Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Natural-Sounding Ingredients to Avoid

The Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Database is a great place to research ingredients and safety. However, we're uncovered a number of natural-sounding ingredients that score low in the database, but are not as safe and natural as they sound. Here's a quick and easy summary:

Vegetable Emulsifying Wax

(also listed as: Emulsifying Wax, Vegetable Emuslifying Wax NF)
This wax sounds harmless and even scores a "0" risk in the Cosmetics Database. However, it's not as natural as it sounds when you look at what it's really made out of. Vegetable Emulsifying wax contains ethoxylated compounds PEG-150 Stearate, polysorbate 60, and Steareth-20. These ingredients are created using the known carcinogen ethylene oxide, traces of which can be left in the product, along with the carcinogenic by-product 1,4-dioxane.

More info:
My original blog post
My Chemical of the Day follow-up

Japanese Honeysuckle Extract
(also listed as: Honeysuckle Extract)

This harmless-sounding extract contains para-hydroxy benzoic acid, which is structurally nearly identical to parabens, and is known to mimic estrogen in the same way.

More info:
Chemical of the Day Article

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Even when it's made from organic grapefruits, this is not a natural extract. It undergoes about 7 different steps of chemical processing, and in the end creates a quaternary ammonium compound similar to benzethonium chloride. It is not natural. It is not organic. This is a synthetic compound.

More info:
Chemical of the Day Article

"Mineral Salts"
Used in the crystal deodorants that are so popular today, "Mineral Salts" are made up of alum. Usually it's potassium alum, and sometimes ammonium alum. The full name of alum is aluminum sulfate. Aluminum has been long recognized for its potential negative link to Alzheimer's disease. If you are trying to avoid aluminum, avoiding "mineral salts" should be included.

More info:
Chemical of the Day Article

Monday, March 22, 2010

Toothpaste Update Part 2

You wouldn't believe the amount of e-mails we've been getting....."WHEN IS YOUR TOOTHPASTE GOING TO BE READY?!!!!" So, I thought I'd post an update.

1. Formula--done.
2. Type of packaging--done.
3. Order ingredients--hit a brick wall.

So, the last time I posted, I was all excited because I had finally figured out the packaging. Well, now we've run in to another snag: the supply of one of our major ingredients, organic erythritol.

We wanted to be the first certified organic toothpaste on the market. Well, now it's looking like it's just not going to happen in the near future. There's only one manufacturer of the main ingredient in our toothpaste, organic erythritol, and they've discontinued it. The price of the remaining supply of organic erythritol on the market is hiked up so high, we'd have to charge at least $20 for a tube of toothpaste. And then, when we run out of organic erythritol, we run out and can't make it any more.

I've found a supplier of certified GMO-free erythritol, which is great, but it doesn't allow us to put the USDA symbol on the product. Which makes me want to cry because I've been so excited to have this product out as USDA certified organic. What do you guys think? Will you still be excited about it if it's certified GMO-free instead of organic?

So, now the next step is to make a decision---either we charge $20 a tube for the organic variety and hope that someone starts making organic erythritol soon, or go with what we know we can get (GMO-free), have a lower-priced toothpaste and a reliable supply. What do you think?

Whatever we decide, we're shooting to have something ready by the end of April.