Dive Deeper Blog

Keeping it Real: What is “EcoConscious”

January 27, 2015


Marked by or showing concern for the environment.

I used to spend a lot of time on the road working with sales reps and visiting various health food stores. One of my favorite things to do was educate the natural products reps and buyers on the ingredients that were in their skin care products. We would walk through the product aisle and they would pick out their favorite products. We would read the ingredient label together and I would show them what was at ‘label claim’ concentration: nice sounding ingredients that are in the product for no purpose other than to put it on the label.

Here’s how it works: ingredients that are 1% or higher in concentration must be listed in descending order of concentration, but anything at less than 1% concentration can be put in any order on the ingredient label immediately after those higher concentrated ingredients.

Some products were amazing and impressive. I enjoyed learning from those products. Others, I would simply call the BS card on. Like a lotion with no emulsifier or preservative listed on the label? Simply BS.

I think every ingredient in a formula should be consciously chosen and added for efficacy, not just for the mere sake of putting it on the label to sound good. I scour MSDS sheets for eco-toxicity and biodegradability data now. I call raw material suppliers asking about the supply chain—what was this ingredient derived from? How many (synthetic?) processes did the ingredient have to go through to be the one I am thinking about using? (I sometimes giggle in the natural products industry that everything seems to be ‘derived from coconut.’ How much can you really modify a coconut and still call it a coconut?) And finally, I put my products through biodegradability and aquatic toxicity testing.  My goal is no longer to make the most ‘natural’ product possible, as it used to be. My goal now is to make the best product possible that will be acceptable by the majority of people, while taking into consideration the environmental impact.

The trickest, so far, has been my sunscreen and shampoo.

I’ve made hundreds of products in the past—herbal lotions, organic soaps, toothpastes and mouthwashes—and sold them to hundreds of thousands of customers. But I have a confession to make: I’ve never made sunscreen before. Then I decided to launch a company making biodegradable and eco-conscious products intended for those that love the water…so, I needed a sunscreen.

I know what I DO NOT want in it, but mineral emulsions are a completely different system than what I’m used to making, so I started researching ‘those in the know’ and found a world-renowned sunscreen formulator in the UK. We had many dialogues and finally agreed that we would work together to create an ‘eco-conscious’ and biodegradable sunscreen.

“So, what do you want your sunscreens to be?” he asked. Well, I don’t want them to contain any of the typical sunscreen ingredients. No octyl methoxycinnamate, oxybenzone or other benzene derivatives. Certainly no parabens or formaldehyde releasing preservatives. I want them to be broad spectrum and water-resistant. I want them to not feel too heavy on the skin and not make my nose look like I belonged on a life-guard stand. I want them to not kill bait if you stick your hands in the bait bucket or harm the coral reef or any of my other fish friends. I want them to have safe and natural ingredients that you wouldn’t be afraid to put on your children.

I want it to truly be eco-conscious, with the proper testing to back that claim up, which is virtually unheard of in the skin care industry.

“That’s not going to be easy,” he said.

“Nothing worthwhile ever is,” I replied.

I thank you for continuing to join me on this journey…because we DO have a choice and we WILL chose to do better. It is my hope that as time goes on and we prepare these products, I can share the process with you including why we hand-picked the ingredients we’re using, and what they mean for your body. I appreciate your comments, concerns and questions that will help to ensure that I share information that is important to you along the way.