Truth in Labeling: Is What It Says Outside Really Inside?

Demand for natural skin and body care is at an all-time high. The organic and natural personal care industry is projected to gross nearly $16 billion by 2020—nearly double the figure grossed at the end of 2013. This sharp increase in supply is driven by a rise in consumer demand for eco-friendly and chemical-free products. Consumers are reading labels with a concern for choosing responsibly-sourced products free of toxic ingredients.

Logically, reading ingredient labels should be the best way to determine how safe and toxic-free a product is; that what is listed on a product label truly reflects what is inside. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Currently, there is no regulatory body that oversees the cosmetics industry in the United States, nor on a global level.

The FDA does distinguish what products are considered cosmetics, foods, drugs, and even soaps; it does have guidelines for good manufacturing practices, safety testing, and labeling, but only hard-fast laws state that a manufacturer cannot place a drug or health claim on a label or in the marketing of a cosmetic. If a cosmetic uses an active ingredient that is regulated by the FDA as a drug, then that product is subject to FDA testing. Products that contain ingredients not considered drugs by the FDA have no standard requirements for cosmetic labeling.

Conscious consumers likely follow websites like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and look up ingredients in products on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep. These websites compile data from scientific studies that refer to ingredients and then assign a safety rating based on any potential health risks that have been referred to directly or indirectly in these studies.

Japan, Australia, the European Union, and several other nations have more stringent requirements that manufacturers must follow in terms of manufacturing practices, labeling, and safety and stability testing. Even so, certain ingredient blends (like fragrances, preservatives, and botanical extracts) are only required to be listed using the generic or trade name of that ingredient. For example, a fragrance listed as lavender might be comprised of several hundred individual constituents, many of which are synthetic and have been linked to health concerns, that are not required to be listed individually on a label (nor would they all fit).

Preservatives are necessary to prevent damage from consumer-caused contamination due to improper product storage and usage. They are usually the first ingredient consumers look for on a label. Of all preservatives, parabens have been under the radar for their cancer-causing concerns. A study published by Dr. Phillipa Darbre in 2004 (which indirectly linked parabens found in underarm deodorant to breast cancer tumors) is the most famous and most-referred-to study. This work sparked demands for paraben-free products and caused many manufacturers to switch to other preservatives.

No need to worry about Body Bliss labels! Our products are manufactured using the cleanest, most therapeutic-grade products possible. We carefully curate the purest essential oils and botanicals—using certified organic ingredients whenever possible. All of our products are free of “nasties” like parabens, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrance, artificial colors, mineral oil, harsh sulfate cleansers, phthalates and nano particles. Our products are readily bio-degradable and are even packaged in recyclable and recycled containers!