Interview with Selcuk Mumcu from Aubrey Organics

With the abundance of organic and natural cosmetics brands out there, sometimes it is hard to know who to trust and what to believe when it comes to formulas and ingredients. I had a chat with Selcuk Mumcu, Exec. Director of International Sales at Aubrey Organics who gave me a bit of advice and told me about the New Aubrey Silken Earth make-up range.

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Can you tell the TopStylista readers a bit about the Aubrey Organics philosophy?
Our mission and philosophy are interlinked. We aim to provide all-natural, safe and effective personal care and lifestyle products to the consumer. We offer a true and authentic alternative to many of the mass produced synthetic products on the market today. Furthermore, we craft only the highest quality all-natural products without compromise as to ingredients, packaging or cost. What also differentiates us is our belief in education and transparency. A customer is best able to make an educated and correct purchasing decision only when armed with true and valued information. Part of our core purpose is to provide that information as best as we can.

Why did you decide to create the make-up range, Silken Earth?
The main goal was to create a true alternative using not only natural but naturally beneficial ingredients.

Please remember, according to a recent UK study a typical woman ingests or comes in contact with 175 different chemicals – mainly from cosmetics and make-up. Let`s think about it for a moment – how does the color adhere to our lips for hours? For instance, lipsticks contain many fixatives. An example is methacrylates which are used in wood and resin industry too. Would you rather ingest an irritant industrial glue or a vegetable oil based product? This is the difference and this is what inspired us. Also in our powders – we avoid bismuth and mica and focus on sustainable agricultural ingredients such as silk powder, tapioca and rice starch.

How does Silken Earth Differ from mineral cosmetics?
It is all about the ingredients. We avoid what should not be, in our opinion, in a cosmetic product and add ingredients that benefit the skin. We also make an effort to be as gentle as possible with our impact on our earth. Minerals are non-renewable but ingredients like silk powder, tapioca and rice starches are all natural and all sustainable. Also compared to a mineral make-up our powders feel feather-light and go on flawlessly for beautiful coverage and all-day wear. Mineral make-up can be abrasive and drying on the skin. The feel of silk is airy and breathable and the look is soft-focus perfection.

What are the skin benefits of Silk as an ingredient?
Silk powder has multiple benefits. First of all silk is high in amino acids. Amino acids such as alanine, glycine and serine. These elements are the building blocks of protein and they are essential to the skin’s natural moisturising process. Second, silk powder has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Even acne prone and sensitive skin can benefit from silk powder based cosmetics. Third, as a powder silk not only absorbs oils and impurities but also nourishes skin with its nutrient profile. On the skin, silk powder radiates and reflects UV rays, acting as a natural sunscreen. In summary, silk powder helps retain the skin’s natural moisture, preventing dryness, while absorbing excess sebum.
Your ingredients are all sustainable – what efforts do you make as a company to carry this through to your packaging?

There are two main areas we focus on.

The first is the information gathering process. This process never stops. Since knowledge is the key to source components we work closely with our packaging consultant to get advice. This includes selection of material and understanding the processes during the product life-cycle. Hence, we are proud that all our packaging is recyclable. But recycling is not all the same. Some components recycle easier than others. In this regard we use mainly HDPE bottles. This resin type has the highest recyclability. And then we go one step further and avoid processes in packaging that may leak into nature during production. For instance, we compromised the look on the shelves and decided not to use bleached cartons. We also refused to use metallic pigments such as gold/silver that are known to be non-recyclable. Another area is ink. Our ink is vegetable based and the varnish to hold the ink in place is water based. All sustainable and friendly to the environment. And since we don`t use any plastic foils and use only vegetable ink in our carton packaging and the varnish to affix the ink is water based, most of our carton packaging is not only recyclable but actually bio-degradable.

The second focus is sustaining our belief that it is what is inside the bottle that counts and not the excessive packaging. In this aspect we believe in minimal packaging. You will notice that our packaging is generally very simple. Most of our products come solely in bottles and without an outer packaging – unless this is an absolute necessity. Just look around and you will see excess packaging, layer after layer of packaging which turns into waste.

Aubrey is clearly an informative, educative brand. What advice can you give to cosmetic consumers, to make sure that they are buying into truly natural products?
As you mentioned, we `educate” because we believe with information comes better decisions. So, the most important advice we have is: Be informed. Before you purchase products make sure you carry out your own independent research.

A few tips: Start with the labels and consider these points. What are the ingredients? How will they benefit my skin? Will the product deliver? What is avoided in the product? Are there studies about the ingredients? For instance, there is a plethora of scientific literature on Green Tea, Sea Buckthorn or Rose Hip Seed Oil or Silk Powder or most of the herbal ingredients we use. Then consider what others say. Finally think who has formulated the product. What `know- how” do they posses? How long has the company been in business? And even how is the product manufactured? We could add to this list and feel these are important questions which Aubrey has written about extensively.

Another tip – remember just because a product is natural/organic does not mean it is an effective product. Natural Products Seal (NPA), BDIH seal, or the USDA Organic Seal are indicators that a product is natural/organic. We are closely involved in the development of standards and are proud to be the first Organic Certified Facility Cosmetic Manufacturer in US and display NPA and BDIH seals on many of our products – such as the Silken Earth line. While these standards are extremely important for the natural cosmetic sector the true value can only be determined by evaluating the overall formula of a product.

We feel most health/natural product stores` staff provide an invaluable service to consumers who are uninformed and wish to learn more. We also print and distribute our natural ingredients dictionary for free and have a comprehensive web site for more information.

Do you have plans to extend the make-up range in 2010?

We always have plans! But our next launch in 2010 won`t be make-up. It will be 100% USDA certified organic hair care products with Quinoa protein. I wish to point out that United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the only legal organic standard in USA. The certification applies for agricultural products and is considered the `gold standard” for the purity of a cosmetic product. Few products on the market meet USDA organic standards – not to be confused with private organic standards such as Ecocert.

Here at TopStylista, we love your `What`s In Your Cosmetics?` book. If there was one particular synthetic ingredient that our readers should actively avoid when buying high street cosmetics, what would it be?

If you had to select one single ingredient – avoid parabens. Not because they are the single source of threat but they are very common and usually indicate that the product is mass produced. We started educating consumers on the top 10 unwanted chemicals because they are frequently used. We feel, however, rather than singling out a particular chemical why compromise at all? There are approx. 10,000 synthetic, not-studied ingredients used very frequently in cosmetics. Our advice: avoid them all. You are much better off from a physical and financial health stand-point to invest your hard earned money in products with ingredients which you can understand. If you don`t know what the ingredient is or does for you – why purchase it? Would you pay five times more for a bus ticket just because the bus is painted orange rather than say white? So our main message is: start with the ingredients and become an educated consumer.

written by
Katie Service

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