Last week a friend of mine had posted on Facebook about the ingredients in sunscreen. After reading through the comments it occurred to me that there is a lot of unknown and misinformation out there about skincare products.
First and foremost the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) is responsible for keeping skincare in check. Before I go any further I want to cover a couple of FDA definitions:
Cosmetic; "articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance" [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)]
Drug; "articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease" and "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals" [FD&C Act, sec. 201(g)(1)].
Both of these definitions are taken from and can be found on the FDA website at the following link
Now that the definitions are clear let's talk about regulations:
If a product is considered an OTC (over the counter) Drug it's regulated/controlled by the FDA. Some Examples of OTCs are Sunscreen, Antiperspirant Deodorants, Bug Sprays and Acne Creams. These products all require testing, registration and approval from the FDA. Unfortunately there are a lot of companies out there (including big ones) that break this rule and market their products as cosmetics when they are in fact OTCs. Companies selling OTCs have to meet certain GMP (good manufacturing practices) requirements as well.
Please note: Not all Deodorants are Antiperspirants. Deodorants eliminate odor while Antiperspirant Deodorants intend to stop or minimize sweat.
Cosmetic products are not required to go through FDA approval before being placed on the market. That being said, cosmetic companies are still obligated to follow labeling laws and provide safe products to consumers. If a company or product doesn't comply to these laws, the FDA may take action in order to ensure that products are not misbranded, or unsafe.
Another piece to this skincare puzzle; ingredients:
Though cosmetics don't require approval there are certain ingredients that are deemed unsafe and/or illegal to use in products. This is true for both OTCs and Cosmetics. Certain chemicals as well as certain dyes have been tested and are considered not safe for use. There are different classes of safety as well. For example: some colorants are considered safe for general use, but not safe for lips due to the possibility of ingesting them.
Now I know what you're thinking... "there are still ingredients in products that I wouldn't put on my body regardless of approval". I totally understand because that's a big part of why Pure Bliss was created. The FDA requires a whole lot of proof before an ingredient is deemed "not safe". At Pure Bliss we have done and continue to do a lot of research on ingredients. This is why we use phthalate free fragrances, formaldehyde free preservatives, paraben free colorants, etc.
I'm sure that I will catch some crud on this next section of information, but here goes...
Products containing fragrance and color are not all (in my opinion) terrible for you. So often I have customers that insist that they will only use products with essential oils or natural colorants. Everyone is entitled to their choice and I still have lots of love for my "essential oil only" customers. However, just because a product contains EOs (essential oils) does not necessarily make it any safer for you. EOs can be very powerful and when used properly, very beneficial, but it's important to note that many EOs are not safe to use on our bodies. It's also important to note that not all EOs are of good quality and some are even improperly labeled and/or manufactured and may contain other harmful ingredients. It's so important to do your homework when it comes to essential oils.
In regards to fragrance oils, it's pretty hard to do your homework because most companies will not give out ingredient lists for their fragrances. These oils are trade secret and protected as such even in the eyes of the FDA. As a cosmetic maker I am very particular about the fragrance companies that we purchase from. Quality is of the utmost importance when it comes to ingredients.
For those with fragrance allergy concerns- It can be nearly impossible to track down what ingredient in a product has caused a reaction, sometimes it's a fragrance ingredient. Fragrance allergies are very confusing due to the fact that we aren't given ingredient information. Just because we have a reaction to one scented product, doesn't mean that we will have a reaction to other scented products. EO allergies are also common so keep that in mind as well. The quality of the oils can sometimes make a difference with this because those of lesser quality may have been cut with unnecessary ingredients. If at any point you have a reaction to a product discontinue use and rinse immediately.
Natural vs. Organic
I have had a lot of people ask me if our products are all natural and/or Organic. I'm bringing the government back into this one. Organic is a term that is regulated by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). We use USDA Certified organic materials whenever possible/cost effective. Our certified organic ingredients are listed as such on our labels.
As for "All Natural", it's a term that we rarely use. Some of our products we describe as such, but only when we feel that it is completely accurate in describing the product. The problem that I have with this term is that because it is not defined or regulated by a government entity means that it doesn't mean much of anything. Lots of companies use this term as a means to trick customers into buying a product. That being said, some products are all natural and just because they are doesn't necessarily make them any better or safer than products that aren't.
As for the subject that brought all of this to my attention:
There are ingredients in most sunscreens that I personally would not put on myself or my family. When choosing products I encourage you to read labels and research ingredients to come up with the best choice for you.
Another product to research and watch out for is Deodorant. This is why we spent over a year formulating our own deodorant recipe. I could tell you more about that, but I'll save it for another blog post.
About the Author
Cassie Ennis, owner of Pure Bliss Body Confections is a mom of three who loves all things that pamper. Growing up with sensitive skin eventually led her to creating her own bath & body products with her sister-in-law. Since then, Cassie has expanded that idea to share her skin loving products with others.