Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetics Claims: First in a Series

Let's talk about "All Natural" products.

First of all, there is no specific definition of what is required to label a product as "all natural". Any company can use this term on any product. It's a marketing tool- plain and simple. The company wants you to believe that this product is some how better for you that it's "non-natural" counterpart. It's not true.

Here is a good example of an "All Natural" product from Burt's Bees. This is the INCI ingredient statement from their Natural Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizing Lotion:

Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid (1.0%), Other: Water, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil (Sunflower), Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Sucrose Distearate, Salix Nigra Bark Extract (Willow), Sucrose Stearate, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract (Lemongrass), Hamamelis Virginiana Water (Witch Hazel), Humulus Lupulus Extract (Hops), Equisetum Hiemale Leaf Extract (Horsetail), Hydrastis Canadensis Extract (Golden Seal), Epilobium Fleischeri Extract (Gravel Willow), Lecithin, Chrondrus Crispus Extract (Carrageenan), Fragrance, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Borate, Sodium Chloride, Glucose Oxidase, Lactoperoxidase

Burt's Bee's will tell you that this is an all natural product because their salicylic acid is derived from white willow bark extract. Salicylic acid is salicylic acid- where it was "derived" from makes no difference. What about all of the other ingredients in this product? The product claims to be 100% Natural but I don't know how glycerin, fragrance, or stearic acid can be considered natural. While there is nothing harmful in this product, as an acne sufferer for my whole adult life, this would not be a product I would use to treat my face. It's main ingredient is Sunflower Oil. For oily skin? Why would I want to add more oil to my oil plagued skin? It also leaves a tacky, waxy feeling on the skin (due to the choice of emulsifiers). Finally the product is well above the pH range for the salicylic acid to function as an exfoillient. These are things that make my skin break out more. 

By contrast here is the INCI Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA lotion:

Water, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20 , Salicylic Acid , Phytosphingosine , Hydroxyethylcellulose , Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract , Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract Epilobium, Angustifolium (Willow Herb) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract,  Bisabolol , Sodium Hydroxide , Tetrasodium EDTA 

Paula's Choice does not claim that this product is all natural. It contains the same active ingredient, four naturally derived anti-irritants, two glycol solvents that aid penetration of the actives, a pH adjuster, an emulsifier, a plant derived thickener and preservative and a chelating agent. Nothing in here is bad for you in any way. This lotion is lightweight and absorbs quickly. It's formulated in the correct pH range for the salicylic acid to function as an exfoillient.

I have no aim to villainize Burt's Bee's or promote Paula's Choice. My mission here was to point out that an "all natural" claim:

1) Means nothing as there are no regulations on labeling something "all natural"
2) Natural does not mean good for your skin. Arsenic is natural. Lead is natural. Both of these were used in the Middle Ages and poisoned and killed many women.

Again I would like to point out that there are ZERO "chemical-free" products as EVERYTHING is a chemical, even water. Cosmetics and personal care companies are not looking to poison their customers. If we killed everyone who would buy our products?