Find the answer to our most commonly asked questions, please click on a question below to see the answer:
What evidence is there to support claims that many chemicals are absorbed through the skin?
Until the fairly recently it was believed that the skin was an efficient barrier that prevented external substances from entering the body. This theory was challenged back in the 1960's with the development of the drug DMSO which was shown to transport other substances through the skin barrier and into the bloodstream.
The ability of many chemicals to be absorbed through the skin is now widely accepted and in some cases is used as a route of medication. Drugs such as nicotine and female hormones are now routinely administered in the form of a skin patch and are readily absorbed into the body. Studies have shown that most substances can be absorbed through the skin and that up to 60% of any substance applied to the skin may enter the body through this route.
Why is glycerin used in some personal care products?
Glycerin is produced during soap manufacturing and has several valuable properties in skincare products. Firstly it is a humectant, which means that it helps to retain moisture in creams and lotions.
The earliest known hand cream was made from equal parts of glycerin and rosewater. Secondly, glycerin is an emollient, which means it makes the skin feel softer and smoother and helps to reduce wrinkles. This is achieved partly through coating the shin with a thin layer of oily wax, and partly by reducing water loss from the skin. Glycerin is also a solvent and helps different ingredients used in many creams and lotions mix together.
Is all glycerin extracted from vegetable sources?
Glycerin is produced by adding alkalis to fats and fixed oils. It is an important by-product of the soap making industry and can be produced from almost any fat, animal or vegetable. All of the glycerin used in Green People products comes from either coconut or palm oil and is guaranteed to be of non-animal origin.
How are Sun Protection Factors (SPF) for sun-screens calculated?
In order for a sun-screen to claim a given Sun Protection Factor it must contain one or more filtering agents that are approved under European legislation. This legislation not only sets out which ingredients may be used but also gives the percentages of each ingredient that the finished product must contain in order to achieve and claim a given level of protection. This ensures that sun-screen products made by different manufacturers using different ingredients can be compared on a like-for-like basis.
What active ingredients do Green People use as UV filters in sun-screens?
Green People use two different sun-screens in our sun lotions. The first is Titanium dioxide, a naturally occurring white mineral that acts as a reflective barrier to UVA radiation. Widely recognised as being non-toxic and inert, this is one of the sun-screen agents approved under European legislation.
The second ingredient is an extract from cinnamon leaf with the proper name of Isoamyl P-methoxycinnamate. This is effective against UVB radiation and is also on the approved European list. By using these two ingredients we are able to offer effective, natural protection against both UVA and UVB radiation.
What is the difference between a herbal infusion and a floral water?
A herbal infusion is made by pouring boiling or nearly-boiling water onto a quantity of plant material which may be either fresh or dried. The mixture is then stirred and covered and allowed to stand for a period of time, typically 10 to 15 minutes before being strained.
Herbal infusions are often used for their therapeutic effects rather than their scent or aroma. A floral water on the other-hand is a by-product of the process used to produce essential oils and is usually far more concentrated than an infusion. A good example of a floral water is rose water, widely used as a perfume in many skin preparations.
What is the difference between a herbal extract and an essential oil?
Herbs can be in several forms including fresh juices, dried powders, infusions, concentrates and other types of extract. Most of these retain the broad spectrum of ingredients found in the original plant material and consequently have the same or similar therapeutic properties.
Essential oils are made by extracting the volatile fractions of plant through the process of distillation. They are very highly concentrated and generally reproduce the odour and taste of the starting material. They also have strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties and can help to preserve other ingredients from deterioration.
What is the purpose of the citrus seed extracts used in some skin care products?
The citrus seed extracts used in some Green People formulations form part of our preservative system. All products which contain both oil and water based ingredients such as creams and lotions have the ability to support bacterial growth and need to contain some form of preservative.
Green People prefer to use natural ingredients wherever possible and using this citrus seed extract means we can use lesser quantities of preservatives such as potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.
Is there any difference between sodium lauryl sulphate and ammonium lauryl sulphate?
Although they have similar names, have similar functions and can both be extracted from the same plant source of coconut oil, these two ingredients are quite different. Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is an anionic surfactant used as a cleanser and foaming agent in a wide range of shampoos, bubble-baths, liquid soaps and toothpastes. It is a known skin irritant and may cause sensitisation when used over a period of time.
The molecular structure of SLS is small enough to allow it to penetrate to the lower layers of the skin where it is most irritating. Ammonium lauryl sulphate (ALS) is also an anionic surfactant used as a cleansing foaming agent but has a different molecular structure. This difference means that the ALS molecule is much larger than that of SLS and so it cannot penetrate the upper layers of the skin, making it much less irritating to the skin. Green People do not use SLS at all, and only use ALS in a very few products, all of which are designed to be rinsed off shortly after application.
Green People say that they are committed to using organic ingredients. Why then do some of the products you make contain non-organic plant material?
In order to claim that an ingredient is organic it has to produced to internationally recognised standards and be certified as organic by an approved body such as the Soil Association or Organic Food Federation. Unfortunately, there are some plant materials that are not as yet certified by one of these bodies and so we cannot claim that they are organic even though they may have been grown without the use of agricultural chemicals.
Examples include vegetable glycerin, seaweed and Spirulina, and some essential oils such as sandalwood, benzoin and myrrh. Green People are continually searching for organic alternatives to non-organic ingredients and will change to organic as soon as these become available.
I have started to use your Fennel toothpaste and like the taste very much, but I find I don't get much foam when I use it. Why is this?
Conventional toothpastes produce foam because they contain detergents such as Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). These ingredients often cause skin irritation and may be a contributory factor in some cases of gum disease. Green People do not consider that the use of foaming agents in toothpastes is either necessary or desirable and consequently do not add them to any of our dental care products.
I find that the perfumes used in many skin care products cause skin rashes and sensitivity. Do Green People products contain any perfumes?
The term 'perfume' causes a lot of confusion in skincare products. Technically, perfume is anything added to a product in order to give it a smell or odour. The term perfume or parfum does not indicate to the consumer whether the ingredients are natural or synthetic, nor how many ingredients are used - some contain as many as 200 different chemicals.
Synthetic perfumes are amongst the most frequent allergens and they are frequently left out of hypoallergenic formulations. Green People do not use any synthetic perfumes and the only scents used are pure floral waters and essential oils. To enable customers to avoid specific ingredients we list every ingredient used in all of our products rather than use blanket terms such as 'perfume'.
For some time I have suffered from 'tummy trouble' and have now been told I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Apart from avoiding certain foods, is there any other way of helping this?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes a wide range of symptoms including alternating constipation and diarrhoea and abdominal cramping. One of the most effective ways of controlling this condition is to increase your intake of soluble dietary fibre.
When dissolved in water this forms a soft gel that soothes the lining of the gut and helps to prevent fluctuations between constipation and diarrhoea. An ideal source of soluble fibre is Flaxseed or Linseed, as used in Green People's Omega 3 in 1 Fuel, and when taken daily may help to reduce the severity of your problem.
I keep reading about Essential Fatty Acids, particularly Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. What is the difference between these and what foods contain them?
Dietary fats consist of mixtures of fatty acids, with different fats containing different mixtures of fatty acids. There are many different fatty acids but just two are considered essential for human health. These are called Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and, as the body cannot synthesize them, they have to come from the foods we eat.
Whilst these two fatty acids work closely together they have different functions and are not interchangeable. Omega-6 Fatty acids are found in many plant oils and few people are deficient in them, but Omega-3 Fatty acids are less commonly found in our diets and some people would benefit from supplementing their diet with them. For further information on this subject please see the article entitled 'Essential Fatty Acids' in the Information-Features section of this website.
Why do you use plastic tubes instead of glass for many of your products?
There are three main reasons why we use plastic tubes for packing most of our product range. The first is that this packaging offers the best protection to the product as it reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. This means we can use less preservatives in the formulations.
The second reason is that advances in plastics manufacturing mean that the material we use is overall less environmentally damaging that some other forms of packaging. It is recyclable, biodegradable, can be burnt without releasing harmful or noxious gasses and costs far less in cost and fuel to transport. The third reason is for consumer safety as many of the products are used in the bath or shower where the use of glass could pose safety risks.
Why do you use polystyrene chips as mail order packaging materials?
The chips that we buy to use to protect your products in transit are made from corn starch and are 100% biodegradable. However, we do re-use the chips we ourselves receive in goods delivered to us. So it is possible that your parcel will arrive packed with polystyrene chips but this is only because we re-use these rather than throw them away.
Why don't your herbal capsules state what they are for on the labels?
Under national and European legislation the only products that can make claims for specific use in health concerns are Indicated Licensed Medicines. As our herbal capsules are sold under food law as herbal supplements they are not allowed to make any reference to health conditions on the label or in any promotional material. For information on the uses of different herbs we suggest consulting one of the many herbals available in the UK.
Why do you avoid ingredients such as DEA, TEA and Padimate-O in your products?
These ingredients are amongst those which are known to be allergenic and irritating. They also release small amounts of formaldehyde when they degrade. Formaldehyde is strongly irritating and is also known to be carcinogenic.
If I eat organic foods, why do I need to think about using organic skin care too?
The skin is composed of multiple, lipid containing layers. As with all lipid-containing membranes, the skin can be easily penetrated by lipid-soluble materials. Once a chemical gains access to the dermis, rapid and complete absorption into the bloodstream is usually assured.
Around 75,000 chemicals might come in contact with your skin and you absorb up to 60% of any substance applied. Differences in skin structure and condition affect the degree to which chemicals can penetrate the skin. When the skin is damaged by abrasion or chemical irritation, penetration of chemicals further increases.
Using chemical based skin care products adds to the toxic burden that we have to deal with. By using organic skin care products you can help to decrease the toxic load on your body and on the environment.
Why are some of your formulations not 100% organic?
It is possible to create skin care products containing only oils, fats and waxes using 100% organic ingredients.
However, products such as lotions, creams, shampoos and conditioners that contain herbal infusions and floral waters must also contain ingredients such as emulsifiers, surfactants and some kind of preservative system - without them they couldn't be made, wouldn't work, and wouldn't be safe to use.
Although many of these ingredients are available from natural sources, they are not available in an organic form at the present time. Even common ingredients such as glycerin are not yet available as certified organics. We are working closely with ingredient suppliers to develop organic forms of many of these ingredients to be introduced as soon as possible.
Why do a lot of your ingredients sound like chemicals?
Under EC legislation all ingredients have to be given their Latin, INCI name (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients). Some manufacturers use this to disguise or hide the true nature of the ingredients they use. We use truly natural and where possible organic ingredients in our products.
The glossary on this web site lists all ingredients that we use and gives their common names and sources. Some ingredients do sound like chemicals even though they are from natural sources. Examples include foaming agents, e.g. Decyl Glucoside derived from corn; emulsifiers, e.g. Cetearyl alcohol - not an alcohol but fatty waxes derived from plant oils; or preservatives, e.g. Phenoxyethanol, which are necessary to give the product at least 30 months shelf life.
Are your products suitable for sensitive skin?
Green People products are based on pure, natural, certified organic ingredients. All our formulations are extremely gentle. They're easily absorbed into skin and do not block the pores. Our products are free from sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate, chemical irritants, artificial fragrances, synthetic colourants and alcohol (ethanol). If you do have very sensitive skin it is a good idea to use our Organic Base 'no-scent' formulations. As a common sense precaution, we recommend a patch test is carried out prior to first application.
I see that many Green People products contain essential oils. Are these safe to use during pregnancy?
There has been a great deal of misleading advice put about in the media over the past few years regarding the supposed dangers of using essential oils during pregnancy. Unfortunately, these articles are generally out of context and greatly exaggerate the perceived risks. Often these articles are written by journalists or self-styled aromatherapists with little or no knowledge of essential oils, and are merely re-writes of earlier incorrect information.
One or two essential oils have been specifically targeted as being unsafe to use during pregnancy - these include pennyroyal, sage and thuja. The reason that these have earned this reputation is because some women have deliberately misused these oils in misguided attempts to bring on miscarriages. They have actually ingested large amounts (30ml) of the pure essential oil in these attempts, and have harmed themselves in so doing.
The truth is that using essential oils diluted at the normal levels of between 2 and 5% in products designed for topical application has never been shown to have any adverse effect whatsoever during pregnancy. All Green People products that contain essential oils use them at concentrations of less than 5% therefore all Green People personal care products can be safely used during pregnancy.
What is your policy regarding animal testing?
Green People are and always have been totally opposed to any cruelty to animals.
Since starting the Green People in 1997, we have operated to the following principles: -
Do any of your products contain parabens?
No, none of Green People's products contain parabens.
I will soon be travelling to an environmentally sensitive area. Are your products biodegradable?
The majority of ingredients used in Green People formulations are 100% compatible with nature and biodegrade very readily. These include ingredients such as plant oils, herbal infusions, floral waters and essential oils.
Why are some of your products boxed? Is this not environmentally unfriendly?
We knew that boxing some of our products would be a little controversial with some of our customers, many of whom are environmentally aware. However, we did not box them for marketing reasons. The problem we have which led us to using a box was simply that there is so much EU legislation regarding the information that has to be given on product packaging we simply ran out of room on the tubes.
The boxes allow us much more space on which to print the required information. For example, the product description, the ingredients, the directions for use and the size all have to be in the same field of view and there are size limitations of the type face. We also sell in different European markets and now have to have some of the text in the host language of the country in which we sell.
We couldn't possibly afford to print different labels for each country, we are too small for that. So there is a lot of information to get onto a small tube!
The boxes are made from 50% post-consumer recycled board and 50% from sustainable soft-wood Scandinavian forests. The inks used are environmentally-friendly, not solvent based.
Why doesn't your toothpaste contain fluoride?
We do not use fluoride in toothpaste because we do not believe that medication should be taken via toothpaste when cleaning the teeth. Fluoride (which if taken via toothpaste enters the bloodstream, which has nothing to do with it coming into contact with the teeth) has a hardening effect on the bones.
This makes bones more likely to crack and break. Hardening of the bones is also very negative, for example, for sufferers of Osteoporosis. Therefore by offering toothpaste without fluoride we are leaving the supplementation of fluoride as a choice rather than forcing our customers to take medication that they may prefer not to.
If they want to take extra fluoride they can buy fluoride tablets. Anybody with a varied diet will anyway ingest adequate fluoride.
Can your products help with an itchy scalp?
The most aggressive ingredients in shampoos are the detergents or surfactants used to make them foam and cleanse. Of these, the most commonly used are Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate. Both of these are known to cause skin irritation - indeed, the first one is used as a standard skin irritant against which other ingredients are assessed. Avoiding products containing these ingredients will often help.
As far as Green People products are concerned, we would recommend our Rosemary Shampoo and Conditioner which are made using only the mildest cleansing agents and are ideal for itchy scalp. The second thing to realise is that residues of any shampoo left on the scalp, no matter how mild, will irritate and aggravate dryness and itching. It is essential to rinse the hair and scalp very thoroughly after washing to remove all traces of shampoo before you apply a conditioner.
Long term dryness of the skin and scalp may indicate that there is some form of dietary deficiency. Most dry skin conditions respond to supplementation with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids - essential nutrients that are often lacking in Western diets. Taking these in the form of a liquid supplement would correct any dietary imbalance and may address the root cause of your problem. Green People Omega Fuel 3:1 ratio taken every day for at least 1 month would be the best way to supplement with these.
Why don't you produce larger sizes of your products?
We do not have any immediate plans to offer large sizes at the moment. There are compelling reasons to do so, but there are also difficulties which we are currently unable to overcome:
So you see, we know there is a demand for large sizes and there would be ecological benefits, and we therefore do have vague long-term plans to provide them, but it is not possible at the moment, or for the foreseeable future.
Is your plastic packaging safe and is it biodegradable?
The plastic we use for our packaging is either PP or HDPE. In both cases, the material consists of long molecule chains made from Carbon and Hydrogen. These materials are recyclable, are fully biodegradable and when burned release only Carbon Dioxide and water. They are inert substances and do not react with or adversely affect the products packed within them.
Please note that we never use PVC or any other form of plastic. None of the plastics we use contain phthalates in any form whatsoever. The reason we don't use glass packaging is three-fold. Firstly, glass is not a safe material to use in bathrooms and showers as it is prone to breakage if dropped onto hard surfaces. Secondly, glass is very heavy and expensive to transport and would add considerably to the cost of the products making them unnecessarily expensive. Thirdly, the cost to the environment of using glass is very high when compared to PP or HDPE.
Taking into account the energy needed to manufacture glass (whether from recycled material or from scratch), and then to transport it means that up to three times as much energy goes into making a glass container compared to a plastic one. Added to that is the fact that unless glass is properly recycled it never biodegrades and contributes the build-up of waste materials polluting the earth. On balance we believe that our use of selected plastics is fully justified, although we continually monitor the situation and review all developments in new packaging materials as and when they happen.
The symbols allocated to different plastics are largely unnecessary for the recycling process to take place. The following description of the process is taken from http://www.wasteonline.org.uk/
Mechanical recycling of plastics refers to processes which involve the melting, shredding or granulation of waste plastics. Plastics must be sorted prior to mechanical recycling. At the moment in the UK most sorting for mechanical recycling is done by trained staff who manually sorts the plastics into polymer type and/or colour. Technology is being introduced to sort plastics automatically, using various techniques such as X-ray fluorescence, infrared and near infrared spectroscopy, electrostatics and flotation. Following sorting, the plastic is either melted down directly and moulded into a new shape, or melted down after being shredded into flakes and than processed into granules called regranulate.
It is not necessary for the plastic type number to be placed on the packaging for either of the above processes to take place.
We currently use HDPE (type 2) for our tubes and PP (type 5) for the airless pumps. The jars for Body Butter and Scrub are PS (type 6). The reasons we don't put these numbers on the labels are a) because they are not needed in order to facilitate recycling, and b) in case the composition of plastics in the packaging materials changes in the future.
What is the best way to open your flip-top caps?
Moulded into the rim of the collar (the bit that fixes onto the tube) are a couple of small ridges which serve to prevent the cap from coming open accidentally. When trying to open the tube, any pressure that pushes the cap against these ridges actually serves to lock it shut, thus making it almost impossible to open.
To avoid this, we have found that by using the index finger to apply pressure to the back of the cap just above the hinge, and at the same time sliding the thumb up the indentation on the collar to the cap generally opens the tubes easily and quickly. This sounds more difficult than it really is and can normally be done with just one hand.
Most of our products are vegan and carry the Vegan Society logo on the packaging and on the web site detail page. However, a small part of our main range and some of our Organic Body Spa range are not suitable for vegans.
The following products are NOT vegan:
All these products contain Beeswax, Propolis or Milk Protein.