December 9, 2010

Be cautious of labeling. ~ Danika Carter

Organic or Natural May Not Live Up to the Label.

In this day and age, it seems you really need to have a chemistry degree to keep yourself and your family safe, especially when it comes to your personal care products.  There are many companies out there touting their products as “natural” and “organic” without any real proof of their claims.  Even many of the most popular “natural” personal care product brands contain a whole host of nasties in them.  Are they better than conventional brands?  Sometimes.  Are they as good as they could be, should be, or often claim to be?  No, not at all.

Just going to a local health food store is not a guarantee that the product you are purchasing is safe.  There is really only one way to know if your products are safe, and that’s USDA Organic Certification.  Independent 3rd party certification is the only way to know that the claims that a company is making are valid.  Without that, they can claim anything…and often do.

Because there is no organic certification for personal care products in the U.S., any that have the USDA logo on the front have had to meet food-grade standards.  That’s a high standard to achieve in personal care products.  But, it also shows there is really no reason for companies to use the nasty synthetic chemicals that they do.  There are safe and natural alternatives.

When it comes to company marketing, especially in the green arena, I’m not a very trusting person.  I’ve seen too many companies that were supposed to be on “our” side betray us (ie: Sigg).  And, I’ve seen too many “experts” give bad advice.  Elephant Journal recently published an article where the green beauty expert Summer Rayne Oakes said all the right things.  But, when then she suggested products that were contrary to the advice she had given.  One of the product lines she suggested is Giovanni, which is included in the boycott of “Organic Cheater Brands” by the Organic Consumers Association.  It is a party of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) boycott because it makes organic claims without certification.   It also contains many questionable synthetic chemicals.  For instance 13 of its 38 products contain OCTINOXATE (OCTYL METHOXYCINNAMATE) which as a hazard rating of 6 out of 10 because it can cause, “Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes.”  http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/brand/Giovanni/

Another, Burt’s Bees, often the 1st natural brand many people try, has a vast majority of its products in the cautionary range (ratings of 3 to 6) on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.

My point here is not to bash any of these brands nor Summer.  Summer is great.  She is very knowledgeable and sincerely committed to green beauty.  And companies like Burt’s Bees have opened the door for many other companies.  My point is that everyone has different standards of risk they are willing to accept.  And just because you see the words “natural” or “organic” on the label doesn’t mean they are.  You need to turn the bottle over and look at the ingredients list.  Never take any one expert’s advice as the be-all-end-all.  No expert’s advice is perfect (even mine).  ALWAYS do your own research and look at multiple sources.  What one person finds acceptable may not be acceptable for you and your family, and ultimately, you are the only one who has to live with the consequences of your decisions.

My personal philosophy is to try to stay in the 0 t 2 range on the Skin Deep Database, especially for my child.  I also try to follow the Precautionary Principle.  The lack of evidence that something is harmful isn’t good enough.  That lack of evidence often exists because the studies just haven’t been done.  For me, ALL ingredients need to have been proven safe.  And, if it’s Certified Organic to food-grade standards, then it’s safe enough for me…and my child.

For more information on the Organic Consumers Coming Clean Campaign & to see a list of the brands that are a part of the boycott go to http://www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/index.cfm.  They also have a list of brands to “buy-cott.”  These are brands that have been ethical in their use of organic claims and are USDA Certified Organic.  One of these brands, Miessence is the brand I’ve chosen to use on my family and to build my business around because it is ethical, ecologically minded, holistic & sustainable in ALL of its practices, not just its product ingredients.  For more information go to http://yourorglife.mionegroup.com/.

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