Our customers ask us more and more often about natural composition of Manufaktura cosmetics, so that is why we bring you an article on the topic of natural cosmetics, which resulted from an interview with our nice developer - Ing. Eva Horčíková, who has been developing cosmetics for more than 40 years.
You will find here the answers of the expert in the field of development of cosmetics to the most frequently asked questions of our customers concerning cosmetology, such as “Are Manufaktura 100% natural cosmetics without chemicals / organic / bio cosmetics / vegan cosmetics? Why the Czech natural cosmetics do not have the CPK or ECOCERT certificates?”
You will find also the answers to the questions associated with natural cosmetics themselves – whether they are suitable for atopic eczema, whether they are better than regular cosmetics from chemist, what the trends in natural cosmetics are, or whether we offer natural hair shampoos / natural shower gels / natural face creams.
What are natural cosmetics?
There is no consistent legislation defining the concept of natural cosmetics or bio cosmetics in our country, so the terms such as natural / organic/ bio cosmetics are not limited by laws.
There are many certification organizations and standards for natural cosmetics in the world, approx. 14 of them are in the EU, and their requirements concerning the used ingredients and methods of processing partially differ.
„Our legislation does not define the terms such as natural cosmetics or bio cosmetics – every certification marks defines them according to their own criteria.”
In general, purely natural cosmetics should include a maximum of natural ingredients from plants or minerals, and vice versa should not exploit plant ingredients from genetically modified plants, petroleum products (commonly referred to as paraffinum liquidum), petrolatum, etc., silicones, ethoxylated and silicone substances, nano materials, synthetic colourants, synthetic perfumes, and others.
Only designated preservatives, which are mostly naturally identical, are allowed for preservation. Ingredients obtained from animals or slaughtered animals (except for beeswax, honey, milk, lanolin and others – which do not result from death of animals) are forbidden.
At the same time, the natural cosmetic brands are expected to guarantee that their products are not tested on animals. In the EU since 2009, or 2013, cosmetic ingredients or products are no longer tested on animals, if alternative methods of testing exist. But this applies only to the EU.
Manufaktura owns the Leaping Bunny certificate (formerly known as the Human Cosmetics Standard – HCS), which confirms that our products including their ingredients are not tested on animals since 2006 at the latest. This certificate is still important because in some countries outside of the EU ingredients as well as cosmetic products are still tested on animals.
Natural cosmetics use maximum recyclable packaging, minimize the quantity of packaging and have sustainable production. Germicidal radiation is not used for disinfection of products and packaging in manufacture of natural cosmetics. (Some standards require organic origin of the ingredients included in the products or their parts.)
What is BIO, ECO, Organic, Slow, Clean Beauty?
There are more and more new trends and associated concepts in the world. However, many of them serve primarily to promote the brands that use them.
In most cases there is no legislation that would define new cosmetic trends and set legally binding standards for them.
BIO / ECO / Organic Cosmetics
In general, a very high proportion of ingredients of natural origin and a part of ingredients originating from organic farming is expected in bio/eco/organic cosmetics. Ecological packaging is highly emphasized too.
Slow beauty is a trend that spread mainly during the covid pandemic. There are various definitions, however, the common parameter is exploitation of highly-quality and natural ingredients within the meaning “less is more” – it is recommended to reduce cosmetic products and to use only the basic ones, which would primarily provide the skin with cleansing and hydration.
Clean Beauty, or “Non-Toxic Cosmetics”
Clean beauty is most often defined as non-toxic cosmetics. They extensively exploit natural ingredients and rally against the use of parabens, phthalates, petroleum substances, sulphates and synthetic aromas. However, the concept of slow beauty recognises selected synthetic ingredients, unlike 100% natural cosmetics.
“Non-toxic cosmetics is a marketing legislatively invalid term because no EU cosmetics can be toxic.”
Every product launched into the EU market must have a safety assessment and must be assessed as safe for human health.
In media, non-toxic cosmetics are presented as purely natural cosmetics without chemicals, hazardous synthetic substances, and others, but this is nonsense.
It is necessary to realize that everything around us are chemical substances, including the natural ones. Many natural substances can be hazardous and toxic, such as essential oils with many dangerous allergens.
Natural essential oils, which we love using in our products, have great effects, but they must be used carefully and in safe concentration, on the contrary, many synthetic substances can be safe in a concentrated state.
In terms of hazardous, natural and synthetic substances, it always depends on the concentration used, on the overall formulation and interaction with other ingredients, on the way of use, etc. All of this is taken into account when developing a new product and subsequently assessing its safety.
Sulphates, petroleum products, synthetic perfumes, silicone compounds, some parabens and many other substances that are included in the black list in the media and among some customers are permitted according to the cosmetic legislation and safe for human health in a precisely specified concentration in the product.
Certification and Composition of 100% Natural Cosmetics
The best way to get to know purely natural cosmetics is to read in detail the composition of individual products, which is a mandatory part of each packaging, and to find out whether it includes any of the above-mentioned ingredients. Nowadays, many brands publish the composition of their products also on the internet.
Orientation according to cosmetic certificates is a bit easier. The customers who want to use natural cosmetics can find their way around according to certificates and trade associations, such as CPK, COSMOS, ECOCERT, NaTrue, COSMEBIO, BDIH and others.
These standards are quite different and they do not equal in terms of natural composition. But at the same it does not mean that cosmetics without any of these certificates cannot be natural or of high quality.
It is true that quality of natural certified cosmetics is usually above standard and the included natural substances are biologically closer to humans than the synthetic ones. But it is not true that these cosmetics must be more effective and more suitable for particular individuals and that tolerance of natural cosmetics must be always higher. Some plant extracts or fragrant essential oils have a high allergenic potential.
“Cosmetic certifications have different criteria, but in general they are based on the list of raw materials and production conditions that cannot be used in cosmetics.”
Manufaktura and Certificates of Natural Cosmetics
The philosophy of Manufaktura is to bring to its customers highly natural cosmetics, which is both safe and functional (pleasant texture, spreadability, absorbability, etc.), effective, friendly to the skin and nature, with local ingredients, fragrant and beautiful to look at.
However, a seemingly self-evident mixture is a real challenge for developers in cosmetic laboratories. Unfortunately, the above-mentioned certificates would limit us in development of our products.
Certification of natural cosmetics is restrictive primarily in the use of perfumes, dyes (although we use food dyes) and gentle preservatives.
A part of our products would meet the conditions of certification but obtaining certificates is not our priority. With certificates we would not be able to launch some of our renowned products, although they are great and it would be pity to deprive customers of them.
E. g. the original beer shampoo and its exceptional effects due to the content of authentic Czech beer of Ferdinand, which provides hair with fresh look, shine and volume.
In order to include beer in our shampoo and to guarantee durability of the product, we must use gentle preservation - Phenoxyethanol, which faces unfair campaigns, even though it was allowed for use in certified natural cosmetics several years ago, but no longer now. Moreover, it occurs in nature, e. g. in green tea, and is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry – in vaccines.
Our customers love the amazing fragrance accompanying this shampoo from the very beginning. However, the perfume is a mixture of essential oil components and synthetic fragrant oils – so it is not suitable for designation of 100% natural cosmetics.
Is Manufaktura Natural Cosmetic Brand?
Our cosmetics are not 100% natural but highly natural.
Manufaktura uses neither mineral oils as a base of face and body creams, nor preservation with parabens or silicones in shampoos, hair conditioners and masks, although these substances are permitted and safe for production of cosmetics, but unfortunately unwanted by our customers.
On the contrary, we use to a large extent plant oils and a wide range of extracts from herbs, flowers and fruit, the effects of which have been proven by our ancestors for hundreds of years.
„Manufaktura is intentionally not 100% natural, but we extensively use natural raw materials and offer high-quality and safe products without harmful substances.“
We constantly do our best to make our formulae as natural as possible, but with reason because “natural” does not automatically mean “of higher quality, gentler, safer, more effective or more ecological” than “synthetic”.
However, at the same time we do not want to give up perfumes, which are typical of our cosmetics and allow us to offer face care products with allergen-free perfumes. We do not want to give up even some synthetic and naturally identical active substances, which are highly effective (e. g. vitamins, peptides).
„High quality, functionality and safety will always come first for us, so that is why we cannot do with high-quality and skin-friendly preservatives.“
Preservatives in Cosmetics: Why they are Used
Preservatives contained in cosmetic products protect the products and health of the customers from fungi, yeast or bacteria, for which water and some natural cosmetic ingredients are an ideal breeding ground.
„Health risks arising from microbiologically contaminated cosmetics are considerably higher than the risks from possible adverse reactions to high-quality preservatives, against which unfair media campaign is run.“
Manufaktura uses as gentle as possible but effective preservatives. Many of them are allowed to be used in 100% natural cosmetics as wells as in the food industry. Some cosmetic products without water do not have to be preserved at all – e. g. bath salts, lip balms or facial and body oils.
Products can sometimes be preserved in other ways, but e. g. some plant extracts or other substances with antimicrobial effectiveness tend to be less effective and such products are often microbiologically contaminated, thus not suitable.
Moreover, they have to be highly concentrated, which in turn increases irritancy of the products and often also their stability. The products can be preserved with e. g. alcohol (in quantity higher than 20%), but such concentration dries out the skin, or with e. g. natural essential oils, which on the contrary tend to be highly irritant and contain many allergens.
For Whom 100% Natural Cosmetics are not Suitable
It always depends on a specific product but in general, natural cosmetics do not have to be suitable for every type of the skin.
Skin with Acne: Beware of Oilier Natural Cosmetics
Oilier cosmetics with a high content of plant oils, which is typical of 100% natural cosmetic products, may not be suitable for problematic and acne-prone skin. At the same time, it is exceptionally important to ensure microbiologically clean and stable cosmetic care.
„You should be particularly careful with dry, sensitive and atopic skin, where natural ingredients can cause allergic reaction.“
Atopic Eczema: Be Careful with Purely Natural Cosmetics
The care of atopic skin is based on regular greasing and hydration. Continuous replenishment of water and fats from cosmetics increases the protective skin barrier.
Some atopic individuals have no problem with application of 100% natural products. However, natural cosmetics with a high content of herbs can cause allergic reactions and irritation to the atopic skin.
Cosmetics for atopic patients should have the simplest possible composition with the lowest possible allergenic potential - ideally without the content of essential oils, alcohol and plant extracts causing allergies.
Many dermatologists swear by non-natural products intended for atopic skin based on petroleum products – paraffin oil or vaseline, because they have almost no allergenic potential and create a protective film on the skin, which prevents dehydration and penetration of unsuitable substances and microorganisms from the environment, which is very important especially for atopic skin.
100% Natural vs. Regular Cosmetics
There are many myths and half-truths about natural cosmetics, e. g. a very common belief that 100% natural cosmetics are the best. However, many experts have a different point of view. High-quality cosmetics can be both natural and synthetic, or made from both and synthetic ingredients.
The biggest problem of purely natural cosmetics can sometimes be increased irritancy due to allergenic natural substances (e. g. essential oils) or already mentioned microbiological instability.
„Safety data sheets of 100% natural essential oils confirm that essential oils can be highly toxic in higher quantities.“
A well-known Paracelsus´ quotation says that “all things are poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison” (or concentration in the particular product).
This information is included in e. g. the safety data sheet of often used and excellent 100% tea tree oil: “Toxic to aquatic organisms, irritates the skin, harmful to health if ingested", and worse sentences. But on the contrary, it has beneficial effects in low concentrations, even though it can still be an allergen for someone. And the same applies to other substances.
Another problem of 100% natural cosmetics can consist in lower functionality or problematic viscosity, which affects consistency and can cause significantly higher consumption than conventional cosmetics, which is not ecological.
„Are natural cosmetics more sustainable than regular cosmetics? It is hard to say.“
For example, production of palm oil is controversial. Undoubtedly, palm oil presents a huge burden for our planet, but it is still one of the most profitable crops today. Besides the food industry palm oil is used also for production of many cosmetic ingredients – e. g. surfactants, emulsifiers, emollients. So, if we replaced palm oil by another oil in the cosmetic industry, the ecological burden would be much higher, because much larger area of arable land would be consumed.
An important aspect of sustainability is the effort to minimise consumption. Consumption is influenced also by consistency, which tends to be problematic with purely natural detergents and shampoos – 100% natural cosmetics with thinner consistency can unnecessarily have a higher consumption.
„A high-quality and highly effective product can be used in smaller quantities.“
100% natural cosmetics are also often limited by short expiration. It may happen that a customer does not consume a whole product and throw away part of it due to expiration.
In order to protect the environment and valuable natural resources, it is sometimes good to use smart chemistry.
In Manufaktura, we try to take the best from natural and conventional cosmetics - we take full advantage of substances of natural origin and we use also high-quality synthetic ingredients that increase safety, quality and effectiveness of our cosmetics to a reasonable extent. Synthetic ingredients can be more ecological. Naturally identical substances, which save nature, can be synthetised too.
Perfume and Eau de Toilette
Synthetic ingredients (contained e. g. in our eau de toilette) can replace natural fragrances, production of which requires tons of live plants. The advantage of synthetic perfumes is that the contained allergenic components can be often reduced or eliminated, which is not possible in natural perfumes or essential fragrant oils.
If all perfumes were natural, production of flowers intended for manufacture of perfumes would have to be multiplied, which would accentuate the environmental problems associated with agriculture.
Our lip balms contain a small amount of synthetic ingredients – waxes that prevent fragility at low temperatures.
An alternative is natural candelilla cera wax, which however comes from the endangered euphorbia cerifera plant included in the CITES, i. e. the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Instead of candelilla wax we use sunflower wax with an admixture of synthetic waxes with the same properties.
Aluminium in Deodorants
Aluminium is the most abundant metal in the earth´s crust. We take aluminium compounds every day in a natural way by means of drinking water and food. The new studies of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Germany showed again that aluminium compounds in cosmetic products (antiperspirants, toothpastes, lipsticks, sun-tan products) are safe for human health.
„Reports about hazardous potassium alum and aluminium chlorohydrate are scientifically unsubstantiated hoaxes.“
Deodorants usually contain aluminium compounds, i. e. potassium alum or aluminium chlorohydrate. These compounds have sufficiently large molecules that cannot enter the bloodstream through the skin. A number of toxicological studies confirmed the safety of both compounds and no carcinogenic effect on human health was shown.
Potassium Alum – Natural Alum
In Manufaktura deodorants we use only potassium alum (aluminium potassium sulphate) – natural mineral alum, which is allowed to be used also in certified natural cosmetics (BDIH, ECOCERT, NaTrue, etc.) due to its safety and natural origin.
Naturel alum is commonly used in medicine – in dentistry, it increases the effectiveness of vaccines, etc. It is used for purification of drinking water, you can find it also in baking powders (E 522), it has been used for centuries to stop bleeding after shaving, etc.
Potassium alum is a safe substance and there is no need to worry about the use of deodorants with natural alum.
Natural Cosmetics and SLES
SLES is a basic component of most shampoos, shower gels, bath foams and toothpastes.
It is made from plant fatty acids (e. g. from coconut oil), however, natural cosmetics do not recognize this method of production.
Potential irritancy and excessive degreasing of the skin, for which SLES is often criticized, can be simply removed due to the combination with other gentle surfactants (active substances), conditioning, moisturising and greasing ingredients.
„SLES is one of the most effective and safest surfactants with high foaming and excellent washing effects.“
Manufaktura cosmetics contain many natural active substances, such as authentic beer and wine, natural herbal and fruit extracts, wheat proteins, almond oil, natural glycerine, panthenol, beta-glucan and others.
Manufaktura Cosmetics without SLES and Sulphates
Several of our products contain gentler sodium coco sulphate (with the bio COSMOS, ECOCERT certificate) instead of SLES, which is the most commonly used surfactant of natural origin in BIO cosmetics.
The following products are without SLES: shower gels and shampoos from the ranges of Meadow, Dead Sea or Daisy, which are exceptionally gentle and suitable for sensitive skin. They are slightly more expensive and have a naturally thinner consistency in comparison with the products containing SLES.
The gentlest variant of washing cosmetics is the Baby Friendly children´s range based on glucosides, glutamates and cocoamphoacetates. These sulphate-free products are less foaming and degreasing and intended particularly for extra delicate and sensitive skin of babies.
The Newest Trends in Natural Cosmetics
The biggest trend of recent years is undoubtedly sustainability. And thanks to it, water-free, or solid cosmetics are more and more popular:
Sustainability is linked with the boom of cosmetic refills, recyclable packaging, packaging with a high proportion of recyclates and family packaging.
Long-term growing interest in vegan cosmetics with purely plant-based composition can be observed too.