Checks and balance: Eco-label challenges consumer perception of natural and synthetic ingredients

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Verdant Lab says it is challenging the notions of eco-beauty. ©The Verdant Lab
The Verdant Lab says it is challenging the notions of eco-beauty. ©The Verdant Lab

Related tags: eco-friendly, zero waste

Eco-label The Verdant Lab says it is challenging the notions of eco-beauty by blending science and sustainability with its range of zero-waste products.

The Singapore-based brand offers a range of eco-friendly products from skin and body care to candles.

The brand was launched a year ago by co-founders Maeve Chen and Hue Xi Ming after two years of experimenting with formulations.

Chen told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that the brand started out with a mission to change the impression of eco-friendly products.

“To many people, eco triggers images of inconvenience and low-performance. We wanted to launch a brand that could change that impression by pairing high-quality ingredients with an all-round approach to sustainability.”

She added that the company set out to create a friendly environment for those who wanted to make a change but were too intimidated to start.

“We understand for some people it can be intimidating to convert to a zero-waste lifestyle. For them, we offer liquid products in recycled bottles that you can return via our bottle return program.”

Once they are ‘ready’, said Chen, consumers could transition into the brand’s range of solid products which Chen emphasised were equally effective as its liquid products.

“No matter the comfort level we aim to provide the community with information and a friendly environment that welcomes everyone on the path to sustainability,” ​said Chen.

Debunking ingredient myths

In addition, the brand also hopes to change the consumers’ perception of ingredients, said Hue, who has a background in chemical engineering and is actively involved in his family’s textile chemicals business.

“The general public has certain preconceived notions about certain ingredients, like preservatives and silicones, that may or may not be factual. We want to break away from the idea that natural is always good and synthetic is always bad. It’s about balancing it out with information that is backed by science,” ​said Hue.

He admitted that convincing consumers that ingredients like parabens were harmless was a Sisyphean task and the best it could do was be transparent.

“On our website we have an FAQ page that explains why we use certain ingredients. We want to take a very honest approach with our products. It’s not about hiding the ugly parts and overhyping the good ones. We do our part by presenting people with an objective picture so they can decide for themselves.

Hue, who plays a primary role in the formulation of the products noted that he had a pragmatic approach when it comes to ingredients.

“Personally, I'm okay with using parabens but if there's another alternative that sounds a bit better to the consumer and does the same thing then I’m fine with using it as long as it doesn't affect the efficacy of the preservation system. I’m not going to use a natural preservative just because it sounds good if it doesn’t work well.”

What’s next?

Like many businesses today, The Verdant Lab has been hit by effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Chen reveals that the company has delayed the launch of a few plant-based skin care products after being bogged down by shipment delays of raw materials and packaging.

The company is now actively looking into sourcing materials from local suppliers.

“We will try and see if we can work with what we can find in Singapore and help fellow local businesses out at the same time.”

Once the COVID-19 situation eases up, the company is hoping to move on the second phase of its business plans.

Chen said: “We want to give our consumers the option of going to a refillery. Currently, we only offer refills for our hand sanitiser because of the crisis. We want to expand that to our other products. In order to have BYOB programs and more, we need to have a space.”

However, a physical space comes at a premium in a city like Singapore. To overcome this, Chen said the company was looking to partner up with retailers, cafes, event spaces and co-working spaces in order to offer this service.

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