We Are the Champions, My Friends

Today, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a new report, Market Shift, which documents how they worked with cosmetics industry leaders over the past 7 years to raise awareness about personal care product safety. Through the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, companies voluntarily pledge to avoid chemicals banned in other countries, avoid harmful ingredients whenever possible and fully disclose their product ingredients. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, increasing consumer demand for products made without hazardous chemicals has made natural and safe cosmetics the fastest-growing segment of the $50 billion cosmetics industry. This is great news for consumers looking for healthy options, and great news for companies that work hard to provide the safest, purest products for them.

I am proud to announce that Herban Lifestyle is one of the 432 companies that have achieved “Champion” or “Innovator” status by meeting the goals of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Compact for Safe Cosmetics! In fact, Herban Lifestyle achieved Champion status, which means that we:

• Comply with the European Union’s Cosmetics Directive, widely considered the global gold standard of cosmetics safety regulation,

• Disclose all ingredients, including ingredients in “fragrance,” which in the United States can be claimed as “confidential business information,” even when it contains hormone disruptors, carcinogens and other harmful chemicals,

• Publish and regularly update product information in EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database,

• Comply with any additional ingredient prohibitions and restrictions under the Compact and substitute ingredients of concern with safer alternatives, and

• Participate in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

If you go to the Campaign’s Skin Deep Database, you will see that Herban Lifestyle products contain the safest ingredients available.

Market Shift shows how the Champions and Innovators (who range from small mom-and-pop businesses to some of the largest businesses in the natural products sector) are working toward higher standards of safety for personal care products, and are doing so successfully. As Mia Davis, organizing director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said, “Their ability and willingness to work toward the Compact requirements shows not only that it is possible to make products that far exceed current safety standards in the United States, but also that making safe personal care products can be part of a successful business model.”

[Note: I have seen similar posts to this one on other sites that have attracted comments emphatically stating that there is no need for safer cosmetics because the FDA already assures that cosmetics are safe. It is true that the FDA has standards around cleanliness of facilities and non-contaminated products, which is very important. But safety in this context means that a product doesn’t have the potential to put you and your family at higher risk for cancer, diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases that are not as immediately apparent as a rash, but certainly have more dire long-term effects. For more details, please see the President’s Cancer Panel Report, which was released in April 2010. Also, today’s news on the FDA and contaminated cosmetics products indicates there is still some work to be done in this area, too.]


Baby With the Bath Water

BabySetThe following post is by guest blogger, Julia Guarino

It is always good to consider the safety of body care product ingredients, but it is especially as when choosing the right products for your baby. With a baby’s delicate skin, the word “gentle” appeals to many parents, but the process used to make common chemical ingredients more “gentle” in fact produces a byproduct that is a known carcinogen. This byproduct, called 1,4-dioxane, is banned from cosmetics and body products in the European Union, and though not considered cause for concern in small amounts, it is present in an alarming number of baby products meant for daily use; the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found detectible amounts in 32 out of 48 products they tested this year. To avoid 1,4-dioxane, watch for these common ingredients: PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also tested the baby products for the presence of Formaldehyde, which is released by some common preservatives like Quaternium-15 over time when they are stored in a container. Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen, can be absorbed through the skin, and causes skin reactions in some individuals. This iffy – and frankly pretty creepy – contaminate was found in 23 out of 28 baby products tested for it. Seventeen out of 28 were found to have both Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. If you’d like to learn more, you can take a look at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetic’s report, “No More Toxic Tub.

 This may leave you feeling somewhat overwhelmed; after all, if these ingredients are present in almost all of the products you normally buy, how can you avoid exposing your baby – and yourself – to these potentially dangerous ingredients? One excellent resource is the Environmental Working Group’s “Parent’s Buying Guide,” which rates the safety level of products based on the European Union’s cosmetics standards and other published safety data. The database contains thousands of entries, and can help parents pick safe and natural products for themselves, too!

Herban Lifestyle offers a line of truly natural baby products, made from organic and natural ingredients. Come back tomorrow for a couple of recipes for baby products that you can make in your own kitchen!

Safe Cosmetics

safecosmeticsLead in lipstick?! Carcinogens in baby shampoo?! Are any bath and body products safe?

Luckily, there’s the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, where you can look up virtually any product on the market and discover what’s really in your products, and which products are safe. If your product isn’t listed, you can look up the individual ingredients. Associated with this is the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which asks companies to sign a pledge to abide by EU standards. Companies that sign the pledge register their products and ingredients in the Skin Deep Database, and abide by a set of standards that ensure full disclosure of the safety of their products. You can support the Campaign in many ways, big and small, from becoming a fan on Facebook, to starting a grassroots movement in your community! Herban Lifestyle has signed the pledge. Encourage your other favorite body product company to sign, too!

Safer Personal Care Products

Organic Peppermint Soap

Organic Peppermint Soap

Ten years ago this month, I was in the midst of a very sad and strange time. One of my friends was dying of prostate cancer, another was being treated for thyroid cancer, two were undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, and a professor of mine had recently passed away from a brief, but brave fight against a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so I have been thinking about these people have been on my mind lately.

One aspect of my work outside of Herban Lifestyle involves staying up to date on cancer prevention research, so I read a lot about topics like diet, exercise, and other ways you can reduce your risk of cancer. And one thing you can do to keep yourself healthy is to avoid potential carcinogens in your environment, particularly in your personal care and makeup products. You may be surprised at how prevalent they are.

There are many resources for finding out which ingredients are best to avoid, such as the European Union’s banned ingredients list. But one resource I have found to be very useful is Whole Foods’ quick guide to ingredients that have been found to cause a variety of health problems. Their Guide to Premium Body Care Product Ingredients is an easy-to-read list makes it simple to interpret those wordy ingredient labels. I recommend printing it out and carrying it with you when you shop for personal care products.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has as its mission “to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems, and replace them with safer alternatives.” Herban Lifestyle has signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ pledge “to not use chemicals that are known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutation or birth defects in their products.” You can find the complete list of companies that have pledged to use safe ingredients here.