This article by Pharmacopia’s founder and owner Lisa Levin was used as primary source material by CBS’s The Early Show for their story on “Natural Beauty” on 4/22/03.
Why Use Organic Body Care?You and your “body burden”
Most of us are familiar with the term free radicals – and environmental dangers like second-hand cigarette smoke have been well documented. And while many of us would rather go thirsty than take a sip of common tap water, few are aware of the number of toxins we scrub and slather into our skin everyday in the name of beauty.
A recent study conducted by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, which measured the amounts of environmental contaminants found in humans, may change concepts about body care.
In their study, researchers found an average of 91 industrial compounds, pollutants and other chemicals in the blood and urine of volunteers. Some chemicals were known carcinogens while others were banned or are untested for their potential health hazards. The amount of contaminants found in a human’s system are referred to as a person’s body burden. People are exposed to toxins through air, water, food, and beauty products, to name just a few sources.
The body care connection
Over 5,000 chemicals are used in personal care products alone. Most people don’t know that the US Government neither conducts nor requires safety testing of chemicals that go into health and beauty products.
The skin being the body’s largest organ makes it the most typical absorption point of everyday toxins. Up to 60% of certain ingredients in body products like lotion, cream, and bubble bath will absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream. Once chemicals are in the blood, they accumulate in target organs or are metabolized through the system over a period of years. According to the Environmental Working Group, one way to reduce your exposure to chemicals is to use natural products and to reduce your exposure to artificial fragrances.
What does “natural” and “organic” mean?
The marketing term “natural” is not regulated by the government and can be used to promote a range of products. Not surprisingly, consumers are confused. A lotion or shampoo labeled as natural does not necessarily mean it’s primarily comprised of truly natural ingredients. In some instances a miniscule amount of natural ingredients are included, while a plethora of synthetic matter can make up the basis of a product’s formula.
The best way to decide whether a product is truly natural is to check the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order with the most predominant listed first. Make sure those first few ingredients, which make up the bulk of the formula are natural or naturally derived. In products that have water as an ingredient, a small amount of preservatives are necessary to keep molds and bacteria from growing. Those are usually found near the bottom of the list.
Organic products offer an alternative to synthetic body care. Unlike the term natural, products labeled as organic are carefully certified and regulated by the USDA. Organic labeling laws, which recently became a national standard for foods, are just beginning to apply to personal care products. The California Organic Products Act of 2003 regulates whether or not the term organic can be used on a label. According to the law, products may be identified as “100% organic”, “Organic 95-100%” or “Made with Organic 70-95%” on the front panel or “less than 70% Organic” on the back panel.
Organic products are produced from non-gmo, non-synthetic natural ingredients that are grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or sewage sludge. An additional benefit of organic farming is it lessens chemical use and protects the health of soil and waterways.
It is our goal at Pharmacopia to evolve our whole product line to be organic. Our first two organic products, our body lotion and wash, have met with great success and we will be introducing others in the months to come.