One such resource, Cosmeticsinfo.org, aims to provide factual, scientific information on ingredients most commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products in the United States. It is sponsored by The Personal Care Products Council, and the Web site contains information about the safety, testing, and regulation of cosmetics and personal care products and their ingredients. The site also has a detailed ingredient database which allows you to search by ingredient name and is accompanied by a list of resources, and background and safety information.
Another resource that helps consumers understand their product’s ingredients and provide detailed safety information and any research findings is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. The Skin Deep Database is an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products that integrates their in-house collection of personal care product ingredient listings with more than 50 toxicity and regulatory databases. The database also provides safety ratings for nearly a quarter of all products on the market so consumers can easily get a quick understanding of the products safety by reviewing a rating on a scale from zero to ten, zero being the safest, and ten being potentially the most harmful.
Both resources are a great source of safety and ingredient information; however, there still is a lack of validity surrounding the entire natural and organic cosmetic industry. Which source of information should the consumer trust? Who is right and who is wrong?
Many online sources of cosmetic safety and ingredient information provide conflicting or incomplete information. I believe the FDA should be the one organization that the consumer can trust, but it is pretty clear that they are slacking and not staying up-to-date with new product formulations, ingredients, and especially when trying to regulate the natural and organic market.
When it comes to a trust worthy source of cosmetic ingredient information I would recommend both the EWG and The Personal Care Products Council. However, I find it irritating that there needs to be non-governmental watchdog groups in the first place who are trying to protect consumers when in fact it is the FDA who should be doing the job. But I guess a government watchdog picking up the slack is better than the alternative of not having one at all.
Natural Cosmetic News appreciates the hard work done by these organizations, but we believe there is some room for improvement. For example, while both sites provide detailed safety information they also lack information relating to the origin of the ingredients, as well as if they hold any natural or organic certifications and by which standards. Additionally, they fail to state whether or not the ingredient is natural or a synthetic replica.
Take for example the commercially known mineral ore, kalunite™ (INCI name Potassium Alum), which is a naturally occurring crystal mineral extracted from the Earth’s crust, but potassium alum can also be synthetically manufactured. The same goes for many minerals used in cosmetics and personal care products. So, having a comparison of the differences in appearance, efficacy and any potential side effects of both the natural and synthetic ingredient would be a plus. Furthermore, it would also be nice to know the environmental impact of using the ingredient in product formulations. For example, if the ingredient is a mineral, as is the case with kalunite™ Potassium alum, information relating to the mineral’s mining process, location of mining, and environmental impact would be a pleasant addition.
Another example of a common ingredient used in cosmetics that we would like to see more information on are essential oils. Just like minerals, essential oils can also be synthetically manufactured. Lavender oil is frequently used as a natural fragrance, but is it really natural if in fact it was synthetically produced to be “nature identical?” True lavender oil is extracted from the plant lavandula angustifolia, but often the oil comes from a cross breed of plants and may be combined with chemical constituents of lavender or other plants. Although the synthetic reconstruction of essential oils provides uniformity for product formulation they seldom include all the trace chemicals which might be found in any given specimen of a certain plant material. This is why additional information could be added in the resources regarding the origin or source of the ingredient while comparing natural and synthetic differences.
Regardless of the faults I may find in the site’s information, I take my hat off to both, and say, “keep up the good work.”