January 28, 2008

Another Day, Another Product Labeled "Natural"

The beauty and skincare industries have become downright saturated with products that claim they are "natural" or "organic." The scary thing is, to the average consumer, these products seem like healthier alternatives... but most are not.

Take for instance Johnson and Johnson's new "nourishing" lotion for babies, "Soothing Naturals."
To borrow a quote from the "Pace" Salsa commercials, "that really chaps my hide," when products are marketed as "natural," but contain toxic ingredients. Many parents will buy this, believing they are nourishing their baby's skin, but the notion behind this lotion is deceptive and dangerous.

One of the top three, and therefore most prevalent ingredients in this lotion is cetyl alcohol, which is extremely harsh and drying on baby's delicate skin. Also, as the body's largest organ, the skin absorbs up to 60% of what is put on it, so baby is absorbing alcohol into her system, something that should be avoided altogether. (This seems obvious, yet companies continue to pump baby products full of alcohol.) This lotion also contains parabens: Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, and Methylparaben. Parabens are known toxins that are still used as preservatives in the cosmetic products. They have been linked to cancer and dermatitis. So, just because this lotion lists a few flowers and herbs as ingredients sprinkled alongside toxic additives, it is in no way natural or soothing.

The great news is, there ARE hundreds of alternatives to products like these. I have written about some on this blog, and will continue to do so.

A very cool database and amazing resource if you ever have any questions about skincare product ingredients is Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep. (*Note: this site is often marked "too busy" and won't let you access it, so try again if you don't succeed at first.) All you need to do is type in the product, ingredient, or company in question to get detailed results. This website also rates the ingredient or product on an easy to decipher scale of low, moderate, or high hazard. They rate Johnsons's Soothing Naturals lotion as a moderate hazard.

Another great site for recs on all things organic is The Organic Beauty Expert. Don't be discouraged by all of the mislabeled personal care products out there. It's easy to educate yourself on what to avoid, and once you know the basics, you and your family will be on your way to a much healthier lifestyle.

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