What Is Natural?
“Natural” is not a legal term and ingredients are not regulated by the FDA (with the exception of color additives). It is largely up to the pet industry to self-regulate, up to the professionals to be educated and up to the consumer to identify potential issues. For this reason, the question, “What makes a shampoo natural?” is an important one to ask.
The laws and regulations that the FDA enforces do not include definitions for “natural” or “organic.” The same requirements apply any product whether the ingredients are plant, animal, mineral or synthetic. It’s important not to assume that using only ingredients from plants will make products safe. According to the FDA, which classifies but does not regulate the cosmetic industry, “approval by the FDA is not required to market a product in the United States. With the exception of color additives and some prohibited or restricted ingredients (such as hexachlorophene, mercury compounds and chloroform), cosmetic manufacturers may, on their own responsibility, use essentially any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without approval.”
Most experts agree that natural shampoos and conditioners should be free from harsh chemicals, particularly those containing parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and cocamide DEA. SLS was first used as an engine degreaser and is present in many personal grooming items to help make them foamy. Animals can be highly sensitive to these chemicals, which are also feared to be carcinogenic.
“Most people think that cats do a pretty good job of cleaning themselves,” said Paul Armstrong, CEO and founder of earthbath. “But unlike a cat’s tongue, our foam contains fine conditioners and emollients that will leave a cat looking and smelling better than ever before.”
Like all earthbath products, Totally Natural Grooming Foam for Cats is designed for the well-being of both cats and the environment. Its ingredients are all natural, paraben free, phosphate free, biodegradable and pH-balanced for the sensitive skin of cats. Shea butter, colloidal oatmeal, meadowfoam seed oil and aloe vera are used to condition both coats and skin, leaving cats with a healthy shine and incredibly soft coat.
“Our ultra-concentrated, totally natural pet shampoos are made with natural essential oils and other good stuff from nature,” said Armstrong. “They never contain parabens, harsh soaps, artificial dyes or fragrances, phosphates or toxins, so you don’t have to worry about what might be left behind on your pet or the environment.”
RELIQ is the first grooming line that integrated natural minerals with nanotechnology. By combining their unique nano-enhanced volcanic minerals with cutting-edge science, RELIQ can be extremely effective in cleaning the pet’s skin and coat as well as in follicle maintenance. It fundamentally resolves odor issues and relieves most skin irritations. As a result, cleaning is more effective and nutrients are better absorbed.
“Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care has been a leader in the natural grooming category for over two years,” said Steven Shweky, president and CEO of Fetch…for pets!. “Products—including shampoos, conditioners, sprays and wipes—feature natural ingredients, including oatmeal, honey, chamomile and lavender. All are solution-based for deodorizing, calming, whitening, itch soothing, detangling and more.
To meet the growing demand for natural pet care, Burt’s Bees continues to expand its grooming solutions for both dogs and cats into specialty care, including ear cleaner, eye wash solution, tear stain remover and paw & nose lotion; and oral care, including dental foam, gel, spray and breath drops.”
Just as it’s important to many pet owners to understand what’s in their pets’ shampoo and conditioner, it’s equally important to them to understand the packaging it arrives in, along with the manufacturing procedures of any company.
“We created our shampoo bars and conditioner bars with sustainable packaging, reduced shipping costs and [a] lower carbon pawprint and to avoid shipping heavy water-based liquids around the planet,” said Dr. Adelia Ritchie, founder of DERMagic Skincare for Animals.“In addition to these benefits for the environment, our shampoo bars are made with all organic and natural ingredients and no chemical preservatives.”
Symptoms of an unhealthy coat include coarse fur, dry skin, flakes and itchiness. These symptoms can easily become exacerbated and the chemicals in traditional shampoos and conditioners often trigger extreme skin conditions. Customers are slowly making the connection between the quality of shampoos and conditioners and the quality of their pet’s health. The benefits of all-natural shampoos and conditioners for pets include a healthier coat, fewer skin problems and a fresher smelling pet.
We are experiencing—and will continue to experience—a return to “natural” within the pet industry. That doesn’t mean that science becomes any less important; but as pet owners continue to seek out natural options for themselves as well as their pets, the industry will continue to expand.