Cosmetic Labels and How to Read Between the Lines
Day #261 of #365 Days of Feng Shui
“Natural”, “Organic”, “Not tested on Animals”, “Derived from…”, “Cruelty Free”.
The Cosmetic industry and it’s guidelines for labelling come under certain Trades Practices, Cosmetic Guidelines and other acts.
Though what consumers would consider certain terms to mean one thing, the cosmetic industry can use as an umbrella term for marketing purposes.
So let’s clear a few things up…
This term is used frequently within the cosmetic industry. Generally, a consumer would feel that this word is used for a subtance that is taken in its natural state and used in a product. This differs greatly to the cosmetic companies definition of the term ‘Natural’. Cosmetic companies are able to use the term ‘Natural’ for any substance that is derived from a natural substance. Which can also be combined with a chemical. Even though this combination may create a chemical that is a known carcinogen, it can still be termed as ‘Natural’.
Many consumers believe that if a product is labelled ‘Organic’, that the product is chemical free. But unfortunately, like the term ‘Natural’, ‘Organic’ can be used in the same manner. And as long as the product contains carbon atoms (the sixth most abundant element in the universe) it is thought to be ‘Organic’. If you are looking for chemical and pesticide free cosmetics it’s best to look for certification from reputable organisations.
If you look on the list of ingredients and there is a long chemical name with an added – ‘(derived from [insert name of amazing plant e.g. coconut])’ this doesn’t mean that this chemical is safe. It is still a synthetic chemical. And it can still be harsh, unsafe or unhealthy. For example Sodium Laureth Sulphate can be derived from coconut, but is a known carcinogen. (N.Bijlsma, 2011)
Another term I have come across is ‘Fragrance (derived from essential oils)’. This does not mean that this product is safe or natural and could actually be synthetic. In fact it doesn’t even mean that the company makes this product and may not even know what is in the ‘Fragrance’.
‘Not Tested on Animals’ and ‘Cruelty Free’
This is a biggy, which I find the Cosmetic Industry use to play on consumers conscience.
Every chemical that has been created, whether it is derived from a natural substance or not, must legally be tested on animals. With the exception of Europe (who stopped in 2009). This means that each ingredient, unless it is purely a plant extract, plant oil or essential oil, has been tested on an animal at some stage.
How a lot of companies use the label ‘Cruelty Free’ is by the fact that their end product has not been tested. Which really is the majority of cosmetic products. But the supplier or chemical company of the individual ingredient would have had to get the chemical tested on animals at some stage for it to be used for human use.
This is another great reason to continue to look for products that are more pure and that ultimately you can eat!
Not all the Ingredients are required to be listed on the Label
Certain ingredients that do not have a purpose in the product is not required to be listed on the label. These are called ‘incidental ingredients’ which could be attached or apart of another ingredient. Some incidental ingredients can actually be quite harmful e.g. carcinogens.
This is listed as one ingredient on a product label, but in reality a ‘fragrance’ can be created from up to 4000 chemicals. Most companies will purchase a fragrance from a supplier and not know the exact ingredients. Though they can contain carcinogens and hormone disruptors.
‘SLS Free’, ‘Paraben Free’
These products are great. They are working to help lower your exposure to harsh and unsafe chemicals, but it also doesn’t mean that they are completely safe or do not contain allergens. Some products that have left out these nasty chemicals such as SLS and Parabens, from their products have replaced them with other chemicals. They may not be as harmful but they can still cause irritation and allergic reactions.
This is such a huge subject and I have only just touched on it lightly here.
Most of this information is sourced from my college information and my teachers book. So if you want to investigate further I recommend you reading ‘Healthy Home, Healthy Family’ book by Nicole Bijlsma.
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