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On Earth Day, Here's One Word You Need To Know: Greenwashing

Not all 'natural' products are created equal. The Herb Farm's Sarah Cowan tells you what you need to know.

That shampoo you just paid for has the word "nature" on the bottle, and the tube of skincare has "organic" in its brand name. Of course they contain ingredients free of bad stuff and pesticides, and are eco-friendly, right? Not necessarily, folks. The Herb Farm's Managing Director Sarah Cowan (in pic above), who runs the New Zealand farm-to-face skincare brand started by her mother, herbalist Lynn Kirkland, tells us to look out for "greenwashing" in the beauty and skincare industry. Recently in town to launch The Herb Farm in Singapore, she says, "Greenwashing is the use of marketing to make a product seem natural. A brand can claim a product is organic, but it’s got just one organic ingredient. Unfortunately, it’s pretty unregulated, so consumers need to be the ones taking the power back and reading a product's ingredients list."

Of course, The Herb Farm products are 100 per cent natural, handcrafted in rural Manawatu in New Zealand's North Island, with herbs and botanicals grown on the family farm. Sarah, a former model and mother of two, radiates so much beauty and serenity, we had to ask her for tips on how to live more naturally and positively. 

Coming up roses: The Nourishing Rose Face Cream ($49) is a gorgeous treat for your skin. 

#1 Be a more conscious consumer.
Being aware of where the things you use come from goes a long way towards living a better and healthier life, says Sarah. "It’s okay to ask questions and read ingredient labels. It's okay to check where your food or water came from. It’s kinda of a mindset. It’s not just our own bodies that are potentially being affected, it’s the environment as well. It's about choosing to spend your money with companies that are making a positive impact on the planet instead of harming it, and speaking through your purchasing power."

#2 Start small.
You don't have to turn into a rampaging green warrior overnight. Sarah says, "Just start by changing what you use and what you purchase. Skincare is an easy thing to change. You can also start buying eco-friendly products for your home, like laundry and cleaning products. Think about the toxins in those products that not only you’re exposed to, but that the environment is exposed to, when you wash it down the drain."

#3 Be mindful. Stop thinking about the future or the past and live in the now. 
"I'm a big believer in trying to find a balance of body, mind and soul. I find little ways to try and introduce balance, like using mindfulness, meditation and connecting with nature, like going for a walk outdoors. It also means trying to be present in where you are right now and not always thinking ahead or behind. I think it helps with stress levels and anxiety. If you're in a taxi going somewhere, instead of being on your phone, look out the window and notice things. When you talk to someone, whether it's your colleague or your children, make sure you're really actively listening. In New Zealand, there’s a mindfulness program that’s taught in schools. It’s important to balance out that technological life we lead with some coping techniques."

Herbal remedies: The Herb Farm's Clarifying Facial Toning Mist ($39) helps reduce oiliness while refreshing and healing your skin, while the Jojoba Face Cream ($49) balances skin's natural oils while healing blemishes. 

The Herb Farm is in Singapore with a range of 9 products, and is available at selected Watsons stores.  

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