Saturday, May 16, 2009

All Natural?

I was involved in a conversation yesterday about "All Natural" products, rather that is, products claiming to be natural and what constitutes natural. We are increasingly becoming more interested as a society, I think, in natural products and that is a good thing in my mind. But many are using the term in a loose way to draw in unsuspecting customers. What most people don't realize is that (1) just because it has the word "Natural" on it doesn't mean it is truly all natural and (2) all things "Natural" aren't necessarily good for you.

So let's take a moment to expand on each of those two thoughts and how Soap Scent-sations addresses them in our products.

1) "It's All Natural" Yes, I use natural ingredients. Natural bee's wax, natural butters, natural oils, and natural essential oils. They are natural in the sense that they come from nature and I do my best to find ingredients that are grown and harvested in a responsible way. However, a key ingredient needed to make soap is sodium hydroxide which is a manufactured chemical. Without it, soap simply could not be. And I do use fragrance oils and some FD&C colorings that are not "natural". They are chemically made to mimic scents and colors found in nature.
Some of them I find pleasing and at Soap Scent-sations we use them on occassion.

Furthermore, any products containing water must be preserved to prevent bacteria from growing in the products. While there are certainly some less potent/harmful preservatives, I know of none that are truly natural. I would rather take the chance with a preservative than introduce my customers to potential bacterial infections that they may never recover from.

So can I, or any other bath and body business call their products natural? In a sense yes if they are using natural ingredients, only essential oils, no synthetic dyes, and no preservatives. All Natural, I don't feel that I can make that full claim. I do use the necessary ingredient sodium hydroxide, limited fragrance oils, and synthetic dyes in many of my products. However, I will say that handmade products in general can be far more enjoyable.

2) Natures Own Well, it is from nature so it must be good for you, right? Not by a long shot. There are many essential oils that should not be used on any skin, and certainly none should be ingested. And what is good for one individual, may not be good for another. We all have different skin types and certain oils are more helpful to dry skin, while others are better for oily skin.

Of course there are the allergens to consider. I have become increasingly aware of the many allergies that exist today. In my house we avoid dairy and peanut products. Many are allergic to nut oils, including a favorite among soapers--coconut oil. The best I can do is be aware and considerate of those allergens. While I do not think it is possible to make an entirely allergen free product, I have made a conscious decision to no longer use almond oil in my Lipster Sticks due to an awareness of allergies. Allergies are also why it is extremely important to Soap Scent-sations to list every ingredient on all products. It is your job as a consumer to know what you can't use and be deligent in requiring ingredient listings on the handmade goods you purchase. And of course, if you have special requirements, we are always happy to find a way to make it possible (within reason of course).

So what should you gleen from this? 1) "All Natural" is a clever marketing tool. 2) All things "Natural" may not good for. 3) Be an informed consumer and READ LABELS!

I hope this has been helpful to you in looking for quality, handmade products. And certainly hope it has informed you on the nature of "Natural".


Melina and Denise said...

I used to work in the cosmetics industry and one of my pet peeves was the 'if it's natural it must be good' attitude. Thank you for taking the time to explain that some chemicals are necessary and not everything in nature is good for us!

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your discussion of "all-natural," especially now that companies are using the term so loosely. Your products seem great!

Runako Designs by Dee said...

There are so many miss leading advertising gimmicks out there today. Thanks for providing this very informative information and being honest about your products. I suffer with Ezcema and there are few products with perfumes that I can use, so I appreciate the lesson.