Frankly Speaking Friday- If You Are Going to Make It or Buy it, You Should Know...

One of my greatest pet peeves is when someone just "decides" that they are going to make and sell something, without doing the proper research. While this might be okay if we are talking about hats, blankets or needlepoint, this is definitely NOT okay when we're talking about products that utilize ingredients which have the potential to harm, especially when the user isn't fully aware of the indications and properties of their own ingredients.

Another huge pet peeve of mine is when someone takes recipes from a book or a web-site, whips them up, and begins selling them like they were their own. Unfortunately these types of  thieves usually have a false sense of confidence. They think that, since their source knew what they were doing, they don't need to research or study on their own. Eventually though, these people tend to get a little brave, and they begin trying to alter a recipe, or add in something of their own. Or, worse yet, they include some wrong or incomplete information on their products. While research and study certainly do not guarantee that we will never have an issue, lack or research and education does guarantee that we are more likely to cause harm sooner or later.

While participating in various forums, I have seen a good many questions asked which have made my wonder, just how could the writer make "XYZ" without knowing the answer to their own question? To make matters worse, inevitably, if I visited their shop or website, I would read something that proved to me that they had NO real knowledge about their products. While this makes me mad, in truth, it really worries me more than anything!

While I have worked for years to create my own recipes, I still, even today, begin any new recipe by re-researching and re-studying the purposed ingredients and how they will work together. And, even though I was fairly knowledgeable to begin with, I would never have dreamed of making something to give away, much less sell, without first having researched it thoroughly. I still do not profess to be an expert, and I worry about providing sufficient, and correct product information. Am I perfect? Not hardly! Could I still make a mistake, or not know everything about a product? Certainly! But let's face it, would you rather put your trust in someone that studied and researched before they ever made a product to sell, or someone that copied recipes/formulas off the net one day and then began selling them the next?

I have been selling products for about 13 years now, and I know that, whatever your answer is,  there are some basic key words and catch phrases that you, we, should (all) understand. Knowledge is power, and in this instance, it can keep you safe and/or prepare you to decide with whom you should do business, and when you should run the other way!

First of all. "All Natural"  does NOT include the use of Fragrance Oils, unless that particular fragrance oil was made purely from essential oils, which most are not! And, if they were made with them, surely the maker would be proud enough that they would say so up front, not just after you ask about it.
The word "natural" is misused all the time, but it is a complete lie to use a synthetic (read here the word chemical)  fragrance oil and state that your product is "all natural". But really, there is not a legal definition of "natural" in regard to fragrances or other products, except for food.

Natural, as it applies to produce, means ingredients which have not been processed with chemicals and synthetics AFTER they leave the farm. So the farm may have maximized its spraying limits over the growing season, but if the plant isn't further bombarded with chemicals after it's picked, it can legally be called 'natural'. It can be difficult sifting through the marketing to find the truth, but it is worth it to you and your family. 

Natural-based/Nature based is another big catch phrase these days. Just what it really means is questionable. Everything is nature based in one way or the other. Think about it, even plastics come from crude oil, which comes from nature. So what does this claim really mean? Hmm, nothing much I am thinking! 

Naturally Inspired, yet another catch phrase widely used today, yet another legally non-existent definition. But let's break it down. Inspired by nature, meaning something in nature has inspired the creation of said product. Okay, so what? How does the fact that someone saw a pretty blue sky one morning really matter when I am buying their product? Would a product that was inspired by a sunset be better than one that was inspired by a flower? Hmm, I don't think so! So this is a nice story phrase, but it means next to nothing when it comes to meaningful ingredients in my products.  

Made Fresh. Really? Okay, but are all products that are made fresh also all natural? NO they are not. Are all natural ingredients necessarily fresh? NO, in fact many are dried, which does not make them bad or lessor ingredients. I dehydrate herbs and flowers all summer long for use during the winter months. My ingredients are all natural and all organic, but they are not always freshly picked. When they were freshly picked, they were dehydrated. Also, when I make products, I often make them to order, or fresh to order, as some would say. Can you see how the wording is just wording? 

Speaking of wording, this post is getting long in words, and I still have quite a bit more to go over. So this will be continue on Tuesday, where we will cover terms like "preservative free", "eco-friendly" and "organic". I will also be addressing words that Indie bath and beauty creators often misunderstand, and misuse. For instance, "surfactant".  Should surfactants be avoided? Are they really detergents? Come back on Tuesday and you'll get the answers to this and more! 

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