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What is Ecocert, what are parabens, and why should I care?

What is Ecocert, what are parabens, and why should I care?

Posted by Michele Zagorski on 19th Oct 2014

Happy Monday everyone!  

As you know, I LOVE to educate, and since my kids are in high school now and I'm deprived of the joy of homeschooling them, I will now make you my captive audience!  I'll try not to make it too science-y, but I want you to have a working understanding of parabens, especially in preservatives, because that's where I feel many otherwise truly marvelous products out there fall flat on their faces.

One of the biggest challenges to formulating organic bodycare products is finding an alternative to paraben-laden preservatives. There are many products out there chock full of wonderful ingredients...until, that is, you get to the preservative used. 

So, what's the big deal about parabens?  Parabens are hormone disrupters.  Here's a nice explanation of what that means from Real Simple:

'In the 1990s, parabens were deemed xenoestrogens―agents that mimic estrogen in the body. “Estrogen disruption” has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. And in 2004 British cancer researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D., found parabens present in malignant breast tumors. As a result, experts in many countries are recommending limits on paraben levels in cosmetic products. What’s more, watchdog organizations worry that if parabens can be stored in the body, over time they could have a cumulative effect and pose a health risk.' 

You especially want to avoid parabens in products that you apply to your skin on a regular basis, as your skin is your body's largest organ, and whatever you apply to your skin is in your bloodstream in 26 seconds!  Yikes, right?  (By the way, synthetic fragrance is something else you want to stay faaaaarrrrr away from....it's full of really nasty stuff, but that will be another post.)

That is why I only use Eco-cert certified preservatives in Zagorska products.  It's a delicate balance.  I want a product that is as raw, and natural, and vibrant as possible, but I also want it to have a healthy shelf life in a world full of microbes.  Finding mold in your beautiful face cream is not a happy experience.  

So, what is Eco-cert?  Here's a quick bite from Wikipedia:

'ECOCERT is an organic certification organization, founded in France in 1991. It is based in Europe but conducts inspections in over 80 countries, making it one of the largest organic certification organizations in the world.'

Here's more:

The basic principles of the Ecocert standard

To ensure an environmentally friendly cosmetic product, the Ecocert standard lays down:

1. The use of ingredients derived from renewable resources, manufactured by environmentally friendly processes. Ecocert therefore checks:

  • The absence of GMO, parabens, phenoxyethanol, (check your labels...that 'natural' product you're using probably has phenoxyethanol as its preservative, and has been linked to reproductive toxicity and neurotoxicity),nanoparticles, silicon, PEG, synthetic perfumes and dyes, animal-derived ingredients (unless naturally produced by them: milk, honey, etc.).
  • The biodegradable or recyclable nature of packaging.

2. A minimum threshold of natural ingredients from organic farming to be reached to obtain certification:

  • For both labels, Ecocert Standard imposes that a minimum of 95% of the total ingredients come from natural origin.
  • For the natural and organic cosmetic label:logo-organic-cosmetics

A minimum of 95% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 10% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming.

  • For the natural cosmetic label: logo-natural-cosmetics

A minimum of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming. 

So when you see an eco-cert ingredient or product, you can be confident it's something good!

Most of my products are preserved with Geo-gard Ultra, while a few use benzylalcohol dha or leucidal(from fermented radishes).  They are all Eco-cert certified!  Since Geo-gard is in the majority of Zagorska products, I'd like to tell you more about it.  It's not only Eco-cert certified, but also accepted by several other stringent organizations internationally: 

*The European Union Cosmetics Directive (they banned more than 1,100 chemicals from use in cosmetics while the US has banned 11...yes, you read that right, 11) includes Geogard Ultra on its “Positive List” and can be used in all countries in both rinse-off and leave-in applications.

*The Japanese Ministry of Health & Welfare.  Japan abides by the most stringent criteria in the world for approved ingredients in personal care products and gives Geogard Ultra the thumbs up!

Not only is Geo-gard Ultra globally accepted as a broad spectrum alternative to paraben preservatives for organic bodycare products, but lab tests show it improves skin moisture content, and it was developed without any animal testing.  In other words, it's a preservative you can feel good about using, and that is actually good for your skin!  

And you thought learning about parabens couldn't be fun.

Have a great week everybody!