Monday, July 25, 2011

The Switch - Human Nature Hydrating Facial Wash

Earlier I blogged about my new experiment called "The Switch" which is basically an effort to switch, one item at a time, to more sustainable and environment-friendly products. 

In the past, I've already reviewed two home-cleaning products: Full Circle's Eco Friendly All-Purpose Cleaner and Goodmaid's Bio Dishwashing LiquidNow I figured it's about time to pick out something on personal care. 

To me, the first place to start was with the Philippines' hottest organic personal care brand - Human Nature(And it doesn't hurt that it's produced by a social enterprise, too!)
Switching personal care brands is never an easy process. It's very high involvement for most women, and Filipinos have a strong concept of "
hiyang". So it's a good thing that some of Human Nature's products have small 50mL bottle, which is just right for a test drive. I picked up a bottle of their Hydrating Facial Wash with Morninga and Aloe Vera at Rustan's Fresh supermarket for PhP 84.75. (If you order it from their website, it only costs PhP 79.75.)

On the front label of the bottle you will find "100% No harmful chemicals" prominently declared right under the logo, and at the back is a seal which says "99.85% Natural. Biodegradable."


As is my usual habit, I always have to smell the product after I'm done reading what it says on the label. It has a rich, slightly heavy floral scent which reminds me of lotions and bath washes that my mother prefers. As a person who prefers products with citrus and mild fruit scents, this is not one of my favorite scents from Human Nature's product line. But, I can still say that the scent is not the cloying type of floral.

The wash itself is a rich cream which does not really lather when massaged onto a wet face, but is able to remove makeup and dirt well. Perhaps the closest experience would be like using Cetaphyl Skin Cleanser.

It delivers on the hydrating promise - none of that tight, dry feeling on your skin after you finish washing. Also, none of the floral scent stays on your skin, which to me signals that it does not have any strong, harmful perfumes.

So will I buy it again? Most probably yes. It's hydrating, organic, 100% Filipino-made, and I have a feeling that this 50mL bottle can last me for a month and a half, or maybe more. Although the scent is not my favorite, it doesn't really bother me that much.


Harmful Chemicals 101
educational chart
by Human Nature.
Ingredients: Water, kaolin clay, sodium cocoyl, isethionate, helianthus annuus seed oil, magnesium aluminum silicate, xanhan gum, gluconolactone, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, coco-glucoside, morninga pteryg osperma seed extract, calendula officinalis extract, sodium benzoate, glyceryl oleate, citrus sinensis oil, pelargonium graveolens oil.

Hmmm... I read somewhere that when it comes to picking the best organic products, a good rule of thumb  would be "If you can't read / pronounce it, then it's probably not good for you." I used to follow this rule, but after reading the ingredients list on this product, it's making me wonder.

Human Nature is one of those companies that really make an effort to educate their consumers about their products, ingredients and their advocacy. So although a lot of these ingredients sound so foreign to me, I was willing to try this product out anyway - on the good faith that if I go to their website, I'm sure to find some explanation of what these are. I guess good company ethos really does have a role to play in the consumer buying process. 


Human Nature's philosophy is summarized in three main phrases: Pro-Philippines, Pro-Poor and Pro-Environment. All products are 100% manufactured in the Philippines, helping set up organic farms with Gawad Kalinga (GK) villages, and they are conscious about choosing locally sourced ingredients, or utilizing recycled materials for packaging and marketing needs.

I think there was a time when Human Nature's claim to fame was that it was created by the daughter of GK Founder, Tony Meloto. But through the years its been producing good products and educating so many people on its advocacy that, today, it undoubtedly has a name of its own. 

To many consumers, the Human Nature brand stands for quality yet affordable organic personal care products. To a person like me who has observed the whole Philippine do-gooder world over the years, Human Nature is a sign of hope that the 'industry' has finally reached an important point in its evolution. That point is when we move away from begging or guilt-tripping people into buy ethical products ("It's not very pretty or of very good quality, but please buy us, it's for a good cause!"), and move towards selling good quality products that can compete in the market. And then we can say "By the way, these products are ethically made, they support a good cause, and they're proudly Filipino." How awesome is that?


Now one of the reasons why I came up with "The Switch" blogpost series was to demonstrate how easy (or difficult) it is for a normal consumer to verify claims such as "organic" and "free trade" plastered on the packaging -- especially when there are still no certifying boards out there.

In  my first post for the series, the one about Goodmaid's Bio Dishwashing Liquid, the label said 100% Natural Active Ingredients* and yet the explanation / footnote that should go with the "*" was nowhere to be found -- not on any other part of the label, or on their website. Questionable marketing? Or just plain oversight? I don't know. I have yet to reach out to them and inquire.

But in the case of Human Nature, they don't play tricks. If you read their website, they are the first to acknowledge that there is no regulating body that verifies these claims.

There are many "natural" products available today, but surprisingly, there is no government regulation of the term natural. This makes it very difficult for ordinary people to discern what is genuinely natural and what is mostly chemical with a few natural extracts thrown in.

So while they, like many other marketers, created a nice catchy looking seal that says "Natural", unlike other marketers, they also took the time to spell out what this seal means:

As your guarantee of the integrity of our products, you will start seeing a new natural seal on our labels. To qualify for the seal:
      1) The ingredients must be biodegradable and at least 95% natural (the same standard set by the Natural Products Association in the USA). Many of our products are in fact 100% natural.       2) The ingredient must come from a renewable resource with no petroleum compounds and be processed in a way which is not damaging to the environment      3) A "non-natural" ingredient is only permitted if there is no readily available natural alternative and the ingredient meets strict criteria regarding human and environmental safety and biodegradability.

Once again, the ethos of this company won me over. You can expect to have a few more Human Nature products reviewed on "The Switch", for sure :)

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