Category Archives: Organic Ingredients

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.

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

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

We Are Climate Change

On Monday, Nov. 30th over 140 nation’s leaders will sit in one room in Paris and determine the health future of ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.

 

Many of these (mostly) men are beholden to giant corporations. While I would love it if they just did the right thing because…well, because they should! Maybe they’d at least consider the financial down side of climate change. It appears that these giant corps can’t figure out that long-term profits require healthy consumers – sick people don’t shop or drive or generate income.

 

On Saturday the 28th of Nov. in Beijing, China, air pollution was 15 times the safe level and people were told to stay inside. I can guarantee that less money was spent and the economy was severely impacted. There are 21.5 million people in that city: that is a lot of money not to be spent Mr. Corporation Guys.

 

So what the hell is wrong with these corporation guys? Why aren’t they pushing our leaders for a serious plan to reduce greenhouse gases, to increase the development and installation of alternative energy sources, greater focus on population growth, and better public transit systems? Why?

 

Solutions are available.

 

By all reports there will be no serious action plan – just a commitment to “reduce greenhouse gases”. Seems pretty lame. So I guess WE have to do the heavy lifting here.

 

Here’s my list of to dos:

1 – Lift my voice: I’m going to write one letter that asks for: support of alternative energy sources, policies regarding population control education (hello 1968), and better public transportation (and whatever else comes to me) and I am going to send the same letter to my mayor, my state representatives, the State Senator and Congressperson, and to the President. It should take 20 to 30 minutes necessary to send them all via email. Maybe I’ll mail them just to support the US Post Office – it may add 20 more minutes but the cost of clean air and the beautiful stamps are worth it.

 

2 – Encourage voters – I have never missed an opportunity to vote. I’m going to vote for people who support these ideas. And I am going to tell everyone to vote as often as possible because we have become disenfranchised and we American Citizens need to step it up. If you live here in Calif. and have relatives/friends in other states – urge them to vote!

 

3 – Walk, ride, share, whenever it is possible. I truly do envy places like NY where anyone can walk to a subway and get where they need to be. It is way cool. Why can’t we have that in the Bay Area?

 

4 – Support increased use of organic ingredients and food – agriculture creates 50% of all pollution. Organic production methods sequester carbon in the soil, clean soil, air and water and reduce the numbers of unsafe chemicals on the planet. (Note: I have no problem with safe, renewable chemicals).

 

5 – Educate myself about packaging – I cringe every time I buy something packaged in plastic (which means all the time…). Hey you disrupter guys – disrupt the packaging industry!

 

It is on us – we need to push our so-called leaders and act in our own best interest. Act. Make your own list.

 

 

 

Save the planet. Look good doing it.