We now live in a world where information is freely available in quantities much greater than we can possibly need. But information is not knowledge. Knowing facts isn’t much use without the knowledge of how to use them. A story I came across made this clear to me. A gentleman had bought a deodorant specifically because it had a big ‘alcohol free’ splash on the pack, and he reacts to alcohol. But in fact he still had very bad reaction to the product. When he looked at the ingredient list he noticed it contained benzyl alcohol. So, he concluded, the product was not alcohol free at all! Continue reading
Some things I write about seem quite important to me but somehow don’t really resonate with the people who read my blog. For example I wrote a post on palm oil which explained how the palm oil business works. Nobody read it. But I still think it matters so here we go again. Basically palm is grown on plantations and then processed to produce palm oil. This all goes into a big system from where it is moved around to produce a bewildering number of products. Continue reading
There are dozens of organic certification schemes. The way most of the big ones work is that they certify a particular supplier and also have a schedule of the actual products covered by that certification. So you’d have them come and certify Melanie Organics and typically a certificate saying so. There would also be a list of all the things that you supply that the certificate covers. This is usually a separate document – it is likely to be changed from time to time. There is nothing stopping you from supplying other things so long as you don’t claim them to be organic.If you want to check that a given ingredient is organic you’d need to look at both the certification of the supplier and the individual ingredients listing. The supplier might well put references to the certification on their own documents, but it is rare for the certification body to issue certificates for individual materials. Continue reading
The FDA have just announced that some organic face cream is being recalled. I’ll refrain from mentioning the name, though the story is in the public domain so anyone interested enough can track it down themselves with a bit of googling. The recall was initiated by the company themselves who have owned up that the face cream not only contains argan and pomegranate, it also contains mould.
Well you don’t get much more natural than that. Continue reading
I have always been rather mystified by the appeal of REN. I haven’t sampled the whole range, but the ones I have tried have been distinctly not particularly good examples of their class. I have also never quite worked out the philosophy behind what they approve of in the way of ingredients and what they don’t. But a lot of people like them and they have got good distribution and sales. Indeed, they have done well enough to be an enticing enough morsel for the giant conglomerate Unilever to add them to their wide portfolio. Continue reading
I give green personal care products a pretty rough time on this blog. I don’t have any problem doing this as a public service because so many of them basically aren’t very good. But it does run the risk that I appear to be anti-green in general. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I thought it might be a good idea to lay out what I think the problems facing the planet are and how seriously I take them. This doesn’t strictly have anything to do with coverage of the health and beauty issues I normally cover, but it is always sort of there in the background. And anyway, this my blog so it’s my rules. Continue reading
I am scheduling this post to appear just as I start speaking at the ScanCos conference in Stockholm on the subject of Organic Standards For Personal Care – Are They Relevant In A World That Is Getting Hotter And More Crowded? I am talking to an audience of cosmetic scientists and other industry professionals so I can assume that they know all about organic accreditation schemes for personal care and cosmetic products. A lot of consumers on the other hand are not so much confused as totally oblivious to the existence of such standards. Continue reading
If you are over 40 and live in the UK there is a very good chance that I have helped increase your chance of getting skin cancer. My first job in the cosmetics industry, back in the early eighties, was formulating bars of soap. In those days it was normal to put a small amount of formaldehyde into soap bars as a preservative. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. These bars were on the shelves of most of the big supermarkets at the time.
Looking back on it, my reaction is “what were we thinking?”. But the past is a different country where they do things differently. In the days when smokers were in a clear majority, all petrol contained lead and some buildings were still coated with accretions of soot going back to the Victorian era a bit of formaldehyde in your soap probably didn’t make a lot of difference.
These thoughts were triggered by hearing that Yves Rocher is launching a new range – Culture Bio – in October. In France the term used for organic is bio-cosmetics. I think that this sounds a bit more scientific than organic, but the basic idea isn’t that different.
It seems that everyone in the skin care business is going organic these days. When you are watching the industry closely like I do it is easy to get cynical about this sort of thing, which is why I have to remind myself that it wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t bat an eyelid about putting formaldehyde in soap. It is good to see top companies taking the consumer’s desire for safe and natural cosmetics seriously.
Yves Rocher are also planning a new top-of-the-range anti-ageing care product at the same time. This is to be called Jour Nouveau (New Day). They must see organic products as an add-on to their range rather than a road to Damascus conversion away from their old way of doing things. This makes commercial sense as organic beauty products are only 2% of the market in France, though with Yves Rocher weighing in this is likely to grow. It will be interesting to see which of their two offerings they put most promotion behind this autumn. It will also be interesting to see how well they do.
I will do a review when they come out.