FAQ – "Natural" vs. "All-Natural" Shampoos

The pet industry is a 37.9-billion-dollar industry, and the number of competitors for each pet owner’s dollar is huge. Following in the footsteps of the so-called “genius” marketer that originated the “Lather, rinse, repeat” instructions for shampooing, other marketers have created the imaginary differences between “natural” and “all-natural” shampoos, hoping to differentiate their products from the rest of the pack. This leaves consumers with the responsibility of sorting through the chaff to find the real “kernel of truth” behind this dirty little secret.

Is there a difference between “all-natural” and “natural”?
“All-natural” shampoo products shouldn’t contain ANY synthetic ingredients, while “natural” products can be made with both natural and synthetic ingredients. Since there is no law regulating use of the terms “natural” or “all-natural” in product labeling, a “natural” shampoo can be sold as “all-natural” without any legal ramifications.

So are Furfection Naturals™ all-natural or natural? This is really confusing!
And that’s just the way marketers like it. Furfection Naturals™ are “natural” shampoos, and here’s why. U.S. consumers believe that if a shampoo doesn’t lather, it isn’t working. This just isn’t true, but consumers refuse to be convinced. So in order to manufacture a product people will buy, it must make lather. There are no all-natural ingredients to make shampoo lather, so a synthetic has to be used. (More about synthetics in a bit.)

The second reason is that shampoos have to have a preservative or they wouldn’t last any longer than about a month or so on the shelf. Again, there is no all-natural preservative that’s effective for any length of time, so a synthetic is needed.

The synthetics needed for creating lather and preserving the products – how do you know they’re safe?
Consumers are of the opinion that “anything natural is better than anything synthetic.” This is just not true. Synthetics are used in the vast majority of pet grooming products. Why? Because they’re more effective and beneficial than some natural ingredients. Unfortunately, marketers have been unable to convince consumers that synthetics aren’t “bad.” Where their customers are concerned, this is a case of “ignorance is bliss,” or “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.”Based on our research, over 90% of the shampoos available – both human and pet shampoos – contain many of the same ingredients (maybe in differing amounts) for creating lather. They’re effective, they’re harmless and they’ve been used for more than 75 years. (Of course, ANY substance used in excess could be harmful, e.g., using 10 times more of any ingredient than what’s actually needed.)

Recently, on one of the pet-industry-related discussion forums we belong to, someone asked for a recommendation for “all-natural” shampoos to carry on his website – “ones that don’t contain SLS,” he wrote. SLS is short for sodium laurel sulfate, or sodium laureth sulfate. It’s one of the most common shampoo/cosmetic ingredients in existence. We researched this ingredient to the nth degree before we formulated Furfection Naturals™, and we know there’s NO reason to avoid products that contain it.

We posted on the same board and asked what people thought of SLS and why they would want to avoid it. The next day, the same poster that originally wanted recommendations for shampoos without SLS responded, saying he made it a point not to sell anything on his site that wasn’t holistic. He said that although he didn’t have anything against products that weren’t holistic or contained SLS, they just “weren’t right” for him.

We went to his website to see exactly what types of products he currently carried, and there was a VERY well-known brand of “natural” shampoos – that contain SLS. This guy was selling them as “all-natural, holistic” shampoos. It’s just further proof of how out-of-hand the whole “all-natural” vs. “natural” thing has gotten.

Recently, we contacted an “all-natural” pet shampoo manufacturer to ask what ingredient(s) they used to get their baby powder scent. (Baby powder does not occur naturally.) They sent a response saying they used “pure essential oils” for the scent. We emailed back and asked where they found a “pure baby powder essential oil,” and we weren’t surprised when we didn’t hear from them again.

Our opinion, for what it’s worth, is that it boils down to truth in advertising. Not long ago, we were interested in advertising in one of the most popular dog magazines. One of the first things the ad rep asked was why we were calling our products “natural” instead of “all-natural.” We said, “Well, because they aren’t ALL-natural.” He asked what they contained that kept them from being “all-natural,” and we told him. (BTW, the synthetic ingredients for lathering actually come from coconut, so technically, we could bill Furfection Naturals™ as “all-natural.”) He spent at least 15 minutes telling us how we were limiting the sale of our product line by not using “all-natural” in our advertising, because that’s what people wanted. He said we should take time to think about what he’d said and to call him back. Well, we did think a lot about it, and our thoughts were that we never wanted to advertise in a magazine that claimed to be an “expert” in all things “dog,” knowing they’d do anything for a dollar. (We went a step further and didn’t renew our subscription when it expired.)

Furfection, Inc. is about making a difference in people’s and pets’ lives. It’s also about sharing useful information. There’s nothing in our products that we can’t be proud of. Even more important, we won’t sell anything we wouldn’t use on our own pets. When we say, “It’s all about loving ‘em,” we mean it.

Pamela

© Copyright 2006-2007 Furfection, Inc. All rights reserved.

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