So ... when we read the label (you all read the labels, right???), what should we avoid? Here's my short list:
- I've written a couple of posts which list toxic chemicals to avoid. You'll find them HERE and HERE.
- If a product doesn't list the ingredients, either on the label or on their website, leave it alone. Companies who have nothing to hide seem to be very forthcoming with that information.
- If the ingredient list is fairly long and includes words that you don't recognize (or can't pronounce), consider leaving it on the shelf. If it sounds like a chemical, it probably is.
- Stay away from products which are labeled "antibacterial" ... they typically contain a harmful chemical which has been linked to cancer.
- Be cautious when you see words like "Natural", "Fragrance Free" and "Hypoallergenic" ... these words are not regulated and are typically used to fool consumers into believing they are safe ... and that's not necessarily true.
- Do not assume that handmade products are safe ... follow the rules above and hold them to the test, just as you would commercial products.
Now let's talk about the good stuff ... the products that are good for the earth, good for us and are a joy to use. To do that, I'd like to introduce you to Alicia and Alan, the owners of Eco Natural Soap, and tell you about some of the products which I'm using. You might recognize Alicia from our Change The World Wednesday challenges ... she's a regular participant and always offers thoughtful tips and ideas. What you might not know is that Alicia and her husband, Alan, have built a very successful business by creating and selling natural, earth-friendly body care products. I've learned a lot about them through their website and Alicia's blog, Eco Friendly Homemaking ... but I wanted to know more. Here are a few questions which I asked them recently:
1. Would you please share a bit about how and why you started Eco Natural Soap?
When we were living in California not only was it an awesome adventure but a real learning experience as well. There are so many people who are "Eco Friendly" and we learned so much. I had a lady come up to me one day and asked if I knew what was in the soap we were using and that I ought to go home and Google the ingredients and then to remember that doctors prescribe patches for people because you absorb so much through your skin. I was shocked to learn what ingredients are allowed in the soaps, creams and lotions we put on our bodies each day. I had read that the average woman puts around 200 chemicals on her body before she walks out the door for work in the mornings! We threw away all of our soaps and started buying all natural organic chemical free soaps and lotions and really saw such a difference in our skin really quickly!
While out there I also learned of the terrible dangers of fabric softeners and made wool dryer balls from wool sweaters from Goodwill. Not only did we cut out the awful fabric softener but cut our drying time by 30%. This got us motivated to reduce as many toxic chemicals from our household as we could. I am happy to say that we pretty much have accomplished this.
2. How are your formulas developed and where are your products manufactured (kitchen, shop facility, etc.)?
When we moved back to Tennessee we brought the knowledge that we had learned back with us and decided to start Eco Natural Soap. Alan has put in thousands of hours of research on specific herbals and ingredients. He gives God all of the glory for the wonderful formulas. He tells 100's of people a week; I give GOD all the Glory for our success and formulas. I use almost 200 ingredients in formulating and I could have mixed this, with that, for the next 25 years and still never achieved the success and the formulas that we have. It is GOD, not man.
The products are manufactured in our shop and we are so excited to be looking for a bigger shop as we speak. As of May of this year we now have over 100 local retail stores that carry our products as well as our website where we ship out at least four times a week all over the United States. I think Alan mentioned the other day, we now have about 125 products with more in development.
3. I know that your products are Eco-friendly ... please tell us about the environmental aspects of other things like packaging, mailing, processing, etc.
We use recycled paper for our labels and our business cards are made with recycled paper as well. They are printed with soy based ink also. Alan recycles the peanuts, paper, foam, etc., that shippers use when sending our supplies. If you have ever purchased from us, that's why the packing is so many different colors and types. We offer free shipping on all orders so as of right now we use USPS flat rate shipping boxes.
Our goal is to replace all the toxic chemicals in the average household and we're about 70% there. Several items are close to marketing; laundry detergent powder with plant based enzymes that don't pollute the water, or your skin! A deodorant that's already tested and ready for manufacturing. On the planning board; Body Sprays and Air Fresheners. New Special Purpose Balms (by Fall 2012); Diabetic Neuropathy (Numbness Relief), Menopause/Hot Flash Relief, Gout Relief (Uric Acid Balancer) and the long awaited, much anticipated Wrinkle Relief Balm.
Finally, I'd like to tell you about the products which I'm currently using. One caveat ... I wasn't asked to review these items. In fact, I asked Alicia and Alan if I could share my thoughts with you.
Cuticle & Nail BalmI love to work in my garden ... and, I love to touch the plants and soil. But refusing gloves comes at a cost ... my cuticles are dry, cracked and unhealthy. Rather ... I should say ... they WERE dry, cracked and unhealthy because this cuticle and nail balm is magical. It comes in a tube similar to the types used for lip balms. It's easy to apply around my nails and within a minute or so, it's fully absorbed. I use this item at night and by morning my hands look refreshed and supple. It's nice to have healthy nails.
Organic Lip BalmI'm something of a lip balm fanatic ... I love the stuff. But not all lip treatments are equal. Not only do many commercial brands contain petroleum products, they simply don't measure up to the natural varieties. They wear off easily and seem to need reapplications often. I've been using Eco Natural Soap's Key Lime Pie and Natural lip balms. They both make my lips feel great and they last all day. The Key Lime Pie is slightly flavored ... enough to be pleasing but not so much that one licks the product off in seconds. Both tubes leave my lips feeling moisturized and healthy. As a true lip balm aficionado ... I give them major thumbs up!
Exotic Butters Luxury
Skin Balm (Citrus Sunrise)
Every product from Eco Natural Soap is labeled with the ingredients. You won't find weird sounding items or chemical compounds ... instead you'll find things like Camellia Seeds, Shea Butter, Green Tea and Avocado. There aren't any warnings with these products because they are safe!! Eco-friendly ... natural ... "good for you" products! Perhaps the only thing better is that they are sold by two, very nice people ... Alicia and Alan!
Eco Natural Soap also sells soaps, shampoos, mineral makeup and a variety of problem-specific balms. You can connect with them in the following ways:
Eco Natural Soap Store
Eco Natural Soap Facebook Page