Recommendations on Natural Products: Who do you trust?

With an open heart and a more open eye

I received in my email inbox today an invitation from Vital Juice Daily to check out a new “Age-Defying Antioxidant Supplement Drink” touted to be healthy, natural, and clinically proven to reverse oxidative some damage of the skin. I highly doubt that 2 of these 3 claims are actually true. This email came from what I find to be a good source about much in the health and beauty realm, especially their fitness info. But as with most popular health and beauty blogs, they leave something to be desired in the research area. Granted, I have higher standards of ingredients than most, and I constantly have to remind myself not to be too critical when this is the case. However, since we now know so much about the possible destruction caused by the many things we put in and on our bodies, it is our responsibility to be more vigilant about our consumption of these things. So, here are a few rules that should be upheld when following recommendations about health and beauty products.

Rule #1:  Insist on Transparency

Full disclosure is what I’m talking about. Complete ingredient lists should be posted in an obvious and easy to find place for all consumers to see, like the product’s website. If a company does not list complete ingredients for each product on their website then proceed no further until you see a complete ingredient list. Some telltale verbage of non-transparency are “proprietary blend” and “fragrance”. These are not single ingredients, but rather many ingredients that they don’t want to reveal to you.  In our present state of superior science and technology, where reverse engineering of any and all products are possible, there are no more secrets in the manufacturing world. So, if a company will not tell you every little thing about what is in their product it means that they are hiding something from you.

Rule #2:  Know Your Source

Where is this product coming from? Who makes it? Can you trust the company? Are their manufacturing practices safe? Are they ethical? Check them out.

In today’s marketplace, advertising and marketing campaigns are pulling the wool over fewer consumers eyes than they have in the past. We are more savvy buyers than we ever have been and demand more information about what we consume. And we have every right to know. Unfortunately, sometimes we still get duped. Most industries are not regulated to the degree that we believe they are. In fact, the cosmetics industry doesn’t even have its own governing body; it is only loosely regulated by the FDA. New hybrids of cosmetics and supplements (called Cosmeceuticals or Nutriceuticals), like the beauty drink mentioned above, are difficult even to classify much less regulate. This means that companies producing products in these industries are lawfully deceiving and manipulating potential buyers into believing things about their products that are not necessarily true; the most important being that their product is “good for you”, or at the very least, not harmful.

The Marketing Ploy

Glowelle-product.jpg

Today’s beauty drink, which has very cute packaging and an even cuter name, “Glowelle”, was enticing. I wanted to believe that this product was good for me and would do all of the things it said. Who doesn’t want to turn back the clock on aging by indulging in a tasty little beauty drink every day? Yet I had to stop before clicking that “Buy Here” button. Something didn’t seem believable, so I did some further research.  The full ingredients are not listed on the product’s website. Instead they list only the “featured” ingredients on their website and this not-very-reassuring bit:

“An important key to healthy-looking, radiant skin is good nutrition. Ourproprietary formula is a synergistic blend of antioxidants from vitamins, phyto-nutrients, botanical and fruit extracts that help protect and nourish from within. And that makes for a very beautiful you.”

This caused my eyebrow to raise in a way that said, “Really? What is it that you don’t want me to know?” Because it is the ingredients they are not mentioning that I worry about. It is the ingredients that get swept under the proverbial rug, that the FDA allows to be left off of ingredient lists, that may make me not so beautiful over time or even cause cancer or birth defects. So, I emailed the company and asked for a full ingredient list. My suspicion is that it will include a number of ingredients that are neither healthy, nor natural as they claim. Unfortunately, they never emailed me back, so I’ll never really know. This also adds to my distrust.

My “need to know” not having been satisfied, I then went to the “company” page of the website. Here I found all sorts of lovely words to describe the team of beautiful and smart women who thought up the idea behind the beauty drink, their well-thought-out philosophy, their caring mission, and their very helpful parent company who provided the actual R&D of the product. And you’ll never guess who that was – Nestle! Here are some of those lovely words used to describe this parent company:

“Since Henri Nestlé developed the first commercial infant food in 1867, Nestlé has aimed to build a business as the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company based on sound human values and principles. Nestlé’s basic foundation has remained unchanged since the origins of our company, and reflects the basic ideas of fairness, honesty, and a general concern for people.”

The Reality

Really? All you have to do is look at a list of their top-selling products to know that this company is NOT about nutrition, health, or wellness. Nor does Nestle’s foundation reflect “the basic ideas of fairness, honesty, and a general concern for people.” Does Nestle think that no one remembers the worldwide boycott of their promotion of infant formula over breast-milk? Well, if they do they are sadly mistaken, because the Nestle Boycott is still going strong today.

I am still interested in seeing the complete ingredient list of this beauty drink, but only to satisfy my curiosity. Even if their published ingredient list comes out squeaky clean I’ll never buy it, because I don’t trust the source. But more importantly, I will never buy their product because I still boycott Nestle.

Rule #3:  Trust Yourself

So who do you trust? If you know that your recommender does their homework, has similar standards to yours, and upholds them, then by all means take that recommendation on face value. Do your homework on them. Otherwise, you’ll just have to do the homework yourself. It’s not that hard, just a few clicks on the interweb can reveal so much!