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What We Put On Our Skin - Part 1

WHAT WE PUT ON OUR SKIN

What does all of my discussion and emphasis on food have to do with Makes 3 and the business I created?  What does Organic Food have to do with Bodycare for the Whole Family? 

For most families incorporating organic food into your household purchasing decisions is a gateway to exploring organic living in general. 

For many families they start buying organic food because a child has developed food or other allergies or has another health issue that they are trying to remedy through diet.  For others it is related to their personal quests to improve the environment and take care of their family’s health.  Or it is a major life event, such as the birth of a child and starting a family or a traumatic health event that drives the change.  Our family experienced both. 

Our first change was when our daughter was born and we would buy some organic food and look for more natural personal care products.  But, honestly, we weren’t totally committed. 

The second change occurred when she was initially diagnosed with asthma, eczema and hazelnut allergies.  That was our first big wake up call to change our purchasing habits and fill our home with non-toxic shampoos, lotions and other personal care products. 

But we had a third major shift in our lives when we found out that she has food allergies to more than two dozen different foods and sensitivities to dozens more.  We know deep in our hearts and minds that the challenges she faces are not normal. 

Like her allergist said, something is in our environment that is making our children vulnerable to deadly health conditions and diseases.  So it is the traumatic event that is driving the most change in our personal lives.

When we all start taking the time and making the effort to making healthier choices about the food we bring into our homes, we start to think about how the rest of our purchasing decisions are made and about how organic our lives are in general. 

Food is a gateway, in a sense, to healthier choices in the rest of our lives.  Very often as families are preparing for baby to arrive at home we start food we will be feeding our precious little miracles. 

We start with staying healthy ourselves so our breast milk is healthy, or we search to the ends of the earth to find the very best formula to feed our little ones.  We research and we consult our physicians and literature to find the very best first foods. 

We smash peas and puree carrots and look for the best apple sauces.  In so many ways we start making healthy choices for our children from the very first moments of their lives.  We then search for the gentlest baby soaps and shampoos and the softest cotton onsies and crib sheets.

This is what our family was doing when we found out about our daughter’s hazelnut allergies.  We thought we had it covered when it came to her food and so when her allergist said to reduce the toxins in our home environment we started looking at the products we were putting on her skin. 

When we started really looking at labels and the ingredients inside the box or bottle, we were shocked to find that even if a bottle of bubble bath said “all natural” it really wasn’t. 

That’s because the word “natural” has no real meaning.  It is merely a word used in marketing that has no substance behind it.  There are no standards for what the word “natural” means in advertising.  What is worse, in our opinion, are products that claim to be organic but contain no certified organic ingredients or only a small percentage of certified organic ingredients. 

Bubble baths, shampoos, conditioners and lotions all contain ingredients that we didn’t know anything about and couldn’t pronounce, much less identify. 

Like you, we assumed that products we were buying were somehow regulated and safe.  This most often is not the case.  For example, if a soap is a soap, meaning it is produced by mixing fats or oils of animals or plants with an alkalai, it is regulated under the Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972 which requires a label to include the name of the company, an address, the true weights and measures of the product and any expiration date. 

If the soap is marketed merely as a soap, with the intent to clean the skin then the CPSA is the only regulatory scheme that applies.  Most soaps on the market today, however, are actually detergents.  If a soap is not truly natural and organic it will be made of petroleum byproducts – even though they can still be labeled as soap! 

If the soap or other personal care product is intended for purposes such as moisturizing the skin, making the user smell nice, or deodorizing the user’s body, it’s a cosmetic. Or, if the product is intended to treat or prevent disease, such as by killing germs, or treating skin conditions, such as acne or eczema, it’s a drug.  In both cases, the products is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) under the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act and the Fair Packaging & Labeling Act.

But does that mean that the product has been shown to be safe to use?  If the product is a cosmetic then there is no requirement that the product is reviewed by the FDA at all.  Companies are not permitted to adulterate or mislabel products and regulated dye colors cannot be used.  Other than that, it is the responsibility of the company to determine that the product is “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS).  You do not need to register your company or your product with the FDA. 

It's embarassing to our country.

More next week.

~Kristine

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