Talc? No Thank You!

This is just one example of why I place ZERO faith in the hazard scores produced by the EWG Skin Deep database:

Talc – Low Risk score of “3”.

ref. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706427/TALC/#

The Skin Deep database is a project of the Environmental Working Group, so it is a surprise that the people who score this ingredient might appear to be unaware of an article from their own parent company: “Federal Regulators Knew In 1976 That Asbestos Can Contaminate Talc

ref. http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2015/09/federal-regulators-knew-1976-asbestos-can-contaminate-talc

So the potential health risk for both inhalation and vaginal use is known to EWG.

FairWarning reported that a March 1976 Food and Drug Administration memo it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act “charged that cosmetics makers had been lax in monitoring the safety of talc supplies.” In light of the industry’s weak efforts, the memo said, FDA had “not much choice but to move ahead as speedily as possible with a proposal of a regulation on asbestos in talc.” FDA backed off, however, after a cosmetics industry trade group said it had developed a test companies would use to screen talc for asbestos.”

So why is this ingredient still being used in makeup? Do professional cosmetic formulators think the risk of brushing on and breathing in a cloud of talc is not something that women should be concerned with?  Do these companies only care about our vagina’s and ovarian cancer, and not our lungs and lung cancer?

Example; this information must be known to Mia Davis, Head of Health and Safety at the cosmetics company Beauty Counter, since her resume includes being the Organizing Director of the The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics from January 2007 – December 2011 (5 years).

  • The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) is a project of the Breast Cancer Fund.
  • Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a founding Member of the CSC.
  • Beauty Counter is listed on their websites as a supporter of EWG.

But how, you may ask, is EWG’s Skin Deep related to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics?

The Skin Deep database was conceived and created by, and is run by, our research team here at the Environmental Working Group in Washington DC. We are also cofounders of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. We’ve helped that coalition by using our Skin Deep database to monitor companies’ progress in meeting safe cosmetics standards. But Skin Deep is an independent EWG project.

ref. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/faq/

So my question, why do some Beauty Counter cosmetics contain talc as their first ingredient?

Their own Head of Health and Safety knows not only that this ingredient is linked to causing cancer but also *should* know there are safer and more eco-friendly alternatives. We might expect this ingredient in an inexpensive grocery store or drug store brand, but in a high end, expensive, product line marketed *as* being “safer products”? With or without asbestos contamination – TALC is a hazardous ingredient and one which has no place in a product line marketed as “safer”. Exactly how is TALC “safer” than an ingredient found in a competing brand?

While there may not be safer alternatives to all cosmetic ingredients – the most challenging being preservatives – there ARE safer alternatives to TALC!

DISCLOSURE: This is a personal opinion on the ingredient “talc” and not disparaging of the product line being used as an example in this article.

Read the Labels

Much of what we read on the front panel of our cosmetics is marketing. When making a decision about what products to buy, it’s not unlike reading food labels – is this product sweetened with organic cane sugar or conventional, even GMO, corn syrup?  The actual calorie count may be the same for both but which one do you want to feed your family? Use the same logic when choosing cosmetics.  Read the Labels. The reality is you can’t sell a shelf stable product that contains water (and that includes the naturally occurring water in ingredients like aloe vera juice or hydrosols) unless the product contains ingredients which work as antimicrobial preservatives. You can’t sell a shelf stable lotion without ingredients which serve as emulsifiers.

Buzz words to watch out for are “nontoxic” or “chemical free” – because every ingredient in the wrong dose can be toxic and every ingredient is 100% chemicals.

So…lets review the ingredients in the NYR Organic Invigorating Seaweed Conditioner Hair Conditioner that I sell.

Independent NYR Consultant 250x250

Aqua (Water), Cetearyl alcohol, Persea gratissima (Avocado) oil*, Cetrimonium chloride, Lanolin, Fucus vesiculosus (Bladderwrack) extract*, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) leaf extract*, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) leaf oil*, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) oil*, Citrus medica limonum (Lemon) peel oil*, Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea tree) leaf oil*, Potassium sorbate, Citric acid, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.

*Organically produced ingredient.

Citric acid, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool are natural constituents of essential oils listed, they are listed in the ingredient panel in italics, as required by the EU Cosmetics directive. They are not chemicals added to the product. They are disclosed as occuring naturally in the essential oils. Companies which label according to FDA cosmetics regulations, are not required to disclose these chemicals.

This product is Certified Organic by the Soil Association, and the product is made with 91% organic ingredients.

So what is “Cetrimonium chloride”. We answer that question on our Ingredients Glossary page.

“Cetrimonium chloride, made from plant-derived fatty acids, is used in our conditioners. It is a cationic (positively charged) surfactant that carries nourishing ingredients into the negatively charged broken hair shafts. In order to be effective a conditioner needs to remain on the hair shaft. What helps it stay put is magnetic attraction that works in the same way the positive side of one magnet sticks to the negative side of another. The positively charged ion in conditioners like cetrimonim chloride ‘stick’ to the hair shaft, which is naturally negatively charged, to keep nourishing ingredients on the hair and help repair the hair proteins. Cetrimonium chloride also has preservative properties.”

What about “Lanolin”? From the same Ingredients Glossary page:

“Lanolin is extracted from wool after a sheep has been shorn. This wax-like substance yields a nourishing oil that is high in sterols and is a very good emulsifier, moisturizer and humectant. We use it to thicken our hair conditioners and some creams to help skin and hair retain moisture. Although it is an animal by-product, obtaining it does not harm the animal. Health concerns about Lanolin are based on the presence of contaminants such as pesticides, which the sheep may have been exposed to. Our high quality lanolin meets the high standards of USP grade.”

NOTE 3 “We use standards developed by leading animal protection campaign groups and our continued commitment to animal welfare has been recognized by campaigners from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), who awarded us a ‘golden rabbit.’ The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) also commended our stance on the issue. We support the animal welfare charity FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments) an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) dedicated to the scientific development, acceptance and use of methods that can be used instead of animal experiments.”

If you have questions about this or any other product sold by Independent Consultants for NYR Organic, email me! I am happy to get an answer from you.

april-customer-offer-geranium-orange-shower-gel

Structure Function Claims

Originally published July 2, 2015

What follows in part, are the Young Living tips for using structure-function claims appropriately. The yellow highlights are my editorial emphasis. I have nothing much to add here other than a comment that since there is no legitimate scientific proof supporting the daily ingestion of lemon essential oil for ANY purpose, the industry should start to see that dangerous advice fade away if salespeople follow these tips.

The FDA does not allow any structure-function claims for products unless those products are sold under the FDA DSHEA food labeling laws, and labeled as dietary supplements.

So the same essential oil can be in two bottles, sold side by side, one labeled as a Dietary Supplement with instructions for ingestion and claims the essential oil will impact the structure or function of the body, and as long as there is science to support that claim – it is legal.

The same essential oil – even with an equal or greater body of science, or supported by historic use within the field of aromatherapy or herbal medicine – cannot be sold with the same claims, if the bottle is not marketed as a dietary supplement. And considering that ingestion is the more hazardous application in most cases, and should really only be undertaken under the direct supervision of someone trained in aromatic medicine – the FDA regulations do not make much sense. But, they are what they are and until they are changed, companies are required to follow them.

Claims that essential oils will treat, cure or prevent illness is illegal for essential oils whether the product is sold as a dietary supplement or not. Examples of medical conditions include colds, flu, acne, rash, insomnia, obesity, and pain.

S-F_claim

Buyer Beware ~ “Studies” & Generalizations

I am so excited to start the 2nd quarter of 2016 with new motivation and passion, directed 100% toward helping consumers make positive choices! So I am introducing a new Series – Buyer Beware.  I’m starting the series by reposting an article I originally published April 14, 2014. Enjoy!

Salespeople sometimes use studies as support for their medical claims for products like essential oils. These studies are taken out of context. The fact that a product or an ingredient is being studied as a cancer treatment for example, does not mean it should be used *as* a cancer treatment.

Salespeople (and some poorly educated practitioners) sometimes take the historic herbal use for a botanical, and generalize and apply those same properties to the essential oil.

The uses and safety concerns for a raw herb/flower/seed are often not the same as those for the essential oil. The uses and safety concerns for a water extract or an alcohol extract from a botanical are also often not the same as those for the essential oil.

Not convinced?

There is a seed which produces an oil we use for its many healing properties. It is used in food and skincare products. “Centuries ago, the plant was referred to as “Palma Christe” because the leaves were said to resemble the hand of Christ. 1.”

120px-seeds_of_ricinus_communis

And how about this…a product from the waste material from processing the seeds (aka beans) “has been used experimentally in medicine to kill cancer cells. 2.

Sounds like a win win, doesn’t it! If some of these MLM salespeople had access to this – they’d tell you to take this product internally because “it has been shown to kill cancer cells!”

The seed is the castor bean. The oil is castor oil. The waste material being studied? Ricin. Not familar with Ricin?

“Just 1 milligram of ricin is fatal if inhaled or ingested, and much less than that if injected. Eating just 5 to 10 castor seeds would be fatal. Once poisoned, there’s no antidote, which is why ricin has been used as a chemical warfare agent.”

So something that kills cells in a petri dish…may also kill a person. And just because one product from a plant may have a safe and appropriate use in cosmetic or medical care, does not automatically mean that other products from the exact same plant are even safe, much less effective for the same purposes.

1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/28/castor-oil-to-treat-health-conditions.aspx
2. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/facts.asp

Organic Soap?

True Soap

True Soap is made using water, lye* and oil or fat. Mixed together in the proper proportions and at the correct temperature, a chemical reaction happens and the process of saponification begins. After the saponification process is complete, the fatty acids from the oils/fats and lye/water are converted to a fatty acid salt known as “soap” and glycerol.  Handcrafted soapmakers leave the glycerol in their finished soap. There is no lye left in soap once it is cured or processed.

Even if 100% of the agricultural ingredients are USDA Certified Organic, it is still basically impossible to make a soap with more than 85% organic ingredients – remember the water and the lye are not organic, because they are not agricultural! For a more detailed explaination please visit one of my favorite websites: http://botaniesoap.com/frequently-asked-questions

If someone markets their soap as organic, ask them the name of their USDA Certifying Agent… organic claims for soap are regulated under the National Organic Program and without certification, organic claims are not allowed.

If someone markets their soap as handmade, ask if they make it from scratch or whether they handcraft from a pre-made base, if that matters to you.

If someone markets their soap as natural, ask what ingredients they use for color and scent. Unless they use pure essential oils, they may be scenting with synthetic fragrances, in which case the soap is not all natural! Soapmakers often use herbs, botanicals, and minerals for color.  These ingredients also can be natural or synthetic. If this matters to you…ask!

And if a product claims to be some amazing new technology but still pretends to be soap… if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is! Soap Cleans is a blog post I wrote about that subject!


 

*There are two types of lye: Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) which is used to make bar soap, and potassium hydroxide (KOH) which is is used to make liquid soap.

MYTH – Apply to Feet

MYTH – the feet are the best place to apply essential oils because the feet have the largest amount of pores to absorb the essential oils.

This is a MYTH because chemicals or ingredients are primarily absorbed into the body through the epidermis, not by entering through the sweat glands (invisible pores) or hair follicles (visible pores).

So neither the size or quantity of pores in the skin actually determine how much of a topically applied product is absorbed.

Here is a link to a very basic article that easily explains skin penetration and absorption: http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/01/the-impermeable-facts-of-skin-penetration-and-absorption/

You will notice pores are not mentioned.

583px-skin-291x300That is because the function of pores (aka follicles) are the openings in our skin where a hair comes out, and dead cells, sebum exit. Pores are primarily exits, not entrances. Not for products, ingredients, or chemicals – even essential oils – to enter.

What about our sweaty feet – they aren’t (thankfully) hairy – don’t we have the most pores in our whole body on our feet?

No. Feet have a lot of sweat glands (250,000 each) which are different from pores like we see on our face, for example.

“‘Skin pore’ is a term used by lay people and in the field of cosmetology. It remains misleading when it is not clearly defined. Indeed, lay people use it with at least 3 different meanings. Basically, invisible pores represent the openings of the sweat gland apparatus. By contrast, the visible pores represent enlarged empty funnel-shaped or cylindrical horny impacted openings of pilosebaceous follicles.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15604536

So the question – do products applied topically get absorbed through the sweat glands?

“Absorption via the pores and follicles is considered to be insignificant because the orifices account for only 0.1% of the skin area and diffusion along sweat ducts is against an outward aqueous flow (4). Lauer et al….”

Percutaneous Absorption: Drugs–Cosmetics–Mechanisms–Methodology: Drugs edited by Robert L. Bronaugh, Howard I. Maibach

skinlayers-300x297So so summarize – how does dermal absorption work?

“The epidermis (and particularly the stratum corneum) is the only layer that is important in regulating penetration of a skin contaminant.”

“The thickness of the stratum corneum varies greatly with regions of the body. The stratum corneum of the palms and soles is very thick (400-600 µM) whereas that of the arms, back, legs, and abdomen is much thinner (8-15 µM). The stratum corneum of the axillary (underarm) and inquinal (groin) regions is the thinnest with the scrotum especially thin. As expected, the efficiency of penetration of toxicants is inversely related to the thickness of the epidermis.”

“In addition to the stratum corneum, small amounts of chemicals may be absorbed through the sweat glands, sebaceous glands, and hair follicles. Since these structures represent, however, only a very small percentage of the total surface area, they are not ordinarily important in dermal absorption.”

http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/149799/

Then there is the reflexology spin that some salespeople put on the reason to use the EOs on the feet – this article addresses that: http://www.thebarefootdragonfly.com/essential-oils-and-the-feet/


 

“The soles of the feet absorb more slowly because they have no hair, and because of the mostly thicker skin. “

“The soles of the feet and palms of the hands contain many eccrine (sweat) glands, through which water is released onto the skin. Since essential oils are not water soluble, they cannot use these glands to bypass the skin barrier. Not even water-soluble substances enter the body through sweat glands. If they did, we would put on weight after a swim or a shower. The palms and soles have no hair follicles. Hair follicles contain sebum, an oily substance, and there is some evidence that essential oil constituents are able to use this route to bypass the skin barrier.”
–Robert Tisserand, Robert Tisserand Essential Training [Facebook Group]

As originally published on Aromatherapy United website; Apr 20, 2014, by Susan Sawhill Apito

Cosmetic Labeling

Well…I went to my first Farmers Market of the summer on Sunday. I tried not to be confrontational…just “helpful”.

When I was told a certain product contained “no toxins” I politely asked “what toxins are those“? She actually meant allergins not toxins.

Then I asked if the raw materials were certified organic – and was told “No, organic certification is too expensive – but these ingredients are actually BETTER than organic.” BIG SIGH… really? I was so hot I could not even argue, but I did tell them they should recommend to their supplier that they check out BayState Organic – they have great prices, and also check into the rebate program because up to 75% of the costs of organic certification can be refunded!

So that said, I want to highly recommend this book by my online friend and author, Kayla Fioravanti, which not only covers how to make cosmetics but how to properly label them for sale!

The rules don’t change just because you are small… consumers deserve to know what is in the products they buy, and they have a right to know how to contact you if they have an adverse reaction to their product – so the laws for labeling cosmetics must be followed even if you are selling from a farm stand, a boutique, at a market or online!

Making Cosmetics

There is so much to know when you make cosmetics like soap, lotions, salves, balms, scrubs…from proper chemistry and safe preservation to the FDA regulations for labeling the finished products. It does not matter if you sell one or two products to friends, at the local Farmers Market or on EBAY, everyone has to follow proper cosmetic formulation rules in order to produce a safe and healthy product and the FDA regulations apply to everyone!

Here is my MUST READ list. I am fortunate that my past career working for the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild and later running the Natural Ingredient Resource Center, and selling advertising space for The Herb Quarterly magazine, introduced me to these authors personally. I highly recommend any and all of them!