Ingredients we DON'T use in our products - Part 2
This is the second blog post in a series that I’m doing on a list of ingredients we do NOT include in any of our handmade body care products and why. I am not an expert in this field, but I have researched each of these ingredients and have concluded that I wouldn’t want them in or on my body, so I will not put them in my products.
I prefer to use ingredients found in nature in my products. Ingredients proven to support and benefit our bodies instead of harming them. Even if that means I never get to sell a neon purple bar of soap.
And while chemicals and chemical reactions are naturally occurring phenomena, I like to steer clear of synthetic, or man-made, chemicals as much as possible. When I did research on artificial dyes, most of the results I found were for food dyes and not for dyes used in cosmetics. However, I believe that whatever I put into my products will get into my body, even if only a little – so I’d rather err on the side of caution and not risk my health, or yours, by adding artificial coloring to my products. Here is the little I found about artificial dyes:
According to the FDA, artificial coloring is “any dye, pigment, or other substance that can impart color to a food, drug, or cosmetic or to the human body.”
There are 3 classifications of color additives.
Straight colors: colors that are not mixed or chemically reacted with any other substance.
Lakes: formed by chemically reacting straight colors with precipitants and substrata. (According to EWG.org lakes are dyes that are precipitated with metal salts such as aluminum, calcium, barium, or others. Most lake pigments are produced from coal-tar or petroleum.)
Mixtures: formed by mixing one color additive with one or more other color additives or non-colored diluents without a chemical reaction.
The FDA also says that any chemical that reacts with another substance and causes formation of a color may be a color additive.
Since most of my research kept bringing up food dyes, I went to a few popular sites that sell soap colorants and looked at the ingredients. I found many dyes there and took a deeper look.
Over and over I found that the dyes themselves are considered safe to use. Despite the numerous studies linking artificial food dye consumption to hyperactivity in children. However, I found that many dyes have been banned for use in food but are still used in cosmetics.
There doesn’t seem to be enough research to make a conclusive argument against artificial colorants in cosmetics. However, most artificial dyes are made using petrochemicals which have been shown to have many adverse effects on the human body. Petroleum Service Company has an article on their website stating that the end product of artificial dyes no longer contain any traces of petroleum. Since Lye soap, if made properly, no longer has any traces of lye in it, I can believe this to be true, but since the source comes directly from the petroleum service company, I’d rather not trust it that evidence until I see more evidence elsewhere, which I cannot currently find.
Again, nothing concrete here, but I’d rather err on the side of caution.
Mica is a very popular natural colorant in the soaping world. Yes, I said natural. So why don’t I use it?
Mica in its natural form is an off-white color with brown undertones. It is not approved as a colorant in this natural form because it can contain lead, mercury, and arsenic.
Once it’s mined from the earth, it’s then taken to a lab to purify it. All good so far.
To get the brilliant colors you can find in mica colorants, dyes and other chemicals must be added. So, when you have mica on the label, it’s not just mica. It’s mica plus…
For example: Hot Pink Mica contains Mica, Titanium Oxide, and Iron Oxide.
In 2021, the European Food Safety Authority found that Titanium oxide is no longer safe as titanium oxide can accumulate in the body over time and cause DNA damage, which is one way chemicals cause cancer and other health problems.
Iron Oxide on the other hand, while considered an inorganic chemical compound is rated as safe across the board. I’ve examined the ingredients in several colors of micas and have found mixed results. Some added ingredients are safe, some are not.
I could pick and choose my colors and only use those with ingredients deemed safe, but there is another factor at play. Several articles, like this one, have revealed that much of the world’s mica is mined by children in unsafe working conditions. Since these articles have been released, some effort has been made to change this. But many cosmetic companies have turned to synthetic micas rather than find a solution to better the conditions of the mica mines and ban child labor.
And who knows, maybe in the future, these mines will be safely regulated so those mining this mineral won’t be putting their children and their own health at risk for our beauty products. If that should happen, I might consider micas. But for now, it’s on my no list.
Sulfate is a salt that forms when sulfuric acid reacts with another chemical. When people avoid sulfates in body care products, what they are usually seeking are synthetic sulfate based chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate.
The reason these are controversial is because they are derived from either petroleum or palm oil and can harm the environment. Sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate and other synthetic sulfates are used to create lather. (The controversy for palm oil is attributed to acres of deforestation and loss of animal habitats for endangered species)
Recently, companies have begun to use sodium coco sulfate to avoid the controversy over petroleum and palm oil. This sulfate is made by taking one fatty acid from co