Citizen Staff Writer
While a number of companies tout their Earth-friendly benefits – Burt’s Bees, Kiss My Face, Jason’s Organics, et al. – it’s more than possible to shop locally for chemical-free bath and products.
“Our whole idea is to be as fresh and natural as you can possibly be,” says Greg Richardson, co-owner of the local Desert Oasis Soap Co.
His sentiment echos the intentions of other Tucson-area business striving to provide clean products including soaps, lotions, moisturizers and oils.
Kuumba Piazza started her company 28 years ago in Boston, Mass., drawing inspiration from visiting friends from the West Indies who taught her how to make coconut oil.
“I just totally fell in love with making coconut oils,” she says.
Piazza’s passion for natural, botanical oils blossomed into a successful business that eventually traveled with her to Tucson and serves some 1,000 stores nationwide.
Kuumba Made lotions, salves, lip balms and tints are more than 90 percent certified organic.
The products are made in small batches to ensure the nutrient properties of the plants are retained, Piazza says.
Ingredients – jasmine, sandalwood, lavender, rose petals, jojoba oil, shea butter and more – are gathered both globally and locally. Piazza notes that she supports small, local farmers, and is also creating a garden at the Kuumba Made property on East Fort Lowell Road to grow her own herbs and flowers.
Desert Oasis Soap Co.
Richardson and Timothy Reyes started their company about seven years ago when Reyes’ parents visited from Astoria, Ore., and his mother’s skin didn’t do well with the dry, harsh conditions of the desert.
This sent Richardson and Reyes to the library, where they researched soaps, lotions and other skin care products. Their company now offers lip balms, bath salts, foot scrubs, body mists and bug spray, as well as natural dog treats.
Like Piazza, they strive to purchase as many ingredients in Tucson as possible.
“We use a lot of different things but we try to buy everything locally in Tucson,” Richardson says, adding that natural ingredients found in their products include extra virgin, palm, peppermint and tea tree oils and eucalyptus.
Salud Spa Bar
Salud Spa Bar in Main Gate Square offers a variety of options for individuals interested in creating their own natural skin care products.
Customers can choose from 100-plus scented oils to customize Salud’s lotions, perfumes, body washes, body oils and body butters. Each product is 70 percent certified organic, and free of synthetic fragrance.
Customers can make their own facial masks and foot soaks to use in-store and those, says store manager Lauren Stevenson, are 100 percent natural and free of preservatives.
Owner Kelly Podorsek opened the store 1 1/2 years ago and stresses providing honest answers about skin care.
“We’d rather see somebody leave with nothing than something they won’t be happy with.”
Fred Terry’s Terry’s Apiaries has been serving Arizona residents with skin cream, candles and honey for 35 years.
The candles are made with all-natural bee products, and the skin cream is made of beeswax, propolis (which is collected by the bees) and borax, a natural mineral that “has been used medicinally for thousands of years,” Terry says.
“I started the business because I had the opportunity to learn from an old bee keeper,” he says.
The beekeeper taught him how to produce honey and manage the hides, but Terry learned the production process on his own based on trial and error. He got started, he says, because he wanted a career that would have minimal impact on the earth.
“I love the work. I love the physical work and I love being in nature.”
Kuumba Made (kuumbamade.com, 881-5550) – available at Wild Oats, Food Conspiracy, Sunflower Market, New Life Health Centers, Aqua Vida, Creative Spirit Gallery
Desert Oasis Soap Co. (desertoasissoap.com, 822-5330) – available at farmers markets • El Presidio Mercado, 160 W. Alameda St. (8 a.m.- 2 p.m. Fridays) • Oro Valley, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive (8 a.m.-noon Saturdays) • St. Philip’s Plaza, 4380 N. Campbell Ave. (8 a.m.-noon Sundays)
Salud Spa Bar (saludspabar.com, 396-3298) – 943 E. University Blvd.
Terry’s Apiaries – St. Philip’s Plaza farmers market
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
As always, read labels. Even companies that market themselves as organic and natural may utilize some of these:
Mercury – also listed as the mercury preservative thimerosal
Lead – When scientists recognized that lead harms the developing brain of a child, the government demanded its removal from gasoline and house paint – but not hair dye.
Fragrance – Buy “fragrance free.” Fragrances can contain neurotoxins and are among the top five allergens in the world. Companies are not required to list on product labels any of the potentially hundreds of chemicals in a single product’s secret fragrance mixture.
Nanoparticles – Companies don’t have to tell us that they’re in our products, though we found that more than one-third of all products contain ingredients now commercially available in nano forms. And we did find them listed outright on the labels of some sunscreens (nano metals) and skin creams (buckeyballs).
Phthalates – These little plasticizer chemicals pack a punch to male sex organs. Whether it’s sperm damage, feminization of baby boys, or infertility, a growing number of studies link phthalates to problems in men and boys. Pregnant women should avoid it in nail polish (“dibutyl phathalate”) and everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” on the label, chemical mixtures where phthalates often hide.
Petroleum byproducts – Surprised to learn that the same factories making gas for your car also make emollients for your face cream? Meet the workhorse chemicals of the cosmetics industry – petroleum byproducts, and the cancer-causing impurities that often contaminate them. These ingredients include carcinogens in baby shampoo and petrochemical waste called coal tar in scalp treatment shampoos. Also listed as petroleum wax, petrolatum, 2-nitro-p-phenylenediamine.
Parabens – Used as preservatives, they’ve been linked to breast cancer.
Source: Environmental Working Group. For more, head to the nonprofit’s cosmeticdatabase.com