The winner of the 10 Personal Questions game was Julie from A Case of the Runs.  In response to what she keeps on her beside table, Julie said, “I sleep in a bunk bed (still, at age 26), so I just stash my phone, a small flashlight, and lotion in the nook between the mattress and the frame.”


The mystery prize was a $20 donation from yours truly to the charity of Julie’s choice.  She said, “I fundraise for one race per year.  The charity I choose varies from year to year: Rebuilding Together, Public Counsel, and the Red Cross.  Given that I won this prize soon after the fourth-month anniversary of the Japan earthquake, I think it would be appropriate to send the donation that way.  The tragedy happened quickly and was forgotten by some, but the devastation definitely goes beyond a four-month period.  I would love to see them come out of this a stronger nation, and I can’t wait to visit someday!”


Everyone seemed to like the 10 Personal Questions game so much that I’m thinking of making it – and the charitable donation – a regular thing.  Fun!



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Gorilla Munch (which is apparently a non-peanut version of Panda Puffs), a banana, and almonds.  With almond milk.

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Okay, here is today’s mini-rant…


As a follow-up to Four Natural Beauty Products I Love (and One I Hate), I’ve started to really look at the ingredient lists of the products that I already own, to try and determine if I should re-purchase them based on this Ingredients to Avoid list.

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I am so pissed at the JR Watkins Hand Soap.  Why?  Because I was totally sucked in by the pretty, ‘authentic’ label that proclaimed the soap is “wholesome” and “never doctored up.” I trusted the sales pitch on the label and didn’t read the ingredients list myself.


Tocopherol acetate is an allergen with immunotoxic properties and has been shown to cause tumors in lab animals in high doses.  And sodium laureth sulfate is a known skin and eye irritant that can cause ulcers or canker sores.  It also might be a possible carcinogen.    Doesn’t sound very wholesome to me.


Now, I totally understand that one bottle of hand soap isn’t going to kill me (and I’ll use it up until it’s done).  But it’s more the false advertising that gets me!  The ONLY reason I bought this soap was because I thought it was better for me.  I hate products that present themselves as legit and just don’t hold up to stricter standards.  Bah!  Waste of my money.


The Environmental Working Group has some great natural beauty product references (even a searchable database) including an awesome section on sunscreen.



  • Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) July 15, 2011, 10:04 am

    Ugh- I hate marketing! I don’t always read the label on beauty products and end up relying on whatever the front of the bottle says. How annoying that I’m getting suckered in…

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) July 15, 2011, 10:05 am

    Thanks for the reminder to check labels! I guess it’s kind of like food labels- just because it has health claims on the packaging doesn’t really mean it’s healthy!

  • Anne @strawberryjampackedlife July 15, 2011, 10:09 am

    Speaking of Japan, most of what I do at work is analyze nuclear power plants for seismic events (earthquakes). With the horrible tragedy in Japan, I feel like I can actually tell people what I do and they are now interested!
    I think that making the 10 questions with a charitable donation every so often is WONDERFUL!

  • Faith @ lovelyascharged July 15, 2011, 10:15 am

    I feel you on the marketing hate! I’ve gotten duped into a lot of food products in the past, and it sucks that it goes the same for non-edible products too. I’ve just started paying attention to the ingredients on my beauty products, and I’m seeing just how bad for me some of them are!

    I know you’re switching over slowly, but do you have a favorite body wash yet? I’ve always been a sucker for Philosophy’s 3-in-1’s (the smells are so desserty and heavenly) but I’d really like a more natural option. Has anything gotten the HTP stamp of approval yet?

    • Caitlin July 15, 2011, 10:16 am

      I like Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap 18-in-1 Lavender Pure Castile Soap

  • Mellissa July 15, 2011, 10:16 am

    You should write to them, I always thought they were a lot more natural and have this same soap in my bathroom but never real the label.

    • Caitlin July 15, 2011, 10:17 am

      I tweeted them, let’s see if they respond.

      • Amanda @ the beauty notebooks July 15, 2011, 5:37 pm

        I hope they respond too! I tweeted Yoplait after I saw that their commercial kept airing even after they said it had been canceled, and I never heard back.

  • Aine @ Something to Chew Over July 15, 2011, 10:21 am

    I always treat ‘natural’ claims with a huge pinch of salt as it isn’t a regulated claim. The only thing I trust is the label!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen July 15, 2011, 10:22 am

    I get pissed at labels in general. I hate that I don’t know what 3/4’s of the ingredients even ARE on things like shampoo, soap, etc. I feel like I’ve got a grasp on food labels, but cleaning labels are so much harder.

  • Amanda- The Nutritionist Reviews July 15, 2011, 10:23 am

    I totally agree! Marketing companies write all sorts of stuff on bottles and it is often not true.

  • Elizabeth July 15, 2011, 10:23 am

    Tocopherol acetate is just a vitamin E ester. Personally, I really wouldn’t stress about that one being in your soap.

    JR Watkins is a brand like Burt’s Bees – some products are totally natural, some are only borderline. I’ve been using natural and organic beauty products for 15 years, so I can promise you that it gets easier to spot the false claims and pseudonatural things. Plus, the selection today is way, way, way better than it used to be!

    • Laura July 15, 2011, 5:48 pm

      I was going to say the same thing – Tocopherol acetate is vitamin E, and I’ve heard that it’s generally known to be safe. Don’t let it stress you out! 🙂

      I admire your diligence at reading labels and trying to improve the quality of the products you use! Aside from my what I know about the Shaklee products I use, I don’t always do the research I should for everything else!

  • Lauren @ Sweet and Twisted July 15, 2011, 10:33 am

    I totally fall for this kind of thing! I read food labels to make sure food is vegetarian but I need to remember to read the labels of my “natural” beauty products!

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg July 15, 2011, 10:35 am

    SLS is in so many products — it is a challenge (at least for me!) to find products in stores without it. I’m sure I’d have more luck on line though.

    I liked the 10 Questions!

  • kate July 15, 2011, 10:37 am

    have you ever seen this?? so interesting….

    • Caitlin July 15, 2011, 10:43 am

      This is awesome, thanks for passing this along. Everyone should watch it!

      • Kate July 15, 2011, 1:39 pm

        I know right?! So good… The cosmetics one is nutso but the one that really shocked me wad the water bottle one… Literally insane lol

  • Beth (Well I'll Be) July 15, 2011, 10:42 am

    Trader Joe’s has good cosmetic products that for the most part are natural and cruelty free!

  • Sarah for Real July 15, 2011, 10:43 am

    Great post! I had no idea they didn’t allow sodium laurel sulfate in Europe. I madly sensitive to it (and I suspect 90% of people who think they have dandruff are too). Add that to my growing list of reasons I want to move to France!

    Choosing non-toxic hygiene products should NOT require a chemistry degree!

  • April @ Grits and Granola Bars July 15, 2011, 10:48 am

    I hate when that happens! 🙁

  • Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me July 15, 2011, 10:49 am

    It does happen! I can’t believe the things they can LEGALLY put on labels. It stinks we can’t trust companies and are forced to read every ingredient list. Chances are I don’t know what it all means either!

  • Ashley @ the fit academic July 15, 2011, 10:58 am

    wow, I wish i could say I’m surprised but I’m really not. So disappointing that products can walk that boundary between honest and straight-out false-advertisement and get away with it! I’m glad you’ve brought this to our attention, though!

  • Julia @ Do more feel Good July 15, 2011, 11:09 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re saying. Companies should not be allowed to deliberately mislead customers like that! I try to always check products that claim to be “natural” and “organic” but are not actually certified. It’s crazy the loopholes they find to allow them to do this.

    You should think about writing the company a short letter/email (maybe even with a link to this post!). Change isn’t going to happen until enough people speak up about what they want to see in the products they buy!

  • Theodora July 15, 2011, 11:11 am

    Nerd question: is the Twitter/FB/Google toolbar a plugin or did you have to put it in as a bunch of code?

    • Caitlin July 15, 2011, 11:12 am

      My friend did it for me – I think it was code.

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness July 15, 2011, 11:23 am

    Wow, that’s crazy! I HATE misrepresentation and false marketing like that…SO frustrating and downright wrong! Grrr…I guess the only thing you can do on beauty products is scour the ingredients list, just like you would do on food labels. So much of what’s on the label is all talk! (Unfortunately) My bf gets so PO’d with all the artificial sweeteners that sneak their way into foods there days. On a positive, happy note…great breakfast! xyx

  • Katherine July 15, 2011, 11:28 am

    Ugh this is scary. I’ve been trying to overhaul my skincare regimen and use only all natural products too. As my current ones run out, I am beginning to replace them with “healthier” versions.

    Do you know if Tocopherol is the same as Tocopherol Acetate?

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) July 15, 2011, 11:30 am

    It is really tough these days with food and product labels! But unlike food, it’s so much harder to make your own things like soap!

    Thanks again for the awesome prize!

  • Emily @ Comfortable Home Life July 15, 2011, 11:30 am

    I can’t believe SLS isn’t allowed in Europe! I recently switched to a SLS free toothpaste and I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in canker sore duration, frequency and intensity. Such a blessing! Sometimes I really can’t believe that people think pumping our bodies full of artificial chemicals will heal or help us. Ridiculous.

  • zoe (and the beatles) July 15, 2011, 11:31 am

    i’m with you on the hand soap! i did the same thing the other day at target. i read the label and immediately thought it was, indeed, wholesome and free of anything harmful…theeeen i read the back label and replaced it. dr. bonner’s it is! awesome company, nothing harmful.

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy July 15, 2011, 11:32 am

    I love the EWG database and use it often. I am so glad I didn’t buy the hand soap! I saw it and was excited about the scents and that it seemed more natural. Glad I didn’t buy. Thanks for the warning and reminder to check the labels.

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels July 15, 2011, 11:45 am

    since I work in the cosmetics industry I will say NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER believe anything with the words “natural” … it has no meaning, no regulation, nothing!

    You have to find out what ingredients are important to you (whether you want them IN the product or it’s that you DON’T want them in the product) and go from there.

    Even if you visit certain sites that say such and such a brand is natural or isn’t – everyone has different standards of natural …

    you think food has regulation problems? – food is leaps and bounds ahead of cosmetic labelling / regulating, etc.

  • Mia July 15, 2011, 11:48 am

    I find that a lot of “organic” labels are misleading. We recently had a party and bought a bottle non-organic lemonade while a guest brought a bottle of “organic” lemonade from Whole Foods that she probably paid twice as much for. Guess which lemonade had more real fruit juice in it? guess which lemonade had less sugar and corn syrup in it? if you guess the non organic brand you’d be right!

  • Amber K July 15, 2011, 12:34 pm

    Ugh, trying to find a sunscreen is the hardest for me. I thought I had finally found one that wouldn’t make me break out in a major rash (a hypoallergenic BABY sunscreen) and I still did. So frustrating!

  • Kristin @ eat healthy. be happy. live well July 15, 2011, 12:52 pm

    Thanks for the education on the soap ingredients!! I will definitely be more mindful of what I buy as well.

    There are so many misleading labels on beauty products as well as lots of food! I can’t stand that people care more about the money they are making than being honest about the products they are selling! UGH!!

  • Lindsay July 15, 2011, 1:02 pm

    I feel ya! That is how I felt after reading Method’s hand soap ingredients!!

  • Nicole (Earth Based Beauty) July 15, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Omigosh, Julie’s answer is so funny! It sounds like something I would do 🙂
    As for the soap, it really irritates me when companies try to pull a fast one like that. It’s bad enough that some companies don’t care at all, but to knowingly lie? Ugh…


  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife July 15, 2011, 1:28 pm

    I always try and check labels, b/c marketing can SUCK us in!! thanks for the reminder!

  • Crystal July 15, 2011, 1:35 pm

    It’s so depressing how food/beauty/pet/cleaning products can slap a label on something to fool us into thinking it’s natural and cruelty-free. We are slooooowwwlllyyy making the switch to a more natural lifestyle. I have a hard time with pet products, because organic cat food is expensive! And I have yet to find an effective natural flea/tick treatment for them. I usually look at Whole Food’s lists for help: and

  • Dani July 15, 2011, 1:44 pm

    I usually am good about reading labels, but when in a rush will totally forget and usually end up regretting it as something will appear vegan and then not be (luckily i have nonvegan roommates who are willing to help out in that situation) but it happens to the best of us. At least you know for next time, maybe emailing them would be worth it?

  • Orla July 15, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Are you sure about SLS not being allowed in products in Europe? Because I just looked at the back of my Body Shop facewash and it (a) contains SLS and (b) is Made in the UK.

    Have you looked at the Neutrogena Naturals range? I’ve started using their wash-off cleanser and I like the range so far. I think it’s a good option which encompasses both natural ingredients and solid science

    • Caitlin July 15, 2011, 2:14 pm

      Hmm I thought so, but I could be wrong. Maybe they don’t sell that version in the UK?

      • Orla July 15, 2011, 2:20 pm

        Sorry! I should have mentioned that I bought it in Ireland – so they’re both manufacturing and selling within Europe. And Body Shop are owned by L’Oreal so I’d wager their European products contain SLS too.

  • Ciera @ Rose and Thistle July 15, 2011, 2:55 pm

    I can’t stand the amount of greenwashing that goes on, it’s very misleading for consumers. Even if you go for a brand that looks like an eco one, you really can’t be sure. Hopefully as more consumers and groups like writers and bloggers continue to make the point then they’ll be forced to clean their act up… Until then I guess we just have to double-check everything for ourselves.

  • Trish July 15, 2011, 3:40 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. I have bought so many things thinking they were the safe, healthy option – and then find out afterward that they aren’t what they said they were.

    It drives me CRAZY!!! And it’s a waste on my money.

  • Kerry July 15, 2011, 6:12 pm

    I van confirm SLs is in everything in europe!

  • Brittany July 15, 2011, 8:33 pm

    Beauty editor check-in here. I’ve read a mess load of labels in my day and I think it’s awesome that you’re making a conscious effort to REALLY read body/skincare products. Keep in mind though, that when a product has “fragrance” in it, it really isn’t natural. Synthetic fragrances can be just as harmful as the SLs and parabens. Companies will claim to be “all natural” and will be well on their way until they include fragrance. Wrong, ain’t it?

  • Jolene ( July 16, 2011, 1:45 am

    I have gotten in the habit of always reading beauty product labels, because they are full of lies.

  • Kate July 16, 2011, 2:22 pm

    I thought about you last Saturday when I was at the farmer’s market. While my husband was looking at something else I was suckered into a booth run by a woman who sells NYR Organic products (as far as I can tell its like a green Mary Kay or Avon). Most of the products score green on the Skin Deep cosmetics database. I thought, huh I wonder if Caitlin has seen this. (Hope that isn’t weird.)

    I would buy everything in the catalog if it all isn’t so danged expensive!

    • CaitlinHTP July 16, 2011, 2:23 pm

      I have not heard about that company but im definitely going to look into it!

  • JenATX July 16, 2011, 11:59 pm

    hey, i feel ya on the mini-rant! I hate spending money on something when I’m not really getting what I want… it makes me a little annoyed every time i use the product haha!

  • Michelle July 18, 2011, 10:08 pm

    Oh, the Watkins lie! I almost fell for it when looking for an alternative to Vick VapoRub for my son. It seemed dandy until I realized it was still in a petroleum gel base, JUST LIKE the Vicks. Hmpf! I think next cold season I’ll buy UnPetroleum Jelly and figure out how to safely add my own essential oils.

  • Dean August 4, 2011, 12:48 am

    I just came across the EWG site yesterday and now I am totally obsessed – I mean do I throw out everything in my makeup bag/cabinet and start over? Or do I gradually replace the items once I finish using them. I don’t want to support companies that participate in animal testing and whose products contain all these parabens and toxic ingredients. It is time for me to make some changes for sure.

    • Caitlin August 4, 2011, 8:48 am

      I am waiting to go through my products first and then replacing 🙂 Much more cost effective.

  • Alex September 22, 2011, 1:43 am

    Hi. I just found your site through Julie’s blog, the girl who won the 10 Personal Questions post. I like your site, especially the holistic aspects. I don’t come across too many like that…or that discuss ingredients in soap!

    • Caitlin September 22, 2011, 9:37 am

      Hi Alex! Welcome to my blog!

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