Lately, I have been keeping an eye on skincare and make-up subscription boxes, and believe me, it’s addictive!
By JOHANNA RAUDSEPPRead More
Lately, I have been keeping an eye on skincare and make-up subscription boxes, and believe me, it’s addictive!
By JOHANNA RAUDSEPPRead More
Australian women have definitely managed to both establish and preserve a highly unique sense of style, as well as some highly interesting and perhaps slightly peculiar beauty routines.
By Claire HastingsRead More
Want to know which are the best 6 Christmas beauty trends right now and how you can utilise them? Read on.
By Brigitte EvansRead More
"There I was, standing in my shower and trying to get clean, yet I looked like I had just gone mud wrestling."
By Johanna RaudseppRead More
"I love that little special customised service, because when you order make-up online, it’s often easy to get your tone wrong and end up feeling disappointed with your purchase."
By Johanna RaudseppRead More
To live a conscious life is not so easy when every day we must battle over routinely decisions: what type of soap to buy and what body care to choose. Natural cosmetics are the ones with ingredients ranging from fruits and oils to plants and berries — a wide range making it difficult to decide which components are the most beneficial to our skin. Today, not all natural cosmetics are handmade, like known from ancient rituals, but we are witnessing a wonderful momentum allowing us to buy sustainable products with a range of safe natural ingredients — even if they are blended in the lab — that have become a healthy alternative not only concerning our bodies, but also the environment.
Words: Alexandra Mozgovaya
We compare different eco skin products (U.S. and UK) and distinguish what main natural ingredients our daily face and body care consist of.
1. Coconut (comes in the form of oil or fruit’s juice).
Coconut oil (if you didn't use it before reading, just start) has a wide array of health benefits - skin and body care, hair care, weight loss, strengthening immunity and anti-stress effect. Coconut oil is a natural moisturising product that is effective on all types of skin, including dry skin. It can also treat different skin concerns: psoriasis, dermatitis or eczema and can be an antibacterial shield (!) for acne problems. If you didn’t know yet — coconut oil is a natural product carrying anti-aging effect: namely, creating a barrier to dust and helping to protect the skin from the sun. A great life hack — coconut oil can be used as a pure make-up remover. Just try and you won’t regret.
2. Olive oil.
Olive oil is a wonderful moisturising product. If you have a particularly oily skin (you do know that it also needs to be moisturised, right?), olive oil can help to regulate skin’s own pH balance and remove excessive oil from the face caused by cosmetics. Olive also protects our skin from free radicals. Antioxidants in olive reach deep into the skin and remove dirt and dead skin cells. Also, olive oil consist vitamins, including A and E, that help to repair cells from pollution in a big city environment. So, it is a great natural gem for everyday use.
3. Shea butter (also Karite).
Shea butter is a real skin superfood! Originating from seeds of the Shea fruit tree and being rich (similarly to olive) in vitamins A, E and F, Shea offers UV protection and produces nutrients for collagen production to prevent skin from fading, including establishing wrinkles! Skin becomes softer to touch and naturally strengthens inside.
4. Green tea.
Green tea gives us a number of benefits: antioxidants, which protect us from free radicals. It also stimulates skin’s micro-circulation and improves skin's tone and health (because of Methylxanthines). It also reduces action of collagenase – enzyme that damages collagen in our skin. Green tea also reduces inflammation, so it takes effect as a natural sunscreen.
As an ingredient, beyond all, avocado helps to protect skin from UV light. Avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, proteins, lecithin and potassium. It’s very beneficial to the skin and considered as super-ingredient. Avocado oil also helps heal the skin from injuries deriving from sun exposure and scars. Avocado oil, in particular, makes skin strong by triggering the production of collagen. This helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and enhance skin tone. Avocado helps to regenerate and reactivate different rejuvenating processes in the skin.
So, the best natural ingredients are everywhere around us and eco beauty brands are going strong on using them in their products. It is hard to balance everyday beauty routine having to literally DIY-invent mixtures from coconut fruits, or a bottle of olive oil at home, so it is much convenient to choose cosmetics from the line of beauty labels that have incorporated these healing ingredients into their cosmetics already, carrying a wealth of benefits and a huge positive impact on our skin's health.
There's already a varied choice of different eco brands on the market, which present us with quality and high-standard eco contents. So, investigate the labels on your beauty products, decide what fits your personal needs the best and let your healthy skin speak for itself.
It’s not just the founders that pave the way for ethical and natural cosmetics, but the people behind the scenes, although often understated, play a crucial role as well. I had the amazing opportunity to share a cuppa with Triin Truu, a product developer and lab enthusiast from Estonia. Triin works as a product developer for Turbliss, an Estonian beauty brand drawing its power from peat, offering a range of bioactive products for your hair and skin for daily use. A natural beauty herself, she’s a true inspiration for finding your way into vegan cosmetics. At a quaint café in Tartu, Estonia, we delved into the behind the scenes of beauty industry.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
Let’s start with you. How did you find your way to genetics?
Well, I was born in Viljandi [Estonia]. I had always enjoyed biology. I remember seeing some documentary about genome therapy, and then I thought to myself, “Wow, this is really game-changing – I want to do that!”. That’s when I knew I would be studying genome technology at the University of Tartu. I was convinced that this was my true calling.
What brought the big change? I feel that sometimes university programmes can really disappoint. How did it go with you?
In high-school I used to be rather quiet and shy. But I feel like I completely changed during university years. They always try to make students more active and make them take part in different social activities. So, I ended up in the group of people who organised all the parties and events. The experience I gained made me open up.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I had this huge dream of working with people and learning about the human body. But it ended up being more focused on bacteria! That’s when I really had to re-think my choices.
From there, losing your interest in studying genetics, you ended up working for Turbliss, a brand that focuses on a range of natural peat skincare and haircare products. Seems like quite a big U-turn.
In a way, it was, because it wasn’t anything I had ever considered before. However, I realised that I love make-up and I love beauty, so why not use my skills for that? I started to focus more on microbiology and learn more about the skin structure and how it functions. A good thing about my programme was that I got a lot of laboratory experience, which is what I essentially do today – I work in a lab and stir up new things from natural ingredients.
Now that you work in a natural cosmetics company, has your beauty routine changed at all?
I use less make-up now for sure [laughs]. I definitely value sleep more. When I do use make-up, I try to go for naturally-made products. I like Ontic Minerals, which is an Estonian brand and they don’t add anything extra – it’s clean and exactly what you need for everyday. I used to use regular cosmetics brands when going out, but just that one night caused my skin to lash out and look terrible.
Where does the difference come from? We often try to compare 'natural' with ‘regular’, but what is that determing factor in, for example, face creams?
The pH level is really important. For me, it’s important that the pH level is similar to our skin's own – around 5.5. Turbliss has a peat tonic that has quite a low pH level. It helps strengthen the skin and bring down the pH level, if you use other [chemical] products. Now, what happens when the pH is too high in a product is that your skin becomes dry and the wrong bacteria feel more at home – and that’s not good for your skin. More itchiness, redness – the unpleasant things.
I think it’s really important nowadays to know what you are buying and where it comes from. What’s your take on sustainable consumption and lifestyle choices, and how do you apply it in your life?
That’s an interesting topic, actually. I was just discussing the new plastic bag campaign with my granddad yesterday. They stopped giving out those small plastic bags in supermarkets in Estonia. But we realised that, surely, it does reduce the amount of plastic bags in circulation, but a lot of our food is still packaged and stored in plastic. There’s two sides to every coin. I try to use canvas bags when I go shopping. I think that if we want to call for change, we need to start the change from ourselves.
Like in those zero-waste stores in Germany and Denmark, and there are a few here in Estonia, too. They have a package-free concept.
Exactly. At first I thought I was weird when I put unpacked fruit and veggies on the counter, but it’s a tiny way to help the environment. That’s one thing I really like about Turbliss products as well – we use glass packaging, which can later be easily recycled.
Another aspect of appreciating slow living is spending more time with yourself and not rushing everywhere. How do you like to unwind?
I enjoy hiking in the forest on weekends or taking the dog out to the seaside. My dog loves it so much! I like travelling, too, especially in Estonia. There are so many strange places to discover here. I know I work with peat, but I really love our bogs. Time just stands still there. It’s just you, the silence, and the fresh air.
If you could explore a place anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Probably somewhere in the Carribbean. You know, the first thought that popped into my head was that I’d go to my summer home in the country. Build a summer kitchen, make a herb garden and grow herbs. My boyfriend and I really enjoy cooking. It’s a great way to spend time together.
Finally, what advice would you give on cosmetics to our readers?
It’s not all about the brands – sometimes small and less known brands make products just as great, only that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to buy it. Don’t hesitate to read the ingredients and ask for assistance. Usually, ingredients with very complicated chemical names are actually some very basic compound, like coconut oil. Less is more. With a lot of ethical natural cosmetics brands you get what you need – no bullshit. And that’s what I love about it.
Drawing from ancient knowledge of purifying the body, mind, and soul, there’s a new 100% natural way of adapting to ancient rituals. Luxury skincare made user-friendly - and all you need to do is just add water! Indian award-winning skincare brand SkinYoga focuses on empowering women by educating them about the worth of natural beauty and traditions. Founded by a sister-trio, this beauty brand stems from a unifying love of nature and heritage. Radhika Choudhary, one of the co-founders of SkinYoga, spoke to us about their skincare range and its sustainable future.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
What inspired you to create SkinYoga?
We grew up in a farm in India, where we used to grow our own vegetables, nurtured cows for dairy, and lived a very organic lifestyle. Then we moved to different parts of the world to study. We always got complimented for our skin and hair and at that made us realize it was the very simple and pure regime we had been following since our childhood. After seeing misleading claims from beauty brands that you only need 3% natural ingredients to call yourself a natural skincare brand, we were determined to develop and formulate a 100% natural and clean luxury skincare line that showed results in just one use. The idea was to create a product for the modern working women, so they could enjoy the best of ancient science and modern technology, yet without having to spend hours on different steps.
How does SkinYoga follow principles of sustainable beauty?
We are 100% natural skincare brand and all our ingredients are plant-derived, pure, and unprocessed. Few brands in the world can say they are 100% natural.
There are many dimensions to being sustainable. We have kept all our products in a powdered state to keep them highly active and potent. When you’re ready to use it, you only need to add water to activate it. The stabilizing method helps us keep the ingredients highly active without any preservatives. We focus on the smallest details, from packaging to internal operations, making sure they follow an eco-friendly process. Our team is very actively involved in the community and participates in socially responsible programs. We frequently conduct educational seminars and exhibitions highlighting the importance of sustainable beauty.
Who is your beauty inspiration?
Hundreds and thousands of strong independent working women across the globe, who have and are living balanced and healthy life with lots of style, not because they have to, but because they choose to do so. They are incredibly inspiring, and thanks to our profession, we are blessed to be working with many of such women today, our mother being one of them. We would also like to add that 100% of our workforce are women today.
What is your go-to beauty routine like?
It’s quite simple: cleansing, moisturizing and good sun block in addition to at least 6 hours sleep and loads and loads of water. We at SkinYoga are always looking to further simplify beauty routines. We have concluded that a beauty regime doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated and involve 20 different beauty steps.
What inspires you when creating new SkinYoga products?
One miracle bottle. That’s our brief behind every product. If you look at our current range we have an ideal capsule skincare range, adaptable to every age and all climate conditions. Coming back to the idea that you don’t need 10 products to take care of your skin.
Quality has become a signature to our brand. Our team works extremely hard to create products,which are clean and effective. Our philosophy is “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body”. 60% of what you put on your body is directly absorbed into your blood stream. Hence, it’s important to stay away from chemicals.
How do you see the future of natural, sustainable beauty? Where is it directed?
The future of the beauty industry is heading towards natural and sustainable brands. With the growing consumers’ awareness and demand, the natural skincare category is one of the fastest growing in skincare globally. But there is a huge gap in the market still and more brands are coming to that realization.
Global demand for natural skincare products is expected to reach $13.2 billion by 2018. Thus, we will see more mainstream brands come up with natural skincare ranges in the future.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2017?
Our dream and mission is to get every vanity bag chemical free. We love to empower women. We want every woman to feel confident and strong in their own skin without having to apply any makeup.
2017 is an important year for SkinYoga - we are coming out with 3 new products, including our first hair care product.
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.