So..is it natural? This question, one I’m asked almost daily by customers, is by far the hardest one to answer. The reason? Because “natural” means different things to different people. And absolutely nothing to the beauty business industry. Natural is a marketing term. There are no regulations around the use of the word. A product could have one natural ingredient in it and say, “made with natural ingredients.” Then there are the questions surrounding how the ingredient is sourced. Did it come directly from nature, as is, like coconut oil, or was it “naturally” created in a lab, like a coconut flavor oil, which mixes some components of a coconut with other ingredients, like sugar?
I’ve been struggling with how to define my products for a while now. So instead I’ve decided to focus on what my products truly are. I believe that cosmetics should be easy to use, be made with superior ingredients and yield maximum results. I have painstakingly researched every component of what I make right down to the packaging.
And here’s what I DO and DON’T put into my cosmetics.
- I DO use natural, fair-trade sourced and sustainable ingredients. I only buy from vendors who guarantee their ingredients have not been tested on animals. Shea butter is natural. But if it’s sourced from unethical vendors, tested on animals then sent to me, I don’t want it.
- I DO NOT use any mineral oils or byproducts, like silicones because their processing is not sustainable by our environment.
- I DO USE natural ingredients that have undergone a chemical change through a natural, but lab regulated process. An example is coconut oil. I use a lot of liquid, or fractioned coconut oil (technically called Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride on a label) in the products. Basically, it is a form of the oil that has had the long-chain fatty acids removed via hydrolysis and steam distillation. Just this one change makes the oil liquid at room temperature and extends the product’s shelf life.
- I DO NOT use any of the “dirty” ingredients, whether they are natural or not. This includes mineral oil, palm oil, paraffin waxes, glycols, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, vinyl, Vitamin A or BPA plastics.
- I DO vet every ingredient I choose against an extensive set of databases to ensure its safety.
- I DO NOT use any ingredient that has not been approved by the FDA, the European Union Standards for Cosmetics or the Environmental Working Group. All of these groups rate and recommend ingredients based on their safety to the consumer.
This is what I tell people. Every ingredient I choose is one I feel comfortable using on my children. I choose quality ingredients that I know are safe and that work. I also believe that a huge part of the “is it natural” debate is about transparency. Which is why very soon you’ll find a link on our website explaining what every ingredient is, what it does and why I chose it.
So, what are my two biggest hurdles for someone looking for something absolutely natural? While I do use essential oils for medicinal purposes, I also use synthetic fragrance oils. Why? Because they smell amazing!
I only use fragrances from suppliers that can guarantee that they contain no phthalates, the component of fragrances that are most likely to cause a negative reaction. Without this ingredient, fragrance oils are 95% less likely to cause an allergic reaction than an essential oil would.
Also, after years of research and in-house testing, I’ve come to terms with using a synthetic preservative called Optiphen Plus or GSB (glucondalactone and sodium benzoate) in many of my body products. These broad spectrum preservatives are readily accepted worldwide as a safe and necessary component of any product, especially if it contains water or is in a jar. They are free of all parabens and formaldehyde and approved by all major regulatory agencies. I feel strongly that safety is paramount, and I want to guarantee no yeast, molds or microbes will be in the finished product over time. The percentage of preservative needed is low; less than 1% of the total volume of the product. But it guarantees the safety and effectiveness of what you buy.
So are my products natural? I let my customers be the judge. What I can tell you is that I oversee every aspect of production. I use safe and effective ingredients, in their most natural forms. I research every ingredient and have said no to many natural and synthetic components. (Like alcohol. Many brands use alcohols in production and in the final product which is completely natural but not always safe.) Ultimately my goal is to be completely honest with my customer and let them decide for themselves. My customers absolutely love what I make and keep coming back for more. I am proud of my work and thrilled to share it with all of you!