Tag Archives: botanical

Cosmetics; true claims or publicity?

Though the skin acts as a barrier to the “outside world”, a lot of the stuff we put on it will pass through and enter the bloodstream, influencing every cell of your body. In this day of enlightenment with information and knowledge, literally at your fingertips, more and more people are growing aware of the importance of what you put on, and in, your body. Later years there has been a great wave of new awareness of “the bad stuff”; chemicals, artificial flavorings, synthetic perfumes and manipulated foods. People stay clear of that which they know to be bad and try to make informed choices, especially when it comes to food. BUT when it comes to skin care, only the tip of the ice-berg has been scraped.

Catchy, but is it true?

Catchy, but is it true?

The cosmetic market is one of the largest in the world, turning over more money than we can even imagine and there have been almost no regulations whatsoever. Over the past few years new bodies of regulation have been formed and guide-lines are being set up. This is all good and well, but in reality it means nothing because the only regulations we are seeing are about certain (a very small percent) ingredients which have shown to be harmful to human health. There are still no guidelines in place about what you are allowed to say in terms of publicity. A producer can say anything he likes, even if it is a blatant lie. (see earlier post)

As a producer and manufacturer of botanical organic products, I have spent much time doing research among people and shops; How informed are people and what do they ask for? How informed are the staff in cosmetic sections? I have spent hours browsing cosmetic departments in many different countries and the picture is the same everywhere…The answer is; NOTHING! More people than ever are asking for “clean” cosmetics; no chemicals, no animal-testing, organic and natural. They trust the staff in the shop to know these things and help them, but the staff only knows that which they have been told when trained to sell specific brands. This is no knowledge at all, it is publicity. Staff as well as the common person don’t know how to read inci-list (ingredients) nor do they know what the words mean. On top of that the inci-list is printed on some obscure part of the packaging that you have to search for and in such tiny letters that I need both my glasses and a magnifying glass to read it. (see this post on inci) If you buy cosmetics over the internet, the inci is not always listed on the site, only on the physical product.

Clinically? I doubt it. Spread on that botox, no more shots...Seriously?

Clinically? I doubt it. Spread on that botox, no more shots…Seriously?

Animal testing is a huge arena and the world is beginning to understand the impact such testing has on millions, billions of animals. Most people are horrified and would never want to use any product that has been tested on animals. The majority of products on the market today claim that they have not been tested on animals which is probably true. BUT many of the different ingredients have been tested on animals, even though the finished product hasn’t been tested. Claims on skin care are seldom true, they are publicity.

With this I will leave you to inform yourself; what do you actually need for your personal hygiene and cosmetics? What is acceptable to you? If you want to know more and inform yourself so that you can make better choices, there are loads of sites on the internet where you can find this information very easily, I have put a few links on the right under “information & resources”. When you go shopping, ask questions and demand informed answers.

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WHAT IS IN YOUR SKIN-CARE?

“The European Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (COLIPA) informed the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) that the Legal Services of the EU Commission has accepted the names in CTFA’s International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary (ICID) without translation. These names, which are now designated as International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) names, will be used by EU members to identify ingredients in the EU Inventory of cosmetic ingredients and are expected to be the basis for ingredient labeling on products that will be required in the EU in 1997.”

(taken from a FDA document that you can look closer at here.)

Simplified, this means that until this time there were no regulations regarding the declaring of ingredients in skin-care. You could put anything you liked in there, and nobody would ever know. Because of, or maybe thanks to, increasing allergic reactions, the demand for clarity about ingredients in skin-care pushed the need of this law. To simplify the communication and understanding of ingredients, INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) was decided upon: This means that all ingredients by plant extracts are named by their Latin botanical names (according to Linneae) and for other ingredients the chemical names are used. These names are recognized world-wide. Regulations also stipulate that on the label the ingredients should be listed in falling order with the largest ingredient first. To give you an idea of the amounts: A cream consists of about 50-60% water, a lotion of 70-90% water. The ingredients way down on the list are in the proportions of 0,x% or even 0,0x%. So if you buy, for example, a product that is labeled with something special; lavender or Aloe Vera or something, check the list. Chances are that you find this ingredient among the last on the list, and then you know the amounts are around 0.x%. There is no law stipulating WHAT you can say, only that you list it. Following are the INCI-lists of 2 well-known, popular body-lotions. I have highlighted the pure natural ingredients.

This is the INCI-list of a popular body lotion: Aqua, Ethylhexyl Cocoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Paraffinum liquidum, Glycerin, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract, Linoleic Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Cera Microcristallina, Disodium Phosphate, Propylene Glycol, Parfum, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sorbic Acid, Benzoic acid, BHT, Pentaerythrityl Tetradi-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamat, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Limonene, Linalol.

Several of these chemicals are known toxins.

This is the INCI-list of a natural body-lotion: Water/Aqua, Rose (Rosa Canina) Hip Extract, Rose (Rosa Gallica) Petal Extract, Sweet Almond (Prunus Dulcis) Oil, Alcohol, Glycerin, Quince (Pyrus Cydonia) Seed Extract, Shea (Butyrospermum Parkii) Butter, Carrot (Daucus Carota) Extract, Jojoba (Buxus Chinensis) Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Beeswax/Cera Flava, Rose (Rosa Gallica) Wax, Rose (Rosa Damascena) Essential Oil, Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oil), Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citral*, Coumarin*, Eugenol*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Propolis Wax/Propolis Cera, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum


I leave it up to you to make your decision about what kind of stuff you want to put on your skin. Remember though that if molecules are small enough, they go straight through your skin and into your bloodstream from where they can access every cell of your body.

If you want more information on different chemicals or skin-care ingredients, you can check out this website: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/

ESSENTIAL OIL QUALITY – Ravensara/Ravintsara

ravensaraI wrote in an earlier post about an essential oil I picked up: Ravintsara (cinnamomum camphora). I couldn’t really get this oil out of my head so I have been doing some research. As usual there is plenty of misunderstandings between different oils, popular names, botanical names and the chemical properties. What continues to confuse me are the different Latin names but this is what I have found:

Ravensara, (Ravensara aromatica / Ravensara anisataLauraceae family) Is a a leafy evergreen tree 18 to 20 meters high with a reddish-grey bark indigenous to the moist forests of Madagascar, in Malagasy called Havozo. The essential oil is steam-distilled from the stem-bark (Ravensara anisata) or the leaves & branches (Ravensara aromatica)

The main chemical constituents of R. aromatica are: 1,8 cinèole (up to 49%). The main chemical constituents in R. anisata are: anethole (approx. 85%) and methyl chavicol. This makes these two oils completely different.  Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora – Lauraceae family) is steam-distilled from the leaves. It is also high in 1,8 cinèole.

The problem is that I cannot find any information on the Ravintsara (c. camphora). All info I can find reverts back to Ravensara aromatica/anisata. So the question is; Is it really the same plant? Or is it a mixup of the names? One source states: “Cinnamomum camphora is also named Ravintsara in Madagascar; hence Ravensara camphora is seen on price lists mistakenly as ravensara but no true species exist; various qualities abound”.

So you see the confusion around essential oils; this is why it is so important to make sure that the oil you buy is good quality and has a Latin (botanical) name on the label. In the case with the Ravensara, I would go for the botanical name Ravensara aromatica.

to be continued…when I have more information.

ESSENTIAL OIL QUALITY – part 3 – classification

campho13-l

camphor

Cinnamomum camphora


Essential oils come from many different plants. They all have a Latin or botanical name.  It is extremely important that this is clearly stated on the label. Common names can be highly deceptive and confusing. Besides, the Latin name is global, so language makes no difference. The plants also belong to different families which have a botanical or Latin name. An example: The botanical name of Eucalyptus is Eucalyptus globulus and it belongs to the family Myrtaceae.

Let’s take cedarwood; there are plenty of different species called cedarwood and they all have different botanical names, they even belong to different families:

  • Cedrus atlantica is the essential oil mostly used for aromatherapy. It is mild and  safe to use. It belongs to the family Pinaceae.
  • Cedrus deodara (Himalayan cedarwood), Cedrus libani (Lebanon cedarwood) both belong to the family Pinaceae.
  • Juniperus virginiana (red cedarwood) belongs to the family Cupressaceae which means it is an entirely different species. Not enough is known about this essential oil so it is safer to use Cedrus atlantica.
  • Thuja occidentalis (cedarleaf) also belongs to the family Cupressaceae. It is toxic and should never be used in aromatherapy.

So you see why the latin botanical specification is so important, only then will you know that you are getting what you are looking for. It is not as complicated as it may seem, all different essential oils are not readily available to the wider public, so it is not necessary to know them all. But if you want to buy an oil; make sure you know the Latin name, and here is the reason why:

I am always on the look-out for new labels/brands of essential oils and 2 days ago I found a brand I haven’t seen before. The oil I bought was wrong in every way possible:

  • The label stated the oil to be Ravintsara (or Ravensara) with the Latin name of: Cinnamomum camphora, and here are the facts:
  1. The latin name of Ravensara is Ravensara aromatica.
  2. Cinnamomum camphora is the latin name of Camphor.
  3. They both belong to the same family; Lauraceae. The properties of the 2 essential oils are very different and cinnamomum camphora should be used with care.
  • The label of the oil I bought stated that it could be used neat; 4 drops directly on the skin. I tried 1 drop and had a red itching patch on my arm. ( And I am not very sensitive)

The morale of this? Train your nose, it will be your best guide. Buy essential oils only from trusted, well-established brands. Make sure that the brand has the distinction of aromatherapy, since the demands for quality are higher in this area. Don’t be afraid to question and demand information.