Is You Is or Is you Ain’t (All-Natural)

Natural has become a major buzz word of late. Since there is no standardized definition, the meaning of the words, “all natural,” are hazy at best. Due to loosely defined FDA regulations, any company can pass off products that are not at all all-natural while putting that label on their product. Compound that with even looser labeling regulations concerning soap – Is it a Cosmetic, Drug, or Both? (Or is it Soap?) – where businesses can market and label their product as soap and have it regulated as a cosmetic. There are also companies who label themselves all-natural but have a mixture of all-natural and not-natural items in their product line – you might get all-natural one time but not the next if you’re not careful. There’s a tangled web of half-truths to outright lies that can be difficult to sort through if you care about avoiding synthetics. The following are two of the biggest red flags for spotting not-natural soap or other bath and body products.

Fragrance oils are synthetically produced scents created to mimic smells – any smells, from flowers and herbs to fruit to perfume, and are usually petroleum based. Fragrance oils are not all-natural but are often listed as ingredients in all-natural soap. You might see an ingredient listed as, “rose oil,” or, “mango fragrance,” for instance, which implies that the ingredient comes from a plant source when it does not.

Bright, crayon looking colors should be a dead giveaway that something is not natural but brightly colored soaps, bath salts, and other bath and body are often marketed as all-natural. FD&C, food safe dyes, pigments, oxides, ultramarines, micas – none of them are natural. It’s true that some may come from the earth but they undergo enough processing to disqualify them as natural.

And just to clarify, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying your favorite bright purple raspberry swirl soap – it really is a matter of taste. I just think that people have the right to know what they are spending their money on.

Here’s a bullet point list from The Natural Ingredient Resource Center about what is or ain’t considered natural:


natural ingredient resource center Natural Ingredients include
plant, animal, mineral or
microbial ingredients…

  • present in or produced by nature.

  • produced using minimal physical processing.*

  • directly extracted using simple methods, simple chemical reactions or resulting from naturally occurring biological processes.*

natural ingredient resource center Natural ingredients are…

  • grown, harvested, raised and processed in an ecological manner.

  • not produced synthetically.

  • free of all petrochemicals.

  • not extracted or processed using petrochemicals.

  • not extracted or processed using anything other than natural ingredients as solvents.

  • not exposed to irradiation.

  • not genetically engineered & do not contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

natural ingredient resource center Natural ingredients do…

  • not contain synthetic ingredients.**

  • not contain artificial ingredients including colors or flavoring.

  • not contain synthetic chemical preservatives.


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