Using oils to cleanse oily, congested skin. Sounds a little bit like rubbing soil into your jeans to get the grass stains out right? Dubious? I was slightly confused about this cleansing method too, so I set out to find out just why oil cleansing not only works, but has plenty of devotees the world over. Firstly: not all oils are created equal. In my head, ‘oil’ could mean anything from the contents of the vat my fish supper was fried in to the contents of the sump in my car. It’s certainly a broad definition: an oil is a hydrophobic substance that is usually liquid at room temperature. Although it will not mix with water, it blends easily with other oils. Oil can come from animals, plants or chemical processes. Also, it comes from our skin!

An oil dropper of siam botanicals facial serum

Use natural oils to work with your skin

Having been exposed to decades of marketing intended to encourage me to buy harsh astringent chemical products, I’ve been wary of embracing my skin’s natural oils. Don’t they cause breakouts? Well, the short answer is no! Our skin has evolved to take care of itself perfectly well. The oils it makes are what keep it hydrated, help to heal minor wounds and keep infections at bay. The problem with this harmonious system comes when we expose our skin to environmental factors that disrupt this balance, such as polluted air, makeup or chemical irritants. If skin isn’t properly cleansed, these beneficial natural oils can clog our pores and when trapped lead to blackheads, blemishes, and unhappy skin.

Using harsh chemical cleansers will strip the oils from your skin. It’s true! They will! But they will strip all the good away along with the bad, and can lead to irritations, rashes, dryness and …you guessed it… unhappy skin.

But what if we were to use a natural oil, with antibacterial properties, that was similar in consistency and chemical make up to the sebum made by our own skins? Well, the oil cleanser gently mixes with – and lifts out – dirt and oil from your pores, leaving them cleansed without drying, working in harmony with your skin’s own amazing self-regenerative properties.

apricots ripe on the tree

Apricot kernel oil is rich in essential fatty acids, and a sustainable by-product

Siam Botanicals’ COSMOS Organic Apricot Facial Cleansing oil has been carefully blended with oils of castor seed, sweet almond, apricot kernel and black caraway seed. Used daily in conjuction with a face cloth and hot water, this oil cleanser will care for oily skin, removing impurities and congestion without upsetting the skin’s delicate balance. Simply massage the cleanser into dry skin (no eye make-up remover required either) and then soak your face cloth in hot water, drape over your face and allow your pores to open. Then simply wipe away: the cleanser, impurities, stress and makeup. Intended to be used before bed: the added bonus being that a quick splash of warm water is all that’s required in the mornings!

Castor seed oil is a key ingredient: it has been traditionally recognised for its antiseptic and astringent properties. Although it feels quite a heavy oil in the hand, it’s actually very similar to the skin’s own oils and as a result is a highly effective deep cleanser.

Siam Botanicals Rosehip and teatree oil cleanser

Hydrating and cleansing: Rosehip and Teatree oil cleanser

Do you have drier skin that needs a little more hydration? Try our COSMOS Organic Rosehip and Tea Tree oil cleanser. Rosehip oil is naturally moisturising: blended with olive fruit oil and just the right proportion of Tea Tree oil, this cleanser will gently remove impurities whilst controlling and reducing blemishes thanks to it’s naturally antibacterial properties. Of course when you use either of our oil cleansers you can rest assured that our premium organic ingredients are working with your skin to support its own natural systems.

Here at Siam botanicals we’ve always used natural ingredients – organic where possible. They simply make the best products, and bring a whole host of benefits with them that synthetic formulations cannot provide. However, using grown ingredients in our skincare preparation brings with it a different problem to engage with: supply chain.

We are proud to say we’ve always been a natural company, but we found ourselves ahead of the curve – the natural beauty movement has turned in to a global phenomenon with more and more consumers each year choosing to go natural, organic, vegan, parabens-free, fairtrade or all of the above. According to one estimate by market research company Grand Review Research, the organic beauty industry alone will be worth a cool $25 billion worldwide by 2025. This is fantastic for consumer choice, and shows that organic beauty and skincare are here to stay. It also leaves us wondering: what is the impact of more and more brands trying to source specialised organic ingredients in a market that is limited by maximum production capabilities and could be threatened by poor harvests or the affects of climate change? For example, in 2017 due to a combination of factors including a very poor harvest, organic rosehip oil became very scarce and the price leaped 400%. In 2011 there was a jojoba oil shortage due to demand outstripping supply that saw online wholesalers out of stock for months – which led to difficulties for specialist skincare and beauty brands further down the line. In a world full of confusing, overlapping terminology, we not only need to source ingredients grown organically, but also products that are sustainable, and we must look to long term plans for stable supplies both as individual businesses and a united industry.

jojoba nut ripening on the plant

A jojoba nut. Jojoba plants are native to desert areas in North America, and their waxy oil is intensely moisturising and nourishing

At Siam Botanicals, we do our best to get to know our suppliers, and where possible we buy our ingredients directly from cooperatives or the farmers/distillers themselves. Ingredients produced by people who care about their workers are always inherently better quality, because workers who are paid fairly and hired regularly are more likely to be diligent in their work and care about the products they are growing. So sourcing ethically grown ingredients isn’t just the right thing to do from an ethical point of view, it directly contributes to the quality of our products too. It’s a win-win situation!

siam botanicals organic coconut oil

Our organic coconut oil is a sustainable crop

 

COSMOS natural and organic certifications are the strictest out there, and in order to win the right to use their coveted logo we had to scrutinise our entire supply chain, making sure that we knew where every single ingredient came from, so we can state beyond doubt that our products were responsibly grown and ethically sourced. We’re always looking for the highest quality ingredients, we’re committed to making a positive difference to our suppliers and the natural environment with our buying power as a company, and we believe you’ll notice that every time you reach for your favourite Siam Botanicals product!

 

Moringa has been cultivated as a food and beauty crop for over 5000 years and is native to the tropics, especially India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The leaves, pods and seeds are all edible and highly nutritious – so much so that the dried leaves are used to combat malnutrition in poorer areas. It’s known colloquially as the ‘miracle tree’. I thought that was quite a claim, so I set out to find out why!

Siam Botanicals' Argan and Moringa Face Polish

Siam Botanical’s Argan and Moringa face polish contains Moringa oil for happy skin

The answer partly involved free radicals. Free radicals are not an obscure garage band from 1975, but oxidative compounds inside your body that are both by-products of your own metabolism but also cause by pollution and other environmental factors. They can cause damage to DNA which in turn can accelerate the visible effects of the ageing process and even cause chronic illness. The best way to reduce the impact of free radicals is to provide your body with plenty of antioxidants – which can be found in fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of other plant-based sources. This is where we get to the “miracle tree”. Raw moringa oil, derived from pressing the seeds, combines a whopping 46 separate antioxidants. It is one of the most concentrated natural sources of oleic acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which boosts the production of collagen and helps to keep free radicals in check!

Moringa, or Drumstick tree, in blossom

Moringa, or Drumstick tree, in blossom

Moringa oil – also known as ben oil – has been traditionally used for its moisturising, cleansing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so any minor breakouts or blackheads will be soothed away. Happily, moringa produces a light oil that your skin will drink happily with no greasy residue. Our single-ingredient cold pressed Organic Moringa Oil is great for face, hands and nails, keeping skin nourished and cuticles soft. If your skin is struggling a little with the pressures and pollution of city life, our Replenish facial serum contains moringa and argan oils as well as juniper seed and grapefruit oils to cleanse and purify. We have always known it was great, but it was lovely to hear that it had been commended in the 2019 Beauty Shortlist awards!

Siam Botanicals Replenish facial serum

Siam Botanicals’ award-winning Replenish formula facial oil

‘Greenwashing’ is a term originally coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 which describes the all-too-common practice of companies massively overinflating their environmental credentials and using concern for the environment as a marketing ploy rather than genuine ethical business practice – using confusing or inaccurate wording to persuade potential customers that their products are greener than they actually are. The sheer number of words in the ‘greenwash’ vocabulary has increased dramatically in recent years and sometimes it can be confusing to try to figure out which claims you can trust and which are empty corporate promises. We’re here to help.

Here at Siam we take the claims we make about our products very seriously, and we tell the truth. It’s why we’re 100% confident in talking about why moringa oil is so good for your skin, or how our facial balms work to help stressed out complexions. Our products work – not only because they do not contain anything harmful, but also because they do contain brilliant natural ingredients that bring a whole host of benefits not provided by synthetics.

We thought it might be useful to hear about a few of the terms that get thrown around frequently in the world of natural skincare products (and beyond!)

Botanical

It’s in our name! What do we mean when we say ‘botanical’? It’s straightforward: sourced from plants. The majority of our products are plant-based, and we make sure that we use the highest quality ingredients to deliver the biggest natural benefits.

peppermint plant

Our products contain powerful plant extracts

Cold pressed

When oils are extracted from plants, nuts or seeds in a large-scale industrial process, they’re often washed with a solvent like hexane, submitted to high temperatures, bleached, deodorised, and as a result stripped of their beneficial antioxidant compounds. Cold pressing plants, nuts or seeds extracts the natural oils by … squashing them. In a cold press. No heat, no chemicals, no loss of goodness. Check out our list of ingredients and you’ll see that most of the vegetable and seed oils we use are cold pressed.

COSMOS Organic

At it’s heart, the term organic refers to agricultural production methods. Organic ingredients are grown without the use of man-made fertilisers, growth regulators, pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or irradiation. COSMOS is the international standards organisation that incorporates many European countries’ domestic organic standard organisations, including the UK’s Soil Association. It has a very strict set of requirements that companies must meet before their products are awarded the certification, so when Siam Botanicals’ products were certified in 2015 we were over the moon! You know that any of our products with the COSMOS organic stamp are made with a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.*

 

Siam botanicals coconut oil

Our organic cold-pressed coconut oil

COSMOS Natural

Unlike the Organic certification, COSMOS Natural products are not obliged to contain 95% organic ingredients: they may also include ingredients that are naturally derived but grown using conventional farming methods. COSMOS Natural is also suitable for products containing ingredients which cannot be organic, like salt or clay. The COSMOS Natural certification is important because there is no legal regulation on the use of the word ‘natural’ in skincare and cosmetics. Unless it’s certified by an official body, tread carefully around ‘natural’ claims on products – they could simply be ‘inspired by’ nature! .

Ingredients lists

One interesting fact to note is that ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight – this means that the first ingredient on any list makes up the largest proportion of the product. So if a company advertises loud and clear that its product is “made with organic argan oil” but it appears at the very bottom of its ingredients list, that organic argan oil may in fact only be contributing 1% of the weight of the product. If you take a look at the ingredients of our Argan and Moringa facial scrub, you’ll see they are the first two ingredients on the list! We use only the best quality ingredients in our skincare preparations to make sure you feel the full benefits.

Mineral oils

Mineral oils are extracted from petroleum and come in many different levels of purity and refinement. They’ve been used in skincare for years – think vaseline and baby oil to name just two examples. They are proven to help to prevent water loss from the skin – so what’s the problem? Well firstly, the way they work is to form a physical barrier between your skin and the outside world. This absolutely does prevent moisture from escaping – but it also blocks your pores, causing blackheads and troubling acne-prone skin. Secondly, in studies such as this one from 2011, scientists have raised concerns that cosmetics might be a leading cause of mineral oil contamination (the buildup of mineral oil compunds inside your body’s tissues). Thirdly, they contain nothing of benefit to your skin! No vitamins, antioxidants or mood-lifting scents. Would you choose to use mineral oils when there is a whole world of renewable plant-based oils out there packed to the brim with goodness? Us neither.

Steam distillation

An ancient way of extracting essential oils from plants, fruit and flowers, steam distillation offers many of the benefits of cold-pressing but for sources that contain less oil by volume or are more volatile. Our pure essential oils are extracted in this way to ensure purity and a long shelf life naturally. **

our essential oils

Siam Botanicals essential oils

You can learn more about Siam Botanicals ingredients here. We hope this article has been useful to help you navigate the world of greenwashed marketing claims, but we can 100% guarantee that you won’t be needing to refer to it when looking at our own labelling practice. Are there any terms we left out of the list? Get in touch and let us know!

 

*COSMOS standard calculation of % organic excludes water

** With the exception of Jasmine which is solvent extracted and approved for use in Cosmos Natural products.

 

Whilst we’re perhaps best known for our skincare, we also have a brilliant set of haircare products that we’re going to shine a light on for you. All our shampoos and conditioners contain natural ingredients that make gentle products, suitable for everyday use. Why would someone choose to use a natural shampoo? Let’s have a look at two chemicals that are frequently found in mainstream hair products to find out.

Sodium laureth sulphate is a synthetic detergent that also creates the lather we have come to expect of modern shampoos. It strips dirt from hair and scalp, although unfortunately some people find that it also irritates and inflames sensitive scalps, aggravates eczema and dries out hair. Parabens are another synthetic chemical that have hit the headlines recently. These chemical preservatives are used widely in cosmetics and haircare products to limit mould growth, and you’ll find them in many high street products. Some studies have suggested a link between parabens and cancer, and whilst they are considered safe at low levels, an increasing number of people are making the positive lifestyle choice to go all-natural.

Siam botanicals shampoo is formulated with pure aloe vera juice and sweet almond oil and it contains no detergents or synthetic preservatives – our expert blends of herbal extracts perform that function. We’re incredibly proud of the formulae we’ve developed to make effective, luxurious haircare. So, what’s on offer?

Our Revive formula shampoo and conditioner uses extracts of rosemary and peppermint to gently cleanse and condition hair and scalp, not to mention wake up your nose of a morning with the glorious smell! Rosemary has historically been used to promote hair growth and add body to fine hair, and peppermint oil naturally cleanses. All in all, a brilliant pick-me-up and daily treat.  

Our Siam Roots shampoo and conditioner set works well for those prone to greasy roots: the astringent properties of lemongrass help to balance excess oil and support your scalp’s natural ability to regulate oil production, whereas traditionally anti-inflammatory ginger extract helps to calm skin and condition hair.

Our Oriental shampoo and conditioner use the heady scent of jasmine and ylang ylang to transform a regular shower into a luxury spa experience. One deep breath whilst you rinse and you’ll be transported to a Thai garden in the evening: the essential oils here have been selected for the power of their scent to transport and relax you.

Looking for something a little different? Our kaffir lime shampoo bar is the perfect choice for those who want to minimise their impact on the environment – there’s no bottle to dispose of, it lasts and lasts, and it’s small enough to carry around easily on your travels. The natural cleansing properties of kaffir lime, olive oil, shea butter and castor oil help to make a rich, caring lather with no fuss.

If your hair needs a little extra help to boost body and encourage growth, we’d suggest using our Argan and Lemon Balm Revitalizing Hair Treatment. We also recommend it for helping to defend your hair against the elements (and yes, I am including hairdryers and straightening irons in this category!) To use as deep conditioning treatment, massage into wet or dry hair and leave for 20 mins before washing your hair with a gentle natural shampoo. Alternatively put a very small amount on your fingertips and run through hair strands while blow drying as normal. Use very sparingly on fine hair and more generously on thick hair – this treatment is rich and made to last.

So, now that we’ve outlined our fantastic haircare range, take the plunge and choose natural haircare with Siam botanicals.