Ingredients: Natural or Chemicals?

Melissa Robinson

I want to talk about ingredients and what they all mean.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I started this whole endeavor in an effort to reduce chemicals (more specifically, the scary carcinogenic ones), yet you may notice that I explicitly call out the products that are completely natural. Why aren't they all natural? 

First, I'd like to state that I use all of my products.  I am comfortable with everything I make - if I won't use it personally, I don't make it or offer it for purchase.  There are a handful of detergents and preservatives that I'm not willing to buy or use in my home and they are pretty darn common, thus the reason for the handmade products.  Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), parabens, formaldehyde and pthalates - these are the scary ingredients that I feel are cause for concern.  None of my products contain these.  There are plenty of bath bomb, bubble bars, scrubs and lotions that use these scary ingredients both commercially and in the handcrafted bath product industry - I choose not to use them.  I have researched alternatives, looked up products and ingredients for known carcinogens and safety evaluations and sometimes....  I had to give up on certain products because it simply couldn't be done without them - I'll do without.  I won't use them and I won't sell them.



So back to why I can't call all of my products natural.  Simply put, some ingredients not found in nature aren't bad for you. In other cases, it's absolutely necessary.  Preservatives for example.  Whenever something has water in it and/or will come in contact with water, it MUST have a preservative in it.  If not, I promise you, it will grow hair, mold, yeast and other nasties in about 3 days.  Blech.  (Soap and products that are 100% oil are naturally resistant to the nasties and do not need preservatives)  Now - what preservative to use I can control.  SO MANY preservatives have parabens in them!  I was amazed!  There are very few paraben-free preservatives available, at least on the small scale I need, but they are the ones I use when needed.  In fact, there are about 5 different preservative options for my emulsified sugar scrub, but only 1 is paraben-free!  That's the preservative I use.  My lotions and sugar scrubs contain paraben and formaldehyde free preservatives, and on top of that, the usage rate is exceptionally minimal.  I can live with that.  BUT it can't be called natural.



Soap ColorantMicas, and in some cases pigments, are used as colorants in many of my soaps, bubble scoops and bath bombs.  These are man-made materials that provide the pretty vibrant colors I love in my products, they're cosmetic grade that are approved for the products I use them in.  According to their MSDS sheets (ingredient make up), there isn't anything objective in them.  But it can't be called natural.

 Fragrance oils.  I love fragrances.  I LOVE LOVE fragrances.  I can spend hours sniffing different smells for soap and dreaming up all the ways it would be awesome to design a soap around it....  This is where it starts to get sticky.  Our legislation has deemed scents and perfumes to be proprietary formulations, meaning suppliers of these things do not have to disclose their ingredient list.  I literally have no way of knowing what is in them.   The biggest concern (to me) in fragrance oils is the potential presence of pthalates.  There are so many sources and suppliers of soap-stable fragrance oils and some of them, frankly, are a bit sketchy to me.  However, some of the bigger and more trustworthy suppliers in the industry - while not telling you exactly what is in their fragrance - will state what is NOT in their fragrance.  I will only purchase fragrance oils that specifically state "pthalate-free" formulas and only from suppliers that I feel are trust-worthy.  I'm lucky enough to be able to source these materials from a local supplier and have a relationship with the company.  This is important to me - but I can't call soap made with these fragrances natural. 

Bubble Bath ScoopsSLSa.  My bubble scoops contain SLSa.  Now if you remember, I said above that SLS is on my scary list.  That little 'a' at the end of that abbreviation makes a world of difference!  Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLS is a chemical detergent known to cause irritation and possibly cancer. Sodium Lauryl Sulphoacetate or SLSa is a plant-derived surfactant (organic salt) and considered safe to use per the EWG Cosmetics Database.  I held off on making anything that would contain SLSa in it because I thought it was the same thing - finding out that it wasn't made me so happy!  SLSa is a super surfactant that makes bubbles galore and I was bummed when I thought I would have to forego these little fun nuggets.  Yay! I am happy I get to make them and offer them for you, but again, I can't call these natural.  


So I hope I've helped to explain some of the ingredients I use and what I've taken into consideration when using some of the "non-nautral" products.  As you can tell, I can go on and on about this topic.  If you have any questions about any of my products or ingredients - please feel free to ask!  I am always open about what I use and why I choose to use it. 

Life's too short for crappy soap



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