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Reading the labels - beyond the glitzy marketing campaigns and false labellings

Since the launch of Skin, sea and Hawaii last month, we have received rather great responses to the anchor products from Little Hands Hawaii!

We have also had some clients and friends asking us —

"This other brand at Watsons/Guardian is also labelled as mineral-based! So isn't that the same as yours?"

"My sunscreen label says it is natural and organic too!"

"I like the gel/lotion formulation of my current brand!"

Thought we'll take this blog post to explain a few things you should be looking at, beyond the fancy labellings and glitzy marketing campaigns. Hopefully, at the end of this blog post, you will be inspired to be a more informed consumer !


1. Mineral sunscreen - or is it really?

We have seen quite a few brands (the big brand names as well as some local boutique labels) who claim that their products are mineral sunscreen or mineral-based.

For the uninitiated, mineral sunscreen refer to those who employ physical UV barriers of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (though, the former being less favourable due to its instability) in their formulation.

We have examined the ingredient lists of these other brands and have often found them to be a mix of both physical UV barriers and chemical UV filters. So yes, these formulations still do contain nasties, although arguably to a lesser concentration as compared to those which only contain chemical UV filters.


2. The label on mine states "Purely natural" - oh wait, aren't those chemicals I see in the ingredients list? 

And that's why we strongly encourage everyone to #readthelabels!

We understand that there is a lack of space for those front labels and companies out there are constantly having to try to fight for attention from consumers. However, most countries do not regulate the labels of skincare/bodycare/cosmetics or to a very loose extent. It really isn't surprising to see companies touting a product as "Natural and organic" even if only 1 out of 50 ingredients is a natural ingredient or derived from natural sources.

If you grew up in Singapore, you would have heard of a certain brand of orange juice which markets itself as "No sugar added". But does it mean that there is absolutely no sugar in that glass of OJ you just poured out of that carton?

3. I saw a product on Watsons/Guardian that is natural and mineral-based and is a gel/lotion texture! 

Hate to break it to you — but chances are that anything gel or lotion-based is likely to have chemicals and nasties. Why? Because most gels and lotions are water-based and water is not a good preservative.

You could almost say that anything that is water-based needs to have chemical preservatives, all other things constant, for shelf life.

Truly natural products rely on a mix of antioxidants (e.g. Vitamin E oil, essential oils) and anti-microbials (e.g. coconut oil) to extend their life. Even so, very much often, natural products have a shorter shelf life as their non-natural counterparts.

4. My sunscreen lotion smells like coconuts! I'm sure it is natural!

Once again, if you read the ingredients list, I'm almost certain fragrance is one of the ingredients in there. 

Together with 35 other chemical ingredients.


And there you go! Any other questions — leave us a comment below and we'll be glad to answer them to the best we can!


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