the things you want to know...
Do alt products contain preservatives?
We do not use a synthetic preservative in our hydrosol and water-based products (ie, toners, spritzes, pet sprays and room and environment sprays) because we don't believe it necessary. The extraction process with hydrosols is extremely purifying so they come with a long shelf life. The water-based air sprays are blended with perfume-grade alcohol, which is an adequate preservative, and in our facial spritzes we use green tea extract, an antioxidant reputed to be 10 times more powerful than vitamin e so, in our experience, a synthetic preservative is unnecessary.
The exception to this is our alt(PETS) ear drops which contains the same natural/synthetic preservative blend that we use in our creams and gel-based products. Unpreserved, they would be contaminated within about four weeks, with bacteria far more dangerous than the reportedly negative effects of synthetic preservatives.
Our preservative system contains a combination of citrus seed extract and Unigerm G-2. By combining the two, and adding extra anti-oxidizing performance with vitamins and essential oils, we can use Unigerm G-2 at substantially below the minimum recommended amount.
All our lids incorporate dispensing mechanisms that dramatically reduce the possibility of contamination of the products once they leave our controlled storage facilities. And, finally, antioxidants such as vitamin e and green tea extract add their own protection.
Below is an explanation of Unigerm G-2, its percentage, along with information about each of its components.
Unigerm G-2 is distinguished by an exceptionally broad spectrum of activity. It consists exclusively of microbiologically active components, which have been tested toxicologically and dermatologically and found harmless at recommended dosages. The recommended safe dosage is 0.5-1.6%. We use it at 0.37%. Below is its composition, along with the concentration of each component in the finished products:
diazolidinyl urea - an antiseptic, broad-spectrum preservative used to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi (0.11%).
methyl paraben - used to combat mould and bacteria (0.036%). propyl paraben - a frequently used preservative against mould and bacteria (0.011%).
propylene glycol - next to water the most common moisture carrying vehicle used in cosmetic formulations. While there is concern that propylene glycol may be an irritant at high concentrations, it has been tested as quite safe at usage levels below 5%. In this formulation, its proportion (0.21%) is a fraction of the recommended safe usage level.
Three of the four preservative compounds listed above are also in the shave gel and pooch shampoo (neither contains propylene glycol).
Are there other chemical compounds in alt products?
The shave gel contains guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride (a derivative of guar gum), an anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory that is derived from guar gum. Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride is also used as a thickening agent and has skin softening capabilities. It combines with citric acid to contribute 0.1% of the total contents of both the shave gel and the pooch shampoo. Citric acid, which derives from citrus fruits, has antioxidant and preservative qualities, and is used to balance the pH value of a compound.
The primary surfactant (foaming agent) in both products is sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), used because it is one of the mildest and least chemically altered of all surfactants.
Alarmist reports and substantial misinformation regularly circulate about both SLES and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), naming the ingredients as carcinogens.
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Panel has tested SLES and found it to be safe. No provisions were placed on its concentration (in alt products, 10%). The same report also tested SLS and supported its use, provided it is at concentrations no greater than 2%. The CIR is an independent organization established in the USA to review and assess the safety of cosmetic ingredients, and to publish the results. CIRÕs Expert Panel comprises independent individuals expert in dermatology, pharmacology, chemistry, and toxicology.
The author of a subsequent test on SLS/SLES (Dr Michael Green, Medical College, Georgia) concluded that continual use of SLS and/or SLES may cause irritation. The report clarified this by stating that as long as we do not "apply and reapply SLS/SLES all over our body every hour", both ingredients are safe to use and do not cause cancer. The American Cancer Society has also debunked the SLS/SLES cancer myth, saying that most of the rumors about SLS/SLES and cancer are somehow linked to distributors or retailers of all-natural household products that are SLS/SLES free.
How 'natural' are alt products?
At alt, we pride ourselves on the quality and purity of our products. Botanical and naturally derived ingredients form 99.63% of our creams and lotions, 99.7% of our gel-based products and 100% of our hydrosol and water-based products (with the exception of ear drops, which is also 99.63% natural). Once comprehensive testing can assure us that a naturally derived preservative will fully protect both the integrity of our products and the safety of our customers alt products will be 100% natural.
Does alt use organic raw materials?
We keep a lookout for affordable organic raw materials but have serious reservations about the ethics of pursuing 100% organic products. The fact is, that if the world's agriculture was entirely turned over to organic production we would need to run an additional five to six billion cattle to produce the 80 million tonnes of nitrogen nutrients required and would have to sacrifice most remaining marginal land and millions of hectares of forest. In doing so, we would be able to feed only four billion of the current global population of six billion. In other words, pursuing organic products is a first world luxury that is delivered at the expense of the third world (including the third world in our very own country). Ethically, we are deeply uncomfortable with that.
We do, however, use water from Australia's only certified organic spring at Mangrove Mountain on the Central Coast hinterland of New South Wales, which allows us to offer substantially organic products. And we make an exception with our baby products, which do use organic oils and hydrosols.
What is the shelf life of alt products?
Hydrosol and water-based products have a shelf life of two years; creams and gel-based products will last for three years.
What environmental values does alt incorporate?
At alt(EVERYTHING) we pursue environmentally sustainable production by hand blending, bottling and labeling in small quantities. In this way we are able to reduce to absolute minimums:
product wastage (up to 10% of mass produced creams are washed away during production),
and we make and bottle only what our markets require.
We use either glass, or recyclable plastics (HDPE and PET) to bottle alt products.
Wherever we can we buy locally to minimize long-haul fuel consumption.