Organic? – By Rise’ Carter

I see these terms all the time, so much so, that I don’t even pay attention to them anymore. My mind just goes into la la land. Organic and all natural are the most over used terms in our society.

I checked numerous definitions and learned the following:

Organic, as typically advertised, means that a product is produced without the use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals and is applicable to food and other agricultural products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program allows companies to label cosmetics as organic if they meet the same criteria governing its organic certification of food. The FDA and USDA do have regulations on labeling agricultural products as ‘organic’.

When it comes to chemicals, (see the definition below) ‘organic’ simply means that a substance contains carbon as an essential part of its structure. Everything that has ever lived on earth is organic. Some cosmetic companies knowingly make false claims, and some of the more devious companies are using the chemistry definition of ‘organic’ to intentionally confuse consumers.

Just because a product is not organic, does not mean it is unsafe. Salt and water can not even be certified as organic, as salt is a mineral and therefore not an agricultural product and water is a chemical substance!

OK, let’s talk about “all natural”.

“All natural” simply means “occurring in nature”, not artificial, and refers to products that have been grown or made without harmful chemicals that could cause a person to experience sensitivity issues. In general ‘natural’ products are formulated without the following; artificial colorings, artificial preservatives, animal by-products, pesticide or herbicide residue, solvents, mineral oil, animal testing, synthetic chemicals. However, just because a product is all natural does not mean that it is safe. I had an allergic reaction to strawberries grown in my grandfather’s garden without the use of pesticides. My face immediately changed shape, blew up and was red, blotchy and itchy. Thank goodness I was only 6, and hadn’t fully developed my “proud existence” Children can not eat honey or peanuts until they are over a certain age as they can have fatal allergic reactions.

When you’re shopping for groceries, watch out for the phrase “all natural” as claimed on the front of various product packages. It turns out that the phrase “all natural” can mean just about anything; it actually has no nutritional meaning whatsoever. There are no current federal standards that apply to this definition, which has resulted in a vast amount of mislabeling.
Parasites and polio, volcanoes and cow dung are all “all natural”. Natural does not mean safe.

I am bringing it full circle now. Very recently, I read some information about nail products that are all natural, organic, and vegan. It really got me thinking about why companies feel the need to market and advertise nail products using these terms. Are they really saying that their products are “good for you” and that all the others are “bad”? Isn’t this an example of fear based marketing? Fear sells. Companies and the media intentionally exaggerate all risks in the hopes of frightening us and encourage people to purchase things they normally wouldn’t.

Fear based marketing can and does harm our industry. Getting us to think that one manufacturer’s product is better, because, it is “all natural” or “organic”. And that all the others are harmful “chemicals”.

A chemical is everything you can see or touch except light and electricity. Our entire bodies, our air we breathe (O2), the water (H2O) we drink, the food we eat, the vitamins we take, the toilet paper we use, trees, cars, hairspray… are ALL chemicals, and the list goes on and on.

Many people associate chemicals with something that is “bad” for them. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fear of chemicals is called chemophobia. The only cure for chemophobia is knowledge and understanding. It is media hype and marketing that has put the fear of chemicals into people. We are not afraid of the things we understand. Getting to know and understand chemicals is the first step to being in control. Working safely with all chemicals is very easy to do when you take the time to learn and know how.

In a nutshell, salons are very safe environments for clients. Nail enhancement products can be used safely. What is important for a nail technician is learn about the products they are using and understand the importance of working with them in a safe manner.

Safety Data Sheets provide chemical information on each product. Keep SDS on each product used in the salon. These are available through your manufacturer.

Keep yourself educated, keep your clients educated and don’t get caught up in fear based marketing.

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