell it. We are not a web sales site, we are people who work with ingredient manufacturers so we can give our customers as much information as possible.


Examples of Ingredient Requests

Here are a few examples of requests I’ve recently received for you all to think about over this hot, holiday weekend.

#1 – Recently a chemist with a private label lab wanted to purchase organic bergamot oil from fruit – not from the peel.

We know most of the legitimate EO suppliers and we couldn’t find anyone that offered this EO.

This implies a few things:

a) the brand developer bought something from a web site and did not ask for a certificate that disclosed what the oil was made from or

b) they assumed that they could get an organic version commercially but…they originally used a non-organic version or

c) they found a good product but it is so rare that it is NOT consistently & sustainably available.


#2 – A customer told me they had purchased oil from a web site. The site operator would not supply his organic certificate because “he did not want anyone to know who his supplier was” – this means he was not certified to re-package and re-label (handle) organic products. The oil lost it’s organic claim when he changed the package and label. If you bought it and used an organic claim on your product you would be in violation of Federal Law.


#3 – A large and reputable company offered to sell me some organic sunflower oil – I always look at production dates. It was a year old. I refused to buy it because it was expired – they probably could have re-tested the product and extended the life for 6 months, which can work with food. People use food far faster than they use up cosmetics. We won’t do that.

The Bottom Line on Ingredient Knowledge

Working with a supplier who will help you understand the ingredients you are buying and the documents that explain the quality of the ingredients is so important. “Transparency” tells you where they come from, what they are made from, and how they are made.

Ingredient quality is always on our mind. We throw product out when we don’t have enough shelf life, we test our oils for freshness and double-check our suppliers because we care and we are always transparent.


Happy Labor Day! Stay cool, stay safe, get out of your car. and walk on the planet

Non-GMO & RSPO vs. Organic Label Claims

We receive weekly requests for “Non-GMO” verification or “RSPO” (Sustainable Palm) certification. I continue to have to explain why “organic” certification is a more rigorous and legally accountable regulation and that our organic certificate includes both “Non-GMO” and “Sustainable” claims. Here are some details.


How the Organic Regulations Work:

Certified Organic products must meet the requirements of laws*.

These laws were proposed, revised, and fought over for 12 years and, I believe, are pretty good at protecting the environment and consumers. You buy a product that has been inspected annually (as required by law), the soil, water and air impacted by the farming portion of the supply chain is improved (as required by law), and the label on the package is approved by an accredited certifier (as required by law) protecting the consumer. If someone commits fraud they can be hauled into court and fined or jailed (it’s happened!). Additionally, in the State of California, organic operations are subject to spot inspection and testing including additional GM testing.

In the US, Canada, and the EU, these the organic regulations are almost identical and they have legal reciprocity: if it is certified to Canadian or EU Organic Regulations in Canada or an EU Country it is allowed to be sold in the US as “Organic” and the same goes for American goods sold in Canada or the EU.


How Non-GMO and the RSPO Labels Work:

The Standards that these two projects use are PRIVATE – a non-profit owns and implements the Standard. The Non-GMO Project, for example, has applicants fill out paperwork and, for the most part, asks them to “tell the truth” – whether they know it is true or not is a different question. They only do on-site inspections if they feel there is cause (for example if it is an ingredient made from soy or corn) so the level of scrutiny is fairly low. Many applicants use Non-GMO certification because it s easier to get than the “Organic”. “Non-GMO” does not exclude pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or synthetic food additives – it ONLY excludes GMO produced inputs .

The Non-GMO Project is a great idea in principle but, not so great in practice – they are so busy that they rarely answer the phone. Unlike the USDA-NOP, there is no transparency, no over-sight and. . .they certify things that could never, ever be from GMO crops (like water or hydrogen peroxide. Really, when was the last time you saw that hydrogen peroxide farm?). In my humble opinion, certifying “Non-GMO Water’ falls into the category of consumer deception: there is no such thing as GM water – genetic engineering happens with plant crops and some micro-organisms.

As to the RSPO palm folks – they are trying to say they are sustainable without becoming organic. Many of them are swapping carbon credit type values in order to claim that they are sustainable. Again, somewhat deceptive and neither clear nor transparent with consumers.

The only way you get guaranteed transparent information about how agricultural products are grown and processed is from certified organic producers.


Bottom Line:

Organic laws hold people and corporations accountable and there are fines and jail time for violators. There really are people who’ve gone to jail in the US for violating the laws under the USDA National Organic Program.

If, however, you are “certified” to the Non-GMO project or the RSPO Standard for Sustainable Palm, there is little accountability for either the Certifier or the Applicant using the label claim.

Laws governing organic prohibit the use of GM sourced inputs and define sustainability in law and require one to “improve” ones environment as part of ones “organic management plan”. Then they require you to prove that you are meeting the regulations by the way the “plan” is implemented.

Why would anyone value a Non-GMO or RSPO Cert above an Organic Certificate? Probably because they really don’t want you to look too closely at their products. Organic certification is your only assurance of enforceable environmental management and safer farming and production techniques.

If you have any questions about anything I’ve said here, please write or call. I feel passionately that consumers and the planet need regulated protection – greed, sadly, has too strong of a pull on some people and we need the force of law to protect us all. Buy organic!


* CFR 7, Part 205 based on the Organic Food Protection Act of 1990 plus the California Organic Products Act of 2003.