Micas and colorants, are they natural?

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by Carl, Jan 7, 2020.

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  1. Jan 7, 2020 #1

    Carl

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    Hello again everyone.

    I see a lot of people selling soaps with mica powders as the colorant. Of course they have "All Natural" on the label.

    Are mica powders really considered "All Natural?" If not are certain ones considered all natural and other's not?

    How do you decide if the mica you are using is all natural or not? I noticed different mica powders do have different ingredients?

    What about oxides such as blue oxide?
     
  2. Jan 7, 2020 #2

    Kcryss

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    Some are considered natural, you do have to pay attention to the ingredients to be sure they are mica and iron oxide only. At least, that's what I've found. The greens have a chromium type oxide and I wouldn't put that in my soap.
     
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  3. Jan 7, 2020 #3

    dixiedragon

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    Out of curiosity, why not? Hydrated Chromium Green is probably my single favorite color!
     
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  4. Jan 7, 2020 #4

    Kcryss

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    To be honest, it's probably just a "me" thing. I personally believe that there is a potential for them to be more toxic then iron oxide. I know the science is not showing that currently, but the potential for that to change is higher for this compound.

    I personally believe that long term affects of many chemicals/chemical compounds in use today have yet to be identified. Yes, this is true of natural products as well.

    I wish I could get on board to use it, greens are my favorite colors! I just can't ...
     
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  5. Jan 7, 2020 #5

    Greenthoughts

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    I've gotten a nice light green using burdock leaf & parsley leaf dried & finely ground, added at trace, if that helps!
     
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  6. Jan 7, 2020 #6

    shunt2011

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    Chromium Green is also one of my favorites. And the Hydrated Chromium Green gives a beautiful teal/turquoise color. Parsley leaf fades over time and discolors brownish in my experience. I no longer use it.
     
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  7. Jan 7, 2020 #7

    dixiedragon

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    Going back to the original question, I do not consider those colors natural. If I make soap and label it natural, it contains no lab-made colors. Only botanicals or clays. Also no lab-made scents - only EOs or no scents. I know lye isn't natural, but since there is no FDA regulation fro the term natural, I think it works because it is as natural as possible for soap to be.
     
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  8. Jan 7, 2020 #8

    Obsidian

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    I also don't consider them natural. Oxides that are used in cosmetics are made in a lab. Natural oxides contain contaminants and toxins so we have to use the safe version.

    Mica is natural but of course, once its colored with oxides, its isn't.
     
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  9. Jan 7, 2020 #9

    Kcryss

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    That's awesome! I know it can get darker over time, but would be nice to have something ... anything green for at least a bit! :)
     
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  10. Jan 7, 2020 #10

    TheGecko

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    Six of one, half dozen of the other.

    If you want to be technical...soap is NOT 'natural'. Soap does NOT occur in nature...it can't be grown, it is not born, it can't be mined from the earth. It's the ending result of a chemical process (saponification) of combining fats with lye. Sodium Hydroxide is more 'natural' than soap because it is naturally occurring: lightning strikes tree, tree burns, tree turns into ash, rain falls through ash and the resulting liquid is Sodium Hydroxide.

    Mica in itself is a naturally occuring mineral, but it has no color...it's a greyish white; it is then combined with iron oxides, ultramarines or dyes. Said iron oxides, ultramarines or dyes are chemically processed or produced to make them safe because not all 'naturally occurring' stuff is good for you...like uranium and arsenic.
     
  11. Jan 7, 2020 #11

    Kcryss

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    haha! Very true!
     
  12. Jan 7, 2020 #12

    Nona'sFarm

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    There is no FDA definition for natural, so we either need to come up with a soaper's definition of natural or each abide by our own definition.

    I have been following the approach that if the ingredients occur naturally in nature, or lab-made to be nature identical, then I will say that the soap ingredients are natural.
    Side note: when folks say their soap is natural they are not saying the soap itself is natural but the ingredients are natural, since soap is the result of a chemical reaction of the ingredients.

    This is from Nurture Soap's Blog: "Micas used in cosmetics can be naturally mined or they can be lab-made synthetics. Most of the micas we use in cosmetics and soaps are naturally mined micas..
    Another question often asked is if naturally mined mica colors are natural. They are natural in their raw uncolored state. Natural mica is usually an off-white mineral and can have brownish tones. To achieve a bright color pigment is applied to the mica substrate using heat. Micas can be colored using various dyes and pigments to achieve the desired color. These colors are lab-made and are not natural. They are often made to be nature-identical.
    The reason the colors used to pigment the mica are lab-made is primarily to achieve a certain level of purity. This is a good thing! The FDA has certain standards that color additives must meet..."

    Is there a Soaper's Association that has come up with an accepted definition? This is a very heated and debated topic and I would love for there to be agreement. It would be great to be able to say "Contains All Natural Ingredients as defined by the National Soap Community" or some such group.
     
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  13. Jan 8, 2020 #13

    TheGecko

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    From the FDA:

    The laws and regulations that FDA enforces do not have definitions for “natural” or “organic”. The same requirements apply to your product no matter whether the ingredients are plant, animal, mineral, or synthetic. It’s important not to assume that using only ingredients from plants will make your products safe.

    To take the last line further, it should be noted that “organic” ingredients do NOT make a product safer. For example, many plants, whether or not they are organically grown, contain substances that may be toxic or allergenic.

    Are you expecting hell to freeze over? :) The reason why the FDA hasn’t defined ‘natural’ is where do you start...and where do you draw the line? Is natural cocoa butter still ‘natural’ if it has been refined and deodorized? Aren’t plastics ‘natural’ since they are made from natural materials such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and crude oil?
     
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  14. Jan 8, 2020 #14

    Carl

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    I'll go out on a limb here for fun.

    Everything is natural since it comes from the Earth!! If it didn't come from the Earth, where did it come from? Mars? The moon?

    My attempt at a bad joke. LOL

    But anyway, if you think about it, almost nothing is natural then. Just about everything we see and touch everyday has had some sort of processing done to it.

    Even the coffee I'm sitting here drinking now. The beans must have been processed into grounds and I'm sure there's something added to them.

    If you do a google search for:
    "What is natural soap."
    I noticed a lot of soap shops have created their own definition for natural.
     
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  15. Jan 8, 2020 #15

    dixiedragon

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    But I do think that most people can come to a reasonable agreement, even if it's not easy to codify into law or FDA standards. For example, I don't think anybody is going to agree that a Red Velvet Cake scented soap is "natural". Yet I see that and scents just as clearly lab-made and not from EOs being called "natural". I think that is dishonest. NOBODY thinks a bottle of lab-made scent = natural.
     
  16. Jan 8, 2020 #16

    dndlyon

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    I try to avoid the word "natural" on my products for all of the reasons posted above. If someone asks if I have natural products, I ask what they mean by natural and steer them to the right product (if I have it). As mentioned above, since there is no legal definition when it comes to soap, each soap maker has to consider their own definition. For me, soap colored with clays and herbal ingredients are "natural", and everything else doesn't fit my definition. I use both "natural" and "not natural" colorants and fragrances and do what I can to educate the consumer that cares - not everyone does.

    "Natural" is like any number of buzz words that are a marketing tool for the people selling the product. And I don't mean this in a disrespectful way - Sellers use them for a reason that fits into their market plan, and they strongly believe their product meets a definition of those words. However, there is no clear and universal understanding of what the words mean. Don't be afraid to ask what someone means when they say these things on labels, banners, etc.they may just be considering their soap natural because they made it in their kitchen and it doesn't contain commercial detergents or ingredients that they can't pronounce.
     
  17. Jan 8, 2020 #17

    TheGecko

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    I've done some reading on how Essential Oils and Fragrances Oils are made and it was interesting to find out that many EOs are chemically processed because they can't be cold pressed or steam extracted and most, if not all, are combined with a carrier oil and so it could easily be said that they aren't 100% 'natural' either.

    Fragrances Oils are clearly man-made because I've never heard of a plant, bush or tree called "Red Velvet Cake", but they do fall into two categories...Synthetic Fragrance Oils/Nature Identical Fragrance Oils or Natural Fragrance Oils. Synthetic Fragrance Oils are made in a laboratory from synthetic compounds and composed almost entirely of petroleum by-products such as benzene derivatives, aldehydes, toluene, etc. Nature Identical Fragrance Oils are also synthetic, but it has a chemical structure that is exactly the same as its essential oil counterpart and is basically a man-made copy of a molecule found in nature.

    Natural Fragrance Oils are also made in a laboratory but rather than being made from synthetic materials they are created by isolating one of the natural aromatic components from a complex scent such as that of an orange or rose. These single scents are called isolates. And example of an isolate can be found in water which is composed of two parts Hydrogen and one part Oxygen. If we could pull out the Oxygen, that would be an isolate and then it could be used to make something else.

    And to reiterate again...soap is NOT natural NOR is it naturally occurring. Soap is MAN MADE...you combine fats and lye and via a CHEMICAL PROCESS called saponification, so the whole "it's not natural" thing about using Micas and Fragrances Oils is a bunch of male bovine excrement!
     
  18. Jan 8, 2020 #18

    dndlyon

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    I can't speak as well to soap colorants and fragrances as I can to food colors and fragrances because I worked for Big Food in regulatory and food safety for many years. We did what felt like a million focus groups on what consumers mean when they say "natural". There was very little consensus worldwide and even within the same region. I imagine that this is applicable to products you put on your skin as well as those that you consume.

    In working with the FDA, it's unlikely that they will put regulations around "natural" because it truly is a hard word to define - even consumers don't understand it the same. Several years ago, I attended the FDA meetings to change the food code, and was able to sit in on a company's petition to define "natural" (as well as "clean" and a few other broad words). Their petition was heard, but it was also tabled pretty quickly. The word has been used historically for so long, and has so many definitions. Each company (food or cosmetic) has their own definition of what they consider natural. At that point, FDA would have to look at input from as many companies as possible and bringing so many different ideas to the table...Their goal is to protect the consumer, and it seems like the effort put into the definition would not be worth the amount of protection the consumer would receive. The FDA has bigger fish to fry. In most countries, a definition put together by a consumer products group wouldn't be enforceable, so you end up with the same concern - misinformation given to the consumer about what's in the product.

    Some people actually are ok with the idea that a "lab-made scent" is natural...or at least nature identical. A lot of food on the market that is labeled with "natural flavors" contains a nature identical flavor ingredient. A flavor/fragrance house can actually make a flavor that, to the consumer, smells like red velvet cake, and contains compounds occurring in nature and extracted from fruits, vegetables, etc. This was absolutely amazing to me when I started working in food - a vial of the right compounds (natural or synthetic) can trick your nose into a lot of things!

    A lot of R&D budgets go into this because the nature identical is actually much cheaper (and safer with much more consistent quality) than what they could get with only a natural powdered herb, for example.

    This is also a good example of the difficulty that language creates in the discussion as well. When I hear "lab-made", I think of a processing area that follows good manufacturing practices. When someone else hears "lab-made", they see beakers of synthetic chemicals made from things like petrochemicals. I like my ingredients to be "lab-made" because it implies a level of quality and safety. However, I don't like the idea of beakers of petrochemicals in my food/cosmetics. :)

    Just a quick note on this - "nature identical" fragrances are not always made from a man-made copy of the molecule. They can also be extracted from plant material and then standardized with other "non-fragrance" molecules (also "nature derived") to provide a consistency in fragrance, color, and performance.

    A lot of R&D budget also goes into paying the people in the regulatory department to define what their version of "nature identical" actually is. The flavor/fragrance houses have their definitions, and the food and cosmetic companies have their own definitions. Some companies require that anything "nature identical" actually is a plant based extract, and not a synthesized compound that matches the one from the plant material.

    Well, I've taken a simple mica question and good discussion and turned it into a science experiment...again...hope this information is helpful to the discussion and you aren't rolling your eyes at me for over-discussing things you don't care about ;)
     
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  19. Jan 8, 2020 #19

    Nona'sFarm

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    Like I said:
    But I suppose as someone above pointed out, unless it is regulated in some way, anyone could make that claim, regardless of whether the ingredients meet the definition or not.

    Just curious @TheGecko, what is your definition of "natural" in regards to ingredients for soap?
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
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  20. Jan 9, 2020 #20

    TheGecko

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    I really don’t have one. It’s like this...if I use cocoa butter that has been refined and deodorized am I using an ‘unnatural’ ingredient? Isn’t it still cocoa butter...just a lighter color and doesn’t smell like chocolate?

    Speaking of ‘butter’...cranberry butter, lime butter, coffee butter, aloe vera butter...natural or unnatural? Aloe Vera ‘butter’ doesn’t exist nature, but coconut oil and aloe vera extract does, and aren’t those ingredients ‘natural’?

    Once you render fat into tallow or lard, is it now ‘unnatural’?
     
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