CVS to phase out chemicals of concern in store brand beauty and personal care

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 in All Posts, Industry News |

The retail pharmacy chain announced plans this week to remove select ingredients from four of its own cosmetics and personal care brands, calling the move “a natural step in the evolution of our comprehensive approach to chemical safety.”

Source: CVS to phase out chemicals of concern in store brand beauty and personal care

I’ve lost all respect for CVS.  Following in the footsteps of NGO activist groups, the decision to phase out “Chemicals of Concern” shows the stupidity of someone in their decision tree.  I doubt that it involved their pharmacists, who are well-read in science, chemistry, and toxicology.  It appears the corporate powers that be have been listening to NGO activist groups who demonize just about every personal care chemical over two syllables long.  I think the motive is positioning in the marketplace.  A target market of new-age hippies and crunchies.  They’re caving into the anti-scientific movement and profiting off people’s ignorance of chemistry, when they should be educating the public.

Phthalates are on the no-no list.  Chemophobes tend to group them together, but the ones used in cosmetics are DBP (nail polish) and these days you’d be hard pressed to find any fragrance oils that are made with phthalates.  As expert Chemist David C. Steinburg said in Cosmetics & Toiletries, October 2005, Volume 120, No 10,

“Alcohol causes more reproductive toxicity than DBP; why not ban that?

And Yes, CVS sells liquor.

Here is the FDA’s position on phthalates in personal care products.  At the present time, FDA does not have evidence that phthalates as used in cosmetics pose a safety risk.”

I won’t even get started on formaldehyde donors and parabens.  Both are safe as used.  The irony is they’ll ban ingredients deemed safe by most of the scientific regulatory bodies all over the world, but refuse to quit selling homeopathic remedies.  Worthless crap.  Homeopathy has been studied to death and doesn’t work under any controlled conditions.  At best it’s an expensive placebo…. unless it’s made wrong and poisoning babies.

(Click to read) FDA: Toxic Belladonna In Homeopathic Teething Product

It looks like CVS just can’t resist the $$$ from duping gullible consumers.  Profit up, credibility down.

Read More

Essential Oils: Why They’re Not Essential.

Posted by on Aug 7, 2016 in All Posts, Woo | 4 comments

I have to be one of the few people in the bath and body manufacturing business who isn’t gushing over essential oils.  I bought some last year and on the counter they sit. I’m sure if I ordered products made with essential oils from my Indie group, I’d find them lovely.

I never cared for the way they smell out of the bottle or “got” what they were supposed to be doing for me. Take me to Narnia? Tickle my limbic system with the life force of the plant? Traverse my blood brain barrier and make me smarter?  My snark is probably from practicing evidence-based medicine.  I pretty much ignore anything that isn’t steeped in science. It’s the #healthwashing aspect of them that confounds me, and I’ve seen that carried over into cosmetics.

boosting the immune system is non-sense.

You can’t boost your immune system without pharmaceutical intervention for specific disorders under the care of an M.D. Lose that bogus claim.

The worship of essential oils has turned into a sort of cult or religion. The MLM companies with their outrageous marketing claims and some slimy snake-oil reps have ruined it for me. It’s the Swiss army knife of “holistic” medicine.  The placebo effect seems to be alive and well.  It’s disheartening to see good people being so easily taken in by incredulous claims ranging from curing erectile dysfunction to Ebola.  It’s smelling more like a cash cow.

 I find it ironic that modern-day charlatans are promoting thieves oil….

Among the list of all the wonders attributed to EO’s, most of them claim mood enhancement.  Fragrance oils can do the same thing.  Essential oils don’t own the word aromatherapy.  Fragrance oils can make people happy as well.  That’s evidenced from the success of the multi-billion dollar fragrance oil industry world-wide.  Fragrance can take someone back in time to childhood memories or remind them of events or people that they care about.  I buy them without phthalates, and have IFRA guidelines for safe use.

The typical way to demonize fragrance oils is by pointing out they’re often made of a mix of natural aroma chemicals and “synthetic” chemicals.  Many moons ago, they were granted trade secret status and people can’t stand that.  They envision toxins and “nasty chemicals they can’t pronounce.”

If you go here there’s a partial listing of lavender oil chemicals.  If those people had a similar list of the trade-secret fragrance chemicals in front of them, I wonder what the hell they’d do with that information?  It’s the same crowd of people that won’t put anything they can’t pronounce on their chakra points. But they’ll gladly ingest an essential oil based on what a salesperson told them when the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of these chemicals are unknown. All because it came from a plant and we all know that makes it “speshull”, right?

There’s claims of antimicrobial action but at the level it would take, it might be irritating to the skin.  On the EU list of allergens that must be declared, I think most of the 26 are from plants.

Hand washing with soap, it works.

EO’s are all the rage: self-medicating for the worried well until someone gets hurt.  I’ve read several injury reports from their use ranging from seizures to esophageal erosion. That’s why we have and need trained aromatherapists!

I have no problem with adults indulging in their misters, inhalers, vape sticks etc.  Just leave it off the helpless kids and animals who can’t speak for themselves. (Think dogs- with their extraordinary and magnified sense of smell).




Read More

Why I killed the bunny logo.

Posted by on Aug 6, 2016 in All Posts | 2 comments

The business guru’s say build your business, the way you want, and do your thing.  To me that means NO restriction on the safe ingredients I use (in terms of the origin of the ingredient or world-view).  I’m not after any certifications.  Maybe I’ll make up my own seal for certified, conventional, and un-organic.

Freedom is why I left the corporate world.  To avoid being dictated to by some organization who boxes me in with their “approved” list of ingredients.  Screw that crap.  With ~10,000 hours of cosmetic formulating under my belt I don’t need those restrictions.  I also don’t value an organization who wants to hold the world to 100 year old agricultural techniques, or won’t accept biotechnology.  Easy to have that frame of mind when you have a full belly, but there are other people in the world that need to eat besides the privileged food elitists.

I’m not gonna “pay to play” to have an organization make me look green/wholesome/eco/cruelty-free for a price.   That brings me to animal testing.   I always have to smile when I see “no animal testing”.  It’s supposed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but I find it disingenuous because of the implication that all the makers who haven’t paid for the seal are cruel.

The dirty work has already been done.

The dirty work has already been done.

It’s one of the reasons why I don’t have the leaping bunny on my site.  I think it’s a fine organization and applaud what they do to help outlaw animal testing on cosmetics (according to what I’ve read, animal testing has been pretty much phased out since the 90’s anyway, except for some big conglomerates who want to tap into the China market).  I can’t imagine using animals to test frivolous things like cosmetics.  They aren’t necessary to our survival.  From what I understand, certification only pertains to new testing.  Virtually every ingredient we use has been tested on animals in the past.

On the Leaping Bunny site it says:  “Some companies choose not to join our program because they continue to conduct or commission animal tests for ingredients or formulations, or they wish to reserve the right to test on animals in the future”   This is so NOT applicable  for small companies or solopreneurs!  Hello? ding-dong,  We’re not Avon or L’oreal!

“We don’t test on animals”.  Of course you don’t.  How would you?  It’s like me saying I don’t put plutonium in my cream. (I’ve tried to locate labs that perform animal testing to no avail;  I wanted to find the cost of Draize testing for something small companies weren’t going to do anyway).

Does that mean you didn’t rub Fido’s eyes with shampoo or didn’t spend thousands on testing?  Or you did the legwork to get certs from your suppliers that they don’t currently test on animals.  The dirty work has already been done! There’s no need for suppliers to repeat it.

The unrestricted use of these phrases by cosmetic companies is possible because there are no legal definitions for these terms. A cosmetic manufacturer might only use those raw materials and base their “cruelty-free” claims on the fact that the materials or products are not “currently” tested on animals.  I don’t know of any small company that has the funds or desire or need to do animal testing.  For all practical purposes, everyone is cruelty free.

Anyone can put a statement on their site and claim that they are ‘cruelty free’.   Ya know what would be a better spend of money?  Ditch the seal and donate to your local animal shelter.



Read More

Could you have Cosmedica Nervosa? (Part 2)

Posted by on Aug 5, 2016 in All Posts |

Part 1 was about the excessive fear some people have about chemicals / toxins that they think are out to get them.  There seems to be the increasing rejection of science that everyone benefits from, like the great technological improvements it’s brought to our lives (e.g. chemophobia powered by social media).  Some believe that 20 minutes of googling is equal to 30 years of education and scientific research.  Just today, I got an email from a customer and was dismayed at one of his comments……..what else…..chemikillz!  He mentioned where he used to buy soap in his home town because it -“didn’t have lots of chemicals listed as their ingredients“.

non toxic girl IG

It’s time to talk about what no one else is…..the role of makers propagating crap to get a leg up on their competition with their “it’s bad for ‘ya” claims.  Here’s an example with no citations.  Seems fact checking has gone out of style.

I’m betting the person is selling something with essential oils, and knocking fragrance oils.  She’s gonna milk this paranoia.  How did we go from Avon and Tupperware to peddling crap like this?  For people in the cosmetic business- it would be great if they instead defended our industry as safe.  Because it is.  The public is nervous enough thanks to NGO’s et al.

Nothing in life is without risk.  To put it in perspective,  traffic accidents kill 1.24 million people a year worldwide; wars and murders, 0.44 million.  Do we still drive cars?  Pick your battles.  Calm the F down!  None of us are getting out of here alive, so if you like a traditional perfume-enjoy it.

Referring to the part 1 discussion, we makers do have to consider what our customers will think.  A maker can pander to these folks by changing suppliers and labels to words a 7 year old can pronounce (performance be dammed).   Another option is to avoid being a cosmetic apologist, by explaining the origin or function of an ingredient in parentheses e.g., decyl glucoside (from coconut oil) to put the customer at ease, since it’s a “chemically” sounding name.

Stop the fear-mongering

Stop the fear-mongering 

Educating the consumer using science, by referencing the Cosmetic Ingredient Review is is a good way to show the safety of ingredients to customers.  Give weight to ideas that are evidence-based.  With chemophobia and misinformation so rampant,  I don’t see a lot of makers defending the industry.  Some are enablers playing into consumer fears and positioning their products as non-toxic.  (I just sprained my eyes by rolling them).

Skin care should make you soft, and it shouldn’t be a philosophical obsession about ingredients.  Some people need to get a grip.



Read More

Could you have Cosmetica Nervosa? (Part 1)

Posted by on Aug 4, 2016 in All Posts, Soap |

I coined a term; Cosmetica Nervosa.  The idea came from the food industry where some folks are heavily preoccupied with the idea of “clean eating, and now I’m seeing sales copy boasting “clean cosmetics”.  You may have heard the term “orthorexia nervosa,” which means “fixation on righteous eating.” Orthorexia is a term coined by Steven Bratman, MD in 1996. He began to use it with his patients who were overly health-obsessed.  It was not meant as a diagnosis; instead, Dr. Bratman used the term to help his patients entertain the possibility that this “healthy” eating may not be as beneficial as they presumed. Over time, however, he came to understand that the term identifies a genuine eating problem. It is not an officially recognized disorder in the DSM-5, but is similar to other eating disorders – those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa obsess about calories and weight while orthorexics obsess about healthy eating.  Source

There was a discussion in a group along these lines about a frequently demonized ingredient, propylene glycol, used as a processing aid in soap.  (ooh, scary!)


Soap is nothing to be afraid of.

Soap is nothing to be afraid of.

Yup, soap.  It was a great discussion about the significance of it, and what their customers may think.  (I think PG got the reputation as a “nasty chemical” because it was confused with ethylene glycol- or that it’s a derivative of petroleum).  I couldn’t comment to the discussion without snark so I just stared at it.  Like an accident scene.  Double Face palm.  First world problem at its finest.  Because it shows how consumers can be so afraid of a teensy amount of a safe ingredient for a brief contact time on the skin, followed by a rinse can cause so much angst.

It must be a drag to live with such fear.  (Thanks NGO’s and the makers who hang on their coat tails!)

I plucked out some facts about propylene glycol from wikipedia and personal care truth.  HERE’S A MASHUP:

Because of its low chronic oral toxicity, propylene glycol was classified by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use as a direct food additive, including frozen foods such as ice cream and frozen desserts.

Prolonged contact with propylene glycol is essentially non-irritating to the skin. Undiluted propylene glycol is minimally irritating to the eye, producing slight transient conjunctivitis; the eye recovers after the exposure is removed.

Propylene glycol does not cause sensitization, and it shows no evidence of being a carcinogen or of being genotoxic.

CIR Expert Panel and they concluded that Propylene Glycol is safe for use in cosmetic products at concentrations up to 50%.

Propylene glycol is listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia and is included in New and Non-Official Remedies as a proper ingredient for pharmaceutical products.

The above guidelines were determined by dermatologists, toxicologists, MD’s, not fearmongering bloggers, the EWG, or armchair toxicologists.

What can we do to combat chemophobia?




Read More