Tag Archives: Organic Beauty

Review: Nubian Heritage Coconut & Papaya Soap

Nubian Heritage Coconut & Papaya Soap

This product was purchased by Nature’s Pulchritude. All opinions are that of Nature’s Pulchritude and have not be influenced in any way, shape, or form.


I picked this product up in the natural product section of a local grocery store. I had been thinking about switching from castile soap to a true (saponified fat) bar soap and stumbled upon Nubian Heritage soaps. This product didn’t catch my eye when I was looking at their line online, but I figured I should try their soaps before I went making a big order.


This is a very high quality product. This soap fully cleanses my skin, but does not leave it feeling stripped. It leaves it feeling quite moisturized. The soap lasted through about 6 weeks of regular, exclusive use.

1 Globe



I cannot pin point exactly what this smells like. It doesn’t quite give me coconut and likely leans more papaya. I’m not quite sure. The smell is moderate in the shower and does not linger on the skin afterwards, which can be a positive or negative depending on the person. It did not bother me much.

1 Globe



This soap lathers really well! 2 rubs on a wet wash cloth and it was enough later for a full body cleanse. I often find that surfactant based soaps and my old castile soap need a bit more effort to lather well, and must be relathered at least 3 times. That was a big reason I decided to stop purchasing castile soap.

1 Globe



This product is a true soap, where fats (in this case organic coconut oil, organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter, and palm oil) react with an alkali, typically Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) or Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH). The alkali no longer remains after the reaction. No questionable ingredients, it is cruelty free, ethically sourced, and all ingredients are naturally derived. This is a winner!

1 Globe

4/4 Globes

Nature’s Pulchritude MVP!

Have you tried this product? What did you think?


What Should Consumers Do To Get Safe Cosmetics Legislation?

In a recent trip to the store, I noticed that about 95% of the skin care products contained questionable ingredients.  One, maybe two, products were ‘clean’ out of at least 40 products–including some of the “natural” brands.  The same ingredients are in each skin care product category.  If a consumer is looking for a quality beauty or personal care product with quality ingredients, should they be obligated to go to a specialty store or order online?  Why are companies allowed to market their products as ‘natural’ when they contain chemicals that negatively impact human health (or are just ineffective)?

Take a look at the products offered in you average retail store, the prevalence of the problem should really sink in.  I’ve noticed a significant amount of traction behind the ban on animal testing from consumers and brands, however, most brands are conveniently silent on the issue of safer cosmetics.  There are many people who want to see a change; what should be done to ensure the promulgation of Safe Cosmetics Legislation?



Pulchritude: African Shea Tree

Copyright F. Allal/CIRAD

Appreciate the Pulchritude of the African Shea Tree.

Before you purchase it wholesale or it becomes an ingredient in one of your favorite products, ‘shea butter’ was once a seed on a African Shea (Karité) Tree (Vitellaria paradoxa, formerly Butyrospermum parkii).  African Shea Trees are native to equatorial Tropical West and Central Africa, spanning east through the parts of Ethiopia.  ‘Shea butter’ has become a key ingredient in the cosmetics industry, though it has long been used by West and Central Africans for a variety of purposes, with evidence of shea butter extraction dating back to the 1300’s.  The African Shea Tree is currently listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Product Review: Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner

This product was purchased by Nature’s Pulchritude.  All opinions are that of Nature’s Pulchritude and have not be influenced in any way, shape, or form.

(Author’s Note: Aubrey Organics is the name of the brand, however, products that are not certified organic by the USDA do not bear the word “Organics.”)


It is only befitting my first product review is for this product!  I have been using it for almost 7 years and it still works fantastic!

I have medium density, tightly coiled hair that tends to be on the dry side.  The product delivers on its promises and fantastically moisturizes my hair, makes it feel silky and smooth, removes any remaining tangles, and prepares my hair for styling!

Product Claim:  “The sweet smell of success for your hair.  Trade those dry, thirsty tresses for vibrant, touchably soft hair with this moisture-intensive conditioner enriched with restorative herbal emollients.  Detangles and rehydrates to overcome dryness and brittleness and leave hair ultra-silky and irresistibly fragrant.”


Product Details:

 “All-Natural Ingredients”

Consistency:  Thick

Color:  White

Scent: Honeysuckle Flower and Roses

Organic Ingredients: Lavender, Shea Butter, Aloe Leaf Juice, Jojoba Oil, Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip Seed) Oil

Environmental Friendly?: Yes.  Contents Biodegradable, Recyclable Container (HDPE-2)


Ingredients:  This product has great ingredients, with the exception of the alcohol denatured.  When I first purchased this product the ingredients were not listed in ICNI (Index of Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients) format but as “Coconut Fatty Acid Cream Base,” so I was a bit troubled to find alcohol denatured as the third ingredient.  I’ve done a fair amount of research and am still not quite sure why this is in this product or what its function is, so look for a post about the various forms of alcohol in hair conditioners in the coming weeks.  Denatured alcohol is a solvent that has additives to make it poisonous and undrinkable, in this case the additive is organic lavender essential oil.  It is a low molecular weight, short chain alcohol, which are commonly regarded as drying.

via Aubrey Dictionary of Common Terms:

COCONUT FATTY ACID CREAM BASE — Absorption base containing essential fatty acids, coconut fatty alcohols from palm kernels, aloe vera and vitamins A, C and E. Rich in linoleic and linolenic acids (vitamin F), excellent nutrients and skin conditioners. In hair care products, it is often combined with the important amino acids cysteine and methionine, which are high in sulfur and excellent for the hair and scalp.

NATURAL GRAIN ALCOHOL — Alcohol denat. (38b, lavender). Powerful antiseptic, naturally obtained through the fermenting of carbohydrates in grains. Especially denatured alcohol 38b is pure, natural grain alcohol that has been rendered undrinkable by the addition of an essential oil. The federal government allows for several different types of essential oils to be used as denaturants under the SDA 38b classification; however, the preferred additive for the natural cosmetic industry is lavender. (Many cosmetic formulations contain isopropyl alcohol, a petrochemical that is much cheaper to use and very harsh and drying to the skin.)

This product is not at all drying for me, it has the opposite effect, so I will continue to use it.  If I came across this product recently, I would hesitate purchasing because of the alcohol denatured–aside from the RAVE reviews about it.  This is one of the best hair conditioners I have ever used, and it is a great value for the price.  The alcohol denatured is very questionable to me, so this product will not get a top rating.

 Pulchritude Rating:

Product:  1 Globe

Value:  1 Globe 

EnviroFactor:  .75 Globe

 2.75 Globes = Nature’s Pulchritude Star!  This product works very well, is all-natural and features great ingredients!  I would recommend this product for all hair types, especially those with tightly coily, curly, and wavy hair.

Price & Where to Buy:  11 ounces (325 mL) for $10.93.  Aubrey products are sold at Whole Foods Market, select Vitamin Shoppe stores, and via their website.

Have you tried this product, what was your opinion?  Will you try this product?

3. How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels (Shop With Me!)

So you’re in one of your favorite stores buying non hair related products, when you happen to pass the hair product aisle and decide to take a look.  You’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks and want to assess your ‘Label Poise‘ so you pick up a standard rinse out conditioner.  For those of you coming to Nature’s Pulchritude for the first time, Label Poise is my way of teaching you how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.

Look at the label below, would you buy this product?  Keep your answer in mind as you read the accompanying analysis.

Here are the tips I gave you in my prior posts (here and here) 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:


The Analysis:

Water (Aqua):  Safe!

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.

Ceteraryl 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.

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) in a variety of products.  Mineral Oil prevents moisture from entering or leaving the hair shaft.  This can often lead to hair breakage and clogged pores on the scalp.

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.

PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil:  Beware!  You probably recognize “Castor Oil” but not “PEG-40” and “Hydrogenated?”  What does that mean?  Essentially the Castor Oil has been hydrogenated (treated with Hydrogen atoms) and PEG-40 indicates that it is a Polyethylene Glycol derivative which has been ethoxylated (ethylene oxide is added to Castor Oil), this can be done to increase water solubility.  This ingredient can be used as an emulsifier, surfactant, and fragrant.  This ingredient is typically not considered toxic, but may be contaminated with impurities such as carcinogens: ethylene oxide, 1,4-dioxane, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); known toxics lead and arsenic; and lead.

Cholesterol:  Safe!  Cholesterol is made up of lipids and sterols (steroid alcohol), which is essentially fat.  This ingredient is either plant or animal derived and is used to as a moisturizer in hair products, skin products, lipsticks and some sunscreens.  It functions as an emollient, stabilizer, and water binding agent.  It is not known to be a carcinogen, mutagen, or genotoxin.  If you are vegan Avoid! this ingredient unless you can verify it is plant based.

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder:  Safe!  This is the powdered form of aloe vera leaf juice.

Wheatgermamidopropyl Hydroxypropyl Dimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein:  Avoid!  I could not find any information specific to this ingredient as listed.  Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein is a very common ingredient in hair conditioners and is not known to be toxic or carcinogenic.  I am assuming this is chemically different or dissimilarly derived than Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein.  Avoid! if you have a wheat allergy and follow a Gluten-Free lifestyle.

Simmondesia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil:  Safe!  This ‘oil’ is a liquid wax and has a moderate fatty acid content.

Retinyl Palmitate:  Beware!  This ingredient is an ester of Retinol (Vitamin A) and Palmitic Acid (a fatty acid that is a primary component of Palm Oil).  This ingredient is often used in skin products in high concentrations because it has been shown to increase collagen production.  Retinyl Palmitate is easily absorbed into the skin and is then converted into Retinol.  This ingredient was at the center of the sunscreen controversy in recent years as it is believed to form free radicals and create photomutagenic compounds after UVA and UVB exposure.  Concentrations in the product are likely too low to be effective, but be cautious if it is a concern.

Cholecalciferol:  Safe!  Also known as Vitamin D3.  Cholecalciferol is a secosteroid and is similar in structure to cholesterol and other steroids.  This form of Vitamin D is inactive and has not been hydroxylated (chemical addition of an -OH group).  This ingredient can be toxic in rats when ingested, but it is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or genotoxic.  It should be fine for short term topical use on hair (via MSDS).

Tocopherol:  Safe!  Also known as Vitamin E, Tocopherol is a chemical alcohol with antioxidant properties.  This ingredient is not known to have carcinogenic or toxic effects (via MSDS).  It can also be used as a preservative for oils.

Disodium EDTA:  Beware!  EDTA is short for “Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid” and is used in cosmetics as a preservative, chelator (prevents metal ions in hard water from depositing on hair, skin, and scalp), stabilizer, and penetration enhancer.  Therefore if there are toxic or harmful chemicals in this product, this ingredient can allow for them to penetrate the skin and possibly be absorbed into the bloodstream.  This ingredient is used in a myriad of cosmetics and personal care products, and food (FDA Approved).  The ingredient itself is not considered toxic at the low concentrations in cosmetics, but its ability to act as a penetration enhancer for other chemicals is a concern.  This ingredient can also cause environmental problems as it is slow to degrade (lingers in the environment) abiotically (typically from sunlight) though it can be biotically degraded up to 80% by microorganisms in water treatment plants.

DMDM Hydantoin:  Avoid!  This ingredient 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.

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 demonstrates 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.

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.

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.

FD&C Yellow 5:  Beware!  This is a synthetic yellow dye (food coloring) also known as Tartrazine and Cl 19140.  Tartrazine is a known allergen and has various impacts on the immune system from dermal contact or ingestion.  It is not known to be toxic.’

FD&C Red 4:  Beware!  This is a synthetic red dye that is also known as CI 14700 and Scarlet GN.  It is not permitted as a food additive, only for topical or external uses.  It is not known to be an irritant, toxic, carcinogenic, or mutagenic (via MSDS).

Based on the ingredients I would not buy this product.  Mineral Oil Stearalkonium Chloride, and PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil are present in the first 5 ingredients, which is unfavorable.  This product also contains a formaldehyde releaser (DMDM Hydantoin) and 2 parabens, which further supports it staying on the shelf.  I’ve used products very similar to this one before and they work okay, I just do not like the coated feeling of mineral oil.  I would purchase a similar product without the aforementioned ingredients, which I have seen on the market.

How was you ‘Label Poise?’  Did you accurately assess the ingredients?  Would you purchase this product? 

“100% Natural” and Organic Lip Balms: Friend or Foe?!

I am on the market for a new lip balm.  I have one tube left of the lip balm I have been using for the past 2.5 years and likely won’t reorder until December/January, as I have only found it online.  I, like many people, grew up using ‘household name’ lip products such as ChapStick and Vaseline, but decided to explore new products several years ago.  I tried another raved about lip product that happened to be petroleum based (like the previous 2) and it was a dud.  I then decided to opt for a non-petrochemical, natural lip balm because I was becoming more ‘conscious’ about the products I was using.

My experience with ‘natural’ products has been almost evenly split.  Initially, I tried two different ‘flavor’ lip balms (a 2 pack) from the same brand that I heard good things about that used ‘100% natural’ ingredients.  The first product I tried (Product 1) wasn’t bad, the second (Product 2) however, was awful.  My lips still are not completely back to ‘normal’ from ‘Product 2’ (2.5 years ago mind you).  For me, this one of those key moments when you learn that ‘natural’ is most definitely not always better, and if you’ve been following this site you’ll know that ‘natural‘ has no definitive meaning and is more or less a marketing tool.  The next 2 products I tried were also 2 different ‘flavors’ of the same product, this time I made sure I didn’t fall into the same trap and bought USDA Organic (“all natural”).  These products were much, much better than the previous 2, and almost rivaled the ‘baby soft’ lips I get from good old Vaseline or Aquaphor (both of these products are great if you have really dry lips and need to soften dry skin for removal).  From this entire process I learned the importance of reading and understanding ingredient labels, and I have noted a pattern of ingredients from the past products I have used as well as in new products I have been eyeing.

Let’s compare the ingredients for all 4 different products (copied from brand website):

Product 1:

helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, cera alba (beeswax, cire d’abeille), aroma (flavor)*, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, mangifera indica (mango) seed butter, lanolin, ammonium glycyrrhizinate, tocopherol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil (huile de colza), limonene, linalool. *natural flavor

Product 2:

helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, cera alba (beeswax, cire d’abeille), aroma (flavor)*, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, lanolin, euterpe oleracea fruit oil**, ammonium glycyrrhizinate, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, tocopherol, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil (huile de colza), anise alcohol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, citral, farnesol, limonene, linalool. *natural flavor **Acai berry

Image courtesy of Aubrey Organics
Product 3 (Aubrey Organics Organic Lip Balm Vanilla & Honey):

Cera alba (organic beeswax), cocos nucifera (organic coconut) oil, virgin olea europaea (organic olive) oil, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba) seed oil, organic flavor, cannabis sativa (organic hemp) seed oil, rosa rubiginosa (organic Rosa Mosqueta®) seed oil, tocopherol (vitamin E).

Image courtesy of Aubrey Organics
Product 4 (Aubrey Organics Organic Lip Balm Tangerine):

Cera alba (organic beeswax), cocos nucifera (organic coconut) oil, virgin olea europaea (organic olive) oil, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba) seed oil, cannabis sativa (organic hemp) seed oil, citrus tangerina (organic tangerine) oil, rosa rubiginosa (organic Rosa Mosqueta®) seed oil, tocopherol (vitamin E).

Bolded ingredients are considered questionable.  As you can see Products 3 & 4 have no questionable ingredients, Products 1 & 2 have several.  I won’t do an in depth analysis on the bolded ingredients in this post, but I am more than happy to do so in a follow up post.  I’d also like to point out the use of oils in each product.  On the oil hierarchy scale, sunflower, canola, and soybean oils are at the bottom, whereas coconut, olive, and jojoba oils are at the top.  Castor, hemp, and rose oils are also very favorable.  Also note the simplicity of the ingredients in Products 3 & 4 in comparison to Products 1 & 2.  My experiences highlight the importance of reading and understanding ingredient labels, because had I known better I would not have purchased the first two products despite their nice ‘100% natural’ label.

Image courtesy of EOS I have been looking at another USDA certified organic (100% natural, 95% organic per company claims) lip balm (EOS), and though the ingredients look good, there are 2 ingredients, limonene and linalool, that have peeked my interest as they are also in Products 1 & 2.

EOS Sweet Mint Lip Balm Ingredients:

Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Beeswax (Cire D’abeille)*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract*, Tocopherol, Limonene**, Linalool**. *Organic. **Component of Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil*. Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth.

Limonene:  Limonene naturally occurs in the rind of lemon and other citrus fruits.  It is primarily used as a flavor and fragrance though it also has been used for industrial degreasing.  It is not known to cause cancer or gene mutations in humans and can have anti-cancer effects in pure form, though limonene and its oxidation products are suspected skin and respiratory irritants in some cases.  A product that has been sitting on the shelf for an extended period may oxidize, however, ingredients with antioxidant properties, such as Vitamin E (Tocopherol), may alleviate this.  Overall, it generally appears to be safe.

Linalool:  Linalool can be found in over 200 varieties of plants including rosewood, cinnamon, mint, and citrus fruits.  Similar to limonene, it is used primarily as a fragrant in cosmetics, though it also has uses as an insecticide.  Oxidized linalool has been found to cause allergic reactions such as eczema in some individuals.  On the contrary, linalool in pure form has anti-cancer effects and has had positive effects on leukemia and certain cancerous breast tumors.  Overall, this ingredient is also safe unless you happen to be allergic.

I’m still on the fence about EOS even though I’ve seen great reviews for it.  In the meantime, I’ve been using USDA Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil on my lips (after reading a tip in a magazine).  It works great!!!!

Have you tried Aubrey Organics lip balms or EOS lip balm? What were your experiences?  Have any lip balm suggestions or had a negative experience with a lip balm/product?  Please share! 

Thank you for reading!

Label Poise: Ingredients, Chemicals, Extracts, Oh My! Part I

What to avoid when shopping for cosmetics, consumer products, and food.  There are various ingredients that I avoid when purchasing cosmetics and personal care products.  Often times it is because the chemical is toxic or synthetically derived or it is partially for the aforementioned reasons and because it is nothing more than a cheap filler in a product.  The following are a list of ingredients that I avoid; classification, code names, and reason will be listed.

Beware! (User Discretion)

Mineral Oil aka Parrafinium Liquidium – 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 lotions, hair lotions, ‘grease’ and conditioners (deep, leave-in, and rinse out), however it appears in highest concentrations to products marketed toward African-Americans.  Mineral Oil prevents moisture from entering or leaving the hair shaft.  This can often lead to hair breakage and clogged pores on the scalp.

Silicones aka Amodimethicone, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclomethicone – These are a variety of synthetic chemical polymers derived from silica.  They are found in hair conditioners (deep, rinse out or leave in), lotions, hair lotions, deodorants and antiperspirants, foundations, mascara, etc.  Silicones are not known to be toxic; there has been a fair amount of controversy over this subject, but again they are not known to be toxic.  They are, in my opinion, cheap fillers that coat the surface (hair, skin) they come into contact with.  I am more tolerant of silicones in skin lotions, however, I do not use hair products of any kind that have silicones anywhere on the ingredients list.  Period.  Silicones give the appearance of healthy shiny hair, but don’t be fooled it is just an appearance.  Silicones, similar to mineral oil, often prevent moisture from entering or leaving the hair shaft, which can result in hair breakage (particularly if you have dry hair).  Additionally, most silicones are not water soluble (will rinse out with water or a ‘no poo’) therefore you must use a sulfate shampoo to remove them to avoid build-up on your hair.

Sulfates aka Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), – Sulfates are foaming agents commonly found in shampoos.  Sulfates are known skin irritants.  The Journal of the American College of Toxicology states that SLS has a “degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties.”  Sulfates can be extremely drying, particularly for curly and coily hair.

Parabens aka Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben – These are synthetic esters of ‘p-hydrobenzoic acid.’  Parabens ensure that microorganisms do not develop in your products after being on the shelf (or your bathroom cabinent) for extended periods.  There is no conclusive evidence that parabens are toxic or harmful.  Limited studies have found parabens to mimic estrogren, or be linked (not causing) breast cancer.  Grape seed extract and Japanese Honeysuckle Flower Extract are natural preservatives (not significant enough to be effective) as it has antimicrobial properties (parabens are similar to their structure, not the other way around).  Use at your own discretion as the scientific basis of their toxicity is inconclusive.  (Author’s Note: Some of the organizations that are refuting claims against parabens are industry affiliated, so the validity of their claims may be questionable.)

High Fructose Corn Syrup – Chances are you eat this multiple times a day on a regular basis.  Despite the advertisements you may have seen on tv, HFCS is NOT ‘real’ cane sugar.  HFCS is made from corn and is very cheap to make being that corn is one of the most subsidized crops in the United States; most corn (and its products, corn fed to chickens, cows, etc.) is genetically modified (GMO) unless its certified organic.  HFCS has been linked to a multitude of health impacts including obesity, cancer, liver damage and heart disease.  Take a look in your cabinets, it is in everything from bread to barbeque sauce.  HFCS is not natural and it is not biochemically processed in your body the same as cane sugar.


Toluene – Commonly found in nail polish.  Toluene is an extremely volatile chemical (it likes to vaporize and mix with air) therefore its greatest threat is through inhalation exposure (the fumes you smell when you paint your nails).  Inhalation of toluene can cause dizziness, nausea, or even death at high doses.  This ingredient has been phased out of many nail polish formulas, but not all.

Formaldahyde aka Formaldahyde Resin; Formaldehyde Releasers: DMDM Hydantonin , Imidazolidinyl urea, Hydroxymethylglycinate, Diazolidinyl urea.  Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen in the US and EU.  Formaldehyde is not common in cosmetics and personal care products, however formaldehyde releasers (react to release formaldehyde) are present in various conditioners, shampoos, and foundations.  Though the quantities are often low as they are used as preservatives, I would avoid these ingredients.

This is a multiple part series, so check back soon for additional posts!  All ingredients mentioned in these posts will be available in list form on the Educate Yourself menu on this site.  Thank you for reading!

What ingredients and chemicals do you avoid?

Natural, What’s That?? / Introducing… Label Poise

Nature’s Pulchritude is dedicated to encouraging people to use products that are natural or contain naturally derived chemicals. So what does natural mean exactly? To most people, when they think natural they think nature, therefore, a product that contains ingredients that come from nature as opposed to synthetic chemicals. In the world of cosmetics, personal care products, consumer goods and food, natural is an ambiguous, up-to-individual interpretation term that is not regulated by the FDA or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

My definition of a natural product is a product that doesn’t contain chemicals (synthetic or natural because technically everything is a chemical) that are known or suspected to be carcinogenic, ecotoxins, or endocrine disruptors; petrochemicals (mineral oil, parrafin wax, etc.), silicones, parabens, phtalates, or synthetic dyes and some fragrances.  I am more strict about hair and skin products than nail polish and makeup.  Another important factor that goes into my decision making process is efficacy–does this product work?  There is no sense in buying a product because it is natural/organic if doesn’t work (well enough).  Many of these ingredients have multiple pseudonyms or ‘code names’ so you really have to read product labels thoroughly (look for posts covering this in the near future). Organic is far less complex, I typically look for the USDA Organic symbol, or a similar certification from Canada or the European Union.


In my last post, I told you that there is more or less no regulation for cosmetics or personal care products, therefore companies can call their products ‘natural(s)’ or ‘organic(s)’ without truly being so, or having an organic certification. Marketing is a very powerful tool that is designed to entice you, the consumer, to buy! Companies are well aware of the fact that consumers are becoming more aware about the chemicals present in their products, so they add clever names (either the company name or product name) to draw your attention because they know that you aren’t as aware as you think. Whether or not this deception is intentional is subjective, and instead of criticizing a company who does this, I will instead showcase a company that listened to its customers.

Introducing… Label Poise: A Great Example

These two bottles are for the same product.  Notice anything?

Yes, that’s it, the word ‘Organics.’

Notice anything else about the bottles that might be of importance (hint: any symbols)?

Hey, Where’s the USDA symbol? There isn’t one.

While the product may very well have some organic ingredients, it is not certified organic by the USDA or any other reputable body. Aubrey customers complained and Aubrey removed the ‘Organics’ name from products that are not certified organic. How is that for customer service.

This is the first of many posts titled ‘Label Poise.‘ It is my way of teaching you how to read product labels with poise and confidence.

Feel free to comment, provide feedback, and let me know what issues you have when reading product labels.  Thank you for reading!

The Facts.

I hope our welcome post left you inspired, but if you’re anything like me, you want to know the facts.  Why should we care about what’s lurking in our lotions, shampoos, and nail polish?

The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 was introduced in the House of Representatives on March 21, 2013 by Democrat Representatives Jan Schakowsky (Illinois) and Ed Markey (Massachusetts).  The purpose of the act was to address the toxic chemicals that are present in various cosmetics and personal care products in the United States.  The most recent legislation regulating the industry dated back to 1938, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act (SCPCPA) sought to give the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the appropriate industries to ensure that harmful chemicals are removed from products.  The harmful chemicals include chemicals which are well known to be carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, or ecotoxins.  It should be noted that many of the chemicals widely used in these products have not been thoroughly studied to make astute conclusions about their safety.  (Fun Fact: An average of 12,000 new chemicals are registered daily!  Most used in cosmetics are not tested for safety).  It is both unsettling and encouraging to know that many of the chemicals in personal care products used in the United States have been outlawed in the European Union since 1976.

The following chemicals are restricted or prohibited for use in cosmetics: bithionol, mercury compounds, vinyl chloride, halogenated salicylanilides, zirconium complexes in aerosol cosmetics, chloroform, methylene chloride, chlorofluorocarbon propellants and hexachlorophene. (FDA)

Four short months after SCPCPA was introduced, the European Union strengthened their legislation.  The EU Cosmetics Regulation includes 1,372 banned substances.  The FDA has banned 11 chemicals, most of which would not be considered for cosmetics or personal care prducts.  Many of the major corporations in cosmetics and personal care products are international conglomerates, many of which are based in the EU, so don’t for a second think they aren’t complying with the regulation–they just sell a different formula in the United States.  Take a moment to really think about this and its implications.  They can reformulate their products, but they don’t have to, therefore they don’t.  The legislation the European Union has is an excellent template for the United States to follow, however, despite stalled action at the federal level, California is making strides at the state level.

California is very progressive when it comes to environmental regulations.  If you have ever been, you may notice warning labels on products or within stores and restaurants.  The California Safe Cosmetics Law has been allowing consumers to make informed decisions by mandating that products that contain certain chemicals (carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, etc.) be appropriately labeled.  Despite the success of this legislation, federal law is still lagging as the SCPCPA has received significant resistance from cosmetic and personal care product manufacturers.  As a consumer you hold the power and can rightfully request that companies remove harmful chemicals from their products or simply stop supporting them.  It is really that simple.

This is why I decided to create Nature’s Pulchritude, because we as consumers have a right to make educated decisions that do not negatively impact our health or the environment, especially when there is limited legislation to do otherwise.   If you choose to use products that may not have the best ingredients, you made a conscious decision and that is fine; but if you are using these products and the presence of toxic chemicals is unbeknownst to you–that is problematic.  In the future, Nature’s Pulchritude will feature various posts about chemicals to avoid, as well as several posts to teach you how to read labels!  Stay tuned and thank you for reading.

Were you aware of any of the information in this post?  Does it make you reconsider some of the items you have purchased?  Sound off in the comments. : )

Welcome to Nature’s Pulchritude.

Welcome to Nature’s Pulchritude. As the name suggests, we appreciate nature’s pulchritude (beauty) and want others to appreciate it as well. As a society we have become increasingly disconnected from nature, be it through technology, artificial and modified foods, or the synthetic chemicals that are laden in our personal care products. Take a step back and engage with your surroundings–with nature and the envionment! Realize that many of the personal care products we use and ‘foods’ we eat are simply recreating what already exists in all its pulchritudinous glory in nature. This blog will feature a variety of content (such as product reviews, news, and educational pieces) from an environmental perspective, but with flair, pizzaz, and of course pulchritude. I want you to read this blog and feel enlightened and empowered to make informed decisions for yourself (and your family) by thinking of how the products and foods you buy impact your health and the environment. I invite you, encourage you, dare you, to eliminate the middlemen, the synthetics, and the artificial fillers and enjoy Nature’s Pulchritude.