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How to Keep Your Skin Healthy This Summer – Sunscreen, Diet & Skin Care Products!

How to Keep Your Skin Healthy This Summer – Sunscreen, Diet & Skin Care Products!

Marion O'Leary | January 5, 2020

With the onset of summer and the inevitable increase in exposure of our skin to the sun’s rays, it’s worth considering how to take the best care of our skin while still making the most of all that summer has to offer.

What’s So Damaging About Sunlight?

Our skin is damaged by an excess of the ultraviolet (UV) wavelength of sunlight. The early visible effect of excessive UV exposure is sunburn, which is the inflammatory response triggered by UV light. While sunburn is visible, the changes going on in the deeper layers are not. UV light can damage our skin’s DNA, sometimes irreparably. It also triggers the generation of oxidative molecules (free radicals) that can damage our collagen, elastin and other structures in the skin, as well as our skin’s DNA. When skin DNA is damaged, we increase our risk of developing skin cancers, while damage to collagen, elastin and our skin’s matrix will speed up our skin’s ageing. To complicate matters, UV light can reduce our skin’s ability to mount an effective immune response, further raising the risk of developing skin cancers.

How Does Our Skin Protect Itself?

Our skin has built-in mechanisms that protect it to some extent from the harmful effects of UV light.  Firstly, our cells can repair damaged DNA. Secondly, our skin contains melanin, which is very efficient at absorbing UV light. And finally, it contains antioxidants that can neutralise the free radicals that damage the skin, however these are depleted following exposure to UV light.

So, How Can We Boost Our Skin’s Natural Defences?

Sunscreen

1. Sunscreen

When we really can’t avoid exposing our skin to the sun, sunscreen is our first line of defence. There are two types of sunscreen. Physical sunscreens, made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which protect the skin by reflecting, scattering and absorbing UV light. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, directly absorb UV light and convert it to heat energy. 

While physical sunscreens are generally considered safe, there are concerns about the safety of chemical sunscreens. Some of the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens can be absorbed into the body to the extent that they can be detected in blood, urine and breast milk. Yet their safety is still unproven. Of particular concern is oxybenzone, a common ingredient in chemical sunscreens, which may have hormonal effects (1).  A number of ingredients commonly included in chemical sunscreens, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, are also potentially damaging to coral reefs. In some parts of the world – Hawaii, Palau and Key West – sunscreens containing reef-damaging chemicals are banned, however no such ban exists in Australia. Unfortunately, because chemical sunscreens are more ‘invisible’ than physical sunscreens, they are far more popular. 

We believe the personal convenience of chemical sunscreens is not worth the risk to our health or that of the environment. When asked by our customers, we recommend choosing a certified organic sunscreen that uses non nano zinc oxide as its active ingredient.

Diet

2. Diet

Our skin contains natural antioxidants, and to some extent these protect our skin against free radical damage caused by UV light. So it makes sense that consuming a diet extra rich in antioxidants could make our skin even more resilient to the damaging effects of UV. However this is not always the case.

We looked at the benefits of increasing dietary antioxidants – vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols, all of which are found in many commonly consumed fruit and vegetables

It seems that increasing our vitamin C intake has no real protective effect, at least when consumed in its synthetic form. In the study we looked at, oral vitamin C supplements were given at a dose that raised both blood and skin levels of vitamin C. However no additional UV protective effect was seen. This was surprising, because vitamin C is known to be an important protector against UV light in the skin. 

In contrast, diets rich in carotenoids did have benefits, in particular lycopene and lutein, which are abundant in tomatoes. However a minimum of 12 weeks supplementation at a fairly high dose (around 55g tomato paste per day) was required to show a protective effect.

The polyphenol antioxidant found in green tea, and flavonoid-rich cacao powder were also effective – they reduced the size of sunburn after UV irradiation (2, 3).

Interestingly, many of these studies have looked at supplementing the diet with a single substance, sometimes synthetic. It may be that consuming a plant-based diet rich in a range of antioxidants, including sufficient quantities of proven protectants like green tea, cocoa and tomatoes, will have additive and synergistic effects, offering extra UV protection.

Skin Care

3. Skin Care Products

Applying antioxidants directly to the skin is another means of protecting the skin against UV damage. A range of studies have given interesting results.

Application of vitamin E directly to the skin was found to be protective. Vitamin E seems to exert its protective effect on the skin both through its antioxidant activity and by directly absorbing UV light.

Another promising study showed that applying green tea polyphenols gave protection against UV-induced damage (4). 

Although it is well established that consumption of carotenoids can help protect the skin against UV, the effect of topical application of carotenoids has not been studied.  However, we can make some assumptions from a couple of findings. Firstly, topically applied beta-carotene is known to be readily absorbed into the skin and converted to the active form of vitamin A (5).  In addition, where infra-red light was used to generate free radicals in the skin, the application of a cream containing beta-carotene protected the skin from free radical formation. (6). Therefore it seems likely that applying carotenoid-rich products to the skin will boost the skin’s antioxidant levels and protect against free radicals from UV light in the same way it protects from free radical production by infra-red light.

Vitamin C  is another substance that has been shown to be protective against UV, and also to stimulate production of collagen in the dermis. So to some extent vitamin C can both protect from UV damage and help repair the damage caused by UV light. The difficulty for skin care manufacturers is to deliver the active, water-soluble form of vitamin C at the low pH that allows its absorption. To make things more difficult, the water-soluble form of vitamin C loses its activity after a few weeks in an aqueous solution, and is readily degraded by light. Much work is continuing to find a way to deliver an active, usable form of vitamin C to the skin.

Which Mokosh Products Can Help?

All Mokosh moisturisers, as well as our Makeup Remover & Cleansing Oil,  contain vitamin E, carotenoids, and other antioxidants including polyphenols. Our Facial Cleanser, Exfoliator & Mask, once activated by mixing with water, is also rich in antioxidants, and contains the active form of vitamin C. 

We believe that the regular application of our products will help maintain good levels of these important antioxidants in the skin. In addition, after a day in the sun, when your skin’s levels of antioxidants will be depleted, application of our products should help replenish their levels, counteracting some of the damaging effects of UV light. Another strategy would be to apply our moisturisers before going into the sun, and before applying sunscreen, so that your skin will receive a boost of antioxidants before it is exposed to UV light. 

In addition, our products contain natural anti-inflammatory molecules that can help soothe the inflammation of sunburn, while their good levels of essential fatty acids can help rebuild the skin’s barrier function (read more about this here).

However, as most health professionals would say, prevention is better than the cure. Avoiding the sun when UV levels are at their highest should be a priority. When you can’t avoid the sun, be sure to wear protective clothing and sunscreen. Apply antioxidant-rich, well formulated products to your skin, and eat a really good diet, rich in fruit and vegetables. Your skin, like the rest of your body, will thank you for it!

Shop the full Mokosh range, including sample & mini sizes, here.

References

  1. https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24964816#
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326796078_Antioxidants_from_Plants_Protect_against_Skin_Photoaging
  4. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2014/860479/#B29
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8377767_Topical_b-carotene_is_converted_to_retinyl_esters_in_human_skin_ex_vivo_and_mouse_skin_in_vivo
  6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1600-0625.2010.01191.x
Go Eco in Your Home: Why Radical Must Become the New Normal

Go Eco in Your Home: Why Radical Must Become the New Normal

Marion O'Leary | November 4, 2019

Exploring ‘Normal’

A few years ago I was negotiating with a large online store specialising in selling natural skin care, and was told they had decided against taking on Mokosh products because they believed they would not sell well – because they were too ‘niche’. I have to admit to being at first puzzled and then annoyed by this response. It meant that a store claiming to sell ‘natural’ skin care would prefer to sell only products containing potentially harmful synthetics. To introduce a brand that was truly natural would be problematic, because the products would appeal to too few!

At Mokosh we have faced this hypocritical way of thinking for many years. We have shown that it is possible to have your healthiest skin ever by switching to 100% pure botanical skin care, and ditching the products diluted with water, mixed with emulsifiers (detergents), given a shelf life with the addition of powerful antimicrobials (preservatives), and thickened and stabilised with synthetics, many of which are derived from palm oil. And yes, these synthetic ingredients are still the norm in ‘natural’ skin care, even in certified organic brands. Do these synthetic-laden products sell well? They sure do, as the owner of the successful online store knew so well.

Humans dislike change

Unsurprisingly, when our customers switch to Mokosh and their skin is fed only pure certified organic botanicals, their skin undergoes a sometimes dramatic improvement in appearance and health.  Yes, Mokosh skin care is different to what most people are used to putting on their skin and it can take a few days to adjust to it. But the change in the health of the skin can be profound, while the benefits to the environment of omitting synthetics is potentially huge. For your skin, it’s like switching from processed junk food to a pure, whole food diet. For the environment, the benefit is the elimination of the factory processing required to produce the synthetics, with all the inherent waste and pollution that involves. In addition, it’s possible to be certain that palm oil is not hiding in your skin care (read more here). So many of the synthetics used in skin care contain palm oil, a major cause of deforestation, carbon emissions and species loss. Making a change in our lives is not always easy, even when we know it’s probably a good idea. This is because humans are creatures of habit and dislike change.

Renewable Wind Source
Embracing radical

With our young people taking the lead in demanding radical change during the Climate Strike marches last week,  the issue is similar, but on a gigantic scale. Because humans don’t like change, even when it’s clear there is a better way, only a few enlightened pockets of society take the first step. Most will not budge from their comfort zone until they are forced.  The survival of our society and our ecosystem relies on an evolution in our thinking, so that radical becomes mainstream, and continuing business as usual is not tolerated. The time to change is now, because we have only a few years to act before it is too late. At our local climate strike march in Perth last week, I felt hope, because the protesters ranged from school and university students, parents, grandparents, babies and children, to teachers, university staff, business owners and workers. This movement is becoming everyone’s movement. What started with one 15 year old girl protesting alone in front of the Swedish parliament has grown into a huge global movement for change.

What to do? 

We recently wrote an e-book ‘How to Live Sustainably’ (you can download it for free here) to summarise the state of our environment and the steps we can each take to create our new world. The first is to change our way of thinking. ‘Normal’ is no longer ok. We have to create a new ‘normal’ and we can do this one step at a time. Gradually, we will evolve into the society we need to become.

Woman Cycling

Powerful actions you can take

Action must be taken by you, me, your neighbour, our country, all of us. We can’t wait for our governments because they are too slow, too invested in power, and too lacking in leadership. There are simple changes we all can make right now.

  • Switch your electricity to 100% renewables or as much as you can afford. Contact your electricity supplier to arrange this. Australia still relies on fossil fuels for 80% of its electricity, and electricity accounts for 33% of Australia’s carbon emissions. If you do nothing else, do this.

  • Cut back on car use by cycling, walking, using public transport and car-pooling. When you replace your car, choose a car that is very fuel-efficient, hybrid or electric. Reduce unnecessary air travel and buy carbon offsets whenever you do fly. Transport accounts for 21% of Australia’s carbon emissions.

  • Cut back or eliminate consumption of animal products, which are responsible for high levels methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas. Animal farming is also an inefficient use of our agricultural land. What’s more, studies have shown that increasing our consumption of plants and reducing consumption of animal products will deliver huge health benefits and cost savings to our society. Buy organic when you can to preserve healthy soil and protect insects and native plants, the base of our food chain and ecosystem.

  • Buy food as much as possible from bulk food stores to reduce plastic packaging. Slowly eliminate plastic from your home and replace with glass, wood, ceramic, recyclable metal and compostable materials.

  • Do not buy products containing hidden palm oil, unsustainably grown coffee and cacao, and other crops that are harmful to our world’s forests. Remember that as a consumer, you have more power than anyone to determine what is placed on supermarket shelves.

  • Buy carbon offsets to offset your carbon emissions and maybe some extra for someone who can’t afford it. Plant natives where you live, join or contribute to a tree-planting group to help preserve native wildlife and offset carbon emissions. Tell your politicians that you do not support land-clearing. To our shame, Australia is listed by the World Wildlife Fund as a global deforestation hotspot, the only developed nation on the list.

  • Tell your politicians you want action on climate change. Join protests for action on climate change, and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

Finally, be radical, be niche, and be proud of it. 



How You Can Make a Difference For Our Planet in 2019

How You Can Make a Difference For Our Planet in 2019

Marion O'Leary | October 4, 2019

 

As global temperatures rise, plastic accumulates and valuable ecological habitats diminish, it can be difficult to remain positive about the future. But perhaps now is the time to remember how far we have come in so many areas and how we can play a role in accelerating the rate of change. By remaining strong, lobbying our governments, joining activist groups and continually making adjustments in our everyday lives, it is still possible to turn things around. Here is where we are right now.

Care for our Planet

The energy outlook

On the negative side, our use of oil is currently the highest it has ever been, and still climbing (1). Carbon dioxide emissions increased to their highest level during 2018, and are forecast to increase even further in 2019. In order to keep global warming to 2ºC, a target was set in the Paris Agreement to bring net carbon emissions down to zero by the second half of this century (2). So in 2019 we are still a long way from stabilising our carbon dioxide emissions, let alone reducing them.
On the positive side, renewable energy now makes up around 20% of our electricity generation world-wide, and is coming down in cost, making it cheaper in some cases than fossil fuel-generated power. However, 80% of total energy consumption, including for industry, agriculture and transport, still comes from fossil fuels. Investment in renewables has to speed up dramatically if we are to have any chance of hitting the targets.
Clearly, our governments have to come on board, by investing in innovative technology and creating incentives to switch to renewables. We know it can be done if governments are sufficiently enlightened – and thankfully, some governments are willing to take a stand. The UK now has a greater capacity to produce energy from renewables than fossil fuels (3), Spain recently announced its intention to move to 100% renewable energy by 2050 (4), while the US states of California and Hawaii have legislated for 100% renewable electricity by 2050 (5) , despite the Trump administration’s failure to act on climate change.
Despite the enormous task ahead of us, it is important to acknowledge the huge steps that have been made. Some are convinced we have the technology available right now to replace fossil fuels with renewables while still providing a reliable source of energy – we just need to invest in them (6).

Native habitat

Clearing of native land is disastrous for our planet. It means loss of habitat for increasingly vulnerable plants and animals, mass species extinctions and reduced biodiversity. Land clearing contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, removes carbon sinks, contributes to global warming through loss of the cooling effect of trees, and can adversely affect water ecology and rainfall patterns. As the world’s human population grows, we are under increasing pressure to clear more land for agriculture and housing. For too long we have looked at our native forests as something to get out of the way or to harvest, rather than as a precious and irreplaceable resource.
Many of us in Australia point a finger at Indonesia and Malaysia, renowned for clearing subtropical rainforest for palm oil cultivation, or at Brazil for clearing Amazon jungle for agriculture. However Australia is one of the worst offenders amongst developed countries for land clearing, with around 5000 square kilometres of native bushland or regrowth cleared each year.

Plastic pollution

SINGLE USE PLASTIC BANS
The simple policy of banning or charging for single use plastic bags in some parts of the world has resulted in drastic reductions in plastic bag use. In Australia, since the removal of single use plastic bags by Coles and Woolworths in 2018, together with plastic bag bans legislated in most states, there has been an estimated 80% reduction in consumption of plastic bags in Australia (7). Some countries are working towards taking the plastic ban further, including the European parliament which hopes to ban plastic straws, disposable plastic plates and cutlery by 2021, with 90% of plastic bottles recycled by 2025.

MICROBEAD BANS
The tiny plastic beads added to a broad range of skin care, sunscreen and makeup products cause havoc for our marine life (see our blog on micro plastics here). They have been banned in rinse-off products in a handful of countries, but unfortunately they may still be used in most of these countries in both makeup and suncreen.

School Strike for the Planet

The future is up to us – 11 things you can do right now

No matter which area you look at, the single barrier to keeping our planet from heading for catastrophe lies in our will to make the effort, spend the money, and change our lifestyle. As an individual, there’s plenty you can do:

1. ELIMINATE OR REDUCE DAIRY AND MEAT FROM YOUR DIET
This is probably the single most effective thing you can do to help our planet. Elimination of livestock farming would reduce the amount of agricultural land use by 75%. Meat and dairy farming account for 60% of agricultural greenhouse emissions (8). But is going vegan too hard? Invest in a great vegan cookbook and start by going vegan one day a week while you build up your repertoire of recipes. Any reduction will make a difference.

2. DON’T BUY PROCESSED FOODS
Palm oil is a hidden ingredient in a huge range of foods ranging from snack foods, biscuits, chocolate, ready meals, bread, ice cream and breakfast cereal. Making your own is not difficult, and probably healthier. Alternatively, find products without palm oil.

3. AVOID PACKAGING.
This means getting organised because it means taking your lunch, keep cup and refillable water bottle with you when you’re out. When buying packaged foods, choose glass, paper or cellophane packaging over plastic – they are less toxic for the environment and the contents. Buying from farmers markets and bulk food stores will also reduce your plastic consumption. Planning ahead is key, but incredibly rewarding when you see how the contents of your bin shrinks. Don’t like the excessive packaging on a product? Write to the manufacturer and let them know.

4. CAMPAIGN
The only way to get real change is to get government and business to make the right decisions for the planet. That means telling them directly that you want policy change, or helping out one of the many organisations whose mission this is. Organisations like the Wilderness Society, Greenpeace, Campaign to Save Native Forests, GetUp!, Australian Conservation Foundation and many others are all working to lobby governments and campaign for protection of our forests, oceans, rivers and wild places. Above all, vote wisely, and let your MP know you consider this issue to be a priority.

5. CHOOSE PRODUCTS WITH AN ENVIRONMENTAL OR ETHICAL LOGO
Where you can, choose products certified by organisations that make a difference – Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Orangutan Alliance, certified organic, palm oil free, cruelty free. Getting the certification is expensive for the business, but because they must be audited, you know you can trust them. Unless the logo is RSPO – you can read about how this organisation which was set up to certify sustainable palm oil has failed to fulfil its role, and allowed destructive palm cultivation practices to flourish (9).

6. MINIMISE YOUR USE OF PAPER
When you do buy wood or paper, purchase products with credible forestry certification system like FSC (10).

7. BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT TRANSPORT
Switching over to public transport and bicycle use when feasible means fewer car journeys, lower carbon emissions and better air quality. We need to lose our love affair with enormous petrol-guzzling cars and support the electric and hybrid car industry. When flying, go with an airline that offers carbon offsets to counteract the high carbon emissions of flying.

8. RECYCLE
The best option is to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ you buy, so there’s not much you need to recycle. Pride yourself on finding furniture and household items from flea markets. What you do need to get rid of, recycle – that includes electronics, printer cartridges, batteries, plastic, glass, cardboard, paper – everything you can.

9. CHOOSE ETHICALLY MADE CLOTHES
Second hand, or ethically made clothes from natural fibres are best.

10. COMPOST YOUR ORGANIC WASTE
And grow herbs and veggies at home if you can.

11. CHOOSE YOUR SKIN CARE AND COSMETICS WISELY
Avoid plastic packaged products where you can, and at all costs avoid cosmetics, makeup and sunscreen containing plastic microbeads. Choose palm oil free skin care, like Mokosh, and try to minimise the amount of shampoo and conditioner you use because there is still no accredited palm oil free or shampoo available.

 

REFERENCES

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24032092-600-2019-preview-renewable-energy-race-to-ramp-up-as-oil-use-skyrockets/
https://climateactiontracker.org/methodology/paris-temperature-goal/
https://climateactiontracker.org/methodology/paris-temperature-goal/
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/13/spain-plans-switch-100-renewable-electricity-2050?fbclid=IwAR17anh_xJmjeYC0JsNT0jR43eg5DIPbeyzWxMf1NehylXrVDu6Y0BYLHXg
https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article218128485.html
https://phys.org/news/2018-05-percent-energy-renewable-sources.html)
https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/australia-bans-plastic-bags-80-percent
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth
https://www.greenpeace.org/archive-italy/Global/italy/report/2018/foreste/Final_Countdown_Pages_LR_Greenpeace_19092018.pdf
https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/forests/solutions-to-deforestation/

 

How to Know When You’re Being Fooled By Dodgy Marketing

How to Know When You’re Being Fooled By Dodgy Marketing

Marion O'Leary | September 19, 2019

 

 

As a former scientist who has entered the world of business, I am often surprised by the advertising used by some companies to convey a healthier, cleaner impression of their product. When it comes to food, a lot of people are well informed. I would think that most people with half an interest in health could scan the ingredients list of a food product and get a pretty clear idea of whether it is healthy or not. But when it comes to cosmetics, it’s a different story, and companies know this.

 

Some interesting marketing

Something happened this week that left me a little perturbed. A health-conscious friend of mine was super-excited to discover a new hair care brand. The brand claimed to make their products differently, without synthetic ingredients, that left your hair healthier and shinier. There were lots of positive reviews on the website. One site selling the company’s hair products stated: 

‘Pure hand crafted hair care products derived from certified organic and biodynamic ingredients, free of all manmade synthetics and toxins.’ 

Well, that’s pretty exciting. Making shampoos and conditioners without synthetic ingredients is pretty impressive. Actually, impossible, as far as I know.

I took a look at the company’s own website. It stated: 

‘Ingredients straight from nature, grown organically and sustainably without chemicals. Ethically harvested and sourced from trusted, transparent plantations, orchards and farms from around the world. Formulated through conscious chemistry; cold-pressed, distilled or otherwise processed without synthetics to preserve purity.’

Sounds wonderful!

 

So what is a synthetic ingredient?

Wikipedia defines a synthetic substance or synthetic compound as: ‘a substance that is man-made by synthesis, rather than being produced by nature. However, it may also refer to a substance or compound formed under human control by any chemical reaction, either by chemical synthesis or by biosynthesis.’

In the world of organic certification, it is defined as ‘a substance which has been formulated or manufactured by a chemical process, and has chemically altered a substance which was derived from a naturally occurring plant, mineral or animal source’

So by these definitions, coconut oil is natural, but cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine is synthetic, even though coconut oil may have been used to make it. It’s not coconut oil anymore.

 

It’s easy to be fooled

So let’s look at the ingredients in one of the company’s shampoos. 

Water, Aqua- EAU, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu) Oil*, Plumeria Actufolia Flower Extract (Monoi Oil), Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Vanillin, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Glycine Soja Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract*, Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract.

I’ve highlighted in bold all the synthetic ingredients, by the definitions above. Out of 31 ingredients, 9 are synthetic – that’s nearly one third. What’s more, after water, which is the most abundant ingredient, the 4 most abundant ingredients are synthetic, so this product probably contains more synthetic ingredients than natural ingredients, if you don’t count water.

 

Is there a problem?

It may be that the shampoo is not harmful to human health or the environment, even though it contains numerous synthetic ingredients. It may even be fully biodegradable. However, it’s also possible that some of the synthetic ingredients in this product are harmful, or will in the future be found to be harmful, whereas the advertising led us to believe they were completely natural. At least, that is what how my friend and I interpreted their marketing.

The problem here is not telling the whole truth. The product is not ‘free of all manmade synthetics’, and not all the ingredients are ‘cold-pressed, distilled or otherwise processed without synthetics to preserve purity’. In fact, my friend bought a product which may well be more than 50% synthetic. It is not, as it seemed, a revolutionary shampoo that is completely natural, guaranteed 100% safe for her health and the environment. It is a product not very different from any number of shampoos on the market. The synthetic ingredients it contains could be unsafe for humans and could harm the environment. Her only means of finding out would be to research them herself, or accept the assurances of the manufacturer who misled her in the first place.

 

How to understand cosmetic labels

Sadly, understanding cosmetic labels is not for the faint-hearted. However, here is a simple rule. When an ingredient is natural and present in its natural form, it will be listed either as its botanical species name, or its common name, or both:

  • Persea gratissima (Avocado) Oil

  • Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil

  • Butyrospermum parkii (Shea Butter)

It’s not always easy to identify a species name, so it’s not straightforward. 

If it’s synthetic, it will be identified by its chemical name and look something like this:

  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine

  • Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate

  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

  • Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside

Sometimes this will be followed by ‘from coconut/sugar/vegetable derived’, meaning it has some input from a natural product. However, please note that there is no guarantee that an ingredient derived from a natural product is not toxic.

 

What do we do about it?

Unless you’re Donald Trump or Tony Abbott, you probably realise that our planet is in an unhealthy state. Every buying decision we make determines what sort of future we will create for our world. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations (of all species) to become educated about the impact we are having. It is uplifting to see so many people making ethical choices when they buy. However, when companies take advantage of ethical consumers by making claims that are clearly misleading, it is plainly wrong. What’s more, we need to inform the businesses who do mislead us that we won’t be fooled again. 

 

Want to discover a range of gorgeous skin care with ingredients you can trust? Find Mokosh’s beautiful products in the TWC online shop.

 

 

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