I think I’m getting to that age of thinking ‘I miss the good ol days…*deep longing sigh*. You know the days, were the rules were simple, you were idealistic and well, everything still seemed hopeful.
Um, well…those days are gone. The world is moving at the fastest pace ever, information is available to us like no other time in history and for me anyway, it doesn’t always seem hopeful BUT it will always be worth it.
About 14yrs ago I was encouraged to learn about the ingredients used in personal care products and cosmetics. It was disappointing to say the least but I embraced the task of reading every label, of every product and food item we brought into our home.
Even now, all these years later we still do. But the fact is that as time has gone on, this has become much more difficult as many new ingredients have been and are introduced to the industry every year. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the easy rule of:
“…if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.”
isn’t as relevant as it was 14yrs ago. The fact is, that there are many ingredients derived from natural sources that can be harmful but there are also many that are not harmful. But how am I supposed to know which is which when I’m standing in the aisle of the grocery store?
For many of us, this information can literally be at the tips of our fingers. There are now apps available via ewg.org (app: Healthy Living) and Think Dirty (app: Think Dirty) that allow you to scan bar codes and get ratings for thousands of products currently on the market. So easy peasy right? Um, no unfortunately.
I am a real advocate of common sense and taking the time to do your own due diligence when it comes to navigating the topics of health and wellness.
Nothing in life is black and white and there is no exception for the areas of health.
This past week I looked up a product out of curiosity and it was rated as a 4 on ewg.org. Their rating system goes from a 1-10:
This is pretty close to the halfway mark of their rating system, so for me that would raise a bit of red flag, enough to look further, which I did. What I found is that within the ingredient list ‘fragrance’ was listed, and on ewg fragrance is rated at an 8. Here is why.
The term “fragrance” or “parfum” on a cosmetic ingredients list usually represents a complex mixture of dozens of chemicals. Some 3,000 chemicals are used as fragrances. i Fragrance is an obvious ingredient in perfumes, colognes, and deodorants, but it’s used in nearly every type of personal care product. Even products marketed as “fragrance-free” or “unscented” may in fact contain fragrance along with a masking agent ii that prevents the brain from perceiving odour.
Of the thousands of chemicals used in fragrances, most have not been tested for toxicity, alone or in combination. Many of these unlisted ingredients are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms.
Fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets so manufacturers are not required to disclose fragrance chemicals in the list of ingredients.
~DavidSuzuki.org -read full article here.
Fragrance is on our personal #neverlist, the list of ingredients or terms we avoid when possible. Everything else about the product could be a go but if it’s listed we don’t buy it. Period.
So, while the product was rated at a 4 overall, it didn’t rate for me at all.
Now, when we look at the same product on the Think Dirty app we find it rated as a 5 BUT fragrance is listed as a 0 based on the brand’s company claim that:
THIS BRAND’s fragrances are natural and contain certified organic botanical extracts.
via: The brand’s company website
So my question is then, why not list them if they are natural and organic. Lack of transparency raises a question mark for me personally. So, it’s possible that they are being up front and there is nothing harmful in their product but I have no way of knowing that for certainty.
So here we have two trusted organizations trying to help the average, caring and conscientious consumer make better, healthier and safer choices. This is something I love, but as we can see, we as consumers need to ensure that we stay alert and don’t become complacent, expecting companies or third party organizations to do the work for us.
Here is another example:
I looked up another currently popular brand on the Think Dirty app. I was surprised to see most of the products of this brand listed very low. I clicked on a children’s shampoo that was rated at a 2. I opened it up to find the first ingredient listed rated at a 4…um, this is puzzling as they claim:
By default, products receive an overall Think Dirty® rating no lower than the highest rating of any individual ingredient.
So, in actuality, this product I was looking at is actually rated at a 4 based on their assessment.
Another thing to consider when researching on the Think Dirty app is that they don’t list ingredients in order in which they appear on the label but by their rating. This is important to note when researching what an ingredient does and how much of it is actually in the product.
My point here is not to bash companies that are possibly trying to offer more natural, safer products. My goal is not to bash these organizations that are providing busy consumers information that would otherwise be very time consuming to source. My objective here is to encourage you to create your own personal standards for what you put in and on your body and then use these points of information as tools to help you make the right choices for you and your family.
Life is not a clear cut rating and nothing else either. Take time to create your never list (if you need a starting point click here), use all the information you currently have and make your own common sense rating.
Peace, S. xo