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Have you ever wondered what gives your lip gloss, lipstick, or lip balm flavor? You may be surprised by what you find . . . or don't find!
First of all, it's important to remember that part of what we "taste" is actually what we smell, so companies use aromatic things to create a "flavor" in their products. Sweetener may or may not be added as well .
Let's start with the most natural--essential oils or flavor oils. Essential and flavor oils are typically natural, alcohol-free (though some flavor oils include alcohol, you can sometimes find alcohol-free alternatives), and can even be organic. While you can purchase synthetic fragrance oils, those aren't the types of essential and flavor oils I'm talking about. These oils can be extracted in a number of different ways, including cold pressed and through distillation. Typically with natural cosmetics you see either/or both essential oils and flavor oils. You shouldn't consume all essential oils, but hopefully the companies you purchase from are aware of that! This is definitely the most natural, chemical-free choice.
Next in the list is Vanillin. Vanillin does occur naturally in vanilla beans and other plants, however, extracting it is very expensive and yields little from each pod. As a result, most companies choose to use synthetic Vanillin. How is synthetic Vanillin created? Now this could be wrong and please provide information if you've found proof otherwise, but from what I can see some Vanillin is derived from lignin (a gummy byproduct of paper making) and guaiacol (which comes from wood creosote). Guaiacol is a petrochemical from what I can find. If you're unfamiliar with petrochemicals, pthalates are a group of petrochemicals for example. Long and the short of it is, Vanillin is not only in lip products, but food as well. I'm not going to get into it too much, but I personally don't like synthetic when I can avoid it and this seems pretty unsavory to me. But, I'm not a chemist and unless I did extensive research I wouldn't feel comfortable telling you what you should or shouldn't put in your body. Either way, this is what I could find on Vanillin. Just looking through some of my cosmetics from high-end cosmetic companies I can tell you a bunch of my lipsticks from one especially popular company contains "Vanillin". Hmmm . . .
Lastly, I'm going to touch upon the term "flavor" or "aroma" (used in European products). This is kind of crazy to me. If you know anything about the term "fragrance" on ingredients labels, you know it can literally mean ANYTHING that gives something its scent. While the FDA requires companies to reveal all of their ingredients, there's a loophole when it comes to scents because companies like to keep them secret so that other companies can't steal their scents. The problem is, a number of chemicals could be umbrella'd under the term "fragrance". "Fragrance" in ingredients lists does not have to mean one ingredient only! The same loophole applies to the terms "flavor" or "aroma". According to the FDA, "flavor" can mean "any natural or synthetic substance or substances used solely to impart a taste to a cosmetic product." So again, you can have either one or multiple ingredients fall under the term "flavor". I don't like this. I steer clear of things that say "fragrance" and I have an issue with the term "flavor". Looking again through some of my high-end cosmetics from other companies a bunch of my lipglosses contain "flavor".
So what's a makeup lover to do? I think everyone needs to judge for themselves whether or not they're comfortable with using synthetic chemicals on their bodies and/or taking a gamble and settling for the fact they will never know all of the ingredients in their cosmetics. Personally, I want natural, but to each his/her own!
What do you think? Does it bother you to think you don't know what you're putting on your body? Or are you comfortable with cosmetic companies making those choices??