The Nasty Truth Behind Product Labeling
I truly want to spread awareness so that my friends and family can make the best decisions for wellness and health in mind. When I discovered the truth about many consumer products that filled my home in the past, there was no way that I was going to keep it a secret.
I felt completely blindsided, basically hit and tackled by the hard facts after college. It was a time in my life when I was also struggling with some health concerns related to my skin.
I was a consumer of products but felt misinformed about what I was purchasing and using. I felt as though there was nothing I could do to outsmart large corporations and their creative labeling schemes.
I remember thinking that I simply had to deal with this and it was just the way it is. I often wish I could go back and tell my younger self a few things, especially about beauty and skin care. Don't let anyone make you think it's the only way.
I began researching my products and found very useful resources such as the Environmental Wellness Group (EWG) along the way. They allowed me to start researching my household products and discovering what ingredients were linked to certain serious health risks.
I was surprised to also learn that my health and beauty routine were also routinely putting me at risk. My discovery came through the EWG's skin deep database whereby I was able to discover some potent and dangerous ingredients lurking in my cosmetics.
I was outraged from the facts and started making changed. I began making my own products because I felt, and still feel, that is the only way to control what ingredients enter our home!
I have shared many of my favorite DIY recipes. They have received amazing feedback and are actually incredibly cost effective! These little brown bottles -although seemingly expensive up front- seem to last forever.
Some of our most popular posts for those looking to get into DIY and homemade items are:
I was an uninformed consumer for almost my entire lifetime, which concerns me but after taking a little time to listen and learn about this lifestyle, I realized there was a better way. We have found that Young Living plant-based products and essential oils actually work while also providing unique support to our body at the same time. I made the decision three years ago to slowly change our home and I am never looking back!
One thing that really drives me the most with building my Essentially Well community, and sharing about wellness topics and essential oils, is what I learn along the way. I am now able to help others sort through the vast amount of information (and misinformation) out there.
The TSCA of 1976. What You Should Know...
I found it important to begin with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. These are regulations mandated 43 years ago.
In the 1970's, Congress passed a law known as the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This law specifically regulates the introduction of new or already existing chemicals and is at the discretion of the EPA.
The "existing chemicals" clause of the TSCA permitted nearly 63,000 chemicals to be grandfathered into the program and exempt from further testing! Under the TSCA, manufacturers were able to protect their trade “secrets” that allow companies to keep their ingredients a secret. In this case additives such as harsh chemicals, parabens, fragrance, volatile organic compounds, and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) were not tested. A large majority of these substances on the TSCA list remain untested!
Are you disgusted yet?! We are!
There is an interesting exclusion of the TSCA however. The TSCA excludes products regulated by the FDA such as foods, food additives, drugs, and yes... cosmetics. This is a good thing right? Not exactly.
You should know that the FDA is very hands-off in controlling the beauty industry and subjects the companies to the Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel. This panel is notorious for providing soft boundaries and being highly permissible. For example, in the 30 year history of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, there have only been 11 ingredients to be unsafe!
Only 11 out of hundreds of thousands of ingredients and substances!
Moreover, these so-called "declarations" are not binding to any companies which basically means the companies can do whatever they want anyway.
Besides, the companies can say things like "hypoallergenic" without those terms needing to mean anything at all! This is all directly according to the FDA! There is absolutely no law that exists to state that a hypoallergenic product actually has to be hypoallergenic! How is that for label deception?!
What Do We Do?
We must be considerate that our ingredients and our products likely have long-term health implications. Through resources such as the EWG, we know that many of them can cause serious health risks, yet are still common ingredients found in everyday products. From soaps to shampoos, moisturizers to makeup, cleaners to room sprays, many of these common household products contain dangerous ingredients. Please research your labels!
When using personal care or cleaning products, our skin will be exposed and thereby absorb, many of the ingredients. This is a major reason to be cognisant of what you are surrounding yourself with chemically.
Chemicals absorbed into our body may accumulate over time via a concept known in live organisms as bioaccumulation. These toxins interrupt functions in our body, influence our cells, and our hormones. I feel that theses small elements change our chemistry and physiology, and how our body is supposed to work.
Phenotype vs. Genotype
The products we choose to use impact the structure of our cells, signals to our hormones, and our DNA (genotype).
Please consider that the dictionary definition of phenotype is "the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment". Our environment matters!
Genes are only part of the story. What gets expressed (the traits that we observe such as onset of disease) is not only determined independently by our genotype. Rather, the traits observed is a combination of genotype and the environment.
Phenotype = Genotype + Environment.
The Two Primary Sources of My Frustration
1. The public believing that “natural” or “hypoallergenic” claims hold merit even though the FDA and other large organizations fail to define these terms!
2. The fact that the term “fragrance” is an simply an umbrella term for thousands of chemicals linked to chronic health concerns is alarming.
The first frustration we already discussed above.
The second is regarding fragrance.
The EWG reported some great information regarding hidden fragrance ingredients in cologne and perfume.
Fragrance is largely considered an umbrella term, and companies are not legally required to list each chemical individually on their labeling. Some of the most common villains hiding in everyday products are: formaldehyde, synthetics, dyes, phthalates, fragrance, parabens, aminophenol, diaminobenzene, phenylenediamine, and petrochemicals. Please be advised: The petrochemicals that many companies use to manufacture their synthetic fragrances are on the EPA's hazardous waste list!
Further, formaldehyde has received quite a bit of attention from the American Cancer Society. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) - which is formed by several large agencies such as the NIH, the CDC, and the FDA - categorizes formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen." If Formaldehyde is a chemical released from tobacco products and is used in the embalming process at the morgue, then why would I want that in my home?
In a 2011 report regarding synthetic fragrances, it was stated that "scented consumer goods showed the products emitted more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including some that are classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws.1 Even products advertised as “green,” “natural,” or “organic” emitted as many hazardous chemicals as standard ones".
Resources and Facts I Discovered Along the Way
I found these recent articles which encouraged me to share again about label deception, harmful ingredients, and bioaccumulation.
I hope that you are curious enough to read for yourself, here are a few of the articles and facts that stood out to me this morning.
1. Review the recent study from Organic Consumer Association
2. When reading through Organic Consumer Association, I found a very interesting PDF called, Right to Know: Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products.
3. Review these websites for more information on your products at home:
How I Avoid the Aforementioned Concerns and Risks
Simple. I use essential oils to make many of my own products. This is the only way I know how to control the ingredients that are showing up in my home. This is a method that at least allows me to minimize the impact that these ingredients can have on my family.
Is it possible to eliminate all exposures? Hard to say. However, remember that with a concept such as bioaccumulation lurking, minimzing exposure is key!
I have chosen to use Young Living Essential Oils for my recipes and products.
Why Young Living when there are so many other essential oil companies out there?
Their Seed to Seal Standards are industry-leading. The control the entire process of manufacturing their oils from seeds to the amber bottles.
We have personally visited their farms in Mona, Utah several times and you will see pictures of us all over the site that were taking at various Young Living facilities. There is no other company that provides this much transparency about their process! Trust me, we have called and messaged other leading manufacturers of essential oils to ask where their farms are located so that we can take a visit and guess what... THE OTHER COMPANIES EITHER DID NOT ALLOW US TO VISIT OR DID NOT KNOW WHERE THEIR OWN FARMS WERE LOCATED!
Young Living was founded by Gary Young. By no means are they perfect. Anybody can drum up some history on that. However, Gary dedicated his life to developing these essential oils. They are one of the only companies that is truly allowed to declare that their essential oils are therapeutic grade due to their potency and purity.
Most essential oils on the market are fragrance grade whereas Young Living essential oils are therapeutic grade. This is an important distinction, do not take it lightly! As always, please do your research and be smart about using oils! Overuse of any compound is likely to land you in trouble and eliminate any potential benefits so do your research and do not hesitate to consult with your physician. Further, three of additional resources that we often consult are: the essential oils desk reference, the animal desk reference, and gentle babies reference book.
With my heart truly in the place to help you slowly ditch chemicals in your lifestyle, I am here anytime to talk, answer your questions, and guide you to resources. I enjoy spending my time gathering this information to help inform you because I want the best for you. I know there is a better way and I can’t keep this information to myself.
Please feel free to comment and let us know how you are Young Living Essential Oils in your home to help our community.
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My vision for Essentially Well LLC is to create a reliable community for essential oils education and generate a discussion around natural health and wellness. The goal is to control the ingredients in your home, not the other way around! You will find many homemade recipes and ideas on this blog that utilize essential oils. Please consider consulting a healthcare provider and review our disclaimer when utilizing this content. Thank you for your support!
-"The Oil Sister"
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