Category Archives: Natural Cosmetics

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! 🎃

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