Welcome, Goddess, to Part 3 of Sneaky Secrets of some "clean" beauty brands! Eek!
Today's topic is: They aren’t really making the full product themselves!
This third Part talks about something that shouldn’t make you turn your back on your favorite beauty brand or products, but I think it’s good to discuss how some skin care brands go about getting their ingredients and ultimately make their products.
The premise for Part 3 is the fact that many brands (Clean/Natural or otherwise) are using pre-made base formulas that are not their own.
I know that in reality a lot of people don’t get too hung up on how the products they use are made, or even care too much about exactly what’s in them, as long as they are essentially free of most of the known junk ingredients and are coming from a reputable beauty brand that they like to support.
I just personally feel the need to share my thoughts on this because early on I made a promise to use ingredients that are natural, free from anything harmful for you or the environment, and to make as much as I possibly can from scratch. So I roll my eyes when some brands claim to do the same, when they’re really not.
As with Part 1, I will not disclose the brands I discuss here, but you might happen to stumble across them on your own after reading through.
I want to be clear by saying that I don’t see anything out-rightly wrong with the brands I am pulling this content from. For most of them, I do believe their ingredient lists to be honest.
The problem I have is that 50% - 100% of the listed ingredients for most of these products are pre-made from a manufacturer of natural skincare colors and other additives. This means that the brand(s) may not have any role at all in the making of the product, save for the label/packaging.
There is a supplier called Ross Organics / BioOrganic Concepts that sells botanical extract colorants (as well as a number of other pre-made combos/base formulas) that are made to be added to a base of some sort of skincare product (cream, serum, oil, mask, etc..) or to be used as-is (the later is called Private Labeling, which I’ll get to in a bit!).
Most of these combos, even for just added colors, are made up of up to 15 different botanical extracts.
The beauty brands I’m talking about are essentially using the pre-made colorant combo, then add sometimes as little as 3 additional ingredients, mixed in by them.
What annoys me about this is the fact that one of the brands even states “All of our formulas are original, created, and tested by us”.
Technically, since they add something to these base combinations, revising it in some way, it is considered original. However, it still rubs me the wrong way!
Now for any example!
Below is part of the Full ingredient listing for a product sold by a very well known natural/clean beauty brand:
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Glycerin, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Ananas Comosus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Alcohol, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Tanacetum Annuum (Blue Tansy) Flower Oil, Jasminum Sambac (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract (and) Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract (and) Amino Esters-1 (ex Mimosa Tenuiflora) (and) Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract (and) Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract (and) Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract (and) Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract (and) Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Flower/Leaf Extract, (and) Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract (and) Corallina Officinalis Extract (and) Aqua (Water), Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract (and) Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract (and) Aqua (Water), Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract (and) Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract (and) Aqua/Water/Eau
Below is the list of ingredients that make up 2 pre-made color additives that are made by the supplier I mentioned above.
Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract (and) Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract (and) Corallina Officinalis Extract (and) Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract (and) Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract (and) Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract (and) Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract (and) Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Flower/Leaf Extract (and) Curcuma Longa (Tumeric) Root Extract (and) Aqua
Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract (and) Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract (and) Aqua (Water), Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract (and) Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract (and) Aqua/Water/Eau
So essentially, over half of the brand’s product was pre-made elsewhere!
I found 15 different brands in the first 3 pages of a Google search that have products that are made of the same chunk of either pre-made ingredient combination above!
Now, please don’t get me wrong. This is extremely common, if not the norm when it comes to many of the brands out there. This practice is not illegal by any means, and it’s super convenient.
I personally use a grouping of 5 fruit extracts in 1 of my products. This was also a pre-made mix that I got from a supplier. However, the difference is that the ingredient combo I used only makes up less than a quarter of the entire product vs over half, like above...and again, this is very common practice.
My reasoning for using the pre-combined ingredient was that I wanted to achieve a certain concentration of natural alpha hydroxy acids in the product that I wasn’t able to achieve with a single ingredient alone. But I digress...
As much as this is “business as usual” for many skin and body care products out there, I personally feel like it's still a little deceiving when 50% or more of the product is made from a pre-made mix.
Not only do I feel like it's kinda cheating, it takes away from the genuine authenticity of what other natural small-batch formulators are taking a lot of time and energy to produce from scratch. It’s like making brownies from the box vs from scratch.
As a consumer, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference, but I feel like it’s nice to know what you're actually getting!
Another little Secret along the same lines is that some brands aren't just using pre-made ingredient combos as a big chunk of their product, but they’re using someone else's product completely and calling it their own!
This is a concept called Private Labeling, and it is extremely common, especially amongst the natural, small-batch skin care brands.
It's kinda like when you go on Amazon and see what appears to be the same exact hand-held milk frother available under different names and different sellers.
This is a completely honest and accepted way to start your own skin care line because the work of formulating a product is done for you and all you have to do is market the brand (which arguably is the harder part of launching a beauty brand)!
Here's an example:
These are the ingredients of a pre-made face mask from a supplier called Essential Wholesale (which is a great supplier and isn’t doing anything, I repeat, anything wrong!):
Organic Aloe Leaf Juice (Aloe Barbadensis), Organic Alcohol, Organic Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Red Seaweed Extract (Corallina Officinalis), Neem Leaf Extract (Melia Azadirachta), Neem Flower Extract (Melia Azadirachta), Ivy Gourd Fruit Extract (Coccinia Indica), Eggplant Fruit Extract (Solanum Melongena), Aloe Flower Extract (Aloe Barbadensis), Holy Basil Leaf Extract (Ocimum Sanctum), Turmeric Root Extract (Curcuma Longa), Water (Aqua), Amino-Esters-1, Basil Leaf Extract (Ocimum Basilicum), Fragrance
A Google search of the above ingredient list produced an equal amount of different product results as the previous ingredient listing. A few of the products don’t even change the formula above, yet all have different names and different labels, but all seem to look like this:
Image from Essential Wholesale, cosmetic ingredient supplier, including that of Private Label products.
Private Labeling means that you are able to buy formulas from suppliers that are ready to package and be used by consumers. The product is essentially royalty-free (like photos you buy from a Stock photo website). You are free to add ingredients to the product, but many just leave it as-is. You can then name the product whatever you want for your brand.
From what I understand, there are challenges with this because usually (I hate to say this), the formulas don't seem to be that great. Although I can't speak from personal experience, I can say that folks on the Facebook formulator group that I belong to that do Private Label often ask for help on how to troubleshoot problems with quality.
So again, this third “Sneaky Secret” is not horrible, but I think it’s a really interesting thing to openly discuss, since many of us are here because we are seeking not just clean/natural skincare, but also authenticity. I think many of us also like the idea of truly hand-crafted items!
To be honest, whether you use our brand or others, we wish only natural, clean, quality, and authentic products that are made from the hearts and souls of their creators!
On that note, I hope all our Goddesses enjoy our hand-curated Collections for their beauty rituals & magical lifestyles!