Unfortunately, there are an increasing amount of products that use the word "natural"...
When in reality they're more concerned about increasing sales than the health of the consumer.
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These days there are an increasing number of people attempting to find their way out of using the regular products that are offered, to search for a better, more environmentally friendly and health conscious product. We are more aware that often our foods and grooming products, even our clothing and household building materials are made of hazardous chemicals that can leach their way into our tissues and blood. We may not notice any negative health effects for even decades afterwards, but the risk is always there. Companies know which words the public wants to see, even if the claims are misleading, vague or just plain false, they’ll use whatever they need to in order to increase sales. We’re suckers for “all natural”, “farm fresh” and “with natural flavors” but do these words symbolize what we’re actually looking for? Many of our grooming products contain enough chemicals linked to hormone imbalances, birth defects, cancer, and infertility that it should be raising a bigger red flag.
Here are some claims that probably make you feel good about the product you’re buying, but should actually lead you to do more research.
“Dermatologist tested”. There are currently no requirements to test products or even produce evidence that products were, in fact, tested by a professional.
“Allergy Friendly” or “Fragrance free”. If you see a product that’s made with essential oils, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also contain harmful chemicals like SLS, DEA and artificial colorants. The company also may have used synthetic fragrance in order to mask any unappealing smell that would normally be emitted by one of the ingredients.
“Derived from”. This doesn’t mean that your product is any safer to use than another one. If you find a shampoo, for example, that claims to be “derived from coconut oil”, this likely means that diethanolamine was used in order to create cocamide DEA from the coconut oil. Diethanolamine is a known carcinogenic; not safe to use, or “natural”.
Don’t be fooled by products that highlight what they don’t include in their ingredients list. A good example is “No CFCs”. If you did your research, you’d discover that the use of CFCs (or chlorofluorocarbons) was banned in 1978, so no product on the market can use it anyway. Companies also use this type of advertising by highlighting what they haven’t used, and downplaying the fact that they’ve only swapped one type of hazardous ingredient for one that has the same or even worse health risks.
“Nontoxic”. This sounds great, right? Except when you take into account that there are no government or any other official standards for the term “nontoxic”, so this word does not necessarily translate to “not toxic”, although that’s exactly what we’re led to think.
One of the terms we often look for on a product’s label is “natural”. It makes us think of perfect farms, or ingredient gathering from the great outdoors. Sure, all of the “natural” products in the ingredients
list may be just that, but it also doesn’t mean that other included ingredients are, or that they’re even safe to use.
The term “made with” is also pretty sneaky, and could mean that only a scant percent of your product is actually made of the “made with” ingredient. The term “made with essential oils” could mean that 1 percent of your product is essential oil and the rest is a blend of synthetics. You should be able to find accurate percentages somewhere on the label.
There are no current regulations or standards for the terms “Eco-safe” or even “Environmentally friendly” on a label. Sure, the product might be just that, but having the words on your products packaging doesn’t guarantee anything other than that the company uses descriptive words that they know the market responds to.
When you hear the word “green” when associated with a product, you automatically think about it in a positive light. The words “certified green” can actually mean...well, nothing. (Although there are companies out there with meaningful endorsements from neutral third parties) Sometimes a company will show a seal, but this can be a seal of the company’s own design, so do your research.
Do you look for “organic” as a way to make thoughtful purchases? Watch out for this one; companies can twist the meaning as in sentences like “organic experience”, which doesn’t claim that the ingredients are in any way organic or natural, but might lead customers to think so. There are purported to be many products on the market today which have been mislabelled as organic.
If you’re a consumer with the planet and your family’s best interests at heart, don’t despair. There is a world of information at your fingertips, and it pays to be armed with all the knowledge you can be before you spend hard earned dollars on products that might not live up to their reputations. When shopping for food, try to shop local, and if you have access to a veggie box or market garden, all the better. Get to know your local suppliers; often with a little research you can find people growing all manner of things in your area and locate a great, natural source for veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds, honey, eggs and meat.
When looking for cosmetic or hygiene products, research the companies that have become your favorites. Are the ingredients what you’d expect them to be? Are they as natural as you thought they were? Often you can find local sources for much of your beauty paraphernalia, including bath bombs, bath salts, soap, shampoo and conditioner, as well as a widening array of sugar scrubs and moisturizers. Your health food store can be a good resource, and if they don’t sell the product you’re looking for, they can often point you in the right direction.
Cleaning products are another area in which we’re often misled or fooled. Once again, a background check on the company and ingredients may be eye opening. You can often make your own cheap and natural household cleaning products, but if you’re short on time, there are a variety of good cleaners on the market that live up to their reputation. Overall, don’t take advertising or labels at face value. Do your own research and find products best for you.
This article was written by Jon Reyes from Clearwells. He has over 10 years’ experience in writing health related topics and specializes in the health benefits of saunas and hydrotherapy.