The organic industry has enjoyed steady growth for over a decade now. Increasing evidence linking common chemicals found in skincare products to cancer has made people sit up and take notice. From the food we put in to our bodies to the products we put on our bodies, there are potential dangers everywhere.
This means that people not only go out of their way to find ‘organic’ products, but they’re also prepared to pay a premium for them. But most of us have no idea what we really need to stay away from. We walk blithely into an organic store and assume everything we pick off the shelf will be safe. Be warned though, this is not necessarily the case.
In 2016 there was a widely publicised class action brought in the US against the company manufacturing the Avalon Organics and JASON range of ‘organic’ products. Under Californian law a product can only be labelled organic if 70 per cent of the ingredients are organic. Avalon Organics and JASON products were accused of misleading consumers to believe that the products were wholly or at least mostly organic, when, in fact, they were not.
This case highlights that a product can legitimately be labelled organic with only 70 per cent of organic products. The remaining 30 per cent can be pretty much anything. And whilst we might like to assume that the producers of these products wouldn’t intentionally include any ‘nasty’ ingredients, that is not necessarily the case.
It’s worth paying attention to the ingredients listed on any products you buy, whether organic or not.
Common ingredients to avoid:
Formaldehyde (a known human carcinogen)
Fragrance (can contain chemicals that cause allergies, dermatitis and respiratory distress)
Parabens (associated with increased links to breast cancer)
Phthalates (linked to increased incidence of breast cancer)
Propylene glycol (a known skin irritant)
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) (found in foaming products, combined with other ingredients can become a carcinogen)
Sunscreen chemical (common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate, these chemicals can interfere with hormones)
Synthetic colours (denoted by letters F, D, C followed by a colour and a number, these are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources and are suspected human carcinogens)
Toluene (a petrochemical often listed as listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene, linked to immune system toxicity)
Triclosan (found in antibacterial products and is a known endocrine disruptor, especially thyroid and reproductive hormones)
USDA Organic is the highest level of certification for organics. Confusingly though there are four categories of labelling:
- 100 percent organic
- “Made with” organic ingredients
- Specific organic ingredients
To be absolutely sure of organic authenticity then going for USDA organic products is the best option. For any other categories steer clear of products where the ingredients listed above are included.
Article written by Victoria Milner from Singapore Foodie
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