How Receptive Are You to Ingredient-Focused Marketing?

In recent weeks several television commercials have aired showcasing new product lines by established drugstore hair care companies, which are being marketing using an ingredient-focused pitch.  The commonality between the product lines was the exclusion of parabens and dyes.  While it is most definitely a positive that mainstream brands are listening to consumer concerns and trying to maintain relevance and market share, some of the marketing language these companies use can be a bit deceptive to uninformed consumers (Example).  Similar companies marketing their products based on the great oils they contain, only for them to be at the bottom of the ingredients list.  On the contrary, I do want to point out that not all of these marketing strategies are deceptive, which is why you should read the labels.

5 Nutrients for Eye Health from Natural and Organic Foods

1. Vitamin C

This nutrient is most known for boosting the immune system, however, it is a powerful antioxidant with a wide variety of benefits. Vitamin C assists in the formation and maintenance of connective tissues such as the cornea. Some studies suggest vitamin C may reduce the risk of macular degeneration (vision loss) and cataracts.

Sources of Vitamin C:

  • Orange Juice
  • Citrus Fruits*
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli*
2. DHA/EPA

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are essential fatty acids that assist in maintaining eye cell membranes and help to maintain the health structure of ocular tissue. They also act as anti-inflammatory agents.

Sources of DHA/EPA:

  • Various fish such as tuna, salmon
  • Fish oils
3. Vitamin E

Similar to Vitamin C, Vitamin E assists in preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.

Sources of Vitamin E:

  • Nuts (Peanuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds)
  • Salad and Vegetable Oils
  • Fortified cereals
  • Sweet potatoes
4. Lutein

This nutrient is a xanthophyll that is a naturally yellow pigment in various plants and vegetables. It is found in high concentrations in the macula (yellow spot near the center of eye) in the eye. Lutein is believed to aids in preventing or slowing macular degeneration and prevents blue light from penetrating deep layers of the retina.

Sources of Lutein:

  • Egg Yolks
  • Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach*, Swiss Chard, Collard Greens*, Kale)
  • Corn*
5. Zinc

This mineral assists the body in absorbing antioxidants.

Sources of Zinc:

  • Oysters
  • Red meat
  • Baked beans
  • Nuts
  • Fortified cereals

* Indicates in season fruit/vegetable

Please consult with a medical professional before incorporating these nutrients into your diet.

Pulchritude: Vanilla Orchid

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The Vanilla Orchid is the source of, by far, one of the most popular flavors and fragrances in the world.  Whether used as an extract or directly from the vanilla bean, vanilla is common in most baked goods, desserts, and ice creams, and is also a popular note in many personal care products.  The Vanilla genus is comprised of 110 species and grow as vines in tropical and subtropical regions in the Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia.  The fruit of the Vanilla Orchid produces the vanilla bean, which is a long thin pod that is harvested from mature pollinated plants.  Vanilla pods must be cured before they become fragrant, which includes stopping the vegetative growth of the pod, sweating, drying, and conditioning.  Vanilla planifolia is the most common species harvested for vanilla, which is native to Central America and the West Indies but is grown predominately in Madagascar and Mexico.  Cultivation of Vanilla Orchid dates back to at least the 14th century.  The Totonac were native to eastern Mexico and are believed to be the first cultivators.

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels VIII

Today you are looking at a shampoo that you have recently seen various advertisements about.  Your Label Poise is increasing and you are curious to see how “naturally infused” this product is, because just a few months ago you probably would have purchased it without checking.  Remember, I am teaching you Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.

Here are the tips I gave you in my first seven posts on how to read ingredient labels:

  1. Ingredients are listed by quantity in the formula, from greatest to least, based on standards by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  2. Ingredients are listed using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), therefore they are listed using scientific nomenclature, or    binomial nomenclature (latin; taxonomy) for ingredients derived from plants.
  3. How ingredients are derived is seldom listed on the label (the same chemical can be derived synthetically or naturally).
  4. Fragrances are generically listed because they are considered trade secrets; typically naturally derived fragrances do not use “Fragrance (Parfum)” but a specific naming system.
  5. If it looks like a “chemical” it probably is, if you don’t want chemicals don’t buy it!  **Everything is a chemical, I’m referring to ‘bad’ chemicals here

Quick Tip:  Aside from avoiding synthetic chemicals as much as possible, have an idea of what ingredients do not work as well for you.  Pay attention to the ingredients in the products you use.  If you notice every time you use a product with [insert ingredient here] you get an allergic reaction or your hair/skin responds negatively, make a note and steer clear!

The Label

LabelPoise8

The Ingredients

Water (Aqua):  Safe!

Sodium Laureth Sulfate:  Beware!   Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a surfactant and foaming agent commonly found in shampoos. It is a known skin and eye irritant. SLES can also be containated with possible carcinogen 1,4-dioxane and known carcinogen ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide can be toxic to the central nervous system; 1,4-dioxane does not easily degrade in the environment (persistent. This ingredient can be extremely drying to the hair, though it is considered less harsh than sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). (MSDS, MSDS)

Sodium Chloride:  Beware!   This is common table salt. Sodium Chloride is added to shampoos for its cleansing ability. Sodium Chloride in conditioners can be very drying and can negate the effects of keratin (essential hair protein) in hair products. (MSDS)

Cocamidopropyl Betaine:  Beware!  This ingredient is a synthetic surfactant derived from coconut oil and dimethylamonipropylamine. This ingredient can be a skin allergen and irritant and was voted Allergen of the Year in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. It is also an eye and lung irritant, though it is not known to be carcinogenic or mutagenic. (MSDS)

Glycol Distearate:  Avoid!  This ingredient is used as an emollient. It is the diester of ethylene glycol and stearic acid. It is typically used in concentrations of 0.5 – 4%. There is no data available about hazards, caricnogenicity, or mutagenicity. (MSDS)

Dimethiconol:  Beware!  Dimethiconol is a silicone that acts as a skin conditioner and emollient. It forms a protective barrier on the skin prevent moisture from entering or escaping. It is unlikely to penetrate the skin. Dimethiconol is believed to cause reproductive toxicity via inhalation, though it is not expected to be a skin irritant. The concentration in this product is low so it is not a high concern. (MSDS)

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the hair, if you are ‘glycerin sensitive’ avoid this product. Glycerine can be derive from fats and oils or synthetically.

Fragrance (Parfum):  Beware!  Fragrances are often synthetic. Though actual concentration is unknown, fragrance is high on the list, therefore there is a small chance of having an allergic reaction.

Carbomer:  Beware!  Used as a thickener, typically at very low concentrations. This ingredient is not toxic, but can be slightly hazardous upon skin contact. Concentrations likely not high enough to be hazardous.

Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride:  Safe!  Also known as cationic guar gum, this ingredient is a quarternary ammonium (positively charged polyatomic ions) derivative of guar gum (a natural substance). It is added to shampoos for its conditioning and anti-static properties. In pure form, the dusts of this ingredient may be an irritant, however, it is not toxic to the skin and is not known to be carcinogenic. Information on mutagenicity is not available. (MSDS; MSDS)

TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate:  Beware!  This ingredient is a synthetic chemical that is used as a surfactant and foaming agent. This ingredient can be an irritant and must be formulated to reduce irritation properties, otherwise it is regarded as safe for use in cosmetics. TEA stands for Triethanolamine. No MSDS found.

Citric Acid:  Safe!  This ingredient is naturally occurring in citrus fruits, but is typically produced by feeding sucrose or glucose to mold and additional chemical treatment. It is used in cosmetics as a pH adjuster. It is generally considered safe, though it is a skin and eye irritant in pure form.

PPG-9:  Beware!  This ingredient is a derivative of propylene glycol, a polymer of propylene oxide. It is used as an emollient and skin conditioning agent, that is typically synthetically derived. Limited information available, no MSDS found.

Tetrasodium EDTA:  Beware!/Avoid!  EDTA is an abbreviation for Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. This ingredient is used as a chelating agent to sequester metal ions and causing them to lose the ability of reacting with other ingredients. It is also used as a preservative. It can also improve lather and decrease incidence of soap scum. Tetrasodium EDTA is a penetration enhancer and suspected to be toxic to the upper respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. Target organs are the kidneys and bladder. This ingredient is toxic to the environment and is a suspected persistent organic pollutant (POP) by the EU. (MSDS, MSDS)

DMDM Hydantoin:  Avoid!  This product is a used as a preservative and prevents (or slows) microbial growth in personal care products. This ingredient works by releasing formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) to kill or prevent microorganisms. In concentrations over 0.2% it is suspected to be a skin, eye, and lung irritant and may cause contact dermatitis.

PEG-45M:  Beware!  This ingredient is a synthetic chemical that is derived from polyethylene glycol (polymer of ethylene glycol) use for its humectant (moisture drawing), binding, viscosity increasing and stabilizing properties.  45M indicates that this ingredient has 45,000 units of ethylene glycol.  This ingredient has a larger molecular weight and is less likely to be absorbed into intact skin, though some PEGs are penetration enhancers.  Trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane (a possible human carcinogen) may be present.  No MSDS found.

Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil:  Safe!  This ingredient is made by pressing macadamia nuts and is used for its moisturizing and emollient properties. If you are allergic to tree nuts or macadamia nuts, Beware!

Phalaenopsis Amabilis Extract:  Safe!  This ingredient is naturally derived from the Phalaenopsis amabilis (Moth Orchid) plant and is used as a humectant.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone:  Beware!  This ingredient is a preservative that is a known skin irritant, sensitize and allergen, as well as lung and eye irritant. It has strong antifungal and antibacterial properties. It is not known to be a carcinogen, though it is a skin sensitizer that can cause rashes and eczema in certain individuals. Limited to no greater than 0.0015% in rinse of products in EU and US (in conjuction with Methylisothiazolinone 3:1). No individual MSDS found.

Methylisothiazolinone:  Beware!  This preservative is a known skin irritant, sensitizer, and allergen; lung and eye irritant. Methylisothiazolinone has been linked to allergic contact dermatitis was named Contact Allergen of the Year in 2013. It is also believed to cause burns in pure form. This ingredient is also believed to be cytotoxic (toxic to living cells) and neurotoxic (toxic tot he nervous system) based on various studies, though information has been refuted due to the low exposure based on quantity in cosmetic formulas. It is not known to be carcinogenic. This ingredient is one of many that have been used to replace parabens. Methylisothiazolinone is also very toxic to aquatic organisms in pure form. Limited to no greater than 0.0015% in rinse of products in EU and US (in conjuction with Methylisothiazolinone 3:1). (MSDS)

 

 

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict: The product is marketed using the following: “Enriched with exotic natural ingredients, thisrange of products delivers noticeable hair benefits.  Products contain No Parabens. No Dyes.”  The product does not contain parabens or dyes, but that doesn’t mean it is good.  It is naturally infused with “exotic” macadamia oil and white orchid though they are the 16th and 17th ingredients respectively–they did not say these ingredients were high on the list.  I question how truly moisturizing this shampoo really is.  It is sold under the name of “Natural Infusions” though not much is really natural about this product. Don’t be lured in by these ‘deceptive’ marketing without reading the labels and making sure they are what they claim.  This product has fragrance pretty high on the list, contains a drying sulfate, and a formaldehyde releaser.  For these reasons I would not purchase this product.

 

Preservatives in Natural Products: Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone

THIS POST IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING UPDATED. 

(As of 6/6/2015)

The primary focus of Nature’s Pulchritude is to educate. This post is the second in a series of in depth posts that will educate you about the various preservatives in hair and skin products, as well as their potential toxicity.

PURPOSE
Preservatives are added to cosmetics, personal care products, and food to maintain a products integrity and stability by inhibiting or reducing the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungus (FDA). Most products sold via retail sit for extended periods of time during shipping, in a warehouse, and on store shelfs that allow enough time for a product to spoil or cause microbial growth which render the product unfit for use. This is particularly true for products that contain water, such as many conditioners and moisturizers, and other active ingredients (antioxidants and emulsifiers) that would otherwise lose their effectiveness and stability over time.

Preservatives are chosen in cosmetics based on a variety of factors which include ability to inhibit growth over a broad spectrum and method of derivation (natural vs. synthetic). Preservatives tend to be in concentrations less than 2% of the weight of the formula, however, widespread use of potentially harmful preservatives, such as parabens, has been a great cause of concern for some scientists and consumers. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not grant the Food & Drug Administration the authority to regulate the use of preservatives unless it is known to be “poisonous or deleterious” (FDA).

ISOTHIAZOLINONE DERIVED PRESERVATIVES

Isothiazolinone is a heterocyclic (‘ring’ containing more that 1 element) chemical compound of which its derivatives are typically used as antimicrobial agents and biocides in a variety of personal care products including hair conditioners, shampoos, foundations, eyeliners, mascaras, lotions, and soaps.  The most commonly used isothiazolinone group preservatives are Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone, which have been in use since the 1970’s.  Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) has an ethane (CH3) molecule attached to a Nitrogen (N) atom, whereas Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) has a Chlorine (Cl) atom attached to the ring in addition to the ethane molecule.  Use of MIT and MCI have increased in recent years, perhaps in part to the decline in paraben use, which has resulted in an increase of reported sensitization incidences caused by using products containing these two preservatives.  Allergic contact dermatitis is a common indicator of sensitization from MIT and MCI, which is an immunotoxic response that can cause rashes or skin lesions.  Allergic contact dermatitis has been observed as a result of sensitization to MIT and MCI since the late 1980s.

Methylisothiazolinone Chemical Structure
Methylchloroisothiazolinone Chemical Structure

Hazards

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) are often used in conjunction as preservatives.  A 2010 study found that MIT/MCI were present in 23% of 204 tested products (92 shampoos, 61 conditioners, 34 liquid soaps, and 17 wet tissues) (Yazar et al. 2010).  Despite MCI/MIT being allowed in personal care products up to 0.00075% (leave-on) or 0.0015% (rinse off) in the United States, there has been a significant incidence of allergic contact dermatitis from sensitization from these products (Yazar et al. 2010; Castanedo-Tardana and Zug 2013).  The frequency of an MIT allergy is approximately 1.5% in Europe, 3.5%-6.5% in an Australian study (tested 653 patients); the rate is unknown in the United States (Castanedo-Tardana and Zug 2013; Boyapati et al. 2013).  It is very interesting and troubling to know that a preservative at a very low concentration (7.5-15 parts per million) can yield such an allergic response, to the extent that it was named Contact Allergen of the Year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society in 2013 (Castanedo-Tardana and Zug 2013).  This is a prime example that certain ingredients being in low concentration does not always equate their safety, particularly when they are present in products that are used multiple times a day, therefore a continuous low exposure (Yazar et al. 2010).  Once skin has become sensitized, it will continuously react to exposure despite the dosage.  MIT and MCI are often used in conjunction with a variety of other preservatives and skin penetration enhancers that may potentially increase the risk of an allergic reaction.  In fact, last weeks Label Poise product was a lotion that contains four different preservatives (methylparaben, phenoxyethanol, propylparaben, and methyisothiazolinone).  MIT has been shown to be neurotoxic in ‘in vitro’ tests of neurons in rat brain tissue cultures; similar studies using MCI showed that it was 30-100 times more effective of causing a neurotoxic response.  Methyisothiazolinone is also a known environmental toxin, particularly to fish, though the majority of incidences are cause by non-cosmetic uses.

CONCLUSIONS

Methyisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone are both known skin allergens and sensitizers that are used in approximately 23% of personal care products, though they typically are not found in products marketed as natural or organic.  Whether or not you choose to use products containing these preservatives is entirely up to user discretion. If you have used products containing MIT and MCI, and noticed a skin reaction you should discontinue use.  Otherwise, they should not be a significant cause of concern.

 

References

Boyapati, A., Tam, M., Tate, B., Lee, A., Palmer, A., and R. Nixon. 2013. “Allergic contact dermatitis to methylisothiazolinone: Exposure from baby wipes causing hand dermatitis.”  Australasian Journal of Dermatology. 54(4):254-267.

Castanedo-Tardana, M. and K. Zug.  2013.  Methylisothiazolinone.  Dermatitis.  24(1): 2-6.

Yazar, K., Johnsson, S., Lind, M., Boman, A., and C. Liden. 2010. “Preservatives and fragrance in selected consumer-available cosmetics and detergents.”  Contact Dermatitis.  64: 265-272.

Pulchritude: Water

Water (H2O) is one of the essential building blocks of this planet and all of the flora and fauna that encompass its lands.  It is believed to have originated along with the creation of the universe.  Water makes up 71% of the Earth’s surface, of which 96.5% is in the oceans and seas, 1.7% is from groundwater, and 1.7% in glacier and ice caps.  Of all available freshwater on this planet, only 0.3% is readily available for human consumption, with the remaining 98.8% contained in ice and glaciers.  Water makes up approximately 78% of the human body.  To survive we must replenish our bodies with this vital substance.  Without water, the trees, plants, crops, and flowers that enrich and nourish us and other animals on this planet would cease to exist.  As spring is upon us, the lands need to be replenished and with rain the landscape will begin to flourish.

World Water Day

Today is World Water Day, a United Nations initiative that brings awareness to the lack of clean water available to almost a billion people across the world.  This years theme is ‘Water & Energy’.  Water and energy are irrevocably intertwined.  Energy extraction, such as mining for coal, oil, and gas (hydraulic fracturing), requires significant water use.  Water extraction and transport to customers requires significant energy use.  As the world population continues to increase from 7 billion people, water and energy needs will also increase, and will only exacerbate the disparity of clean water availability.  Many economists and environmentalists increasingly believe that future conflicts will be over water, particularly with the stress of climate change.

Percentage of Water Usage by Energy Type (via UNWWD)

 

Value the resources that are available to you.  Do your best to conserve water and energy.  

 

1. Water requires energy and energy requires water.

Water is required to produce nearly all forms of energy. Energy is needed at all stages of water extraction, treatment and distribution.

2. Supplies are limited and demand is increasing.

Demand for freshwater and energy will continue to increase significantly over the coming decades. This increase will present big challenges and strain resources in nearly all regions, especially in developing and emerging economies.

3. Saving energy is saving water. Saving water is saving energy.

Choices concerning the supply, distribution, price, and use of water and energy impact one another.

4. The “bottom billion” urgently needs access to both water and sanitation services, and electricity.

Worldwide, 1.3 billion people cannot access electricity, 768 million people lack access to improved water sources and 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation. Water and energy have crucial impacts on poverty alleviation.

5. Improving water and energy efficiency is imperative as are coordinated, coherent and concerted policies.

Better understanding between the two sectors of the connections and effects on each other will improve coordination in energy and water planning, leading to reducing inefficiencies. Policy-makers, planners and practitioners can take steps to overcome the barriers that exist between their respective domains. Innovative and pragmatic national policies can lead to more efficient and cost effective provision of water and energy services.

– UN World Water Day

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels VII

Today you are looking for a general lotion.  Your Label Poise is increasing and you think you’ve found one of the better products outside of the ‘natural’ section.  Remember, I am teaching you Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.

Here are the tips I gave you in my first six posts on how to read ingredient labels:

  1. Ingredients are listed by quantity in the formula, from greatest to least, based on standards by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  2. Ingredients are listed using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), therefore they are listed using scientific nomenclature, or    binomial nomenclature (latin; taxonomy) for ingredients derived from plants.
  3. How ingredients are derived is seldom listed on the label (the same chemical can be derived synthetically or naturally).
  4. Fragrances are generically listed because they are considered trade secrets; typically naturally derived fragrances do not use “Fragrance (Parfum)” but a specific naming system.
  5. If it looks like a “chemical” it probably is, if you don’t want chemicals don’t buy it!  **Everything is a chemical, I’m referring to ‘bad’ chemicals here

Quick Tip:  Aside from avoiding synthetic chemicals as much as possible, have an idea of what ingredients do not work as well for you.  Pay attention to the ingredients in the products you use.  If you notice every time you use a product with [insert ingredient here] you get an allergic reaction or your hair/skin responds negatively, make a note and steer clear!

The Label

LabelPoise7

The Ingredients

Water:  Safe!  

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter):  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from the nut of the Shea Tree and is used for its moisturizing properties.

Cetearyl Alcohol:  Safe!  Typically naturally derived from Coconut and Palm Oils (though it can be derived synthetically), it is a mixture of Cetyl and Stearyl fatty alcohols.  This ingredient acts as a thickener and moisturizer in personal care products.

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the hair, if you are ‘glycerin sensitive’ avoid this product.  Glycerine can be derive from fats and oils or synthetically.

Petrolatum:  Beware!  This ingredient is also known as Petroleum Jelly and is a hydrocarbon and is a distillate of crude (oil).  It is used in skin lotions as an emollient and protective barrier to prevent skin moisture loss.  Similar to mineral oil, it prevents moisture from entering or leaving the barrier.  There is no information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity.  It can be a potential skin, eye, digestive, and lung irritant.  (MSDS)

Dimethicone: Beware!  Dimethicone is a synthetic chemical polymer derived from silica.   Silicones are not known to be toxic.  Similar to other silicones, mineral oil and petroleum, Dimethicone creates a barrier on the skin that prevents moisture from escaping or entering. Information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity is not known.

Ethylhexyl Isononanoate:  Beware!  This ingredient is used as an emollient and is derived from esters of Pelargonic Acid (a fatty acid) and isononanoic acid (a fatty acid).  In pure form it is a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant.  This is no information regarding carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity. (MSDS)

Ceteareth-20:  Beware!  A derivative of Cetearyl Alcohol (Cetyl and Stearyl Alcohol) and Ethylene Oxide (a known carcinogen), this ingredient is used as an emulsifier and emollient.  Ceteareth-20 is a penetration enhancer that can allow other (potentially) hazardous substances to enter your system.  This ingredient may also be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen, as well as Ethylene Oxide.  Carcinogen contamination depends largely on how well purified the chemical is.  Products with this ingredient should not be applied to damaged skin as it may result in kidney damage.  In pure form it can be a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, however there is no information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity. (MSDS; MSDS)

Hydroxyethyl Urea:  Safe!/Beware!  This product is used as a moisturizer similar to Glycerin and is believed to hydrate the deepest layers of the skin.  This product may be derived from animal urine excretions.  It is not known to be toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or embryotoxic in humans.  (MSDS)

Octyldodecyl Myristate:  Beware!   This ingredient is used in cosmetic formulations as an emollient.  It is a derivative of Octyldodecanol, a thickener, and Myristic Acid.  No information available about toxicity, carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, or developmental toxicity. (MSDS)

Mineral Oil:  Beware!  This is a petrochemical typically derived from crude oil.  It can be found in high concentrations (One of the first 5 ingredients, more on this later) in a variety of products.  Mineral Oil prevents moisture from entering or leaving the skin.

Cetyl Esters:  Beware!  This ingredient is derived from vegetable sources, such as coconuts, and is typically used as a thickener in cosmetics.  It is comprised of various fatty alcohols and fatty acids.  It is typically 1 to 3% of the weight of the formula.  There is no data regarding toxicity, carcinogenicity, or mutagenicity.  (MSDS)

Stearic Acid:  Safe!  This ingredient is a saturated fatty acid and is commonly derived from vegetable sources, though it can be animal derived. It is used as a thickening and stabilizing agent. It can be a slight eye irritant in pure form, but is not a skin irritant. Other toxicity information is not known. (MSDS)

Hydrogenated Polydecene:  Beware!  This ingredient is synthetically derived and is used as an emollient and skin conditioning agent.  Clinical studies have shown this ingredient to improve moisture in those with dry skin.  This ingredient should not be combined with oxidizing materials.  There is no information available regarding toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, or developmental toxicity.  (MSDS)

Methylparaben:  Beware!  This ingredient is synthetic and acts as a preservative with anti-fungal properties.  It is naturally occurring in fruits such as blueberries as p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  This ingredient is readily absorbed into skin and it along with other parabens have been at the center of controversy about its role in causing cancerous cells in breast tissue being that parabens are xenoestrogens (mimic estrogen).  There is not conclusive proof that states that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.  Methylparaben is suspected to cause DNA damage and increased skin aging when it reacts to UVB rays.

Phenoxyethanol:  Beware!/Avoid!  This is a preservative.  It is commonly used because it is safer than formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.  It is also suspected to be a xenoestrogen (mimics estrogen), a cause of contact dermatitis and skin irritant.  The concentration in this product is likely low and it is banned in the EU and Japan in concentrations over 1%.  Therefore, one would assume it is either greater than the EU concentration restraint or it is in accordance.  This ingredient is made from 2 carcinogens (benzene and ethylene oxide), though it itself is not known to be carcinogenic.  The FDA released a warning about how it can impact the central nervous system and induce vomiting in infants.   People around small children should ‘Avoid!’ this ingredient, others should ‘Beware!’.  (MSDS)

Carbomer: Beware!  Used as a thickener, typically at very low concentrations.  This ingredient is not toxic, but can be slightly hazardous upon skin contact.  Concentrations likely not high enough to be hazardous.  (MSDS)

Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter:  Safe!

Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter:  Safe!

Fragrance:  Beware!  Fragrances are often synthetic. Though they are low in concentration in the product, here is still a small chance of having an allergic reaction.

Propylparaben:  Beware!  Propylparaben is used as an anti-fungal preservative, typically in concentrations less than 1%.  It is commonly synthetically produced though it is produced naturally in fruits as p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  It is readily absorbed into the skin and metabolized, and has been found in urine in limited tests.  Propylparaben is suspected to be a xenoestrogens (mimic estrogen).  There is not conclusive proof that demonstrates that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.

Dimethiconol:  Beware!  Dimethiconol is a silicone that acts as a skin conditioner and emollient.  It forms a protective barrier on the skin prevent moisture from entering or escaping.  It is unlikely to penetrate the skin.  Dimethiconol is believed to cause reproductive toxicity via inhalation, though it is not expected to be a skin irritant.  The concentration in this product is low so it is not a high concern.  (MSDS)

Sodium Hydroxide:  Beware!  Also known as caustic soda or lye, this ingredient is likely used to aid surfactants or increase pH.  In pure form it can be dangerous, toxic to eyes, lungs, and skin, though it is typically used in low concentrations in personal care products. (MSDS)

Caramel: Safe!  Caramel is used as a coloring agent, used from heating edible sugars at high temperatures.  It is generally regarded as safe by the FDA.  It is mutagenic to mammalian somatic cells, bacteria, and yeast.  It may effect genetic material after chronic exposure (inhalation or ingestion), and can be a skin, lung, and eye irritant in pure form.  This ingredient is very low in concentration and is fine to use.  (MSDS)

Tocopheryl Acetate:  Safe!/Beware!  Tocopheryl Acetate is has antioxidant properties and can penetrate skin cells.  It is generally regarded as safe however I saw some information (not on a MSDS) linking it to cancer so use your best discretion.

Methylisothiazolinone:  Beware!  This preservative is a known skin irritant, sensitizer, and allergen; lung and eye irritant.  Methylisothiazolinone has been linked to allergic contact dermatitis was named Contact Allergen of the Year in 2013.  It is also believed to cause burns in pure form.  This ingredient is also believed to be cytotoxic (toxic to living cells) and neurotoxic (toxic tot he nervous system) based on various studies, though information has been refuted due to the low exposure based on quantity in cosmetic formulas.  It is not known to be carcinogenic.  This ingredient is one of many that have been used to replace parabens, though they appear in conjunction with 2 parabens in this formulation.  Methylisothiazolinone is also very toxic to aquatic organisms in pure form. (MSDS)

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  The first 4 ingredients of this product are a great foundation for a moisturizer.  This product is marketed as containing shea butter and it is the second ingredient after water, which is commendable as other products we have looked at did not have high quantities of the marketed ingredient.  The Mango Butter and Cocoa Butter could have been higher in quantity.  Even though this product contains petrolatum, dimethicone, and mineral oil, they are in lower concentrations than the key ‘Safe!‘ ingredients.  The biggest concern for this product are the large number of fillers and the presence of parabens and methylisothiazolinone.  This is a good option for a hand or foot cream.  Note:  This product has been reformulated and the Mango Butter and Cocoa Butter are the 9th and 10th ingredients.

 

Would you buy this product?

Spring Fling: Produce

Today is the first day of spring.  Typically this means warmer temperatures, light colors, and an assortment of delicious in season fruits and vegetables.  Though many produce items are available year round, buying produce in season has various benefits.  Seasonal fruits and vegetables typically taste better, are less expensive, and are more likely grown locally, which not only supports local farmers but decreases the amount of energy required to transport agricultural products.

Fruits

Strawberries (High in vitamin C and folate)

Apricots (High in vitamins A and C, Good source of potassium and fiber)

Honeydew Melon (High in Vitamin C)

Mangos (High in Vitamin A, Good source of Vitamin C)

Oranges (High in vitamin C, Good source of dietary fiber)

Pineapples (High in vitamin C)

Vegetables 

Artichokes (Good source of  dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium)

Asparagus (High in folate, good source of vitamins A and C)

Broccoli (High in folate and vitamin C, good source of dietary fiber and potassium)

Collard Greens (High in vitamins A and C, folate, Good source of calcium and fiber)

Corn (Good source of vitamin C, buy Organic if possible)

Green Beans (Good source of fiber and vitamin C)

Rhubarb (Good source of vitamin C, potassium, and manganese)

Peas (High in vitamin C, Good source of vitamin A, folate, and fiber)

Spinach (High in vitamins A and C, folate, iron, dietary fiber, fiber, Good source of magnesium)

What are your favorite spring fruits and vegetables, and recipes?

How Authentic is Your Olive Oil?

Various Brands of Olive Oil

“Much of the oil sold as Italian olive oil does not come from Italy, but from countries like Spain, Morocco and Tunisia.  After being picked, the olives are driven to a mill where they are cleaned, crushed and pressed.  This oil is then pumped into a tanker truck and shipped to Italy, the world’s largest importer of olive oil.  Meanwhile,  shipments of soybean oil or other cheap oils are labeled olive oil, and smuggled into the same port.  At some refineries, the olive oil is cut with cheaper oil.  Other refineries are even worse.  They mix vegetable oils with beta-carotene, to  disguise the flavor, and chlorophyll for coloring, to produce fake olive oil.  Bottles are labeled “Extra Virgin” and branded with “Packed in Italy” or “Imported from Italy.”  (Oddly, this is legal, even if the oil does not come from Italy–although the source countries are supposed to be listed on the label).  The “olive oil” is shipped around the world to countries like the U.S., where one study found that 69 percent of imported olive oil labeled “extra virgin” did not meet, in an expert taste and smell test, the standard for that label.   To combat fraud, a special branch of the Italian Carabinieri is trained to detect bad oil.  Lab tests are easy to fake, so instead the policy rely on smell.  Police officers regularly raid refineries in an attempt to regulate the industry.  But producers–many of whom have connections to powerful politicians–are rarely prosecuted.  All this fraud, however, has created a drop in olive oil prices.  Corrupt producers have undermined themselves, effectively committing economic suicide.”

 – Excerpt from The Extra Virgin Suicide: The Adulteration of Italian Olive Oil by Nicholas Blechman

A study conducted by the University of California, Davis collected various “extra virgin” olive oils sold in 3 locations within California and performed laboratory tests to determine if they met the standards, as mandated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and International Olive Council (IOC), necessary to be considered “extra virgin”–the highest quality of olive oil.  69 percent of tested imported “extra virgin” olive oils failed IOC/USDA sensory (smell and taste) tests, whereas 10 percent of California olive oil samples failed.  31 percent of samples that failed sensory tests failed UV absorbance tests (for oxidation), and 83 percent failed German/Australian  DAGs (1,2-Diacylglycerol content) tests, which “indicates that the samples were oxidized, adulterated with cheaper refined oils, and/or of poor quality” due to being “made from damaged and overripe olives,” or improperly storing or processing the oil (Frankel et al. 2010).

Brands that failed to meet organic, extra virgin olive oil standards:

  • Bertolli (All locations)
  • Carapelli (All locations)
  • Colavita (2 of 3 Failed)
  • Star (1 Failed)
  • Pompeian (All locations)
  • Filippo Berio (2 of 3 Failed)
  • Mazzola (All locations)
  • Mezzetta (All locations)
  • Newman’s Own (2 of 3 Failed)
  • Rachael Ray  (2 of 3 Failed)
  • Safeway  (2 of 3 Failed)
  • Whole Foods  (2 of 3 Failed)
  • Walmart (Great Value 100%) (1 Failed)
  • Bariani (1 of 2 Failed)
  • Also indicated by additional report: Braggs, Goya, Trader Joes

Brands Met organic, extra virgin olive oil standards:

  • California Olive Ranch
  • Corto Olive
  • Lucini
  • Kirkland Organic
  • Lucero (Ascolano)
  • McEvoy Ranch Organic
  • Also indicated by additional report: Cobram Estate

This report may not be new to some of you, but it just further confirms the deception that occurs with food and other product labeling.  Many don’t solely use olive oil for cooking, but for cosmetic purposes on their skin and hair.  Knowing that olive oil, particularly organic, can be contaminated with genetically modified soybean oil or corn oil is troubling.  It is also troubling that extra virgin and/or organic oils are more expensive, despite not truly living up to quality standards.  I have a bottle of extra virgin olive oil from Trader Joe’s and a bottle of “Pure Olive Oil.”  The extra virgin oil states packed in Italy, whereas the pure olive oil states the various countries of origin and that the oil is from refined and virgin oils.  Sometimes buying organic does not unequivocally indicate the highest quality, though you may be avoiding pesticides and GMOs.

Reference:

Frankel, E. N., Mailer, R. J., Shoemaker, C. F., Wang, S. C., and J. D. Flynn.  2010.  “Tests indicate that imported “extra virgin” olive oil often fails international and USDA standards.”  UC Davis Olive Center.