The Nitty Gritty

A little about Whiskey, Ink, & Lace, handcrafted products in Portland, OR


We have spent about as much time researching our products as we have making them. Every single ingredient is carefully hand-picked for your benefit. We make sure every ingredient is there to benefit you, sometimes above and beyond what you’re using them for.

We often refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to ensure our ingredients are safe. We try to never use ingredients that score over a 3 in their database, and we rarely use ingredients that score over a 1. The majority of our ingredients score a 0-1. This means that we refrain from using ingredients that are even a light skin irritant.

We source ingredients from suppliers that use natural, carefully curated ingredients from sustainable sources, as well. We try to keep a light footprint in the creation of our products. We also are a cruelty-free manufacturer! Absolutely no animals were harmed or experimented on in the making of our products (unless you count Andi’s friends… she’s experiments on them quite often).

There are a lot of good and bad products out there, and you’ve probably heard a lot of the hot terms in the health world, like dangerous preservatives and chemicals. We’ve dug up information on them for you to help show you what we’re providing versus what’s typically found in many other bath & body products.


Germaben (Propylene Glycol) – Germaben rates a 4, with moderate risk of organ toxicity and a high risk of skin irritation.

Optiphen -Optiphen scores a 5 on the EWG database, rating a moderate hazard. It is a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative, however, it still causes skin irritability and possible organ toxicity.

Phenonip – Phenonip rates a grand ol’ 6-7 on the EWG Database. It’s a moderate-high risk. It can cause biochemical or cellular changes, with possible organ toxicity,

What we use as an alternative:

Linatural – Composed of Propanediol (made from non-GMO corn), Ethylhexyl Glycerin (rating of 0, derived from natural vegetable glycerin),  Potassium Sorbate (used in foods like salsa). “Based on naturally derived science, this preservative is highly effective without compromising health issues.  Its a paraben free preservative which means it won’t release formaldehyde into your finished product like paraben based preservatives do.” – Organic Creations, the creators. We use Linatural to help prevent our water-based products from forming mold while you are using them.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol) – Vitamin E is a thick oil that is an antioxidant and we use it to lengthen the shelf life of oils, helping them to last longer and not go rancid.


Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils

Fragrance Oils

We don’t use fragrance oils in ANY of our products.

We don’t even have to tell you why… Just google fragrance oil health dangers.

But we’ll give you a summary anyways.

Fragrance oils are synthetically created oils that are created in order to replicate natural plant scents and other aromas. The problem with this is when you replicate the scent of lavender, you lose all of the great benefits of lavender. For example, lavender essential oil (naturally derived part of the lavender plant) can rejuvenate skin cells, help with scars and acne, stop bleeding, kill bacteria and fight infection, and the aromatherapy benefits can help relieve stress. And lavender fragrance oil… well it just smells good.

Another problem is when you synthetically create fragrances, apparently that means you have to stuff it full of bad chemicals like neurotoxins (check out this article at about the dangers of fragrances) and other dangerous ingredients that can cause major health problems. To build on that problem, the FDA doesn’t require that companies disclose the ingredients in their fragrances. The fragrance oils can contain hundreds of toxins, but if those ingredients are there for the purpose of making the product smell good, all the company has to call it is “fragrance” in the ingredient list. These chemicals can incite asthma, cause headaches, and have even been proven to cause chemical and hormone changes.

Oftentimes fragrance oils contain phthalates to make them last longer, too. Phthalates are known to cause damage to male reproductive systems. They are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, which means they interfere with normal brain function. So they’re bad. Very bad. Avoid them. Your brain is important so do what you can to protect it.

So look out for the terms “fragrance” or “perfume” in ingredients lists of products you use. They mean bad news for your brain and body.
Essential oils

Essential Oils

Essential oils aren’t what you typically think of as oils. They’re not fatty and “oily”. They’re highly concentrated parts of plants, the parts of plants that smell best and have the best benefits.

Because all of our scents in our products are produced by their natural ingredients as well as essential oil blends, the scents are soft and subtle. They are not that kick-you-in-the-nose chemically-created fragrance. Instead, they’re a much more natural and subtle scent, as if you have those natural essences there in front of you in their original form.

Essential oils don’t last as long as fragrance oils because they don’t contain the chemicals like phthalates to extend them.. That’s why our beard oils and aftershaves aren’t necessarily cologne-replacements unless you’re looking to get rid of the harmful chemicals in your cabinet.

The Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils, since they are the best parts of the plant, offer so many benefits, it’s hard to keep track of all the time. We try to give some of the key benefits of the essential oils we use in our Scent Glossary. They are often antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, etc. A lot of them are known for their aromatherapeutic benefits, and many are antidepressants.

However, and that’s a big “but”,  since essential oils are completely naturally derived, they can’t be patented. Most essential oils aren’t cleared by the FDA for their benefits.

For that reason, we can only use our essential oils for cosmetic purposes. That means that our products are not intended to treat or heal anything. But we do use essential oils with the hope that they do help to make your life better.

You can see even more detailed information about the ingredients we use in our products in our Ingredient Index

In the end, there’s no way we can fully emphasize how much thought goes into every ingredient we put into our products. We hope you can get a pretty good idea from this page, We really care about how natural our products are and how they’ll benefit the end user. We want the very best for our customers!