Much trumpeting is made these days of “organic certification” of consumer products, including foodstuffs, personal care products and cosmetics, as though these are somehow superior to non-certified products from a consumer safety and environmental perspective. I have demonstrated quite definitively that “organic vegetables can be far more toxic than conventional produce”, which treatise is accessed here for your enlightenment against all allegations to the contrary. On the domestic cosmetic front, in particular, one Trevor Steyn, who formulates and manufactures several ranges of allegedly “natural”, “chemical free” and/or “certified organic” products or uses such ingredients in said products, under the trade-names of his range: ‘Esse Organics’ and others such as ‘Enchantrix’, ‘Naturebabes’, ‘Tom-e-tots’ and ‘Amba’ and also writes sensational misleading articles for Biophile magazine to fraudulently promote the sale of these pseudo-natural products.

How honest are these claims? Well, sadly, not honest at all. Steyn makes much of the “organic standards” of the commercial company Ecocert, to which he purportedly aspires to qualify at some future date (yes, there is profit to be made from organic certification and consumers will have to foot the bill, whether the manufacture is paying lip-service to the concept or actually complying with one or another standard, all of which are actually corny marketing hype). The products formulated by Steyn as Esse Organic Skincare and their sister Enchantrix, Naturebabes and Amba ranges are impersonally mass-produced in the same “factory” and most use partially petrochemical processed and other synthetic ingredients in their manufacture and tellingly there is no full disclosure of all ingredients and their sources, let alone their relative toxicities, other than the educational articles provided courtesy of Gaia Research. As further ingredients are revealed, I will evaluate these and expose their flaws.

Ecocert’s labelling criteria for “Natural” and “Natural and Organic” cosmetics respectively are 50% and 95% ingredients of “natural origin” (petroleum is certainly of natural origin) and a maximum of 5% synthetic ingredients and a mere 5% and 10% minimum of Certified organic ingredients. Ecocert Guidelines only require that: “The percentages of ingredients of natural origin and ingredients resulting from organic agriculture are clearly indicated on the labelling”. What of the non-certified ingredients? The eco-organic rhetoric and ingredients themselves just don’t add up. There are obvious gaps in the total ingredient data of the declared formulae, likely constituting more contentious cheat ingredients. I have no problem with purified petrochemical ‘extractives’ of crude oil, which respectively are the purest and richest repository of natural organic matter on Earth. I do have a problem with deliberate creation of the fraudulent impression that simple purified base petrochemicals are inorganic, unnatural, synthetic and/or toxic, when in reality this is not so. Mineral oil is 100% natural and organic, the distillation end-product of crude oil from the bio-accumulation of ancient plants and algae.

Steyn makes much of the alleged undesirability of nature based Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and Sodium lauryl ether sulphate (SLES), yet the former ironically is Ecocert approved, whilst the latter is “negative listed” (or “banned” in Steyn’s alarmist terminology), yet oddly, Weleda, one of the world leaders in natural skincare and whose products are certified by the EU certification body for natural cosmetics, the BIDH, deliberately chooses to take a principled stand and use the disapproved rather than the approved ingredient, insisting on its superior safety and suitability, based on their extensive research and experience. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is an Ecocert approved ingredient, yet Steyn sees fit to dedicate an entire article to this substance, falsely claiming it to be detrimental to skin and bodily health. This is akin to an atheist saying “God bless you”. For the record, you are referred to Steyn’s article titled "rub a dub... danger in your tub", in the November/December 2004 edition of Biophile magazine.. Please note that I have definitively rebutted these lies in the Biofilth Files, the relevant section of which is archived here.

On the other hand and even more importantly, why does Ecocert approve of, and Steyn blindly on this basis, instead use in products from his stable, synthetic chemicals such as Cocamidopropyl betaine, which rather seriously for consumers was voted internationally by dermatologists in 2004 as “allergen of the year” (an allergen is far more serious than an irritant – which is all that SLS and SLES can be if abused) and furthermore, why does Steyn use the toxic synthetic industrial disinfectant, benzethonium chloride (in the guise of so-called Grapefruit seed extract - another sad scam for unsuspecting consumers), since the latter is no extract at all and is always constituted of or contaminated with synthetic preservatives, including in all cases, toxic Benzethonium chloride as well as possibly the Dioxin-producing Triclosan and even the fraudulently maligned Parabens. Parbens were the subject to another of Steyn’s smear campaigns in the 2nd Issue of Biophile magazine in 2005, titled “ingredients in your cosmetics: what are they doing to you?”, where he and Torr fraudulently advertised their obviously inclusive synthetic chemical and inorganic content Esse and Enchantrix ranges on the very same page as being “natural”, “organic” and “free of chemicals”.

It is an absurd irony that parabens are Ecocert approved, although discouraged, as chemically synthesised. The standard reads: “Give preference to the natural and the natural origin above any other origin”, but concedes the importance of Parabens thus: “6. The following preservatives (pseudo-natural substances) (their wording) can be used: 4 hydroxybenzoic acid, its salts and its esters (Parabens)” (Ecocert Standards for Ecological and Organic Cosmetics, January, 2003). Methyl Paraben and Propyl Paraben as used by Gaia are in fact “nature identical” to those synthesised by plants, animals and fungi. Now that Gaia Research have discovered and published the fact that Methyl paraben occurs naturally in eg Thale cress and Oca and Propyl paraben occurs naturally in Verticillium and Mango (see our Parabens article here), can we expect the 100% nature-identical human synthesised compounds to become logically acceptable to the likes of Steyn, who, purely as a marketing strategy, incorrectly criticise these superior safe, efficacious essential preservatives, fraudulently as significant endocrine disrupters? Note the further irony, that so-called grapefruit seed extract is an endocrine disrupter, another hypocritical issue that Steyn conveniently neglects to mention, (along with the hypocrisy of the deliberate manufacturer adulteration of the grapefruit seed extract with inappropriately toxic synthetic disinfectants). Let me illustrate this endocrine disruption double standard.

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) has high endocrine disrupting potential, since several of the compounds, in particular the flavones, are known to have endocrine disruptive activity (Kellis J, Vickery L. Science, 225(4666), 1984); (Barrett J. Phytoestrogens, friends or foes? - Environmental Health Perspectives 104(5), 1996), which in females may result in a number of reproductive disturbances and in men, disruption of spermatogenesis (de-feminisation and de-masculinisation effects) and in both men and women, deleterious effect on the bones (Sanderson J et al, Toxicol Sci, 82(1), 2004); (Sanderson J, Toxicol Sci,94(1), 2006) and possible cancer promotion, depending on dose, frequency and time of life exposure (Rice S, Whitehead A, Endocrine-Related Cancer, 13(4) ). Of the adulterants in so-called grapefruit seed extract, in particular, the ever-present Benzethonium chloride is also an endocrine disruptor (Endocrine Toxicants, Scorecard, Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, August, 1997); (Ingredient Report: Benzethonium Chloride, Environmental Working Group, 2006). The adulterant, Triclosan is also an endocrine disrupter (Jacobs M et al, Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 209(2), 2005); (Veldhoen N et al, Aquatic Toxicol 80(3), 2006); (Darbre P, Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 20(1), 2006) and reacts with free chlorine in tap water to produce intermediate compounds that convert into toxic dioxins upon exposure to UV-radiation (from the sun or other sources). Dioxins are extremely toxic and are also potent endocrine disruptors (Lores M et al, Analyt Bio-analyt Chem, (381(6), 2005).

Ecocert’s ‘Basic Principles of the Standards’ should, strictly speaking, no longer allow the use of these nature-identical parabens, because they have been discovered to occur in nature (not that they are aware of the fact until I educated them), which should, on principle, force manufacturers to now expensively and wastefully use only the likes of Thale cress, Mango, Cloudberry, Vanilla and Royal Bee Jelly extracts for these important preservatives at a 100-fold cost increase to manufacturers and consumers, merely to comply with the stubborn philosophical standards? Is it any wonder that I don’t play this silly certified organic game, especially considering that my products are, on the whole, as or more natural and organic than any other and if any more so would be rancid compost and a risk to consumers? Clearly, natural and/or organic “certification” criteria are entirely arbitrary and illogical non-scientific concepts, not only between various certification bodies (the proof is that there is no single standard, nor authority), but also amongst members and pseudo aspirant members, many of whom comply with or pay lip-service to such standards purely as a marketing strategy, with the express intention of conning consumers to purchase their products.

The Ecocert Standard is a hypocritical double-standard and laughable to any knowledgeable person and even more so, are the twerps pretending to formulate to its corny guidelines, which is nothing more than a scam. On the one hand, the Ecocert Standard declares: “No ingredients resulting from petro-chemistry are permitted” (to their detriment, I might add, since this is the purest and richest source of natural organic raw material on the planet). The standard goes on to make nebulous laughable and abuseable concessions such as: “Only a few synthetic ingredients essential to the product and not yet available in natural origin are allowed”. This allows inclusion of coconut derived, but nevertheless petrochemical synthesised Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB), But hypocritically, the far safer and mutli-functional coconut derived SLES is disallowed. The Ecocert approved so-called Grapefruit Seed Extract, invariably either adulterated with or synthesised to toxic Benzethonium chloride (which it never contains naturally) also, is clearly at odds with Ecocert’s own negative listing of quaternary ammonium compounds, which latter is precisely what the deliberately ignored inevitably present toxic synthetic Benzethonium chloride active ingredient is. I notice with interest that some Enchantrix products now list a further quaternary ammonium compound, the potentially toxic cetrimonium chloride.

Clearly the entire organic certification issue is a commercial scam of note, by both the certification companies and certified manufacturers. For an ongoing expose' of this rather sickening (literarily) state of affairs, watch this space. I will update as and when I stumble upon more examples of consumers being defrauded of their hard earned income by the organic scammers.

Let me expose more toxic substances used by Steyn in formulating and manufacturing his and other’s products. Several other relatively toxic synthetic cheat ingredients, ie produced partly from natural raw materials, usually with the help of petrochemicals, yet having no correlates in nature, are used by Steyn and others in the abovementioned product ranges, including Carbomer and Cetrimonium chloride. You will at least find these chemicals listed in Enchantrix Hair Gel and Hair Conditioner as the 2nd and 5th most abundant ingredients respectively. The question is, are they aware of the hazard potential of these synthetic ingredients? Judging by their “organic and chemical free” characterisation of these products, Anthea Torr, proprietor of Enchantrix, is either being hoodwinked by formulator/manufacturer Steyn, or is hoodwinking consumers, with her organic and safety claims. Clearly, it is now even more so a matter of ‘Consumers beware’! More analysis and exposé of harmful ingredients will follow in the public interest as hidden ingredients are either discovered or disclosed, and as long as deliberate proven misinformation is disseminated as a marketing strategy designed to mislead consumers and prejudice others in the market.

Carbomers are synthetic nonlinear polymers of acrylic acid, cross-linked with a polyalkenyl polyether to form a gel and are used in pharmaceutical products as thickening, suspending, dispersing and emulsifying agents. Whilst not skin irritants, Carbomers are membrane disrupters (Kusonwiriyawong C et al, Eur I Pharm Biopharm, 56(2), 2003) and are classified as eye irritants, where contact with and without preservatives, cause toxic effects in the corneal cells and can cause severe eye damage after 30 min of exposure, including dramatic cell-surface alterations (Diebold Y et al, Cornea, 17(4), 1998), which ironically is largely what Steyn fraudulently claimed were the effects of SLS under normal usage. Carbomer gels undergo oxidative degradation when they are exposed to sunlight (Baruzzi M, Nouv Rev Fr Hematol, 11(1), 1971), so their use, like excessive plant oils, is also involved in free radical reactions.

Carbomers routinely contain impurities, including benzene, arsenic and heavy metals, including lead, (CTFA, Submission of data, Cosmetic Ingredient Chemical Description on Carbomers, Nov, 14, 1978), all of which are carcinogens (Report on Carcinogens, 11th Edition, USDHHS, National Toxicology Program, 2004). Attention was called to the presence of benzene, because many of the products may remain in contact with the body, potentially for days at a time throughout the year. Benzene is a known toxin, listed as a known human carcinogen since 1980 and for which, human epidemiological evidence strongly suggests that it is leukemogenic as well. (International Agency For Cancer Research, The evaluation of the carcinogenic risk of chemicals to man: Benzene, IARC Monographs, vol. 7, 203-21, 1974); (Wolman S, Cytologic and cytogenetic effects of benzene, J Toxicol Environ Health, Suppl. 2, 63-8, 1977); (IARC, Chemicals and industrial processes associated with cancer in humans, IARC Monographs, Suppl. 1, 24, 1979); (Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Carbomers, J Amer Col Toxicol, 1 (2), 1982); (Report on Carcinogens, 11th, NTP, 2004).

Cetrimonium chloride is a synthetic antiseptic agent with antistatic, emulsifying and detergent properties. It is classified as an irritant, causing sensitisation on skin contact and potentially, serious damage to the eyes. It is very toxic to aquatic organisms. (Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, Safety Data: Cetrimonium Chloride, Oxford University, U.K., August 2004) Where it causes contact dermatitis, abnormal keratisation results from direct pathologic effects on lipids and enzymes (Lee J, Am J Dermatopathol, 19(2), 1997). In personal care products, it is classified as an immune system toxicant, causing allergic and sensitising immune responses. (Skin Deep Ingredient Report, Cetrimonium Chloride, Environmental Working Group, 2006) On repeated exposure of the eyes over time, a membrane integrity decreasing apoptotic mechanism occurs at low concentrations and membrane necrosis at higher concentrations, potentially causing corneal damage following long-term use and eye exposure (Jester J et al, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 39(6), 1998); (Debbasch C et al, J Fr Ophthalmol, 22(9), 1999).

What are consumers to make of all this? Of what significance is it that products manufactured by Trevor Steyn for his and other ranges and by others are purported to be manufactured using "Ecocert (or some other certification company’s) approved ingredients" in accordance with Ecocert or some other certification company’s "guidelines"? If indeed this is even true, then why furthermore, are these products not formally certified by Ecocert as “natural” and/or "organic", a mere laughable 5-10% requirement to qualify? Perhaps the products are only "transitional" organic, but if so, what is "not" organic that should be, that precludes its certification as such and why? Even if and when certified, I have more than adequately explained that this means very little, if anything in terms of consumer health and safety. "Feel-good factor" yes, but safety, no. Indeed the very opposite is likely to apply, for reasons I have argued here and in the linked pages below.

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