- On October 21, 2013
- By hilda
Funny how these things happen. In the beginning of July, not more than a few days after I had moved to St Petersburg, I got an email from a reader asking me if I knew anything about this skin care brand called Recipes Grandma Agafia (Рецепты бабушки Агафьи). This skin care product line is a russian brand, which isn’t very well known outside of Russia. However, you can buy it cheaply from Amazon.
Naturally, I got very curious and set out to see if I could find this product in St Petersburg. And I did find it at the first place I looked, the big shopping center called Gostiny Dvor. And I was surprised by the cheap prices! I knew it was a relatively cheap brand – at amazon, the products prices averaged at $5. Here, it was much cheaper; a product could be around $2 (and this is still quite the touristy, fancy shopping center). And it’s organic! So I simply bought a bunch of products, to check them out when I got home.
I haven’t contacted this brand to ask about their philosophy, like I’ve done with the other products in the company checkup post series, but I still wanted to give a review of the products I bought and let you know what I think of Grandma Agafia’s recipes.
- On August 9, 2013
- By hilda
Next up in the company checkup post series is Yves Rocher, a company that has been on the green beauty market for a long time. Personally, I’ve always associated Yves Rocher with coupons – all those coupon magazines that were sent to our house without anybody really being interested, always contained a full page of Yves Rocher coupons. Before now, I’d never really tried any of their products, but now I got the chance. Let’s take a close look at Yves Rocher – their brand, their claims and their products. (more…)
- On April 24, 2013
- By hilda
After a short break in the Company checkup post series, it’s time to pull out the big guns. This time I will be discussing one of the biggest green cosmetic companies out there – I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the Body Shop was the start of the green cosmetic movement, that has lead to people being more aware of what they put in their faces. Founded in 1976, the Body Shop has been very successful at creating a worldwide brand profile that exlaims key words like green, earth and nature.
So, let’s take a closer look at what the Body Shop’s claims. Have they managed to stick to these promises, or are they mostly greenwashing?
- On March 11, 2013
- By hilda
The next brand in the Company Checkup post series is Weleda, another brand that has managed to make a name of themselves in the natural skin care world. Weleda is an old brand, founded in 1921 by Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman. Steiner was a polymath of sorts, still famous today for founding (among other things) anthroposophy, Waldorf education and biodynamic agriculture. Weleda still today calls themself a anthroposphic brand, which is (more…)
- On February 8, 2013
- By hilda
When you first look at Ole Henriksen‘s skin care products, natural is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. The labelling is minimalistic and graphic, in very bright colors from the whole rainbow spectrum. The products are typically found in the more expensive department stores and in tax free shops in airports. On their website, they don’t boast about how natural their products are, there’s a lot more info about Ole Henriksen as a person and his experience with working with celebrities in Hollywood.
Nonetheless, even though they skipped the whole unbleached paper with brown and green colors and pictures of earth and flowers-look, Ole Henriksen does market themselves as a natural skin care brand. When I contacted the company with some questions, I was surprised to see that my reply actually came from Ole Henriksen himself. See what he wrote below. (more…)
- On February 1, 2013
- By hilda
Along with a few others, L’occitane is probably one of the biggest cosmetic companies who describe themselves as natural, at least here in Europe. Maybe (probably?) because of this, my preconception of L’Occitane was that they are greenwashing and not nearly as natural as they claim, even though I have no idea of what their products actually contain.
Seeing as I fly quite a lot these days (yes, bad, bad me), I see L’occitane often, passing them in the Tax free section. Several times I approach the shelf, thinking I should buy something – how come I always get in the mood of buying stuff when I’m in a tax free shop, even things that I think aren’t natural? But when looking at the products (right before going “… naah ..” when I take a look at the price) I noticed that they actually do contain a lot of vegetable oils and other truly natural ingredients as their main ingredients. This is why I wanted to do my second Company Checkup about L’occitane en Provence – to see if they are better than my prejudice.
- On January 21, 2013
- By hilda
The first brand in the Company Checkup post series is a brand that was completely new to me: Antho, formerly Anthology Organics. Antho was recommended to me when I asked for companies to look through, as a positive example of organic skin care brands. I chose to start with Antho because, not only do they start my alphabetic list, they were also very quick with replying to my email, which I sent out last summer.
Antho is a vegan skin care line with products containing 99-100% USDA certified organic ingredients. In a brochure I was emailed they claim that their products contain “no bad chemicals” and “no junk whatsoever”. Yup, sets the bar pretty high doesn’t it? But do they live up to their promises?
- On October 2, 2012
- By hilda
Okay, so you’ve taken the decision to change your cosmetic habits. You’ve read a little bit about the cosmetic industry and realized that a lot of the ingredients they put in their products are just cheap filling agents that even might be harmful for your skin and body in the long run.
So you narrow your shopping down and start looking in the sections labelled ”natural”. Here you are likely to find zillions of products that scream FROM NATURE WITH LOVE and 95% ORGANIC INGREDIENTS. Some products tell you NO ADDED PARABENS/TALCUM/SILICONE/[enter any ”bad” ingredient here], others WITH ADDED OLIVE OIL/ARGAN OIL/VITAMIN E/[enter any ”good” ingredient here].
So where to start, which ones to choose? Are all natural products equally natural just because they are in the natural section of your local shopping mall? This is what I want to find out in my new post series, which I have named Company Checkup. One by one, I will go through several companies who name themselves natural, organic or anything like that.
Before starting to look at the actual companies and their claims, I wanted to find out what if there is any legal regulation or requirements that a brand or product needs to fulfill to be called ”natural”. Based on what I have seen of so called ”natural” products, my hypothesis was that there aren’t any regulations, and that a company decides themselves if they want to call their product natural or not.
So I started looking around for a pro who could answer my questions. This turned out more difficult that I had imagined. Apparently somebody should know this, but nobody really knows who does. First I contacted the Swedish Consumer’s Agency, where they said “the answer isn’t as obvious as you might think…” and forwarded my emails to the Swedish environmental department, who gave me several other tips including one person in their own department – none of which could answer my questions. After many emails back and forth, I finally got in touch with a person at the Medical Products Agency (more or less the equivalent of the FDA in USA), where I finally got some answers to my questions. This is what Tomas Byström at the Medical Products Agency had to say (freely translated from Swedish). For those of you who understand written Swedish, you can read read the original interview in Swedish in this PDF.
These answers are based on the situation in the EU and Sweden, but according to Byström, it’s more or less the same thing in the rest of the world. (more…)
- On August 19, 2012
- By hilda
Click here to see all posts in the series
I HAVE A CONFESSION to make: I hardly ever buy cosmetic products anymore. Every time I go out looking for something new (and each time I think: this time I’m going to buy something and not just browse), I end up dividing the products I look at into two categories. The first category consists of products with only a few ingredients, all of which I recognize and probably already have at home, and I find it totally unnecessary to pay heaps of money for something that I could just as well make myself. The other category are products with a long ingredient list, and a lot of ingredients that I don’t recognize, and I don’t want to buy it because I don’t know what these ingredients are going to do on my skin. They might be beneficial for the skin (or at least not harmful), but since I don’t know, I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry and just go home and make something similar instead.
THERE ARE SO MANY cosmetic companies out there, all making all kinds of claims of being organic and natural. As you can see, my starting point is to be skeptical of all of them, until proven otherwise. But since I never actually end up buying and trying anything, I never am proven wrong. This is one of the reasons to why I decided to start a new post series. In this vast series of blog posts that I’ve decided to call Company Checkup, I’m going to go through a whole bunch of cosmetic companies who, in one way or another, claim to be “natural”, have a look at them and some of the ingredients they use, and try to make my own verdict of whether they are a go or a no. This includes everything from using words such as “earth” or “nature” in their brand names to being certified organic products. My aim here is to see if the brand actually lives up to their promises of being “natural”, which by no means is an assesment of the product in itself – only of their claims and of how well they live up to it. (more…)