Ditch the Junk!
Last Tuesday I held an informal Weleda Wellbeing event round at my house and since the feedback was so good I have decided to share what we learned.
We chose a few well known products and had a look at the ingredients list on the back. The first clue as to how clean and natural your products are could be in the size of the type used – I had to use a magnifying glass for some!!!
Beware of Greenwashing!
Greenwashing is like whitewashing with a green (environmental) brush: companies and organizations making themselves and their products sound or look like they’re really helping the environment. And they lure you in — creating the perception that you can help, too. In some cases you are helping. In some cases, it’s greenwashing.
One of the first things I learned when I started working for Weleda was how easy it is for companies to label their products as Organic to make them more attractive to customers who are keen to use more natural products.
Shocking Fact No. 1: There only needs to be 1% of organic ingredients in a product for it to be labelled Organic!!!
The beauty industry is not regulated in the same way as the food industry. That’s why it’s important to look for certification seals or logos on packs, because there are so many looky-likey products out there masquerading as organic.
NATRUE certify to two levels of ‘organic’. There is the 70% level which is ‘natural with organic portion’, so 100% natural and 70% or above organic. Then there is the ‘organic’ level which is 100% natural and 95% or above organic. NATRUE does not consider water to be part of the organic content in a formulation (because it cannot be grown or cultivated organically) so for products that contain a lot of water e.g. shampoos it is almost impossible to obtain the ‘organic’ level (95%+).
This is the symbol you should look for on the back of a product if you want to check its authenticity:
So let’s have a little look at some of the ingredients we found in our products the other night:
Anyone else bought Bio oil believing it is a pure and healthy option? – think again…. The main ingredient in Bio oil is mineral oil aka liquid paraffin (a petroleum distillate). Why put mineral oil on your skin when there are so many wonderful truly natural moisturising oils? (Because as a bi-product it is cheap as chips to include in beauty products).
But Mineral oil does not nourish our skin – it simply sits on top of the skin, not allowing it to breathe and can lead to further problems such as spots and acne or heat bumps as a result. The skin feels moister but only because of the layer of oil on top – if you stop using the product there will be no real improvement in the skin.
The other ingredient which should be highlighted in Bio oil is their “unique Breakthrough ingredient – Pur Cellin oil”. This is synthetic duck grease (emulating the natural wax ester that repels water in ducks) – also known as cetearyl oxtanoate or cetearyl ethylhexanoate – that is a long way from BIO in my book and probably not very good for Ducks at all if it gets into the water!!!
Weleda products on the other hand are formulated to address individual skin problems – and for only a few pounds more you can truly nourish your skin…
Weleda Stretch mark oil contains sweet almond oil, vitamin E rich wheatgerm oil and extract of organic arnica to prevent stretch marks forming, and precious oils of rose, neroli, myrrh and frankincense unfolding a delicate perfume. It’s a pure, natural formula that works in harmony with your body.
Weleda Pomegranate oil does NOT sit on top of the skin but soaks deeply into skin to restore its vitality with essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Dermatological tests show that our regenerating Pomegranate Body Oil accelerates natural skin renewal by 50% in just two weeks. Organic pomegranate seed oil helps promote skin renewal and protect against skin-damaging free radicals. Organic jojoba seed oil preserves skin’s natural moisture, acting as an emollient to nurture skin and improve firmness.
It is easy to be taken in by great marketing and “Greenwashing” but when you look into the ingredients and the top ingredients (the largest ingredient) include Paraffinum Liquidum – it may be good to think twice….
Parabens and other preservatives:
Water, or aqua, is commonly used in cosmetic products as a solvent. In some of the top selling hand creams in the UK, it is often the number 1 ingredient. This is fine, but means that the product requires preservatives to prevent the growth of bacteria. Try checking your hand cream for Phenoxyethanol or Methylparaben – both known for potentially irritating and allergic reactions (and worse). Of course, using the product once will rarely have any effects, but consider the cumulative effect of using these chemicals 3 or 4 times a day over the course of weeks and months, and then add that to the array of other chemicals in your other cosmetics…
With Weleda hand creams, we also use aqua as our number 1 ingredient. However, our products have a high essential oil concentration and some alcohol. These act as natural preservatives, so no need for any potential nasties. And of course, Weleda have the NaTrue certification on all our products confirming they are 100% natural.
These pictures should reveal how good you have to be at reading labels so that you DON’T get duped by “greenwashing” and the power of marketing. The price is not always the best guide – the Clarins Hand Cream is £21 (note the phenoxyethanol on line 5), Weleda £9.95 and Neutrogena £4.95.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
This is the ingredient that makes shampoo, cleansers and even toothpaste foam up.
Shocking fact No.2: SLS was introduced into the US after World War II as an engine degreaser!
Here are a few reasons why you might re-consider your use of products with SLS or SLES in them:
- It is a known skin irritant.When cosmetic companies need to test the healing properties of a lotion, they need to irritate the skin first. What do they use to do this? SLS, of course. If you have dandruff, dermatitis, canker sores, or other irritated tissues or skin, it could be due to SLS.
- Once it has been absorbed, one of the main effects of SLS is to mimic the activity of the hormone Oestrogen. This has many health implications and may be responsible for a variety of health problems from PMS and Menopausal symptoms to dropping male fertility and increasing female cancers such as breast cancer, where oestrogen levels are known to be involved.
- It pollutes our groundwater.It is toxic to fish and other aquatic animals and has the potential for bioaccumulation (meaning it accumulates in the bodies of the fish.) It also is undetected in many municipal water filters, getting into the tap water that you drink.
- It is actually a pesticide and herbicide.It is commonly used to kill plants and insects. Makers of SLS recently petitioned to have SLS listed as an approved pesticide for organic farming. The application was denied because of its polluting properties and environmental damage.
- It emits toxic fumes when heated.Toxic Sodium Oxides and Sulfur Oxides are released when SLS is heated. Makes a hot shower with an SLS shampoo seem not quite as nice…
- It has corrosive properties. According to the American College of Toxicity, this includes corrosion of the fats and protiens that make up skin and muscle. SLS can be found in garage floor cleanrs, engine degreasers, and car wash soaps.
- Long-term permeation of the body’s tissues. A study from the University of Georgia Medicine showed that SLS had the power to permeate the eyes, brain, heart, and liver.
- It’s an eye irritant. It was shown to cause cataracts in adults, and is proven to inhibit the proper formation of eyes in small children.
- Nitrate and other solvent contamination. Toxic solvents, including carcinogenic nitrates are used in the manufacturing of SLS, traces of which can remain in the product.
- Manufacturing process is highly polluting, emitting cancer-causing volatile organic compounds, sulfur compounds, and air particulates.
This is a really brief overview of some of the stuff we learned at my event. I think you’ll agree some of them were literally eyewatering!!
So what changes have we made since the event?
Personally I have found the idea of ditching my conditioner really hard. It is full of Silicone to make the hair shiny and smooth. I was also finding the Weleda shampoos a little difficult to get my head around – but I have finally found the one for me –
I have also taken that final step since my event and ditched the conditioner!! And replaced it with….. nothing!!! I can honestly say that my hair is in just as good condition as it was before – I really can’t believe it.
And here are the comments from another of those attending my event:
“Thank you so much for the toxin info and thank you for having me last Tuesday. …
The pomegranate lotion is great and while I wait for my shampoo to arrive I started to use the rose body wash as shampoo- my hair feels great! I find the oat conditioner a little too thick but my hair seems to like it.
Your Tuesday session was a real eye opener. I started to check all the labels of beauty / cleaning products in our house. It’s not going to be cheap but I will start replacing them to healthy ones a bit by bit.” (TL)