in this post: Hi Susan, I get what you're saying (and would tend to agree with you that there's a lot of "greenwashing" out there, or pseudo-science) but I have a question:
The website you linked to is funded by cosmetics companies. Now, that may not mean that there's a conflict of interest there, BUT, and for me this is a pretty big "but", what do you do when a place like CosmeticsInfo.org contradicts information on, say, the Skin Deep database? Sometimes the EWG data can seem overblown ("In rat studies, this ingredient did bad things when the rats were forced to eat hundreds of pounds of it!") but on the other hand, to be honest, CosmeticsInfo.org takes a very "there can be no possible downside" approach... and CosmeticsInfo.org is funded by people who want me to buy their products, which isn't the case for SkinDeep.
So what's your approach here? Thanks!
From their "about us" page: Cosmeticsinfo.org is an information Web site that includes factual, scientific information on ingredients most commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products in the United States. The Personal Care Products Council (the Council) and its member companies sponsor this Web site to provide consumers with easily accessible comprehensive safety information on cosmetics and personal care products and to help consumers make informed purchases.
Thanks, Cordy. I am aware that the cosmeticsinfo.org page is funded by companies that also make products, and I use them as my starting point for research, not as all the information I might find. They have some great resources - such as the safe as used chart - that I highly recommend. What I like about them is that they are coming from a position of science, and that's what matters to me.
To answer your question: What do I do when the information on cosmeticsinfo.org contradicts the information on Skin Deep? I consider what cosmeticsinfo.org has to say and continue on my merry way to do more research! I never ever trust the opinion or information from one source. I always go out and find another source to back it up, and often times three or four sources.
I don't consult Skin Deep because I don't trust them. I've written about them before, but my main concerns are the data gaps and the use of old studies to support their positions. (This is an older post on much-maligned ingredients that includes my position on the EWG and why I feel this way.) They might not have a specific product to sell, but they have an idea to sell and a cause they need to fund.
This is a perfect illustration of why I don't trust the Skin Deep Database. If you have a few minutes today, please read this post at LisaLise - Natural Skin Care (Hi Lise!), then this post at Truth or Scare, then this entry at Skin Deep on polyparaben. This ingredient doesn't exist, yet they managed to find some studies that make it seem that they've done their homework. How can you find data to support a position about an ingredient that doesn't exist?
I'd like to share with you an example of why I don't trust the EWG or Skin Deep.
I found this section on the Skin Deep Database, a section that claims to help you "Lather up with better brands. Skip the fragrances and cancer-causing contaminants." There's a list of all kinds of shampoos from various companies with a rating (generally 0), then a claim as to how much data they have on the product (low to limited in the first eight pages). What is their definition of data? "Data availability rating: the scope of ingredient safety data contained in Skin Deep, and the number of studies available in the open scientific literature." So my guess is that someone is looking through the ingredient lists and comparing those lists to the Skin Deep's database on what allegedly causes cancer?
What is the definition of fragrance? I would consider an essential oil a fragrance, yet almost every product in this section claiming "skip the fragrances" I chose at random in the first eight pages had some essential oil in it! Anyone who knows essential oils knows they can cause all kinds of wonderful effects, so to ignore said effects on - say - a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, an ill person, a small child, and so on is foolhardy at best!
This is what upsets me so much. The fear mongering. "Skip the fragrances and cancer-causing contaminants"? The picking and choosing of what words mean - fragrance not meaning essential oils. The use of dubious data or the huge data gaps. I like my science the way I like my skating rinks - hard and transparent. I get neither from EWG or Skin Deep.
I have no vested interest in any group or company. No one pays me to write anything on this blog - I don't take advertising or sponsorship - and I am beholden to no one, except you, my wonderful readers! This doesn't make me more right or more wrong than anyone else, but it does mean that I can write what I want and damn the consequences!
I don't care if you use "all natural", organic, vegan, non-vegan, carnivorous, minimally processed, maximally processed, hypoallergenic, or any other ingredients - all I care about is providing information and gentle prodding to help you to make a safe, well preserved product that makes you or someone you love happy! If you've been a reader for a while, you'll know that I do care about accurate information, which is why I continually suggest that you, my wonderful readers, learn to research the information from various sources.
I think what frustrates me is the idea that organic = awesome, not organic = awful. There really is no evidence that organic ingredients in our products are better than non-organic ingredients (I mean overall - we might find some evidence that an organic oil contains more of something than the non-organic version, but there's no evidence that shows organic products perform better, offer more moisturizing or conditioning, or improve the condition of our skin through objective measurements).
But that's just my opinion! What do you think? (Everyone can join in the conversation! Feel free to disagree, debate, and argue without the ad hominem attacks or insults I've seen on other sites! No meanies allowed at Point of Interest!)
And in case you're wondering why this post is illustrated with a picture of my adorable Blondie-dog trying to steal eggs from a basket, it's because I figure we shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket by trusting one website? Because greenwashing is like having a dog lick your eggs before you package them - they get clean, but how clean are they really? Because life is like a basket of eggs. You don't know what you're going to get until you bite into one and find out they're all eggs? I'm sorry. I can't make anything up! She's just so cute and I liked the picture!