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By Estival Life (2 March 2018)

Popular brands mean safe and quality products?  No Silicon means natural?  Why do we have to choose natural, organic products?  How could we know if the products are truly natural and organic? 

Spend 5 minutes to learn the truth. 

I have been using cosmetics and skincare products of Japanese, Korean and European brands for over a decade.  However, I have never thought of knowing about their ingredients.  It’s simply because I believe in brands and always trust that popular brands stand for good quality.  Meanwhile the government should also be enforcing policy as a control and monitor.

Until one day, accidentally I came across a piece of information… I was shocked that there is actually not much control from the government on cosmetics and personal care products.  This applies not only to Hong Kong and in most places around the world.  In fact, manufacturers work like almost freely as they see consumers keep buying their products without questioning anything.  Then of course, they simply carry on the production and selling.

I felt uneasy of this whole situation and have decided to dig for more information.

Having spent weeks to search across the Internet, law of various regions and countries, information released by relevant non-profit-making organizations, bloggers with respective focuses, websites of relevant organizations and companies and the like, about cosmetics and skincare products, I was stunned by the information collected… the fact was I was too naive!  If I do not make the right choice for myself and do the best to protect myself, no one else will!

The sad truth is……

😠Many popular brands never show you their ingredient lists.  It’s simply a trust with no ground.  I have deliberately visited their sales counters and asked for the ingredient lists, no sales girls could fulfill my request.

😠Many chemical ingredients, including those probably carcinogenic, are still being used by popular brands.  They keep using them with the excuse of “insufficient evidence available now”.  It’s just like in the good old days how the tobacco manufacturers tried to refute when people questioned if smoking cigarette caused lung cancer.  As consumers, should we bear the risk while paying for the products? 

😠What’s more? There’re not only chemicals, but also plastic in the ingredients.  One common example is the scrub product.  The tiny stuff rubbing away your dead cells is commonly made of plastic.  When you wash away the scrub, it will go down the drainage and reach our sea.  Then the marine life will inevitably take it in.  When they enter into the food chain, it will be eaten by us.  In short, these plastic ingredients will not only spoil our marine ecosystem, but also harm ourselves when we eat the seafood. 

😠Well, some consumers may thus try to pick “more natural” products, which become another good business opportunity.  The manufacturers add in a few natural ingredients into the products and make it as a highlight in marketing and packaging.  It makes consumers think that the whole products are natural.  In fact the harmful chemicals are still there!

😠Have you noticed that in this past year, there’re many more options of shampoo with “no silicon”?  A year ago, you might only find 1 or 2 brands but now nearly across all brands.  What made this happen?  It’s the growing consumer awareness of the harm of silicon and thus start choosing products without silicon, although actually most of them do not know the details.  Because of this increasing interest, many more manufacturers start producing “no-silicon” shampoo.  There are 2 points worth of noting: 1) consumers have the power to drive the changes on manufacturers; 2) No-silicon ≠ natural!  Unfortunately many manufacturers package and promote no-silicon products as equivalent to natural ones.  Please remember no-silicon only means products without silicon.  The harmful chemicals are still there.

As a consumer, when I was very upset and worried, I found that there’s a way to go! There are non-profit-making organizations who have dedicated themselves to inspecting, testing and certifying whether the cosmetics and personal care products are truly natural and organic. They audit the whole process of production, from the plantation of raw materials to every single step of manufacturing with reference to a series of stringent criteria and factors of consideration.  They make sure the certified products do not contain any confirmed/questioned harmful ingredients, genetically modified organisms, synthetic colouring and fragrance.  Besides, the content of natural and organic ingredients must reach a certain percentage of the total products.  And the production and packaging must comply with strict requirement of environmental protection.  Most important of all, the certification awarded is not perpetual.  The full audit has to be done once every 1-2 years.

Nowadays manufacturers could easily claim their products as natural and organic as there’s no legislation monitoring this area.  The application of natural and organic certification is purely on voluntary basis.  However, if you understand how much efforts and resources the manufacturers have to commit in the process of certifications, you’ll be sure that only those who are truly determined to produce qualified natural and organic products will proceed with the application.

Below is a list of internationally acclaimed certifying institutes:

  • ECOCERT 
  • ICEA
  • BDIH
  • Soil Association
  • COSMEBIO

Be a smart consumer, from now on, say no to harmful chemicals!  Only choose certified natural and organic products for the good of you, your family and the Earth.

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