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.

 

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!