"And you can feel safe knowing that our skincare products are all free of chemicals."
The above quotes were found by me on Facebook today. Just today -- and just on pages I am connected to. More than meriting an eye roll or sigh from me, it goes deeper. The claim of "chemical free" is making natural beauty and skin care companies lose their credibility.
In fact, it has made me shy away from products I have used in the past because I truly believe that false claims, lack of understanding when it comes to ingredients, and gimmicky ad copy is to the detriment of the entire natural products industry. And I really believe that consumers are catching on.
Let me set the record straight. Guess what? The idea of "chemical free" is a bunch of bunk. When you see a company saying "chemical free", put your guard up. Either they are trying to mislead you or their sales staff is just completely unaware of what constitutes "chemical free" -- water is a chemical, friends. Water. H20. Find your friends Hydrogen and Oxygen on the Periodic Table.
Today, I saw a product on Etsy for a "chemical free" toner. Guess what is in this product? Vinegar.
Acetic acid (above) and water make up vinegar. They are both chemicals. I was in Ulta yesterday doing freelance work and was engaged in conversation with a woman who told me she only uses "chemical free" skin care, makeup and hair care. She told me how she uses Arbonne -- you know, the "chemical free" line preserved with Phenoxyethanol. Then she proceeded to spray herself with Philosophy Amazing Grace perfume and walk over and buy some Bare Escentuals. I am not insulting BE. I actually use a few of their products and mention them here. For those who believe mineral makeup is chemical free, this is the chemical compostion of Mica, the key ingredient:
XY 2–3Z 4O 10(OH, F) 2 with X = K, Na, Ba, Ca, Cs, (H 3O), (NH 4); Y = Al, Mg, Fe 2+, Li, Cr, Mn, V, Zn; and Z = Si, Al, Fe 3+, Be, Ti
Those essential oils you are using because you "don't do chemicals" are -- CHEMICALS. I saw someone post on Facebook the other day talking about why you need to buy Young Living Essential Oils. And why is that? It is because they are "essential in any chemical free lifestyle". Did you know that the typical essential oil contains over 100 different chemical compounds?
I do not know if I am becoming more jaded, but I think one of the reasons I have chosen to go much more mainstream is because of the false claims and mass hysteria caused by many in the natural products community. Before I started researching more and more balanced articles and studies that were peer-reviewed and based in science, I admit that I completely fell for many studies and scare tactics. Maybe it was because I was a new mom, was worried about health issues or lost my dad to cancer that I wanted to find something to blame for it. And that makes ME -- and any other green beauty blogger -- part of the problem, too. That is why I cannot be a "green beauty blogger"anymore and am just a "beauty blogger."
Yes, there are horrible ingredients in the beauty industry. Lead in certain lipsticks, phthalates, 1,4 dioxane, triclosan and hydroquinone are among them. Do you know what is bad, too? Products with mold and staph or those sold to you without lab challenge testing.
I once read an article that the "chemical-free" movement can be compared to Jenny McCarthy and her uninformed, misguided claims about vaccines and autism or Food Babe and her influence without science or a background to substantiate her claims. I used to scoff at that, but no. Science is more credible than fear.
Chemicals aren't the enemy. Harmful chemicals are not a good thing. I know many will not or do not agree.
I am not completely cynical, though.
There ARE brands doing it right.
These are the brands who have never made claims that are simply not true. Ones who do not say "chemical free" and ones who preserve their natural products effectively are the ones I will always love and recommend. You can, indeed, use more natural products if you so choose. Just choose wisely.