Archive for April, 2009

Does the idea of slathering rendered animal fat all over your body sound appealing to you? If not, you may have done just that this morning in the shower without even knowing it. Sodium tallowate, a combination of lye and animal fat,  is a very common ingredient in soap. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a bar without it  in a conventional grocery store or pharmacy. All the major companies use it. According to the cosmetic database, there are about 215 soaps on the market containing this unsavory component.

The process of rendering animal fat consists of  taking carcasses of dead animals and boiling them in a cooking pot to create fatty byproducts. The decaying carcasses come  from every source imaginable – deadstock (animals that die before they reach the slaughterhouse), roadkill, euthanized shelter and zoo animals, expired meat from grocery stores, used cooking oil from restaurants, lab animals… grossed out yet? The worst part is that the majority of this fat goes into cosmetics – lipstick, eye shadow, soap. 

Thankfully, alternatives exist. Most natural/organic cosmetic companies wouldn’t think about putting these disgusting ingredients in their products. My favorite convenient choice is Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap which you can find in most health food stores. Another great option is to buy handmade soap from crafters in your area – they are the most luxurious soaps around. My favorite soaper is  Sacred Circle Herbs in Guelph, Ontario. If you’re really ambitious, you can learn to make your own. Check for courses in your area.  

Bottom line is to read your labels. Rendered animal fat can also be listed as Tallow Acid, Tallow Amide, Tallow Amine, Talloweth-6, Tallow Glycerides, and  Tallow Imidazoline.

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Finding a natural deodorant that works has been the holy grail of my life. I don’t like to smell but always felt it was an the inevitable reality of using a natural deodorant. Admittedly, I have been using anti-perspirant on and off sacrificing health concerns for social acceptance. Well, I am happy to report that I have found an answer to body odor that does not involve fragrance/parabens/aluminum.

Firstly, I exfoliate my underarms with a body scrub or I shave. This ensures that all the bacteria that creates an odor is gone. Then I apply Green Beaver deodorant (I’ve opted for the grapefruit with wild yam extract). It works! It really works! It’s been weeks since my husband has told me that I smell and if that doesn’t scream success, I don’t know what does.

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There are so many obvious reasons to love Europe – the food, the architecture, the lifestyle.  It’s also safer to buy cosmetics there since the European Union has been diligently regulating the industry to protect the safety of its citizens. Some of the highlights of these regulations are: 

  • You can no longer test cosmetics on animals. You can’t even import or sell products that have been tested on animals.
  • The EU has banned 1100 cosmetic ingredients for safety and health concerns. Health Canada has banned or restricted only 500 while the FDA has banned a measly 11 chemicals.
  • Nanotechnology in the form of sunscreen and anti-aging ingredients is being regulated in the EU – any substance containing these crazy small particles must be labelled and tested for safety (not on bunnies) by 2012.

It’s clear that the overall health of the European population takes precedence over the needs of big business. It’s refreshing to know that  this level of responsibility exists and will hopefully lead other countries to do the same. Until then, keep reading your labels.

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With all this talk of Easter bunnies going on, it seems like a good time to rat out the companies that still test on them. 

 Church & Dwight
Arm & Hammer

Procter & Gamble
Gorgio Armani
Head & Shoulders
Max Factor
Old Spice

Church & Dwight

Johnson & Johnson
Clean & Clear


Bain de Soleil

Playtex Products
Banana Boat
Hawaiian Tropic      

Helena Rubinstein
Matrix Essentials
Ralph Lauren Fragrances

Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Speed Stick

Dial Corporation
Dry Idea
Right Guard
Soft & Dri
Soft Scrub



New Dana Perfumes        

Reckitt Benckiser
Old English

So now you know what not to buy. I don’t want to get into the gruesome details of what is done to animals for cosmetic purposes, but I can tell you this – it is wrong, unnecessary and needs to be stopped.  For more information, visit www.caringconsumer.com.

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Cosmetic preservatives are essential to commercializing a product. They rid formulas of unhealthy microorganisms like yeast, mold and bacteria and prevent the product from spoiling.

The following is a list of the most common preservatives on the market.

Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben)– This is the most widely-used preservative in the industry. It has earned a bad reputation made evident by many cosmetic companies wearing the ‘paraben-free’ badge of honor. The bad rap stems in part from a study that found parabens in breast cancer tumors. Research has also suggested that they can cause hormone disruption by mimicking estrogen also adding to the breast cancer risk. Since we don’t know what causes breast cancer, we need to take this information very seriously.

Phenoxyethanol – There are growing concerns about this substance being carcinogenic. The FDA has recently issued a warning about babies ingesting it from a nipple cream.

Tocopherol (vitamin E) – This is an anti-oxidant so it will prevent the product from spoiling but it has no anti-microbial action. It must be combined with other preservatives in water-based formula but is fine for oils, balms and butters that don’t contain water. It is a safe ingredient.

Disodium EDTA– This chemical is toxic to our water systems. We really don’t need to contribute to water pollution with an ingredient that can easily be substituted.

Diazolidinyl Urea & Imidazolidinyl Urea – These two ingredients slowly release formaldehyde into a formula. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.

Rosemary Extract – A soft resin extracted from rosemary with strong anti-oxidant properties. Like vitamin E, it needs to be used in conjunction with anti-microbial ingredients in a water-based formula.

Natural and organic cosmetic companies face a challenge when it comes to preservatives. They have to be healthy enough for human use yet still be effective at inhibiting the growth of harmful organisms.  There is always a solution and I am happy to see healthy alternatives becoming more and more prevalent. Look for products that use lactobacillus ferment, leuconostoc/radish root ferment,  or our favourite at Cocoon Apothecarysodium levulinate and sodium anisate.

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For years, we considered our skin an impenetrable barrier barring all substances  from entering our bodies. The cosmetic industry relied on this theory when formulating products with cheap chemical ingredients. Their only concern was whether the ingredient irritated the skin or not and internal issues were not a concern. There are countless studies proving this theory about skin false. It does absorb chemicals into the bloodstream. Parabens, triclosan, synthetic musk and pthalates have been found in human urine, blood and tissue samples.  Those chemicals  have been linked to either hormone disruption, reproductive problems, cancer or all of the above. Pretty scary stuff. Not scary enough for the major cosmetics companies who carelessly continue to put these ingredients in their formulas.  

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to read all of your labels before your purchase a product. My mission is to educate you about the ingredients so that you can make some informed choices.

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