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Frequently Asked Questions


Which Pure Earth Hair Wash is best for my hair?

For more information about our Pure Earth Hair Wash, click here.

Do you have a hair conditioner?

Our Pure Earth Hair Wash doesn’t strip your hair shaft of its natural oils the way detergent shampoos do, so for most people, a conditioner isn’t necessary. However, for individuals with extremely dry hair, we suggest that you try running your fingers through your hair with a bit of our Moisture Cream (which is what we call our pure organic cold-pressed shea butter) on your fingertips—it’s an excellent conditioner for dry hair.

Are you going to make a sunscreen?

Not in the foreseeable future. We’ve done a lot of research into sunscreens. We have a stack of scientific documentation two inches high. The bottom line is this: it looks like no sunscreens are safe. According to our research, sunscreens give users a false sense of security in that, while they effectively prevent sunburn, they do nothing to prevent skin cancer or accelerated aging of the skin.

What’s even worse is the fact that both chemical sunscreens (methoxycinnamate, padimate-o and the like) and physical sunblocks (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations. That’s right: they can cause skin cancer. Furthermore, sunscreen chemicals have been found to pass through the skin and mimic the effects of estrogen, which may disrupt the delicate balance of the body’s natural hormones.

Titanium dioxide is now being used as a new treatment for window glass because it attacks and degrades anything that touches it, thereby helping to keep windows clean. You probably don’t want to have anything attacking your skin! Our recommendation: Loose-fitting clothing, big hats and shady trees. Yes, we could make money with an organic lotion with titanium oxide in it. But we like to be able to sleep at night.

Why don’t you offer organic makeup? Can you recommend one?

It’s not possible to make color cosmetics that meet both FDA regulations and USDA organic standards. Of course, it’s legal to call any cosmetic item “organic”, which shouldn’t be the case. Just calling something “organic” doesn’t make it so.

With the current FDA and international laws pertaining to the specifications (manufacturing directives) for cosmetic colorings/pigments, there can never be a line of truly organic color cosmetics, as colors from plants, while permitted in foods, are not permitted in cosmetics. It’s absolutely outrageous, but true. (Exceptions are chemically extracted and refined yellow from annatto seed and orange from vegetables and caramel from burnt sugar—but these are not good makeup colors for foundations and eye shadows and blusher.)

The legal iron oxide colorings are manufactured synthetically in hugely polluting industrial smelting operations that burn coal, a major source of mercury in our environment.

We don’t believe that anyone needs to wear makeup. The idea that one would need to use makeup is an idea, concocted by chemical companies, that is directed to women in order to control them—to make them feel insecure, inadequate and unloveable when they are not using makeup. Digital image enhancements (like this) are used to make models look superhumanly perfect in an attempt to make women have self-esteem issues and buy chemical products.

Our other opinions about makeup are: one, makeup is a very unhealthy product and, two, the manufacturing of makeup pigment colorings is terribly polluting for our air and water and for human health.

Please read the following articles for more detailed information relating to color cosmetics and to your question:

The Truth About Parabens

The Truth About Sunscreens

Though we have the ability to produce a color cosmetic line, we have chosen not to do so because we have not seen any legal colorings that meet our standards. We have never seen a cosmetic line without synthetic ingredients and we’ve never seen a line of makeup that we would recommend.

Here’s something interesting: In a poll of 10,000 single men, 68 per cent preferred natural beauty to women who used makeup.

We think “natural makeup” is an oxymoron. How natural is a painted face? A healthy glow and a good attitude is better than any makeup.

Is the shea butter in your 100% Organic Moisture Cream refined?

Our shea butter is not chemically refined. It is a USDA certified organic, Fair Trade, filtered butter.

Some other shea butters are extracted with hexane or other solvents, chemically bleached and deodorized, and treated with preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). A product that undergoes these processes would not qualify for USDA organic certification.

There is a lot of hype surrounding shea butter that is running rampant across the web about grades of shea butter—color, odor, growing it, harvesting it, etc. We have been working with this natural butter since 1992 and we have done much research investigating shea nuts and their processing. Our research took us on a journey that led us to be the first US company to offer USDA certified organic shea butter. We now work with a producer that offers the finest certified organic material that we have seen—super emollient, high in naturally-occurring vitamin E, with excellent skin-conditioning properties and, very importantly, USDA certified organic.

Shea trees are notoriously difficult to cultivate commercially in groves/orchard environments by non-expert people who have not intimately studied the plant and its growing habits for many years. Currently, much shea butter that is commercially sold is harvested from non-organized plantings of random trees (often identified as “wild-harvested”) that grow along roadways which it make it conducive for easy harvesting and transporting. Unfortunately, a big problem with harvesting plants that grow along roadways (especially in third world areas) is the pollution and contamination from herbicides, vehicular hydrocarbons and heavy metals, pesticides, etc.

Regarding crude odiferous shea butters, it is important to note that some of the odor of the shea butter comes from impurities in the butter. It is also very important to remember that the majority of shea nut processing is still done under third-world conditions by human hands and often with unsophisticated equipment and facilities, and usually processed outdoors. The impurities, if not filtered out, can cause the butter to have a strong smell and a dark tan to dark gold/green color, and to go rancid quickly. Filtering with clays or minerals, which is an USDA National Organic Program approved process, effectively removes the dirt, bits of insects and their feces, shell husks and fibers, etc., that, if left in the butter, can substantially decrease the shelf-life of the butter, can provide sustenance for bacterial growth and make the butter less valuable for consumption and health-promoting purposes. The USDA organic filtering process is necessary and effective without destroying the vital aspects of the shea butter that make it so healthy and useful.

Organic shea butter naturally varies in texture and consistency—just like apples, for example. The better grades have a soft creamy white to light beige color. Over the years, we have found that natural shea butters may sometimes be a bit grainy or firm. This is completely natural, and any crystals will easily melt away and the product will soften if the butter is gently warmed in a pocket or similar warm (not hot) place before use.


I did not notice the use of any preservatives in your products. Should I be concerned that they will have a limited shelf life?

Terressentials products have an excellent shelf life and don’t need to be refrigerated. First, we’d like to point out that we do use non-synthetic methods for extending life cycles in some of our products—essential oils and herbal extracts, for example. (We won’t use grapefruit seed extract—for the reason, click here.) Second, many of our products are “self-preserving.” Some examples of this type of product would be our Body Oils, Body Cremes, Lip Protectors, Body Washes, Moisture Cream and Hand Soaps. Examples of self-preserved products that you might have at home would be honey, nut butter, wine, olive oil, sugar, vinegar and raisins—they need no preservatives or refrigeration. An ingredient or product may be self-preserving if it is not conducive to bacterial growth due to its basic or acidic nature, or because it contains no water.

Our facial lotions and facial cream and body lotions are products that incorporate select herbal extracts and tinctures, and essential oils, carefully chosen for their beneficial skin qualities and for their natural preservative properties. We know that our lotions are stable, usable and effective for up to 12 months when the products are kept out of high heat and direct sunlight, when the lids are tightly capped and when no unclean fingers are placed in the product.

It is far cheaper to use methyl or propyl paraben, or other toxic chemical preservatives, but we believe that the issues of safety and the inherent biological incompatibility of these types of ingredients does not justify their cheap cost. There is always some price to pay in the end when you cut corners.

Are your products vegan?

Our products contain no ingredients derived in any way from any animals, fish or fowl. We do use beautiful sustainably-produced organic beeswax in some of our lotions and creams. We have found no truly natural plant waxes that come close. Our beekeepers love their bees and do everything in their power to keep them healthy and happy. Some people will drive miles out of their way to find a synthetic product that hasn’t inconvenienced a bee, flattening scores of other insects with their windshields in the process. That doesn’t make sense to us. Responsible apiculture (beekeeping) is necessary for agriculture, since so many bees have been killed off by pesticides... another reason to go organic.

What does “saponified” mean?

Saponification is the process by which natural plant oils become pure soap when combined with alkaline water. A castile soap made properly made in the traditional kettle process contains soap, water and glycerine when it’s done. The castiles that we hand-craft are cured for five weeks for mildness. It is said that the process was first observed occurring naturally in ancient Rome at Mount Sappo, hence the name saponification.

What does “mineral blend” mean?

Some people have asked if that means “mineral oil”—it definitely doesn’t. It’s simply a blend of naturally-occurring clays.

Are your products tested on animals?

No, never. Sometimes we do test products we’re developing on ourselves and our willing human friends.

Why do you use plastic bottles instead of glass?

Many of our bottles and jars are glass, but we don’t want to use glass for bottles that may be used in the tub or shower, or for babies, for safety reasons. The plastic that we do use for bottles, PET, is about as close to glass as you can get: very inert, and in demand for recycling. We never use vinyl, because of the adverse environmental impact. For more information on this topic, click here.

Why don't you use recycled plastic bottles?

Plastic polymers are made of long, chain-like molecules. When plastics are recycled, those chains become broken, the end result being a more permeable bottle. Not good. To make up for the degraded properties of the plastic, chemical additives may be used. Also not good. (For more about this, see the book Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough.) Another thing to consider is that recycled plastic is sourced from, among other things, plastic bottles that contained motor oil, pesticides and industrial chemicals. Yikes! We don't want those things anywhere near our products.

On the other hand, recycled plastic is great for a million other uses. Office supplies, for example. Just not for fine organic skin care. If you ask us.

Can you tell me where to get some of your raw materials?

Sorry, the sources of our materials are trade secrets.


What stores sell Terressentials products?

Our products are also sold here.

Do you have a catalog?

We’re afraid not. Paper catalogs are very expensive to produce, print and mail. We would have to pass the cost on to you somewhere along the line. Instead, we’ve put everything into our web site. Here, you can see big photos of our products (just click on the small ones), read ingredients listings for every product (click on the word “ingredients”), and get our latest news and product information, updated daily. No trees were cut down to bring this web site to you.

Do you offer free samples?

We’re a small company and we make and package every item by hand. We’re not a huge, soulless multinational corporation that can afford to run off a million of those non-recyclable sample packets containing a squirt of something. So it would be really expensive for us to package little samples for you. However, we do offer inexpensive trial sizes of just about everything we make, so you can try our products out without making a major investment. Also, many stores that offer our products have testers, so you may be able to try them out if there’s a store near you. Click here for our list of stores.

Can I buy your products wholesale?

Perhaps, if you’re a qualified retailer. For more information, email us, or call us at 301 371-7333.

Do you have a toll-free number?

No, we don’t. Sorry. But it’s free to send us email, to which we do actually respond, or to use our web site for news, product information, and ordering.

What is Terressentials' return policy?

Please read carefully as we have different return policies for different types of products.

We cannot accept returns on our Terressentials gourmet, artisan hand-crafted personal care products or on chocolate, coffee, tea or other food or beverage items. If you haven’t ever tried our organic personal care products, we highly recommend that you purchase one or several of our delightful trial size items. Of course, if we ever make an error and ship you the wrong item, let us know within 48 hours of receiving your shipment and we’ll be happy to correct it for you. Contact us by email at this address or by phone at 301-371-7333, M-F 10am-4pm EST.

Our fair trade gifts may be returned in the same condition in which they arrived and in their original packaging within 15 days of purchase if you are not completely satisfied. You must email this address to arrange the return. Return shipping costs are the the responsibility of the customer except in cases where we have sent an item in error. In that case, we will provide return shipping; however, you must notify us of any discrepancy via email or phone within 48 hours of receipt of your shipment. Email this address or call 301-371-7333, M-F 10am to 4pm EST.

Return time may vary depending on your shipping method selection, but we will process returned items and refunds within 48 hours of receiving the product.

Why aren’t Terressentials' products available in every natural products store?

We try very hard to get our products into good stores everywhere. Let’s just say that not all of the buyers in stores are enlightened enough yet to understand why they should carry Terressentials products. One very honest store buyer told us that she didn’t want to carry our products because they would make all of her other products look bad in comparison. Think of our web site as a store that’s right on your desk, open 24 hours a day.

Can I place an order over the phone?

Right now we’re hearing from so many delightful people like yourself that it’s a challenge to keep up, so if it’s at all possible for you to order directly from this web site, it would really help us to get orders out the door, as it frees a person to pack a box or dispense a batch of body wash. Your credit card number, by the way, is entered via a secure, encrypted page, so you needn’t worry about that. We don’t recommend reciting your credit card number via cell phone—that can be very risky.

Some of our customers may have restrictions of one sort or another that prevent them from ordering online, and we’re certainly happy to accommodate those folks without hesitation. Our phone number, for those who are unable to use our web site, is 301 371-7333.

Can I bring or send my bottles back to be refilled?

That’s a nice idea, but we can’t really do that. Just recycle your bottles locally and let them come back in their next lives as carpet fibers.

How long does it take to receive a shipment?

Our current in-house order processing time for most domestic orders is one business day! Actual USA shipping times can be 3-6 days in addition to the order processing time. (We are located on the east coast—if you are on the west coast usual UPS ground service is 5-6 business days—excluding weekends and holidays.)

Orders to destinations outside the continental US are held for one business day before processing. International shipping times can range from 3-4 weeks, on average. Postal Service shipping (outside the continental US) does not provide us with a reliable means of tracking orders before 21 days have expired after the order shipment.

Changes to orders which are in process will require further processing and consequently will be delayed, so please make your product selections carefully and review your name, address and credit card data to ensure they are correct before you submit your order. We don’t bill your credit card until just before we ship.

Call us at 301 371-7333 if you have a need for expedited shipping.

Can I make a purchase with a check or money order?

Yes, but we must hold all check orders until they clear, so processing of your order is likely to be delayed. If you wish to mail us your check, our address is:

Terressentials 2650 Old National Pike Middletown MD 21769-8817

I’m interested in working for Terressentials. How do I get more information?

For more information, click here.

Special Services

Do you do any public speaking?

Yes, Terressentials cofounders Jim and Diana are available for public speaking engagements and interviews. For more information, email us, or call us at 301 371-7333.

Do you offer consulting services?

Yes. For more information, email us, or call us at 301 371-7333.

Can you send me free stuff, or some money?

Send all requests for free stuff to this address: Mr. S. Claus, Santa's Workshop, North Pole.

Can you give me information about (some chemical)?

Afraid not. There are hundreds of thousands of synthetic chemicals, and if we wanted to collect information about all of them, we’d have to stop making products and take a few years off to write the book. You don’t really want us to do that, do you?

Our favorite book for chemical information is Hawley’s Condensed Chemical Dictionary. It’s far from complete, but a good place to start.

What is your opinion of (some other company or product)?

Sorry, we’re not free to render opinions about other companies or their products.



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