“Natural” products?

Warning: many products claim to be natural and have natural ingredients…but they’ll still contain the chemicals you are trying to avoid! Just because the product contains natural ingredients, does not eliminate the fact that it is also using chemical compounds as well. Usually, these chemical compounds are in a higher quantity than whatever natural ingredients are involved.

A product that claims to be Sulfate-Free…

That’s great! The product doesn’t have a sulfate! You’ve been attempting to avoid any, especially sodium laureth sulfate. Then you pick it up and look at the ingredients in the bottle and you notice that it still looks like a lot of chemicals are involved. The product has the ingredient Olefin Sulfonate which strangely seems similar to the word sulfate. Want to know why? Because it’s another form of a sulfate.

Olefin sulfonate is a surfactant. So are sulfates. This means that that it helps oil molecules dissolve in water, which has a drying effect on hair. In fact if you look online this is what you’ll find: “A sulfonate is a salt of a sulfonic acid.” That’s a coincidence because “a sulfate is a salt of sulfuric acid.” Hmm… basic chemistry tells me that they are both chemical compounds from salt and that they are both surfactant. Which means, that instead of having a sulfate it has another form in order to claim they are “sulfate free!”.

Also, products will claim that there Olefin Sulfonate is Coconut derived. This is because it is naturally derived from coconut oil, but it does not mean it’s not a chemical salt! It does NOT mean that it is natural or anything involved coconuts!

For example, Giovanni’s hair care line claims that it is: “Laurel, laureth sulfates, animal products and cruelty free.” Sounds great, but then when you look at the ingredients list you’ll see this:

Aqua (Purified Water) with Certified Organic Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) Oil, Certified Organic Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) Oil, Certified Organic Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Officinalis) Oil, Certified Organic Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) Oil, Certified Organic Nettle (Urtica Dioica) Oil, Certified Organic Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris) Oil, Birch Leaf (Butela Alba) Oil, Certified Organic Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilus Flower), Certified Organic Clary (Salvia Sclarea), Certified Organic Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia), Certified Organic Coltsfoot Leaf (Tussilago Farfara), Certified Organic Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) Oil, Certified Organic Mallow (Malva Sylvestris), Certified Organic Horsetail (Equisetum Arvense) Oil, Certified Organic Soybean Protein (Glycine Soja), C12-14 Olefin Sulfonate (Coconut Derived), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Trace Minerals, Citric Acid (Corn), Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Sodium Chloride (Sea Salt), Grapefruit Seed (Citrus Derived).


As we can see it contains a sulfonate and it nicely tells the buyer that it’s coconut derived. Of course it is, does not change the fact that it is a surfacant, and a sulfate. Thanks for trying to trick us, Giovanni.

Next, Trader Joe’s Nourish Shampoo was recommended to me, and yet they are playing the same trick on us as Giovanni’s shampoo is attempting to do: claiming to be sulfate free but including a sulfonate.

Trader Joes Ingredient List: Purified water, organic rosemary oil, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba, organic echinacea, organic willow bark, organic sea kelp, organic chamomile flower, organic textured soy protein, organic lavender, organic grapefruit, C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Tocopherol (Vit E), Citric Acid, Methylparaben, propylparaben, sea salt, botanical fragrance

Yet why does it not shock me that companies are attempting to fool us?

Another issue I’ve come across is when looking for a Certified Organic Shampoo, I will find shampoos that claim to have certified organic ingredients. Which usually means to them that they have a few ingredients that are certified, and therefore the whole shampoo is certified and healthy for your hair… incorrect. So many people were recommending the Avalon Organics line of products to me. Then I checked out the bottle:

As one can see here, the third ingredient is a sulfate. Sorry Avalon Organics, it’s nice that you have a few certified organic ingredients, but even Tressemme claims there ingredients are natural and they too have sulfates in them.

Another product that does the same is: Yes to Carrots which claims to be paraben free and organic. Here is its ingredient list: Water (Aqua), Sodium Coceth Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Dead Sea Water (Maris Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Propanediol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Daucus Carota Seed Oil, Daucus Carota Juice, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Juice, Ipomoera Batatas (Sweet Potato) Extract, Cucumis Melo (Melon) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Honey(Mel) Extract, Fragrance (Parfum), Algae Extracts (Rhodella, Dunaliella, Spirulina), Silt (Maris Limus), Niacinamide, Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Peel Extract.

The second ingredient is a sulfate. I’m going to say no to carrots.

How can products do this?

It’s actually shocking statistic that 98% of natural products are actually making false or misleading claims. “After a study of nearly 4,000 consumer products discovered unverifiable information and blatant lies regarding their claim to be 100% natural, all natural, organic, or otherwise environmental friendly” (NaturalCosmeticNews). The truth is, manufacturers are looking for creative ways to market their products to “green” consumers. Unfortunately this is not regulated by government agenceies that usually regulate drugs, food and personal hair care products because, like the FDA, they do not define or regulate the use of the word “natural” on cosmetic products. This is primarily because there is not a true definition to what “natural” really means, which leads to the use of it on labels and advertising.

Most consumers think that when they see “natural” on a product, that the product’s ingredients come from nature, which is untrue. (Not to mention, not all things that are natural are safe). This does not mean that all products that claim to be natural are lying, but more likely than not the products include more than just natural ingredients. The USDA is in charge of deeming things “organic” but there are loopholes to get around this fact. It’s sad but true.

Really most importantly spend your time doing your own research, because I’ve spent plenty of time doing mine. I almost purchased Giovanni until I noticed its false claims, and have turned to looking at brands that are 95 to 100% truly organic, or have proven all-natural ingredients.

Here is a small list of 95-100% certified by the USDA as organic: Dr. Bronner’s, Nature’s Gate, Terressentials, Trilliums Organics

Products that are made with “some” organic ingredients: KissMyFace, JohnMasterOrganics, WholeFoods Line “EO”

Products that are proven natural: Burt’s Bees, Aubrey Organics

Honestly, I say just research and try things out. I am going to try out Aubrey Organics line and get back to you with a review later this week or next week.