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Ever wondered what’s in your brands?

There are many products we know by brand name alone. Here at Behind The Label we aim to uncover the generic product names, ingredients lists, and facsimiles (knock offs) of every popular brand, from baby medicines to fizzy drinks! So whether you want a cheap alternative or just to know about your favourite brands, bookmark us for posterity.

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What makes H&S work?

Popular brand names:

  • Head and Shoulders.
  • L’oreal.
  • Neutrogena T.
  • Vichy.

Generic name:  Anti-dandruff shampoo.

Active ingredient: Coal tar, salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione, and/or selenium sulphide.

Can you make it? No, but some people swear by a few drops of tea tree oil in shampoo to eliminate dandruff.

Vegan?

No, the companies test on animals.

Halal?

No, the companies test on animals.

Ethical concerns?

Animal testing and risk to the environment.

Health concerns?

Depending on whether your dandruff is all oil, skin overgrowth, and/or fungal, anti-dandruff shampoos may make it better, clear it up completely, or make it worse!

Alternative brands:

  • Jason (tea tree)
  • John Masters Organics
  • Faith in Nature (tea tree and lemon)
  • Nature’s Organics. (vegan)
  • Nizoral
  • Selsun Blue. (vegan)
  • Stiproxal

Are there store brands?

Yes, but they may still have health and ethical concerns.

Don’t mix turmeric and heart meds.

Popular brand names:

  • Suma
  • Nature’s Best
  • Nature’s Garden
  • Opti-Turmeric

Generic name:  Turmeric.

Active ingredient: Naturally occurring curcuminoids.

Can you make it? You can grow it at home.

Vegan?

Yes.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

None if you buy fairtrade.

Health concerns?

Turmeric has long been advocated for heart conditions, and its effectiveness has been proven in clinical trials.

That said, like any medicine, traditional or manufactured, if it works it might interact with other things you take. Turmeric thins the blood. So if any of your medications for heart, blood sugar, anemia, or digestive conditions thin blood too, or cause minor bleeding, do not mix them. It could cause a heart attack.

Alternative brands:

  • Countless generic and wholefoods options.

Are there store brands?

Yes, look in the herbal remedies or spices sections.

Is teething powder homeopathic?

Popular brand names:

  • Ashton & Parson’s

Generic name:  Teething powder with chamomile extract.

Active ingredient: Chamomile / Matricaria.

Can you make it? No.

Vegan?

No, contains lactose.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

None.

Health concerns?

Until recently A&P teething powder was listed as a part of homeopathic medicine, causing parents to question its potential effectiveness. Many people today still believe it is homeopathic!

After investigating, this seems to be a terminology issue: teething powder is in fact herbal, because it relies on the natural calming effects of chamomile, and the chamomile is present in a substantial and effective amount in the powder. It’s not pain relief, but the mix of chamomile and sugar, like similar blends in teas for adults, may comfort a teething or colicky baby.

Do not give to lactose-intolerant infants!

Alternative brands:

  • Nelson’s Teetha.

Are there store brands?

No.

What does “Soap Free” mean?

Popular brand names:

  • Avene
  • Carex
  • Dove
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Sanex
  • Weleda

Generic name: Soap-free cleansing gel.

Active ingredient: Emulsifiers.

Can you make it? No.

Vegan?

Yes.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

None located.

Health concerns?

Soap is made of combining fats and caustic (strongly alkaline) substances, such as lard and lye. This creates an emulsifier that dissolves the oil on our skins and therefore remove dirt stuck to that oil, but can also be very harsh on the skin and the environment, as well as potentially containing animal products.

Soap-free soap is made of alternative emulsifiers, which can be PH-neutral and ethical, though always check the label!

Alternative brands:

  • A-Derma
  • Allergenics
  • Beauty RX
  • Cetaphil
  • Jurlique
  • Pear’s

Are there store brands?

Some, but they’re rare.

Why is ALDI recalling vanilla extract?

Brand: The Pantry. / ALDI.

Product: Madagascan Vanilla Extract

Product details: Code 68315.

Recall area: UK.

Reason: Labelling error. The product is labelled “Madagascan Vanilla Extract” but is actually “Moroccan Almond Extract”.

Risk: Poses a threat to people with nut allergies.

Questions: Direct to ALDI customer service (https://customerservice.aldi.co.uk/contact) or in store.

Will your iPhone case end up in a landfill?

Popular brand names:

  • Apple
  • Case-Mate
  • Caseology
  • Cath Kidston
  • Kenzo
  • OtterBox
  • tech21
  • VRS Design

Generic name: iPhone/mobile/smartphone case.

Active ingredient: Various plastics.

Can you make it? No.

Vegan?

Usually, though it can’t be ruled out that the ways some plastics are processed are impacting on animals.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

The plastics are rarely biodegradable and usually very energy-expensive to produce. There is also the risk they were made in unethical sweatshops, however a simple case is usually created via an injection mold completely mechanically, so unlikely to involve human rights violations.

Health concerns?

None.

Alternative brands:

  • pelacase (biodegradable, compostable, plant-based)

Are there store brands?

Yes, but in-store it can be hard to check ethical concerns.

Tesco and Costco are selling products of slave labour?

Popular brand names:

  • Carrefour
  • Costco
  • Tesco
  • Walmart

Generic name: Fresh shrimp.

Active ingredient: Shrimp.

Can you make it? You could technically farm your own shrimp, and definitely make your own shrimp products.

Vegan?

No.

Halal?

No.

Ethical concerns?

It has been found that many Thai fishing boats catering to big international retailers and distributors have been employing slave labour. Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, the world’s largest shrimp farmer, uses cheap fishmeal to feed its shrimp, and this fishmeal comes from seafood caught on boats that keep fishermen slaves under appalling conditions.

Health concerns?

Mercury and other byproducts are always a risk when consuming seafood, however this risk is minimal with animals that have short natural life cycles, such as shrimp.

Alternative brands:

Anything certified fair trade or wild-caught off the coast of your own country.

Are there store brands?

Yes, but most of them are using Thai shrimp too.

What is energy jewellery?

Popular brand names:

  • Bio Energy
  • Charmology
  • Phiten
  • Anything with ‘aura’ or ‘chakra’ in it.

Generic name: Energy jewellery.

Active ingredient: Hematite, quartz, basically any mineral or stone people think looks or feels mysterious.

Can you make it? Yeah, just string some stone on a necklace.

Vegan?

Yes.

Halal?

Yes.

Ethical concerns?

The companies and crafters selling these products claim they help to create healing, energizing, or otherwise beneficial “energy”. There is nothing to support these claims and all benefits so far have been found to be placebos. Many people claim to feel better for wearing them, which is fine. Ultimately, if a placebo makes you feel better, then use it. Comfort and reassurance is important. But be aware that is what you are buying.

Health concerns?

None, so long as you don’t swap real medicine for a charm.

Alternative brands:

Countless independent sellers and small brands on etsy.

How long is your washing machine designed to last?

Popular brand names:

  • Beko
  • Bosch
  • Hotpoint
  • Indesit
  • LG
  • Samsung
  • Whirlpool
  • Zanussi

Generic name: Washing machine.

Can you make it? That’d be a ‘no’.

Vegan?

As far as I know.

Halal?

As far as I know.

Ethical concerns?

Plastics that are not biodegradable. Ethical manufacturing issues. If these concern you, look into the company and consider selling your old machines to a refurbisher or white goods recycling company.

Also, many consumers feel deceived by the life expectancy of their machine. The average shopper expects a washing machine to last six years. But the warranty usually extends to one or two years, maybe three. Companies claim their machines last anywhere from 5 to 20 years, but don’t offer warranties that long. Many break down 2-3 years in, when the warranty expires. The argument seems to be that we, the buyers, overuse the product and cause it to break down earlier. A machine is only meant to last a certain number of cycles, but we’re never told how many! The reality is that demand for a cheap product has resulted in, well, cheap products that only last if they’re used in perfect lab conditions, ie: not our homes. Expect your machine to last 3 years and renew the warranty at that point.

Health concerns?

None found.

Alternative brands:

  • AEG
  • Candy
  • Hisense
  • Hoover
  • Miele
  • Russell Hobbs
  • Siemens
  • Swan

Are there store brands?

None found.

Why isn’t white sugar vegetarian?

Popular brand names:

  • Billington’s
  • Silver Spoon
  • Tate & Lyle

Generic name: White/table sugar.

Active ingredient: Cane or beet extract.

Can you make it? It would be complicated, but in theory you could.

Vegan?

White sugar is not natural. All sugars naturally have an orange, brown, or gold colour. White sugar is filtered through the ash of animal bones to remove its colour.

Furthermore, some brown sugars are white sugar with added molasses, so pick your brands carefully.

Naturally, avoiding all white sugar is impossible unless you eliminate all processed foods, but it’s worth considering that white sugar is part of the meat industry and making your own ethical decision.

Halal?

I am not sure whether white sugar is filtered through the char of halal or haram bones. However as no bone remains in the finished product, it may be considered halal by most.

Ethical concerns?

Sugar farms can be very bad for workers. Whatever sugar you buy, try and buy beet or cane sugar from your own country to minimize abusive labour practices and deforestation.

Palm sugars are a leading cause of deforestation and a threat to endangered species in many countries. Palm sugars also go by the names jaggery or piloncilo, although not all sugars under this name are palm: some are coconut or cane. Read the ingredients to check.

Health concerns?

Sugar is not the bogeyman many claim it is, but consuming too much refined sugar can be harmful to your digestive tract, promote diabetes and weight gain, cause inflammation, and damage your teeth.

Alternative brands:

  • Biona (fairtrade, organic, raw, vegan)
  • Equal Exchange (fairtrade, organic, raw)
  • Florida Crystals (vegan, organic)
  • Suma (organic, raw)
  • Traidcraft (vegan, fairtrade, raw)

And consider coconut, demarera, sucanat, muscovado or turbinado sugar as an unfiltered alternative to white sugar. “Brown sugar” is most likely white sugar with molasses added back in.

Are there store brands?

Yes, there are store versions of most types of sugar.

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