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Article Archive >> Featured Topics

Organic Beauty: Personal Care Products Safe Enough to Eat!

Organic Beauty
Personal Care Products Safe Enough to Eat!
by Jennifer LB Leese

Eco-friendly? Are you the type of person who recycles, separating plastic from glass? Do you cringe when you see the sides of the highways and neighborhood streets littered with trash? Do you promote earth care every chance you get? If so, then you're eco-friendly.
But do you ever think about where the candy bar you ate came from or what went into producing that chunk of chocolate? Most people haven't.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have uncovered evidence that suggests an ingredient found in some soaps and shampoos might affect memory. Studies have shown that preservatives and additives in personal care products aren't just washing down the drain, they're also being soaked into the body through the skin, heading for the bloodstream. Some have proven to inhibit the effect of hormones. To a person who shops for only "organic" products...this is important news, but that person has no idea whether "organic" shampoos, toothpaste and soaps are faithfully organic. Sadly, there is no law in place safeguarding organic standards on a national level in the U.S. for body care products. "There really should be," says Diana Kaye, co-founder of Terressentials--a company that gives the consumer healthy alternatives. "Even now that the USDA National Organic Program standards have become law, they don't apply to body care. Most people aren't aware of that.
"Did you know that in May, the USDA announced that the National Organic Program would apply to all product categories, not just foods? Guess what happened. Lobbyists for personal care corporations descended upon the USDA en masse. They didn't want to be truly organic. There was one company, though, that went to the offices of the USDA National Organic Program in Washington, to demonstrate their total support for true organic integrity: Terressentials. But the other guys found a loophole in the law--one little line that let them off the hook. Now they're driving their tractor trailers filled with synthetics through that loophole."
Diana Kaye and James Hahn are people who are trying to change labeling of organic products. "We're concerned about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's double standard with organic food and organic personal products. The word organic is being totally degraded. If it's really organic, it should be called organic. If it's being made with synthetic products-well, maybe they can call it natural. That word's already been stolen."
Trying to get the word out about false labeling, Hahn and Kaye have no problem proving how good 100% organic can be. During many of their "public aware discussions" they eat some of their organic products to demonstrate that body care products can be made without synthetic chemicals and still be safe and effective. "The cocoa butter is yummy, by the way," said Diana during our interview.
Their research has made a very large impact on the personal care products industry. In the past ten years, they have seen the ripple effect make its way around the world. "We have seen very large corporations reformulating their products because of the information that we have been getting out to the public."
Drugstores and supermarkets stock the shelves with shampoos, lotions, moisturizer creams, and body oils that aren't organic.
Now, what does organic mean? "To consumers, it means something that is 100% natural, grown and prepared without using any synthetic ingredients. When it comes to food, that is a fairly accurate description, though the use of chemically-treated tap water and certain synthetics is permitted."
In 1988, Diana Kaye got sick. A biopsy showed she had an unusually aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which put her in intensive care in less than a month. A huge tumor crowded her lungs and heart. Nobody knows what exactly causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but medical researchers believe it may be environmentally induced.
Kaye and James Hahn, her life and business partner, were young professionals in Washington, D.C.
After a year of chemo, the cancer gave up, but severe side effects persisted. Kaye feels that chemotherapy ruined her immune system. The drugs she took for side effects had their own side effects, requiring more drugs that caused more side effects. Not only did she require bottle after bottle of medicines throughout the day, Kaye also became highly sensitive to ordinary chemicals found in the home--detergents, cosmetics, shampoos, etc. Developing reactions to the vinyl flooring, carpeting and other building-material samples that went through her office, she quit her job.
Kaye and Hahn knew that they had to start looking for other alternatives. Hahn began diving into hours of medical research. They became label junkies. When they found artificial additives hidden in the labeling of "organic" products, they were mystified. Not only did they find compounds with names such as alpha hydroxyl benzoate, methylparaben and disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, they also found petroleum-derived and man-made foaming substances and preservatives, artificial colors and scents in most of these products.
Since that time, they read many scientific studies, believing that such chemicals don't belong in products labeled as "organic." They started making their own additive-free creams and lotions at their home, which eventually lead to selling organic products through the mail.
In 1996, Hahn and Kaye bought a small former sheep farm in Middletown and began manufacturing their own line of organic products under the name "Terressentials". Terressentials, Terre, meaning earth in French, sells all types of personal care products such as body wash, facial care products, body and face lotions, hair wash, deodorant, massage oils, soaps and body creams.
More so now than ever before natural and organic body care products are easier to find. In fact, they are in supermarkets, health food stores, kiosks in the mall and all over the Internet. The companies insist that their products are all natural, organic, dangerous chemical-free, good for you and the planet. But are they?
Terressentials feels that most of them are not. They want to sell a product and make oodles of money. "You won't find any ingredients in Terressentials products that wouldn't be allowed in the making of a certified organic food. We use certified organic cocoa butter and certified organic coconut oil, all certified organic essential oils."
Terressentials hopes to continue raising awareness about the nature of personal care products. They want people to know what they're really doing to your body. "It really does make a difference what you're washing your hair with or rubbing into your skin. We don't use any ingredients that aren't on the national organic list. We have more than 100 products that we make using simple, edible foods.
"The last time that we checked, we only had one planet and all humans and wildlife are sharing the same water. We must have consideration for other people and the animals, too. Everyone deserves to have clean products, clean water, and clean air. Our lives, our future depend on it."
If you're interested in learning more, Terressentials encourages you to visit their informative and easy-to-use web site: www.terressentials.com. If you're interested in working for Terressentials, send resumes and letters to terressentials@mailworks.org
Terressentials is located at 2650 Old National Pike, Middletown, MD.

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