Pt 1 of 4 Natural vs. Synthetic Bath and Body Product Colorants
“Natural skin care is the care of the skin using naturally derived ingredients (such as herbs, roots, essential oils and flowers) combined with naturally occurring carrier agents, preservatives, surfactants, humectants and emulsifiers (everything from natural soap to oils to pure water). The classic definition of natural skin care is based on using botanically sourced ingredients currently existing in or formed by nature, without the use of synthetic chemicals, and manufactured in such a way to preserve the integrity of the ingredients.”
There are no regulations on the word “Natural” and a definitive description of what products or methods of producing a product this includes. Designating a product as natural seems really simple, but it’s not. There is a fine balance between developing a product that only uses naturally sourced and naturally derived ingredients and giving people their desired product. A customer once told me that she only uses all natural body products and her favorite was whipped peach body butter! Yes, peaches do occur in nature, but there is no essential oil, hydrosol or other natural ingredient that will give your body butter a peach scent. So, although the ingredients in the body butter may have been all natural its fragrance, preservatives and colorants may not be.
So, my dilemma is “How do you give the people what they want without compromising your product’s natural integrity?” Fragrance is not the only area where product “integrity” can be questionable. A lot of these beautiful aquamarine and neon hues that are so visually appealing and fun looking; come from synthetic pigments and dyes. Many of these FDA approved manufactured colored are labeled “Natural identical” which is defined as “consisting of the same chemical make-up of their natural counterparts”, but are created in a lab. Once again the dilemma “It’s not natural if it’s created in a lab”.
Part 1 of a (4) Part Series on Natural Bath and Body Ingredients
Product Colorants are regulated by the FDA under cosmetic colorants, so they should be safe right?
Manufactured colorants are regulated by the FDA include pigments, FD&C, oxides, minerals, micas and ultramarines. Botanical colorants and clays are not regulated as they are derived from mineral, plant or animal sources.
Pigments – Previously mined but due to environmental impacts are now manufactured in labs. Some pigments are still mined but there is controversy on the purity of these products due to toxic metals that may pollute the product (lead, arsenic, mercury to name a few)
Oxides – inorganic compounds created from purified oxidized iron or zinc
Titanium Dioxide – natural occurring oxide of titanium
Ultramarines – blue inorganic mineral pigment composed of sodium, aluminum, silicate and sulfate
FD&C Colorants – colorants manufactured in labs
Micas – inorganic, silicate mineral coated with FD&C colorants, pigments or both to achieve color
Botanical – naturally occurring animal, plants or minerals
Clays – very fine particles of earth that consists of one or more minerals, metal oxides and organic material.
Plant parts – used dry or infused in oils to release color
Mineral colorants are natural, right?
Most cosmetic mineral colorants are manufactured in labs. They were previously mined but due to environmental impacts or “safety issues” are now manufactured in labs. These safety issues revolved around the purity of the minerals being contaminated by metals that may pollute the product (lead arsenic, mercury to name a few). However, in order to manufacture these products they use synthetic ingredients for the most part to make a “chemically identical” product. So, by our definition of natural…these mineral colorants do not qualify. But, the question that bugs me is whether the use of “natural” minerals would have been more harmful or less than using there synthetic replacements?
We have dedicated ourselves to providing customers who want chemical free body product with products that contain naturally derived ingredients in their most basic form. But we too struggle with balancing our customer requests with the limitation of nation. As soap makers we are not required to disclose our ingredients on our soap, but we do so to enable our customers to make the most informed decision about what they are putting on and ultimately in their bodies.
After thorough research, we have opted to only use botanical ingredients in our bars as colorants. We feel that the visual appeal of a bar can be accomplished without using synthetic ingredients. Does it cost us more time and money to produce our products? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely!