This article picks out one popular lotion – but please don’t get me wrong – Hempz lotion is only one of a dozen or more lotions out there with very similar ingredients…The point I am making is that it is important to read the ingredients and know what you are putting on your skin. I’m not concerned about the name brand, but I do care about educating people about the choices they make for their family.
First off, please note the words “Herbal”, Paraben-Free, THC drug-Free….and please note the words “100% Pure Natural Hemp Seed Oil” and “Pure Herbal Extracts” – “Pure Herbal Extracts” is part of the Hempz name – Yes! Marketing 101 – Highlight the good…diminish or exclude the bad. No one wants to buy a product that they know has ingredients in it known for skin irritations or that are listed as a controlled or restricted products on Environment Canada Domestic Substance List or on the EU Banned list. For some reason, it just doesn’t sell the product well. So please remember even though the front label looks nice and it sounds great, there is another side to the bottle. Similar to Star Wars, think of the ingredient list as the “Dark Side” of the force. It is the only regulation and stipulation required to sell cosmetics in Canada and the United States. That little label MUST be on your product and you have all the power you require by flipping over to the dark side to send a message to manufacturers that will leave them trembling in their boots with the words “My money won’t be spent on something that harms myself or my family”.
First off, please note that there are 35 ingredients – to make things easier, I’ve left the good ingredients as black text, questionable ingredients as orange, and the nasty ingredients as red. After reading through this list, please ponder to question why so many people are looking for “unscented” lotions these days. Let’s get started:
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Propanediol, Isopropyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Dimethicone, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Glycerin, Stearic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance/Parfum, Polysorbate 40, Nylon-12, Aminomethyl Propanol, Carbomer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Methylisothiazolinone, Hexyl Cinnamal, Citronellol, Benzyl Salicylate, Amyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Eugenol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Methyl 2-Octynoate.
By far, the largest thing you are buying is water. Nothing wrong with that, but our skin actually tries to repel water. That is why we have natural oils on our skin. Another thing to note is there are a lot of oils listed in the ingredients as well. The oils are what helps moisturize your skin but what happens when you mix oil and water together…they separate. In order to get them to mix and stay mixed in a lotion, typically chemicals are used to emulsify and hold the oils and waters in a suspension (these chemicals typically used are known to dry out your skin…which kinda defeats the whole purpose of a “moisturizing lotion” don’t ya think?)
Propanediol: Is a solvent that is classified as a skin irritant by EWG’s Skin Deep database. It can be formulated into a variety of industrial products including composites, adhesives, laminates, coatings, moldings, aliphatic polyesters, copolyesters. It is also used as an antifreeze and in wood paint. Two ways of making Propanediol are conversion from corn syrup effected by a genetically modified strain of E. coli by DuPont Tate & Lyle BioProducts. Another way is conversion from glycerol (a by-product of biodiesel production) using Clostridium diolis bacteria and Enterobacteriaceae.
Isopropyl Palminate (Derived from Palm Oil – Thickening agent / Emulsifier) – Good!
Sorbitan Palmitate: Is derived from sorbitol and is used as an emulsifying agent – Good!
Dimethicone: (also called polymethylsiloxane) is a silicon-based polymer used as a lubricant and conditioning agent.
Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) – Good! – other than it is most likely refined and bleached as the colour of the lotion is white. We don’t believe bleaching helps add anything to the goodness factor when you are talking about your health :)
Glycerin: Also called glycerol or glycerin; it is present in all natural lipids (fats), whether animal or vegetable. It can be derived from natural substances by hydrolysis of fats and by fermentation of sugars. Humectants such as glycerin have always raised the question as to whether or not they take too much water from skin. Pure glycerin (100% concentration) on skin is not helpful and can actually be drying, causing blisters if left on too long. So a major drawback of any humectant (including glycerin) when used in pure form is that they can increase water loss by attracting water from the lower layers of skin (dermis) into the surface layers of skin (epidermis) where the water can easily be lost into the environment. That doesn’t help dry skin or any skin type for that matter. For this reason, glycerin and humectants in general are always combined with other ingredients to soften skin. Glycerin combined with other emollients and/or oils is a fundamental cornerstone of most moisturizers.
Stearic Acid: Is a naturally occurring fatty acid. Stearic acid is primarily derived from rendered fat of farm and domestic animals. – Good! (Unless you are vegan)
PEG-100 Stearate: (Polyethylene Glycol) Is made by combining natural oils (often times palm or coconut) with Stearic Acid to form a water-soluble ester. It can also be a synthetic polymer made by combining Oxirane (Ethylene Oxide) and fatty acids (Source). PEG-100 Stearate is primarily used by the cosmetics and beauty care industry as an emollient, an emulsifier and a moisturizer, although PEG Stearates in general are also known to clean the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away, according to CosmeticsInfo.org. However. The Cosmetics Database found PEG 100 Stearate to be a moderate to high hazard ingredient depending on usage. The EWG issues warnings regarding: cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, contamination concerns, irritation, and organ system toxicity.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology, PEGs (including PEG 100 Stearate) can contain harmful impurities, including: Ethylene Oxide, known to increase the incidences of uterine and breast cancers and of leukemia and brain cancer, according to experimental results reported by the National Toxicology Program; 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen; PAHs, known to increase the risk of breast cancer; lead; iron; and arsenic (Source).
Products and formulas containing PEG 100 Stearate should not be used on broken or irritated skin. Although PEGs are considered safe for use topically on healthy skin, studies showed that patients suffering from severe burns were treated with PEG-based antimicrobial cream; this treatment resulted in kidney toxicity. “The PEG content of the antimicrobial cream was determined to be the causative agent. However, no evidence of systemic toxicity occurred in studies with intact skin. Because of the observation of kidney effects in burn patients, the CIR Expert Panel qualified their conclusion on the safety of the PEG ingredients to state that cosmetic formulations containing these ingredients should not be used on damaged skin” (CosmeticsInfo.org).
Glyceryl Stearate: Glyceryl Stearate and Glyceryl Stearate SE are esterification products of glycerin and stearic acid. Glyceryl Stearate is a white or cream-colored wax-like solid. It acts as a lubricant on the skin’s surface, which gives the skin a soft and smooth appearance. It also slows the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. – Good!
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil (Hemp Oil) – Good!
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil: Good!
Retinyl Palmitate: Is an ingredient composed of palmitic acid and retinol (Vitamin A). When exposed to UV light, retinol compounds break down and produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and cause gene mutations, a precursor to cancer. Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. FDA also raised a concern that extensive, daily skin application of vitamin A creams may build up in the woman’s body a high enough level of Vitamin A that may be toxic to the developing fetus. (Reference: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705545/RETINYL_PALMITATE_(VITAMIN_A_PALMITATE)/#)
Ascorbic Acid: (Vitamin C) is a naturally occurring antioxidant. – Good!
Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract – Comfrey – Good!
Althaea Officinalis Root Extract: Halawa extract or Common Marshmallow – Good!
Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract – Pot Marigold – All Good!
Cetyl Alcohol: Is basically coconut soap. It can be made by mixing coconut oil with sodium hydroxide (lye) – Good!
Phenoxyethanol: Fragrance ingredient, preservative and is classified as a skin irritant.
Fragrance/Parfum: The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.
Polysorbate 40: Surfactant – Emulsifying Agent; Surfactant – Solubilizing Agent – low health risk.
Nylon-12: Um, do I really need to say more about this one…what part of “plastic” needs to be in a hand, body, and facial moisturizer? Nylon-12 is a type of synthetic polymer known as polyamide and functions as a bulking agent; opacifying agent; VISCOSITY CONTROLLING.
Aminomethyl Propanol: pH Adjuster, Carbomer: Stabalizer, Tocopheryl Acetate: – Antioxidant – These ingredients are classified as low toxicity risk but can be contaminated with other chemicals which do have major toxicity risks.
Disodium EDTA: (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is a chelating agent, used to sequester and decrease the re-activity of metal ions that may be present in a product.
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder – Aloe Vera – Good!
Methylisothiazolinone: Is a widely-used preservative; has been associated with allergic reactions. Lab studies on the brain cells of mammals also suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic. Use is restricted in Canadian cosmetics. Human sensitizer toxicant or allergen – strong evidence.
Hexyl Cinnamal: is a common fragrance additive in perfumes and other beauty products. It is considered safe in low concentrations as it has been approved by the Department of Health and Social Security of the United Kingdom as well as other relevant health governing bodies. The ingredient is found in lipstick, shampoo and conditioners among others. Some people can have allergic sensitivities to it.
Citronellol: Fragrance (Parfum) from natural essential oils. Citronellol is a naturally occurring component of essential oils, such as Geranium Oil, Muscatel Sage, Sandalwood and Citronella Oil.
Benzyl Salicylate: Is a salicylic acid benzyl ester, a chemical compound most frequently used in cosmetics. It appears as an almost colorless liquid with a mild odor described as “very faint, sweet-floral, slightly balsamic” by those who can smell it, but many people either can’t smell it at all or describe its smell as “musky”. Trace impurities can have a significant influence on the odour. It occurs naturally in a variety of plants and plant extracts and is widely used in blends of fragrance materials. There is some evidence that people can become sensitized to this material and as a result there is a restriction standard concerning the use of this material in fragrances by the International Fragrance Association.
Amyl Cinnamal: is a synthetically produced scent ingredient; has been associated with allergies and contact dermatitis. It is recommended to be restricted in cosmetics – use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions – Fragrance subject to restrictions: safe only within recommended use or concentration limits) Known human immune system toxicant or allergen.
Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde: Is known as an aldehyde fragrance that readily penetrates the skin, making it ideal for use in beauty products such as deodorant, skin creams and cosmetics. Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde has been used without restrictions in cosmetic products, until recently. According to a study published in Contact Dermatitis, in 16 of 18 cases (89%) of people with pre-existing eczema, an allergic reaction resulted from application of Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde. Of the 18 patients, 11 reacted to the low and 5 to the high concentration. Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde is identified as the cause of contact allergic reactions in 2-3% of eczema patients undergoing patch testing.
Eugenol: Is a naturally occuring scent chemical found in clove oil; also manufactured synthetically. Has been associated with allergies and contact dermatitis. Recommended restricted in cosmetics – use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions – Fragrance subject to restrictions: safe only within recommended use or concentration limits)
Butylphenyl Methylpropional:A synthetic fragrance ingredient with a strong floral scent used in many types of cosmetic products. Its use in cosmetics is restricted due to concerns over irritation and allergic reactions. This ingredient is also known as p-tert-butyl-alpha-methylhydrocinnamic aldehyde. The presence of butylphenyl methylpropional must be indicated in the list of ingredients when the product contains more than 0.001% and is meant to be left on skin or no more than
0.01% in products that are rinsed (like cleansers and shampoos). Sources for the previous info: Contact Dermatitis, May 2011, pages 265-272; and CosmeticsInfo.org.
Methyl 2-Octynoate: Functions as a fragrance ingredient for masking. It is recommended to be restricted in cosmetics – use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions – Fragrance subject to restrictions: safe only within recommended use or concentration limits)
Now, let’s have a look at what we put in our lotion bar:
Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, Shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax.
Grapeseed Oil (Vitis Vinifera common grape vine) – Grapeseed oil is a light and odourless natural oil. It is nourishing and easily absorbed into the skin. It has some astringent qualities and is good for oily and acne-prone skin. Grapeseed oil an ideal base that is good for all skin types.
Shea Butter – (Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit) Organic Unrefined. Shea Butter is renowned for its skin moisturizing properties. Shea butter has been used for years to help heal burns, sores, scars, dermatitis, psoriasis, dandruff, and stretch marks. It may also help diminish wrinkles by moisturizing the skin, promoting cell renewal, and increasing circulation. Shea butter also contains cinnamic acid, a substance that helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Shea butter protects the skin from both environmental and free-radical damage, containing vitamins A and E, and has demonstrated both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera) – Certified Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil gives a healthy glow to your skin without compromising with toxic chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. Very rich in fatty acids, organic extra-virgin coconut oil makes a wonderful ingredient in our lotions, moisturizers, and hand-made soaps. It helps keep the skin soft and smooth, and its natural anti-oxidants help to prevent the premature ageing of the skin.
Beeswax –Wax produced by the honeybee (Apis mellifera), which contains a mixture of fatty acids and esters. We use beeswax in our lotions and moisturizers as a natural thickener and as a natural emulsifier. We support our local communities whenever possible and are proud to use Canadian organic beeswax in our products. We only use organic beeswax that is not purified or bleached as in commercially produced cosmetics. Beeswax is typically removed and changed out from commercial hives after a set period of time for the health of the bee colony. The beeswax absorbs and collects the pesticides and herbicides that the bees come in contact with…which is why we ONLY use organic beeswax.
So the point of this blog isn’t to tote our product as being the best. That isn’t our heart and isn’t our goal. If you already use our lotion bar, you probably know it to be a little less refined around the edges than something like a pump lotion. This is what happens when you use real raw ingredients that have little processing done to them. But every ingredient is able to be pronounced and are recognizable from their source. According to a study conducted in 1986 at the University of Pittsburgh between 40-60% of what comes in contact with your skin is absorbed directly into your tissue and passes into your bloodstream before being filtered by your kidneys and liver. This is opposite to ingesting because whatever reaches your stomach breaks down by a practical, systematic means and is filtered step by step so that toxins do not enter the cellular level of your body. So keeping that in mind, most people read the ingredient list of their food, but do you ever stop to read the ingredient list of your body products…And with this knowledge in mind, which is more important?
Green / pure / natural mean nothing if the full list of ingredients and processing don’t back it up. A jar of fresh organic carrots – “a great source of vitamin A” that was pickled in Formaldehyde brine and sold as “all-natural”, “organic”, “fresh”, “healthy” would be by any measurement absurd and unacceptable to the point of creating a public outcry. Shouldn’t body care and cosmetics be weighed by the same scale?
So please, read your labels. No one who is educated can have the wool pulled over their eyes. If you can’t actually pronounce an ingredient chances are – you shouldn’t have it on your skin!
If you do want to know more about the ingredients in your products visit:
Skin Deep Database: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Cosmetics Info: http://cosmeticsinfo.org/