Friday, October 4, 2013

Natural products: A look at a few ingredient lists

In this post on Ritathix DOE, Kate noted: PEG compounds are excluded from ECOcert so I'm not sure how this could be claimed as natural.

(Click on the label to embiggen if you want to read the entire list properly.)

I've said this before...I don't know what natural means any more. There isn't a definition for the word when it comes to cosmetics: All it means is something comes from. Doesn't everything at some point or another? Mineral oil is made from dead dinosaurs - what could be more natural than a dinosaur? - and silicones are made from sand.

Take a look at that label. What makes this product "natural"? It contains C12-14 olefin sulfonate (derived from coconuts) and other things it calls soy based or derived from coconut. How does it differ from a drug store or salon brand shampoo?

This Suave shampoo contains: Water (aqua), sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium chloride, glycerin, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), aloe barbadensis leaf juice (aloe vera), cymbopogon schoenanthus oil (lemongrass), rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower/leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, dimethicon.

How is it different than the other companies' ingredients lists? Does your opinion of it change if I alter the ingredient list slightly? I'll add some brackets - sodium laureth sulfate (derived from coconuts) or cocamidopropyl betaine (derived from coconuts).

This is a product I saw in the store and I took a picture of it. Let's take a look at a few more. What about this JASON shampoo, Super Shine Apricot Shampoo? Aqua (Water), Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice(1), Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract(1), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract(1), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract(1), Equisetum Arvense Leaf Extract(1), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract(1), Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Citric Acid, Dimethicone, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Panthenol, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Phytate, Sodium Suflate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Alcohol(1), Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Salicylate, Fragrance (Parfum)

I could go on, but I'll spare you the hours of reading ingredient lists and encourage you to go on a search yourself. I started thinking about this when shopping for a baby shower for someone who only wanted organic and natural products. If I had a dime for every organic and natural product we saw using exactly the same ingredients I use in my workshop, each one with (derived from x) in brackets...well, I could buy myself a lot of new things for the workshop! 

In the case of Ritathix DOE, I don't know how it could be considered natural for two reasons - I can't find a data sheet, so I can't find more information than I've shared on the blog here, and I don't consider anything natural as I can't find a definition of the word and I can't get anyone to agree on a definition - but it doesn't really bother me either way. I guess I could say it was derived from sugar - the word "glucose" is in the INCI - and leave it at that, as it seems like that's what everyone else does!

Just my thoughts for the morning. I don't want to come across as demeaning anyone's beliefs, but I really encourage you to take a long look at what products you consider natural, what ingredients you consider natural, and how you arrived at that conclusion because I think you might be surprised by what you find in your store bought products.

I have to comment on Earth Mama Angel Baby's remark that "Angel Baby Oil has no toxins, no nut oils and NO BABIES!" Wow! I'm glad you cleared that up because I certainly don't want toxins in my products! I put this on par with St Ives's comment about "no unnecessary chemicals". Well, duh!  

Related posts:
What does coconut derived mean?
To those of you writing to me about natural products...
Thanks for your input on the definition of natural
Defining your products by what's NOT in it
Why am I perceived as hating natural things?
Question: What does natural mean?
How to interpret the names of surfactants
Are the ingredients I use on the blog safe?
How to research ingredients


LOÏE said...

I noticed my Burt's Bees hand lotion had a "certified natural products association" seal. So I looked it up. I haven't really had the time to read into it thoroughly, but I guess these are some of the people that decide what's' "natural".

A link to their site

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

There doesn't seem to be information on why some companies are approved while others aren't. And I couldn't find an ingredient list. I would disagree that this group has any real say into what we think of as natural products in a meaningful way when you're the first to mention them! But thanks for the link.

Sally said...

I saw a funny one the other day that was labelled 'natural' and said "phenoxyethanol - derived from green tea" and then went on to list the benefits of green tea in their product description!!! Frustrating!

Heela said...

I tried to find something that was natural as possible for a baby shower and I ended up buying California Baby products. It fit the bill as far as I am concerned, but I thought their use of essential oils for babies was sketch.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sally. Ha! That's what I'm talking about!

Hi Heela! I wouldn't trust a company that states, "California Baby specializes in natural, non-chemical, aromatherapy skin, hair, bath and suncare products." Eek! They do a lot of that "derived from" stuff, and the only difference between their lists and other, non-organic companies' lists is that they do all the "sourced from..." stuff.

If these products are so much better than regular ones, why all the deceptive practices? Sigh...

Brandi Yates said...

You make this so much easier to understand. It is amazing that most of these products have the same surfactants you teach. I just dont understand how they can put all of the extracts and botanical ingredients in their products when some of them only cost $3 like Suave. Im guessing it is a very tiny amount. I cannot believe I am now able to read these labels!