Frequently asked questions

Are your products natural?

Yes, we are as natural as possible. Most skincare products are made with water and a variety of natural oils and botanical extracts which makes an incredibly hospitable breeding ground for microorganisms. Effective preservatives are vital for ensuring safety, and therefore even the most natural products such as ours use preservatives or synthesised preparations. We avoid irritants, such as perfumes and dyes, and only use the most natural, organic and sustainable ingredients wherever possible.

Where are your products made?

All our products are manufactured in the UK in our state-of-the-art good manufacturing practice (GMP) accredited laboratories. All our products are carefully crafted in small batches of 200.

Are your products made from organic, GMO-free, fairly traded and responsibly farmed ingredients?

All our products may technically be marketed as organic as they contain a range of organic ingredients. We are very careful about where we source our ingredients as we want to ensure they are natural and of the best quality. It is not always possible to source certified organic, GMO-free ingredients for our products, but we endeavour to do this wherever possible. Instead, we focus on creating natural, quality products that achieve great results in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

It is important to note that our products are not certified organic. In the interest of transparency, we indicate on an individual basis where we will endeavour to source organic or GMO-free ingredients. The complete list Apothe.Co ingredients for all products can be found here. We will always try, wherever possible, to source organic botanicals or extracts from crops that have not been genetically modified and have been fairly traded and farmed in a responsible, sustainable manner. To this end, we only use suppliers that have policies and controls in place and share our values.

Are your ingredients ethically sourced?

All our ingredients are, whenever possible, organic, natural or naturally derived. We only use premium, responsibly- and ethically sourced ingredients.

Do you use palm oil?

Our products contain cetearyl alcohol, derived from palm oil, as an alternative to ethanol. Cetearyl alcohol is a fatty, natural alcohol (good alcohol) and its effects on the skin are quite different from those of ethyl alcohol (bad alcohol), which may dry out the skin. However, the palm oils used in our formulations are certified-organic, certified-sustainable and originate from farms on the roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO) member list.

Are your products suitable for vegans?

Most of our products are suitable for vegans. Some of our products do contain by-products produced by bees, such as beeswax and honey, and are thus vegetarian friendly. For the avoidance of doubt, we never use fats or oils derived from animal sources, and always opt for plant-based alternatives.

Are your products cruelty-free?

We are opposed to all forms of animal testing. We conduct no testing on animals on any of our products and only work with suppliers that share our values and have suitable policies and controls in place.

Do your products contain parabens?

No. Parabens can cause allergic reactions and exacerbate some skin conditions, and therefore none of our products contain parabens.

Do your products contain sulphates?

No. Sulphates are known irritants and can be harsh on your skin and therefore all our products are free from sulphates.

Do your products contain alcohol?

Some consumers select alcohol-free products because they believe ethyl alcohol dries out their skin. For many years cosmetic manufacturers have marketed certain cosmetic products that do not contain ethyl alcohol (also known as ethanol, or grain alcohol) as alcohol-free. However, alcohols are a large and diverse family of chemicals, with different names and a variety of effects on the skin. This can lead to some confusion among consumers when they check the ingredient listings on cosmetic labels to determine alcohol content.

In cosmetic labelling, the term alcohol, used by itself, refers to ethyl alcohol. Cosmetic products, including those labelled alcohol-free, may contain other alcohols, such as cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl, or lanolin alcohol. These are known as fatty alcohols, and their effects on the skin are quite different from those of ethyl alcohol. At Apothe.Co we use cetearyl alcohol, which is plant-derived. 

You may also notice that some of our products contain phenoxyethanol, that may appear to be an alcohol, but is actually a glycol ether, and has very different properties to ethyl alcohols. It follows that per EU/US labelling requirements our products may be labelled as alcohol-free.

In summary, in cosmetic labelling, ethyl alcohols must be listed on the label as alcohol, or alcohol denat. Any other alcohols (cetearyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol) are different and may be used in alcohol-free products. To prevent the ethyl alcohol in a cosmetic from being diverted illegally for use as an alcoholic beverage, it may be denatured. Where we use alcohol in our products we will indicate this on the label as alcohol, or alcohol denat. For the avoidance of doubt, we do not currently have any products that contain ethyl or denatured alcohol.

Do you use any petrochemicals?

No, we do not use any mineral-oil based ingredients or crude-oil derived waxes such as paraffin wax.

Some of your products contain polysorbates and phenoxyethanol. These do not sound natural. What are these and why do you use them?

Yes, they do. We have checked both of these (in fact all of our ingredients) on several safety databases and the results can be found here.

We are a responsible, transparent manufacturer and only use ingredients we consider to be safe and effective and where benefits outweigh any risk. Remember that not all synthetic chemicals are bad, and not every natural ingredient is good. We prefer natural, organic ingredients, but this is not always possible. However, we always avoid irritants, such as perfumes and dyes.

Phenoxyethanol is pretty much the current it-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and that’s why we use it. Compared to many other preservatives, the incidence of a sensitized or allergic reaction to phenoxyethanol, as used in cosmetics, is rare. But the truth is all preservatives, even the natural ones, carry some risk of sensitizing skin. That’s because preservatives of any kind are meant to kill fungus, bacteria, and mould and that can negatively impact the skin. Preservatives are necessary to ensure safety. Ironically, in order for natural preservatives to be effective, they have to be used in much higher amounts than synthetic preservatives, typically up to 10%. This higher amount also poses irritation and sensitizing problems for skin.

Polysorbates are made from compounds derived from the dehydration of the sugar alcohol sorbitol and oleic acid, a fatty acid found in vegetable fat. Polysorbates are considered non-toxic and safe as used in the concentrations found in skincare products. Paula’s Choice rated these as Good and EWG Skin Deep set a hazard score at 1 out of 10 (low risk).

Do you use preservatives?

Yes. We use a combination of ethylhexylglycerin and phenoxyethanol, which is a globally approved paraben-free preservative that is very effective against bacterial, yeast and fungal growth.

Most skincare products are made with water and a variety of natural oils and botanicals which makes an incredibly hospitable breeding ground for microorganisms. What’s worse – the product might smell and look just fine but be swarming with bacteria or fungi that are dangerous to your health. Effective preservatives are therefore vital for ensuring safety!

We use phenoxyethanol in a very low concentration (never exceeding 1%) as a preservative because the most accessible alternatives for these types of formulas include parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Both are classes of chemicals with demonstrable evidence of potential health risks, whereas phenoxyethanol is scientifically demonstrated to be safe at low levels.

Natural alternatives to phenoxyethanol also carry some risk of sensitizing skin. That’s because preservatives of any kind are meant to kill fungus, bacteria, and mould and that can negatively impact the skin. Ironically, for natural preservatives to be effective, they must be used in much higher amounts than phenoxyethanol, typically up to 10%. This higher amount poses irritation and sensitizing problems for skin.

Are your products fragranced?

Our products are fragrance-free as we do not add any agents to artificially fragrance our products (perfumes or parfums). Our products only contain essential oils that are 100% natural.

Why do you use ingredients such as limonene, linalool?

The reason that limonene or linalool appear on the ingredients list on some of our products is because they are naturally present in the essential oils.

Under changes to cosmetics labelling regulations first introduced in 2004, manufacturers must include in the ingredients list any of 26 potential EU allergens if they are present in the finished product at levels in excess of 0.001% for rinse-off products and 0.01% for leave-on products. This change was intended to force manufacturers using these ingredients as isolated chemicals from hiding them under the blanket term of Parfum, Perfume or Fragrance. In their isolated form they can cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. The same compounds occurring naturally in essential oils do not have the same allergenic activity, but the legislation does not take this into account, and therefore if they are present in the essential oils then they have to be declared on the label.

We do not use any isolated fragrance ingredients in any of our products and in every case we only use pure essential oils or plant extracts. It is the naturally occurring forms of linalool, citronellol, citral, limonene, coumarin or geraniol which are present in our products and these are only there because we add essential oils. We never add extra of these chemicals, either in synthetic or natural form.

What is the shelf-life of your products?

The shelf-life of all our products is 30 months from the date of manufacturing. The period-after-opening (PAO) differs depending on the packaging used and is indicated on the product label.

What is your approach to sustainable packaging?

Our containers are all made from amber glass, which is fully recyclable. Our glass jar closures are made from polypropylene and our tamper-evident bottle closures are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), both of which are recyclable. Our labels are made from polypropylene and can be recycled.

We believe in a minimalist approach to packaging, and as such do not have boxed containers for any of our products in order to reduce waste.

When shipping products, we use a fulfilment partner that shares our values: they source 100% recycled packaging and recycle whenever possible;  they use electronic paperwork whenever they can and make use of fair trade suppliers. Depending on the product, they use eco-friendly packaging such as brown paper tape, paper bubble wrap and brown paper stuffing paper. They also only use water-soluble starch packing-peanuts, if needed.