SKINCARE: CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Phaedra Botanicals, an independent beauty microbrand, help us shed light on the skincare industry issues and lack of transparency. The small team refuses to mass-produce and turns its attention to those few who demand more than what mass-production can offer.
Published initially by PH-MAGG. DECEMBER 2021. Written by Freedom Writers.
THE STATUS QUO
Micro-skincare brands sprout like mushrooms after a rain, but many copy what is already out there. Sometimes it feels like each continent has a similar copy of what already exists in another. It is understandable – the proof of concept exists, and what already sells well in one place might sell in another.
If you are a natural skincare fan, you must have come across many skincare companies that claim their products to be non-toxic and fresh.
Finding this information is satisfactory for some, and taking the product off the shelf or adding it to the shopping bag will be the next step.
However, few of us wonder what it takes for the product to be non-toxic or fresh. Phaedra Botanicals’ team states that the very purpose behind the company is to create products specifically for those few who wonder.
THE MATTER OF NON-TOXIC
Welcome to the world of greenwashing obscurity that omits the details that make all the difference. Let the magic unfold and explore how skincare companies avoid coming under the light of scrutiny. Here comes the magical “free-from” formula.
A product that carries this “free-from formula” can seem a much better option than the one that does not, at least to a laik’s eye. It will probably prevent you from digging deeper into the long list of ingredients that might uncover other harmful compounds than those that everyone has already banned from their cosmetic cabinets, such as SLES, animal-by products, and parabens.
Some companies go even further, incorporating as little as six group elements to their “free-from” list, ignoring the many other toxic compounds that can be present in skincare.
“Claiming non-toxicity in today’s polluted world can be very misleading. Why? The answer is simple: trace elements accumulate in the environment everywhere, including on organic farms. The only way to guarantee non-toxicity is to measure these trace elements in a lab and ensure they are within the most recently established non-toxic norms.”
Lucie, Phaedra Botanicals founder
So, how do skincare companies guarantee non-toxicity? Most of them don’t. Laboratory testing that includes heavy metals, mycotoxins, phthalates, and other compounds is costly, and many companies are unwilling to pay. They rely on the assurance of their suppliers or ask for organic ingredients that cannot guarantee the absence of trace elements, such as heavy metals.
Then comes the issue of freshness, also guaranteed by simple proclamation without any production date known to the customer. Blind trust of clients is expected to win here.
In a brief talk with Phaedra Botanicals founder Lucie, we discuss these issues while looking back at 2021.
FW: The end of the year is coming; what was your most significant accomplishment this year?
Lucie: Reaching more clients. We do not use traditional advertising, so being discovered usually happens through word of mouth. I am very excited to find new customers in new European countries this year.
FW: Are there some intentions and desires you had that did not come true?
Lucie: I wanted to tap into decorative cosmetics because I love colors. But I quickly pulled it out of my wish list; what passes for clean today shocked me. We reviewed ultramarines, iron oxides, and micas, but oh dear Lord, you have no idea how many heavy metals are in these.*
*Phaedra Botanicals now launched Phaedra’s COLOR products with a new generation of high purity iron oxides from France
FW: Let’s talk a little bit about your FRESH SERIES. You might be the first skincare brand that makes products after order; tell us about Fresh Series and why you started it?
Lucie: I think this time represents a turning point for companies. I see a lot of potential in decentralization and complete transparency. How many companies claim freshness when it comes to their product? But you do not know when it was made, so freshness is relative.
With Fresh Series (learn more), the client orders once in two months; we prepare the product after the order period closes; we make it and put a date stamp on it so they know how old the product is. It might be a day or two weeks after production when they receive it, depending on where they live, but it is rarely more.
FW: What surprises you in the skincare industry when it comes to shoppers?
Lucie: Just so many things. I am always surprised when Europeans shop outside the EU because the laws here are so much more detailed regarding toxicity and the protection of customers. Moreover, Europe has amazingly evolved organic farming, and although limited, some pristine areas, such as Finnish forests.
As for clients, what shocks me is that they do not think of every detail. I talked to a client once, and she did not immediately understand the difference between a fresh batch made from freshly cold-pressed ingredients. It makes a difference. Some companies release new batches but cannot guarantee fresh ingredients for each batch.
It is not surprising as it is tough to do, but it makes a lot of difference.
We pay a lot to guarantee freshness in most of our products. Consider, for example, my beloved Eratō’s Multipurpose Essence. Each component is cold-pressed fresh when we release a new batch!
Lucie has an academic background, which explains her attention to detail, essential in science.