Raw, Organic & Natural – first
I choose raw and unrefined products where I safely can (such as fair-trade African shea and mango butters). I buy them in small quantities and carefully refine the raw ones myself at low temperatures, to preserve their natural goodness. I only use high quality, pure essential oils and base oils. Not all of my ingredients are organic, but when I can (or more importantly, when I think that I should, based on current common growing and manufacturing processes) source things organically, I do so.
I infuse organic aloe vera juice with many organic botanicals myself and use those mixtures in place of water wherever it is beneficial to do so. I prioritize quality and health first and foremost, at all times, and produce all of my products to professional standards.
I encourage you to Google product ingredients found on the labels of the my products (as well as any other products that you use regularly – ESPECIALLY the other labels!), and to then make more informed choices about what you are/are not willing to introduce into your body and bloodstream on an ongoing basis. (Look for some useful links to do that right from here, labelled ‘Other Resources’.)
Remember – your skin is the largest organ in your whole body! It works really well, which means that most of whatever you put on it goes right into your bloodstream.
“Additives” – sometimes
Cocamidopropyl betaine aka CocaBetaine is a derivative of cocamide and glycine betaine. In other (more normal) words, it is made from coconut oil. It gently cleanses skin/hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed off. Its pH range contributes a mild germicidal effect and loads of lather, so I consider it a beneficial additive to my shampoos and liquid soaps. It is called out as “all natural” by many, but I won’t go that far myself since it is a highly processed DERIVATIVE of coconuts, at best. There are some concerns, mostly regarding possible contaminants. I choose my suppliers carefully, to mitigate that risk.
There are some other things I use that are only “derived” from natural products, but worth using. My favorites in this category are Panthenol (also known as Pro-Vitamin B5), Honeyquat aka Hydroxypropyltrimonium Honey (honey with the sticky removed), Hydrolyzed Oats, and Silk Amino Acids (from empty silkworm cocoons). I will share more about these and other ingredients in another post, on another day. Suffice it to say that I have had a great time refining my choices in the products that I proudly offer you now.
Preservatives – only as needed
All-natural sounds lovely until you realize that flesh-eating bacteria is “natural”, too … EEK! Preservatives are a necessary component in water (or aloe, etc.) based formulas (creamy lotions, body sprays, shampoos and conditioners, etc.). Most companies that loudly proclaim “No Preservatives” simply do not offer these types of products, which I consider a cop-out. I am just not ready to do without a pumpable lotion or creamy hair conditioner, so I do use preservatives in these products. In oil-based formulas (such as body butters, salves. lip balms) and in products like soap with a very high PH value, preservatives can be safely omitted.
I use the following (carefully chosen) preservatives in a combined form known in the industry as “Optiphen Plus” when necessary.
Phenoxyethanol can be found naturally in green tea, but the commercial ingredient is synthetically produced in a laboratory creating what’s termed a “nature identical” chemical. Phenoxyethanol is one of a very few preservatives available that fights bacteria effectively while being both paraben and formaldehyde-free. Phenoxyethanol is included in The Handbook of Green Chemicals and is Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved.
Caprylyl glycol is a synthetically made but nature-identical alcohol derived from caprylic acid, a natural fatty acid found in the milk of some mammals, as well as palm and coconut oils. Caprylyl glycol is an effective conditioner and moisturizer that also helps increase the shelf life of a product by increasing the antimicrobial activity of other preservatives. The form of conditioning agent I use is plant-based only.
Sorbic acid is a natural, organic preservative (an unsaturated fatty acid) used to maintain the freshness of a variety of human foods, drugs, and cosmetic products. Potassium sorbate (sorbate acid) possesses antifungal, and to a lesser extent antibacterial, properties. Studies published by the CIR (The Cosmetic Ingredient Review) found Sorbic Acid to be practically nontoxic in acute oral toxicity studies