June Junk Claim #2: Aveeno Not So Natural

June Junk Claim #2 is Aveeno’s claim that “all of [its] products come from nature.”

Okay, so June Junk Claim #2 isn’t a specific product claim as discussed in the post for June Junk Claim #1. June Junk Claim #1 addressed Josie Maran Cosmetics’ false claim that the line’s Argan Mascara is petrochemical free.

But I wanted to talk about Aveeno. The Aveeno claims really bother me because people believe that the products are all natural.

So, Aveeno markets itself as using the science of Active Naturals, which are ingredients derived from nature and uniquely formulated by Aveeno to optimize skin’s health and beauty. Aveeno’s tag line is “that’s the beauty of nature + science.” And there is a little box on the website that states “all of our products come from nature.”

So the problem with the claim that its ingredients are “derived from nature” is that most of us picture flowers and herbs and similar items when we hear that the ingredients are derived from nature. We don’t picture petroleum derived ingredients. And there’s the rub. The claim that the products are “natural” or “derived from nature” has no legal or regulatory meaning. It means whatever the company wants, including long decayed organic matter (petroleum).

Aveeno has a reputation for being natural with a lot of parents and it isn’t deserved. If you buy the products because you like the smell or they work well, that’s great. But if you buy the products because you think that the ingredients are all natural, you might want to reconsider. Let’s look at the ingredients of Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream, described as naturally soothing and hypoallergenic. The ingredients are:

Water, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour (Oat), Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Ceteareth 6, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Hydrolyzed Oats, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, PEG 25 Soy Sterol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Benzalkonium Chloride Solution, Benzaldehyde, Butylene Glycol, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Ethyl Alcohol, Isobutylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Propylparaben, Stearyl Alcohol

So, petrolatum and mineral oil are derived from petroleum. And while that is natural, it isn’t what you expect, is it?

Cetearyl alcohol can come from vegetable sources, or can be synthetically derived. Without more information, it is hard to say how natural it is.

Dimethicone belongs to a group of polymeric organosilicon compounds popuarly referred to as silicones.

Ceteareth 6 is a polyoxyethylene ester where the “6” indicates the average number of ethylene oxide residues in the polyethylene chain. To get ceteareth 6, ethylene oxide is used, which is derived from ethylene, which is derived from petroleum. Notably, because ethoxylation is used to derive ceteareth 6, it can be contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4 dioxane. 1,4 dioxane won’t appear on the ingredient list because it is a by product of manufacturing and is a contaminant, not an intentional ingredient.

Butylene glycol is derived from petroleum.

The production of phenoxyethanol involves ethylene oxide, which is derived from petroleum.

The various parabens in the product are synthetically produced. While some parabens are found in nature, all commerically used parabens are synthetically produced. And parabens are a group of compounds that many choose to avoid in products. One reason is that parabens have been detected in breast tumors, although no link between the topical use of paraben containing products and breast cancer has been found. Parabens do mimic estrogen, however. And, parabens can cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis in those with paraben allergies, which is at odds with the claim that the product is hypoallergenic.

Okay, so I think that advertising that pushes the natural basis for the Aveeno products is junk. And before you decide that it doesn’t really matter because the FDA makes sure that the products sold in the US are safe, think again. The FDA does not approve or evaluate cosmetic ingredients for safety before they are sold even thought most of us think that the FDA does undertake such a review.

If you want a more natural, soothing cream designed for baby, try Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Angel Baby Lotion.  (Yes, I’m an affiliate but this link is not an affiliate link.) Or  Weleda’s Calendula Baby Cream. Or erbaviva’s Baby Lotion.

June Junk Claim #1: Josie Maran Mascara and Petrochemical Free

So, I recently blogged about how I was tired of chemical free claims when it comes to beauty and cleaning products. And that gave me an idea. I thought for each day of June, I’d talk about a “junk” claim when it comes to beauty and cleaning products.

My first “junk” claim is Josie Maran Cosmetics’ Argan Mascara. I’m picking on Jose Maran Cosmetics to start because of a recent Twitter party that included promoting the products as safe for pregnant mamas, including that they were free of petrochemicals. And while I can’t say whether or not the products are safe, I can say that many of the products are not free of petrochemicals as advertised.

The Argan Mascara, for example, is advertised as free of petrochemicals, free of animal testing, and free of toxic chemicals. The claim “free of petrochemicals” should mean, well, that none of the ingredients are petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are generally considered chemicals derived from petroleum.

So, if the advertising is true, none of the ingredients should be derived from petroleum. The ingredients are:

White Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Polyisobutene, Isododecane, Propylene Carbonate, Quaternium-18, Hecorite, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Isoeicosane, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Simmondsia Chinenesis (Jojoba) Oil, Linseed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Black Iron Oxides, Mica.

Okay, let’s look at some of these ingredients. And, don’t be worried, there isn’t too much chemistry – just a little.

Let’s start with polyisobutene. Polyisobutene is a synthetic rubber, a copolymer of isobutylene with isoprene. Isobutylene is produced from oil, and 95% of isoprene is synthetically produced from oil, although it is possible that the isoprene comes from a natural source. Unlikely but possible. And I could not get a response from Josie Maran Cosmetics.

Isododecane is produced from isobutane, which is produced from oil.

Propylene carbonate is basically produced from propene, which comes from petroleum, natural gas or sometimes coal.

Phenoxyethanol is virtually always derived from phenol and ethylene oxide. Phenol is usually produced from benzene derived from oil, and ethylene oxide comes from reacting ethylene with oxygen. Ethylene is derived from oil.

So, you tell me, how is this mascara free of petrochemicals?

Seems to me that the claim the Jose Maran Cosmetic Argan Mascara is free of petrochemicals is nothing more than junk greenwashing.