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Publication Title | Organic Cosmetics for Natural Beauty

Organic Skin Care Solutions - Montreux Cosmetics Information Series

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organic and natural living
Organic Cosmetics
Organic Cosmetics for Natural Beauty!
for Natural Beauty!
How?do we know what we are buying is really natural?
Natural or Organic ingredients include:
1. Water (Deionised),
2. Isopropyl Palmitate (Palm Oil Derivative),
3. Apricot Kernel Oil,
4. Bis-Diglyceryl Caprylate/Caprate/Isostearate/
Stearate/Hydroxystearate Adipate (Vegetable
5. Glyceryl Stearate SE (Vegetable Derived),
6. Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Glycerin-derived
7. Ceteareth - 12 (Organic Emulsifier),
8. Tocopherol Oil (Vitamin E),
9. Chamomile Extract,
10. Sage Extract,
11. Linden Extract (Lime Blossom Extract),
12. Balm Mint Extract,
13. Shea Butter (From Karite),
14. Wheat Germ Oil,
15. Carrot Oil,
16. Cetyl Alcohol (Organic Co-emulsifier),
17. Sodium Hydroxide (pH Adjuster),
18. Sorbic Acid (Organic Compound),
19. Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E Derivative),
20. Methylparaben (Organic Compound),
21. Propylparaben (Organic Compound),
22. Imidazolidinyl Urea (Organic Compound),
23. Fragrance,
24. FD&C Yellow No. 5, D&C Red No. 33.
Content: Apricot Oil (2.5%)
Narelle Chenery
Director of Research and Development, MiessenceTM. email:
As the number of people who are concerned about toxins in our environment grows, more and more skin care companies are jumping on the natural and organic bandwagon. But what does natural and organic mean when we see them on a product label?
How do we know what we are buying is really natural and organic? What are the natural alternatives to chemicals? And is natural really better for us?
Our skin is the largest eliminatory organ in the body. It is a two-way membrane. Toxins are eliminated through the skin via perspiration and absorbed through the skin into the body’s circulation system, through hair follicles and sebaceous glands, but not through the sweat glands. One square inch of skin contains approximately 65 hairs, 100 sebaceous glands and 650 sweat glands.
Skin care manufacturers are not supposed to claim that their products penetrate the skin. If they did, the products would then be labelled as “drugs” and would be governed by much stricter regulations. However, it is now recognised that the skin does absorb many ingredients in skin care preparations. This is both good and bad. Good, because it means our skin can be nourished from the outside with some wonderful ingredients. Bad, because some skin care manufacturers can use harmful ingredients that would never be allowed to be taken orally, but are still absorbed into our system, through our skin.
Nowhere does the idea of “natural” or “organic” take a more gratuitous bruising than in the skin care industry.
If we look at the term “natural” we would probably define it as “existing in, or formed by nature; not artificial”. Many labels have long lists of chemical names, some followed by the phrase “derived from ...” (some natural substance). This is misleading for consumers.
When chemicals such as Cocamide DEA or Sodium Hydroxysultaine are followed by the words “derived from coconut oil” the consumer is led to believe that these synthetic chemicals must be natural. While this may be true in some cases, it is ultimately irrelevant because what you end up with after the chemical processing is usually anything but natural or pure.
To create Cocamide DEA, a foaming agent found in some shampoos, requires the addition of a synthetic chemical and known carcinogen, Diethanolamine – DEA, to the coconut oil. It is therefore no longer natural, or safe!
If we look at the term “organic” on a label, we usually think it means “grown and cultivated without the use of chemicals”. That is the conclusion most skin care companies would like us to come to.
Some companies are cynically using the chemistry definition of “organic” – meaning a
compound that contains a carbon atom. Carbon is found in anything that has ever lived. By using this definition of organic, they are saying that a toxic petrochemical preservative called Methyl Paraben is “organic” because it was formed from leaves that rotted over thousands of years to become crude oil, which was then used to make this preservative.
An increasing number of companies are now claiming to use “organic” herbs in their products. But, what about the rest of the ingredients? Are they safe? Isn’t there an authority that governs the use of the term “organic” on labels? The simple answer is NO.
However, the term “certified organic” IS governed by a number of internationally recognised bodies. In Australia, the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) is the largest. Searching for products with the logo of a certifying body on the label is the only way you can guarantee the organic authenticity and integrity of every ingredient in the product. Without this, the organic claim means nothing, as it cannot be verified.
Here are some examples of internationally recognised certifying bodies:
Certified Organic P475
Fortunately, there is a very simple way to differentiate between the hype and truth in skin care and that is to read the ingredient list on the label. It is a legal requirement that all skin care products must be labelled with the ingredients in descending order of their quantity in the product. A good rule of thumb is to divide the ingredient list into thirds: the top third usually contains 90- 95% of the product, the middle third usually contains 5-8% and the bottom third, 1-3%.
Here is the ingredient list of a so-called “natural” and “organic” body moisturiser from a well- known “natural” skin care company.
Take note of the last point that says “Content: Apricot Oil (2.5%)”. Notice that Apricot Oil is number 3 on the list. Because skin care manufacturers are required to list the ingredients in descending order this means everything AFTER Apricot oil makes up LESS than 2.5% by volume.
This means that about 90% of that product is water and Isopropyl Palmitate. Isopropyl Palmitate, is derived from Isopropyl Alcohol, synthetic alcohol, and Palmitic Acid, a fatty acid from palm oil. It is known to cause skin irritations and dermatitis in rabbits and has been shown to have comedogenic (acne promoting) properties.
Nos 4, 5 and 6 are all produced by chemical reactions between various fatty acids and glycerol (synthetic glycerine). They are largely synthetic and have been shown to cause allergies and dermatitis.
No. 7 is a synthetic emulsifier that may contain dangerous levels of ethylene oxide and dioxane, both known carcinogens.
Nos 8-15 are natural ingredients used in very small amounts that may have been grown using pesticides and herbicides.
No. 16 may be natural or synthetic and has been shown to cause contact eczema.
No. 17 is otherwise known as Caustic Soda and is extremely alkaline and corrosive.
No. 18. Sorbic acid was once isolated from the mountain ash berry, but is now chemically synthesised and is a toxic preservative.
No. 19 is synthetic Vitamin E.
© ONE Group and/or Author

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