I work part time in a natural skin care department, so I spend a ton of time reading ingredient labels and learning why different ingredients are in various products. I looked up the ingredients for the DivaWash and Lunette Washing Liquid and decided to decipher the ingredients that aren’t already explained on the label.
A couple of general things to keep in mind when seeking natural body care products:
· Natural does not always mean good (or mean anything at all!). There can be naturally-derived ingredients that mimic some of the synthetic chemicals used in mainstream products.
· Any company can say their product is natural, or naturally-derived, since there’s no government regulation concerning use of the term (in the US, anyway). Ever see a mainstream brand of lotion that’s called “green tea” or advertises “shea butter” only to realize there is absolutely no green tea or shea butter in the product? “Naturally-derived” also doesn’t tell you anything about how much chemical processing happened--the ingredient may be many steps away from the plant it once was.
· Most ingredients in natural products have only limited safety testing, if any. HOWEVER, the same is true for mainstream body care products. The FDA does not regulate what goes into personal care products, and it is left up to the industry to self-regulate…which really means it’s entirely up to the consumer to track down what little information they can about what the ingredients may actually do. There is conflicting evidence about the level of skin absorption that happens (0-100% depending on the type of molecules), but particularly when you’re dealing with vaginal wall tissue, I’d venture to guess that the absorption levels of anything that’s put down there are pretty high.
Diva Wash Ingredients (Ingredients taken from http://www.greenfeet.com/itemdesc.asp?kw=D
· [Cocamidopropyl Betain, Decyl Polyglucose, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (Coconut Derived Ingredients)]
o Cocamidopropyl Betain is coconut oil that has undergone chemical reactions, and is considered a “skin sensitizer,” meaning it can induce skin allergies. It is a “known human immune system toxicant,” but the cosmetics industry has deemed it safe in low, rinse off doses. The fact that it’s first after water on the ingredients list means it’s in relatively high concentration, but I’d guess still falls in the “low dose” category.
o Decyl Polyglucose is a foaming agent that has no safety concerns attached to it, according to the EWG Cosmetic Safety Database (www.cosmeticsdatabase.com).
o Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is considered safe in low, rinse-off doses (like this wash), based on research amassed in the Cosmetic Safety Database.
· Vegetable Glycerin
o FDA research does exist on vegetable glycerin, since it’s also used in food. Considered safe. It’s thick, syrupy, and sweet, hence the concerns regarding yeast infections that have been raised here when it comes to glycerin-based lubricants. It originates under a process called “hydrolysis” and comes from fats/oils.
· Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
o Comes from coconut oil and glycerin. Changes the thickness of products and slows moisture loss from the skin. Considered safe as a food additive by the FDA.
· Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E)
· Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
· Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A)
o Restricted use in Canada. Was found to have reproductive effects in animals in low doses ranging from infertility to fetal death. Brain/nervous and broad systemic effects in animals in high doses
· Citrus Officinalis (Grapefruit Seed Extract-Natural Preservative And Antimicrobial)
o This is a common preservative in natural products, although there is some debate (like with everything) regarding its effectiveness
· Xanthan Gum
o Fermented sugar. A very common thickening agent in food and body care.
· Citric Acid (-Ph Balancer)
· Citrus Sinesis (Sweet Orange Essential Oil)
o I believe most, if not all, essential oils have natural antimicrobial properties
On the whole, the DivaWash looks pretty good, in my opinion. If you have SUPER sensitive skin, you might be wary about the cocamidopropyl betaine. If you’re SUPER prone to yeast infections, you might be concerned about the glycerin and xanthan gum. But if you rinse well, I imagine you’d be fine.
However, worth noting—there is nothing in this ingredients list that makes me go “wow!” The ingredients are standard and common in many, many natural soaps. So you may want to check out options at your nearest natural foods store, because you will likely find something less expensive—or at least more conveniently located than on the Internet—that will serve you just as well if not better.
Lunette Washing Liquid Ingredients:
· Sodium Laureth Sulfate
o At work, “I need soap without sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate!” is one of the most common customer problems I encounter, especially from people with dry skin and hair. It’s a drying detergent/foaming agent that is found in many shampoos, toothpastes, and soaps, and is a recognized skin irritant in low doses. It can increase canker sores when used in toothpaste, and there is a debate over whether or not it’s a carcinogen. It caused “broad systemic toxicity” in the rats it was tested on, whatever that means. It’s commonly used because it foams well and is cheap.
· Sea Salt
· Citric Acid
o A weak acid. Common, safe.
· Citrus Limonum
· Eucalyptus Globulus
o Eucalyptus essential oil. Antimicrobial and antibacterial. Will clear your sinuses. Totally safe when diluted like this.
Often, I’m relieved by short ingredients lists. It’s so much easier to figure out what’s going on. However, the sodium laureth sulfate raises major alarms by both gentle AND natural standards, but since it’s going on the cup which is, presumably, going to be thoroughly rinsed so that the substance never hits your skin, you’re probably fine.
However, just as with the Diva Wash, there is, in my opinion, nothing about these ingredients that particularly differentiate this cleanser from any other natural, synthetic-fragrance-free cleanser that you can pick up off the store shelf.
In both cases, I suspect the companies are just trying to make money by marketing a specialized wash that, when you look into it, doesn’t really appear to be all that specialized. Probably not harmful, but also probably not necessary.
EDIT: Lady Cup LadyGel Ingredients:
· Sodium Laureth Sulfate
o See Lunette Washing Liquid
· Cocamidoprodyl Betaine
o See DivaWash
· Sodium Coccoamphoacetate
o Derived from coconut oil. Deemed safe, with some research.
· Lauryl Polyglucoside
o A surfactant derived from sugar, sometimes corn. Surfactants reduce the tension between liquids (presumably to help mix liquids, like oil and water, for example). I found some patent information that claims this mild surfactant should be less likely to irritate the skin than betaines.
· PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate
o A sugar derived from coconut oil that serves as a surfactant and cleansing agent. An emollient (smoothes skin) and emulsifier (suspends one liquid in another).
· PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate
o Not safe for use on injured or damaged skin. Skin/sense organ hazards are suspected. Approved for limited use in food (ex: to coat tablets to make them easier to swallow). More research needed.
o See DivaWash
· Lactic Acid
o Use is restricted in Canadian cosmetics. Skin irritation shown in humans. Animal studies have shown sense organ (eye, nose, mouth) effects at very low doses and skin irritation at very low doses. Broad systemic toxicity shown in many animal studies. Approved for use in food.
o The greatest mystery ingredient of all time. Companies are not required to report what their fragrances actually are, where they’re derived from, or anything about them. Hence, people can have fragrance allergies and have no way of knowing what in the fragrance they’re ACTUALLY allergic to.
o In Japan, restricted use in cosmetics. European Union classifies it as a harmful irritant. Animal studies show sense organ effects at very low doses, brain/nervous system effects at moderate doses. US Cosmetic Industry Review Board (the industry’s self-regulating organization) deems it safe in limited concentration.
· Benzoic Acid
o Weak acid used as a food preservative. Fatal for cats in very low doses.
· Dehydroacetic Acid
o Classified by European Union as toxic and harmful. FDA allows it in certain foods. Cosmetic Industry Review Board assumes it is safe in existing concentrations in body care products.
o Commonly derived from bovine uric acid (cow pee extract :) ). Also found in plants, like comfrey. Used for healing. Has not been assessed for safety.
· Camelia Sinesis Extract
o Green tea extract
· C.l. 42051
o Acid Blue 3 coloring. Banned or found unsafe, according to Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association
I don't know, ladies. It seems like there are a lot of chemicals in this one all doing more or less the same thing, and a lot of them have some tentative evidence that they may not be good for you. As a vegetarian, I can't use this due to the allantoin. I would venture to guess that these ingredients are pretty similar to any mainstream handwash.
Oh, and one last thing to bear in mind: even the ingredients that have been deemed harmful or irritating have only incomplete evidence, and perhaps one day the verdict will change. There's a lot of research still to be done. If only the FDA wasn't underfunded! :)
If you want to check out what research exists for some of your own products you use for cleaning your cup or anything, one good place to start is www.cosmeticsdatabase.com