Monday, October 8, 2007

Best for the Breast

Be aware: A beauty product’s “natural” claims don’t mean it’s free of synthetic chemicals. You’ve still got to read the fine print. Ingredients can vary a lot between different products made by the same company. Earlier this year, while shopping at l’Occitane, my eyes were drawn to a bust-firming gel. What a good idea, and how very French! As always, though, I read the ingredients list.

Sadly, alongside the certified-organic essential oils of lavender and the extract of nettle, were listed those troublesome paraben preservatives that cause the proliferation of breast cancer cells in lab tests. Not exactly what you’d want in a breast cream.

Heureusement, paraben-free alternatives abound in other body lotions, including some of l’Occitane’s, as follows.

Paraben- and Fragrance (Phthalate)-Free Body Creams

L’Occitane certified Bio Organic Lait Corps with Essential Oil of Lavender, $22 for 8.4 oz., or eponymous boutiques.

Avalon Organics Peppermint, Rosemary, Lemon, Ylang Ylang, Lavender or Aloe Unscented Hand & Body Lotion, $9.95 for 12 oz., or Whole Foods (it’s $6.99 in some of their stores), drugstores.

Jurlique Rose Body Lotion, $38 for 8 oz., at better drugstores.

Terressentials Organic Flower Therapy or Fragrance-Free Silken Velvet Body Lotions, $23.75 or $22.50, respetively, for 8 oz.,

Dr. Bronner's & Sun Dog's Magic Organic Patchouli Lime, Peppermint, Orange Lavender or Lavender Coconut Lotion, $9.99 for 8 oz.,



Diana from TerrEssentials said...

Hello, Penny!

Thanks for letting folks know about our USDA certified organic body lotions. We spent years searching for premium certified organic ingredients and developing truly natural, truly organic formulas to meet the strict guidelines of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and we are very proud to state our company is certified organic by the state of Maryland's Department of Agriculture's Organic Certification Program and that every product that we make meets the USDA NOP rules!

We wanted to take a moment to help to educate everyone about the use of the word "organic" as it applies to genuine certified organic products. At this time, the highest organic standard in the world, by far, is our own USDA NOP. If food products that are produced in other countries desire to be sold in the USA, they MUST comply with our USDA NOP federal regulations. If a product is authentically certified organic it will proudly bear the USDA seal on the front label of the container -- this is the only way to distinguish an authentic certified organic product.

There are a few countries that are claiming to have "organic" standards for personal care products, but these loose standards are not governmental standards, they are industry-created standards, and they allow all manner of synthetic chemicals and extreme chemical processes -- chemically-reacted detergents, chemically-reacted and isolated fatty acids or hydrogenated emulsifying waxes, synthetic protein polymers and thickeners, synthetic colorings, even synthetic chemical sunscreens and preservatives! These ingredients are not natural, let alone organic, and, importantly, are not permitted under the strict guidelines of the USDA NOP. It is very important to note that the most common European "organic standard" for personal care products labeled as "organic" only requires 10% of a product's total ingredients to come from organic agriculture! We are very fortunate that the USA has the highest organic standards in the world: in the US, for a product to labeled as "organic," 95% or more of the agricultural ingredients must be certified organic and may not be processed with extreme industrial methods and petrochemical reactive agents.

It is unfortunate, though, that the USDA NOP office has recently stated that they do not have enough staff or money in their budget to police the entire organic industry. Green consumers need to be aware that there are multitudes of personal care products being sold in the US as "organic," even "certified organic," that do not come anywhere near meeting our strict US organic regulations.

Consumers should be aware that purchasing products from a vitamin retail store, health food grocery store, natural pharmacy or "organic" web site is no guarantee that they are actually buying a certified organic product. A USDA logo/seal on a web site or on a brochure also does not indicate a genuine certified organic product. At this time, the only way to identify a genuine USDA certified organic personal care product is to look for products that bear the USDA organic seal on the front label of the container. A product might also bear the seal from one of the 26 US states that currently have a state government organic certification program within their department of agriculture such as the state of Maryland's Organic Certification Program. Unlike independent, for-profit certifying companies and foreign certifiers, US state government certifiers are bound by our federal organic law to only certify products to our own USDA National Organic Program. To identify an official US state government certifier, look for ".gov" in the web address of the certifier.

To review, the only way that a consumer can trust that they are getting a genuine USDA certified organic product is to look for the seal on the front of the product label.

Remember: If it doesn't have the seal, it ain't the real deal!

Anonymous said...

Excellent article! It was so confusing at first in the health food stores when I started to go "chemical-free" with my skin care routine. I read ingredient lists carefully now. The USDA certification is helpful but have heard that this is expensive for some smaller companies and the ones I've tried that have the seal weren't very effective (sticky even). I buy most things online, since I don't live close to a whole foods store anymore. A few great lines you didn't mention that are pure: Healing Anthropology, Karen's Botanicals, and Soleo Organics (for sunscreen). Hope this helps others!

Anonymous said...

I too had trouble going "green". I found Healing Anthropology on a website, but it may be in Whole Foods. Great info on the USDA progam above though.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the comment "The USDA certification is helpful but have heard that this is expensive for some smaller companies": Terressentials is a VERY small company, yet every product they make is certified to the USDA National Organic Program standard. What an embarrassment for all those other ones who say, "Oh, it's too hard!" It's just much easier to slap an "organic" label on a bottle of chemicals.