At times I will have a look at other brands and products, mostly to see what their products contain and I am often shocked. Mostly because of the retail price and the 'false' marketing of such products. What commonly is known as 'Greenwashing'. Recently I came across a cruelty free skincare brand that seemingly sells an ‘85% Natural’, ‘Palm Oil Free’ Body Lotion. It was a fair size bottle and was very ‘reasonably’ priced. I had a look at the ingredients (as below) and I could immediately ascertain why.
Aqua (Water), Parrafinum Liquid, Gylcerine, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerl Stearate, Triethananolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum, Carbomer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Benzyl Benzoate.
I will break down the highlighted ingredients:
Paraffinum liquid, also known as mineral oil is a substance derived from Petroleum. Used widely in cosmetics, it is a cheap way of hydrating skin but can also block pores.
Glycerine. This is a plant derived liquid that is also very versatile and indeed, even edible. We use a rape seed based version which is palm oil free and it’s pretty expensive. But most are not. They can be and often are, derived from palm oil- which is why the palm free versions are rare and expensive.
Cetyl Alcohol is the emulsifier- the ingredient which binds your cream together like eggs in a cake. Cetyl Alcohol is a version of the infamous- Cetearyl Alcohol- a very cheap and versatile emulsifier that is used in various version across the board by most skincare companies. It is, yes you’ve guess it- partly made from palm oil. Same goes for the Glycerl Stearate, You could say it was also, natural. Emulsifiers form about 2-6% of your ingredient. Therefore, anything under that is less that the percentage of your emulsifier.
Triethananolamine is an organic compound and often used as a PH balancer. It can cause dry skin and when absorbed into the skin over long periods, is toxic. We use citric acid to balance PH levels.
Phenoxyethanol is a widely used preservative. It is quite harmful and can have an effect on the brain and central nervous system- there is much written on this ingredient so I won’t go into it here. Again, it is a natural substance and very cheap (in more ways than one).
This product (and many many others) claim to be cruelty free. A contued argument about palm oil I have is this: If palm oil is used (Cetyl Alcohol) and the production of palm has caused both deforestation and loss of animal habitats, isn’t this cruelty to animals?
Suddenly, this ‘natural, palm oil free’ product looked very expensive. This ‘green’ product suddenly looked not unlike the massive tub of £2 white paste you can buy from a pound shop which often comprises of water, paraffin, glycerine and, phenoxyethanol. Certain ingredients in ‘natural, ‘organic’, ‘vegan’, ‘green’, ‘cruelty free’ skincare are not automatically good for you and some are indeed bad for you, the environment, animals and other people.
This is an on going investigation and I will continue to share the nuggets here. For now, I would advise you check the ingredients of your skincare, do your own research as to what each ingredient actually is because if your skin absorbs cream... You know what they say about what you eat…
Cetearyl Alcohol is an awesome thing. (sic):
palm oil derivatives: