Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bubble & Bee now Certified Organic!

We did it! Bubble & Bee is now Certified Organic!

It's taken us a while now, but we did it! What does it mean to be certified organic? 

Well, here are a few things that we do as a certified organic processing facility.
Extensive Paperwork Has to be Submitted Every Year
Keep a detailed paper trail

For all our products designated as "100% organic" "organic" or "made with organic", we keep a detailed paper trail of where each ingredient came from, and who certified it as organic. All of these ingredients have to be grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and processed without chemicals. For each batch we make, we write down the supplier of each ingredient, the invoice date, the invoice number, and the certifying agency. The batch sheets are then kept on file.

Have an organic pest control plan

This means we don't use synthetic pesticides on our facility and use organic methods of pest control, like regular sweeping and removal of debris in and around our facility, and the use of certain essential oils and herbs to repel insects.

Ensuring organic integrity

This requirement isn't hard for us, as most of our ingredients are certified organic. However, we have to make sure that every ingredient is marked organic or conventional. For instance, we use both organic and conventional orange essential oil. We use the organic in the lip balms and bath salts, and the conventional in the soaps and shower gels. We have a big orange label on the conventional that says "CONVENTIONAL: shower gels and soaps only!" That way, there's no chance that the conventional doesn't accidentally get in to something it's not supposed to. We store herbs and other bulk ingredients in air-tight containers so there is no co-mingling of organic and non-organic. Scoops and utensils are washed between uses so there is no possibility of cross contamination.

Labeling requirements.

Our products can now bear the USDA certified organic seal! We also must include our certifying agency, the Utah State Department of Agriculture on a specific portion of the label.

Cleaning logs.

Every time we vaccuum a floor, wash the mixer, or wipe down the shipping table we have to record it in the log. There, we state the date, the cleaning method used, any cleaning materials used, and who did the cleaning. Any surface that comes in to contact with an organic product has to be thoroughly rinsed so there is no trace of cleansing residue. We typically use organic castille soap, organic sunflower oil, or organic vinegar for cleaning so we're always clean and green!

Shipping logs.

Any time we ship out a product, we keep a log of where it's going and what batch it was from. That way, if someone came to us with an invoice number, we could tell you which batch it was from, where each organic ingredient was from, and who certified that ingredient.

Production map of every product we make.

For each certified organic product, we have to create a production map. This describes where the ingredients are stored, where in our facility it's made, how it's made, how it's packaged, and labeled from start to finish.

Product Profile Sheet

We submit a product profile sheet to the department of agriculture that details each product, it's composition, and its label.

It's a lot of work, but we're proud of the extra work we do to make sure that our products are some of the cleanest and greenest around!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hair Care Myths: Exposed

Billions of marketing dollars are spent year after year to sell cheap chemicals as hair "care" products. Most of them are unneeded, and even dangerous. Today, I've exposed five hair care myths:

Myth #1: You can repair hair.

You've seen the commercial: "X shampoo strengthens hair, getting rid of split ends and repairing damage." Hair is dead. There is no way to repair it. Once you have a split end, it's split. Once it's damaged, there's no fixing it. It's like saying you'd be able to take an old dried out piece of driftwood and "re-hydrate" it to make it look new again. It's just not possible. So, how are companies able to claim they "repair" hair? These shampoos and conditioners use chemicals that coat the hair shaft, making it feel or look like it's repaired, but underneath it's still the same old strand of hair. It's like dipping the driftwood in tar and saying that it's been repaired. Yes, the damage may be hidden, but underneath it all, it's still an old piece of wood. So the next time you see one of those TV commercials about "repairing hair" just replace "repair" with "coat with chemicals" and you'll get the true picture.

Myth #2: The concept of "Dry" hair

Okay, let's break this down here. What's the opposite of dry? Wet, obviously. What causes something to be wet? Well, water, of course. So, when you're "moisturizing" hair, are you adding water to it? No. You wouldn't want that because when hair is wet, the hair shaft is very weak because the cuticle has absorbed water and the overall bonds of the keratin are weakened. What about oil? Is it oil we're moisturizing with? No, it's not that either. Oily hair isn't any stronger or more manageable. Oily hair is dull and limp. So, "dry" (meaning waterless and minimal oil) hair is actually a good thing. So, what are we doing when we "moisturize" hair? Same as "repairing" it. We're just coating it with chemicals so that it feels softer. Hair doesn't need to be moisturized like skin does. A little bit of oil helps add sheen to hair, but you don't need much.

So, what are we really feeling when we say we have "dry" hair? There is such a thing as damaged hair. There is wiry hair. There is frizzy hair. But there is no such thing as "dry" hair.

Myth #3: Your natural hair color is unattractive.

Dishwater blonde anyone? Yes, that happens to be my natural hair color. The corporate cosmetic conglomerates and their decades of marketing efforts would have me feeling mousy for parading around with my (shock) natural hair color visible to the entire world. You need some "drama," "depth," or "luminescence" to your hair color in order to look beautiful, they would have me feel. I notice all the girls with their fashionable blondes, streaks, frosts, weaves, ombres and other expensive color treatments. And for a moment, I do have to admit that I feel inferior for not coloring my hair. But then I have to remind myself that I'm only feeling this way because billions of dollars are spent every year to make me feel this way.

Your natural hair color, yes, even gray, is beautiful. What's even more beautiful is not having to subject yourself to toxic chemicals every six weeks. Permanent hair dyes contain carcinogenic acrylamines, which are absorbed through the skin during the hair treatment. Genetically, some individuals are able to produce very efficient protective enzymes that render the acrylamines harmless and eliminate them quickly through the urine. In others, the process is less effective, and these people are at risk of bladder cancer.

Other chemicals found in hair dyes are phenylenediamine, heavy metals such as mercury, and coal tar. (Check out this great article for more on this and stay tuned for tomorrows post for more chemicals to avoid.)

Growing old is not a sin. Gray hair is a badge of honor. You've made it this far through life, why not wear it with pride?! Not quite ready for that? Henna is the most safe and natural option out there. And hey--it was good enough for Lucille Ball. And you doesn't love Lucy?!

Of course, I respect every person's decisions to do what they want to look and feel their best. Just make sure that you're not coloring your hair because you're ashamed of your natural hair color. 

Myth #4: Your hair needs to be straight.
Do you ever see a shampoo commercial featuring someone with tight curls? No. It's usually straight or slightly wavy hair that glistens and gleams under carefully-placed lights for the camera. For years these commercials have brainwashed (some of) us in to thinking that curly or kinky hair is unhealthy and un-sexy so they can sell us straightening irons, chemical straightening treatments, and heavy conditioners. I hear so many women who think that they need to condition their tight curls because they don't feel soft. They think that their hair is "dry" when really it's just coarse hair. Just because your hair doesn't feel or look like corn silk, doesn't mean it isn't healthy hair. It's just the nature of your hair--embrace it. Don't subject yourself to the marketing hype and gallons of harmful chemicals that you expose yourself to "conditioning" or straightening your hair.

Myth #5: Your hair needs vitamins.

Remember, hair is dead. Vitamins do nothing for hair. Vitamins are only beneficial if they're absorbed in to the body, a living thing. The body uses vitamins in metabolic pathways to create energy, fight free-radicals, or build or repair tissue. Pro-V, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin E and all these scientific "vitamin complex" ingredients--they're just in the shampoo for label for appeal. You're just pouring them on and washing them down the drain.

Find out our tips for Natural Hair Care Here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lavender & Tea Tree Estrogenic????

You may have heard reports that Lavender & Tea Tree essential oils are estrogenic and caused young boys to grow breasts. Concerned myself with xenoestrogens, I decided, of course, to look in to the subject.

Even though the story is all over the news and the Internet, there is actually only ONE study that makes these claims. So, I took a closer look at the study.

Originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study details three young boys who had developed gynecomastia (breasts). The doctors treating the boys learned that each of them were using products with lavender or tea tree essential oils, and once they stopped using these products, the breasts went away. The researchers then took these case studies and decided to test the essential oils on human tissue in a lab. According to their study, the essential oils acted estrogenically, and thus could have been the cause of the breast development in the boys. However, I, along with numerous researchers and doctors have found some major flaws in the study.

Before I get in to more specifics--just a quick note. Looking at the footnotes of the study, you'll notice that all of the doctors who conducted the research are sponsored by numerous drug companies. 'Nuff said.

Three doctors (Kathi J. Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157; Aviva J. Romm, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510; Paula Gardiner, M.D., M.P.H., Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215) wrote a commentary on the study:
The study by Henley et al. (Feb. 1 issue)1 raises many questions. Product names were not provided. Did the authors contact manufacturers to report concerns or ask about constituents? The variability, adulteration, and contamination of herbal products have been widely reported,2,3 as have discrepancies between labels and contents.4 Plastic containers may contain phthalates, known endocrine disrupters.5 What was actually in the products cited in this report?

None of the hormonal testing showed abnormal results, except in Patient 2, who had elevated levels of testosterone (not estrogen). There was no report on ultrasound examination or needle biopsy, nor were subsequent weight changes reported. Might the patients' gynecomastia have reflected another pathophysiological process that resolved spontaneously?

Traditional use and clinical trials have not suggested estrogenic effects of tea tree or lavender oil, though estrogenic effects have been reported for other essential oils and plants. Are occupational exposures to lavender and tea tree associated with estrogenic symptoms? In vitro testing alone is not adequate grounds for indicting traditionally used products and may raise public fear.
The doctors bring up a few great points here, number one in my book is, what other estrogen mimickers were present in these products used on the young boys? Parabens? Phalates? The ingredients are not documented and could be a number of things--even from using bottles made with BPA.

But what about the laboratory tests they did on petri dishes of human cells? If you look carefully at their study, you'll notice they didn't apply pure lavender or tea tree essential oil on the cells they were testing, they used a solvent to dilute the oils. The solvent is dimethylsulfoxide---which, as it turns out, is an estrogen mimicker! (as documented here.)

The bottom line is that lavender and tea tree essential oils have been used for thousands of years with no history or evidence of estrogen mimicry. They're probably the most widely used essential oils in baby products, so of course the three boys in the study were using them. If lavender and tea tree essential oils were truly estrogen mimickers, we would have known about their effects long ago.