‘Organic’ personal care products

Welcome back after the long weekend. We hope those lucky enough to have a break had a safe, healthy and enjoyable time.

A recent study in the US indicated the presence of 1,4-Dioxane, a carcinogen, in various US personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, and not only is it bad for you, it’s terrible for those sharing the planet with you – it’s a leading groundwater contaminant.

The presence of yet another poisonous chemical in personal care products may not come as a surprise. Dishwashing detergent is according to some sources the number one cause of child poisoning, and the toxic effects of parabens present in most hair products are well-documented. What’s worse in this case though is that the chemical was found in a number of products labelled ‘natural’ and ‘organic’.

Unfortunately, a similar situation applies in South Africa. Biophile magazine last year exposed Unilever’s ‘Organics’ brand as being nothing of the sort, rather containing most of the usual chemical culprits.

All we can do is continue to work on the individual level, educating ourselves as to the effects of everything we do and consume, as well as the systemic level, by working towards government legislation, or pressurising the shops and corporates that do stock and produce these products.

There are of course products that don’t deceive. Our body care section contains conditioners from Enchantrix and Bloublommetjies, shampoos from Bloublommetjies and Hemporium, as well as a wide-range of other products.

In home care, we have dishwashing liquid from Enchantrix, as well as a new one from Bloublommetjies.

Enjoy the browse. To order, visit www.ethical.org.za.

The Co-op team

Comments ( 7 )

  1. Jo

    So what has happened to Enchantrix shampoo? I can't find it anywhere and it was the nicest shampoo I have used!

  2. Kirstin

    Hi Jo - and others wondering the same question about this and other Enchantrix products. The absence of Enchantrix body and homecare products is - we hope - going to be a very short one. Enchantrix have been making some changes. These include moving the production of all their body and homecare products to their Ecocert certified production plant in KZN - formerly many of these were produced by Ecologics of Bloublommetjieskloof farm. At the same time, they will be reformulating some of their products. They are expecting to launch their new Ecocert range, in their all-new packaging, in early April. So I hope you wont be without your favourite products for much longer - all being well, they will be back on the site next week. They may be slightly different, but any reformulations will only have been made, I am sure, if they will serve to improve the products. Warmly, Kirstin - Dry & Cold Goods

  3. Stuart Thomson

    Hello Excuse me, but I thought this was the "ethical" co-op. How can you, with a few keystrokes, condemn parabens as "toxic effects of parabens present in most hair products are well-documented"? It is in fact the "safety" of parabens that have been well documented! It is a central axiom of toxicology that "There is nothing that is not a poison. The dose makes the poison." In concentrations used, the nature-identical methyl- and propyl- parabens, as found in both cloudberry and royal bee jelly are perfectly safe and actually confer safety to products as diverse as beer to jam, that by far exceed any possible risks accruing from their use. Kindly note that Dr D'Arbre's original hypothesis has proven to be false and she has now turned her attention to other causes of breast cancer, including a diverse array of phytochemicals, especially soya, but also herbs and vegetables. On another issue, I hope Enchantrix have removed the cetrimonium chloride and carbomer from their reformulated range, which on the other hand are toxic in concentrations commonly used. Let us incorporate a little more perspective when we broadly swipe at any substance, let alone those not shown to be safe, and respect those that have sufficient data to consider safe, such as parabens. Yours sincerely Stuart Thomson Director, Gaia Research Institute Declared interest: Manufacturer of Gaia Organics, who have made an intensively informed decision to use miniscule concentrations of Parabens to ensure consumer safety.

  4. Ian Gilfillan

    Thanks Stuart for your feedback. You're welcome to publish links to any sources here.

  5. Ethical Co-op » Blog Archive » Of fires, soap nuts, green shops and a life in balance

    [...] Organic personal care products [...]

  6. iming lin

    I brought this up in an email before and received a response from ethical as well as Hemporium. But for the life of me I cant seem to find any shampoo that does not contain Palm Oil (other than Bloublommetjie which doesnt seem to work for me). It would be of great use if the 'product info' on the house and body products could contain lists of all ingredients and their country of origin. At least people can go and do their own research on to the chemical, ethical, societal, and environmental impacts of the ingredients and consider the fuel miles to put together some of these 'organic' products. I would like to use products that not only do not directly have detrimental impact on myself, my house, or the land around me but that also are not created by clear-cutting rainforests. On an aside, I agree with the gist of Stuart's comments-scientific and rational judgement need to be applied in the 'organic' field. What are the concerns with each ingredient, on what research are the concerns founded, how robust are the studies, did they follow basic scientific guidelines? What are the many ethical issues linked to each product on the ethical coop page? What food has been transported from where by what means? It can be shown that purchasing a tomato grown in a heated greenhouse from a farm 200km away and transported by small bakkie can actually be worse for the environment than buying a tomato shipped by boat from Australia. Basically, its time to move beyond the happy, fuzzy, superficial understanding of the word 'organic' and look intelligently at every component. And to pass down information to the consumer that helps them make their own ethical decision- a product that is created through greater CO2, but supports a local farmer or a product that creates less CO2 but doesnt return money locally... a product that has more earth friendly ingredients, causes the destruction of old growth forest, and creates massive CO2. What is important to each of us about 'organic?' And which part of the word is the most important? It can be just as misleading for Unilever to use the name 'Organics' as for other brands to include ingredients that are perhaps unethical in other means. Or for the well meaning local farmer and buyer to be creating more CO2 than international conglomerates.

  7. Search for job

    I really don't like it when a company brings another down just so they can say we are better than them. If you are confident about your product then you should not need to do this. Where are you getting all this information? Which leading research did you get these accusations from.