Do you know what is in the products that you put on your body?
The skin is the human bodies largest organ and what is placed on it has a definite effect, both topically and internally. I consider myself to be a healthy person and I always try to be aware of what I eat, but my motto now is “ If you wouldn’t put it in your body why would you want to put it on your body?” we go to great lengths to know what is in the foods we eat, but often neglect to take that same care when it comes to what we use on our skin.
Sometimes it is not easy to determine what is actually in the products that we use on our skin, and there is a lot of misinformation out there as well. I am by no means an expert, but have learned a lot since I made the decision to start formulating. The fact that ingredients listed on products are written in the INCI names makes it all seem like you are trying to read another language, and basically you are, as it is mostly Latin and scientific names. INCI stands for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, very simply it is the international guideline for indicating ingredients found in cosmetics, toiletries, household cleaners and such. The basic rule is that the ingredients are listed in percentage of use, ie. the highest amount first and so on. Often the most confusing part is the fact that a single ingredient may have three or more words contained in the one name. Some labels will have the common use name, which makes it a lot easier at first glance to determine what is in a certain product.
Unfortunately what is considered natural is not always natural, let me elaborate. For example, oftentimes ingredients may be called natural, but in reality are what is classed as nature identical, this means that they are synthesised in a lab somewhere. Their chemical make up is identical to the natural ingredient, but has not actually been derived from nature. Personally, I do not consider these ingredients to be natural and you will not find them in my products, whether it be colourants, preservatives or fragrances. It is a very controversial topic in the world of natural formulation and there has been a lot of debate, and, in my opinion propaganda over the decades.
I have seen it said that soap is bad, and I agree that a lot of the commercial soaps massed produced are so packed with toxic chemicals that you take a gamble ever time you use them, a lot of the ingredients are actual known skin irritants, but it is only a small percentage of the population that will actually have reactions. I have actually been told by a very influential person in the natural formulation world that unless a certain product contains “detergent“ It is not a shampoo. When I use the word detergent I am talking about SLES, SES, SCS and the like. There has been a lot said about these chemicals in the recent past, and here is a perfect example how easy it is to be misinformed. SES, SCS AND SLES were often derived from petroleum, and so, once this was made clear there was a big move away from products containing them. Even the fact that they are now being derived from coconut or palm oil does not make them more acceptable. The fact that they all have the same CAS number (a numerical identifier of chemical substances) simply tells us that even if derived from different sources, they are the same chemical. I could probably stay up on my “soapbox” all day and talk about all the bad things that can be found in a lot of mass produced body products, but, I won’t.
In this day and age it is a little easier to google and find information on ingredients, but even this is a time consuming endeavour, as most products will have at least half a dozen two to three word ingredients. I am happy to say that I think we have turned the corner and a lot more natural and sustainable businesses are offering clean healthy options. Most of them are small Indie and local businesses and need support to keep building and offering amazing alternatives that are healthy for you and the environment. So if you have someone local trying to start an alternate sustainable business, maybe just have a look, talk with them, ask them questions and buy some of their products to help support them.