Tricks of the Trade

rick #1: Outright lying. Technically, it’s illegal, but somebody has to catch them first. The FDA told us that they don’t have the time or the resources to do anything about it! Sometimes you’ll see the word “organic” on the label, and the product doesn’t have a single certified organic ingredient in it. One manufacturer of chemical products, when we called them on the phone, told us that all of their ingredients were certified organic. They weren’t. Here’s the bottom line: organic ingredients are plant oils or extracts, or other unadulterated agricultural products. They are not chemical names!

Trick #2: Natural water. There’s nothing wrong with water, but it shouldn’t be used to cheat customers. Here’s how it works: most personal care products have a lot of water in them. That’s OK. (We use distilled water. In our products, the remaining portion is truly natural and organic ingredients—certified organic sunflower oil, for example.) If you want to make a chemical product have the appearance of being natural, make the water portion a ridiculously dilute infusion (weak tea) of a huge number of herbs, preferably organic. The herbs don’t have to really do anything. Throw in all sorts of exotic sounding things, and don’t forget trendy things like kava-kava and ginseng that have no place in a body care product. Since they’re in the water, they’ll come first on the label, even if they barely exist in the product. (Is the product white, or clear? Real herb tea isn’t clear—it’s brown.) All of those herbs sure look great on the label, don’t they? Use any sort of chemicals for the rest of the product. Most people aren’t familiar with conventional product formulation, and they focus on the plant names and the pictures of leaves on the bottle, glossing over the words they don’t understand. By the way, watch out for the word “Tea.” Sometimes it’s triethanolamine, an industrial chemical. Sneaky!