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When we started our month of education around ingredients and buying habits in the beauty industry, we knew propylene glycol needed its own section. What is it? Where is it found? Why is it used? What does it do? 

As a common ingredient in deodorant, propylene glycol is used as an emulsifier to create a smooth application feeling. Completely soluble in water, it serves as a vehicle for topical products such as lotion, deodorants, shampoo, and conditioner.

Did you know it’s also an ingredient in antifreeze? 

So what’s the big deal?

According to the FDA, long-term use and substantial quantities of propylene glycol (up to five percent of the total intake) can be consumed without causing toxicity (1). So no harm no foul, right? Wrong. In large doses propylene glycol can be toxic (2). Think back to when we told you how an ingredient list works:

All ingredients on products are listed in order of predominance. The ingredient used in the greatest amount is listed first, followed by the next ingredient, and the next, all in descending order. 

That means that if a product’s ingredients list starts with something like propylene glycol, then almost 50 per cent of that product is made with it, making that small dose a larger one. Now think of your lotion, shampoo, ointment, and more. Do they all contain this ingredient? Are you layering all of them on daily?

While there are many differing opinions in research concerning the toxicity of propylene glycol, a fair amount of that research points in the direction of this compound having negative effects when administered in large doses.

The dangers of propylene glycol (3)

 Can you imagine one singular ingredient potentially causing so many issues? We can.

  • Skin irritation and allergic reactions are common to those allergic to the chemical.
  • It can be toxic to the liver and kidneys for those who may already have poor liver function and are unable to break down the compound.
  • Propylene glycol is unsafe for infants and pregnant women as it’s harder for them to break down the ingredient.
  • Cardiovascular issues and heart disease symptoms have been commonly associated with propylene glycol exposure.

How to stay safe

Keep your mind at ease and your body clear of toxins by checking ingredient labels and purchasing beauty products that are free from harmful chemicals and additives. Many natural deodorants, yes, “natural,” still contain propylene glycol, making it important for you to do your homework. This is why Nala is proudly Free-From. Free-from propylene glycol and a whole list of ingredients that you’ll never find in our products. 

 

Resources:
  1. “Propylene Glycol (Inactive Ingredient).” Drugs.com, www.drugs.com/inactive/propylene-glycol-270.html.
  2. “Propylene Glycol.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Propylene-glycol.
  3. Edwards, Rebekah. “Surprise! You’re Eating a Component of Antifreeze! (And Here’s What It Does to Your Body).” Dr. Axe, 8 Apr. 2018, draxe.com/nutrition/propylene-glycol/.
  4. “Toxic Substances Portal.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=240.

Image Via TIME

You pick out a product off the shelf or tap the product page on a website, and heading to the ingredients list you immediately feel your heart rate increase. Maybe you start sweating and your anxiety kicks in. What does all of this even mean and how do I even begin to understand if it’s right for me?

Take a deep breath. We got this. 

The government websites are a little overwhelming, but the list will give you the perfect insight into how to approach your buying habits:

  • Read High to Low – All ingredients on products are listed in order of predominance (1). The ingredient used in the greatest amount is listed first, followed by the next ingredient, and the next, all in descending order. Psst. That means that if a product’s ingredients list starts with something like Propylene Glycol, then almost 50 per cent of that product is made with this toxic chemical, common in many drugstore deodorants.
  • The 1% rule – Ingredients that have a concentration of 1 per cent or lower don’t need to be listed in any order from one another, as long as they come after those that are in higher than a 1 per cent concentration (3). What’s more, concentration amounts don’t need to be listed if they’re not medical (1).  So while you may know which is at the top of the list, you’re still not sure exactly how much of that one ingredient is in the product you’re using.
  • Trade secrets trump transparency – Like White Spot’s secret sauce, trade secrets don’t need to be listed on an ingredients label. In lieu of giving away what makes that one product super special, companies simply have to list “and other ingredients.”
  • Fragrances can be a catch all – Oh fragrances, how they confuse us. Instead of having to list everything that makes up the fragrance aspect of a product, companies are simply required to write down “fragrance” (1). This means that things like formaldehyde and acetone could be bundled up in that “fragrance” statement. This is why we stick to only using essential oils in our free-from deodorants.
  • Just because something has essential oils in it, doesn’t make it natural – Speaking of essential oils, remember that 1 per cent rule we mentioned above? Typically you’ll find essential oils at the bottom of an ingredients list, as their concentration is lower than 1 per cent in many beauty products (3).  So when a brand claims they’re natural, make sure it’s for more than their essential oils.
  • Contrary to popular belief, if you can’t pronounce it it doesn’t mean it’s bad for you – To confuse you one last time, ingredient names must be written in the form declared by the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (2). Huh? This was designed, more than five decades ago, to allow for unambiguous identification of ingredients. Do you find Tocopherol unambiguous? That’s Vitamin E, by the way.  Our recommendation – look up the first few ingredients if you’re unsure what they are. You’ll soon be savvy at deciphering what is a chemical in disguise and what is simply the Latin word for a natural extract.

So what are we saying? Educate, educate, educate. 

  1. Read this blog post. Bookmark this blog post. Print this blog post out, frame it, and hang it on your wall. 
  2. When you’re interested in a product (or are curious about one you’re already using), head to the company’s website to find listed ingredients, or snap a photo of the packaging. 
  3. Use this blog post to understand how to approach a product’s ingredients list, use this one to understand exactly what that ingredient is that you’re trying to pronounce, and then this one to understand why we’ve made things simple by being free-from. 

Deep exhale. You’re an empowered shopper. 

References:
  1. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Cosmetics Labeling Guide.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling-regulations/cosmetics-labeling-guide.
  2. Canada, Health. “Government of Canada.” Canada.ca, Government of Canada, 25 Nov. 2019, www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/reports-publications/industry-professionals/labelling-cosmetics.html#eight1.
  3. Canada, Health. “Government of Canada.” Canada.ca, Government of Canada, 1 May 2012, www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/reports-publications/industry-professionals/guide-cosmetic-ingredient-labelling.html.

This time can seem scary. Unknown. Anxiety driven. We’re feeling it too. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to continue to keep your body and mind healthy. Be aware of what you’re feeding your body and notice how your mind is adjusting to the shift in your daily activities. 

These small actions can have a huge impact on your immune system. It won’t be easy, or even possible, to do all of the suggestions listed below. Do what you can and what feels right for you and your family at this time.

Take Care of Yourself

Keeping your immune system in check is especially important right now.

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after being outside, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Disinfect your phone daily (at least!) with an alcohol solution. 
  • Make sleep a priority and get a good night’s rest.
  • Stick to social distancing practices (at least two meters apart from other people but ideally, not leaving your house unless absolutely necessary). 
  • Rinse your throat and nose with a saline solution daily to rid of germs. To make:
    • Put one cup of water and ½ teaspoon of salt into a pot and boil for 15 minutes.
    • Set the pot aside until cooled to room temperature.
    • Carefully pour this saline into a bottle or jar for storing.

Eat Well

Our body needs nutrients to keep it working its best. While it might be easy to let go of some of your food routine when your day to day routine has suddenly shifted, now is actually the best time to keep your good food habits going.

  • Reduce your alcohol consumption.
  • Eat citrus fruits, like oranges, for a source of Vitamin C.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially warm liquids like ginger and lemon tea.
  • Veer away from snack foods and stick to a well balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
  • Eat lots of fresh garlic and ginger to boost your immune system.
  • If certain foods or sunshine isn’t available to you right now, take supplements like Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Selenium.

Stay Physically Active

Moving the body activates your lymphatic drainage, which helps flush out toxins in the body. So shake that booty!

  • Do a yoga class in your living room. Lots of companies are now offering free classes online or through Instagram Live, peep our stories for a few.
  • Encourage your friends to join you in a virtual one-minute plank every hour during the day.
  • Switch up your morning routine and set aside time for some push ups and squats before coffee.
  • Go for a run. Choose a trail or a path that’s not very crowded.

Reduce Your Stress and Practice Mindfulness

What is your mind asking for right now? What would feed your soul? Stress and anxiety can deteriorate our immune system, so it’s important to implement mindful practices that work for you. 

  • Get some sun on your face with a short walk or a sit on your patio.
  • Take breaks from the news and social media. Take that time to meditate or journal instead.
  • Breathe in essential oils. Psst. Nala’s Free-From Woodsy deodorant has soothing copaiba oil, and our Detox has calming Lavender oil.
  • Listen to your favourite playlist or podcast. There’s seriously nothing better than a living room dance party. Even if it’s a solo one.
  • Read that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand, waiting to be cracked open.
  • Have a group video chat with your family or friends and laugh! Laughing is so important for the immune system, and who better to make you laugh than your quirky family. If additional family time is not your jam right now, explore options for virtual dance parties online. 

This is an opportunity for us collectively to heal and come together. Now is the time to level up your self care, especially when fear feels so pervasive. 

We’re all connected right now, even if not physically together. You’re not alone. 

REFERENCES:

White, ByLinda B., et al. “10 Simple and Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System.” EverydayHealth.com, www.everydayhealth.com/columns/white-seeber-grogan-the-remedy-chicks/ten-simple-natural-ways-to-boost-immune-system/.

MacMillan, Amanda, and Tamara Schryver. “15 Immunity-Boosting Foods to Help You Through Cold and Flu Season.” Prevention, 18 Oct. 2019, www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/a20503059/power-foods-that-boost-immunity/.

Harvard Health Publishing. “How to Boost Your Immune System.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=84884587&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–jMy_t3zNK9AdT4JBLeuJzbTrxSZQ9CvK6cF0m6_ZZkZbcDVXgMnOko1CQxteFYISlNmshpnuXS5sy408BjIKaLCbCFg&_hsmi=84884587

Team, Joint. “How Mindfulness Training Can Boost Your Immune System.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 13 Nov. 2018, health.clevelandclinic.org/how-mindfulness-training-can-help-you-achieve-immunologic-health/?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=84884587&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–jMy_t3zNK9AdT4JBLeuJzbTrxSZQ9CvK6cF0m6_ZZkZbcDVXgMnOko1CQxteFYISlNmshpnuXS5sy408BjIKaLCbCFg&_hsmi=84884587

PHOTO BY CAMILLA BRENCHLEY

Why Free-From?

Clean beauty. Natural ingredients. If you’ve ever caught yourself confused as to what these terms mean exactly, you’re not alone. 

The growing and ongoing shift towards clean beauty is something that should be celebrated. ‘Clean Beauty’, however, is growing and developing far faster than regulatory bodies can keep up with. 

Without definitive standards for products to be classified as ‘clean’ or ‘natural’ there is ample room for interpretation. This, unfortunately, paves the way for companies to get creative with marketing claims that dilute these terms with overuse and misuse to the point that they may hold little value or clarity to you, the consumer. 

All this is to say, this is why Nala is proudly Free-From. We chose the term ‘free-from’ over ‘natural’ because we want to provide transparency with the quality and safety standards we set for ourselves – high above the standards mandated by any regulatory body. We want you to feel confident in the products you’re using and have the knowledge to make educated choices for your body. 

So what exactly is Free-From?

Free-from a list of ingredients that you’ll never find in our products. 

The clean beauty sphere can be overwhelming in the amount of information there is to sift through and navigate. To help provide clarity on Nala’s scientific approach to high quality and high performing products we’ll be sharing a series of educational content so that you can feel confident when adding a product to your cart.

 

Photo via Sheena Zilinski.

Nala’s Free-From Standards

At Nala, we’re free-from.   We chose the term ‘free-from’ over ‘natural’ or ‘clean’ because we want to provide transparency in a market where terms like these can get cloudy with misuse.  We’re transparent in what we use and what we don’t, making us free-from many confusing and ultimately toxic ingredients. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than required by any regulatory body, because if it’s possible, why not? 

Using Nala means committing to your health. We believe you should put yourself first, which is why our products give you the outcome you want (like sweat protection!) without the chemicals you might not. We’re so confident in what we can do with clean ingredients, that we thought we’d give you a list of things you’ll never find in our products. 

At Nala, we’re committed to never using:

  • Any known carcinogens: There are over 800+ ingredients that are carcinogenic, and many of them can be found in beauty products. Acts, such as the California Proposition 65, are laws set out to reduce exposure to chemicals in consumer products(1), requiring companies to include warning labels about a chemical’s ability to cause cancer, reproductive harm, or birth defects.
  • Aluminum: A main ingredient in antiperspirants, aluminum is designed to block your pores from sweating(2). While the idea of not sweating might sound ideal in theory, our body isn’t able to effectively regulate its temperature and release toxins when you block your sweat glands. 
  • Parabens: Often included to prevent the growth of mold or bacteria in a product, parabens mimic estrogen in both men and women’s bodies. The long term effect? Possible linkage to breast cancer, prostate cancer, and fertility issues(3)
  • Petroleum: For that smooth dry feeling, well, you don’t need this. The trace contaminants of petroleum are known to readily penetrate the skin4, meaning that this possible cancer-causing ingredient is getting into your body soon after application.
  • Phthalates: This is often an ingredient under the “fragrance” category, put in there to make the application of your deodorant smooth(3). The risk of various cancers and fertility issues isn’t worth it, considering this ingredient also emits toxins into the environment.
  • Propylene Glycol: Used as an emulsifier, propylene glycol is common in deodorants (yes, even in many “natural” deodorants) for that smooth application feeling(4). But from mild allergic reactions to seizures, central nervous depression, coma, renal failure and hypoglycemia, this is an ingredient best kept away from. 
  • Heavy metals: If you like to shave your armpits, applying products that contain heavy metals to any broken area of skin can be bad news. While not directly correlated, breast cancer incidences tend to align with use of products that contain metals(2).
  • Triclosan: When chemicals are so harmful many countries are banning them, we choose to veer away(5). This ingredient is linked to causing cancer, fertility issues, and harming the environment. 
  • Fragrances: The simple term fragrance can actually mean a whole list of toxic chemicals that aren’t required to be listed on an ingredients list(5). This means that things like formaldehyde and acetone could be bundled up in that “fragrance” statement. This is why we stick to only using essential oils in our free-from deodorants.
  • Talcum Powder: While also having possible carcinogenic effects, there’s a risk that the talc in your deodorant may also be contaminated with asbestos. No, thank you. 
  • Cruelty: We love all beings, and will always be cruelty free. 

P.S. This list is continually being refined and added to as we continue to expand our knowledge, product line, and standards to bring you the highest-grade, safest, and most effective products.

P.P.S. This list is meant to inform, not scare. We believe in sharing our research so that you can make evidence-based decisions on what’s best for you and your needs.

References: 
  1. Oehha.ca.gov, oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list.
  2. Medicine, Department of. “An Earlier Age of Breast Cancer Diagnosis Related to More… : European Journal of Cancer Prevention.” LWW, journals.lww.com/eurjcancerprev/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2003&issue=12000&article=00006&type=abstract.
  3. Cohen, Debbie. “10 Toxins In Your Drugstore Deodorant.” PurelyGreat Natural Deodorant, 13 Jan. 2020, mynaturaldeodorant.com/10-toxins-in-your-drugstore-deodorant/.
  4. “What’s Up With Petroleum in Beauty Products?” Goop, 17 July 2018, goop.com/beauty/makeup/whats-up-with-petroleum-in-beauty-products-7-days-of-goop-clean-beauty/.
  5. Heid, Markham. “5 Things Wrong With Your Deodorant.” Time, Time, 5 July 2016, time.com/4394051/deodorant-antiperspirant-toxic/./
Photo by chuttersnap

 

Nala was named the winner for Best Underarm Product for our Lemon Myrtle Geranium Free-From Deodorant for the 2019 Indie Beauty Expos. This was out of 350+ nominated products across 40 categories and included participants from the 2019 Indie Beauty Expos that took place in LA, NYC, Dallas, London, and Berlin. Products were evaluated across 20 Beauty & Industry Experts.

From Credo Co-Founder, Annie Jackson, “The product stood out because of the easy and smooth application (no residue), design of packaging, and overall efficacy. As well as being an effective deodorant, it also nourishes, moisturizes and repairs the underarm skin”. 

We wanted to take this moment to say thank you to all of our customers for your support in our product and our mission, we wouldn’t be here without you, thank you!

To celebrate, use code BESTINSHOW15 for 15% off your entire order. Valid until January 26, 2020.

Ada & Mila