Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Holding the Bar High in Natural Body Care

By Chris Jensen, April 13, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Chris Jensen
In part 2 of our 3-part series on our Premium Body Care® standards at Whole Foods Market®, you’ll hear about why these strict natural guidelines are important. You’ll also learn about Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of health and environmental groups that are working to eliminate harmful chemicals from personal care products. Stacy Malkan, co-founder and author, sheds light on the pursuit to make personal care safer and greener.

The goals of the Premium Body Care® standards and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are complementary.
  • The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition of health and environmental groups, parents, nurses, and faith and labor groups working to eliminate hazardous chemicals from personal care products.
  • They do this by analyzing products, by educating the public about how much we're all being exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis, and by working with companies to raise the bar for health and safety.
  • Their goal is to shift the whole cosmetics industry to safe, non-toxic products, and to spur the growth of a vibrant, green, healthy economy.
  • That goal is shared with Whole Foods Market’s Premium Body Care® standards, which are a very practical tool for getting companies to reformulate their products to remove toxic ingredients.
What is the main motivation for encouraging teens, women, and men to use natural body care products?  What makes these standards important, and is there research that shows it really makes a difference?
  • As a teen the expert was prompted to look up the ingredients in her beauty routine. She was shocked to discover that she had been exposing herself to hundreds of chemicals a day.
  • This kind of exposure is typical for the average teenage girl.
  • There is research that shows that these chemicals may get inside the bodies of teenage girls, and that very low doses of hormone disrupting chemicals can impact the body in negative ways.
  • Luckily it is possible to make wonderful products without harmful chemicals.
  • The challenge: consumers have to do the research to find the better products.
  • Whole Foods Market’s Premium Body Care® seal is great because it makes it easy for shoppers to find products that meet a very strong ecological standard.
What does it mean to see a Premium Body Care® Standards label on a product?
  • The products can’t contain problematic chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products. (i.e. synthetic fragrances, parabens, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, or the whole range of surfactants such as PEG and sodium laureth sulfate that are commonly contaminated.)
  • It’s a very good standard and it has prompted some companies to reformulate their products, so it’s moving the industry in the right direction.
In addition to looking for the Premium Body Care® standards label in Whole Foods Market, how else can we shop for products that are truly “natural?”
  • It can be a very confusing situation for consumers, because the beauty industry is essentially unregulated.  There are no legal standards for words like “natural” “hypo-allergenic” or even “organic” on personal care products.
  • It’s up to consumers to do their own research to find the safest products. The best advice is that simpler is better. Choose products that have fewer ingredients, avoid synthetic fragrances and use fewer products overall.
  • For example, it may be better to buy one high-quality, non-toxic lotion than to buy several conventional lotions for face, hands and body.
  • Check out the free Skin Deep database at www.safecosmetics.org to research products and find the safest alternatives.
  • Also look for the USDA organic seal on personal care products.
  • We also encourage people to look for the Premium Body Care® label at Whole Foods, and if your favorite product doesn’t carry the seal, contact the company and encourage them to reformulate to meet the standards.
  • This sort of consumer activism has a huge impact on getting companies to make healthier choices.
  • Consider joining Campaign for Safe Cosmetic’s action list at safecosmetics.org to keep in touch with the campaign's latest research and to help give the beauty industry a makeover.




Bailey says ...
Love this piece on natural body care and the amazing selection of natural body care products at the UWS whole foods. check out some of my natural body care product reviews on my blog. bailey nyc
04/14/2010 7:23:27 PM CDT
Mary says ...
She seems nice, but I didn't really gain anything from that podcast.
04/18/2010 6:53:19 PM CDT
Angie says ...
I think it is a wonder effort you all are putting forth to create some sort of industry standard.
04/19/2010 8:55:50 AM CDT
Lora says ...
I checked out the Campaign for Safe C. website. Super cool. Glad to see so many companies committed towards this movement!
04/19/2010 8:59:06 AM CDT
Kathleen says ...
I didn't realize that synthetic fragrance is a common thing. I do note that often my nose is the first sense to show signs of allergy in many cases an off putting fragrance can really get me sneezing.
04/19/2010 9:02:39 AM CDT
Tasha says ...
I like where you are going with this standard. Do you plan to pull products that don't meet your standard after a compliance period?
04/19/2010 9:07:34 AM CDT
Ann Datner says ...
I'd like to hear a bit more from Stacey- she seems like a pioneer in her field. I checked out the website as well.
04/19/2010 9:14:25 AM CDT
Sue says ...
Does the list on safecosmetic.com sync up with your standards?
04/19/2010 9:17:46 AM CDT
Sally says ...
Interesting to learn that "hypo-allergenic" isn't a legally supported label. So that really scares me, and more so I worry about people with skin sensitivities. I appreciate you bringing this to our attention.
04/19/2010 9:29:19 AM CDT
Carla says ...
Nice to know you are taking the efforts to hold the companies and products in your store to a standard. I guess you are moving toward all 365 products meeting this standard?
04/19/2010 9:32:05 AM CDT
Bryee says ...
I am not sure that we can influence companies to make changes in their products, but I am SURE that has the top distributor of many of these products you can have a major influence on product control for 3rd party companies, and your own.
04/19/2010 9:34:44 AM CDT
Jenny says ...
So the USDA label for organic products insures product ingredients are organic, so is there a need for your additional standard, or are there still ingredients that slip by the USDA that are not up to your standards?
04/19/2010 9:39:01 AM CDT
K. says ...
I think it is neat that people have the incentive to create something like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics! Bravo.
04/19/2010 9:43:23 AM CDT
Beth says ...
Everyone should really pay attention to the products they put on their skin. It is in fact pour greatest organ and soaks elements right into the blood stream. I know one thing you never want to see is any word starting with "poly".
04/19/2010 9:45:01 AM CDT
Bo says ...
It seems that chemicals used in the growing of herbs used in skin care would directly transfer.
04/19/2010 11:18:35 AM CDT
Deann says ...
This is great! I wish and hope that some of the big companies like Proctor Gamble will be influenced by this movement. I would also like to see more baby products which are affordable and meet the standard. It is one of the biggest expenses for a new parent.
04/19/2010 8:25:06 PM CDT
Kia says ...
Cool campaign thanks for making it happen!
04/19/2010 8:27:22 PM CDT
Linda says ...
I wonder if there is any chance that USDA will adopt this standard. If would be great for it to be used across the body care world.
04/19/2010 8:35:00 PM CDT
Carina says ...
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a great movement. I appreciate you all sharing them with your audience.
04/19/2010 8:43:24 PM CDT
Pam says ...
Skin care is very important especially as we approach the summer and sun season. What you put on your skin can go right into your blood stream, so I agree with the steps you are taking.
04/19/2010 8:49:51 PM CDT
Callie says ...
i am really surprised to learn that the USDA certification allows products to claim to be "natural" without actually meeting a good standard.
04/19/2010 9:15:54 PM CDT
Laura says ...
My girls will be teens soon and this certainly is an issue I think about. First when they were younger their grandparents would give them "dress up" make up. Cheap stuff from China and full of bad bad stuff- ingredients not even listed. Keep it up.
04/20/2010 6:19:02 AM CDT
Sue says ...
This is a hot button topic right now! For so long we have not looked into the chemicals in our skin care products, not to mention processed foods.
04/20/2010 10:31:55 AM CDT
Priscilla says ...
Thank you! It is so difficult to find non-toxic cosmetics and body care. This new standard will make me shop @ whole foods. I usually don't shop there because it is far from my home and inconvenient, but if Whole Foods is helping us identify products that are not harmful, I will go out of my way to shop there, now!
04/20/2010 6:52:37 PM CDT
Valerie says ...
The description of this standard is a bit vague. There is a wealth of "standards" and "certifications" out there that don't hold any real weight in protecting our health and the environment. I am glad that certified organic certification was mentioned. I am a big fan of certified organic skin care. Instead of a short list of what can't be in the product, to be USDA certified organic, you must have 95% cert. organic ingredients that are recognized as foods by the USDA excluding water and salt. The other 5% can't contain synthetics. This means you know what is in your product, not just what is not. This seems more like a plug for Whole Foods than a real standard.
04/21/2010 12:44:14 PM CDT