How do you define “natural”?
Darn good question. Unlike “soap,” there’s no legal definition for the word “natural.” (Weird, right?) Luckily, some enterprising natural care companies, collaborating with the Natural Products Association, have made up their own definition, called The Natural Standard for Personal Care, and we say “hear, hear!”
All of us believe products labeled “natural” should meet four criteria:
- Natural: This might sound so obvious it doesn’t need stating, but you’d be surprised. Natural products should be made with natural ingredients.
- Safety: Natural products shouldn’t be harmful to your body.
- Responsibility: Natural products shouldn’t be tested on animals.
- Sustainability: Natural products should be made with stuff that biodegrades and shouldn’t be packaged in a bottle, in a box, in a bigger box, in plastic.
The Natural Standard for Personal Care acknowledges that sometimes even natural products might need a pinch of synthetic ingredients (that have no suspected human health risks, of course) to protect against mold and other not-so-nice things you wouldn’t want to see in your refrigerator. But they cap it at 5%. So, natural products should be made with at least 95% all-natural ingredients.
Which ingredients do you recommend avoiding in skincare products?
Trying to find 100 percent natural skincare products can be a daunting task, just like trying to eat 100 percent organic all the time. Setting the bar that high might even make you want to throw up your hands and give up! Rather than trying to avoid any trace of synthetic ingredients in your skincare products, we suggest starting by avoiding “the big three.” You won’t find these ingredients in any Smart by Nature products!
Parabens – On the bright side, parabens are effective preservatives that prevent the growth of mold and fungus in products that contain water — like lotions, shampoos, and creams. But these synthetics have a serious downside. Scientific research has shown parabens can act as endocrine disrupters, meaning they mess with your hormones. Specifically, they mimic estrogen, so they may negatively affect your reproductive system. Not cool! That’s why they’re banned for use in products carrying the Natural Seal of the Natural Products Association (NPA).
It’s not easy to find close-to-natural alternatives to parabens, but we’ve researched this issue inside and out and feel comfortable with our decision to preserve our lotions with phenoxyethanol, a synthetic version of a natural substance found in green tea that is approved for use in natural products by the NPA.
For more information on parabens, here’s the BBC’s 60 Second Guide:
Sulfates – Ah, sulfates. These synthetic ingredients make your shampoo, bubble bath, and toothpaste lather. And we Americans love our bubbles! Unfortunately, sulfates are skin irritants and can cause skin allergies in lots of people. Because they’re so ubiquitous, it’s hard to live without products containing some variation of sulfates. So short of that, at least avoid the most irritating ones: sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. The NPA specifically prohibits using sodium lauryl sulfate in products bearing the Natural Seal.
Phthalates – These synthetics, which are plasticizers commonly used as fragrances, really are nasty and should be avoided at all costs. Like parabens, they’re endocrine disrupters, so they confuse your body by acting an awful lot like estrogen. Oh and they might cause cancer. (The link isn’t definitive yet, but initial studies are pointing in that direction.) Even the EPA regulates phthalates as water and air pollutants. Ew! No wonder the Natural Products Association won’t let products with phthalates wear the Natural Seal.
Why did you choose the name SMART BY NATURE?
No one can argue that Nature is smart. If you need evidence of this fact, check out some pictures of the amazing camouflage techniques those crazy insects have developed.
We like to think that both our products and our customers are smart by nature! Our products, because they work better (and smell better and feel better) than industrially produced ones. And our customers, because the more we help educate them about the wonders of natural ingredients, the smarter choices they make about what they put on their bodies.