What do contemporary natural cosmetics have in common with our grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ hand-made ointments? It is something basic yet so hard to achieve today: the purely natural origin of our plant ingredients. Due to the development of agriculture and environmental pollution, not all crops, or even wild-growing plants, can be used as a raw ingredient for natural cosmetics. If pesticides have been used in the vicinity, or the crop is grown near a busy road, this is enough for plants to lose their precious properties or even to become harmful.
A century ago there was no doubt that plants growing in a meadow were natural. Today, ecologically pure plants are much less common and only testing can prove if they are a ‘pure’ enough material to produce natural cosmetics. D'ALCHÉMY’s formulations are based on organically grown or wild growing plants from environmentally clean areas. This is confirmed, for instance, by organic certificates for our raw ingredients, issued by independent international organisations. The processes to which natural raw ingredients are subjected during the manufacture of D'ALCHÉMY cosmetics are carefully chosen to preserve the precious plant properties.
Producing quality natural cosmetics is still only a part of the job. We need to have a way to store the cosmetics without compromising their properties. Ordinary glass, seen as the safest means of storage for cosmetics until very recently, does not sufficiently protect the contents against deterioration. That is why D'ALCHÉMY uses special biophotonic glass, which helps preserve the precious properties of vegetable ingredients.
The manufacture of contemporary cosmetics is incomparably more costly and complicated than picking herbs in a meadow and grinding them in a mortar. However, that is why D'ALCHÉMY’s products are so effective and safe.
- Organic raw ingredients and procedures
There are so many chemicals available to support plant growth in the 21st century that it is hard to find any crops without them. The only guarantee of natural plant origin is when the plants are sourced from crops with an organic certificate, confirming that no synthetic fertilisers, fungicides, herbicides or insecticides were used. Certification bodies regularly inspect crops and check plants for the presence of chemicals. Natural raw ingredients used in d’Alchemy cosmetics are most often sourced from certified organic crops, where plants grow in natural soil enriched with natural fertilisers, and natural methods are applied to protect them against pests and diseases. But it is not only the origin of plants that matters. D’ALCHEMY attaches great importance to the processes to which the plants are subjected. With innovative technologies and strict control over all parameters, plants need no chemicals, as perfect outcomes are mostly achieved through physical processes, such as pressing, filtration, distillation or drying. Those natural processes do not alter the valuable properties of plant ingredients, they enhance and condense them instead.
D'ALCHÉMY consciously does not use any ingredients that are obtained from dead or living animals, such as caviar, collagen or lanolin, even if their use is approved by ECOCERT, COSMOS. This means D'ALCHÉMY products are vegan-friendly.
D'ALCHÉMY cosmetics conform to standards set by international organisations which certify natural and organic cosmetics. Those standards specify lists of ingredients for use by companies applying for organic or natural certification. The vast majority of them are of natural origin, apart from a few which have been conditionally admitted, only because no naturally sourced substances have been found yet as an effective replacement.
- Organic Certification
In the late 20th century, along with the growing popularity of natural products, it became necessary to introduce common European standards specifying what a natural cosmetic meant. In 2000, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on Cosmetic Products formulated the first guidelines to assess whether a cosmetic product could be termed ‘natural’ or not. According to the guidelines, a natural cosmetic has to meet two kinds of requirements, relating to ingredients and production techniques. All ingredients have to be of a natural (vegetable, animal or mineral) origin and they can only be obtained using non-chemical methods that do not interfere with their molecular structure, i.e. extraction, distillation, drying, pressing or desiccation. Furthermore, a natural cosmetic must not contain any ingredients that pose a threat to human lives. The basic raw ingredients admitted for use in natural cosmetics are:
- solvents - ethyl alcohol, glycerine, and of course water (substances occurring in nature or obtained from natural substances);
- fragrances - either natural or derived from natural substances using physical processes
- emollients and emulsifiers - only those derived from natural substances, such as lanolin, waxes, vegetable oils, polysaccharides, esters, proteins or lipoproteins;
- preservatives – for safety reasons, every cosmetic product containing water or hydrosols has to be preserved, and since there are no natural preservatives that would be effective enough, harmless ‘nature-identical’ preservatives, synthesised naturally occurring substances (with a long history of use in food products), have been conditionally admitted for use in natural cosmetics.
A range of certification systems, the most popular being Ecocert, emerged based on the requirements set for natural cosmetics by the Committee of Experts on Cosmetic Products. However, there were so many of them that in 2002 efforts were undertaken to establish a single European certification system. This way, COSMOS (Cosmetics Organic Standard) was born in 2010. As the consultations among the natural cosmetic certification bodies took a long time, in the meantime the oldest manufacturers of natural products set up NaTrue, an organisation which was expected to create its own certification and labelling system for natural and organic cosmetics. NaTrue was launched before the work on the COSMOS certification was completed. So we currently have three major certification systems in Europe: Ecocert, COSMOS and NaTrue.
The table below shows the similarities and differences between two of them:The certificate COSMOS
Ingredients and technologies must be environmentally sound and safe for human health.
In particular, the following are prohibited:
- nanoparticles (with a particle size less than 100 nm)
- ingredients obtained from genetically modified plants or animals
- ingredients exposed to gamma or X-ray radiation
- ingredients tested on animals (finished products cannot be tested either, unless so required by local law)
The following categories of raw materials are admitted for use in the manufacture of natural and organic cosmetics:
- physically processed mineral substances: clays, aluminosilicates, mica, silica, pigments, natural salts (in this sense, crude oil and oil-derived products are not regarded as mineral substances and are not acceptable)
- agro-ingredients, i.e. wild growing or organically grown plant raw materials and animal raw materials from organic production systems. Agro-ingredients should be obtained using physical methods. If those methods do not enable the required properties of active substances to be maintained, the use of chemical methods is acceptable.
Synthetic substances for which no natural counterparts can be obtained are admitted for use in cosmetics to maintain their stability and to preserve them.
• benzoic acid and its salts,
• benzyl alcohol,
• dehydroacetic acid and its salts,
• denatonium benzoate,
• salicylic acid and its salts,
• sorbic acid and its salts,
• tetrasodium glutamate diacetate.
- No substances sourced from dead animals can be used.
The basic criterion allowing a cosmetic to be recognised as a natural product is the percentage of the above ingredients in the finished product.
The manufacturer may apply for certification for a natural cosmetic if synthetic substances (listed as Ecocert-admitted substances) make up no more than 2% of its composition. Therefore, there must be at least 98% of substances of natural origin in the cosmetic.
A natural cosmetic can be additionally recognised as an organic cosmetic if at least 95% of its natural ingredients are sourced from organic crops or organic animal production, where no synthetic fertilisers or plant protection products are used.
The production process of natural cosmetics and the storage conditions of raw materials should be arranged so as to prevent the migration of substances prohibited under the certificate and used in other process lines within the facility (in the same manufacturing plant, e.g. to manufacture conventional cosmetics).
The production technology should ensure maximum respect for the natural environment: energy consumption, water use and waste should be minimised, and both the products and the waste should be biodegradable. Satisfaction of these requirements should be subject to ongoing control.
Cosmetics packaging should be:
- designed economically (minimum volume)
- from recycled materials
- from recyclable or biodegradable materials
In the packaging, there must not be any material that:
- is harmful to humans or to the environment,
- is obtained from genetically modified substances.The certificate NaTrue
A cosmetic brand can only obtain the NaTrue certificate if 75% of all its products conform to the NaTrue standards.
The following categories of raw materials are admitted for use in the manufacture of natural and organic cosmetics:
- substances and ingredients of plant and animal origin (from organic crops or organic animal production, where possible), as well as substances of mineral origin;
- nature-identical substances.
This group includes substances with contents identical to naturally occurring substances, obtained using chemical methods due to the fact that it is virtually impossible to obtain their natural counterparts. They include nature-identical preservatives as well as inorganic pigments and minerals.
The following are admitted:
• benzoic acid, its salts and ethyl ester,
• benzyl alcohol,
• formic acid,
• propionic acid and its salts,
• salicylic acid and its salts,
• sorbic acid and its salts.
- derived natural substances.
If a synthetic ingredient has to be used that cannot be replaced with a natural substance, it is permitted as long as:
• the ingredient is obtained from renewable sources (either natural or mineral) or from organic crops and organic animal production (whenever possible)
• the ingredient is produced using chemical processes similar to physiological processes
• the ingredient is biodegradable
The basic methods used to obtain the ingredients should have the nature of physical processes. Enzymatic and microbiological processes are also acceptable if they use ingredients or microorganisms meeting the requirements for organic food.
No substances sourced from dead animals can be used.
The basic criterion allowing a cosmetic to be recognised as a natural product is the percentage of the above ingredients in the finished product. The manufacturer may apply for certification for a natural cosmetic if it contains only substances from the above-listed categories.
A cosmetic can be recognised as an organic cosmetic if no less than 20% of its ingredients are natural substances and at least 95% of those natural substances are obtained from organic sources and, at the same time, no more than 15% of the ingredients are derived natural substances.
The “Natural Cosmetics with Organic Portion” certificate is issued for products which contain at least 15% of non-GMO natural substances and no more than 15% of derived natural substances (i.e. synthetic substances listed as permitted). An additional requirement is that 70% of all natural ingredients used must be obtained from organic sources.
The production process of natural cosmetics and the storage conditions of raw materials and finished products as well as the filling and packaging conditions should be set up to prevent the migration of prohibited synthetic substances.
Cosmetics packaging should be:
- designed economically (minimum volume and minimum use of materials, or re-usable)
- from recyclable materials
- from recycled materials.
Looking at natural cosmetics from a different perspective – if virtually all natural substances currently used have been known and used by the inhabitants of the regions where the plants have grown for centuries, can anything new be created in this field?
In the 21st century, manufacturers of natural cosmetics enjoy incomparably easier access to active substances from all over the world. They are not restricted to their region or even continent, and since almost everything is within reach, the knowledge of natural active substances and proper selection becomes even more important. In D'ALCHÉMY cosmetics, we use carefully selected natural substances with a targeted action and well-proven high efficacy. They are sourced from world-renowned suppliers, and the process in which they are obtained is subject to thorough scrutiny. This means that every d’Alchemy cosmetic has a well-defined purpose and achieves that purpose in an effective and safe manner.
Aromatherapy is one of the fields of natural medicine from which D'ALCHÉMY draws its knowledge. Aromatherapy means treatment by aromas. However, it is not only about the smells, but about the entire intricate effect that natural essential oils have on a human body. Though the scents of natural oils, often so beautiful, are also of importance...
Aromatherapy produces beneficial health effects by introducing natural plant oils into the human body through the respiratory system and skin. When we are breathing, air with essential oils gets into our lungs, where it comes into contact with the mucous membrane of the alveoli in the lungs and is absorbed relatively quickly by the blood and subsequently by internal organs (this mechanism is used, for instance, in climate therapy, such as walks in pine forests). Essential oils are so penetrating that even when applied onto skin, they can pass through the stratum corneum and, like in the case of inhaling, migrate into blood and integral organs.
Owing to the wide variety of essential oils, aromatherapy is effective not only in treating health conditions and problems, but also in skin care. This is precisely the phenomenon D'ALCHÉMYuses in its cosmetics – essential oils work actively on the skin, while synergically enhancing the action of the other active ingredients of the cosmetic.
- The history of Aromatherapy
Essential oils, as well as the distillation methods used to obtain them, were already known in Ancient Egypt and Persia, although Avicenna, an 11th-century Arab doctor, is considered to be the 'father' of the distillation method.
In the 15th century, Valerius Cordus, a German doctor and botanist, obtained clove oil by distillation. The knowledge of how to obtain essential oils and where to use them in treatment has been developing since then.
The English name ‘essential oil’ is mostly likely derived from Quinta essentia, a term used in the 16th century by Paracelsus, the forefather of contemporary medicine and a well-known alchemist, referring to the active, working ingredient of a drug.
In the 1920s, René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, acquired interest in the therapeutic properties of oils, having observed the beneficial effect of lavender oil himself when he accidentally applied it to a burn. Despite the long history of research on essential oils, the term ‘aromatherapy’ – combining essential oils and therapy – was coined by Gattefossé in 1937.
- Essential oils
In physical terms, essential oils are volatile liquids (easily evaporating) with an intense aroma and oily texture.
In chemical terms, every essential oil is a mixture of numerous (tens or even hundreds) organic compounds. These can include terpene hydrocarbons and their oxygen-containing derivatives, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, organic acids, esters and ethers. Usually an oil has one or several primary substances making up more than 50% of its composition, and a range of additional substances in smaller proportions. The ingredients and composition of an essential oil depend on many different factors, including the origin of the raw material and the plant growing conditions. The composition of the oil, in turn, determines its biological activity and aroma.
Essential oils are produced by plants as secondary metabolites, substances without any primary importance to plant life, but very important for their survival. They are stored in special secretory tissues and can be found in almost every part of the plant: roots and rhizomes, above ground parts, leaves, flowers, fruit, seed, and bark.
Essential oils are extracted from plants using several methods: as products obtained from plant material by distillation with vapour or water, by expressing or centrifuging fruit peel (this is usually the case with citrus oils) or dry distillation of wood (for wood tar oils).
Other methods are also used to obtain volatile aromatic substances from plant tissue (such as maceration, extraction or absorption), but chemical solvents are required for those processes. D'ALCHÉMY’s standards do not permit the use of any essential oils obtained in this way, as residual solvents could appear in the final product.
- Safety of Aromatherapy
The strong action and ease of penetration of essential oils entail a range of both beneficial and also harmful effects.
The wrong type or concentration of essential oils can provoke an inflammatory or allergic skin reaction. That is why we at d’Alchemy choose our essential oils with the utmost care and precisely measure their concentrations. We use only registered oils, approved for skin contact at a certain concentration.
Irrespective of adhering to all provisions of the act on cosmetics and secondary legislation relating to essential oils, d’Alchemy carefully studies the effects of use of its cosmetics in terms of allergic reactions or skin inflammation.
- Essential oils in D’Alchemy skincare
In D'ALCHÉMY cosmetics, there is no room for unnecessary ingredients. Every ingredient of a cosmetic contributes to its effective action. Even the carrier in which the active substances are dissolved – which is usually water in other natural cosmetics – is a plant hydrosol in the case of D'ALCHÉMY cosmetics, a natural extract from substances obtained from plants, containing small amounts of natural mineral salts and essential oils. Therefore, the hydrosol as a carrier is also an active ingredient.
Water is the most commonly used carrier for active substances. Most ingredients used to produce cosmetics are dissolved in water. Water – pure water (either spring or demineralised water) – is harmless, but also neutral, deprived of any value aside from that conveyed by the cosmetic ingredients dissolved in it.
Therefore, D'ALCHÉMY beauty care cosmetics are based only on plant hydrosols. With the exception of some rinse-out formulae, such as wash gels, soaps or shampoos, we do not use ordinary water to make our beauty care cosmetics, assuming that each substance applied to (and left on) skin should be as valuable as possible.
Plant hydrosols are derivatives of plant fluids. The fluids circulating in plants deliver substances necessary for plant life and growth to cells in all the different parts of plants. They carry trace elements absorbed by the roots from soil, and photosynthesis products generated by leaves. Plant hydrosols are a valuable composition of small amounts of natural plant extracts, mineral salts, and essential oils. This composition differs from one plant species to another. What is more, even plants of the same species might vary in terms of the composition of their fluids, depending on the conditions they grow in: sunlight, temperature, soil composition or air purity. Due to their affinity to human bodily fluids, plant hydrosols penetrate deep into skin cells more easily than pure mineral or distilled waters. This means that they are also more effective as carriers of active substances.
As a cosmetic base, plant hydrosols are much more valuable than pure water, while also well-tolerated by people with sensitive skin. Containing precious vitamins and minerals, with their composition and proportions designed by nature itself, they are easily absorbed by skin cells, enhancing the natural vital energy and regenerative capacity of the skin. For instance, rose and neroli hydrosols are highly valued in therapies aimed at mature, sensitive skin with dilated capillaries, and lavender hydrosol is used in cases of skin irritation or infections.
D'ALCHÉMY is one of few cosmetics companies in the world that use plant hydrosols as a base for their beauty care products, applying them consciously as a replacement for pure water.
Innovative cosmetics by D'ALCHÉMY also differ from home-made formulae in terms of their purity, reproducibility, biovitality and stability. Natural substances obtained from plants using state-of-the-art technologies are used to produce D'ALCHÉMY cosmetics. This way, pure active ingredients can be obtained with consistent concentrations. The ‘power’ of the natural substances used by D'ALCHÉMY remains the same, and the effects of every D'ALCHÉMYcosmetic are reproducible, no matter what batch of plants was used. Therefore, the efficacy and effects of those cosmetics can be examined and verified in an objective manner. With such innovative manufacturing technologies, the biovitality of D'ALCHÉMY’s formulae is comparable to that of the plants from which they are derived. The manufacturing conditions are strictly controlled and set up in such a manner that the properties of natural ingredients are not altered and, most of all, the strength of their effect on human body, which more recently can be scientifically examined using empirical methods, remains unchanged.
The safety of natural cosmetics depends mostly on the safety of the raw ingredients used to produce them.
D'ALCHÉMY takes exceptional care when selecting the suppliers of natural materials. They are leading European companies, mostly from France, with extensive scientific facilities and specialised laboratories. These companies have been engaged in research (including clinical studies) on the safety and efficacy of raw materials for years. The objectivity and scientific control over research methods contribute to the safety and efficacy of D'ALCHÉMY cosmetics produced on the basis of those ingredients.
The next stage of research, this time done by D'ALCHÉMY, to which all natural ingredients are subjected before they are admitted for production, is aimed at re-checking the microbiological purity of the ingredients. Such research is particularly important in the case of natural materials, which are obtained from a natural source and not in a chemical process.
Before the innovative D'ALCHÉMY formulae can be approved by the research team and released for production, they undergo a series of safety tests. One of them is a stress test (preservation test), which evaluates the effectiveness of the preservation system. A product sample is repeatedly contaminated with microbes, fungi and bacteria, in order to check if the delicate preservative system manages to protect the microbiological purity of the product. Preservation tests allow the minimum effective concentration of the preservative to be chosen (making the product even safer for the user), while ensuring that the cosmetic will be adequately protected against the development of microorganisms when in use. Stress testing takes several weeks, as long as necessary to obtain positive results.
Every D'ALCHÉMY product is also tested in order to prevent the potential for developing skin allergies or contact dermatitis. The testing is carried out by independent dermatologists and begins with an analysis of product documentation. Then a large group of volunteers (selected by dermatologists in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration, EU standards and Cosmetics Europe recommendations and guidance) undergoes patch testing or epidermal testing for several weeks. The tests are aimed at verifying if contact with the cosmetic does not trigger an inflammatory or allergic reaction in the skin.
- Safety tests
Before a D'ALCHÉMY cosmetic can be sold in shops, it undergoes the complete range of testing and analyses required to market a product in the European Union. All tests on D'ALCHÉMY cosmetics are carried out in accordance with the methodology prescribed by the European Pharmacopoeia, by the European Medicines Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, by Cosmetics Europe – an organisation attached to the European Economic and Social Committee, and with the EU guidance.
The testing is done under the strict control of experts from a wide range of medicine fields, including allergists, dermatologists, pharmacists and toxicologists.
After every testing cycle, D'ALCHÉMY prepares a product report. Then a Safety Assessor – a specialist certified by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel – evaluates the safety of the cosmetic in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products (OJ L 342, 22.12.2009).
A detailed and thorough examination of the cosmetic according to all standards and recommendations, as well as conformity of the research documentation to the legal standards of the EU, offer a guarantee of safety not only to users, but also to the persons responsible for the safety of cosmetics placed on the market.
- Testing D'ALCHÉMY skincare for efficacy
D’Alchemy’s products are then subjected to application tests and self-assessment tests carried out on groups of volunteers selected in accordance with EU regulations and the requirements of scientific research methodologies. Test subjects include people with various skin types and of different ages (depending on the objectives of the study). The test subjects receive the tested product and are obligated to use it as instructed, either at home or in a research facility. Depending on the type of product being tested and the expected effects, the tests take from several hours to a few weeks. Then the test subjects evaluate the usage characteristics of the product (its action, application, absorption or scent) and the degree to which the effects declared by D'ALCHÉMY are achieved. Although the results of application testing are a set of subjective experience and perceptions of all the test subjects, they assume the character of objective data following statistical analysis. Owing to application testing, D'ALCHÉMY can develop and improve its cosmetics in line with user perceptions and expectations.
The last stage of testing usually involves instrumental measurements, which complement the application tests. These are aimed at an objective and measurable verification of what D'ALCHÉMY declares about the effects of its product.
Instrumental measurements are completely non-invasive and they concern the moisture level of the skin, its elasticity, pigmentation, discolouration, smoothness, reduction of the appearance and size of wrinkles, as well as other parameters of importance to cosmetic users. The testing is carried out in a strictly controlled external environment, in a room with a pre-set temperature and humidity.
Being an innovative company aiming to manufacture purely natural yet effective formulations, aside from traditional testing, D'ALCHÉMY subjects its products to pioneering tests which have not been used by the cosmetics industry so far: ‘biovitality’ testing.
Biovitality is a term which until recently had no scientific basis, although it has been intuitively known to people for millennia. Why are some products ‘good’ for people, while other are ‘bad’? Why do the health and condition of our bodies depend so much on what our body takes in? Not long ago, the common notion was that the value of the products absorbed by human body cells depended on their chemical composition: they had to contain appropriate quantities of macromolecules, vitamins (as catalyst of chemical processes) and to deliver energy to the body’s cells. However, scientists and healthy life style enthusiasts alike suspected there was something more to it...
An aid helping to answer this question can be found in the works by Erwin Schrödinger, a Nobel prize winner in physics for the mathematical formulation of wave mechanics. In 1944, he published a book entitled What is Life?. In this book, he states that the basic expression of life is the storage and distribution of biological information. Photons emitted by the cells of living organisms act as information carriers. The photons helping the body to put the information in order are good for people; and those increasing chaos (entropy) are harmful. Over the next years, professor Fritz Albert Popp developed a concept according to which every living organism emits specific electromagnetic radiation with a strong coherence and relatively low intensity. The photons in this kind of radiation are called biophotons. Biophotons coexist with billions of reactions occurring in cells. The more coherent and structured the biophotons are, the more efficient (and less chaotic) the cellular processes become.
Where do the biophotons in the cells of living organisms come from? Plants absorb sunlight and use it in the photosynthesis process. Owing to photosynthesis, they produce organic compounds from non-organic matter, becoming the first – as Fritz Albert Popp called it – ‘light storage’. An organism which absorbs plant cells takes in the light stored in the cell; in turn, when its cells are consumed by another organism, the stored light is passed on. The ‘assimilation’ of light by the cells of subsequent organisms increases its order. However, if the ‘light store’ is subjected to inappropriate processing, especially chemical processes, the biovitality of the cell – which is a function of the level of biophoton emission and biophoton coherence – is reduced.
The terms ‘biophotons’ and ‘biovitality’ became fashionable and some people have begun to use them in a quite arbitrary manner. However, empirical methods have been developed lately to measure biophotons, making biovitality a parametrised and scientifically measurable characteristic. It can be measured empirically using dedicated digital measuring equipment, e.g. on the international André Bovis scale.
For obvious reasons, biophoton measurements are a subject of interest mostly for scientists working in the field of nutrition. For example, it is now possible to compare the biovitality of natural materials and a product derived from them. Reduced biovitality shows how much the natural materials have been processed and how much of their precious properties has not been passed on to the end product.
However, the digestive tract is not the only way through which plant cells are absorbed by the human body. Skin demonstrates such absorption capabilities as well, and since natural cosmetics also emit biophotons, the effectiveness of the impact of the cosmetic on the skin depends on the quantities and order of the biophotons. D'ALCHÉMY was the first manufacturer of natural cosmetics to take up the challenge and effort of testing its cosmetics for biovitality with an innovative method developed with food in mind.
Today, it is hard to imagine a cosmetic that would change its appearance and scent 3 days after you open the jar. However, it is even harder to find a preservation method that would not alter the effects of the cosmetic and would still be safe for humans in every respect. Contemporary natural cosmetics are incomparably more stable than ‘grandma’s’ cosmetics. D’Alchemy achieves this owing to the sterility and precise control of all parameters of the production process and to the extremely careful selection of preservatives, coupled with packaging made of special biophotonic glass.
The more natural cosmetics manufacturers focus on product quality, the more careful they are when choosing the packaging materials. This is not just about being pleasing to the eye, but also about finding a solution to preserve the value of sensitive cosmetics made of naturally sourced ingredients. Towards the end of the 20th century, packaging manufacturers introduced special violet (or biophotonic) glass. Currently, this kind of glass offers maximum protection against degradation for natural products, which cannot compare to any other glass type.
Violet glass owes its extraordinary properties to its colour. The colour of glass determines the light wavelength that can penetrate into the packaging. This is of critical importance in the case of natural products. While plants are growing, they need the entire spectrum of sunlight to live. Once the plants are picked, however, visible light waves become very damaging. Not only do they cause the plant to lose its precious properties, starting with aroma and ending with its therapeutic effects, but they may even lead to total degradation. At the same time, certain infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths sustain the vitality of plants after they are picked. Those waves have a similar effect on naturally sourced products.
The mechanism behind this process is not completely clear yet, but it is undoubtedly an expression of the relationship between living cells and light emission and absorption, a phenomena examined by a fast-developing science called biophotonics. Thus, violet glass (which is so dark that it looks almost black) is called biophotonic glass.
- D'ALCHÉMY’s biophotonic packaging
Spectrophotometer testing determines whether and what type of solar radiation is blocked by glass of a specific colour.
Transparent glass is penetrated by all wavelengths, both visible and invisible (infrared and ultraviolet). The same holds true for green glass. Brown glass is penetrated by all visible wavelengths and infrared radiation but not ultraviolet radiation, which, however, is precisely the wavelength that helps preserve the properties of natural products. Therefore, we can say that brown glass filters solar radiation in a manner that is opposite to what natural products need. Black glass, on the other hand, blocks out too much radiation, letting only infrared radiation through.
From the perspective of plant products, only violet-coloured glass works perfectly: it is penetrated by both ultraviolet and infrared radiation, yet it blocks out almost the entire visible light spectrum (except for violet wavelengths).
- History of biophotonic glass
It was already known to ancient Egyptians that the value of a product depended to a large extent on the packaging in which it was stored. The most valuable and sensitive substances, such as essential oils or floral waters, were kept in golden or glass vessels (most likely it was the Egyptians who first mastered the manufacture of glass). Various admixtures were added to ancient glass vessels to make the glass opaque. The Egyptians were already aware that to preserve the value of the contents, protection against sunlight was a must. Perhaps they also discovered that violet glass best served this purpose.
Medieval alchemists were on a continuous search for glass that would best protect the substances they obtained. Evidence exists that they also discovered the properties of violet glass. Unfortunately, most of their works on this subject are lost, and knowledge about the advantages of violet glass was forgotten for a while. In the 19th century, brown glass vessels started to be used for the storage and sale of medicines. Some products were also kept in green glass. It was not until the 20th century that science and research methods allowed an understanding of how different colours of glass worked, and an examination of the properties of violet glass.
In 1994, Yves Kraushaar finalised and patented a method of producing violet glass on a commercial scale. The method involved adding many different minerals and metal oxides to the glass. The method of producing violet glass has changed a lot, other manufacturers have joined in, but one thing has remained: violet glass packaging has no match when it comes to the protection of natural products.
Beauty skin care "WITHOUT"
Whether a cosmetic is natural or not is determined not only by the natural products used in its production, but also – equally importantly – by the complete elimination of forbidden (usually synthetic) ingredients from its formula. Many cosmetics companies list plant ingredients in big letters on the packaging, as if this were enough to recognise that the cosmetic is natural. Meanwhile, according to the standards of natural cosmetic certification bodies, many substances need to be absolutely eliminated from natural cosmetics, substances commonly used by manufacturers of conventional cosmetics and permitted by the law.
It is already known that these substances could be harmful, either for humans or for the environment: they can provoke allergies, accumulate in the body, stress the kidneys or liver, support the development of tumours or pollute the environment, harming other organisms living on Earth. For the sake of safety, certification bodies do not permit the use of substances whose effects on the human body have not been sufficiently investigated. D’Alchemy does not use any ingredients forbidden by certification bodies in its production processes. In particular, d’Alchemy cosmetics do not contain:
2. Synthetic preservatives, except for nature-identical substances
6. Silicones/Silicone oils
7. SLS or SLES
8. PEG / PPG
9. Artificial aromas
10. Artificial colouring agents
11. Any substances in the form of nanoparticles
- Objections to conventional raw materials
A synthetic bactericidal agent and preservative that can cause allergies of the respiratory system, eye irritation, skin ageing. Most commonly found in nail enamels and hair care products.
The standards set for conventional cosmetics allow the use of formalin in extremely low concentrations in formulas for adults (it cannot be used in cosmetics for children).
They can be found in conventional cosmetics under the following names:
Benzylhemiformal, 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, Bronidox. Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Quanternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Methenamine, Glutaral, Hexetidine, Iodopropynyl, Butylcarbamate.
2. Synthetic preservatives
Synthetic substances used to preserve conventional cosmetics were once believed to be completely safe, however more recently they have given rise to a lot of doubt. Some of them may trigger skin allergies, it is also possible that in combination with many other cosmetics used at the same time, they may affect the human hormonal system.
Synthetic preservatives found in conventional cosmetics are very strong substances. In natural products, only ‘nature-identical’ preservatives are permitted, which are used on a mass scale in the food industry (alcohol, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate).
In conventional cosmetics, synthetic preservatives are usually found under the following names:
Phenoxyethanol, Methyldibromoglutaronitrile, Imid azolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Chlorhexidine, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Triclosan, 2-Brom-2-Nitropropane-1,3 Diol, Cetrimoniumbromide.
Parabens are so far the most common synthetic preservatives used in cosmetics, which have recently earned a bad reputation. The use of parabens can trigger sensitisation and make skin more vulnerable to harmful external factors. The reports of carcinogenic effects of parabens have not been proven so far, although it is known that they can be absorbed by cancer tissue. Parabens are suspected of causing breast cancer in women, and they could be responsible for lower testosterone levels in men.
The contents of parabens in a single cosmetic product are low, but the simultaneous use of multiple cosmetics may result in an accumulation of those potentially undesirable substances in the body.
They can be found in conventional cosmetics under the following names:
Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Benzylparaben, Isobutylparaben.
4. Lanolin – an oiling substance
Lanolin is obtained from sheep wool. Some people, especially children and the elderly, can be allergic to it. The allergy manifests itself mostly by minor but persistent rashes. In hypersensitive individuals, lanolin may lead to atopic dermatitis.
Due to its low price and good oiling properties, lanolin is still commonly used in conventional cosmetics, found under the name: Lanolin
5. Paraffin/mineral oils/petroleum oils
Those substances are usually produced from crude oil distillation residues. They are used in cosmetics to create a barrier protecting the skin against environmental damage. However, paraffin is in fact too effective: it reduces the penetration of gases (including oxygen) and water into the skin, preventing the skin from absorbing active ingredients.
Due to the strong growth of anaerobic bacteria caused by the use of formulae containing petroleum-derived ingredients, undesirable effects are often triggered in the skin, leading to the development of blackheads and acne lesions. Mineral oils accumulate in the human body, which is unable to excrete them, as by their very nature they are not biodegradable.
It can be said that despite those objections, mineral oils are still definitely the core raw ingredient for the conventional cosmetics industry, due to their very low price and satisfactory organoleptic properties. They are found under the following names:
Paraffin, Paraffin Oil, Parrafinum Liquidum, Isoparaffin, Synthetic Wax.
6. Silicone/silicone oils – a synthetic emollient
Silicone and its derivative products are used as synthetic emollients. They feel very nice when applied to the skin (smoothness). Nevertheless, the physiology of the human body has nothing to do with silicones. In nature, silicones cannot decompose into smaller particles, so they can accumulate and stay in the human body for years.
The use of silicone-containing formulae by individuals with sensitive skin prone to pimples and acne lesions may exacerbate the condition. Silicones, just like mineral oils, are commonly used in conventional cosmetics, especially facial and body creams, primers, liquid foundations, lipsticks, shampoos and hair conditioners.
They appear under the names that have the ending:
„silicone”, „methicone”, „siloxane”, „silanol”, like, for instance, dimethicone
7. SLS and SLES – synthetic surface-active agents
SLS and SLES are synthetic foaming agents produced during the crude oil distillation process. They can trigger rashes, redness, itching, mouth ulcers and dandruff, as well as weakening or even shedding of hair. They remove the hydrolipid film from the epidermis, and the skin deprived of its protective layer thus becomes very dry. In addition, SLS and SLES may contain residues from petrochemical processes (such as dioxane), resulting in DNA mutations.
SLS and SLES are commonly used both in household chemicals (washing powders) and industrial chemicals (engine degreasers). They are effective and inexpensive, so they are used in many conventional washing solutions (liquid soap, face and body gels, washing foams, shampoos). They are known under various names, including: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
8. PEG (polyethylene glycol) / PPG (polypropylene glycol) – synthetic emulsifiers
In traditional cosmetics, PEGs are mainly used to blend soluble components with oils and water into an even mixture. PEGs are also used as tensides, or detergents. However, PEGs and PPGs increase the permeability of the skin so that it no longer functions as a good protective barrier. Additionally, they have sensitising properties. PEG and PPG are obtained with the use of ethylene oxide, a gas recognised as a carcinogenic and mutagenic substance.
In conventional cosmetics, they can be found under names ending with “-eth”, or preceded by the prefix “PEG” or “PPG”, such as, for example
Laureth-4, PEG-40 Sorbitan Diisostearate, PPG-15 Stearate.
9. Artificial aromas
Naturally occurring aromas can be reproduced in a laboratory with amazing ease. This solution is less expensive, and beauty care can be almost as pleasurable with a synthetic aroma as with a natural one, although for more savvy consumers ‘almost’ does make a difference. However, a single synthetic fragrance often combines hundreds of different synthetic components, each of them a potential allergen.
Manufacturers of conventional cosmetics are unwilling to inform us that they use synthetic aromas; the aromas are customarily disguised as “Parfume”, “Aroma” or “Fragrance”, just like natural aromas. Legal regulations do not require the exact identification of origin of fragrances either. Therefore, many manufacturers who use only natural fragrances make separate statements to their customers in this respect.
10. Synthetic colouring agents
Natural colours are often difficult and expensive to obtain, and therefore synthetic colouring agents are commonly used in conventional cosmetics. However, they are not always safe for human health, as they release aromatic amines, many of which have irritating, toxic or even carcinogenic properties. Synthetic colouring agents are most often found in conventional dyeing products. Research results are disturbing: regularly dying hair using such formulations increases the risk of bladder cancer.
Nanoparticles do not refer to any specific compound. They mean a specific (in physical terms) form that many different chemical substances can take. In other words, nanoparticles are particles smaller than 100 nanometres (less than one-hundred-billionths of a meter). It means that they are 800 times smaller than the breadth of the average hair (taken as 80,000 nanometres). Due to their ultra-microscopic size and the associated extremely high surface-area-to-volume ratio, the physical and chemical properties of nanoparticles of a substance can be very different from those of the ‘regular’ particles of the same substance.
Nanoparticles can penetrate into the deepest skin layers and further into internal organs. They cannot be stopped by the blood-brain barrier either. Particles larger than 100 nm are safer than nanoparticles, because they do not penetrate deep enough into skin to reach internal organs via the blood.
Due to their superior penetrating power, chemicals in the form of nanoparticles can be potentially dangerous and even pose a major threat.
It is important to check the manufacturers’ declarations concerning the size of particles used in cosmetics, because so far no official determinations have been made in the European Union as regards the safety of nanoparticles, despite many controversies and extensive industry discussions, and therefore nanoparticles are still used in cosmetic products.