Archive for the ‘Ingredients to Avoid’ Category

Toxin-Free Your Life: Nano is a No-No

This blog post was written by Abby-Lynn Knorr and posted on June 25th, 2013
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Freedom is not having to check a label every time I purchase body products.” Karina Birch

Lets talk about very, very small things…something so small that it’s measured in billionths of a meter. No, it’s not the Grinch’s heart. We’re talking about nano-particles. Nano-technology is used in sunscreen to improve skin penetration and a smoother appearance after application. Crushing zinc-oxide or titanium dioxide down until its particles are 100,000 smaller than a hair shaft makes it more transparent once it’s applied. You’ve seen the solid white effect of putting pure zinc on your nose? That’s the look that most folks want to avoid.

However what most people don’t realize is that there are potential health risks involved in using particles of this size because of how easily the particles penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream.

There is pressure being put on the FDA to regulate this technology, and the FDA agrees that nanotechnology has unknown effects on the human body, but until regulation is officially put in place its up to you to outsmart these potentially toxic products. Choose a sunscreen that doesn’t use nano-particles. Depending on the colour of your skin you may notice a light whitening effect, but wouldn’t you rather glow a little than expose yourself to un-tested invisible particulate matter?

If you’re interested in learning more, here are two great articles from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: More Bad News About Sunscreens: Nanopoarticles and Dr. Mike Hart: Is Your Sunscreen Causing Cancer?

A Re-Imagined Store: Now Open in Canmore

This blog post was written by Abby-Lynn Knorr and posted on November 30th, 2012
Posted in Healthy Living, Ingredients to Avoid, Natural Ingredients, Uncategorized
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Toxin-free shopping at its best

In early November, we opened the doors to a whole new concept to retail. The concept of ‘how much old stuff can we pull out of the landfill or from our workshop and reuse to make a funky and fun new store’.

As part of the renovation, we put an extreme objective in place. One we felt was paramount to our core purpose of removing toxins from the world. The vision for this store is that it is a completely toxin-free and earth-friendly environment. In a world full of toxic laquers, paints, finishings and furniture…hows THAT for a challenge?

We made resolution early in the planning stages to avoid a ‘red-list’ of the toxins typically found in the construction of a store. Every material we used is toxin-free and either reusable, reclaimed, recyclable or compostable. We also wanted to make sure that no parts of the store will ever end up in a landfill, after all, we’d literally just pulled some parts of the store OUT of the landfill.

We had fun scrounging up materials such as reclaimed wood from a barn in Manitoba, amber glass beer bottles for light fixtures, and ingredient containers such as tin olive oil cans  and drums which were given new life as eco-chic chandeliers. We searched for antiques to use for cabinetry, and avoided virgin flooring, we just diamond ground the concrete floor that was already there. We also dug a hole down through the store floor and into the soil below to make home for a beautiful fig tree which we’ve affectionately dubbed ‘The Lorax’. American Clay on the walls and the living wall at the rear of the store help to purify the air while the living wall on the store-front adds a festive and natural header with its red berries and evergreen seedlings.

We invite you to come visit this ‘new/old’ store to enjoy a completely worry-free shopping experience. We’ve had some comments that most newly renovated stores have a toxic ‘paint-fumey’ scent, but ours didn’t have a smell at all. That is until we moved in about two million tonnes of soap. We’d so love to hear what you think the next time you’re in for a visit! Write to us at info@rockymountainsoap.com.

Dodging The Toxic Bullet

This blog post was written by Abby-Lynn Knorr and posted on May 3rd, 2010
Posted in Ingredients to Avoid with the tags , ,
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LOST BOYS

We love the David Suzuki Foundation.  Not only is DS the coolest Canadian born this side of 1936 but he and his team at DSF are singing a welcome and familiar tune.  We’ve been saying ‘Chemicals Add Up. Natural Matters‘ and in perfect harmony DSF have now launched their own campaign against toxic chemicals in body care products called ‘What’s Inside That Counts‘.  This campaign is a call out to Canadians to educate themselves about the toxic ingredients used in the body care industry and to participate in a survey that will help bring awareness to the issue.

David Suzuki recently interviewed author David Boyd who wrote ‘Dodging the Toxic Bullet’ which he wrote after a distressing visit to ‘Chemical Valley’ near Sarnia, Ont.  You can read this excellent interview here.

Exerpt:

Suzuki: Why would industry/government allow chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and birth defects as ingredients in the personal care products we use each day?
Boyd:
As for industry, the essential fact to remember is that their over-riding purpose is to make as much money as quickly as possible. Over and over again, industries have disregarded and denied the detrimental health effects of their manufacturing processes and products—including tobacco, lead paint, gasoline, asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, beryllium, and chromium.

When it comes to personal care products, what concerns me the most is the widespread use of ingredients that are known or suspected hormone disruptors, including triclosan (found in many anti-bacterial soaps) and phthalates (often disguised as ‘fragrance’ on labels).

You can purchase ‘Dodging the Toxic Bullet’ here.

What we do to our environment, we do to ourselves.

You’re a Sponge…No Really

This blog post was written by Abby-Lynn Knorr and posted on March 16th, 2010
Posted in Healthy Living, Ingredients to Avoid with the tags
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sponges_honeyDid you know that your skin absorbs anywhere from 21-94% of what you put on it?  I know it’s a big spread, but the point is that your skin always absorbs some of what you put on it.  That’s why nicotine patches work so well.

Walk backwards in your head…what do you put on your skin everyday?  Water, moisturizers, soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, face powder, deodorant, toothpaste, lip stick or lip gloss, blush, foundation…need I go on?  The average woman puts 12 products on her skin every day. Men? You’re up there too.  It’s a bit shocking when you realize what a cocktail you slather on yourself on a regular basis…and you thought you didn’t have a drinking problem.

Luckily, enough people are starting to pay attention to the fact that there are chemicals in synthetic body care products that are best avoided and you can now look up many products that you use in the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It’s not a perfect system but its getting better.  You are also welcome to ask us if you come across a ridiculous sounding ingredient and want to know what it is.

This is why we do what we do.  Wash and moisturize with stuff you don’t have to think twice about, you’ve got enough on your mind.

SLS: What Is It And Why Should I Care?

This blog post was written by Abby-Lynn Knorr and posted on January 13th, 2010
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spectrum-cosmetics-fine-chemicals-consultantsI had a request from a reader recently to go over the details of SLS or sodium laureth(yl) sulfate.  So here we are: SLS 101.

Most soaps (unless they’re natural), be they bar or liquid form, contain an ingredient known as SLS.  That stands for sodium laureth sulfate which is a harsh synthetic detergent and foaming agent that ‘tears down’ tissue in order to clean it (it’s very corrosive).  SLS has been on the radar of organizations like the Environmental Working Group, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, because its been linked to a number of skin related issues from canker sores (toothpaste) to eczema (soap).

Many companies have tried to soften the effects of sodium laureth sulfate, by a process called ethoxylation which changes it to sodium lauryl sulfate.  The problem with this is twofold; ethoxylation generates a by-product known as 1,4 dioxane, which is a known carcinogen whose track record is much uglier than SLS.  And secondly, there are still many cases of lauryl sulfates being linked to skin irritation and eczema.

Every time you wash your hands or body with a synthetic soap, you’re exposing your body to these chemicals.  This is why we believe Natural Matters in soap.  Our soaps are made with 100% natural ingredients such as olive oil, coconut oil, flowers such as lavender, and herbs such as Sweet Basil. These natural ingredients are just as effective (if not more!) as synthetic ones, and are a lot safer.  Olive Oil is a rich natural moisturizer, coconut oil creates a rich lather naturally, and all of the flowers and herbs we use have a therapeutic benefit.  So why would we choose a synthetic ingredient or product over a natural one if given the choice?  Beats me.

A Little Goes a Long Way

This blog post was written by Abby-Lynn Knorr and posted on January 8th, 2010
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qinsmallQin Shi Huang (of terra-cotta army fame) was Emperor of the Qin Dynasty in China between 221-210 BCE.  What does he have to do with bath and body products?  There is a lesson in his life and death that I found had an interesting correlation to why we do what we do here at this giant pile of soap.

Qin was obsessed with finding the secret to immortality (aren’t we all).  He sent oodles of people on quests to find the elixir of youth.  They didn’t return. Coming back empty handed meant execution (rumour has it that those intelligent peoples went on to colonize Japan).  Qin’s doctors and scientists, men on the cutting edge of their profession, believed mercury to be the secret to everlasting life and advised him to take mercury pills everyday.  He started with a tiny dosage, but he did eventually die of mercury poisoning (though not before he went mad).

My point?  I have two.  First – what happened to Qin is called bio-accumulation: even tiny amounts of something toxic everyday can add up.  He is an extreme example, and yes ok I’m a drama queen, but he does illustrate the point.  Now I know you’re not ingesting mercury pills everyday, but you ARE ingesting what you put on your body.  What is in your lotions and perfumes?

Second – not everything that is touted to be good for you actually is.  Does it promise to erase your wrinkles?  Puff up your lips?  Maybe it will – great!  Is there a trade off?  Some chemicals that sound benign, aren’t. I would rather kiss and hug poisonous snakes than slather them on my body day after day.  Alternately, some chemicals that are unpronounceable may be completely natural and good for you. (PS, just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s good for you either.  See hemlock.)

Take a look at the ingredient labels that populate your bathroom.  Don’t know what something is?  It might be on our wallet card.  Or post it here and I’ll type back in a flurry.

Why Don’t We Have a Sunscreen Yet?

This blog post was written by Abby-Lynn Knorr and posted on December 4th, 2009
Posted in Ingredients to Avoid, Skin Care with the tags , , , , , , ,
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sunnymountainssmallOn many occasions we have been asked why we haven’t yet produced our own sunscreen or use SPF in our products.   Great question, and there are a couple of reasons:

Sunscreen is designed to keep you from harm as it protects your skin from UVA (aging) rays, UVB (burning) rays.  Our first challenge is finding raw ingredients that do this, that are safe, and also meet our definition of natural.

A number of chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that are not only considered unsafe by our standards, but more importantly in the scientific community as well.  Petroleum by-products such as fragrance (see phthalates) or propylene glycol (see petrochemicals) have been extensively researched and linked to a number of health related issues such as cancer and birth defects.   On top of that in order to provide adequate broad range protection chemical sunscreens require two to three active ingredients as one isn’t adequate.

Natural or physical sunscreens must have one of two active ingredients, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.  Both of which are natural minerals that provide a broad range of protection.  Neither is free from scientific debate as concerns are linked to toxicity to living cells and the environment.

The good news is that as consumer demand grows, manufacturers are producing safer raw ingredients.  In addition to the ingredient challenge is the extensive testing requirements from Health Canada.  Quite rightly, Health Canada requires a clinical trial to ensure that the product is effective in meeting the claims, i.e. that it protects your skin from the sun.  A sunscreen is not just claiming to be therapeutic; it is claiming to protect you from harm.  This is a significant difference and one we do not take lightly.   The clinical trial can last up to two years and requires a large amount of resources.

If you are in the market for a natural sunscreen, rest assured that Health Canada does assign a Natural Product Number (NPN), Drug Identification Number (DIN), or Drug Identification Number for Homeopathic Medicine (DIN-HM) on all approved products.  In order to ensure you are buying a safe and effective product make sure to look for these numbers.   Having said that, all natural sunscreens do tend to leave your skin a little white as the active ingredients don’t absorb completely into your skin.

If you do happen to get a burn while out in the sun, or from the stove top, don’t be shy to try our sunburn soother, it is a very effective 100% natural skin healer.

Phthuffering phthuccotash! What’s a phthalate?

This blog post was written by Abby-Lynn Knorr and posted on November 13th, 2009
Posted in Healthy Living, Ingredients to Avoid with the tags , , , ,
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perfumeBesides being hard to spell and pronounce (tha-late), a phthalate is a synthetic chemical that helps the scent of a product last a long time.  It also helps a liquid, lotion, or cream spread and absorb easily.  Have you ever noticed that synthetic fragrances, once sprayed on your clothes, last until you wash them again?  That staying power is thanks to phthalates.  You won’t see the word ‘phthalates’ on any product labels because they aren’t legally required to be listed, but if you see the word ‘fragrance’, or ‘perfume’, you can bet that phthalates are present.

So why have they made the list of the big bad nasties?  Phthalates have been linked to birth defects, metabolic interference (obesity), and breast cancer.  Groups such as the Environmental Working Group, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics have red-flagged phthalates as endocrine disruptors.  A 2008 study showed that children that live in homes with higher concentrations of phthalates also suffered from more allergies and asthma.  Children are at higher risk to health problems because of their lower body weight, and phthalates are found in many baby lotions, powders, and creams.

This tongue-twister made our wallet-card as a chemical to avoid.  This is a controversial chemical, like many others, and our take is:  it’s just not worth the risk.  There’s been a lot of questions raised, and some pretty substantial back-up to take this bad boy down.  Anything with ‘perfume’ or ‘fragrance’ listed on the ingredients won’t make it into my reusable bag.  I’d rather save room for chocolate.