You may soon notice that many sunscreens are sporting new labels, with new terms, facts, and instructions to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s new SPF regulations. Last summer, the FDA announced new requirements for over-the-counter sunscreens, specifically in how they’re marketed and what can and cannot be claimed on a label and packaging.
Although the original deadline for compliance from most major brands has been pushed back from June to December 2012, many companies, including Desert Essence, have already begun implementing the new requirements. We’re excited about helping customers better understand the sunscreen options available to them. More information leads to better sun protection and healthier skin for all.
Here’s what you can expect from the FDA’s new SPF regulations, and why it’s important:
Clearer UVA/UVB labeling: Traditionally, most sunscreens’ SPF only indicated protection strength against UVB rays, which can cause sunburn, but not UVA rays, which go deeper into the skin to cause aging (both types can also cause skin cancer). The new FDA measures require a standard test to measure effectiveness against both types of rays, and only sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays will have the designation of “Broad Spectrum SPF.”
No more “waterproof,” “sweatproof,” or “sunblock”: These terms are no longer allowed on labels because they overstate the effectiveness of sunscreens. Claims of “water-resistance” must also indicate whether the product is effective for 40 or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. To play it safe, always reapply after swimming or sweating, and every two hours otherwise.
Use as directed: You’ll also find new language for use claims on sunscreen labels. Only those with Broad Spectrum SPF 15 or higher can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early aging (those with less can only claim to prevent sunburn). For the best possible protection, use these products as directed with additional measures, such as limiting time in the sun during peak hours or wearing long sleeved shirts, pants, and sunglasses.
Drug Facts on every bottle: The back of your sunscreen products may start looking a lot like the backs of medicine or pill packages. You’ll now find a list of Active and Inactive ingredients, Uses, Warnings, and Directions on each sunscreen label, intended to help you better understand how each product protects your body.
How will these new guidelines affect Desert Essence products? Only for the better, with more information and clearer labels for you. We’re happy to make the switch, starting with the latest addition to our sun protection products, our reformulated Mineral Sunscreen, now with Broad Spectrum SPF35 and certified under the NSF “Contains Organic Ingredients” standard.
Every oil has a story and a journey, and our tea tree oil is no different. Its story goes back hundreds of years and to the southern depths of the earth, where tea tree oil was first discovered and where ours originates from to this day.
A Natural Discovery
Distilled from the leaves of the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia shrub, tea tree oil has long been used by Aborigines and natives to help treat cuts and wounds. It was so effective and its healing properties so powerful, that it was believed to be magical. Locals had also long bathed in waters where tea tree oil leaves had fallen and noticed its powerful properties. When Captain James Cook, the first European explorer to chart Australian’s eastern coast, landed down under in 1770, locals showed him and his crew the uses and benefits of tea tree oil.
But its natural cleansing properties wouldn’t be known to the world until the 1920s, when the Australian chemist Arthur Penfold tested and published his findings on the oil. His discovery that tea tree oil’s antiseptic properties were about 12 times stronger than carbolic acid put it in the spotlight of medicinal research for years to come. Scientific journals reported on its effectiveness, so much so that by the 1940s, Australian soldiers were given tea tree oils in their first aid kits during WWII.
From Australia to the US
Soon after Desert Essence was founded in 1978, we introduced Tea Tree Oil to the US market. We not only strived to provide consumers with a natural, equally effective antiseptic, we also set out to provide the highest quality oil possible. Our oil comes exclusively from plantations in Australia with whom we have long-standing relationships. Known for their environmentally-friendly practices, these growers and suppliers of our oils are pioneers in the development of sustainable practices and leaders in their field of research. Desert Essence receives first pick of the crop, ensuring that the highest quality leaves are used and that each bottle measures up to our strict standards of quality and sustainability.
For example, the most important chemical compounds found in tea tree oil are Terpinen-4, which is responsible for antiseptic action, and Cineole, which can cause skin irritation. Our tea tree oils have Terpinen-4 levels of 38% or more, well above industry average, and cineole levels of less than 3%, which is well below industry average. Low cineole levels mean there is a lower chance of skin irritation.
The result is clear to the eye: the purity and quality of a batch of tea tree oil can be measured by its clarity, and ours is water-white and bottled in clear glass bottles so you can see the difference.
Our standards go beyond the bottle. No chemicals are used in the processing of our oils. Our growers operate environmentally sustainable, ecologically responsible plantations. Our 100% Organic Tea Tree Oils are grown in USDA certified facilities, where all harvesting is done by hand and wood fired burners using waste wood distill the oil. Solar energy and a state-of-the-art irrigation system are used to harvest the 100% Australian Oil, and the lands where our Eco-Harvest® oils stem from are protected by two alpacas and a sheep dog, who control weeds and grass.
As the single largest organ in the human body, our skin protects us from
the elements, and when it’s healthy and glowing, it can make us look and
feel beautiful. The care of our skin is vitally important to our general
health, and it only stands to reason that the products we use in our daily
skin care regimens are worth some equally careful thought.
A certain percentage of ingredients in any product you apply to your skin
will be absorbed internally, which leaves your body susceptible to whatever
chemical element that may be included in the product’s formula. In
fact, experts agree that absorption through the skin is more dangerous
than eating through the mouth, since when eaten, substances pass
through the kidneys and the liver where any would-be toxins are filtered
and broken down and rendered harmless to your system. On the other
hand, a chemical or toxin absorbed through the skin can go directly into the blood steam. That’s why recent research shows that many ingredients including parabens, petrochemicals and phthalates are particularly problematic in skin care products; once absorbed, these ingredients can mimic the effects of body hormones, and many worry that a buildup of these chemicals can potentially lead to an increased risk of cancer. Other non-natural ingredients can also cause skin irritations such as hives and rashes, and are of special concern in the case of babies and small children, since their skin is thinner and more sensitive than an adult's.
There is another added benefit to using natural skin care. Studies done on chemical ingredients are done on one product. How many of us actually use one product? Most women use an average of 13 products a day. If you think that's high, look at an average day for Desert Essence General Manager, Wendy Cockayne Lucas. She uses shower gel, body lotion, body or face scrub, shampoo, conditioner, styling product, face moisturizer, eye cream, foundation, powder, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, blush, lipstick, lip balm, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, hand soap, and hand cream. That’s 22 products! Who has studied the effect of 22 chemical-filled products
To indigenous cultures around the world, beautiful, healthy skin is
nothing new under the sun. The Berbers of North Africa, Native
Americans of the Sonora Desert, and Australian Aborigines have
each known for centuries that the plants most common to their arid
environments actually offer them a treasure trove of skin care uses and
benefits. This especially includes plant oils, derived from either leaves
or extracted from nuts, and long coveted for nurturing and healing
properties that help support a healthier life in an otherwise difficult
place to live.
The argan tree is common to Morocco, and it doesn’t grow anywhere
else; the aromatic oil extracted from its fruit kernels is considered so
rare and precious, it is known as “liquid gold”. Prized for its nutritive,
medicinal, and cosmetic powers, argan oil is used to treat skin
conditions, as well as to restore the radiance of skin and hair.
It contains twice the amount of tocopherols (vitamin E) as found in olive oil, and is loaded with essential
fatty acids like linoleic acid, well-known for their moisturizing and anti-oxidant properties. These powerful
anti-oxidants help neutralize free-radical damage in the skin.
Smaller than an argan tree, jojoba is a perennial woody shrub native to the Sonora Desert of the American
Southwest. The oil extracted from jojoba seeds boasts a wide spectrum of beneficial properties due to the
fact that it matches the molecular structure of hair and skin sebum. As a result, this desert ingredient can
quickly penetrate the skin and scalp without leaving an oily residue, even as it supplies hair and skin with
nutrient-rich, restorative hydration.
The benefits of Australia’s tea tree oil are no less amazing. Waters infused with the fallen leaves of
surrounding Melaleuca Alternifolia trees offered antiseptic healing powers that Aborigines once considered
magical. For the last half century, medicinal research has come to see why. Testing has revealed tea tree oil
to contain over 100 different chemical compounds, making this singular leaf-derived oil an effective
anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and detoxifying agent. The New York Times Health Blog recently detailed how tea
tree oil can be particularly effective in treating skin conditions like burns and acne.
There are plants celebrated the world over for the sheer number of benefits
they have to offer. Bamboo, for example, is used for everything from building
houses to working up appetites in Asian cuisine. The great American
botanist George Washington Carver developed hundreds of uses—
culinary, cosmetic, and industrial—from the simple peanut. But particularly
impressive are the plants that thrive in the world’s most arid climates, such
as jojoba and aloe vera. Even as these drab-looking succulents eke out a
life rooted in dry, desert soil, the resources they provide basically enable
survival in an otherwise unlivable landscape.
Jojoba is believed to have originated in the American southwest, aloe vera
in the arid regions of North Africa. Both are climates where prolonged
exposure to the sun and the elements can damage the skin. But natives in
both regions learned centuries ago that the landscape that gave them the
conditions responsible for their skins’ burns and cuts also offered them
their remedy. The oil extracted from jojoba seeds can both treat wounds and supply restorative hydration to
skin and hair. Jojoba oil’s beneficial properties come from the fact that it matches the molecular structure of
hair and skin sebum. As a result, it can quickly penetrate the skin and scalp without leaving an oily residue.
Moisturizing aloe vera extract is equally effective, especially in treating sunburn, and with its anti-bacterial
properties, it can also be used in the treatment of other minor skin infections.
Of course, the super benefits of jojoba and aloe vera extend way beyond the extreme conditions of desert
survival, and today’s marketplace thankfully offers any number of personal care products formulated with
either. What’s amazing to consider is how these simple plants bring such tremendous benefits to our daily
lives, providing us with a pure and natural alternative to maintain our health and the beauty of our skin.