‘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.

 

Increasingly, we’re all becoming more aware of the impact we have on the planet through the patterns of our daily lives and the products we choose to use. We cycle, we recycle, we reuse and we refill. We think carefully before making a purchase, about the lifespan of the product and what will happen once it is no longer useful or has been washed down the drain.

microbeads microplastics

Microplastics: harmful to the world’s oceans and never found in Siam products

In June 2018 a world-leading ban on the use of microbeads in rinse-off cosmetic products came into force in England and Scotland, not before time. Similar bans followed in the USA, Canada, France, Sweden, India, Taiwan and New Zealand. The legislation was the result of careful scientific evidence-gathering and powerful public pressure: purchase power has encouraged most of the main cosmetics giants to remove microbeads from their products and thereby reduce the amount of plastic soup that ends up in the world’s oceans.

Siam botanicals sugar and honey facial polish

Sugar and honey face polish – free from microbeads and synthetic ingredients, simply great for your skin

As a “clean slate producer” Siam Botanicals has never used microbeads. We have been making scrubs using natural exfoliators since manufacturing started in 2012. Although they still get washed down the drain at the end of your shower, our natural exfoliators have either dissolved, been filtered out, or harmlessly decomposed by the time the water is returned to the sea. Natural exfoliators we use include: wax jojoba beads (as in our famous Argan and Moringa scrub) brown sugar, fine sea salt, ground rosehip seed and ground coconut husk.

Organic farming has long been shown to be the most beneficial way to work with, rather than against, the natural environment. As far back as Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’, first published in 1962, we have known that the negative impact of pesticides is long-lasting and pervasive across whole swathes of the ecosystem. We’re always striving to source and support organic suppliers, and 39 of our products are COSMOS ORGANIC certified. When buying organic, not only do you know that you’re supporting a more holistic, sustainable system of production but also that the products you’re using on your skin are free from potentially harmful synthetics.

We’ve always maintained that good skincare goes hand in hand with good hydration and that the key to a healthy glow is often a good few (refillable!) bottles of water to be sipped throughout the day – but we’re becoming increasingly aware that the overuse of water in manufacturing processes and end products is having an impact in places where access to clean drinking water is becoming harder to secure for many people. Did you know that by 2030 the world will have only 60% of the water it needs if current levels of consumption do not change?

siam botanicals shampoos: rosemary and peppermint, ylang ylang

Siam Botanicals shampoos: gentle enough on your hair and the environment to use every day

 

At Siam Botanicals our scrubs are all 100% water free, our shampoos use an aloe vera base instead of water, and it’s impossible to stop us extolling the virtues of our oil-based cleansers! Most of our products are certified either natural or organic by COSMOS.  That means no plastics, petroleum or mineral oils, no synthetic fragrances or harsh detergents. We prefer things that are grown to things that are made. It means you can rely upon the list of ingredients displayed on every product to be telling the whole truth – and we only use ingredients that are directly relevant to the purpose of the product.

So six months on from the day the world woke up to microbeads, where are we? Right where we’ve always been, working to create brilliant, luxurious products with a very small footprint on the planet.

Well, it’s officially freezing in London. I know because the grass was white and crunchy this morning, I couldn’t feel my nose and toes, and because my skin (usually fairly low-maintenance) suddenly needs some proper tlc. Winter is a tough time for skin. The drying effects of a cold wind or horizontal rain will upset sensitive or dry complexions, and there’s also the stress caused by the extreme changes in temperature between indoors and outdoors to contend with.

Luckily Siam Botanicals has this covered. Although our products are made in Thailand (from responsibly souced ingredients of course) we have plenty of caring products that can help bring a spot of east Asian warmth to your cold UK winter nights.

Of course one of the first things you’ll want to participate in after a day battling the elements (aka a commute) is that most stalwart of institutions the Long Hot Bath. Our relaxing 100% Natural COSMOS certified Lavender and Tea Tree bath salts will ease the cares of the day. Made from a base of mineral-rich natural rock salt with the finest quality essential oils, they’ll ease cold muscles and soothe away aches and pains.

Post-soak, for a rich moisturising treat for your face, try our 100% organic pomegranate and passionfruit facial oil – deeply nourishing for normal to dry skin, this replacement for your water-based moisturiser will protect from within.

For skin that’s really been out in the elements, our apres-ski Tamanu & cucumber face balm is an intensive rescue treatment to rely on. The healing properties of Tamanu oil have been used traditionally for hundreds of years to instantly hydrate damaged or distressed skin, whilst cucumber cools and soothes away redness. For lips that are feeling chapped and unhappy, our silky, lightweight lip balms will protect and nourish. We have orange and peppermint versions with lovely aromatic natural extracts, but the most highly recommended for instant rescue is our coconut lip balm, mixed with coconut oil and shea butter.

And for hands that need some extra care too, try our 100% organic moringa oil. Nothing added, just premium, nutrient-rich, pure organic moringa oil which will help to improve your skin’s softness and keep cuticles neat and moisturised at the same time. There’s a lot of attention surrounding this north Indian ‘miracle oil’ in the beauty press at the moment – and rightly so, it’s incredibly rich in phytonutrients and skin-protecting antioxidants. Of course, it’s also suitable for use on face, lips, anywhere that needs some instant moisturising!

So once you’ve soothed and cared for that stressed out skin and taken the necessary steps to prevent further damage from the inclement weather, we hope you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the winter season with a spring in your step and a lip balm in your pocket. Of course, for those of you who’d rather not take a chance on actually leaving the house again, we also have our January sale with 15% off all products and free UK delivery to make it that bit easier!

One particularly uninspiring grey November morning, I found myself en route to a secret location in London’s Russel Square to meet with Cecily Braden, educator and leader in the wellness industry and founder of Beautysecretsus.com. I was interested to hear her views on the Siam Botanicals skincare range, and why she felt they were the ideal accompaniment to her facial treatments. I was interested to learn more about Gua Sha, the traditional Chinese practice of using stone tools for facial massage (Vogue has plenty to say about this too). But to be completely honest, I was mainly interested in being a “model” – in the loosest possible sense of the word – as she demonstrated her renowned Gua Sha technique to 8 eager students using my own face as her teaching aid.

Gua Sha stones and Siam skincare products

Jade stones, Argan and Moringa, Tamanu and Cucumber

It’s not often that one gets the chance to lie back and relax whilst Cecily Braden gets to work. However, I was slightly apprehensive when I saw the Gua Sha jade stone she was planning to use. It was, well, a stone. A stone with pointy bits that didn’t look particularly face-shaped. Was I going to have to practice my poker face whilst being subjected to some unpleasant kind of torture in the name of lymphatic drainage and qi flow?

Of course I needn’t have worried. To start with, Cecily used a hot towel and Siam’s Rosehip and Tea Tree oil-based cleanser. Soothing and moisturising, this light cleanser gently and effectively removes makeup (which I wasn’t wearing) and city smog (which after a 6 mile cycle I definitely was). The next step was Siam Botanicals’ Argan and Moringa Facial polish aka an exfoliator that actively moisturises the skin. I could feel my pores positively singing as Cecily expertly wiped away the last few natural jojoba wax beads. Next on the list was a spritz of toner: pure Bulgarian Rosewater to be precise. Siam Botanicals uses only organic Bulgarian Damask roses to distil this purest of botanical extracts. Rosewater has been used traditionally for hundreds of years to gently tone and lift the skin, as well as reducing the appearance of dark circles. Also I can confirm that it smells incredible. Finally, Cecily used the Natural Balance Face Serum, full of light grapefruit and lavender oils to make it suitable for day and night use. 

Then, explaining her process to her students, Cecily reached for the Gua Sha stone and began her magic. Starting at my neck and clavicles, she proceeded to use her deep understanding of traditional Chinese medicine to clear my lymphatic pathways and stimulate the body’s own systems of energising and healing. She worked along my jaw, cheeks and the sides of my nose, easing tension and draining away areas of puffiness. She worked along my brow bones, massaging out adhesions and smoothing away my frown lines, and then up and along my forehead until my face was as smooth as a peach. The Gua Sha stone was of course pointy in all the right places [picture of it fitting exactly around my ear] and used expertly to smooth, relax and energise it felt sometimes warm, sometimes cool, and always delicious against my skin. Unfortunately for me, the room full of students had been extremely attentive and did not need to see the demonstration a second time. After I’d reluctantly hopped down off the table and re-entered the real world, I couldn’t help but notice my skin had a healthy glow and my smile was wider than usual – all down to the Gua Sha stone and it’s expert wielder.

Gua Sha toolbox

Customers in the US can buy the products used in my facial rejuvination through the Beauty Secrets Website as well as finding out more about the treatments and education services Cecily’s company provides. Customers in the UK can go direct to our webshop or of course visit the new shop at 32 Cheshire Street in London. Customers in Thailand can visit our flagship store or order through the website here.

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.