What Nasty Stuff Lurks in your Cosmetics?

June 08, 2017 1 Comment

What Nasty Stuff Lurks in your Cosmetics?

Like many of you, I’m a wife and mom—and, like many of you, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, until that dreaded day when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The first two questions that popped into my mind were, well, besides the one ( I think they made a mistake) was "why me?" and "what caused this?". I thought I was doing everything right. I exercised, ate healthy, well I thought I did, maintained a low BMI, didn't smoke and drank minimal amounts of alcohol.

What blew me away was the answers I received from multiple doctors, one being from a personal friend. Statements like "we are not sure" or "its is just plain bad luck" were unacceptable answers. So, I decided then and there to take charge of my health. Countless hours of research, led me to a new chapter in my life. My mission was to eliminate toxins in every way I could. So what exactly is a toxin?

"A toxin is an organic poison — it’s made by plants and animals. Toxins make people sick"

Simple enough definition. The million dollar question is: "How do you know they are present and how do you eliminate and or prevent having them in your life?" Ahhhh, well if you had the desire to make this your full time job you would discover this is a deep and fascinating subject. But, lets face it, most of us don't have the time or desire, to spend hours researching, this is a day and age of quick answers.

My rule of thumb is simple, if I don't know what it means and I can't pronounce it because it contains every letter in the alphabet ... I don't use it.

That is the easy part, the difficulty is finding brands that are truthful about the ingredients in their products. Last year the cosmetic industry had sales of $62.5 billion U.S. Brands will do or try almost anything to promote their concept of beauty. Every day women are bombarded with ads from magazines, television and celebrity endorsements. Leaving us with the question ... who can we trust?

So lets talk about some facts in the cosmetics and personal care industry.

Pretty scary huh! 

Savvy consumers are no longer asking why they should choose natural and organic products, they are now asking "how do I know products live up to their claims?"  Sadly, it is up to you to do the homework.

Manufacturers use the term “organic” in their product names to mislead consumers about the sources of ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), does not define or regulate the term ‘organic’ as it applies to cosmetics, body care or personal care products.  Due to confusion and lack of federal oversight, there are companies that use the term “organic” in their product names primarily as a marketing tool.

In fact, the use of the term "organic" is regulated by the Department of Agriculture for cosmetics. Although cosmetic products containing agricultural ingredients are eligible for USDA’s organic certification, the agency says it’s not authorized to regulate the “production and labeling of cosmetics", that are not made up of agricultural ingredients, or do not make any claims to meeting USDA organic standards.

This means that cosmetics that don’t contain agricultural ingredients can deceptively use the word organic in the product name without penalty from either USDA or FDA.

If you are reading this article you probably just did a double take, I know I did!

It’s important to understand the components of product labels. The “principal display panel” – the front label – is the portion with the product name, logo and when applicable, the USDA Organic Seal. The ingredient information panel is on the back and lists all the ingredients. Be aware, Brands are not required to provide a full list of ingredients and fragrances are proprietary, so often they are not listed either.

Making sense of a product label is no easy task. There are so many variations of product labeling you almost need to be a chemist to decipher what is defined as "100% organic". The FDA has 4 categories used for "Organic" labeling. They are determined by how much of the ingredients contained are organic. For example, Products labeled “organic” must contain a minimum of 95 percent organically produced ingredients. They are also permitted to display the USDA Organic Seal. So what's in the other 5%?

If this isn't enough, there is yet another area of confusion, the word "natural".

The word 'natural' congers up images of nature - pristine environments that make us feel good. A safe, natural environment that is conducive to health and a sense of well being. Spring water, waterfalls, pristine lakes, Rain forests, etc., are all images that we perceive as 'natural', or in other words 'good for us'.

Unfortunately, one or two natural ingredients does not a natural product make... far from it, natural products should not contain any ingredients that are not naturally sourced.

Here's the catch...a naturally sourced ingredient, such as the various forms of paraben, may still be potentially hazardous. Just think about it - would you put arsenic or lead on your skin? No of course you wouldn't. But, they are natural, so what's the problem? 

As I stated above, if the ingredients are easily recognizable, it is more likely that the ingredients are of a natural source and have not been excessively modified. If on the other hand you need a chemistry degree to understand what the ingredient is, it is likely not to be a holistically-natural ingredient. It may still be a natural ingredient, but it is likely that it has been isolated and is used in a concentrated, possibly even a synthetic form.

For the most part, most 'natural products' widely available in the market place are far from natural or that matter organic. Most have minimal quantities of some natural ingredient in an otherwise non-natural product and are referring to the one natural ingredient in the product, rather than the nature of the product itself.

To make life easier, here is the "Dirty Dozen" list of ingredients you should refrain from using in your Cosmetics, Bath and Body plus Household products.

Believe me the list is bigger than this but, this is a start. Changing over to a more natural lifestyle takes time. You can't change the world overnight but, organic and natural ingredients are kinder to both your skin, your health and environment.

To make your life a little easier, here are two free apps that have been launched to make your trip to the drug store easier and healthier:  Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep app and the independent Canadian app Think Dirty. Just scan the bar code or type in the name of the beauty product you’re curious about, and the apps will flag any potentially toxic ingredients on the label.

We believe in transparency when it comes to our ingredients. In case you aren't familiar with us...

Paw Melts are a small-batch home fragrance and skin care line that creates products with pure, all natural and organic ingredients. We develop our products with the highest quality ingredients, as if they were food for your body. Our collection is made with organic, unrefined plant oils and butters, steam-distilled and cold-pressed essential oils plus organic and wild-crafted botanicals. We pride ourselves by not using chemicals, additives, parabens, or preservatives in our products. We love all animals and our pets are the mascots of the company. So, we would never consider animal testing, we test all our products personally. If it is in our collection then you know, as the founder, I have personally tested them and use each product in my daily regime.

Finally, We love this video and even though it is from 2010 it is still relevant today.

Please feel free to drop us a comment below with your thoughts and experience.

1 Response


March 09, 2017

Very informative article. I will now check all my labels.

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