Thursday, October 21, 2010

What is Natural? Is the word misused?

In this day and age everyone is concerned about what ingredients are in their foods and body products.  But really consitutes a natural product?  According to Star Khechara, author of The Holistic Beauty Book, says that it is difficult to quantify plus everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a natural ingredient or product.  Plus natural is often a misused word.

But according to the dictionary, natural means existing or produced in nature.  At this time, there is no legal defintion of the word "natural" as it pertains to cosmetics.  This means that the most heinously chemically fileed cosemetics can use the term on their labelling.  Even the most wholesome seeming product can also contain a whole host of unnatural irritants.The other issue to consider is the so called naturalness of an ingredient or products such as organically grown or substanably harvested and other environmental considerations.

So what are organic materials?  There is some confusion between organic and natural.  For an ingredient to be labelled "organic" it has to be grown to organic standards established by a proper agriculture organization and cannot be a carbon base company.  So simply for something to be organic, it is the way of growing an item that avoids using chemicals, pesticides and artificial fertilizers in the soil or on the plant. Also, the organic item must be certified by a proper organization.

Some of the other misused words or phrases are pure, aromatherapy, extracts of...., devired from...., extracts of.  Lets examine some of these other words and phrases.

Pure is a term that can be completely unproven, unique and meaningless term.  What is the actual term used for?  Could it be a marketing ploy?  Most likely.  What do you think? 

Aromatherapy is another words that appears on labels.  When the word appears on the label that the products really do not contain any aromatics plant extracts, botanicals or essential oils.  Alot of companies jumped on the aromatherapy bandwagon and started to make aromatherapy claims about their products.

"Extracts of..." is a term that manufacturers love to add a small atom of a plant extract to hide an otherwise hideous synthetic cocoction so that can just state it on their label as a selling point.

One of the worst offenders of the terms is "Devired from...".  This term is used widely from the makers of commerically natural products which you would find in your local health food store. So watch this term because the actual ingredient may be processed and somehow become something less natural.

There are plenty of other words or terms that appear on labels or in advertising to sell cosmetics.  They are hypo-allergenic, anti-aging,  and dermologically tested. So be very wary when you see these words or terms used randomly or hap-hazardly.

So truly natural ingredients can be separated into three categories:  Vegetable, Animal and Mineral.  The vegetable category contains plant based materials such as cocoa butter, almond oil, herbs, flowers, essential oils, nuts and seeds.  Animal category would include laolin, beeswax, milk, honey and animal fats.  And final the mineral category includes various clays, muds and certain pigments.

After all this is there such a thing as a natural product? Well the best way I can answer that is probably on the product.  Lets take soap.  There is a difference between commerically manufactured perfumed soap and soap that is handcrafted  using natural facts and essential oils.  When a soapmaker makes a batch of cold process or hot process soap, it is not correct for them to label their soap as "Natural" because soap does not actually occur in nature itself.  It is actually a chemical compound resulting between fatty acids and a powerful akali - Sodium Hydroxide aka Lye.  This chemical reaction is called saponification.  What I found really interesting and did not realize is that soap is really a sythethic man-made chemical of salt. Nowhere in nature does sodium hydroxide suddenly comes into contact with some fat and turns into soap.  So crafters who make their own soap should label their soap as being manufactured from only natural ingredients as opposed to the soap itself being a natural product.

So it come down to this - consumers be careful to examine on what is actually labelled on beauty products because you maybe paying for the hype.  And if you make your own bath and body products for sale, make sure to label your products accurately.


Mrs. Laborn said...

I have a question? Im starting my own bath and body product line and I was wondering about how to start selling it legal? Meaning do I need to have disclamiers on it, I know I need insurance but im not sure where to start, how can i get started with my products and distriute with disclamiers and have insurance?

Soap Crafter said...

One thing that is really inportant is labelling your products with all the ingredients that are in the product you are making. You cannot say essentials, coloring, etc. YOu have to list the ingredients with the INCI names. INCI names are standardize names for each ingredient. You have to list every single ingredient in your product. If you do not and someone gets ill from your product, you can get into big trouble. And yes definately you should get insurance. Insurance can be hard to get. One place you can get it is through the Handmade Soapmaker's Guild. But you need to become a member.

Another important thing that you should be aware of is making a claim ie clears ance. If you do then it is considered a drug and your product will follow under the guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration.

One great book is a book by Marie Gale on Soap and Comestic Labelling. She goes into great deal about labeling your product. Also check the food and drug administration.

I am not sure what you mean about dislaimers. What kind of disclaimer are you putting on your label.

I do not know where you plan to sell your products - Online, Arts and Wine Festivals? I would it say it would be difficult to sell handmade products that you make at home and try to get it distributed through a large retailer like Sephora. Selling online can be difficult because there are some many others that have the same idea. You need to start maybe at your local farmer's market with a table so people can see and feel your product. And then you can have a website to refer to them if they ever need to order more from you at a later date. You really need to establish your self selling your product. Alot of the arts and wine festivals are great to get exposure, but they can be expensive. For example, the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival costs $600 for a booth for the weekend. You will need to sell alot of stuff to break even. You may want to check to see if there are any small retail stores to see if they would sell your products.

You may even want to try and sell your products like an Avon lady. Or perhaps like a tupperware party situation.

That is would suggest. There may be others who actually sell their products. I do not happen to sell the stuff I make. I make mine for pleasure and give them out as gifts.