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Consumer Reports: Not-So-Natural Cosmetics

Sales of cosmetics and personal care products labeled “natural” have soared recently. But “natural” on the package does not necessarily mean natural inside. This according to a year-long investigation by Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine, which found many body care products with potentially harmful ingredients, such as coal tar color, triclosan, and chemicals that release formaldehyde. Prolonged use of these ingredients may pose an increased risk of cancer or other health issues.

For instance, Naturtint hair color says it’s made “with ingredients of Natural Origin”, but it contains a petroleum-derived coal-tar color—p-phenylenediamine—plus hydrogen peroxide. That combination may be carcinogenic based on preliminary animal studies.

Unscented Arm and Hammer deodorant, which says it has “natural” deodorizers, contains triclosan, an antibacterial. It may contribute to bacterial resistance and animal studies show it’s a potential hormone disruptor that may affect reproductive and developmental health.

Checking body washes that claim to be “natural” and “nourishing,” there are ingredients like quaternium 15 and DMDM Hydantoin. When combined with water they can release formaldehyde, which is a human carcinogen if it’s inhaled.

Fortunately, some manufacturers and retailers are taking steps to reduce or eliminate potentially risky ingredients from their personal care products.

The best label to look for in beauty products is USDA Organic. Another option, if you shop at Whole Foods, look for their “Premium Body Care” seal. Those products are certified free of more than 400 risky ingredients.

Besides the word “natural” Consumer Reports says when looking for cosmetics don’t put much weight into the claims “dermatologist tested” or “hypoallergenic”. They aren’t independently verified.

NBC 6 reached out to Brenda Boice, president of International Trade Routes, the distributor for Naturtint. In an email statement, Boice said:

I feel Naturtint has been wrongfully targeted by Consumer Reports. The studies that were referenced are old and obsolete. One study was from 2002 and Consumer Reports referenced a 2006 evaluation performed by the SCCP (Scientific Committee on Consumer Products). The committee did discuss the combination of PPD and Peroxide but did not come to a conclusion. Consumer Reports accusations are very unfounded. Their play on words is extremely unprofessional. All ingredients used in Naturtint have been approved to be used by all governmental agencies in both the U.S. and European Union. On Monday 7-14-14 I was made aware that a story was going to launch. Consumer Reports refused to give me access to the content. I have finally obtained part of the information and find that the written article and video is false and misleading.

The article that I reviewed from Consumer Reports indicated that coal tar is PPD (P-Phenylenediamiene) and that this ingredient has been banned in the European Union. This is false. My manufacturer assures me that the use of PPD has not been banned in the European Union. The Naturtint formula is manufactured and produced in the European Union with all the strict laws and standards that apply to the Union. Furthermore Naturtint complies with all State and Federal laws and industry regulations within the United States. This includes proposition 65 within the state of California. This calls into question the “preliminary” study referenced by Consumer Reports. There is nothing misleading about Naturtint containing natural ingredients. There is full disclosure of all ingredients on the Naturtint box.

I am really baffled as to why the brand Naturtint was targeted and there was no mention of the competitors in this category. One of which has been distributed since the early ‘80’s. Everyone that buys and distributes Naturtint has always had full disclosure of its ingredients. Naturtint does contain 1% or less PPD depending on the color. Mass Market brands have up to 6%.

In my opinion Naturtint is a safe alternative to Mass Market brands that have a much higher concentration of PPD and other harsh ingredients.

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