When it comes to skincare the word ‘natural’ can come with many connotations depending on who is telling the story or selling the product. Companies and brands are realizing that consumers are becoming more aware of the dangers that have been lurking in cosmetic products they’ve been putting on their skin and it’s good business sense to give the customer what they want, otherwise they won’t buy the product. The industry has definitely cleaned up its act in recent years, but by reading through this blog you’ll realize that, although products have become less toxic, they still aren’t that healthy. We hope to explain why products like ours are healthier and a better choice of skincare for people who want safer more effective products made with real natural ingredients. Before covering what makes our products so special versus most off the shelf “natural” products, we want to explain how the government views the term “natural” and how that allows the modern skincare industry to use the term so loosely.
In different countries all across the world, there are agencies within the government that help to regulate and control all aspects of what you can and can’t put into your cosmetic/skincare products and what you can and can’t say on the labels of those products.
In Australia, all skincare is classified as a cosmetic. The definition of cosmetics as defined by the AICIS(Australian Industrial Chemical Introduction Scheme) is; A cosmetic product is a substance designed to be used on any external part of the body, or inside the mouth, to change its odor or appearance, cleanse it, keep it in good condition or protect it.
If you are claiming any therapeutic benefits for your products or wanting to sell sunscreens then you need to apply and follow the regulations set out by the TGA(Therapeutic Goods Administration).
This doesn’t mean that Australia is void of any regulations when it comes to the manufacture or sale of cosmetics but the approach of Australian regulators to product safety, is more self-regulatory with more of the onus being on you to navigate the murky waters. When it comes to claims, safety, and labeling obligations, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) role is to ensure businesses supplying cosmetic products comply with Australian competition, fair trading, and consumer protection laws. An important part of any product is the labeling and ingredient listing of any product and this must comply with the Trades Practices(Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991.
Most of the laws and regulations revolve around consumer rights, product safety, and labeling requirements which are all well and good, but it comes down to the manufacturer and/or owner of a cosmetic brand to follow the rules and stay within the boundaries set by the government. There is no policing or mandatory testing before a product can go to market leaving anyone to hopefully follow the rules and abide by the laws. This isn’t always the case though. To use the word natural on the labeling of a product is a bit ambiguous and not legally defined or universally defined. Products that contain 20% of natural ingredients or another term commonly used ‘naturally derived ingredients’ can therefore label their products as ‘natural’. The consumer thinks they are buying something good for their skin and health, but consequently could be applying something that is rather toxic or useless.
If you’ve ever been to the store and stood there staring at all the skin and hair care products wondering which is the best one for you, then you’re not alone. People will generally pick it up, read the stuff on the front of the label first, spin it around and look at the ingredients on the back for about a second or two, see a long list of big words then spin it back around and decide whether to buy it or not. For most, it’s something superficial like the packaging, the buzz words or a feeling that inspires someone to purchase that product when ultimately, the only thing that should make that product end up in your trolley is what is listed under – Ingredients. Skin Care products these days are rarely defined by their ingredients but the ingredients tell you everything you need to know about whether that product is worth your money or whether it isn’t.
When we talk of natural ingredients, we need to define what natural is according to skincare. The definition of natural skincare is based on using botanically sourced ingredients currently existing in or formed by nature, without the use of synthetic chemicals and manufactured in such a way to preserve the integrity of the ingredients. Modern-day natural skincare has found a way to manipulate a once naturally whole ingredient into a refined or synthesized version of what it once was and with the power of nature that it once had, into a useless, cheap, easily sourced laboratory-grade, derived from natural ingredient, that is found in most products on the market around the world. Unfortunately, a lot of other skincare companies don’t share our views or ethics. The best way to tell the good guys doing the right from the bad guys, is, whether it’s handmade or not. From there, start reading ingredients and understand that anything that contains water as the first or second ingredient is generally a waste of your money and the product won’t be healthy for your skin. Secondly, if you see a big list of hard to pronounce ingredients, again, not good.
Our definition of natural means that a product MUST contain 100% natural ingredients and they should be as close to their raw state as possible to provide the most benefits and efficacy. Any refinement along the way from its natural state is one step closer to being useless and a waste of money. When formulating our products and coming up with our recipes, we knew we didn’t want to do what most other skincare companies were doing. Our first thoughts were:
Let’s break down our best-selling Wonder Balm for a look at how we created it, the benefits it provides, and why it’s completely unique to anything else on the market. Firstly, we define who we want this product to help. Immediately we thought about people with skin issues, and especially kids with eczema. These could range from sensitive skin, dry skin of the face, body, hands, and psoriasis.
Now that we have our “who”, next we need to know our “how”. How can something we make create a positive difference in someone’s skin health? This is when we started going through studies, reading books, scouring the internet through blogs, and people’s experiences to start forming a picture of what problem our product needed to solve. Natural ingredients work best in their most raw state and if we look at some ingredients in our Wonder Balm, we’ll show you how they were chosen.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla ) In studies it has been shown to have a more beneficial effect on skin inflammation, atopic eczema, nappy rash and wounds than any steroid creams without nasty side effects.
Hempseed Oil (Cannabis sativa) – Because of its abundance of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, many studies have shown that hempseed oil caused significant changes in plasma fatty acid profiles and improved symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
Organic Virgin Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera) in this Study from the International Journal of Dermatology it has been shown that virgin (unrefined) coconut oil when applied topically for 8 weeks to the skin, children with eczema saw a marked improvement in skin hydration and anti-inflammatory effects.
When we compare other brands use coconut oil in their products to how we use it in our products, you will see why our products are healthier and better for your skin than the rest of the brands out there. We use it in a lot of our products because it’s so good for the skin and many skin issues. We use it raw, unbleached, unrefined, in its most natural state. It’s whole, all the constituents of coconut oil work synergistically together to provide its maximum potential and benefit.
Alternatively, companies that want to use this ingredient for things like shampoos, or any product that needs a sudsy texture, they use what’s called Cocamidopropyl betaine which is a synthetic compound made by mixing coconut oil with dimethylaminopropylamine(made from acrylonitrile – a very toxic chemical that has been classified as carcinogenic. The American Contact Dermatitis Society voted Cocamidopropyl betaine as Allergen of the Year in 2004.
We believe the best types of natural ingredients for your skin are the ones safe enough to put in your mouth. Obviously, you don’t want to be swallowing a big spoon of shea butter for breakfast, but if you ate a little bit, it wouldn’t affect you negatively. All our products are based on using these types of ingredients:
Plant Oils and Butters – are the best way to nourish and deliver powerful antioxidants, essential fatty acids, micronutrients, and beautiful ways to deliver the richness of nature into your skin.
Essential Oils – Everybody loves a nice scent. It might bring back memories of a time or person, it might relax you, it might wake you up but the power of essential oils are undeniable. Used throughout history, studied by science and beneficial for so many things, like improving health, sleep issues, natural cleaning, air fresheners… the list is endless!
Vitamins, Minerals, and Elements – that include things like Vitamin E (tocopherol), Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin B3 (niacinamide), and Magnesium that help boost the natural defense of the skin through their powerful antioxidants and relieve tired aching muscles and sore joints.
Extracts and Infusions – basically a natural ingredient that has either been extracted or infused into a medium such as oil, alcohol, vinegar, or glycerin and then used in a product. For example, we infuse organic calendula and chamomile flowers into sunflower oil that’s been warming in the sun for over 4-6 weeks. We also extract the magic from herbs that have been infusing in apple cider vinegar for 10-12 weeks, and that time for infusion and extraction makes all the difference in our Herbal Hair Rinse for example.
Botanicals – are plants, seeds, barks, leaves, roots, fruits, or anything that can be used for exfoliation, coloring, or just to make something like our Shea Rose & Clay Handmade Soap look that little bit more special with some organic red rose petals sitting on the top of each bar.
Clays – talk about straight from the earth. This is literally earth and some of the most powerful elements in our products like our Four Earth Clay Mask or Pink Salt Facial Cleanser. Clays are incredibly powerful at detoxifying, cleansing, and balancing the skin so we use them for those reasons plus that is the perfect way to color our soaps or products using only something that’s completely natural instead of something that’s artificial.
There are also some specific local Australian ingredients that are used in our range which have a multitude of benefits such as:
Tea Tea Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)- has been used for centuries by indigenous Aboriginal people as traditional medicine for skin infections, bruises, and insect bites. More recently it has been discovered to be very effective as a treatment for acne, fungal infections, and a potent anti-inflammatory. We use it our Best Selling products – Pink Salt Facial Cleanser & Moringa Oil Moisturiser.
Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) – Shown to be even more powerful than tea tree oil for its significant efficacy against a range of bacterias, yeasts, and fungi. It has also been proven to be an effective surface disinfectant and natural preservative so for a safer way to clean the kitchen without the use of chemicals you could purchase our Lemon Myrtle Essential Oil, mix it in a spray bottle with white vinegar use it to wipe down any food preparation surfaces or general household cleanser.
Kakadu Plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) – With over 900 times more vitamin C and 5 x more antioxidants than blueberries which travel around the body and skin scavenging free radicals whilst protecting the cells against oxidative stress-related damage caused by diet and/or the environment. We’ve added it to our Acai Berry Facial Exfoliator along with a host of other powerful ingredients to help boost the skin’s natural defenses against environmental damage and aging.
Our soaps are the backbone of our business. We take great pride in creating healthy soaps, full of beautiful oils, butters, powerful essential oils, and an array of botanicals to add texture and color. There are a few ways to create soaps. The hot process method, the cold process method and melt and pour.
We use the cold process technique, which is the oldest, purest, and most traditional way of making soap. Starting from scratch we create an amount of oils/butter/fats in one container, a liquid(this could be water, goats milk, pureed apples, beer, coconut milk etc) in another container. Then we add caustic soda which is a strong alkaline that helps emulsify or bind the oils to the water molecules using a stirring action. When stirred enough, we then add the desired amount of essential oils and botanicals to color until a thing called trace is reached. This is like making a pavlova, you know it’s ready when the peaks stay as peaks or the soap holds bumps on the top without slipping in.
Then we pour into a mold, wait a day, un-mold it, wait another day, then cut out the large-sized bars, put them to cure, and then in 4-6 weeks they are ready to be used. For a more detailed version of how to make soap we love – The Nerdy Farm Wife.
Our handmade soaps are super cleansing but moisturizing at the same time. They leave your skin nourished and nurtured plus have the power of essential oils to do what they do best. It’s the ultimate way to cleanse the body, face, and hair. We’ve got over 15 styles of handmade soaps in our range but some of our most popular ones are:
Calendula & Lavender – Perfect for sensitive skin, it contains raw goats milk and lavender essential oil alongside other great ingredients for all skin types.
Hemp, Lemongrass and Green Tea – When the hot water hits this soap, the lemongrass essential oil produces a wonderful scent and the abundance of hemp oil that penetrates the skin leaving it soft and silky smooth.
Shampoo Bar – Say goodbye to plastic and bad hair days. This is an original recipe featuring ingredients that are transformative to the hair and scalp which has garnered rave reviews from customers and hairdressers alike.
When your skin is being fed the optimal nutrition through healthy ingredients and you’re not bombarding your skin with useless or toxic ingredients, it is repairing and maintaining that equilibrium or balance to thrive and perform optimally. In our facial care range we don’t use any alcohol or useless ingredients but instead use natural cleaning agents like in coconut oil, there are natural saponins that help to cleanse the skin naturally. We use clays that help to pull the dirt from the pores and even out the skin tone leaving the skin in balance and therefore able to keep its beauty and freshness. The most important part of any routine, hands down, is moisturizing. There are two kinds of moisturizers. The creams that most people use and oils that more people should be using.
Using oil as your moisturizer is the best way to nourish and apply hydration to the skin but not all oils are the same and some are more practical and just better than others. In our research and from all the feedback from our lovely customers, our range includes:
Moringa Oil – One of the most nutritious oils ever
Hempseed Oil – The oil that is the most similar to the human skin
Rosehip Oil – Perfect for mature skin and healing.
Jojoba Oil – A light, easy to absorb oil that has a 0 on the comedogenic scale.
Everything in our facial care range is unrefined, nothing unsafe and contains only what your skin needs and loves.
Essential Oils –
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years dating all the way back to the Roman and Egyptian civilizations. They are potent elixirs of nature and have a wide variety of benefits that are too numerous to mention but backed up by scientific studies and anecdotal evidence, it’s no wonder they have become popular with so many people these days. Essential oils can be extracted in a variety of ways and we use them in our products for their benefits and beautiful aromas and avoid using the toxic chemical cocktails called ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ that is listed under the ingredients in most other skincare products, even the so-called natural ones.
At Toby and Rosie, our essential oils are extracted using the most unrefined methods possible and that is cold-pressed or steam distilled. Cold-pressed is usually for more of your citrusy type scents where the rinds or peels can be mechanically pressed or squeezed to extract the delicate oils which are then added to a spinning or centrifugal force to separate the oils from the juice.
Steam distilled is probably the most widely used extraction method as it extracts essential oils from a wide variety of natural substances. The material is added to a still and steam is passed through allowing the plant constituents to rise as steam and then pass through a cooling chamber where the water (being heavier) will fall out an outlet on the bottom allowing the (lighter) oils to pass into a container.
Essential oils feature heavily in our products and our store because as we’ve said before they are great for so many things. Lavender for sleeping and relaxation, Clary Sage for easing of menopausal symptoms and anxiety, or perhaps one of our two blends Sleepy which contains – Lavender, Rose Geranium, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Frankincense and Ylang Ylang or our other one Rainforest Mist which is based on our Rainforest Mist Body Scrub and it consists of Bergamot, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Lavender.
Our passion, values and ethics has always been to deliver the most natural, healthy, and effective handcrafted skincare possible. Nature is the real star and we’re just the conduit that allows the magic of nature to flow from one living thing to another with the most minimal intervention.
If you’re unsure about the products you’re using the EWG (Environmental Working Group) has a great website that you can refer to or check products you’re about to purchase and see if their ingredients are safe or toxic, beneficial or useless.
We’re always here if you have questions or need recommendations on any products from our range.
Thanks for listening,
Toby & Rosie