LisaLise at The 'Health Shop'

Normally, I really do try to keep myself from correcting sales people when they dish out thumbsuck about cosmetics ingredients but the other day, I had to make an exception.

The scene: a pop-up health shop
The situation: me, looking for a crystal deodorant

They didn't have what I was looking for, but this particularly perky salesperson didn't want to loose a customer and quickly offered an alternative.

"How about trying a brand new natural deodorant?" she said grabbing a jar from the shelf.

"It has all natural coconut oil and baking soda – it's chemical-free and really effective!" she explained.

"Chemical-free? Really?"

"Yes, it's specially made for us and this is our first delivery – we're very excited about it," she said, handing me the jar.

Automatically, I turned it around to check the ingredients list.

It said:
"I N G R E D I E N T S (in alphabetical order)"

In alphabetical order?!

There wasn't an INCI name in sight, but all of the ingredients were, sure enough, listed alphabetically.

This product looked disturbingly like a typical version of the very type of DIY baking soda deodorant that causes rash, irritation, and other unpleasant skin reactions – the type of DIY deodorant that has brought about 100.000 people to this post and flooded my inbox with questions and cries for help.

I considered momentarily, but no.

I could not keep silent.

The Exchange

Taking  a deep breath, I turned to the smiling face.

"First of all, baking soda is a chemical. Even water.."

"Oh no it isn't," she interrupted, "it's just sodium bicarbonate. That's not really a chemical."

"Secondly", I continued calmly, "if the sodium bicarbonate isn't buffered - which it isn't here - the pH is too alkaline for prolonged skin contact."

Her perky smile faded – but only a titch.

"But it's all-natural and safe" she insisted.

"What I'm trying to say is, this product is very likely going to cause rash and irritation to almost anyone who uses it. It's obviously made by someone who doesn't know what they're doing. The ingredients list doesn't meet cosmetics industry labelling standards. It's not good enough to write 'coconut oil' and 'baking soda', and certainly not OK to list cosmetics ingredients alphabetically. The names have to be listed in descending order, and must be listed using the INCI name - the latin name. Have you sold any of these yet? Because if you have, you are most likely going to be visited by dissatisfied customers - some with serious skin reactions," I said as I handed back the jar.

Her expression changed.

And then...

What I wish had happened:

Looking concerned, she started removing the jars from the shelf and said, "Maybe I better contact the owner. We should probably have this product - and the maker of it - checked out before we start selling it to anyone."

But, alas, this was real life – not the movies.

So that didn't happen at all.

What did happen:

Looking a bit more tight-masked, she replied, "Well, we have a very strict policy about our products, and this one is all natural and chemical-free. I've been using it for a week and I don't have any problems, so I think you're wrong."


The Moral of this Story?

Don't try and educate people? Don't make waves? You tell me.


Dene said…
Nonsense like this should NEVER go unchallenged!
Jo Warren said…
Well challenged Lise - I am back on board the "education" bus thanks to you :)
Colin said…
Are pop-up shops common in Denmark? They are getting quite popular over here. I would think that natural cosmetics hand made by idiots would be a very popular option for this kind of enterprise. You can get good markups, you don't need to buy in a lot of stock and it doesn't go off very quickly. I can't think of any way to combat it though if even Lise can't get them to stop.
LisaLise said…
Dene - thank you for this. I did hesitate before speaking up, but couldn't stop myself.
LisaLise said…
Jo- great!! The world needs your educational input!
LisaLise said…
Colin - pop up shops seem to be trending more here. You'll often find them near markets and fairs. And you are so correct in your observation about pop-ups having the advantage of selling unchecked products.
MarĂ­a said…
I think that one of the problems that lead to this kind of comments is that people read the very first thing they find out and take it as if it is the true of the universe.
IMHO, you have to read, and read, and read, and QUESTION what you read.
LisaLise said…
Yes indeed Maria! Agree, agree, agree!
Tina Rasmussen, CPH said…
Oh Lise I wish I had been there (is that bad of me?) I cannot keep my mouth shut either though I am not neraly an expert like you are, but GEES I get so annoyed sometimes.. I feel like finding that store and asking the same questions... Keep up the good work!
LisaLise said…
Thank you Tina! I wish you had been with me (and no, that is not bad). I think Dene (comment above) is absolutely right - this kind of thing should not go unchallenged. I'm glad to hear you speak up about these things as well! And by the way - OMG I still love love love your soaps. I'm ready to sign on for the soap-of-the-month package as soon as you have it ready!
Mickey said…
Dearest Lise, I believe whenever we speak the truth, we are honoring our responsibility and making the world a better place! You did the right thing. I would also like to know how you go about buffering baking sida for use in a deo. I find its the most effective for odor, but I also get very rashy and irritated after a few weeks. Help!
Thank you for sharing your knowledge, kindness and humor with us all!
LisaLise said…
Hi Mickey,
Thank you for your kind words! You ask about buffering baking soda. I shall address this in an upcoming blog post-- I've had several folks ask me the same thing. stay tuned! :)