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Ingredient obsession

I am not against transparency in labeling. I think it’s a subject that could use a lot of discussion. But I am against ingredient obsession. In a society that allows alcohol, tobacco and firearms to be freely purchased, and that turns a blind eye to the widespread use of illegal drugs, why are we concerned about whether a consumer product might contain a few parts per million of chemical X? Should we not be concerned, rather about whether the product itself is safe?

Ingredient tunnel vision is seriously bad for your health. It will turn you into an obsessive, […]

By |March 29th, 2012|Fragrance, Rants, Safety|10 Comments

Lavender oil – skin savior or skin irritant?


Dit artikel is ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands!

A question came up recently on TheBeautyBrains forum: Lavender oil in cosmetics – does it cause skin cell death, and is that a problem? This was in response to the description of “lavender extract and oil” on Paula Begoun’s Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary. Paula is known for her belief that fragrances, natural or synthetic, have no place in cosmetic products. Here are some random examples from her website: “Cedarwood oil: there is evidence that cedarwood oil is allergenic and can cause skin irritation. […]

By |August 25th, 2011|Aromatherapy / Research, Rants, Safety|55 Comments

Negative bias

Safety legislation does not always accord with current knowledge on safety, for the simple reason that new scientific data are always being published. Guidelines are periodically made more stringent, but they are almost never loosened, even when new information suggests that this would make sense. Regulators don’t like to admit that they were wrong, and this is especially true of the European Union. In the United States, although the FDA has few regulations that directly restrict cosmetic ingredients, most manufacturers, especially the larger ones, follow both IFRA guidelines and EU regulations. Taken together, these result in some extremely stringent […]

By |June 21st, 2011|Legislation, Rants, Safety|0 Comments

From lemon to rosewood – it’s only skin deep

It’s hard to tell how many essential oils are covered in Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s database, because if you put “essential oil” their search box, the results are pretty hit-and-miss. When I tried it, only 16 of the first 50 items listed were essential oils. Lemon oil, interestingly, was listed twice: CITRUS MEDICA LIMONUM (LEMON) OIL (hazard rating 0) and CITRUS MEDICA LIMONUM (LEMON) PEEL OIL (hazard rating 2). The second one is defined as: “volatile oil obtained from the fresh peel of of lemon, Citrus medica limonum.” The first one is not defined at all, […]

By |March 20th, 2011|Rants|0 Comments

Zero tolerance

Toxicology is tough to grasp. It’s full of jargon like No-Adverse-Effect-Levels, Uncertainty Factors, and Acceptable Daily Intake. But, the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics has a simple solution – “Let’s not debate how much lead should be allowed in lipstick – just get the toxic chemicals out of our products!”

Yay! Go for it! – prohibit all the chemicals that have been “linked to” adverse effects such as cancer, neurotoxicity or birth defects. Don’t allow them to be used in any amount! Cool! I’m up to here in poison already!  Anyway, why DO cosmetics companies put lead in lipstick? Could it be […]

By |August 21st, 2010|Rants|0 Comments

Toxic baby alert!

Concern: Inhalation of toxic gases

Target of alert: Pregnant mothers

Introduction
One of the greatest health threats to an unborn child may come from a totally unexpected source. A CFSC (Campaign for Scaring Consumers) directive is currently being formulated to advise pregnant women not to change the diapers of their babies, or even be in the same room when a baby discharges body wastes.

After an extensive literature review, the CFSC is advising that there is a high risk of fetal toxicity following the mother’s inhalation of the chemicals occurring in feces and gastrointestinal tract gases, since these contain significant quantities of hydrogen sulfide, […]

By |August 18th, 2010|Rants|0 Comments

Ravensara rant

OK, here’s the problem as I see it. And, if you’re not an essential oil aficionado, I advise you to stop reading now. There is an oil produced from Ravensara aromatica, and it is known by the (somewhat uninventive) name of “Ravensara” or, occasionally, “ravensare” It is produced only in Madagascar, and the name derives from a Malagasy word meaning “fragrant leaf” – or something similar.

But, and here’s the rub, there is another Madagascan oil, this one produced from Cinnamomum camphora leaves, and it is known as “ravintsara” in the aromatherapy community. I guess there are a lot of fragrant […]

By |February 9th, 2010|Rants|0 Comments

Bad science

I have been reading a book called Bad Science by an English doctor, Ben Goldacre. His principal targets are the media (for consistent misinformation), nutritionists and homeopaths, but all “quacks” are fair game, since “quack therapy”, according to Ben, is no more than placebo. He goes to great lengths to explain that the placebo effect is indeed potent, and that he has no problem with “placebo therapy”. But, he thinks it’s time for alternative medicine to either produce some convincing clinical trials, or concede that it is no more than placebo therapy. I think that’s a fair summary of his […]

By |January 11th, 2010|Rants|0 Comments

The paraben parable

Most of the consumers I have spoken to, usually visitors to natural product trade shows, know that they don’t want to see parabens in the natural products they use. Most of the same people, when I pressed them for an explanation, had no idea why. But they know with great certainty that parabens are now persona non grata.

In referring to parabens, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics cites the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. Here you can see that parabens have been linked to, among others, developmental/reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity. Now, I’m not going to present […]

By |November 26th, 2009|Rants|17 Comments

Placebo? What about the rats?

rats love to give massages rats love to give massages

I have heard it said that a pleasant-smelling massage is surely very relaxing, but there’s nothing more to aromatherapy than that. And if there is, well it’s just that old placebo effect. It must be so because, I am reliably informed, there are no clinical trials showing that the administration of essential oils has any statistically significant therapeutic value. And, if there are any clinical trials showing a real effect, apparently they are flawed. All of them. But, if there […]

By |October 1st, 2009|Rants|3 Comments
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