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"Organic" Shampoo Company Responds

Recently I called in to question the published ingredients of a popular "organic" shampoo.  (See my previous post.) The ingredients listed on the product just didn't add up.  They listed water, oil, glycerin, potassium lactate, and some herbal extracts. From a scientific standpoint, I knew it couldn't be true, as oil, water and glycerin just don't mix, let alone lather and clean hair.  I stated that there had to be something that the company wasn't disclosing on the label, and today my assertion was proven correct by a statement that the company made. Their response to my article. Here is an excerpt:

With over 30 years experience and practical application in the skin care field, and with the advantage of highly advanced technology, our chemist is capable of achieving end results based on specific ingredients used in precise amounts. The oils used in our shampoo are carefully chosen for the character they impart to the final product. Coconut oil creates glycerin and produces a great lather. Olive oil has natural antioxidants and makes the lather creamier.

Attempting to explain something as intricately complex as a chemical process is difficult, but in a nutshell, these two oils are saponified using new, advanced technology which does not require the use of harmful solids. Instead, potassium salt is used and is converted into potassium lactate (a moisturizing agent). The process is similar to using precursors and initiators that allow reactions to take place but do not become consumed within the reaction.

Your confidence in the quality and integrity of the ________ brand is important to us. Be assured that we accurately list the active ingredients on our labels and that ________ Shampoo does NOT contain SLS. Cocomide Betaine was in the original formula but was removed when our labels were updated several years ago.

If their product is so natural and organic, why does it undergo such a "intricately complex chemical process" that's difficult to explain? 

If the shampoo was truly made from saponified oils, the product would have the same physical properties of soap. It would turn milky in water (which it doesn't) it would leave soap scum in hard water (which it doesn't) and it would have an alkaline pH (which it doesn't.)  And, if they were saponified oils, why not list them as such on the label? But, as they've described, the oils are not truly saponified, but are undergoing an "intricately complex chemical process." These are not raw or saponified oils; they have undergone sophisticated processing, using "advanced technology." In other words, the oils have been chemically altered and turned in to a new substance.  A substance that's not disclosed on the label.  

Then, something else stuck out at me. They say: "Be assured that we accurately list the active ingredients on our labels." First of all, "active ingredients" is a term that's relegated to a product that's a drug, not a cosmetic. The only time a shampoo would have an "active ingredient" legally would be when it's considered a drug, as in a medicated dandruff shampoo. Cosmetic products must disclose all of their ingredients (with exceptions for chemicals listed under "fragrance.) How they're defining "active" ingredients is unclear, but I find it suspect that they wouldn't say "we disclose ALL ingredients" and not just those that they deem to be "active."

So, the bottom line remains: their shampoo label does not accurately reflect the actual ingredients in the bottle. And now their own statement has confirmed it.    


Reader Comments (15)

Sounds like a new way to say hydrogenated to me.

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShelley

I received an identical email from the company. Definitely not impressed!

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaitie

I wish you would share the brand with us! So I can avoid!

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Hi Stephanie. So what is the name of this organic shampoo company. If it's posted all over facebook, what's the secret? We can avoid buying the product if it's made public. Would be nice to know.

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

The brand is called ******* ********** and they are anything BUT organic. They do not have USDA organic certification. That right there says it all for me.
[comments edited]

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCristina Berger

To those asking for the brand name: go to the "Previous Post" link in the top of this blog post, copy the ingredient list, and then do a Google search using the ingredient list. I was easily able to find the brand that way. Good luck!

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura May

To those who want to know what brand it is: Google the full list of the ingredients (from Stephanie's previous post), and it will pop up.

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSandra

for those curious as to the brand of shampoo that's being referred to, simply google the following ingredient list as a whole:

Purified Water, Olive Oil (and) Coconut Oil (and) Potassium Lactate, Vegetable Glycerin, Peppermint Oil*, Fennel Extract*, Hops Extract, Balm Mint Extract, Olive Leaf Extract*, Ginger Extract*, Mistletoe Extract*, Allantonin (Comfrey Root), Citric Acid, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Lemon Grass Oil*, Burdock Root Extract*, Sage Extract*, Rosemary Extract*, Grape Seed Extract*. *Certified Organic Herb

Nice work detective Stephanie!

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

We've chosen to not publicly disclose the name of the company, as it's not about shaming and naming here. In fact we often recommend other brands that make products that we don't, especially when they're truly USDA organic products. I don't believe that this company is necessarily itself to blame. The problem here is that their products are being outsourced to a separate manufacturing lab, and I don't think that they're being told the full truth from their lab. Of course their chemist is going to defend the ingredients he/she provided, as it's their contract on the line. Our point isn't to call out one particular brand, but to bring to light the fact that in this industry there is lax regulation and companies that may even be misinformed about their own products. The only way to be sure that a product has a correct ingredients list that's verified by a third party, is through USDA organic certification.

Wed, January 30, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Excuse my ignorance, but can you tell my more about the saponification process for soaps?

Wed, February 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKade

Sure! Check out this link:

Wed, February 6, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Can you take a look at these ingredients? The first is a "body wash" and the second is a liquid castile soap. It seems to me there is the same issue with water/oils, or is that wrong? Is the water/oils not an issue if the oils are saponified?

Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Potassium Hydroxide (not in final product), Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Jojoba Oil Clear, Organic Jojoba Oil Golden, Lemongrass Oil, Organic Orange Oil, Lime Oil, Organic Aloe Vera, Organic Rosemary Extract

Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol

Sun, July 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

Thanks for your question! When an oil has been saponified, aka, turned in to a soap, the molecule has one end that's oil-soluble, and one end that's water-soluble. That's how it's able to lift dirt and oil off your skin and wash it away with water.

Fri, August 30, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

I can tell that I'll be coming back to this website frequently! Stephanie thank you for bringing this information to us. the better informed the consumer, the better our product choices will become.

Tue, December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

Stephanie, thank you for all that information!

I would ask you what you think of the lip balms Hurraw's composition? It seems so perfect that I have doubts about it...

Tue, May 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

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