• Earth Mother

But it says 'Natural'....

When is 'natural' no longer natural ?

You'd be surprised, just as I was, to find that much of what we believe to be natural - and therefore safe - is not natural at all. Maybe it was - at some point - but it's been so processed that anything natural about it has long since disappeared.

We are in a time where awareness about toxicity is increasing, and it has become a common practice to buy toxin-free products. And there is a LOT of 'toxin-free' products out there....and a lot of companies that are out to capitalise on the 'natural' trend. They may try to tell you that the ingredients in a product are plant based, and that may be true. I recommend really doing your homework to find out exactly where and how the ingredients listed have evolved. Ask the question point blank, " How is this ingredient derived ?" If they have nothing to hide the answer will be prompt and simple.

An example I love to use about 'naturally derived' ingredients that I learned years ago is this; did you know that parabens naturally occur in blueberries ? True story ! Now, how many companies that mass produce parabens to sell to the cosmetic industry do you think actually make their parabens from blueberries ? Not many at all. And clever marketing people and legal loopholes make it possible for some products to be marketed in a way that at the end of the day is plain deceptive. Deceptive, but not illegal.

Let's take a look at 'Cocamidopropyl Betaine', which is commonly used in 'Natural Skincare'. Cocamidopropyl betaine is used in 'natural' products such as shampoos, conditioners, makeup remover, liquid soap, body wash, shaving cream, contact lens solution, gynecological wipes and some toothpastes. It's derived from coconuts, so it must be natural right ? Wrong. As far back as 2004 it was named 'Allergen of the Year'. It can cause skin and eye irritation and contact dermatitis. This is because of the way it is processed. It's not the coconut that causes the reactions, it's the fact that the by-product of the manufacturing process is now a SYNTHETIC fatty acid and there are two impurities that are produced in the manufacturing process - aminoamide (AA) and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine. Some manufacturers have eliminated these from the process and the skin irritations appear to have eased with that omission. It still doesn't change the fact that this is not a natural ingredient. It is synthetic, end of story.

Keep an eye out for cocamidopropyl betaine's alternative names: 1-propanaminium, hydroxide inner salt, CADG, cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine and disodium cocoaamphodipropionate.

There are other questionable ingredients, some of which I will explore further in another blog post. Generally speaking, if you can't easily pronounce it, explore it. If the product you're looking at has a really long list of ingredients, explore it.

There ARE some preservatives out there that are far more closer to nature, or at least WAY less toxic than others. It's my personal choice not to include them in my products. I avoid using water in products to a large degree as water is the playground for bacteria. Oil based products are much more stable with a longer shelf life. That being said, anything will go rancid if it's not kept in the correct conditions and used hygenically.

1) ALWAYS use a spatula, never your fingers.

2) Keep out of heat and moist environments. ie - sitting on a steamy bathroom counter. Keep it in the fridge if you live in a humid area.

Bottom line is, you really need to be a detective - or a chemist - to know what an ingredient really is. Thankfully there are groups out there that do the research for us ! I really like EWG - Environmental Working Group. You can find them at and they have some really brilliant research and information.

I hope this has helped expand your knowledge and given you a good insight into true 'natural, toxin-free' ingredients !

See you at the next blog post,


Now this IS natural - and edible ! Freeze dried strawberries, raw sugar and grapeseed oil. Available at

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