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Aesop's organized and beautiful product display
Brand Reviews

Aesop’s Meticulously Made Products

Aesop Beauty Quick Facts

Ingredients | No colourants, mineral oils, silicones, parabens or pearlising agents; No Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Parabens; No animal derived ingredients

Eco-Friendly | None specified

Ethical | Cruelty Free

Good Guide | Not Rated

EWG | Not Rated

Aesop is like finding buried treasure

Aesop is a brand that is often introduced through a personal recommendation.

I found out about it through my brother who instantly exclaimed, “I love Aesop!” He in turn found out about it from a friend while countless others discovered it from a mother, brother, sister, acquaintance.

Why?

Well, Aesop doesn’t advertise.

Yes, it’s true. A beauty brand actually exists that doesn’t use celebrity endorsers, self-promote in magazines or any of the traditional forms of advertising.

Instead, how people discover Aesop is akin to stumbling upon buried treasure: there it is, perfect and amazing, a discovery all your own.

At least, that’s how I felt when I walked into their Houston branch in the wake of my brother, spellbound and mesmerized and half in love already.

Aesop’s meticulously made products marry the best of science and nature

For you to understand why Aesop inspires such a feeling among their clients, you’ve got to understand the absolute meticulousness of their product development and design.

There’s such precision.

Products are conceived for a need, and not to keep up with a trend, a launch schedule or competitors. There’s a lot of research and testing. There’s a lot of prototyping and reformulating. It sometimes comes to the point where, “…I’m sure we’re charged with the accusation of being obsessive about it,” says employee number one and general manager Suzanne Santos wryly.

Aesop’s carefully formulated products come with a distinct perspective, and it occupies a difficult to explain niche in the industry. It is a brand that believes both in science and nature.

[Aesop] fit[s] into a category that is really comfortable for us and really uncomfortable for other brands. We celebrate science, and understand that you need a blend of well-chosen man-made ingredients with exceptional botanical ingredients to make remarkable products.

Suzanne Santos, Aesop GM

Try having that as a tagline.

Compared to, “Fuller lips in one week!” or “Because you’re worth it,” this is a perspective that requires a few paragraphs to communicate.

And still, despite the difficulties of explanation, Aesop makes it work because wouldn’t you know it – their products are excellent.

I’ve tried their Camellia Nut Facial Cream.

It was amazing.

Light and weightless, it lingered on my skin for a fraction of a second before sinking into my pores like sunlight. My skin was hydrated for hours and oh-my-God, I smelt fabulous.

Is Aesop all-natural or organic?

Let’s get this out the way: Aesop is not all-natural or organic.

Why isn’t Aesop completely organic or all-natural?

They point out that no standards are set for these labels and that these are words that should be used with “great caution”.

They state it well:

We recognize the benefits that organic and biodynamic farming have for the land and for our health, but we are practical about how realistic it would be for us to use only organic ingredients. Sometimes they are not available, sometimes there is not enough of a particular ingredient, sometimes the air miles required to import it would generate an environmental concern of its own.

And yet for a company that doesn’t carry any of the popular labels of the cosmetics world today, they ban a surprising number of ingredients.

They avoid colourants, mineral oils, silicones, parabens, and pearlising agents. They use Sodium Laureth Sulphate instead of the harsher Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and have non-synthetic fragrance compounds in all but three products.

And yes, they avoid animal derived products and are completely cruelty free.

Unusual scents in unique settings

One thing you’ll notice is that Aesop has a variety of unusual scents.

Aesop’s Tacit perfume has a little basil in it and their Herbal Deodorant is woodsy with a hint of coriander. Some people even use it as a fragrance.

Aesop is well known for our use of essential oils whose evocative aromas form the essence of our products. During formulation, essential oils are selected primarily for the benefits they deliver to the skin and hair; their aromas are merely an incidental outcome.

Marsha Meredith, Aesop Head of Creative

And while many of their products do perform absolutely excellently, a lot of what I remember about Aesop are the distinct and rather surprising aromas.

Peppery lotion, and vevetier. Coriander and Hiba. Smoky and musky. About as far away from simple and sweet as it is possible to get, this might not be for everyone.

But for those who seek the unique, it just might fit the bill.

Collaborations with local architects create distinct stores

Aesop’s founder Dennis Paphitis comes across as an obsessive, driven, really focused man.

In a large part, he’s responsible for why the products are so precise, the products so focused and the message so complex. That’s his attention to detail in every bottle, and the stores are no exception.

Pictures explain it better:

Beautiful, yes.

Unique? Absolutely.

They’ve been the topic of many editorials and selfies (yes, I took some of my own) and people often wonder how each store can be so distinct but still so decidedly Aesop.

It’s clear that these stores come from Dennis Paphitis’ desire to unique customer experiences. He says Aesop wants to:

… [avoid] the kind of assault on the streetscape that retailers inflict through the ordinary course of mindless business, the idea that one size would so often be forced to fit all. It wasn’t so hard to respectfully consider each space individually, consider the customer, the context and to bring a little joy into the conversation.

Dennis Paphitis, Aesop founder

Essentially, this is why Aesop is uniquely special among all the brands that I know.

They are about precision, uniqueness and difficult but important perspectives on product and design. There’s rigor and care in their ingredient choices and beautiful and often unique design choices throughout it all.

And yes, their products really are that good.

I come across a lot of brands in my search for the perfect products, but Aesop occupies a particular place in my heart.

They make you feel special and treasured, as though each item is a conversation between you and some treasured confident. They exude luxury and are one of the only brands that I would just totally go broke for.

 

Best of Aesop

I can’t recommend the whole line, but God I’d want to. Below are some of my absolute favorites.

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Product Reviews

Weleda Arnica Massage Oil | Does it Work? Science talks

Weleda Arnica Massage Oil in its green bottle with its orange label with its orange box to the left.
Weleda Arnica Massage Oil ($23)

You’ve probably heard a lot about Weleda’s Natrue Certified Arnica Massage Oil.

But, what does the oil actually do? Is there any benefit to using it before or after a workout? Let’s take a look at each ingredient and see what the science has to say.

Table of Contents

Gen Info

Fast Facts | General Information about Weleda’s Arnica Massage Oil

Cliff Notes | Assessment of the Science vs Company Claims

Company Claims & Ingredients | Benefits and Complete Ingredient List

Science Stuff

Sunflower Seed Oil | Base Oil

Olive Oil | Base Oil

Arnica Montana Flower Extract | Herbal Extract for Pain Relief

Betula Alba Leaf Extract | Herbal Extract as an Anti-inflammatory

Parfum & Essential Oil Fragrance | Information on EO scents

Summary

 

General Info


Fast Facts

  • Signature product Arnica Massage Oil was created in 1923 and is one of its best-selling products, along with Weleda’s Skin Food. It is beloved by masseuses and athletes alike.
  • Hero Ingredient Arnica is hand gathered in the Carpathian mountains of Romania. In addition, it is also composed of Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Birch Extract and Essential Oil derived scents.
  • It’s widely sold on its website, on Amazon, or in Target for $22.50.
  • It is Natrue certified, Cruelty Free and Vegan.

 

Cliff Notes

  • As with many botanical ingredients, the science is still out on whether Arnica reduces pain or prevents swelling. It has however, been a traditional remedy for fever, inflammation and pain among others.
  • Sunflower Seed Oil has proven benefits for skin hydration and is the primary ingredient in this oil.
  • Olive oil is present and has been shown to possibly delay skin barrier recovery. However, since there is a high percentage of Sunflower Seed Oil, it is also possible that its high linoleic acid might help counter this.
  • Sunflower and Olive Oil also have been shown to help wound healing and inflammation.
  • Arnica is a possible pain reliever and anti-inflammatory although the science is mixed
  • Birch Leaf extract is a anti-inflammatory and has been used to treat skin diseases.
  • I’m cautiously in the buy side for this, despite sensitizing fragrance and confusing science. Still, take a look for yourself and see what you think.

Company Claims & Ingredients

Warming muscle massage with arnica extract. Before and after sport or strenuous activity, warm up or slow down with a vigorous arnica oil massage.

Sunflower Seed Oil Olive Oil Fragrance 1 Arnica Montana Flower Extract Betula Alba Leaf Extract Limonene 1 Linalool 1 Geraniol 1 Coumarin 1
1 from natural essential oils

Science Stuff


Sunflower Seed Oil

Sunflower Seed oil is beneficial to the skin in many way. Scientific studies have noted that it hydrates, reduces inflammation, aids wound healing and help heals the skin barrier. Its a frequently used carrier oil. 

Olive Oil

Olive oil helps in wound healing and delays skin cancer development. However, olive oil has been shown to delay skin barrier recovery. It is also a frequently used carrier oil.

Arnica Montana Flower Extract

Arnica is widely known as a pain reliever but the science can be a bit confusing. I believe it is possible that Arnica can reduce pain and help in inflammation, but the jury’s still out. 

  • An overall view of scientific literature suggests that arnica doesn’t actively relieve pain. However, a second review said that Arnica’s effectiveness couldn’t be proven or disproven. Several studies showed effectiveness, but more high quality ones were less likely to do so.
  • A double blind placebo controlled trial showed that oral arnica had no effect upon 64 adults who had elected to have carpal tunnel surgery. Results were recorded after 4 days by the McGill Pain Questionnaire, bruising at site, swelling and analgesic medication taken.
  • Another double-blind randomized study found less pain in the arnica group among 37 patients who had also undergone carpal tunnel syndrome. A separate study also found pain reduction in randomized double blind controlled study of 20 males 72 hours after exercise.
  • Perhaps Arnica’s effectiveness is due to its anti-inflammatory effect.

Betula Alba Leaf Extract

Betula Alba Leaf Extract has commonly been used to treat ezcema, psoriasis and other dermatitis. It’s also been shown to retard skin cancer.

  • Major component Betulin is known as an anti-infammatory.
  • It is used to treat dermatitis, ezcema and psoriasis. (Sellar W, The Directory of Essential Oils, 1992)
  • It is comparable to hydrophilic cream (nonionic emulsifying alcohols, 2-ethylhexyllauromyristate, glycerol, potassium sorbate, citric acid and water) in increasing stratum corneum hydration and helping skin erythema.
  • It has also been shown be effective against skin cancer in a number of studies.

Parfum and Essential Oil Fragrance

Scents can be irritating regardless of how it’s derived. Weleda lists several scent ingredients all taken from essential oils. 

Summary


Okay, here’s the thing.

While the science is confusing on many skin care products, that’s just par for course.

There aren’t a lot of scientific studies on individual ingredients or on their interactions with each other. Additionally, many studies don’t go into how it was extracted and things such as harvest, time and maturity of the plant. All these things affect potency.

Although there are exceptions, I tend to review products or companies I like and I like Weleda. They make a good effort to be transparent with their product lists and are certified. They firmly believe in organic gardening and make an effort to stay true to their values.

I’ve seen many, many companies really stretch the truth.

Weleda tries really hard not to and this product has a pretty simple ingredient list. It is relatively non-sensitizing (I’m getting to hate perfume as there are just too many studies against it) and beneficial.

I’d buy.

 

Product Reviews

Weleda Skin Food | The Most Complete Review Ever With Science to Back it Up

Does the science live up to the company claim that it helps dry skin? Each ingredient is presented with the science to back it up to see what works and what doesn’t, this is everything you ever wanted to know about Weleda Skin Food.

Weleda Skin Food Info

Fast Facts About Weleda Skin Food | Interesting Information about Weleda Skin Food

Ingredient Analysis is Complicated | Limitations of Ingredient Analysis

Claims | Company claims about Weleda Skin Food

Ingredients | Complete List of Ingredients as of Jan 21, 2018

Each Ingredient and its Science

Sunflower Seed Oil | Oils 

Lanolin | Wool Wax

Sweet Almond Oil | Oils 

Cera Alba and Hydrolized Beeswax | Wax

Alcohol and Fatty Acid Ester | Not enough information

Glycerin | Humectant

Viola Tricolor Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract | Herbal extracts

Limonene, Parfum, Linalool, Geraniol, Citral, Coumarin | Scents 

Sorbitan Olivate, Zinc Sulfate, Arginine | An Amino Acid and Formula Stabilizers

Summary | What I think about Weleda Skin Food, in a nutshell

Iconic Weleda Skin Food in it green bottle with its box beside it.
BUY Weleda’s Natrue certified Skin Food ($10) 

Weleda Skin Food Info


Weleda Skin Food Fast Facts

  • Created in 1926, it is Weleda’s best-seller.
  • Weleda is Certified Organic/Natural by Natrue, Cruelty Free, GMO Free, and Vegetarian. It also restricts some common chemicals of concern.
  • Available in Target, CVS, Amazon and Weleda online.
  • A favorite of Victoria Beckham, Adele, Julia Roberts, Rihanna, Alexa Chung, Suki Waterhouse. The list goes on and on.
  • This is a rich cream for dry skin, and the ingredients really work towards that.
  • Sunflower Seed Oil and Sweet Almond oils hydrate, moisturize and repair the skin barrier and are all very respectable and well-known.
  • Glycerin attracts moisture and Beeswax retains it.
  • Various plant extracts such as Heartsease, Rosemary, German Chamomile and Calendula help soothe dry skin with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-pyretic, and antioxidant effects.
  • Zinc Sulfate helps preserve it while Sorbitan Olivate helps stabilize the formula.
  • I’m not a fan of sensitizing fragrance. Weleda has them here through the addition of essential oils.
  • It’d be perfect without the fragrance, but I have to say that this really works well enough already.

Ingredient Analysis is Complicated

Scientific studies of sole ingredients and their interactions are not available for every ingredient.

Additionally, how something is extracted is often not discussed. Different extraction methods actually influence a compound and so there’s really a limitation into what we can figure out.

Still, by understanding what the science says about an ingredient we can understand what is possible from our skin care and what we really can expect.

Claims

Skin Food is a universal savior of dry, rough skin on faces, elbows, hands and feet. With extracts of gentle viola tricolor, calendula and chamomile, in a rich, thick base of oils and beeswax, Skin Food hydrates skin to give you a healthy-looking glow.

Ingredients

Aqua, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Lanolin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Cera Alba, Alcohol, Fatty Acid Ester, Glycerin, Limonene 1, Viola Tricolor Extract, Hydrolyzed Beeswax, Sorbitan Olivate, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Arginine, Zinc Sulfate, Parfum 1, Linalool 1, Geraniol 1, Citral 1, Coumarin 1 1 from natural essential oils

Each Ingredient and its Science


Sunflower Seed Oil

In general, Sunflower Seed Oil has been shown to increase hydration and normalize keratinocyte differentiation. They theorize that this is because it is predominantly Linoleic Acid (60 plus %) in composition. It also been as effective as topical steroids in Atopic Dermatitis patients and can reduce inflammation.

Sunflowers in a field.

  • Sunflower Seed Oil (SFO) was applied twice daily to the forearms of a group of volunteers. Hydration increased 12-14% versus baseline without any side effects.
  • Conflicting advice regarding SFO in newborn skincare was noted in 2 separate studies. In a study of 22 newborns, SFO increased Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL), suggesting that SFO might retard the maturation of the skin. In a second study (again in Berlin and with some of the same authors!), SFO was found not to impair maturation of the skin barrier.
  • The majority of studies find SFO beneficial. SFO is more than 60% Linoleic Acid (LA) which is the predominant fatty acid in skin barrier lipids. LA can regulate keratinocyte differentiation through the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPAR-a).
  • SFO reduces inflammation in vitro and in animal models.
  • SFO was found to be as effective as topical steroids in 2 independent studies. In the first, 40 children applied either a hydrocortisone butyro-propionate 1 mg/g and a 2% Sunflower Oil Distillate twice a week for three weeks. Both groups showed improvement. Another study of 86 children compared 0.05% desonide to 2% SOD cream and found the same result.

Lanolin

Lanolin reduces TEWL, accelerates skin barrier recovery, and reduces skin roughness. Reduction in skin roughness lasts even 8 hours after application.

Woolly lambs in a barn.

  • Lanolin is a by-product of wool shearing, and no sheep are killed in its production. (For those that worry animals are harmed in its production 😊).
  • Lanolin is similar in composition to the stratum corneum lipids or the fat in the outermost layer of our skin.
  • It reduced TransEpidermal Water Loss by 32% while petroleum reduced it by 48%. However, it is better than petroleum in skin barrier recovery. (Steel, Ian. Lanolin and the Skin)
  • Also, lanolin’s reduced skin roughness by 25% even 8 hours after application. (Steel, Ian. Lanolin and the Skin)

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet Almond Oil has some data to show that it is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and that it protects against photo-aging. In addition, it has many benefits for cosmetic formulations.Shelled almonds on a white background.

  • Almond oil protects against photo-aging. 20 mice were divided into 4 groups, one control, one exposed to UV radiation, one using almond oil and another exposed to UV radiation and using almond oil. Almond oil was found to decrease the number of UVB skin tumors and to inhibit photoaging.
  • It may have some anti-bacterial properties as it reduced bacteria by 98.9% when added to a culture.

Cera Alba and Hydrolized Beeswax

Beeswax has antimicrobial properties. It seems to be used mostly to retain water and as part of Skin Food’s hydrating base.

  • Cera Alba is purified beeswax while hydrolyzed beeswax is an altered form. It is used to control the thickness of a formula and to retain water in the skin.
  • It’s been shown to have antimicrobial effects although which strain it is effective against can differ with how it is extracted. 

Alcohol and Fatty Acid Ester

Can’t be assessed because the ingredients list doesn’t specify which alcohol or fatty acid ester has been used. Note that not all alcohol is bad for the skin as some can actually help the skin.

Glycerin

Glycerin is actually found on the skin and has proven beneficial actions for dry skin.

Glycerin soap on a loofah.

Viola Tricolor Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract

  • Extracts are parts of plants that have been placed in a carrier, which is usually water or ethanol. Preservatives may be added. It would be interesting to know what was being used.
  • There are a mix of anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties in these extracts, as well as wound healing.

Viola Tricolor Extract (Heartsease)

A closeup of the heartsease flower, with its purple petals and yellow center.

Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract (Common Rosemary)

Six sprigs of rosemary.

  • Rosemary oils were placed in lipid nanoparticles for better absorption. Significant skin hydration and better elasticity was seen in 10 female volunteers.
  • Rosemary is a known antioxidant.
  • Rosemary is also anti-fungicidal. When a mix of essentials oils with 5% Rosemary was given to 7 cats with ringworm, 4 of the 7 cats recovered and the others showed a regression of lesions. Fungicidal results were good.

Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract (German Chamomile)

A closeup of Chamomile flowers in a field.

Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract (Marigold)

A Marigold with dew on it.

Limonene, Parfum, Linalool, Geraniol, Citral, Coumarin

Fragrance compounds are skin sensitizing but can be added or already part of the essential oils in a product. Based on my understanding, European regulation requires all compounds in a skincare product to be listed regardless of whether they were part of the essential oil or not. Weleda notes that this is from natural essential oils.

Four bottles of perfume or fragrance of different colors shot together.

  • Most customers prefer fragrance despite it being sensitizing.
  • Several studies show fragrance incites contact allergies. Several usual fragrance mixes composed of different fragrance allergens have been tested usually FM1, FM2, HICC or MP (mixes of fragrance compounds). The reactions ranged from2% in British children to 14.5% of over 10,000 dermatitis patients in Belgium.
  • In addition, many compounds are activated outside the skin and on the skin to form new sensitizers.

Sorbitan Olivate, Zinc Sulfate, Arginine

An amino acid and two formula stabilizers

Chemicals in beakers on a lab table with measuring equipment.

  • Sorbitan Olivate is a surfactant that is considered safe for use by the CIR. They are used to help oils and water blend well.
  • Zinc sulfate is used to stabilize a formulation and is a biocide.
  • Arginine is an amino acid that is believed to have anti-oxidant, wound healing, and skin regeneration effects.

Mice who were treated with arginine showed early wound healing. Topical applications of 2.5% arginine hydrochloride also helped decrease dryness. (I couldn’t access this last article, so it was just the article abstract, but this seems in tune with other opinions I’ve read).

Summary

I kind of geeked out here.

I’ve been reviewing products for a while and I’ve gotten to know a ton of ingredients.

In fact, I actually keep my own database of ingredients to see how they work and what the science is. Still, I wanted to do a more in-depth study and read the studies and such.

Weleda’s a good product. Solid ingredients choices all around, herbal extracts that would do dry skin good, and safe formula stabilizers.

I’m not a fan of fragrance, but that’s just me.

Ingredients are effective, potent, and generally non-irritating with the exception of scent.

A pretty solid buy.

Weleda Logo Superimposed on a Lavendar Field
Brand Reviews

Weleda | A 100 Year Old Brand’s Still Got It & Best Products

100 year old Weleda’s got some funky, way before their time founders, and really historic products all at an accessible price. A bit of the company’s history, what I think about their formulations, and their Best Products.

Weleda Table of Contents

Weleda Quick Facts | The company’s commitment to ingredients, the environment, ethics and its EWG and Good Guide Standing

Weleda’s Got History | 100 year old brand has founders far ahead of their time

Mainstay Products and Sheer Grit Keeps Weleda Going | Weleda Survives even when Natural isn’t popular

Weleda’s Understandable Formulations | Very transparent formulations and easy to understand ingredient choices

Best of Weleda | Products and Reviews

Weleda Quick Facts

Ingredients | Vegetarian, Natrue Certified, GMO free, Free Of List, Paraben Free, Preservative-Free, Sodium-Laurel-Sulfate-Free (SLS), Synthetic Fragrance-Free, Phthalate-Free, GMO-Free.

Eco-Friendly | Focus on continually reducing packaging and investigation into more environmentally friendly packaging with targets set in their annual report

Ethical | Fair Trade Sourcing, Cruelty Free

Good Guide | 4.3 over 70 products

EWG | 1-7 over 53 products

Weleda’s Got History

Bee pollinating an Arnica field. Biodynamic gardening does not rely on chemical fertilizers but instead treats each farm as a system that can effectively care for itself.
Weleda’s founders started biodynamic gardening which is the first organic farming movement. It treats each farm as a unified system of interrelated tasks that can effectively care for itself. As such, it excludes chemical preparations and uses natural fertilizers.

Weleda interest in biodynamic gardening, naturopathic medicines, and natural beauty products since 1921 put the company massively ahead of its time.

In many ways, this is due to its founders.

Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman were pioneers.

He was a philosopher who believed in viewing man as a whole and deeply connected to nature. A natural outcrop of this was a deep respect for natural farming techniques and holistic remedies.

A picture of Robert Steiner.
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher who viewed man as a total system of mind, body and spirit. Inextricably bound to nature, nature was also the obvious source of healing. Via Biodynamics NZ.

In the field of medicine, Ita was one of the first women doctors and developed an extract from Mistletoe following Steiner’s advice.

Today, the company continues to be involved both in medicine and in cosmetics while maintaining the founders’ philosophies with regard to natural healing.

They have biodynamic gardens in Germany and a network of people throughout the world dedicated to organic farming. Their cosmetics have become increasingly prominent and are now two thirds of the company’s revenue.

Mainstay Products and Sheer Grit Keeps Weleda Going

Weleda's survived a Nazi decree to close them down, WWII, economic crises and decades of consumers not understanding the Weleda philosophy. A WWII picture of the Russian flag over the Reichstag.
Weleda’s survived a Nazi decree to close them down, WWII, economic crises and decades of consumers not understanding the Weleda philosophy.

In the early days the user…had to remember how much they loved natural: the colour of the creams was a bit muddy, they felt a little greasy, they would go very runny in summer and set firm in winter – but they were good for the skin and the environment! Now we have become so adept at formulating totally natural creams they are as attractive and easy to use as any conventional cream.

Loraine Murry, Weleda Natural Beauty Consultant

Weleda’s survived almost 100 years through sheer grit and determination.

WWII, economic crises, and a lack of understanding of the company’s natural offering all made Weleda a fairly small enterprise until the 90’s.

Then, things changed.

Consumers started to demand natural products and Weleda poured more effort into marketing.

The public exposure drove awareness and interest. Celebrities like Adele, Victoria Beckham and Julia Roberts started carrying Weleda’s signature Skin Food in their purses and magazines and publications gave them hundreds of awards.

The long and short of it was that the public rediscovered Weleda’s historic products. Skin Food is from 1926. Massage Balm with Arnica and the Rosemary Hair Lotion are also from the 1920’s. People started to appreciate their history and understand their offerings and sales grew.

Weleda’s Understandable Formulations

Weleda uses logical ingredient choices such as sunflower oil that has proven hydration and skin barrier repair functions.
Weleda uses logical ingredient choices such as sunflower oil that has proven hydration and skin barrier repair functions.

Looking through Weleda’s formulations, I’ve generally agreed with their ingredients and their choices.

Skin similar ingredient lanolin is used in their Skin Food and Diaper Care Cream. Humectant glycerin and occlusive beeswax attract and maintain moisture for dry skin creams.

They use a mix of proven science and new ingredients, but even when they choose a unique item, I can follow along with their thinking.

Weleda has logical choices or uses traditional herbs and I like that they keep their claims not to far beyond the realm of possibility.

Science hasn’t quite caught up with all the skin care ingredients out there. A lot are used based on marketing or belief, and very few are well researched or proven. And their interactions between each other are not entirely known.

So, when I look at Weleda’s ingredient list on a per product basis, I take that all into account. I see which ones are good with scientific evidence, have a strong history of use, and those which the company includes to stabilize the formula.

In addition to generally agreeing on their ingredient choices, I like that they have essential oil fragranced or unscented options.

Personally, I am not a fan of essential oil fragrances although I don’t go and ban them outright. Some have been shown to provide anti-microbial, anti-bacterial or other beneficial effects, but I’m sensitive to all scent and prefer them out of my beauty products altogether.

And their packaging is nice, not just professional looking but also thoughtful enough to preserve their ingredients.

All in all, I’d say this is a nice, responsible brand with solid products that work well.

Best of Weleda | Products and Reviews

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A group of Nourish Organic's best selling products
Brand Reviews

Nourish Organics | Why This Company was Ahead of the Curve and Fave Products

Nourish Organic Table of Contents

Nourish Organic Quick Facts | The brand’s stance on ingredients, eco-friendliness and ethical commitments

Mom and Pop Start It Up | Nourish Organic’s humble beginnings

Rob Robilliard Steps In and Marsha Brady Gets Involved | A beauty veteran shakes things up

Formulation and Final Thoughts | Mainstay carrier oils, additives, and wrapping it up

Best of Nourish Organic | Products and Reviews

Nourish Organic Quick Facts

Ingredients | Gluten Free, Vegan, Certified Organic by the USDA, No parabens, No phthalates, No sulfates, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes or silicones, No propylene glycol, mineral oils, synthetic dyes, triclosan, EDTA or aluminum. No artificial fragrances or preservatives.

Eco-friendly | Recyclable and packaging is at least 25% post-consumer recycled

Ethical | Cruelty Free, Supports the Women’s Center, Association for the Blind, City Rescue Mission, Meals on Wheels, and others.

EWG | 1-4 on 14 products

The Good Guide | 5.5 on 40 products

Mom and Pop Start it Up

Nourish Organic is located in Beaver Falls, PA as the original owners wanted to be near family. A picture of Beaver Falls.
Nourish Organic is located in Beaver Falls, PA as the original owners wanted to be near family.

This is the story of a mom and pop business that was way ahead of its time, a marketing exec who saw potential and a Brady’s Bunch’s Marsha Marsha Marsha.

Founders Lynn and Tom Betz founded Nourish Organics as Sensibility Soaps in 1996.

Originally the company manufactured products for others in a small facility that they expanded with a $175,000 from the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development.

“It was [a] nontraditional loan for us, but it worked out. The Betzes were organic before organic was cool. They were well ahead of the curve.”
Bob Rice, vice president of the Beaver County Agency

Red Barn on a field, symbolizing Nourish Organic's commitment to USDA certified organic standards.
Nourish Organics was the first beauty company to receive USDA Certified status and complies to strict organic standards.

They lived in the facility while they ran they business, and oversaw all aspects of its production. They were already including organic ingredients when ever they could, and in 2003, they made the then unprecedented step of certifying the production processes with the USDA.

The USDA requires companies to comply with the below requirements before they are allowed to label their products organic.
100% Organic all ingredients are organic.

Organic means that 95% of ingredients must be organic.

Made with Organic ingredients means that 70% of ingredients must be organic.

They were the first beauty company to do so which paved the way for the launch of their own brand Nourish Organics in 2005.

By 2011, they had over 400 certified organic formulas. The business had grown and caught Rob Robilliard’s eye.

Rob Robilliard Steps In and Marsha Brady Gets Involved

Rob Robilliard is a beauty and consumer products veteran that describes himself as having "Beauty in his blood." A stint at L'Oreal is in his resume. Makeup brushes.
Rob Robilliard is a beauty and consumer products veteran that describes himself as having “Beauty in his blood.” A stint at L’Oreal is in his resume.

Rob Robilliard describes himself as having “beauty in his blood”.

His resume includes a long history of working with consumer brands. He was CEO of Living Proof for 4 years, and had stints at Ben and Jerry’s and L’Oreal.

In 2011, he and a group of investers became interested n Nourish Organics. He tried a few formulations and realized that this was the next thing he wanted to do.

Together with a group of investors, he bought the business and started a revamp.

Rob wanted products that looked professional and polished or, in his words, "Not crunchy." A picture of a cosmetics and fragrance counter.
Rob wanted products that looked professional and polished or, in his words, “Not crunchy.”

He instituted a brand redesign with pretty, brighter colors and a new logo and name. He wanted it to be more feminine because most natural products “don’t look pretty, they look crunchy.”

(Funny how most new brands call their precursors crunchy…it seems to be a common description of the older all-natural space. I first heard it from Naturopathica founder Barbara Close.)

Along with the new investors came celebrity couple Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, better known as Marsha Brady.

The company hadn’t been looking for celebrity endorsers but an investor knew someone from the couple’s staff. She tried the samples and loved them and decided to become an investor alongside her husband.

Formulation and Final Thoughts

Nourish Organics uses a lot of very popular mainstay oils.

You’ll often find coconut, jojoba, shea butter sunflower and sesame. The benefits of these oils to skin has mostly been backed up by science. [ 1 ]

Plant Oils Skin Barrier Repair Anti Bacterial Anti Inflammatory Antioxidant Wound Healing Skin Aging Skin Cancer
Sunflower Y ? Y ? Maybe ? Yes
Coconut Y Y Y Y Y Y ?
Safflower ? ? Y ? ? ? ?
Jojoba Y Maybe Y Y Y Y ?
Shea Maybe ? Y Y ? ? ?
Sesame Maybe ? Y Y ? Y Y

Of course, when you deal with natural oils variations occur as things as disparate as time of harvest and maturity will have an effect on the actual product. Even the mode of preparation – i.e. steam distilled vs cold pressed – has an effect.

Along with the oils are some things like guar gum, xantham gum, tocopherol, botanical extracts, and SD Alcohol 38B. There is also natural fragrance.

Here’s where label scrutiny only takes you so far.

There is a myriad of ways things can be processed. Extracts can be placed in any carrier with some preservatives. Natural fragrance should really be broken down into its myriad components.

The company has banned chemicals of concern and is USDA certified. Chemical in a bottle.
The company has banned chemicals of concern and is USDA certified.

Still, these are relatively minor complaints and the certified USDA seal provides some protection, despite not being perfect.

In addition, the company bans chemicals of concern such as parabens, sulfates, pthaltes and synthetic dyes and fragrances among others. This is borne out by the ingredient list for the products that I checked.

As I’ve gone through more and more brands, I see who is really doing what’s possible within the limitations imposed by natural ingredients.

This is not a bad brand at all.

Best of Nourish Organic | Products and Reviews

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Footnote:

[ 1 ] Tzu-Kai Lin, Zhong L. , Santiago J. 2017, ‘Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils’, International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Pubmed. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29280987 [Accessed on: Jan 16, 2018]

 

100% Pures Foundation Product Group
Brand Reviews

100% Pure | Brand Info and Ingredient Writeup

100% Pure Brand Review

Interested in 100% Pure? Ever wondered about their ingredients and how they make things work? Well, here are the cliff notes and a little bit about the company’s background.

100% Pure Table of Contents

100% Pure Quick Facts | Summary of commitments to being natural, safe, ethical and eco-friendly

Company Background | How the company started

100% Pure’s Ingredients | Overview of 100% Pure’s formulation tendencies

100% Pure’s Favorite Ingredients are Extracts and Hydrosols | What extracts and hydrosols are and if they are beneficial

100% Pure Avoids Common Irritants and Works with All-Naturals | The brand’s commitment to be as natural as possible

Questions about their Formulation and Final Thoughts | More details needed as to the components in their extracts and some formulas but kudos to them for avoiding ingredients in their “No” list.

Best of 100% Pure | Products and Reviews

100% Pure Quick Facts

Ingredients | 54 banned items on their “No List” including SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Parabens, Pthalates, Synthetic colors or fragrances, chemical sunscreens, PEGs, Petroleum & its derivatives among others.

Eco-friendly | 100% solar powered headquarters, recycled/recyclable packaging, soy ink, biodegradable packing material without BPA or pthalates

Ethical | Supports several organizations, many for animals such as the Humane Society, PETA, Leaping Bunny, etc. Cruelty Free

EWG | 1-6

The Good Guide | 7 for 253 products

Company Background

100% Pure Cofounder Susie Wang putting on some of 100% Pure's makeup.
100% Pure Cofounder Susie Wang started 100% Pure after an eye cream ingredient warped her lab table.

When a lab table eroded because an eye cream ingredient spilled, cosmetics formulator Susie Wang decided that there had to be a way to incorporate gentler ingredients to use on your skin.

She quit her job as a cosmetics formulator consultant for 3 large cosmetics brands and founded 100% Pure with her brother James Wang and then-boyfriend Ric Kostick.

She had a lot of knowledge to draw on.

As an undergraduate in Berkeley she had discovered a way to stabilize natural ingredients from oxidation and filed a patent for it.

Susie found a way to prevent oxidation and filed a patent for it as a undergraduate in Berkeley. Laboratory measuring equipment.
Susie found a way to prevent oxidation and filed a patent for it as a undergraduate in Berkeley.

Big cosmetics brands soon came knocking, and she spent the next 5 years working on formulations for them.

All of this came in handy when 100% Pure was founded in 2005.

She became their chief formulator and was also involved in quality control. She does their due diligence for their main suppliers and goes to inspects their manufacturing process. The company also requires updated organic and non-GMO certification every year.

100% Pure also tests individual ingredients and has occasionally asked for soil samples from their farmers.

To make sure that the products formulated are safe and effective, the company also goes through 9 steps.

100 Pure has a 9 step testing process to ensure that a product is up to standard. It even tests packaging. Here, a picture of 6 different packaging types in black are shown.
100 Pure has a 9 step testing process to ensure that a product is up to standard. It even tests packaging.

First, they test the ingredients to ensure no pesticides or chemicals were used on the raw material. They then check if the ingredients work well together and whether it performs as expected.

Two sensitivity tests, then two packaging tests and finally two stability tests are done.

While this is a lot of work, it does reassure that the company does its best to ensure high quality.

The company grew gradually but it was when they were featured in QVC and won the 2015 Beauty Pitch Competition that things started to take off.

These days, they have 200 employees and 12 retail locations and continue to grow.

100 Pure has expanded and now has 12 stores and 200 employees.
100 Pure has expanded and now has 12 stores and 200 employees.

100% Pure’s Ingredients

Whenever I review a product, I look at each ingredient through the EWG database to see what their functions and safety rating is.

It gives me a pretty good insight into what a company believes and what they really put into their cosmetics. It also helps me understand a lot about formulations – what works and what doesn’t

For 100% Pure, I looked at 8 products and listed down all their ingredients.

And this is what the ingredients list tells me about them:

  • They rely a lot of botanical extracts.
  • They like their hydrosols.
  • They abstain from a lot of common irritants that they promised to and published on their “No” List.
  • This is a natural brand. Only a few organic ingredients are present.
  • There are a couple of small mysteries that leave me stumped.
  • I think that they do try to deliver the best that a natural brand can.

100% Favorite Ingredients are Extracts and Hydrosols

100 Pure uses hydrosols in a lot of their products. Here is a picture of the hydrosol process, which is a by product of essential oil distillation.
100 Pure uses hydrosols in a lot of their products, which is a by product of essential oil distillation.

There are a lot of extracts and hydrosols in 100% Pure.

100% Pure defines a hydrosol as a byproduct of essential oil creation. Through distillation, an herb is transferred to oil or water.

The water is the hydrosol and it’s kind of like the tea that you and I drink at home.

Meanwhile, an extract is:

An extract is a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material, often by using a solvent such as ethanol or water.

Wikipedia

Essentially, it’s any part of the plant that is dissolved in any carrier. The most popular are water and alcohol, but it really could be anything. In addition, I understand that many extracts have added preservatives.

Botanical extracts are often used. A picture of dried Rose leaves.
Botanical extracts are often used.

When you look at 100% Pure’s ingredients, extracts and hydrosols are often mentioned.

But are they effective?

If concentrated essential oils in lotions have a hard time affecting your skin, the more diluted hydrosols and extracts would have an even harder time.

There aren’t many scientific studies on hydrosols. There are some for extracts, but they don’t specify the formulation.

So, there are marketing reasons behind some of these things. In addition, there seem to be other ingredients in the extracts beyond just the pure plant. I’d love to know the details.

100% Pure Avoids Common Irritants and Works with All-Natural Ingredients

100% Pure has a "No List" where they ban certain ingredients. A picture of a notebook with writing and a pen.
100% Pure has a “No List” where they ban certain ingredients.

If Beauty Counter has their Never list, 100% Pure has their No List.

The No List lists 54 ingredients or ingredient families that have very notorious public profiles as being bad.

Are they really bad?

It’s complicated.

No-one can argue that modern life has pollutants and chemicals. In addition, certain diseases have much earlier onset. Still, proof is inconclusive.

As a consumer and mother, I’m happier avoiding them. However, I also want performance and great skin feel and fragrance. And I’d prefer not to have them spoil on my countertop.

Modern life with its pollution and chemicals has contributed to earlier onset of diseases. Smoke stacks.
Modern life with its pollution and chemicals has contributed to earlier onset of diseases.

So there are tradeoffs.

The No List is a pretty good starting place for banning items that may be linked to cancer and that may be incite contact dermatitis. However, it might be pushing us to alternatives that may be worse than the original (You remember the BPA scare? Well, the alternative turns out to be worse.)

You have to hand it to these guys.

By existing, they allow us to have options. They put pressure on traditional companies to look for alternatives.

If you are particularly sensitive to some common cosmetic ingredients this is helpful.

Remember though that natural doesn’t necessarily mean irritant free. Naturals can be irritating to be skin as well.

Questions about their Formulation and Final Thoughts

100 PURE Seafoam Lavender Cleanser foam on a beach.
I’d love to know a little bit more about how some of these product work.

I’d love to know what the preservatives in the Lavender Seafoam Facial Cleanser are. Currently none are listed and there should be some even if it was a hot process soap.

I also have the same question around the mascara. I suspect the preservatives are in the extracts, but I would like to know.

I would like some more visibility into this, but I do think that 100% Pure does try to present a more natural option than most.

There’s no doubt that it avoids many chemicals of concern among consumers. Additionally, their testing and scientific background is reassuring.

I’d buy and try – there is definitely something of value to get from the brand with the Lip Glazes and Coconut Body Scrub getting my vote.

They aren’t the most popular – the Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara and the Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream are – but then I always never paid attention to what was the most popular.

Best of 100% Pure | Products and Reviews

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