I feel as if I have to post this again because I'm getting a number of people writing to me asking about natural products, sending me links to the EWG or Skin Deep databases, and I feel like I need to clarify my position again, so I'm reposting this older post. I really encourage you to read the discussion when I posted this originally....And I really encourage you to read this post I wrote on "Are the ingredients I suggest on the blog safe", where I pose the question, "Would I use an ingredient on my mom, my husband, my dog, and the kids in my youth program if they weren't safe?"
I am regularly asked how to make natural products and I guess I'm having trouble figuring out what that means, so I turn to you, my lovely readers, to help me define what exactly you mean so I can write up some natural product recipes!
When I look at things advertised as natural emulsifiers - for instance, Ritamulse (aka Natramulse, ECO mulse) - they don't strike me as natural (INCI: Glyceryl Stearate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate). The original source might have been coconuts, but we don't just scoop out some cetearyl alcohol along with the coconut milk; it has to be processed in some way to produce the various fatty acids, fatty alcohols, and so on.
I get similarly confused when I see surfactants listed as "derived from coconuts" or "derived from almonds" or "derived from sunflowers" because most, if not all, of our surfactants are derived from some kind of oils found in fruits, seeds, and so on. I see something like decyl glucoside being called natural, but I don't understand how the process to turn this sugar based surfactant is different than making something like disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (DLS mild), which is derived from coconut or palm oils.
I guess this is where I'm getting confused. I can't understand how something that has been modified in a manufacturer's lab - an emulsifier or surfactant - can be considered natural in the way beeswax or glacial clay could be considered natural. So I turn to you for some assistance here.
When you are asking for recipes for a natural product, what do you mean? What ingredients do you consider natural? And why are some considered natural and some aren't?
An addendum to this post specifically to the people who have been writing to me asking for natural products - can you please e-mail me or comment as to what you mean by natural? I'm happy to do formulate some recipes, but I need to know what you are defining as natural!
How do you know your ingredients are safe?
Defining your products by what's NOT in it.
Why am I perceived at hating "all natural" things?
Much maligned ingredients!
What does "coconut derived" mean?
I'm chemical free!
Celebrating 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry
How to research ingredients (and the Trifecta of Argh!)