Monday, July 4, 2011

Is Your Favorite Body Wash or Shampoo a "Faker?"

If you've read my earlier posts, you know that I recently started buying clear, natural, synthetic/fragrance-free soap to use as a bar soap in the shower and to make liquid handsoap and body wash for Jem. It isn't organic (maybe next time) but it's pretty darn pure. For shampoo I've been using Aubrey Organics, but I didn't like their conditioner so I've been using the only other two we still have around the house: one by the brand Organix, and one by Giovanni Organics.*

Based on the product names alone, you might assume those are all awesome, all-natural, organic products, right? Wrong. Aubrey's products are, actually, very natural with no synthetic ingredients, though they generally contain very few truly organic ingredients. Of the three companies I named they are by far the most natural. Organix and Giovanni don't even come close. Their names are incredibly misleading considering their products contain hardly any organic ingredients (and those which they claim to be so aren't certified), and are also loaded with synthetic, even potentially toxic, chemicals.

But this is no big deal, right? After all, it's not like we're eating the stuff. It just goes on our scalps momentarily and then gets washed away, right?

Well, not exactly. The first problem here is that your skin, including that on your scalp, is porous and absorbs a bit of whatever molecules it comes in contact with that are small enough to be absorbed. So many of these synthetic chemicals will be absorbed into the skin and then hang around in our bodies. Some may be carcinogenic, some may be endocrine disruptors...the jury's still out on a number of them.

The second problem here is that it is false advertising to claim you are selling an "organic" product if few or none of the ingredients are actually organic and if the product also contains synthetic chemicals. However, in this country cosmetic products are not, nor have they ever been, regulated in the same way that food unless a cosmetic product contains only food grade organic ingredients, it will not be USDA certified, and the company can pretty much get away with putting whatever they want on the label.

That is, up until recently. In the past several months many of these companies have come under fire for false advertising and violating a California state law that does, in fact, dictate standards for organic cosmetics. (Read about this here.)

I applaud the Center for Environmental Health for taking these companies to task for taking advantage of consumers who want to buy truly natural and organic products. (Though I will admit I already knew Giovanni and Organix contained synthetics and non-organic ingredients...I bought Giovanni because there were no better options at the store we happened to be at when I bought it, and my husband just really likes Organix).

Today I stumbled upon this list on a forum which, although a couple of years old and possibly in need of some updating, I found to be incredibly helpful and enlightening. The woman who made the list (a mom to young kids, like myself) definitely put a lot of careful research into it, which I appreciate (note that both Giovanni and Organix made her list of Fake Organics, while Aubrey made her list of Real Naturals but not Real Organics). I plan to save this list and consult it the next time I decide to buy a new conditioner or deodorant. I invite you to do the same!

Hope you all had an amazing Fourth!

* When I went to look up the address for their website, I discovered Giovanni has changed the name of their haircare line from "Giovanni Organics" to "Giovanni Eco Chic." Guess they're taking the lawsuit seriously...though I still find the use of the word "Eco" somewhat misleading.


  1. Hi there! Excellent post and again, thank you for visiting me at my blog I have a similar post on my blog regarding the intergrity of "natural and organic" products. Your link to "My List of Fakers" is incredibly helpful, and I'm actually in the middle of auditing my post to remove any products I listed that is on that list. I invite you to also check out my post for your own bit of auditing, if you wish! (Team work!) :) Here is the link:

    Definitely look forward to more of your posts and I've followed you through facebook, networked blogs, and google friend connect! Have an excellent afternoon.

  2. Pleased to make your acquaintance Antonia. :-) I'm happy to check out your list! I did not author the list I linked to, therefore I can't edit it (and from what I understand the woman who created it has closed her posts to edits at this time), but it's always helpful to have another resource to refer to! Thanks for leaving the link in your comment for my readers and I to see!

    I look forward to reading more of your posts as well! All the best.

  3. I actually found another list that seemed alright, but not as detailed.

    But an even BETTER place I found isn't a list at all! It's a database and you just search for your products there. I almost cried when I found it; I was so excited:

    I'm almost done with a new blog post about it in which I linked your site again. Feel free to check it out later and add anything else you might find interesting in the comments! :) Thanks!

  4. Hi Antonia, I love EWG's site. I referenced their sunscreen section it in an earlier post, "Loving Baby's Skin." I just love the GreenOptions list for picking body and hair products because it's so nice and concise...rather than having to go through and look at the ingredients for organic products and natural products individually on EWG, she spells it all out for you in one neat little post. Lol, I guess I'm just lazy that way! But EWG is more up-to-date, so it's great to have as a reference!

  5. Wow...good to know...thanks and love your blog!