In the world of skincare ingredients, there are natural or physically processed agro-ingredients and there are chemically processed agro-ingredients and then there are completely non-natural or laboratory produced ingredients. And as if that doesn’t make it tough enough for consumers, we have practices like ‘greenwashing’ that makes the * behind the jar even more obscure to understand.
Defining ‘Natural’ and ‘Chemical’
So let us try to define what we feel is natural or green. You may find it a little bit odd that there is no universally accepted definition of ‘natural’ in the beauty industry. There are certifying bodies, either owned by governments (like Indian FDA, USDA Organic) or privately owned (like Ecocert, Whole Foods), that have regulated the industry with a set of norms. As expected, the norms are widely varied.
In our initial days of formulating, we were grappling with what is ‘natural’. Honestly the world seemed full of ingredients that started out trying to isolate or mimic a compound from nature, to make it work faster than the natural source. But the long-term side effects of it wasn’t really a focus because the problem in hand was resolved, which seemed myopic to us.
So we zeroed in on to the principles. To what had worked for us in our own journeys. Plant oils extracted with minimal processing worked to heal our skin issues, be it acne or dry itchiness, making our belief in natural healing all the more stronger, determined to never go back to how it was. This then became the cornerstone of our formulation philosophy. To find solutions for healthy beauty in nature, practised for over thousands of years.
How oils changed our skin
Our initial experiments with cold pressed oils, were almost a decade ago. When blending oils for our children, we picked oils of sweet almond, olive, soybean and sesame, just because they gave us comfort. We are traditional that way. We also knew how cold pressed oils are recommended as good fats in diets, so it felt like a good bias to have. Much research later, we figured how the essential fatty acids and vitamins in cold pressed oils are intact and unharmed as there is no contact with heat, and these are excellent for topical healing of skin conditions as they replenish the connecting lipids between our skin cells.
So skin that used to regularly become dry and itchy by the afternoon, despite of the generous application of body lotion after bath, turned happily silent through the day, till the next day! And to our further delight, those pesky bumps with ingrown hair on arms and legs just disappeared. Had we discovered this earlier, our 20s would be happier we think.
Have we also mentioned our relationship with facial acne? We tried the prescribed drug store creams with benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin phosphate. Being strong antibiotics, they did make zits disappear by drying up the skin, leaving a scab. But they sure felt harsh on our skin. We even underwent dermatological procedures. The LED treatments, glycolic peels and at times even the cortisone shot for hormonal acne. It was cyclic, and we knew we had to break it. Something was changing inside our bodies, like those little red flags - a burning sensation in the sunlight, skin got unpredictable when travelling. So we decided to quit it.
In the end, it was cold pressed oils of Grape Seed, Hemp Seed and Jojoba in what later became the Acne Control Creme, that we settled on. A zit still appears when stress level rises throwing hormones out of whack, but they settle, are less stubborn and don’t leave marks. Overall, it feels right within, and that hopeless fear of trying to fix something endlessly is gone.
We were still not entirely convinced what worked for us would work for all. But once we knew the negatives of a lot of popular cosmetic ingredients, we knew this was something we wanted to tackle. After all, why should anyone have to live with a skin concern for the rest of one’s life? Skin does heal, and we have a possible solution.
And so we started our small batch apothecary, blending oils fresh, like the old times. From the very first user, and then the tenth, and then the hundredth, we heard one thing, repeatedly. Our formulations worked.
We remember this lady who asked us a million times if we have something that could lighten her acne scars. She believed in natural healing. We made a non-comedogenic blend of Helichrysum and Rosehip oils that we believed would work for her. This was the genesis of our Clarifying and Regenerating Crème. She was getting compliments all around, she couldn’t stop beaming.
Then the one who told us she had stopped her monthly facials for good and in fact turned to all things natural in every facet of her life. She was happy and glowing. And we as a brand were reflecting her glow, a little surer by now.
Then another who was thrilled to have gone off steroid creams. With her case of keratosis pilaris, she was sceptical of trying something new. While we couldn’t guarantee, like we tell all our consumers, natural skincare needs time and commitment. And we asked her for the same. And she did. She followed the ritual to the T for 4-6 weeks. Her skin healed, and she made that #switchforgood to natural skincare.
So, if you ask us, which was that one moment or what was that one paper that triggered our formulation philosophy, we can’t pick. It was a process that unfolded in our lives, starting with our own, and then moving on to so many others.
We didn’t turn green overnight. We adopted and practised green formulations over a few years and then educated, first ourselves and then others, for a few more years. Somewhere in the middle of this, it struck us that if nature has given us food and water to survive, she must have given us tools to heal too. And it is in this that we put much of our faith into. That given time, nature helps heal. Slowly, gently, and for good.