Pulchritude: Jasmine

The Jasmine flower is internationally know for its intense fragrance. Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is one of 200 flowers that constitute the Jasminum genus, and is often referred to as common jasmine. Often found in gardens, the flowers can be dried for various uses, or can be made into an absolute for aromatherapy or cosmetic purposes. Jasmine belongs to the olive family (Oleaceae).  Its native habitat is concentrated in west and south Asia, spanning as far north as Tajikistan, to the west of China, the west of Iran, and southern parts of India. Jasmine, and many other species of the Jasminum genus, are deciduous climbers–or vines. The vines can grow as high as 6 feet, with 5 petals that are white in color.  Cultivation of Jasmine dates back to ancient times, though a specific date or country of origin is uncertain.  Jasmine flowers are too delicate to undergo common processes to produce essential oils, therefore chemical solvents are often to used to extract oil.  Jasmine is used for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its soothing and calming effects in aromatherapy.  Jasmine is strongly revered in various parts of Asia.

The Secret to Soft, Supple Lips!

Pssst!  I’ve got a secret.  My lips are soft and supple!  Well that is not much of a secret–the secret is how to get soft, supple lips!  Some of you may remember a post I did sometime ago discussing my dissatisfaction with many lip balms, and that my lips were constantly dry and in great need of moisture.  Well, I finally figured out how to properly moisturize my lips and the result is soft, supple, lips!  The best thing is my secret utilizes natural ingredients!

Items You Will Need:
  1. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil (Preferably newly bought for freshness or less than 1 year old)
  2. Wet Hand Towel
  3. Water
Moisturize
If Starting with Lips that have Excess Dead Skin and Need Healing:

Step 1: Wet your lips with water, allow it to absorb about 75%.
Step 2: Apply a generous amount of Coconut Oil to your lips and allow to soak in. This can be done before bed or during the day on a relaxed day.
Step 3: Repeat for approximately 1-2 weeks.
Step 4: Proceed to exfoliation.

You will know your lips are healed when the skin has considerably softened and you do not experience cracking. The moisture has been restored and the skin is now more pliable and soft.

Exfoliation
If Starting with Relatively Healthy Lips:

Step 1: Wet your lips with cool water for hydration, let the water absorb.
Step 2: While in the shower use a wash cloth to DELICATELY exfoliate your lips in a side ti side motion.
Step 3: Apply more water to your lips and let it absorb about 90%,
Step 4: Apply a layer of organic virgin coconut oil, let absorb.
Step 5: Repeat as needed (every other day or every 3 days)

 

That’s it!  You now know the secret to soft, supple lips!  I find scrubs to be too harsh, even when applying minimal pressure.  The key factor in this was the organic virgin coconut oil.  It is amazing!  Once your lips are nice and soft put on your favorite lip balm/moisturizer, lip gloss, or lipstick and turn heads this summer (and beyond)!

Try this method out and let me know if it works for you!

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXI

Your face is one of the first things people.  This cleanser is fairly popular and was recommended to you by a friend.  In need of a good face cleanser you purchase the product.  Your Label Poise activated while reading the bottle as you washed your face. You then realized you should have checked the ingredients first.  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.

The Label

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The Ingredients

Water:  Safe!  Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key ingredient in any moisturizing product.

Cetyl Alcohol:  Safe!  This is a fatty alcohol that is often used as an emollient and emulsifier in conditioners. It is typically derived naturally from coconut or palm oil.  (MSDS)

Propylene Glycol:  Beware!  Propylene Glycol aka PPG is used as a penetration enhancer, humectant, and stabilizes the product despite temperature changes. This ingredient is not believed to be carcinogenic or a developmental toxin, though it may be contaminated with impurities such as Ethylene Oxide and 1,4-dioxane which are carcinogens. It is a suspected mutagen and teratogen. It is believed to be a skin irritant. In pure form it can be toxic to the central nervous system and may cause target organ damage (lungs and kidneys) with prolonged or repeated exposure. This ingredient is low on this list and should only be a low-moderate concern.  (MSDS)

Sodium Lauryl 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)

Stearyl Alcohol:  Safe!  This is also a fatty alcohol that is often used as an emollient and emulsifier in conditioner. (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.  It can be a skin allergen (dermatitis) in a paraben mix.(MSDS)

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.  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 demonstrates that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.  It can be a skin allergen (dermatitis) in a paraben mix. (MSDS)

Butylparaben:  Beware!  Butylparaben is an antibacterial preservative that is typically used in a variety of cosmetics formulations in concentrations of less than 1%. Butylparaben is the least commonly used paraben, perhaps because it has lower antimicrobial activity. It is produced via the esterification of 4-hydrobenzoic acid and 1-butanol in the presence of an acidic catalyst, therefore it is synthetic. 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 demonstrates that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.  Butylparaben is toxic to lungs and mucous membranes in pure form.  It is also slightly hazardous to skin, eyes, and lungs.  It can also be a contact skin allergen (dermatitis), along with other parabens (in a mix). (MSDS;MSDS)

 

Would you purchase this product?

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  This product has a short ingredient list, but do not be fooled.  Though the ingredient list is short, half of the ingredients are rated Beware! and have very questionable safety assessments.  The marketing of this product is interesting as well, and misleading.  It says it is ‘soap-free’ despite the fact that SLS is a surfactant (a cleaning agent) is known to be rather harsh.  This product also says it is gentle enough to be used on babies, which could technically be true, but considering all of the parabens and propylene glycol (3rd ingredient!) is being gentle upon initial contact that important?  This product is fairly popular and have above average reviews based on performance.  Based on ingredients, I would not purchase this product.

 

Pulchritude: Summer Solstice

Sunrise on the Summer Solstice 2013, Copyrighted Image

June 21st, 2014 marks the beginning of the Summer Solstice, when the Earth’s axis is most inclined toward the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere.  The first day of the Summer Solstice also marks the longest period of daylight in the year.  The summer solstice is often a time of celebration around the northern hemisphere for various reasons.  One is the official beginning of summer–warm temperatures, the beach, and vacation.  The other is for various cultural celebrations tied to the astronomical event.

 

Happy Summer!

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XX

Finding safe, effective products for your baby is of the upmost importance!  The growing number of concerned parents and yielded and increase in ‘natural’ baby products.  This product touts being all natural, 95% USDA biobased, and paraben free, all of which fit your Label Poise so you purchase it for your baby!  The product is also made by a company that is well known in the natural products world.  Just like with ‘natural’ or organic products for adults, product quality does not always live up to marketing.

The Label

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The Ingredients

Aqua:  Safe!  Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key ingredient in any moisturizing product.

Polyglyceryl-3 Stearate:  Avoid!  This ingredient is an ester of stearic acid and polyglycerin-3. It is used as an emulsifier and is used in concentrations of 3-10% in this product. There is no additional information about this ingredient. It may very well be non-toxic, but there is no evidence to substantiate that. No MSDS.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride:  Safe!  This ingredient is used as an emollient and is typically derived from esters of caprylic acid (coconut oil), capric acid (coconut oil), and glycerin.  Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is used primarily as an emollient and spreading agent.  It can penetrate the hair and skin to condition and leaves a lightweight non greasy barrier. It is very stable and is unlikely to oxidize.  It may be a slight eye irritant and it is not known to be a skin irritant unless their is prolonged exposure. It is not a carcinogen. (MSDS)

Cocoglyceride:  Safe!  This ingredient is a non-ionic surfactant that can be used as a foaming agent, emulsifier, or conditioner.  It is typically derived from coconut oil, corn (GMO?), or fruit sugars, though it is dependent on the supplier.  The label of this product just says it was derived from a ‘vegetable’ source, which is likely one of the aforementioned.  This ingredient is biodegradable and is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic.  In pure form Coco-Glucoside can be a skin irritant or cause inhalation irritation.  (MSDS)

Glyceryl Stearate:  Safe!  Also known as Glyceryl Monostearate, this ingredient is typically derived from vegetable sources such as palm kernel and soy oil, and is the glycerol ester of stearic acid.  It is used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, lubricant, and decreases the ‘greasiness’ of oils.  It is believed to form a barrier on the skin to decrease moisture loss.  In pure form is is a slight skin irritant.  The is no data available on human toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, developmental toxicity, and teratogenicity. This ingredient is considered “generally regarded as safe” by the FDA.  (MSDSMSDS )

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the skin. Glycerine can be derived from fats and oils, or synthetically–which is not indicated here.  (MSDS)

Stearyl Alcohol:  Safe!  This is also a fatty alcohol that is often used as an emollient and emulsifier in conditioner. (MSDS)

Cetyl Alcohol:  Safe!  This is a fatty alcohol that is often used as an emollient and emulsifier in conditioners. It is typically derived naturally from coconut or palm oil.  (MSDS)

Zea Mays (Corn) Starch:  Safe!  Corn Starch is used as for its abrasive, absorbent, skin protecting, and viscosity increasing (aqueous) properties. It is derived from corn, therefore it may be from GMO corn, Beware! if this is a concern.  It is not known to be carcinogenic or mutagenic. (MSDS)

Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive) Fruit Oil:  Safe!  Olive oil is used for its skin conditioning and anti-inflammatory properties.  It is rich in vitamins E and A, as well as antioxidants.

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

Xanthan Gum:  Safe!  This ingredient is a polysaccharide (carbohydrate consisting of sugar molecules) secreted by Xanthomonas campestris (a bacterium).  It is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or cause developmental toxicity, though it can be an eye, skin, and lung irritant in pure form.  There is a risk of long term biodegraded products being more toxic than pure Xanthan Gum. (MSDS)

Lactic Acid:  Beware!  Lactic Acid (C6H6O3) is a naturally occurring Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). Lactic Acid be naturally extracted from milk fermentation, from bacteria converting glucose and sucrose, or produced synthetically. It can be used as a humectant, exfoliant, or skin conditioning agent. Absorption of lactic acid via the skin is pH dependent, and occurs more rapidly in low pH environments (acidic). It is not known to be carcinogenic or mutagenic though it can be a serious hazard to the eyes, skin, and lungs in pure form. The concentration in this product is less than 1%, therefore it is not a high concern.  (MSDS; MSDS)

Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose:  Avoid!  This ingredient is an ether of Cetyl Alcohol and Hydroxyethylcellulose. It is a thickening agent, and emulsion stabilizer. The concentration in this product is less than 1%, which may be line with the Cosmetic Ingredient Reviews use allowance of 0.008% to 0.3%.  No MSDS found.

Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil*:  Safe!  Orange Peel Oil is used as a skin conditioning agent and fragrant.

Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil*:  Safe!/Beware!  Grapefruit Peel Oil is used as a skin conditioning agent and fragrant.  This ingredient has use restrictions in the EU, but should be fine for use in this product. (MSDS)

Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil*:  Beware!/Avoid!  Mandarin Orange Peel Oil is used as a skin conditioning agent and fragrant. This product should be avoided while pregnant, and likely is not safe for babies. Considering this product is formulated for babies, that is troubling, despite the low concentration. (MSDS)

Dehydroacetic Acid: Safe! This ingredient is a preservative used for its fungicide and bactericide properties. Dehydroacetic acid is a sodium salt of sodium dehydroacetate. It is suggested to be used in concentrations of no more than 0.6%. It can be a skin, eye, and lung irritant, and can be toxic to kidneys, liver, and central nervous system in pure form. It is not believed to be carcinogenic or mutagenic. (MSDS)

Potassium Sorbate:  Safe!/Beware!  This ingredient is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, which is likely synthetically derived though it is naturally occurring in some berry species.  It is widely used as a preservative in food, wine, and personal care products.  It is known to be a skin, eye, and lung irritant in pure form, though it is not generally considered to be a carcinogen, mutagen or teratogen in humans, however, additional research suggests that is is mutagenic and genotoxic in human blood cells (in vitro).  It is typically not used in concentrations above 0.2%, so it should be fine in this product.  (MSDS)

Sodium Benzoate:  Beware!  This ingredient is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, which is likely synthetically derived though it is naturally occurring in some berry species.  It is widely used as a preservative in food, wine, and personal care products.  It is known to be a skin, eye, and lung irritant in pure form, though it is not generally considered to be a carcinogen, mutagen, or teratogen in humans, however, additional research suggests that is is mutagenic and genotoxic in human blood cells (in vitro).  It is typically not used in concentrations above 0.2%, so it should be fine in this product.  (MSDS)

* indicates D-Limonene is a component of essential oils.

 

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:   This product is marketed as being natural and 95% plant based, however, 2 of the ingredients–one being the second ingredient–have no available information on toxicity.  That is not a likely risk most people would knowingly take on themselves, let alone their vulnerable child.  This product also touts being 95% USDA Biobased.  Never heard of it?  Me either.  Biobased means that a product is composed of, in whole or in significant part, of biological products, renewable domestic agricultural materials, forestry materials, or intermediate stock.  The boundaries of plant-based are not clearly defined.  It should also be pointed out that key biobased crops include soybeans and corn, which happen to be two of the most genetically modified crops produced in the US.  The MSDS for this product is available online and does not list and concerns of toxicity.  The composition of the formula is listed on the MSDS: Water (30-100%), Polygyceryl-3 Stearate (3-10%), Cocoglycerides – Cetyl Alcohol (1-3%), Rest (<1%).  I would not purchase this product.

‘Powerhouse’ Fruits and Vegetables

It turns out ‘superfoods’ like kale do not have the best nutrient content despite their other health benefits.  Many other commonly eaten fruits and vegetables are at the bottom of the list, though leafy greens like spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens were in the top ten!

BY Cari Nierenberg–For a sure way to boost the health benefits of your next meal, you may want to add watercress to the salad bowl. Its tangy leaves ranked highest on a new list of “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables, a new study says.

Watercress captured the No. 1 spot and a perfect score of 100 percent in the powerhouse-produce rankings. The other powerhouses in the top 10 spots were Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, spinach, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, romaine lettuce and collard greens, the research found.

via Shutterstock

The study used “powerhouse” as a term to describe foods most strongly linked with reducing the risk of chronic disease. The study developed a way to classify, measure and rate 47 different fruits and vegetables by calculating a score for each food based on its health benefits.

Fruit and Vegetable Ranking:

Watercress: 100.00 ; Chinese cabbage: 91.99 ; Chard: 89.27 ; Beet greens: 87.08 ; Spinach: 86.43 ; Chicory: 73.36 ; Leaf lettuce: 70.73 ; Parsley: 65.59 ; Romaine lettuce: 63.48Collard greens: 62.49 ; Turnip greens: 62.12 ; Mustard greens: 61.39 ; Endive: 60.44 ; Chive: 54.80Kale: 49.07 ; Dandelion greens: 46.34 ; Red pepper: 41.26 ; Arugula: 37.65 ; Broccoli: 34.89 ; Pumpkin: 33.82 ; Brussels spouts: 32.23; Scallions: 27.35 ; Kohirabi: 25.92 ; Cauliflower: 25.13; Cabbage: 24.51Carrot: 22.60 ; Tomato: 20.37 ; Lemon: 18.72; Iceberg Lettuce: 18.28 ; Strawberry: 17.59; Radish: 16.91 ; Winter squash (all varieties): 13.89; Orange: 12.91 ; Lime: 12.23 ; Grapefruit (pink and red): 11.64 ; Rutabaga: 11.58 ; Turnip: 11.43; Blackberry: 11.39 ; Leek: 10.69 ; Sweet potato: 10.51 ; Grapefruit (white): 10.47

 

“The score is a nutrient-to-calories ratio,” said study author Jennifer Di Noia, an associate professor of sociology at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. The score, given as a percentage, quantifies the amount of beneficial nutrients contained in the fruit or vegetable relative to the energy (measured as calories) the food provides. Nutrition experts refer to this number as “nutrient density.”

“This study is the first of its kind to define and rank powerhouse fruits and vegetables,” Di Noia told Live Science. The findings are published online today (June 5) in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Powerhouse produce

Among the 47 raw fruits and vegetables involved in the study, all but six of them — blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, tangerines, garlic and onions — met the “powerhouse” criterion. These six had scores below 10 percent, the minimum cutoff point to pass the “powerhouse” test.

In the study, as well as in nutritional guidelines, a food earned “powerhouse” status by providing, on average, 10 percent or more of the daily recommended intake of 17 qualifying nutrients in a 100-calorie serving.

These 17 qualifying nutrients, which health organizations have identified as helping to protect against cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses, were: calcium, fiber, folate, iron, niacin, potassium, protein, riboflavin, thiamin and zinc, and several vitamins (A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K).

Foods containing more of these nutrients ranked highest on the list, and those with fewer nutrients ranked lower, Di Noia explained.

It may seem surprising that blueberries and garlic, for example, were not considered “powerhouses.” These foods have been widely hailed as nutritional superstars packed with valuable antioxidants and disease-fighting properties.

It is possible that the six fruits and vegetables that didn’t make the cut as “powerhouses” were not good sources of the nutrients used to index the foods, but they are rich in phytochemicals that provide health benefits, Di Noia said.

The rankings did not include data on phytochemicals, such as antioxidants, because there are no recommended intakes for these plant-based chemicals, and uniform data on the amount of these phytochemicals in foods are also lacking, she said.

Using the list

The top half of the powerhouse list included mainly green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, from kale and spinach to Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

Citrus fruits, yellow- and orange-colored vegetables, and some berries were grouped in the bottom half, the findings showed.

The five lowest-ranked powerhouses were grapefruit (white), sweet potato, leek, blackberry and turnip.

The list of 47 foods that the researchers looked at left out some popular foods. Previous research had determined that such popular mealtime standbys as apples, corn, potatoes and bananas were considered nutrient-poor foods, with scores falling below 10, the “powerhouse” criterion.

Still, that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t include these foods in their diets to increase their overall intake of fruits and vegetables.

The list of powerhouse produce may help consumers focus on how to get the most nutrients from their foods, Di Noia said.

Another advantage is that it may be easier for consumers to understand a number score than to think about whether a food belongs to a particular group, such as cruciferous vegetables or carotenoids, she said.

“I think the message is to encourage consumption of all of the foods [on the powerhouse list], which, by definition, are good sources of the qualifying nutrients,” Di Noia said.

 

(Via Live Science for Yahoo! News)

 

BHT: Friend or Foe?

BHT is moderately common food additive, and a seldom used cosmetic preservative.  BHT is an acronym for butylated hydrotoluene.  Though BHT is not used in natural or organic products, it is moderately used in a variety of food and cosmetic products, some of which are primarily marketed for children and young adults.  BHT is typically the last ingredient listed and looks rather harmless abbreviated as opposed to its full chemical name which would certainly cause consumer to question their purchase.

Butylated hydrotoluene is a chemical derivative of phenol (-OH group attached to a benzene ring) and can be described as a lipophilic (likely to bind to fat) organic compound that is widely used across various industries for its antioxidant properties.  Specifically, butylated hydrotoluene reacts with oxygenating free radicals to decrease the rate of autoxidation.  BHT has a low molecular weight (220.35 grams/mole), which means it can have the ability to be absorbed through the skin when applied topically.  Despite being used in very low concentrations that typically do not exceed 0.1% of a food product, BHT still poses various health concerned when consumer internally or applied topically.  Though BHT is not officially listed as a carcinogen, is is suspected of carcinogenic activity, is known to be mutagenic to mamalian reproductive (somatic) cells, and is toxic to the blood, liver, and central nervous system.  While antioxidants and other preservatives are beneficial in preventing food or product spoilage, why is a food and cosmetic additive with a questionable safety reputation still being used, particularly in vulnerable populations such as children?

BHT is suspected of causing rodent carcinogenic activity, therefore, being slow growing and malignant (Parke & Lewis 2009).  BHT has also been shown to exacerbate chronic urticaria, a rash or red welts that develop from food allergies (Goodman et al. 1990).  A 2000 study found that BHT consumption at low levels did not lead to incidence of stomach cancer, though BHT intake was only measured from mayonnaise and salad dressing intake (Botterweck et al. 2000).  Though there is no concrete evidence of carcinogenicity of BHT in humans, it is usually best to err on the side of caution.  There are limited studies that observed the effects of BHT from cereals or other foods in children.  The suspicion of carcinogenic activity should not be taken lightly.  For that reason butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a ‘foe.’

 

Have you used a product or eaten a food with BHT?

Are there any ingredients (food or cosmetics) you would like to see featured in Friend or Foe?  Leave a comment below or send us an e-mail!

Pulchritude: Sunflower

Sunflowers are one of the most iconic flowers in the Americas.  It is immediately recognizable for its vast height and bright yellow petals. Aside from being used in gardens, sunflower seeds are often roasted and salted to be sold as a snack, which also yield oil for culinary and cosmetic purposes when pressed.  Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) typically grows about 3 meters in height, though some sunflowers have grown as tall as 8.23 meters (27 feet).  The sunflower is a flower head comprised of numerous 5 petaled flowers.  Disk flowers in the center of the sunflower are arranged in spirals, which later mature into sunflower seeds.  Sunflowers can be used in phytoremediation of soils contaminated with toxic chemicals such as lead, arsenic, and uranium.  Helianthus annuus was frequently used by Native Americans, and is believed to have been domesticated in Mexico around 2600 BC.  Many of these groups used the sunflower to depict solar deities due to its resemblance to the sun, which is how it was named.

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XIX

You are browsing the aisles in your local drugstore when a new brand and product catches your eye.  You are new to Label Poise and have yet to discover our Ingredients resources prior to making your purchase.  The product has nice packaging, organic ingredients, and is manufactured by a brand that is known in the natural product world so you decide to purchase the product.  Did you make the right decision?  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 5 tips 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

The Label

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Ingredients

Water:  Safe!  Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key ingredient in any moisturizing product.

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.  In pure form,  this ingredient can be a slight skin irritant and permeator, and is toxic to mucous membranes.  The is no data available on human toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, developmental toxicity, and teratogenicity.  (MSDS)

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

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)

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the skin. Glycerine can be derived from fats and oils, or synthetically–which is not indicated here.  (MSDS)

Phenoxyethanol:  Beware!/Avoid!  This is a preservative.  You will notice it is very high on the list of ingredients.    It is used because it is safer than formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, though the FDA released a warning about how it can impact the central nervous system and induce vomiting in infants.  It is also suspected to be a xenoestrogen (mimics estrogen), a cause of contact dermatitis and skin irritant.  In pure form phenoxyethanol is toxic to kidneys, the nervous system, and liver; it is an extremely hazardous eye irritant and a very hazardous eye irritant, though information on carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, and developmental toxicity are not available.  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, and the remaining ingredients in this product are at very low concentrations.  This ingredient is made from 2 carcinogens (benzene and ethylene oxide), though it itself is not known to be carcinogenic.  People around small children should ‘Avoid!‘ this ingredient, others should ‘Beware!‘. (MSDS)

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil:  Safe!  Sunflower Oil is comprised of triglycerides (esters of glycerol and fatty acids) and has high Vitamin E content. It primarily acts as an emollient and assists the skin in retaining moisture.

Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower*:  Safe!  Also known as Roselle, this extract is used for its antioxidant properties.  It is also believed to stop degradation of the skins elastin and is beneficial in products made for skin tone, anti-cellulite and refirming.  It is typically used in concentrations of 0.1-4%.  It is not known as a skin or eye irritant. There is no available information on carcinogenicity. (MSDS)

Mentha Piperite (Peppermint) Leaf Extract*:  Safe!  Peppermint leaf extract is made by extracting the essential oils of the leaves using alcohol distillation. It creates a cooling and soothing effect on the skin and scalp due to its high menthol content. It can be a skin and eye irritant in pure form, though it is not known to be toxic. (MSDS)

Salvis Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract*:  Safe!  This ingredient is used as a skin conditioning agent, skin protectant, and antioxidant.  It is generally regarded as safe and is not known to be toxic. (MSDS; MSDS)

Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Leaf Extract*:  Safe!  Thyme leaf extract is used for its soothing properties and can be used in concentrations of 5-10% of the formulation. This ingredient may be a skin, eye, and lung irritant, but is otherwise not known to be toxic. (MSDS; MSDS)

Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Leaf Extract*:  Safe!  This ingredient is used for its conditioning and astringent properties.  Depending on the concentration Avoid! if you have high blood pressure as it is believed to increase circulation. (MSDS)

Glycerin:  Safe!  Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture in the skin. Glycerine can be derived from fats and oils, or synthetically–which is not indicated here.  (MSDS)

Behentrimonium Methosulfate:  Beware!  This ingredient is a surfactant, detangling agent, anti-static agent, and hair thickener.  It is commonly derived from colza or rapeseed oil.  This product is typically combined with Cetearyl alcohol, also in this product, as a 75%/25% mix with BTMS being the lower component.  No individual MSDS found.  I have used this ingredient in a product before and had no ill effects, but it is listed as beware being that there is very limited information on it.  (MSDS [Cetearyl Alcohol & Behentrimonium Methosulfate])

Stearalkonium Chloride:  Beware!  This ingredient is an ammonium salt and is most commonly found in hair conditioners.  It acts as a conditioner, anti-static agent, and softener.  It was originally used by the fabric industry for use as a softener.  This ingredient can be an irritant at high concentrations, given that it is in the first 5 ingredients concentrations in this product may cause irritation of contact areas is left on for an extended amount of time. (MSDS)

Potassium Sorbate:  Safe!/Beware!  This ingredient is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, which is likely synthetically derived though it is naturally occurring in some berry species.  It is widely used as a preservative in food, wine, and personal care products.  It is known to be a skin, eye, and lung irritant in pure form, though it is not generally considered to be a carcinogen, mutagen or teratogen in humans, however, additional research suggests that is is mutagenic and genotoxic in human blood cells (in vitro).  It is typically not used in concentrations above 0.2%, so it should be fine in this product.  (MSDS)

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. (MSDS)

Alcohol Denatured:  Beware!   Alcohol denatured is ethyl alcohol (ethanol) that has been rendered undrinkable by adding a denaturing agent. The denaturing agent here is not listed but can vary from relatively harmless essential oils or a toxic chemical.  Alcohol denatured is used as an antifoaming agent, astringent, antimicrobial agent, viscosity controller, solvent, and masking agent.  Ethyl alcohol is itself toxic to the body, causing skin and eye irritation, and skin permeation. Not classified as a carcinogen by ACGIH, though it is considered a proven carcinogen in the state of California. Ethanol (200 proof) is known to be mutagenic to mammalian somatic cells, and is toxic to blood, liver, reproductive system, skin, central nervous system, and upper respiratory tract.  Ethanol is also known to be teratogenic. Toxicity can increase depending on denaturing agent. (MSDS)

* Indicates Certified Organic Ingredient

 

Would you purchase this product?

 

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  This product has nice eye catching packaging and touts several organic ingredients.  The third ingredient in this product is fragrance, which leads me to truly question how moisturizing this product really is.  This product also contains phenoxyethanol, a preservative, as well as potassium sorbate and citric acid, two more ‘natural’ and less toxic preservatives.  It is unclear why this was done.  You may have also noticed that glycerin is listed twice–that is not a typo.  I cross referenced the ingredients in the bottle with the company’s website and they are the same.  The only explanation I can think of is that two different types of glycerin were used (vegetable and animal based), the ingredients are not listed according to INCI standards or it is a mixture of two or more conditioner bases and the company did not reorder the ingredients.  It should also be pointed out that this product is made by a company that is a subsidiary of a very well known “natural” product company, and they use the same questionable ingredients.  This product touts that is does not contain “parabens, pthalates, or petrochemicals,” which is commendable however the product is not exemplary ingredients wise.  I would not purchase this product, primarily because of how high fragrance is listed.

‘Nature…Not Scientists’

The idea behind their campaign slogan was likely harmless, but it certainly was not well received.  The real message behind the slogan may have been a jab at all of the scientifically engineered foods on the market, however, this brand is not known to use non-GMO milk in their yogurt.

Chobani Puts Lid on ‘Nature…Not Scientists’ Campaign

 

By Gillian Mohney – Jun 5, 2014

 

AP chobani yogurt jt 140405 16x9 608 Chobani Puts Lid on Nature...Not Scientists Campaign

Chobani draws backlash over lid tagline. (Mike Groll/AP Photo)

Chobani has pulled a slogan from some of its Greek yogurt lids that fueled a food fight on social media.

The company’s “Simply 100″ yogurt, which contains 100 calories, had lids that read, “Nature got us to 100 calories, not scientists. #howmatters.”

While the company was trying to draw attention to their natural ingredients, the slogan ended up doing the opposite. Scientists, yogurt lovers, and especially yogurt-loving scientists used the company’s own Twitter tag, #howmatters, to point out just how much “science” was used to engineer the yogurt.

David Grinspoon, astrobiologist and former curator of Astrobiology in the Department of Space Sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in Colorado, said the tagline made him rethink buying another Chobani.

Other Twitter users pointed out that some ingredients, such as pasteurized milk and evaporated cane juice, not to mention the plastic yogurt cup, were developed by scientists.   

Chobani’s #howmatters tag became overrun with mentions of the yogurt ingredient list and the many ways scientists have contributed to agriculture and food sciences, prompting a discontinuation of the lids.

via Twitter

In a statement sent to ABC News, Chobani said the lids had been discontinued and that they hope to make peace with all the yogurt-loving scientists they offended.

“We were being tongue in cheek and perhaps a bit too clever for our own good,” the statement read. “The under lid messaging campaign ended last week and was not intended as an indictment of science or scientists. Words matter and your feedback counts.”

The company said they would also send a free yogurt to any scientist who contacts them via their website.

The viral war of words is not the first time Chobani has faced controversy.  Whole Foods decided to phase out the yogurt this year, initially sparking rumors that it was because the company uses milk from cows that eat genetically-modified food. Whole Foods later stated that it was a business decision unrelated to the use of GM food. And last year the company issued a voluntary recall of some yogurt after mold was found at an Idaho plant.

 

 

(via ABCNews)