Saturday, September 19, 2009

ok, I haven't posted for a while. Things are up and down as usual. We are trying to move house and things are going wrong at every corner. This is why there hasn't been any news for a while. As soon as we have settled in the new place I will be posting more regularly, promise ! But for now, everytime I post something it is old news a couple of minutes later and it would far too confusing to keep up with the inns and outs of our local council's housing department.

But I felt I had to post something today. I accidentially stumbled accross a website promoting greem living and thought I'd find some interesting articles on there. Interesting they may have been, but they contain so much pseudo-science and scaremongering against the "cosmetic giants", that it caused me to write them a lengthy email and shout at my poor monitor. The cat has decided to sleep outside now and the OH has gone for a walk in the park until I finished ranting, lol.

Here is a copy of my email. I will break it up into chunks, as it is rather long and I don't want you all to fall asleep while reading it. Feel free to comment, I may have gotten some things wrong myself...

From: Sabine Haller []
Sent: 19 September 2009 18:55
To: ''
Subject: Articles on your website

Hello Laura

I came across your website while surfing the net and got stuck on some very interesting articles, or so I thought. I am a maker of natural cosmetics (100% Natural and Natural with synthetic Fragrance oils). Initially I thought the articles on your site contained a whole load of information I can use to explain to my customers why natural cosmetics are better than industrial ones, but the more I read, the more I just wanted to scream at my monitor as a lot of these articles are based on scare-science and badly worded explanations to run down major cosmetic manufacturers. Not something I would like to be associated with and the reason for not registering on your website and simply commenting on each article.

Yes, there are some valid points but I would have to research each point again due the fact that so many other arguments are so badly misleading.

In your articles you make many recommendations for alternative products. If you would like to promote truly natural cosmetic products and help small UK businesses, can I point you to this website ? Not all makers are certified organic, but all make natural cosmetics, avoiding petroleum based oils. Some have palm-free products, most avoid Parabens and PEG emulsifiers (not all, but each supplier has a small statement, so you can check this first)

I don’t make any money from this, but it irks me when you only promote the large pseudo-naturals in your recommendations. Most of these manufacturers are no different to P&G or L’Oreal and are neither based in the UK, nor make their products in the UK, so adding to the carbon footprint.

Behind the label: Listerine teeth and gum defence (click on this to read the whole article)

Argument: Long-term use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes dries and changes the pH of the mouth and throat and is associated with an increased risk of mouth and throat cancers.
Question: What is constituted as long-term use ? Where is a link to this study ? Mouthwash is in your mouth for about 1 minute (if you can stand it that long). How about the effects of drinking alcohol ? Does Mouthwash contain some other alcohol than for example Vodka ?

Argument: Flavourings and aromas are basically perfumes. At best they mask odour temporarily; and since they are composed of volatile solvents, they can also alter the basic flora of the mouth in the same way as alcohol and may cause dermatitis around the mouth
Question: Flavourings and aromas are actually not perfumes. They made by strict guidelines and have been tested to make sure they are safe to be ingested. This is also an INCI label and therefore aroma could also stand for essential oils, which are anything but synthetic. Large manufacturers sometimes call Essential Oil blends “aroma” if they don’t want to give away their formula. These are not volatile solvents (some do damage certain plastics, but none can be used as paintstripper).

Argument: methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen), eucalyptol (oil of eucalyptus) and thymol – even if they are naturally derived – are also highly toxic. Just 10ml of methyl salicylate can poison a child; 30ml can poison an adult.
Question: Of course they can be toxic. Even water is toxic in large enough amounts. 30ml of a pure essential oil is quite a large amount. Most essential oils are actually toxic if ingested and apart from a few, none of them should ever be placed on the skin undiluted. Thymol (well, thymian) has been used to treat teeth problems for a long time. It’s made from Essential Oil of Thymian and has strong antiseptic properties. From Wikipeda: The Blackfeet Native Americans recognized this plant's strong antiseptic action, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds. A tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis.[4] ( Nowhere in the Wikipeda article does it mention that this substance is toxic, although I am sure if ingested in large enough amounts it can be damaging, as everything else.

Argument: In addition, bright colours and nice smells mean that children find mouthwashes so intriguing that each year hundreds accidentally get smashed on as little as two ounces. So do adults; earlier this year an American woman was arrested for drunk driving after drinking three glasses of Listerine.
Question: I doubt it is 2 ounces and a responsible parent keeps things like that away from toddlers. Just like cleaners. Hundreds get “smashed” then ? Apart from the fact that this should teach them not to drink it again, 100s of what ? American children ? Worldwide ? That doesn’t seem to be a very large number to be honest. It’s not like it tastes very nice…And if someone really wants to get drunk on Listerine then I would say “each to their own”, Vodka is cheaper and tastes better.

Now the ingredient analysys:

Alcohol > Antiseptic, antibacterial > Dries and denatures mucous membranes in the mouth; changes mouth and throat pH; promotes mouth and throat cancer. –>> as above, what about drinking alcohol ? Were these tests done with pure alcohol or the concentration found in mouthwash ?

Sorbitol > Sweetener, tartar control agent > Mostly safe, but if swallowed can cause bloating, diarrhoea. –>> Mouthwash is not supposed to be swallowed and bloating and diarrhoea are common side effects of all sugar alcohols if consumed in excess ! The small amount of sorbitol contained in a swig of mouthwash won’t trigger Montezuma’s Revenge.

Aroma > Fragrance > Perfume by another name, composed mostly of solvents; drying to the mouth and potentially neurotoxic; allergic reactions may mimic common dental problems such as bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, gingivitis. – >>No, aroma is not the same as perfume. Some don’t even smell like they taste. Which aromas are neurotoxic ? And are these actually in this product ? If someone is allergic to an aroma / essential oil then they should obviously avoid it. Common sense really. Like not eating peanuts if allergic. But I see no warning messages on peanuts informing me I could die from eating them.

Sodium saccharin > Sweetener > Carcinogenic – linked to bladder cancer in animals. Banned in US –>> and declared safe in Canada and Europe. Saccharin has been around for quite a long time as is deemed safer than aspartame. I am glad to know that it is linked to bladder cancer in animals, but which animals, how much did they consume over what period and have any studies ever proven an increase in Bladder Cancer in humans ? There is no link to a reliable study.

Eucalyptol (Oil of Eucalyptus) > Fragrance, antiseptic > Allergic skin, nose and eye reactions, inhalation may trigger asthma; vocal cord dysfunction in sensitive individuals. Ingestion can cause vomiting, stomach pains, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, bleeding, coma and death. –>> “Sensitive individuals” – yes if you are allergic to Eucalyptus it would probably be a bad idea to use this mouthwash. Doh. It CAN cause vomiting etc. That doesn’t mean that it will, and this is the warning label for undiluted Essential Oil. If ingested undiluted and in large enough amounts it will cause death…That’s why people need to learn about Essential Oils before using them. Mouthwash will not contain undiluted Eucalyptus Oil. And not even enough of it in a whole bottle to cause these symptoms, although there is a warning label on the back advising people against glugging it down like Gin.

Methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen) > Fragrance, antiseptic > Respiratory tract, skin and eye irritation; allergic reactions; small ingested amounts are fatal to young children; may cause reactions in aspirin-sensitive people. – Again no mention about how much needs to be ingested to cause these symptoms and people who are allergic to aspirin would know what else they need to look out for. “Small ingested amounts”, what is classified as small here ? 1ml ? 250ml ? 0.5ml ? And how much of this is actually in a whole bottle ?

More tomorrow