There are a lot of buzz around “Chemical Free” products but what's your take on it? Not a single thing or matter is chemical-free or, in another way, “Nothing is Chemical-Free”. Only a “vacuum” can be chemical-free. Everything is made up of atoms and anything made up of atoms is a chemical or are chemicals irrespective of whether it is natural or synthetic. Even plant-based, natural or organic ingredients are chemicals. So, any product which claims to be “Chemical Free” is false and is a misnomer to lure the customers. Yes, some chemicals can be bad for our skin, hair but it is not always only due to their presence. It depends on other factors too about which we are going to discuss below. We are analyzing some basic factors to get better clarity in identifying chemicals uses in our products.
We often confuse hazard with risk, so we must understand the below factors to understand chemicals better.
What is the difference between risk and hazard?
A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm while the risk is the likelihood of harm taking place, based on exposure to that hazard. Let us understand this line in a better way.
There is a famous relation between the above three factors which is effective in understanding chemicals in our products.
Risk = Exposure * Hazard
Water is a great thing. Drinking water is good for our body but what if we start drinking 100 litres of water a day? What will happen if we start inhaling our daily intake of water instead of drinking it?
We may fall ill, right. So, even a chemical that gives good benefits might harm us or might lower the performance of the products when used in a concentration greater than needed. There are even many chemicals that we are considering to be bad just because of their presence but they can be very useful when used up to a certain concentration. So, it is very important to understand the above three factors. Let us consider two real-life situations to have a better understanding of the above factors.
- Consider a situation when you go to visit a wildlife forest. The lions are moving there without any hindrance and there is no restriction between your interaction with lions.
- Consider a situation when you go to visit a zoo where lions are behind the bars and you are safe to see them without any chance of your harm.
The chance of an attack is the risk associated with facing lions, restrictions between you and lions define exposure, and the lions are a hazard responsible for potential damage. Hazard in both situations is the same because the lions as a threat are common in both cases. Exposure is the main deciding factor here which will decide whether we are safe or not. The risk in the second situation is very low as compared to the risk in the first case. Almost all the people will try to avoid the situation of the first case. The same happens with some chemicals that are being used in our products. Exposure is the concentration of chemicals in the product and hazard is the potential damage chance. The risk of chemicals is the result that comes after considering the other two factors. We often tend to confuse the risk with the hazard of the chemical. So, it is the risk that matters not the hazard. By the same confusion, some chemicals are “villains” only because of this confusion. Let us have a look at some of those.
Chemicals considered as “Villains”:
We are giving an example about a special family of surfactants. This family is famous for its harsh nature just because of one member of its family.1) Sulphate group surfactants come under the anionic surfactants. This group is famous for its better cleaning ability. Their structure consists of a long tail which is the oil-loving part and a small head which is the water-loving part. They tend to mix oil and water and hence performs the cleaning action by removing the dirt. Currently, a very famous marketing trend of “Sulphate-free” is in the news but not all sulphate surfactants are bad for us. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is an anionic surfactant that had wide use in earlier days due to its superb cleaning ability but it is too harsh in its cleaning when used in greater concentration. SLS when used in higher concentration also tend to dissolve the oils of the lipid layer of our skin’s stratum corneum. Those lipids are very important in maintaining our skin’s health and protection. Due to the harsh action of SLS companies tend to restrict themselves from using SLS in the products and after that, it became a marketing trend that all sulphate group surfactants are bad but this is not always true. There are many surfactants like Sodium Lareth Sulphate (SLES) which is safe when we use it in low concentrations or when we use it with other surfactants. All sulphates are not bad which is also backed by the research. We are also going “sulphate-free” in our Zero Water products to give customers the focus on waterless revolution despite giving the dilemma to people who still believe in sulphate-free products. We will give real truth to our audience but all revolutions or reinventions can not happen at once and will take time. We are committed to reinventing personal care with science & truth.