How safe and natural are Earth Mama products? We love this question! When consumers take product safety seriously and their buying decisions equal a vote with their dollars, companies start to get the message. It’s part of Earth Mama’s mission to educate consumers about safe herbal products and clear, transparent product labeling. Nurse, herbalist, and Earth Mama founder Melinda Olson says, “People don’t want toxic ingredients on their babies, and they don’t want to be confused into thinking something is safe when there is evidence that it might not be. They want companies to prove their products are safe.” And Earth Mama is happy to prove it, to our organic certifier, to the hospitals that choose our products for their most fragile babies, and to smart consumers who know what to look for.
Hidden toxins like phthalates and formaldehyde can “live” in other ingredients, and sometimes things that sound natural — like “botanical fragrance” — just aren’t. But reading labels can be really confusing! You can’t just say, “if I can’t pronounce it I won’t use it” – you’d have to forgo Butyrospermum parkii, which is safe, beneficial Shea butter. To be sure a product is 100% safe you really do have to check every ingredient with a reputable source, like the EWG’s Skin Deep toxin database. What if you just don’t have time to do that in the crowded grocery store aisle?
Well, you could find someone to do the hard work for you! That’s exactly what happens when you buy products that have been certified organic. An organic certifier has looked at every ingredient and made sure that it is either 100% organic or on a strictly vetted approved list. To get that certified organic labeling, whether it’s the USDA or NSF, companies have to prove that their products have passed grueling inspections at every point of the product’s life, from raw material to the final product. And ingredients that are not organic must be on that approved list, so no hidden toxins, dangerous carcinogens, or worrisome ingredients. (Just so you know, no sewage sludge either!)
If there is no certifier you can’t be sure that a company hasn’t just decided to grade their own test with their own red pen! With the exception of organic there is no regulatory body in the US that oversees product labeling, so some companies do their best to make sure people know exactly what’s in their products, and some, well, don’t. There are a lot of buzzwords, and it’s easy to get stung. Anyone can print the words “safe” and “natural” on their labels, and plenty use the word “organic” too. The only way to know for sure is to check the label for a certifier.
Now a word about “natural.” Some personal care products cannot be made without an unnatural process. You’d never put lye on your baby, but when organic vegetable fats and lye are blended they neutralize each other and become safe, organic, lye-free soap. Similarly, there are hundreds of emulsifiers, and most of them have toxicity concerns. But baby lotions need an emulsifier or they will become a bacteria laden, watery mess, so there is a safe option. It rates a 1, the lowest score possible on the Skin Deep database, and is approved for NSF certified organic products. Even though plant based Glyceryl stearate isn’t “natural” it is the result of reacting vegetable glycerin with stearic acid, a fatty acid from vegetable fats. A reputable certifier and the USDA and NSF organic seals assure consumers that certified products have only accepted ingredients, and nothing more.
Earth Mama has always sought to level the product labeling playing field. Along with making products that are as safe as they can be made — and proving it with third party certification — “We’ve published articles and we’ve launched educational campaigns because our mission has always been to help provide consumers with the tools they need to decipher labels,” Olson says. “By necessity I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the organic process, organic personal care, and labeling. And even I sometimes bring a product home and notice I didn’t really decode all the confusing language. We just want to make it easier for people to make more informed buying decisions.” There’s a reason Earth Mama’s products are safe as Mama’s arms, and certified to prove it!