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Holding the Bar High in Natural Body Care

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.

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63 comments

Comments

Cindy says …

That's right Hold that Bar High- Someone has to do it and you can leverage your buying power to influence your suppliers!

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.

Angie says …

I think it is a wonder effort you all are putting forth to create some sort of industry standard.

Kia says …

Cool campaign thanks for making it happen!

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.

Carina says …

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a great movement. I appreciate you all sharing them with your audience.

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.

Jill says …

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is truly incredible! I am impressed with how many people have signed their pledge. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Molly says …

Very cool podcast! Thanks to Green Girl for letting me know about this!

Katie says …

I feel like you are going to have much more of an impact on influencing companies to change their products then the public can. So I am excited you are making this happen.

Hillary says …

Scary to read about hormones affecting teenage girls. It makes sense that what you put on your skin will get inside your blood stream.

Bobbi says …

Thanks for Holding the Bar High!

Beth says …

Good info. I would like to see a list of products/brands that don't make the cut.

Mary says …

She seems nice, but I didn't really gain anything from that podcast.

Bo says …

It seems that chemicals used in the growing of herbs used in skin care would directly transfer.

Paula says …

Good podcast. I have been enjoying the 365 line.

Cyndi says …

It makes sense to me that the smells that come from many body cares are from bad sources.

Mandy says …

I have been seeing this topic up on the web a lot lately. Seems like you all are doing great work here.

Arin says …

Thanks for providing the info in this. I wold like to see the list of ingredient so I know what to look out for.

John says …

I just came across this series, good work. I know my wife talks a lot about this subject and I agree, the value of natural bodycare products is vital for health.

Cindy says …

Thanks for making a stand here! It blows my mind that seemingly any brand can claim to be "Natural" and the amount of useless crap they put in products is silly.

Uma says …

I came across this series through Green Girl, and I have also seen a buzz about the topic over the last 2 weeks. I am proud to know that a store I support supports good work like this. Keep it up and thank you.

Pierre says …

Thanks to Whole Foods for making this effort! You have so many good products in your stores, I am surprised to find out perhaps some of them don't actually meet this standard. Either way I believe they are well ahead of the curve of most conventional stores.

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

Lora says …

I checked out the Campaign for Safe C. website. Super cool. Glad to see so many companies committed towards this movement!

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.

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?

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.

Sue says …

Does the list on safecosmetic.com sync up with your standards?

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.

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?

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.

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?

K. says …

I think it is neat that people have the incentive to create something like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics! Bravo.

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".

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Jill says …

I worry about the skin care options or lack there of for my girls. They love lipstick but it drives me crazy because it goes right in their mouth and I know it can't be good for them. Create a cool lipstick.

Joann says …

It starts with diaper cream, then kids "make up", I just worry about the things going on my kids skin, and try to limit it but they want to have fun so my interventions only go so far. I really hope for all parents kids standards for body care products drive a better market place.

Ilona says …

Glad to know you have created this standard, and I am a bit surprised that for years there wasn't one. I see that many products you carry don't meet this standard, interesting.... why?

says …

We've always had our basic standards and continue to offer products at this level to offer our customers more value-driven options. The introduction of the Premium Body Care standards was a move in raising the bar. For more information on these standards, check out: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/premium-body-care.php

Mindy says …

Thanks for taking the lead on this and partnering up with Sage Cosmetic's, they seem like a great organization.

Quinnie says …

I guess you have to find this on the product labels. I went in the store recently and didn't noticed any way to tell which products meet the standard. I remember some time ago there use to be paper tabs on the shelves noting which products met the standard, that would be very helpful.

says …

Hey Quinnie, you can simply look for the Premium Body Care Standard label on the products that meet this standard: http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2010/04/premium-body-care-the-vendor-connection/ If you're having trouble finding anything, just let one of our Whole Body team members know and they can help you out. Thank!

Heather says …

I to am looking for more body care products for my kids. Sunscreen is soooo expensive at your store, but is needed all summer long here. Please help create or bring a lower cost solution to your stores.

Olive says …

Bravo! Thanks for bring the concern of all of us to life.

Gina says …

Thanks for this podcast, I really believe in the work you are doing!!!

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