Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


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Seeking Safe Skin Care

When you’re out of your favourite homemade soap or handcrafted lotion and don’t have time to wait for your order of new products to arrive, what do you do?  Do you wait and go without lotion for a few days?  Do you succumb to using detergents on your skin?  Or, do you just hide in your house, hoping no one will come to the door?!

Head to your local health food store

As much as I would have liked to hide out at home when this inevitable happens to me, I’ve never had the patience to do it.  When I run out of supplies, I always find myself heading directly for the health food store.  However, once there, it’s not as easy as picking up any old brand that they have to offer.  The fact is, there are many brands that advertise their products as being all natural that still use synthetic preservatives or other harmful ingredients.

Use Existing Databases to Check Your Choices

Aside from thoroughly reading labels, there are two tools that I like to use to address this issue.  First, I always like to check the Skin Deep database.  They have rated an extensive catalogue of products.  Further, the database has all kinds of information about each ingredient.  It’s a great resource.

If I haven’t taken the time to do my research before hitting the store, I turn to the Good Guide app.  It’s a free app and you can use it to scan the bar code of an item and get their rating on it.  The rating is based on three factors (Health, Environment, and Social) and yields a score out of ten.  Every time that I use this app, I am surprised to learn that the brands that I know best aren’t always the ones that have the best ingredients.

How do you ensure that you are buying the best products for your skin?

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What’s in a label?

I’ve started reading labels.  I look for them on food, on cleaning products, and most importantly, on skin care products.  I first started doing this after reading Gill Deacon’s book, There’s Lead in Your Lipstick.  I quickly realized that the products we use every day have all kinds of questionable and often mysterious ingredients in them.  For those of you who have been following my blog, this is all old news.

Labelling my own skin care products

I started reading labels at the same time as I started making my own skin care products.  However, it wasn’t until I decided to give my handcrafted goodies to other people, either as gifts or as a sale, that I realized I would have to label my own products.  Honestly, the thought of learning the ins and outs of labelling stopped me in my tracks.  It totally intimidated me.  Logically, I immediately began to procrastinate.

Weeks went by.  In fact, months went by.  Finally, it was the night before I had to deliver a number of gift bags that a friend had ordered from me.  The gifts were for non-family and non-friends.  In other words, there was no way I could forego the labels and depend on their good will.  I had to get down to it and make sure they were well informed of the ingredients I had used.

Labelling Requirements

Fortunately, it turned out to be far easier than I thought.  Why I procrastinated on this, I’ll never know.  I looked up the labelling requirements on the Health Canada site.  The guide is a short 37 pages and covers everything you need to know.  The rules can be boiled down to the following:

–          List the ingredients you use in descending order of volume in the product

–         Affix the label to the product to ensure the consumer will see it.

–         List ingredients as per the International Nomenclature for

Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI).

There are acceptable abbreviations and acceptable generalizations (e.g. using the word parfum for scents) that can be used.   There are rules regarding the type of packaging that you use.  All in all, it was far less complicated and onerous than what I imagined.

My new labelled skin care products

Once I finally got past my trepidation, I made a few labels.  Here’s a sample of my first set of labelled products.