So Promising....Until You Read the Ingredients

Friday, November 13, 2009




The Classic Cleanser is one of several FranBrand items with large amounts of Palm Oil and an incomplete ingredients listing.



There has been quite a bit of publicity over Fran Drescher's newly released line of natural skin care called FranBrand. Drescher, a cancer survivor, wanted to introduce a line of products without harmful ingredients linked to cancer. I was very excited to see what she had in store for women. The fact that FranBrand also donates a nice chunk of their profits to Cancer Schmancer, Drescher's charity, is even more commendable. I had very high hopes for the line.

The new line was introduced earlier this week and my hopes were dashed when I read the ingredients for her products.

As it is Orangutan Awareness Week, I feel it is important to discuss this now, as opposed from a couple weeks down the road when I had planned to mention the products.

First of all, they are very good ingredients. There are no parabens and other nasties. I have two problems with the ingredients chosen for a bulk of Drescher's new products.


What is in it? I don't know...



The first one is the fact that "Organic herbal infusion" is the first ingredient in some of them. While that may be wonderful and healthful, it is very vague. Infusion of which herbs? As much as I adore herbs in skin care and use them regularly, it is very important to fully list which herbs are used, as some are not to be used if pregnant or if other health conditions are present. Many people are sensitive or allergic to specific herbs and failing to disclose them is the equivalent of small companies simply listing "preservative" on the labels (you don't know what you're getting).


When I contacted customer service at HSN to find out more specific details about the herbal infusion, I was told that the ingredients label states what is in the product. I am aware of that, however, the label is extremely vague. On the product description for the Toner Gel, it mentions aloe, white tea and green tea extract as being part of the infusion, but it doesn't mention what else is officially in the infusion. It might be something someone is sensitive to such as calendula, which makes my mom sneeze like there's no tomorrow.

Her eye product also has the infusion as the #1 ingredient, but there is no mention anywhere of what the infusion contains. For a product being used around the delicate eye area, this is of particular concern. Being vague like this does not help the consumer. Knowing what is in a product is the most important thing you can do before you buy it.

The same applies to the vague "proprietary essential oil blend." You all know how much I adore essential oils. Aromatherapy has been such a part of my life for so many years and I have experienced its benefits. That being said, I cannot tolerate patchouli, as essential oil. There are so many essential oils to be avoided if you're pregnant or have another health condition--you HAVE to know which oils you're using if you're in one of those categories.


It's more than just the vague ingredients disclosure.


The second and, to me, more important issue I have with this healthful, "eco-friendly" line is that it is not truly eco-friendly. It uses palm oil in large amounts in the bulk of the products. Palm oil is anything but eco-friendly, as it results in deforestation and the process is responsible for the death of countless orangutans. Read more here for more information. You may also read a letter I received from the director of the organization called Orangutan Outreach regarding palm oil here.

Palm oil is found as the #2 ingredient in Drescher's day lotion, night cream, and cleanser. This is the deal breaker for me.

FranBrand's ingredients, for the most part, look wonderful. Compared to many high end skin care brands full of chemicals and nasty toxins, the ingredients are nothing short of stellar. Unfortunately, my two major concerns are major enough for me not to be able to recommend the line.


Final Thoughts

Using palm oil when there are so many alternatives available is just something I cannot understand now since we have so much awareness of the damage caused to animals and to our ecosystem. More and more companies are seeking alternatives to palm oil. I think this is huge. It is commendable and I hope the trend continues.

One thing I am pleased by, though, is the different types of organizations and businesses who've reacted to damage done by palm oil. When we were at the National Zoo in Washington, DC this summer, I remember eating at one of the zoo's restaurants and seeing signs with orangutans sating that they do not use any type of palm oil product in eateries at the zoo.

More and more small businesses seem to be aware of the consequences, too. It is always nice to see small soapmaking businesses follow Aunt Nancy's lead when it comes to using oils other than palm in their soaping. Nan was one of the first sellers I came across on Etsy who doesn't use palm and her products show that it simply isn't needed to produce a good soap. Another shop that comes to mind on Etsy is Alchemic Muse, also palm oil free.


Does it matter to you?


I ask more of you to pledge to stop producing products with palm oil. It really will make a difference to orangutans and to our planet as a whole if one business at a time would join in and commit to being palm free.

If you're reading this and you're a business free of all palm oil ingredients, please comment so my readers can be aware of this! If you use palm oil now and plan to stop, please comment and make the pledge to be 100% palm free by 2010.

You can make a difference!
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