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".
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.
Charity Pot on the Canadian site, American 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.
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?