Category Archives: Product Knowledge

Do you make…?

Sunscreen? Eczema cream? Psoriasis cream? Bug Dope? Anything to treat or prevent anything?

My short answer is no. There are a variety of reasons that my answer is no. The main reason is the hoops that any crafter or manufacturer must jump through are way too many and too costly for my needs. On top of product registration with Health Canada, you must apply for a Natural Product Number which is much like a Drug Identification Number on prescription drugs.

When a skin product claims to do more than clean or moisturize it crosses a nearly invisible line into ‘drug’ territory. Claims that a product will treat anything automatically bump it out of the cosmetic domain and into the drug category.

Bug dope is considered an insecticide and is very closely monitored by Health Canada. These items also need Natural Product Numbers and clinical trials.

I don’t want to treat any ailments. I don’t want to spend millions of $$$ on clinical trials. I just want to make soap that smells awesome.

I can; however, claim that my body butter moisturizes the skin and can alleviate some of the symptoms of eczema such as itchiness from the dry skin. I can claim that my soap won’t strip your skin like most store bought detergents. My product is not curing any ailment, it’s moisturizing dry skin. That’s it. That’s all. No more, no less.


What on earth does that label say?

Labeling. A very important part of the cosmetic industry. A very controversial one that is actually governed and overseen by Health Canada and it’s very specific regulations. A label must have the name and contact information of the company that produced the item, the name of the item and last (but not least) the list of ingredients that must be listed in a very specific way. And maybe a lot or batch number.

So first things first. Name and contact information are pretty straight forward, as is the name of the item which being in Canada must be bilingual (I think I just fell down on the job here but I sell to primarily English speaking folk.) A lot number is to track which batch the specific item comes from and consequently the paperwork and test sample associated with that batch which most responsible companies will keep.

This brings me to the ingredients list. This is the tricky one because who knows what on earth those funny words say! Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter, Cocos Nucifera Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Bicarbonate, Potassium Bitartrate, I could go on but my tongue thinks it’s reading from the pages of the famous Dr. Seuss.

There’s actually a good reason for these names being listed in the way that they are. Say you were traveling abroad or at least in an area where you did not speak the local language or didn’t know the local name for something specific and had an allergy to that specific thing. How bad would it be if you were to buy that thing and not know that it contained the thing that you were deathly allergic to? Well, the cosmetic industry realized this a few decades ago and implemented what is called the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients or INCI for short. They got together and created an international dictionary of cosmetic ingredients based on scientific, Latin and English names. If a cosmetic in Europe has an ingredient list it will be essentially the same list in Canada, the US or any other place that uses this naming system.

In Canada it is law to list your ingredients using the INCI and to list them in the order of percentage that they occur. I may only speak English and some French, but I could pick up a bar of soap with a German label and still be able to understand that Theobroma Cacao (the Latin/Botanical name for the plant) seed butter is cocoa butter, that Simondsia Chinensis seed oil is Jojoba oil and that Sodium Hydroxide is lye. I personally know someone who is allergic to aloe barbadensis (aloe) leaf extract and breaks out in hives if she touches it. Aloe barbadensis is the simple aloe vera plant. It’s leaf gel is in most shampoos, conditioners and body washes. It would be horrible to purchase something with aloe in it, use it, and get hives all over from using it.

Oh and Sodium bicarbonate? It’s just baking soda, or Backpulver in German, bicarbonate de soude in French, bicarbonato di sodio in Italian, etc.


What’s that in your bath product?

Alright, so I’ve had a lot of questions about ingredients that are in bath products and what are they doing in there? What are in my products? Why do I use Fragrance Oils instead of Essential Oils? And most important: Why is that in there???

To answer some of those concerns and questions I’ve decided to do one ingredient per month starting with fragrance and essential oils.

Fragrance Oil is a super concentrated scent oil that just like essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin (also known as neet) and essential oils should never be ingested undiluted either. As an example 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil is equal to 100 cups of peppermint tea! We are not equipped to deal with those concentrations.

Fragrance oils are created in a lab from a variety of sources such as aroma chemicals and up to 10% essential oils. Fragrance oils are more cost effective in most cases and in other cases they are impossible to achieve in nature. You simply cannot capture lilac or fruit fragrances in oil naturally. If you want them you must go with man made.

As I mentioned, fragrance oils are much more cost effective. Sandalwood essential oil costs about $300 for 1oz or 28g of oil, it’s an endangered species and they have to cut down the entire tree to get all the wood to render the oil (I hear that the best oil comes from the oldest wood and the roots.) Alternatively, 1 lb of fragrance oil created in a lab costs approximately $30 US and doesn’t chop down the endangered species. Now when making cold process soap most soapmakers use an average of 14g or 1/2 oz of fragrance per pound of oils; I’m thinking that sandalwood essential oil soap would have to be at least $28 to cover just the costs of the materials. That’s some pretty expensive soap, isn’t it?

So for me the difference between essential oil or fragrance oil is looking at the overall picture. I’m a smells great type of person. Does it smell great? (Does it smell awesome is better!) What’s my footprint like? And finally, is it cost effective?