Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lotion Bars- Who? What? Why?

With all types of luxurious oils like shea, and hempseed just laying around between soap batches, it wasn't long before I began wondering what else I could do with these oils. My first thought was lotion. It is SOOO hard to find a truly organic, all natural lotion, so why not make one myself!

Well, after reading about the ins and outs of making lotion at home, I decided that it wasn't for me for several reasons. First off, it is extremely risky. Even the most seasoned lotion makers seem to have a healthy concern for bacteria. As a precaution, most send samples of their lotion to labs for testing to ensure they are selling a safe, healthy product to their patrons. But even before you have to find a lab, send out samples and cross your fingers, there are several other stumbling blocks to making a truly natural lotion.

First, the nature of lotion (a combination of oils and water) requires an emulsifying agent.  Unfortunately, even emulsifiers that begin with natural ingredients are often heavily manufactured and processed to the point that the word "natural" can not really be used ethically to describe the polluted, processed product that results.

But, maybe one does exist. I will admit, it is possible that I just didn't look hard enough because I was looking ahead to the next hurdle. Preservatives. Anytime water is added to oils a preservative becomes necessary. And, there are no natural preservatives. Period. Many people will use grapefruit seed extract or vitamin e, but these are antioxidants, not preservatives. They will not prevent bacteria growth and are not sufficient for lotions.  This is where my hope and aspirations deflated. Bleh...what now?

Lotion bars! Unlike lotion, lotion-bars are made entirely of oils and waxes. There is no water added so... no preservative necessary! They are different though. For starters, they are solid... but they are pretty cool! You can rub them on the backs of your hands, or all over your feet, elbows or knees and as the natural warmth of your body heats them up, they begin to melt leaving behind soft, beautiful skin! Personally, I love them! But are lotion bars for you?

Here is my take:
Who- Lotion bars are great for hands, feet etc. no matter who you are. As an all over body moisturizer, they tend to be better for younger skin, or those who are committed to natural, organic products.
Why- There are several great benefits to lotion bars over traditional lotions:
  • Less messy, less greasy and more easily absorbed than many lotions.
  • Completely natural! No preservatives, no chemicals, no artificial anything!
  • Airplane friendly!! As a solid, these babies can be packed away and taken on airplanes with you anywhere in the world
So what is the big elephant size downside to lotion bars? Well, they can melt. During summer time shipping by mail is nearly impossible. But that's OK! That just means, if you get a sudden urge to try a Spotted Hippo lotion bar this summer, you will have to fly out to Utah for a visit!... Then fly back with your lotion bar in tow knowing it won't be confiscated and you wont be pegged as a terrorist!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What does natural mean?

In recent years, as the organic industry has expanded, the use of the word "natural" has come under increasing attack from all sides. Supporters of both organic and conventional foods argue that the term "natural" is little more than a deceptive marketing tool meant to take advantage of easily persuaded and poorly informed consumers...but is it really that bad?

How does the FDA regulate the use of the term "natural"?
The only industry subjected to increased government controls when applying the term "natural" is the meat and poultry industry. According to an article published on the FDA's website, natural meat and poultry must be free from artificial colors, flavors, sweetners, preservatives and any other ingredients that do not occur naturally. It also must be minimally processed and the label must explain what is meant by the term "natural" (for example, "no artificial ingredients").

Why isn't there more regulation?
The FDA contends that that the term natural has not been defined or regulated outside of the meat industry because it is not a priority. They have not seen enough evidence that the current situation has resulted in consumers being misled. Instead, they focus their limited resources on misleading health and nutrient claims and other claims that may impact consumers health and safety, such as allergy labels.

Does the FDA plan on regulating the use of the term "natural" anytime soon?
It doesn't look like it. However, it may come under review if they are presented with substantial evidence that consumers are being misled.

In the mean time...
It is important to take personal responsibility for the choices and decisions you make as a consumer. Personally, I wouldn't abandon "natural" products... just educate yourself. Read the labels and buy brands you trust.  Do your homework when you have to. Long, Latin words in the ingredients aren't necessarily bad just because you can't pronounce them. Some products (like cosmetics) are required to be labeled this way. If you are not sure what an ingredient is, throw it into google and find out if it fits your definition of natural. It takes a little time up front, but from then on out you will know!

What does "natural" mean to Spotted Hippo?
  • No artificial colors- we only use products that are derived naturally from the earth and plant materials
  • No micas or oxide colorants- while these occur naturally, the micas and oxides approved for cosmetic use are synthetically produced... so you won't find them in Spotted Hippo!
  • No synthetic fragrance- we use only pure essential oils to scent our soap.
  • No artificial flavors- Spotted Hippo lip balms use pure essential oils or certified organic flavor oils (flavors naturally derived from organic plant materials)
  • No petrochemicals or hexane- All Spotted Hippo products are free from petrochemicals and all oils are naturally extracted without the use of hexane or other chemicals
  • Ethically produced- We are committed to finding and using products that are:
      • Sustainably grown and manufactured
      • Certified Organic or wild crafted
      • Pesticide free
      • GMO free
      • Fairly traded
      • Have minimal impact on the environment
So... what does natural mean to you?