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by author, natural beauty expert & cancer survivor Britta AragonRSS

Aveeno’s Active Naturals May Not be as Natural as You Think

By Britta Aragon on September 28, 2010 | 4 Comments

Take a glance at Aveeno’s Active Naturals website and you’ll get the feeling that this brand is full of natural goodness. A light, earthy background color serves as the palette for rich photographs of products flanked by white sand and green leaves—the kind that give you the feeling these products are healthy for you and full of safe and nourishing ingredients. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Let’s take a look at one product—Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizing Cream Cleanser. According to the company, it’s “the beauty of nature + science,” a gentle, soap-free cleanser with skin conditioners that “lift away dirt, oil, and make-up while moisturizing dry and sensitive skin.” It contains feverfew extract, a natural ingredient related to chamomile that’s “known for its soothing properties.” This feverfew is even organically farmed and along with the rest of the formulation, supposedly helps reduce redness and calm skin.

For people going through cancer treatments, this sounds like the perfect solution to problem skin that’s particularly sensitive. But Aveeno isn’t telling you the whole story.

Turn the product over and you may be surprised to see that most of the ingredients are nothing like the “organically farmed” feverfew. The third ingredient is “isohexadecane”—a synthetic petrochemical—which though generally considered safe, is suspected of being an environmental toxin by Environment Canada.

Two ingredients down you see “Di-PPG 2 myreth-10 adipate.” Does anyone think this looks “natural?” It’s one of those “skin conditioners” the web site mentioned, but it’s synthetically made and goes through the process of “ethoxylation,” which means it has a higher probability of being contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. 1,4-dioxane is a chemical by-product that is a known animal carcinogen and penetrates readily into the skin. Another ingredient in the formulation—PEG-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate—is also subjected to ethoxylation, and carries the same risk of 1,4-dioxane contamination.

Next ingredient is TEA cocoyl glutamate, a mild surfactant that has a risk of being contaminated with nitrosamines—which are banned in the European Union and prohibited from use in Canadian cosmetics because of the strong evidence linking them with cancer. Animal studies also show reproductive problems at very low doses of nitrosamines.

Keep going down the list and you find more synthetic ingredients, more petrochemicals (caprylyl glycol, acrylates/C10 30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, and hexylene glycol), tetrasodium EDTA, a chelating ingredient that has poor biodegradability, and another preservative that could lead to sensitization of the skin (methylisothiazolinone).

“None of these ingredients would pass natural standards,” says Judi Beerling, a technical research manager who works with Organic Monitor.

So how does Aveeno get by claiming that this product—and so many of its other products—are “natural?” Seems it’s all about image. I assume Aveeno thinks if it packages the not-so-natural formulas in earthy colors and puts “natural” on the label everyone will be fooled. But to savvy consumers, green products and a green-looking website don’t mean safe, natural products. I recommend you check out Marie Veronique Organics instead. They have a delicious Redness Remedy that really is full of natural goodies like green & white tea, apricot kernel oil, aloe vera gel, vitamin E, bilberry extract, and so much more (without any compromising ingredients).

You don’t have to compromise your skin or your health to get good results. There are manufacturers out there who are making products that are really safe and natural—just be sure you get the real story by reading the ingredient list, not just the promises and claims on the package. Click here for a list of the 21 ingredients to avoid. You can even print out the card and put it in your wallet when you go shopping!

Have you found other brands of natural products that are serious about their claims? Let us know!

Posted in: Skin, Lip and Body Care, Toxic Talk and Labels

4 Comments to “Aveeno’s Active Naturals May Not be as Natural as You Think”

  1. Sara Gorrack says:

    I would be ok with the article if you did not recommend ad alternative an extremely expensive products ,Aveeni is fairly good line and anything in exess can be potentially dangerous same applies for essential oils or any fruit extracts the minuscule amounts of parabens. do not cause canser

  2. Britta Aragon says:

    Hi, Sara. I do have some low-cost alternatives—check out our homemade skin care solutions here!

  3. Caren says:

    Thank you so much for this info. My 20 year old nephew came to see me today, in need of assistance in remedying his sore, dry and itchy skin — eczema. He told me that associates often assumed him to be at least 30-something because his facial skin looked so aged. He wasn’t sleeping because of his constant itching throughout the night and this was causing him more stress — he was desperate for help. He told me he has been using a product prescribed by his GP — Aveeno — but that his condition seemed to be worsening. We viewed a number of possible contributing factors to his eczema, including diet. However, my attention remained on this Aveeno cream and I suspected it might contain petro-chemicals. As my nephew didn’t know if the ingredients were natural, or not, I went online to try to find out. I waded through pages and pages of Aveeno’s own website and could not find a single page which provided a complete list of the ingredients contained in specific Aveeno products. Instead, I found only a web page of general ingredients, displaying pictures of natural herbs. Then, I found your write-up! I so appreciate that you have taken the time to name some of the very chemicals that an individual with a severe medical skin condition would most certainly wish to avoid. I thank you so much because now, I can tell him to bin the junk, chemical concoction (Aveeno) and buy only natural!!!

  4. Britta Aragon says:

    Hi, Caren. Thanks so much for sharing your story! Wow. Your poor nephew. I can’t imagine. You may have noticed on my blog that I’ve detailed several trips I’ve taken to cancer centers and hospitals, to spread the word about potential toxins in personal care products, and how damaging they can be for those with sensitive skin. Even the nurses and other healthcare providers are often surprised by what they learn. So glad you found the info here. For me, it’s always a red flag when a manufacturer makes it difficult to find a list of ingredients.

    Side note—not to blatantly self-promote, but I have to tell you, as patients with eczema have told me—our CV Skinlabs products really work! And I’ve love to hear that your nephew was no longer itching. Please see the nurse’s testimonial on my blog and see for yourself.

    Good luck finding better solutions!

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