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Bienvenue to the world of NadiaZ indigenous plant based cosmetics: Swiss scientist Nadia Zuodar’s eponymous label of premium range cosmetics NadiaZ celebrates the power of active compounds of rare indigenous plants. Inspired by her agronomist Italian father, Nadia Zuodar took a liking in precious oriental scents and developed her own more natural, active formulas that helped to alleviate her skin allergies, which she suffered from early childhood. Although the basis of Nadia's research was a personal ground, for a decade, the founder was dedicated to humanitarian missions in Africa and international development across the globe that also played a big part of forming the mythical and mystical range of cosmetics sourced from rare plants. NadiaZ in 2017 is a premium range brand, a true innovator in the industry introducing all-natural, velvety scents and antiallergic, non-irritable compounds in skincare to celebrate the scarcity of indigenous plants and fight against their extinction. We talked the benefits, use and ethics of natural cosmetics with the knowledgeable founder.
What informed the creation of your own ethical luxury cosmetics brand? What was your philosophy that created basis for your brand from the start?
As you could further read on my website, I was allergic to almost everything on the market and have been formulating products since childhood. Then I added the scientific and ethnological knowledge to be able to explore on plants, traditional medicinal use, neurobiology, physics and chemistry and almost 2 decades field work in various countries, at least one decade building my supply network of rare indigenous plants. So it was a necessity first, then people asked me to make it available to the public and here I am!
What are the key compounds that make your products so unique and sought-after?
I take special care featuring vegetable oils that have seen less interest so far, as compared to essential oils promoted by aromatherapy. Vegetable oils, such as oils pressed from nuts and seeds, like Baobab, Ucuuba and Ximenia, bear unique compounds, some of them yet to be fully studied, besides showing specific mechanical properties that are important for skin protection.
The list would go on forever, so here is a description on the plants I use and the very special concept here http://nadiaz.ch/ingredients-library/
What are the particular benefits of the natural hair therapy elixir (Copaiba Ritual Hair Serum) and deodorant (Tucuma Cocoon Ultra-Soft Deo) we are testing? What is the expected treatment and who could benefit from using these products?
The Copaiba Ritual Hair Serum is designed to create a long lasting protective and natural film on the hair, particularly due to the active Copaiba Resin and thus prevents hair from splitting, improves shine and resistance of the hair fibers. Most hair products contain silicons, which simply sit at the surface and get washed off. Besides, silicons result in micro-pollutants in the environment.
Tucuma Cocoon is the first deo that is totally safe to use, without aluminium salts or added aggressive chemicals. It is a new way to use deo, where one would carry it along and re-apply it, rather than expect 24h duration. Its formula was inspired by traditional rituals, such as henna application, as well as by my research on Amazonian plants.
All my products are for people who suffer from allergies, dry and sensitive skin and/or hair, or simply want healthy products. Unfortunately, there are very strong regulations in regards to cosmetics that prevent us to speak about their therapeutic and health benefits, or call it phytotherapy. Most of the plants I use have very special constituents unique to them. Besides, the manufacturing principles I apply and patient work (cold process, hand-made, concentrated products) ensure a superior quality.
How is the holistic approach represented when it comes to your range of personal care products, including perfumes?
Holistic can mean a lot of things. In the case of my brand, holisticness covers — ethical, ecological and health. It means that for each ingredient sourced, each product made and each manufacturing or business approach taken, those are integrated and held at the highest standard. This is why I have developed a model for social business (read more: http://nadiaz.ch/business-strategy-framework/), as well as the other links below the mission. In terms of health, it also means to pay attention to and take care of our number one organ, which is our skin, as well as the health of our respiratory system, which are all affected by cosmetics. This is why I make trustable products to be used all life long and do not compromise with fashionable features, such as doing scented cosmetics, or making not concentrated formulas that would mean using more harmful preservatives and texturers.
What's the best way for us customers to educate ourselves about the harmful ingredients found in beauty products and learn about the benefits of natural compounds?
As I can't list all, I think the most important is to read the ingredients of anything one buys. Then to follow the advice on very knowledgeable websites, books and eco-labels that all try to educate the public. Rita Stiens did a good book, although in French, and here is a reference website http://laveritesurlescosmetiques.com/
There is not one reference, but there are common points to many sites, books and labels. Unfortunately, when it comes to the label, there is not one reference, because some may put more accent on ethical trade, some more on ecology, others on health, whereas it is virtually impossible to have one covering it all, so people have to apply a critical judgement and learn to analyse basically their cosmetics ingredients rather than simply follow a label.
However, what ingredients should we definitely avoid in our personal care products?
Most importantly, people should keep away from petrochemical based products and highly scented cosmetics (VOC). Then they should favour products that are oil-based and do not need preservatives, such as water-based products. Avoid silicone formulas, nanomolecules, not only for the health but also because many of these products are micro-pollutants for the environment, which we do not really know how to treat (the current waste water treatment plants are facing growing difficulties in dealing with the complexity of micro-pollutants and their interactions in the environment).
Nadia Zuodar’s tips for choosing cosmetics & skincare products:
1. Choose natural over petrochemical cosmetics
2. Prefer unrefined oils to keep the properties. Avoid hydrogenitaded oils — this is a process to make oils buttery, like the way you do margarine. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of processing, bleaching, refining and then more industrial pollution. They do that in order to give a heavier texture cheaply, rather than add plants butter that are naturally heavy.
3. Essential oils are good, but not for every day — they have precious components but also allergens. Prefer vegetable oils for everyday use. There are so many plants so far not yet well known or valorised, like the ones you find in my web: Ucuuba, Mafura, Ximenia. Diversity is important, in order not to over-use resources. So people may refrain to have one ‘miracle’ ingredient, that is how marketing is made, but the result is that you have a high demand, when in fashion, and a drop when a new fashion comes. Behind those plants are full communities that require years of patient work to grow or harvest them and when demand drops, it may result in trees destroyed and replaced. On the other hand, when demand is too high, it results in the trees getting wiped out, such as Mysore sandalwood or Argan. So, like for food, people should valorise healthy diet with diversified food, the same with the plants in their cosmetics.
4. The more simple a cosmetic formula, the more effective it is. There is no reason to put 100 ingredients in cosmetics (I put more into my perfumes, but that is different in application). You want to have a good concentration of your plants, not a symbolic value for marketing. And to avoid all additions that are there for texture, hiding scents, colouring or the like. So, when you can read and see that the ingredients are simple and botanical, it is best.
5. Adapt your expectations, feel your cosmetics for a long period of time. A good cosmetic is the one that will embellish and make your skin feel more comfortable day after day and the longer time you use it. Avoid comparing products based on one application, some products may seem magical at first, but have no long-term effect and quite the opposite — only superficial effect. So give at least 2 weeks for your plant cosmetic to perform.
6. Not all botanicals are the same. Some oils are cheaper than others. Cosmetics made with sunflower oil, rice oil, coconut oil are good, but don't put them in the same basket with the ones using more valuable indigenous plants. Few products use those oils, because it make the formulation more expensive and because it is difficult to supply. If you take pomegranate oil, have a look at the tiny seed and imagine how much harder it is to get oil from this extraordinary fruit, rather than from coco. Remember that not all natural oils have the same value.
Artisanal producer of green cosmetics, Evolve Beauty from Hertfordshire, UK, shares their expertise on the benefits of hand-crafted, natural beauty blends. Their organic apothecary range so far consists of facial, body and hair products. All their products are vegan, cruelty-free and produced in small batches, to ensure the freshness of superfood based ingredients.
Savant tested their most popular products — Hyaluronic Serum 200 and Daily Renew Facial Cream with Argan oil for a week. The delicate pomegranate-infused serum with rose petal scent gave our skin a nice healthy glow and repaired the skin’s uneven surfaces when applied overnight. The Daily Renew cream, scented with delicate coconut aroma, offers 24-hour protection against irritation and is perfect for preparing the skin for winter, when it is more receptive to dryness and eczema.
What are the benefits of organic facial oils and serums?
Using Organic skincare is highly recommended. Not only are organic products better for the environment, containing no nasty ingredients or synthetic fragrances, but they are more earth-friendly and truly repairing your skin texture. Synthetic ingredients can cause irritation and, ultimately, ageing of the skin (inflamm-ageing).
What's the most popular product out of your own range?
Our most popular facial product is the Hyaluronic Serum 200. It contains 200mg of low molecular weight Hyaluronic Acid which has the ability to retain 1000 times its weight in water. It also contains Organic Pomegranate extract, which softens and protects. It has been delicately fragranced with organic rosewater.
What could be the reason behind our beauty counters turning more organic and fuss-free? Why do we now care about what we put on our faces as much as we care about what goes into our bodies?
Same as above really — fuss-free cosmetics give therapeutic and more effective results. Customers are becoming more and more aware of the effect of synthetic ingredients in they beauty products and are therefore turning to organic en masse…
Name your other organic go-to products and brands that deserve a shoutout.
This is slightly biased, but I’ll say S5 Skincare! S5 is a range of organic cosmeceutical products based on ingredients sourced from the 5 most extreme ecosystems. Plants that survive in very harsh environments have developed special coping mechanisms — think about the rainforest, where it’s very hot and humid… perfect place for bacteria to grow! Some rainforest plants have the ability to fight off bacteria when applied to the skin. Fascinating!
Besides beauty, what other 'green lifestyle' principles are represented in your everyday life?
100% organic food! Also, cleansing products that are as natural as possible.
How did you do the testing and find out which combinations would actually work together?
We work in very close collaboration with our ingredient suppliers, who advise us on formulation. Our little lab is also excellent at coming up with trump formulations! We are also running customer surveys to ask our customers, what they feel is missing from the range, and what they would like to see launched.
Who is the target audience for green beauty?
Anyone and everyone. I see more people, who were accustomed to using only conventional skincare, now slowly turning to natural and organic, so we see everyone as a potential customer.
The beauty of the healing effect of organic beauty is that, in order to see the difference, you need to religiously apply the products every day, but after noticing the visible, lasting results that help us feel good in our own skin, this becomes a second nature.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
Lately, applying my all-natural face moisturiser first thing in the morning has become like a second nature - it leaves my skin firm and gives it an immediate healthy glow. I couldn’t think of any fresher way of starting the day’s beauty routine. In Northern Europe, the appreciation of natural beauty is nothing unusual: it has gradually become sort of a trademark for us, which translates into our modern-day beauty industry, too. Natural cosmetics, consisting of pure ingredients derived from our surrounding biosphere, are nowadays widely known as bio-organic or eco-friendly cosmetics. As a cherry on top, these fuss-free superheroes often boast environmentally friendly packaging, too.
To further understand the buzz around fuss-free, bio-active cosmetics, we talked the essence of beauty with Piret from the Estonian cosmetics brand Sõsar (‘Sister’). Whilst creating their products from all-sustainable resources combining modern-day science with local folk medicine, Sõsar not only serves organic skincare products for women, but has introduced an entire range for everyday use for the modern, global man. Perhaps that rather unusual stunt reveals why we have fallen utterly in love with their all-natural range…
What is beauty?
Beauty is something very effortless that exudes from within. It reflects in our entity, the way we speak, [in our] physical stance and attitude towards ourselves and one another. Beauty is healthy, not artificial. It’s inside all of us already. [It’s] like a diamond which needs polishing to become a rare brilliant. The question is, will you polish your diamond or cover it with paint?
What inspired you to launch Sõsar?
Sõsar was born out of a personal need for cosmetics which would highlight natural beauty without damaging our skin and body with synthetic preservatives or colourants. I consider myself to be a bon vivant when it comes to cosmetics and skincare. I value the highest quality, the purest and the most effective natural products that help you stay youthful and glowing. [The idea] came to me once I realised that what is considered ‘best’ isn’t always the most expensive or dressed in the fanciest packaging. I quickly came to the conclusion that everything depends on what’s on the inside - the rest is often just a beautiful facade. As I soon found out there were others who shared my values and believed in the power of nature — thus Sõsar was born.
Aside from the obvious, why are natural ingredients better for our skin’s health?
Everything in nature is already in perfect balance — we don’t need to extract, add or remove any components. The compote of fabricated substances [that stand at the other end of beauty industry] might not even give the desired results, but will rather create an addiction to the products. We should get to know nature better and learn how to benefit from it, rather than fear it. Natural products help to create a balance in our organism. We don’t need to apply seven layers of make-up or moisturise our skin on a daily basis, because our body and skin have the natural ability to be healthy and glowing if we knowingly support that. I believe that we all are already beautiful when we wake up. It’s a whole different question, whether we have the ability to see that beauty.
Besides women’s cosmetics, Sõsar also offers products for the modern man. What is important to keep in mind when creating a beauty product for men?
What is most interesting about men’s products is that men need to be encouraged to use said products, especially for skincare. [They should keep in mind that] it doesn’t make a man less manly. In fact, [it is not a myth] that we, women, like men who are naturally handsome and take care of themselves. After all, men have the same kind of skin problems as women do. Healthy skin will give men confidence in building their career, and they will also benefit from that confidence in social situations…in their private lives. What’s great about natural products is that they are actually suitable for both men and women.
If Sõsar was a character in an upcoming movie, what would she look like? How would she take care of her skin?
Sõsar would be a character called ‘Natural Beauty’, who makes heads turn in awe as she enters the room. It’s not about the perfect brow or having the perfect hair. Her beauty reflects in who she is, her gaze, and how she walks. She’s mindful that knowing her worth, getting a good night’s sleep and weekly beauty rituals are the key to beauty and youthfulness. And she doesn’t take no for an answer. Fresh air, good quality food and an active lifestyle are an essential part of her life.
If you’re as obsessed with natural beauty as we are, go check out Sõsar’s webpage at www.sosar.eu where you purchase their skincare products. (PS! They ship all over the EU!)