Thrive’s Plethora of “Poisonous” Powders

thrive cosmetics coupon

Today we continue our series probing the hypocrisy of Thrive Market, the putative all-natural online store whose products often contain the very ingredients they claim to be toxic–but apparently only when found in competitor’s offerings.

In “The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding in Your Makeup”, Thrive Market Lifestyle and Beauty Editor Dana Poblete calls out titanium dioxide in cosmetics for its possible carcinogenic properties.  She cautions readers to avoid makeup containing this compound, especially in pressed and loose powders, where inhalation is possible.1  Poblete cites the pseudoscientific Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Skin Deep” database as an authoritative reference on cosmetic ingredients and, not coincidentally, goes on to refer potential shoppers to Thrive’s own collection of makeup as an alternative (“No more nasty chemicals to mess up your makeup game!”).

Right then.  Thrive Market tells us to avoid titanium dioxide in cosmetics, especially in powders.  Got it!

Let’s go shopping at Thrive:

Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, "Deep 3"

Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, “Deep 3” for sale on ThriveMarket.com. (click/enlarge)

 

Above is a snapshot of Thrive’s Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, “Deep 3”.2  I wonder what’s inside?

deep 3 ingredients (thrivemarket.com)

“Deep 3” ingredients. Wake the kids and phone the neighbors: there’s titanium dioxide! (click/enlarge)

 

Zut alors! Did you catch it?  Let me zoom in for you:

ingredients closeup thrivemarket titanium dioxde

Yes, it’s titanium dioxide. Thrive is selling us the very compound they linked to cancer, in the same product where they warned it could be hidden!  Lulled into a false sense of security, shopping on an “all natural” web site backed by the astroturf “research group” EWG,3  frightened shoppers are duped into forking over hard earned cash for a Xerox copy of the chemicals they were told could kill them.

“But surely this is just a one-off mistake!”, I hear the all-natural crowd cry.  Au contraire mon frère:

Mineral Hygenics at thrive market contains titanium dioxide

Mineral Hygienics Foundation, on offer at Thrive Market, also contains titanium dioxide, which the web site disingenuously links to cancer in humans. (click/enlarge)

 

A second powder on offer from ThriveMarket.com (above) is Mineral Hygienics Fair Mineral Foundation.  Without further ado, let’s look at the listed ingredients:4

Fair Mineral Foundation from ThriveMarketOops!  Titanium dioxide again!  “But… but… but…” the organic apologists mutter, “the good people at Thrive are only human.  So they just slipped up twice!”  Hey, I’ve got you covered:

harmony blush on thrivemarket

Harmony Blush, sold on ThriveMarket.com, also contains titanium dioxide, which the site links to cancer–but apparently only in products they don’t sell. (click/enlarge)

 

Strike three.  Act now, my friends, and you can save 31% on this nice Mineral Fusion Harmony Blush from our good friends at ThriveMarket.com.  Just ignore the titanium dioxide(or like Bill Clinton, don’t inhale):13

mineral fusion harmony blush on thrive market (ingredients)

I could go on (I really could), but I’m sure you get the point: Thrive’s little shop of horrors is loaded with the same chemical cocktail they claim can kill you if you buy it in a competitor’s product.

To add insult to injury, before you can purchase from Thrive, you have to buy a yearly membership.6  Bend over and grease up–you’re about to get screwed.

Just to throw a little science and logic at you: there’s nothing really dangerous about any of these products.  There is no evidence that titanium dioxide causes cancer in humans.  The woomeisters who attempt to push it as a carcinogen seem to be referring to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) list of Group 2B carcinogens,8 which, for perspective, includes pickled vegetables, the profession of carpentry, and caffeic acid,10,11,12 a compound found in the Roasted Dandelion Tea sold by Thrive.9  The IARC lists these agents as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans.7  That doesn’t mean that they are.

But if Thrive argues that an ingredient is linked to cancer as a way to scare us away from certain products, why is their store loaded with items that contain the same additive?  And their store is loaded.  Perhaps because of my series of articles pointing this out,  a kind reader recently wrote to ask if I had a vendetta against Thrive.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Of the one hundred articles published on this blog since its creation in 2014, only four have mentioned this hypocritical market.  They’re no worse–and no better–than any of the other snake oil pushers I’ve written about (Vani Hari, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dr. Mercola, Dr. Mark Hyman, David Avocado Wolfe, etc.)

Thrive has my attention at the moment partially because their hypocrisy is so easy to spot–just read their labels–and partially because of the underhanded way some of their vendors are propping up their own brands through disingenuous research by non-scientific groups, such as EWG, that they themselves fund.  As we’ll see in an upcoming piece, the Environmental Working Group isn’t the only firm with financial ties to markets such as Thrive.  If you have’t heard of U.S. Right to Know and the Organic Consumer’s Association, get familiar with the names.  Along with EWG, they’re being funded in part by the labels you see on the virtual shelves of your favorite online organic vendor.

Stay thirsty (for knowledge) my friends.

 

References
(1) The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding in Your Makeup (ThriveMarket.com)
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/noxious-chemicals-in-makeup

(2) Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, “Deep 3” Ingredients (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
https://thrivemarket.com/mineral-fusion-pressed-powder-foundation-deep-3?utm_source=nextag&utm_medium=pla&CAWELAID=120220540000112219#Ingredients

(3) Environmental Working Group/ThriveMarket Deal
https://thrivemarket.com/partner/ewggift

(4) Fair Mineral Foundation Ingredients (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
https://thrivemarket.com/fair-mineral-foundation#Ingredients

(5) Mineral Fusion Harmony Blush (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
https://thrivemarket.com/mineral-fusion-harmony-blush#Ingredients

(6) How Thrive Works
https://thrivemarket.com/how-it-works

(7) IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risk to Humans
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/

(8) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–112
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf

(9) Thrive Market Traditional Medicinals Roasted Dandelion Tea
https://thrivemarket.com/traditional-medicinals-roasted-dandelion-root-tea

(10) Yarnell, E. ND, RH and Abascal, K. JD, RH.  Integrative Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 2. Apr/May 2009
http://www.imjournal.com/resources/web_pdfs/0409_yarnell.pdf

(11) Li, Yan, Tan, et al. 2006. Qualitative fingerprint and quantitative determination of caffeic acid in compound dandelion enema.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17062364

(12) PubChem Summary for Compound ID #689043 (Caffeic Acid)
http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/689043

(13) Bill Clinton: I Didn’t Inhale
http://swampland.time.com/2013/12/03/clinton-i-never-denied-smoking-pot/

 

Image Credits
Thrive Market screen snapshots are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Thrive Market coupon parody by Mark Alsip/Bad Science Debunked.

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The Thrive Market/Environmental Working Group Connection

thrive ewg bronner gmo

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive”. Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto VI, XVII

In days past, we’ve browsed the virtual shelves of Thrive Market and found astounding examples of hypocrisy: deodorant containing aluminum sold by the very store that links this combination to cancer,1 and products containing derivatives of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), although Thrive’s raison d’être seems to be the eradication of all GMO crops from the face of the Earth.2

Mentioned, but not deeply explored in those articles, is that Thrive Market is being aggressively pushed by the pseudoscientific Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG, although they apparently do no actual scientific research, have set themselves up as an authority on food and product safety.  You’ll often see EWG’s “research” quoted by online vendors such as Thrive.

There’s a problem here: a vicious circle in which money, advertising, and pseudo-research circulate in a complex “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” cycle. It goes something like this:

  • Organic companies like Bronner’s and Organic Valley donate to EWG to fund their work.
  • EWG publishes non-original, cherry-picked “research” that makes their donors’ products look superior.
  • The donors offer their wares on ThriveMarket.com.
  • EWG launches an email campaign pushing Thrive, touting membership discounts, and citing cherry-picked “research” to guarantee product safety.
  • Thrive cites EWG as an authority when advertising ThriveMarket.com products, claiming superiority over competing brands.
  • Feeling assured by all the supposed research, the unsuspecting public purchases the donors’ products from Thrive.  After Thrive gets its cut, proceeds from the sales go back to the companies who donated to EWG… who promoted Thrive.  Dizzy yet?
  • To add insult to injury, the public doesn’t realize many of the products they’re buying contain the same ingredients they were told were harmful.1,2

To be honest, I get confused reading it too.  Here’s a pretty picture: (click to enlarge):

thrive/ewg relationship

Follow the money: Thrive Market and the Environmental Working Group. (click/enlarge)

How widespread is the problem?  It’s hard to say.  The Environmental Working Group is tight-lipped about their donors, publishing only a small subset online.3  Not all of the organic companies listed on the EWG funding page can be found selling in the Thrive Market (yet),4,5 but that’s just one store, and, as we’ll see in upcoming article, this isn’t the only way EWG props up companies who are friendly to their cause.

Thrive’s love affair with the Environmental Working Group is evident in the rampant quoting of EWG’s so-called research throughout the market’s web site,6 and, to be blunt, when watching Thrive founder Gunnar Lovelace praise EWG President Ken Cook and his company’s work, you want to tell tell the two to get a room.7  Really guys.  Please.

This tangled web will get even more complicated in upcoming days, as we look at the financial involvement of faux “consumer advocate” organizations such as U.S. Right to Know and the Organic Consumers Organization which, via the Environmental Working Group, have a tenuous link to Thrive Market.  The upshot of all this is that it’s easy to sell products when you create your own astroturf-like research research and advocacy organizations and quote them liberally.  Sadly, not enough of mainstream American media is aware this is happening.

Tomorrow though, we’ll return to the lighter side and look at a rather horrific blunder by Thrive: after warning shoppers to avoid a particular form of cosmetic ingredient and claiming their store is free and clear of it… [insert ominous sounds of thunder].

 

References
(1) Thrive Market’s “Toxic” Deodorant: I Smell A Rat (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/thrive-markets-toxic-deodorant-i-smell-a-rat/

(2) Anti-GMO Thrive Market Sells GMOs (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/anti-gmo-thrive-market-sells-gmos/

(3) Partial List of EWG Funding Sources
http://www.ewg.org/about-us/funding

(4) Dr. Bronner on Thrive Market
https://thrivemarket.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=dr+bronner

(5) Organic Valley on Thrive Market
https://thrivemarket.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=organic+valley

(6) Thrive Market, Articles Tagged “EWG”
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/tag/ewg

(7) Thrive Market: What You Can Do To Shed Light On Bizarre Ingredients In Your Food
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/watch-can-shed-light-bizarre-ingredients-food

 

Image Credits
Thrive, Dr. Bronner’s, Organic Valley, and EWG product/screen snapshots are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Anti-GMO Thrive Market Sells GMOs

thrive pinocchio gmo

This very important public service announcement just in from Thrive Market, guardian of all that is good and holy in the world of organic goods:

“Thrive Market is passionately committed to creating a world that is free of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. We believe everyone has a right to know what they are eating and what chemicals are used in the foods they consume every day. That’s why we have carefully screened our products to ensure we do not carry any GMO foods.”1

Amen!  Preach it, brother!  Testify!

Actually, you might want to hold off on that.  Thrive, how about getting down off your high horse and looking at the ingredients in your own products?  Here, let me help you: Take a look at this nice bottle of Quantum zinc throat spray featured in your online store:2

quantum thera zinc spray from thrive market

Quantum Thera zinc throat spray from Thrive Market. (click/enlarge)

Vanna, show us the ingredients please (click to enlarge):

thrive market zinc spray ingredients contain gmo soy

I’d like to buy several vowels. Enough to form the words “soy lecithin”. (click/enlarge)

Take note of the soy lecithin (highlighted).  Derived from soybeans, soy lecithin is a natural, safe emulsifier–an additive that lends stability to foods.  The problem for Thrive Market is that almost all soy produced in the United States is genetically modified.3  A quick phone call to Quantum’s customer service department confirmed that the soy in many of their products, including the throat spray sold by Thrive is, in fact, GMO.

So Thrive Market’s promise of a GMO-free store falls as flat as an Olympic pole vaulter who didn’t realize his shoestrings were tied together before setting off on his run.

Thrive Market is selling products with ingredients derived from GMOs.

We could quibble over the fact that the product in question is a throat spray–not a food–but it’s still clearly intended to be ingested:

“A great alternative to yucky-tasting zinc lozenges! In fact, just two spritzes every couple of hours of Thera Zinc Oral Spray is the most effective, tastiest way to deliver ionizable zinc to your throat. Thera Zinc is sprayed in the back of the mouth, sending powerful nutrients to the areas requiring the most protection.”–Quantum throat spray marketing statement 2

More importantly, Thrive and their misinformed organic backers are intent on ridding the world of GMOs in their entirety, no matter what product they’re found in.  The anti-GMO zealots are horribly wrong about the effect that genetically modified crops have on the environment, wanting them to be removed entirely.  Actually, there are ways in which GMOs are beneficial.  For example, farmers who grow Bt corn are able to use less pesticides.  Regardless,  it’s rather dishonest of Thrive to demonize a perfectly safe crop production method, then sell products derived using that same method to their customers.

And, having said this, we must pause and state in the strongest possible terms that there is nothing harmful in Quantum’s zinc throat spray.  This is just another small business trying to eke out a living that, unfortunately, got caught up in the tangled web of a $39 billion organic food industry using fear to market their products as “better”.  There’s nothing superior, in any way imaginable, about organic products compared to their GMO counterparts.  However, Quantum did tell me that they hope to eventually switch over to non-GMO soy.  This saddens me.  Yet another company bows to the irrational demands of a public that doesn’t realize how easily they’re being manipulated.

Hold On, It Gets Worse
Alert label readers may have noticed the company’s misspelled “Proplylene Glycol” [sic] next to the soy lecithin on the product label.  They’re actually talking about propylene glycol, a harmless additive with a wide range of uses, including as surfactants and preservatives.

Woe unto Thrive Market, however, as they label propylene glycol as a dangerous endocrine disruptor in another of their hilariously bad scare pieces.  In “Five Simple Pro Tips for Perfect Skin”,4 author Lauren Whitehouse warns readers to not allow “toxic” propylene glycol to touch their skin via cosmetics.  Yet we now find Thrive Market literally trying to shove this so-called poison down our throats.  Well, OK, spray it down our throats.  Don’t worry though:  just like GMO soy, propylene glycol is harmless.  As intimated by Pinocchio in the opening graphic, Thrive and their backers aren’t exactly behind honest with us.

From whence comes so much of Thrive Market’s bad science and resulting hypocrisy?  One culprit seems to be the pseudoscientific Environmental Working Group, a special interest group that does no real research but is oft-cited by Thrive as a scientific authority.  It turns out that EWG may have more of a financial stake in Thrive and other organic markets than meets the eye.  Check back tomorrow, and I’ll start laying it out for you.

 

References
(1) Thrive Market’s GMO-free Promise
https://thrivemarket.com/gmo-free

(2) Quantum Zinc Throat Spray
https://thrivemarket.com/quantum-thera-zinc-throat-spray

(3) USDA: Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States
http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx

(4) Five Simple Pro Tips for Perfect Skin
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/skin-dos-donts

 

Image Credits
Thrive and  Quantum product/screen snapshots are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Pinocchio and Wheel of Fortune meme characters are used under parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Thrive Market’s “Toxic” Deodorant: I Smell A Rat

thrive market deodorant meme by mark alsip
Thrive Market, a new, supposedly all-natural online store being heavily pushed by the pseudoscientific Environmental Working Group, is concerned with body odor.  Sadly, the hypocrisy of both groups stinks to high heaven.  After scaring the caca out of readers over a perfectly safe ingredient in competing deodorants, Thrive author Michelle Pellizzon turns around and sells a Thrive product that contains the same compound she’s just linked to cancer.

First, the setup (emphasis mine):1

Aluminum, the active ingredient in deodorant that keeps you from getting stinky when it gets hot out there, has been linked to breast cancer and hormonal [im]balances (sic) when applied to underarms. The aluminum in antiperspirant is also the reason that your white t-shirts all have yellow pit stains—as if you needed another reason to switch to the organic stuff! All natural deodorants boast a formula that’s aluminum free, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.”–Michelle Pellizzon, writing for Thrive Market1

Never fear, Pellizzon and Thrive Market are ready to leap to the rescue by offering alternatives.  Why, look here… even as we speak, there are three contenders in the very article that just promised us cancer and hormonal imbalances if we go to competing, aluminum-laden brands:

Thai crystals from Thrive Market contain aluminum

Thrive Market is happy to sell us alternatives. But not so fast… (click/enlarge)

One of the author’s favorites is simply referred to as “the crystal”, and, lucky you, it’s currently on sale for the low, low price of $4.75 USD.

thai crystal deodorant from thrive

Act now Thrive customers, it’s on sale! (click/enlarge)

The ingredients are rather disingenuously listed as “Mineral salts and purified water”2  What exactly does that mean?  Is Thrive hiding something from us?  Let’s sashay over to the manufacturer’s web page and dig into the FAQ:3

deodorant stones of america aluminum

Deodorant Stones of America’s FAQ reveals the hidden aluminum–and a heavy dose of scientific misinformation.

The deodorant in question is manufactured by Deodorant Stones of America (DSA).  A quick glance at the FAQ on the company’s web3 site reveals that their products are made from alum, a class of chemical compounds that contain aluminum.  Yes, you read that correctly–the Thrive Market article that claims aluminum in deodorants is toxic is, incredibly, selling you a deodorant that contains aluminum.

It gets laughably worse.  DSA claims that aluminum is a mineral.  It’s not–it’s an element. One of the few things DSA gets right about the most common metal in the crust of the Earth is that it’s natural.  They should have continued:  There’s no reason to fear this metal, unless you have a medical condition such as kidney failure, in which case you’d be on dialysis, and want to avoid exposure in excess.  But Deodorant Stones of America isn’t the guilty party here–it’s Thrive Market and their blatant fear mongering, designed to steer consumers away from safe products that contain the very same element found in the deodorant they’re hawking in their “sky is falling” tripe.

As we’ll see in upcoming articles, the link between Thrive Market and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is particularly worrisome.  Although EWG claims to have no financial stake in Thrive, they’re aggressively marketing the online store through an email campaign that includes the astounding demand that consumers be allowed to use food stamps to buy the overpriced organic products found there.  Organic products are no more safe than their commercial counterparts–they’re just designed to lighten the wallet. And Thrive heavily cites EWG as a scientific authority (even though they’re not) when disparaging competitor’s products and touting their own.  You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

One promise I’ll make, and deliver upon quite often in the future: Thrive Market is loaded with products that their and EWG’s “research” claims to be dangerous.  See you soon!

 

References
(1) Thrive Tries It: We Test 3 Natural Deodorants
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/thrive-tries-natural-deodorant

(2) ThriveMarket.com: Deodorant Stones of America Crystal Deodorant Stick
https://thrivemarket.com/deodorant-stones-of-america-crystal-deodorant-stick

(3) Deodorant Stones of America FAQ
http://www.deodorantstones.com/faqs.html

Image Credits
Thrive and Deodorant Stones of America product/screen snapshots are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.