The best type of consumer is an educated consumer. We live in a world of marketing strategies and the "all natural" world is not exempt from that. The term "natural" is not regulated and is commonly used as a greenwashing trigger word. The best way for you to know what products to use daily on your skin is to know exactly what you're putting onto it. Here are a few red flags to look out for, even with "natural" companies.
Ah, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is an inexpensive foaming agent used in many everyday products such as shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, soaps, and mouthwash. It's used the break surface tension to clean whatever it's being used on. There's much debate over this chemical and it's effects on the body. Some have suggested that it has been linked to cancer, however, there has been little to no agreeing scientific evidences. It can, however, cause skin irritation and perpetuate skin issues such as eczema. This pesky chemical compound goes far beyond surface irritation. Residual SLS has been found in areas such as the heart, lungs, brain, and liver. Some studies show that while in the body, SLS can effect hormone levels. Look to eliminate Sodium Lauryl Sulfate from your daily skin care routine.
2. Synthetic Fragrances
We, here, at Wild Rituals do use a few high quality phthalate-free fragrance oils in very small doses in our luxurious bath bombs to give you scents like strawberry in Mermaid Lagoon and cucumber in Aloe, Love. These products are meant to be used as a pampering and fun treat. However, when it comes to daily face care, we would never recommend a product to be used on your face that contains fragrances. Why? They contain chemicals that can cause rashes, dry patches, and general irritation for sensitive skin. When it comes to actual skincare and treating the face, my rule of thumb is that if it reminds you of Bath and Body Works - don't use it on your face. There are no "natural" cucumber melon type scents out there. Sorry to disappoint. Avoid daily skincare such as face washes, scrubs, and moisturizers with "Fragrance" in the ingredients list. Stick with essential oils, they are easy to spot in the ingredients list because they are required by the FDA to each be listed and they actual help to treat your skin!
3. Glycerin Soap Base (Clear Soap)
There are about 4 types of popular soap making techniques out there; Cold-Process, Hot-Process, Rebatching, and Melt & Pour. We here at Wild Rituals Soap Company use the Cold Process Method which involves formulating the soap recipe from the very beginning. With this method, we have total control over our final product as we decide how much of each oil and how much lye to saponify those oils. We control every aspect of the product you're using. Glycerin soap is typically a form of "soap crafting" in which you melt down a block of clear base(many times this happens in a microwave) and add fragrance, essential oils, color, or other additives. They are usually translucent or individually molded into shapes. Melt and Pour soap typically contains many chemical detergents (such as SLS). These bases can be found at local craft stores and have a typical ingredients list as below:
Shea Butter Soap Base
Ingredients: Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol, Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Palmitate, Sodium Myristate, Sodium Starate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Glycerine, Triethanolamine, Sodium Laurate, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow #5, Yellow #10, Red #40, Green #5, Shea Butter
Compared to one of our bars of Cold Process soap:
Ingredients: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Sustainable Palm Oil, Castor Oil, Water, Sodium Hydroxide (Lye), Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Ginger Essential Oil, Grapefruit Essential Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil, Green Tea Powder, Kaolin Clay, Activated Bamboo Charcoal, Peppermint Leaves.
Preservatives are used to keep us safe, right? Not always. While these chemicals do prolong self life and disable microbial growth, many are also know to cause cancer and release formaldehyde. The most concerning of these preservatives are Parabens. Parabens have estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. Best way to avoid parabens and other sketchy preservatives? Buy products that do not contain water as an ingredient. Soap is the exception as it is self preserving. Rule of thumb, if you're buying a product the contains water or any fresh plant ingredients - it contains a preservative(If it's a trust worthy product. See #5 for more details). Beware of "Paraben" on the ingredients label and you're half way there. The term "fragrance" is often sometimes used in the ingredients list by brands/products containing water but claiming to be preservative free. This is false advertising. "Fragrance" is the preservative.
5. No Preservatives!
So, now you're curious about why I'm contradicting myself. Not all preservatives are bad, Mmkay. There are many that are effective and safe when used with a correctly formulated product. There are a few companies out there that think it's okay to formulate liquid shampoos, lotions, and conditioners without a preservative. Not only is this a rookie mistake, but it is an incredibly unsafe one at that. Water is the bringer of life and I mean all life. A product that contains water and is not property preserved can grow and harvest bacteria that can cause dangerous infections. To avoid this, We at Wild Rituals Soap Company formulate products such as solid shampoos, face mask concentrates, and butter based face creams. So, make sure to check labels! I have seen products from other companies literally spoil on shelves and turn into what looked like a jarred specimen. Be careful out there, friends.
There you have it, 5 ways that you can now be a more informed skincare consumer.