Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: How do companies use fresh fruit in their products? How does Lush make their water containing products preservative free?

In an e-mail, Breanna asks: I have seen a lot of companies claim that they put actual "food" in their products. For example an oil based scrub with lime zest, real coco powder, actual avocado, and even real strawberries. How can you put it in your products without it going rancid? I know strawberries go bad really fast even with a preservative. Maybe you can shed some light on this?

When it comes to fresh products, I get a little scared thinking about all the things than can grow in our products when we use fresh things, things like bacteria and mould. (Rancidity is a concept that relates to oil going off or oxidizing, so we're not worried about that in these products as the ingredients you mention are water soluble.) Consider what happens when a strawberry goes bad, which seems to happen overnight! Now imagine that happening in our products! Ick! Our preservatives aren't intended to preserve food stuffs - they preserve our cosmetic ingredients - so even with the best preservation, you're looking at having problems.

When it comes to big companies, the odds are they are using things like powdered extracts, concentrates, liquid extracts, infusions, or purees meant for cosmetics. (To see more about this, check out this post How does Lush use fresh fruit in their products, part one or part two!) I haven't been able to find out if there is a legal definition of the word "fresh" when it comes to cosmetic products, so I wonder if they are stretching the word "fresh" to mean "anything we want it to mean".

When it comes to home crafters, I've seen people listing all kinds of food stuffs in their products on selling sites like Etsy. They really are using fresh products, and you only have to think of the worst case scenario to imagine what those products are like. I've seen someone selling a mashed up avocado and some kind of exfoliant as a scrub, and I remember someone on a crafting site talking about making a lip balm with sugar, lime juice, and petroleum jelly. She signed off the post with "Now I sell lip balm!" Think about this for a moment...would you want to use that product?

I guess the question I have is why would we want to include fresh ingredients in our products? What does real cocoa powder bring to the product that cocoa butter or black cocoa butter can't bring to the product? What does a fresh strawberry bring that strawberry extract can't offer?

On a related note, in this post, Sandra asks: I have a feeling you have written about this topic before, so I automatically thought of you when I read that Lush has a new innovative way of formulating products without any preservatives.

Take Charity Pot as an example, with water as a first ingredient: Water (Aqua), Fair Trade Olive Oil, Glycerine, Organic Jojoba Oil, Moringa Oil, Fair Trade Organic Colombian Cocoa Butter, Stearic Acid, Fresh Aloe Gel, Fair Trade Shea Butter, Triethanolamine, Geranium Oil, Rosewood Oil, Ylang Ylang Oil, Fair Trade Vanilla Absolute, Cetearyl Alcohol, Citronellol*, Coumarin*, Geraniol, Linalool*, Limonene*, Perfume

What do you think about this? Can this actually work or are they hiding something?

As we know, when we use water, we have to have a preservative involved. So this product has to have a preservative somewhere in the mix. There was a guy who visited my blog regularly to advertise his preservative that could be listed as "perfume" or "parfum" in an ingredient list, so my first thought is that they are hiding something in the perfume listing. My second thought is that they are using ingredients with preservatives already in them, like that aloe gel. My third thought is that they aren't being 100% truthful about this ingredient list.

And here's why I say point three is the likely answer. Take a look at the ingredient list for the Charity Pot on the Canadian siteAmerican site, Austrian site, and the Australian site. Note the last two ingredients are parabens, a type of preservative.  (On the New Zealand site, they list only propylparaben as a preservative and have a few other things thrown in.) Why aren't they listed in the ingredient list for the UK site? I don't think they would create some amazing way to make water containing products without preservatives and not share it with the rest of the world. This leads me to conclude that the labelling for the UK product isn't including every ingredient in the product or is hiding it behind perfume.

What I do think interesting is that they are relying on the stearic acid - TEA emulsifier for this product, something that creates a type of soap. I find it interesting that people who aren't okay with parabens and "unnatural" preservatives would be okay with triethanolamine. There's no way that can be considered natural.

As a side note, I have a lot of trouble with Lush's philosophy at times. Look at this article about using parabens where the writer for Lush says "Since we don't particularly love preservatives at LUSH in general..." Why not? Saying this negates a lot of the good comments that follow - things like wanting to keep customers safe, wanting to use ingredients with a lot of science behind it, wanting to use low levels of preservatives, and so on - but they lose their credibility by saying they don't like preservatievs. Why? You've just said they offer a lot of good to your products!

So the short answer to your question is that the label on that product appears to be missing a few key ingredients, like the parabens.

Related posts:
Preservative section of the blog
Why do we have to use preservatives with water containing products?
Why don't we have to use preservatives with anhydrous products?
When should we use a preservative?
Preservative levels - how much to use?


Anonymous said...

I really like your blog and I find a lot of the information unbiased, but sometimes you really need to read what is actually written not edit comments to suit your point of view. Here is the whole quote from the LUSH article "Since we don't particularly love preservatives at LUSH in general, we've made so many solid products as alternatives to liquid ones that need preservatives". Can you please explain how this is different from how you make your own products and why you do not agree with this philosophy? I am disappointed since your blog is so objective and to the point. I'm sure you would not like your blog paraphrased to suit someone else's point of view in the same way.

Respectfully Patrycja

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I do love preservatives! I love that they keep my products from growing contaminants. I love that they keep my family safe from harm. I love that they give my products a long shelf life. The difference between my philosophy and Lush's is pretty huge, but I can happily say that I love preservatives. I don't formulate solid products to avoid preservatives; I formulate them for convenience and because they work well.

I don't think the quote needs the rest of the sentence because they say outright that they don't love preservatives. I'm not taking it out of context and I'm not paraphrasing. I'm quoting their own words. I'm not sure what the issue is here, to be honest. If someone quoting me as saying something I had written, I'd be okay with that. Can you share with me how I'm being biased or not objective?

Diva Soap said...

Thanks Susan for posting on this subject. I'm wondering whether you're familiar with a preservative called Naticide? It's produced by Italian company Sinerga and they somehow managed not to reveal its INCI, offering only 'perfume' as possible listing. It's considered as natural (?)preservative and very pricey! Smells like almond, marzipan, or so and it's approved by EcoCert.
Having said that, I don't doubt Lush is hiding their preservatives under 'parfum' listing (but probably not Naticide, cos I believe they wouldn't bother paying more, uf they can pay less).
What I really would like to know what is that 'parfum' (perfume) ingredient, used by numerous small local companies?
And by the way,it's really unbelievable how people buy marketing crap!

Eira said...

Regarding Lush not listing ingredients. I asked a few months back about an emulsifier not being in their ultrabland cream, and it was the UK packaging that I was referencing at the time. Another commenter mentioned that the (US? AU?) website did list an emulsifier, so I wonder if maybe regulations aren't a little more lax in the UK after seeing this post.

Ljubica said...

Dear Susan,

My thoughts exactly regarding triethanolamine. What bothers me as a pharmacist and a person who loves science are manipulating marketing claims and truth bending in order to attract consumers. Anyone who knows a little bit about chemistry can take one look at this formulation and see that there are only two possibilities: one, something is missing or two, they have some super-high-alien-donated manufacturing technology which allows them to create emulsion based products without preservatives. Same goes for fresh ingredients - I saw videos of workers putting fresh fruits and veggies into mixing pots but I have a very hard time believing that they actually do that. Maybe I'm missing something, but it all seems very far-fetched for me.

Thank you for another great post.

All the best,

Crazy cavy lady's blogg said...

Maybe a little of topic but is it only me that bothers that the people who manufacture the product don’t seem to have proper working clothes?
Now I don't have 100 % control over what GMP (Good Manufacture Procedure) means.
They only use t-shirts and jeans for working clothes. At the most they only use protecting gloves. There is nothing that protect the products from bodily residue of the workers like hair etc.

Maybe in the country they produce in don't have laws like many other countries about manufacturing procedures. But it's all quite disgusting to me.

Marg said...

Found an interesting article on the UK site about preservatives. On one hand they spend a lot of time defending parabens, while also claiming they have found a new way to formulate creams and lotions without preservatives because they are 'self-balancing'.

Marg said...

They now list 'New Charity Pot...Now in a self-preserving, rebalanced formula, this is an all-round body lotion that does a lot of good - and not just to your skin.'

Kim said...

I checked the dutch version of lush's website, on the new "self-preserving" part of their webshop I found the Charity Pot among other products. This is the dutch version of the ingredient list (I'm aware that it's in dutch, but I think it's still understandable for those who don't speak the language):

Water (Aqua), Olijfolie, Fair Trade (Olea europaea), Glycerine (Glycerine), Jojobaolie, biologisch (Simmondsia chinensis), Moringa olie (Moring pterygosperma), Cacaoboter (uit Columbia), Fair trade biologische, (Theobroma cacao), Stearinezuur (Stearic Acid), Aloe Veragel (Aloe barbadensis), Shea boter, Fair Trade (Butyrospermum parkii), Tri-ethanolamine (Triethanolamine), Geranium essentiële olie (Pelargonium graveolens), Rozenhout essentiële olie (Aniba rosaeodora), Ylang Ylang olie (Cananga odorata), Fair Trade Vanille absolue (Vanilla planifolia), Cetearyl alcohol (Cetearyl Alcohol), * Benzylbenzoaat (*Benzyl Benzoate), *Citronellol (*Citronellol), *Coumarin (*Coumarin), Geraniol, *Linalool (*Linalool), *Limonene (*Limonene), Parfum (Perfume)

Diva Soap, aroma-zone also sells Naticide with "perfume" as it's inci. Another preservative that they sell with the ecocert label is "cosgard", here the inci is "Benzyl alcohol, Dehydroacetic acid, aqua (water)."

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

So they're saying they've managed to bind the water so they don't need a preservative? (Check out this post on water activity - I don't believe them. I think it's more likely they're hiding the preservative in "parfum". And why can't they do it in other countries? Why doesn't Canada get the same unpreserved product?

Kim said...

Maybe it has something to do with the how you have to put your labels together in the different countries?

Diva Soap said...

I know Kim and many others do. Also, there are others ecoCert approved preservatives, but niether of them is natural, which Naticide is claim to be. Also, they all have their INCI list, except again, Naticide, which is 'perfume' (as if perfume were an apple,all natural). The thing is that under perfume is preservative hidden. Also, naticide is very expensive, not affordable for many small companies who list 'perfume' and 'preservative free' labels. I hope I made myself clearer now.

Diva Soap said...

Ouch, I thought 'many others do SELL'!

Sades said...

What's so special about being natural? Shouldn't safety be the priority?