Product Safety News

With the rise in awareness about ingredient safety, a host of new organizations, technologies and certifying bodies have cropped up as well, each with the aim to help educate and navigate the ever-changing landscape of formula transparency.  EWG pioneered the movement with the launch of SkinDeep Database and Skin Deep App, followed by their EWG Verified certification, launched in 2015.  Blogger-activist Sarita Coren recently took an in depth look at Skin Deep, and offered a unbiased account of its strengths and limitations to help citizens understand how to best use this tool. Also on the scene, Think Dirty is another popular tool that rates ingredient safety.

In addition to reading the back of labels and cross-referencing any of the aforementioned ingredient safety sites, consumers can look for certification seals on product bottles. Private certifications like the Natural Products Association (NPA), EcoCert, and NSF International are just a few common seals that have specific guidelines aimed at greater ingredient transparency.  We recently learned from Hillary Peterson, Founder of True (Nature) Botanicals and the visionary behind this month’s Hero product, that she is the leading the way for beauty brands as one of the first to begin the process of becoming MADE SAFE Certified, a new private product safety certification founded by Amy Ziff, a healthy living educator and co-founder of No Tox Life and the Vereity Shop.  Other beauty brands also currently pursuing the MADE SAFE certification are S.W. Basics and AnnMarie Skincare.MadeSafe_Process

What makes MADE SAFE different than other certifying bodies?  Well first, it is a new, private certification that crosses consumer product categories, which means they certify cosmetic, baby and lifestyle products (think mattresses, kitchenware etc.). They also are in development for an higher-level certification that takes a deeper look at ingredients and how they interact with each other, not just when studied independently.  This is a revolutionary next step that raises the bar for certifying agencies worldwide.

Our Brand Ambassador, Janny, recently published an in-depth interview with Amy on her blog: Janny:organically.  She graciously allowed Beauty Heroes to republish her interview for our readers.


Janny S: What is the main goal/purpose of MADE SAFE? How does it benefit the average consumer?

Amy Ziff: We aim to change the way products are made in this country by eliminating toxic chemicals altogether. We do this by:

  • Making it easy for consumers to easily find and buy safe products
  • Giving companies a road map to making safe products
  • Making it easy for retailers to select the safe products their customers want to buy

By doing this we send a clear message to the supply chain that harmful ingredients won’t be purchased and longer. And as a result we change the entire system.

JS: Why is it important to test the product as a whole when you already know what substances went into making it? Can certain safe ingredients create a dangerous substance when combined?

AZ: It’s important to lab-test because certain ingredients do interact with each other, and we need to be looking at how these exposures impact our health. So our gold standard NONTOXIC CERTIFIED seal lab-tests products in totality to ensure that no new toxins are formed in mixture, there’s no supply chain contamination, and to validate the MADE SAFE ingredient screening in a lab environment. This is revolutionary. Formulations that are safe as a whole are the future of product formulation in this country.


JS: If a product uses a synthetic ingredient that has been proven not to cause human harm, would you still consider the product to be MADE SAFE?

AZ: Yes. Not all synthetic chemicals are toxic. A lot of synthetic fragrances are absolutely toxic, but this doesn’t mean all synthetics are. The whole point of Green Chemistry is to find synthetic chemicals that are effective and don’t cause human harm. There are over 80,000 chemicals to sort through and many of them are toxic, but the ones that pass our screening would be allowed to carry our seals.


JS: The process of creating safer synthetics out of plant-derived substances can be cross-contaminated with carcinogens. Can you explain ethoxylation and how MADE SAFE addresses these types of processes?

AZ: Ethoxylation is basically a chemical reaction where ethylene oxide is added to alcohols and phenols. The new compounds are called Alcohol Ethoylates (AEs). While this sounds relatively simple, the problem is that a byproduct of making them is the production of 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide.  Both are compounds found on the California Proposition 65 list as known or suspected to cause cancer or birth defects, which we do not permit in MADE SAFE products. To keep ethoxylated ingredients out of your environment, avoid PEGs, -eths (i.e.: compounds with steareth, laureth, and ceteareth in the name), as well as polysorbates.


JS: If a product uses one or more conventional (not organic) ingredient(s), can we rest assured MADE SAFE has concluded the levels of insecticides/pesticides to be trace or nonexistent?

AZ: Registered pesticides aren’t permitted in certified products and are screened out in the MADE SAFE phase. For example, if we learn that Triclosan, a registered pesticide and antimicrobial is used in a product, we would not permit that product to receive our seal. If an ingredient has been contaminated with a pesticide, we would see that in the NON TOXIC Certified testing phase and the product would not be certified.


JS: What are your thoughts on GMO ingredients in skin/beauty? Do any of your tests reveal any difference or safety concerns with GMO ingredients?

AZ: We do not permit the use of GMO ingredients at this time, as we can’t prove that GMO ingredients aren’t harmful and there is reason to believe they may indeed be problematic.  Our skin is our largest organ and we absorb as much as 80% of what gets slathered on it.  So this is an example of how we exercise the Precautionary Principal and err on the side of caution.

We use an exhaustive list from other GMO verification programs so that we can screen out ingredients that have the potential to be derived from genetically engineered sources. When we find ingredients from those lists, we go through the supply chain and require proof to show that it is not derived from GMO sources. An example is Papaya – it can be GMO derived, so we paperwork proving the source is non-GMO or we won’t permit the ingredient to be granted our seal. 


JS: There are many certifications products can receive, from Cruelty-Free, Ecocert, USDA Organic, etc., how does MADE SAFE differentiate themselves when a consumer sees a products with one or more of these labels?

AZ: MADE SAFE differentiates because we:

  • Apply to products across store aisles: MADE SAFE is focused on being the first human health seal to cross consumer product categories, from baby to personal care to household and beyond.
  • Are human health focused: The primary goal of our seals is to ensure that products will not cause harm to human health.
  • Have a comprehensive screening process: MADE SAFE screens against our Toxicant Database for known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, flame retardants, heavy metals, pesticides/insecticides/herbicides, toxic solvents, harmful VOCs, neuro-, behavioral and reproductive toxins, and GMOs.
  • Aims to close data gaps: We screen each and every ingredient in a product for bioaccumulation, persistence, as well as general and aquatic toxicity. We use modeling, predictive analysis, subject matter experts, compound analysis, toxicologists and others to scrutinize each and every ingredient in a product as needed.
  • Exercise the Precautionary Principle: We go beyond the accepted school of thought that says that where there is lack of data, ingredients are presumed to be safe. Instead, we follow the Precautionary Principle: If an ingredient appears problematic and we can’t obtain enough data to determine that it’s safe for human health, we won’t allow it in certified products.
  • We conduct lab testing: MADE SAFE’s gold standard NONTOXIC CERTIFIED seal is the only certification that lab-tests products to look at how ingredients interact in mixture to ensure the product as a whole is safe for human health.
  • We work with brands in R&D: We work with brands in a Research & Development capacity as they look to determine the purity of their products. We work with them behind the scenes to change sourcing, reformulate, or make entirely new products where necessary. Using our process as a road map, MADE SAFE helps ensure that all ingredients in products are safe from the get-go.


JS: Once a product has the MADE SAFE Label, how often do they get screened again to make sure formulations haven’t changed, etc.? 

AZ: Certified products are required to undergo screening every three years or as formulations change.


JS: When should we expect to see MADE SAFE labels on products?

AZ: Some products have already been certified! You can check our website here to find them, and to see brands working toward certification with their products. Many more products will be hitting store shelves and websites this spring. Tell the brands you love to get certified by MADE SAFE!


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