We recently peeled back the labels of “clean”, “natural” and “organic” beauty for a lowdown on their real must-know basics. If you were wondering then, how many honestly clean beauty brands are there really? Well, enough to get excited about! Big guns aside, among the growing number of small independent skincare labels pushing for cleaner beauty, a few are much closer to home than we think. In this special feature, we speak to Jingyi Yang, the founder of A For Apothecary, a Singapore-grown brand that focuses on efficacious, especially-clean formulations for the most sensitive, delicate skin (particularly that of young children).
Clean and organic beauty lies at the soul of A For Apothecary’s impressive brand commitment. With its belief in using no more than 7 ingredients (also certified-organic) in their products, relying on sustainable and ethical sourcing, as well as omitting 26 skincare allergens as per the EU Cosmetic Regulation. Over our virtual interview, Jingyi (who runs A For Apothecary as a one-woman team, alongside being full-time mum to three young boys) gets real about clean beauty, “red-flag” ingredients and how her children inspired her journey.
Pictured: Jingyi and her two sons, she recently had another baby boy!
‘Clean beauty’ is one of the newest buzzwords in the beauty industry! What exactly is ‘clean beauty’ by your standards?
Clean beauty refers to products formulated with safe and non-toxic ingredients. I am a firm believer in honest and transparent product labelling. In formulating my products, I look intensively at each ingredient, as well as relevant research studies to ensure my ingredients are non-toxic and gentle on sensitive skin. Even down to the way they are produced! I ensure no animals or the environment are harmed in the farming, harvesting, and extraction process.
What are the biggest misconceptions about “clean beauty”? Why are labels like “clean”, “natural” and “organic” sometimes misleading?
The cosmetics industry is largely unregulated. Some products containing 1% of organic ingredients can label themselves as “organic” or “natural”. But there could still be toxic ingredients present in the form of parabens, etc. Some natural products contain a high concentration of essential oils, which could trigger sensitive skin too.
Can you tell us some “red-flag” ingredients to avoid if we’re looking for clean beauty products?
Some common red-flag ingredients to look out for are synthetic fragrance, parabens, mineral oil, siloxanes, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), chemical sunscreens and retinol!
Tell us more about A For Apothecary. What do you do and what is your brand philosophy?
I started A For Apothecary with one product — the Baby Balm. It took me 3 years to research different ingredients and over 14 different formulations before I could send it to an independent lab (in the UK, to assess for safety) and finally launch my first product.
A For Apothecary is a brand that focuses on effective, clean formulations meant for sensitive skin. We focus on ingredients that work in synergy with a clean lifestyle and diet for healthy glowing skin. We value transparency in our ingredients and avoid essential oils in our products; so they will be suitable for even the most sensitive skin.
What inspired you to set up A For Apothecary?
My boys gave me the courage to start a skincare brand. Their episodes of bad rashes and eczema motivated me to research on natural skincare ingredients, so as to provide them with the best. I’m sure this is what parents will want for their children as opposed to steroid creams etc.
I hope I can also inspire my boys to pursue their dreams when they are older. Not to give up in the face of difficulties, and also use their dreams to make the world a better place for the next generation!
Tell us more about your 7-ingredient commitment. Why is that important to your formulation?
When I first began formulating, I was very tempted to put in dozens of different ingredients. The more the merrier right? But while trying to find the right formula, I decided to challenge myself. What if I reduce the number of ingredients instead and focus on using quality ones? I discovered formulas with less ingredients work better than those with more!
Tell us more about what “farm to bottle” means!
“Farm to bottle” means the ingredients — from the way they are farmed, harvested, extracted, and tested — are environmentally sustainable and cruelty-free. It’s very important to me that the ingredients we use do not negatively impact the environment and animals.
Take the American Ginseng, for example. A popular skincare ingredient for its anti-aging properties, but now on the verge of being endangered due to the lack of sustainable harvesting and extensive poaching.*
And what does “farm to bottle” look like at A For Apothecary?
At A For Apothecary, I ensure our ingredients are harvested from sustainable sources and are organically-certified. For instance, I visited a raw organic coconut oil farm in Thailand to learn more about their production processes. It was not only eye-opening, but also assuring that they shared my belief in organic harvesting and production. The farm also started a co-operative amongst coconut farmers by paying them higher wages to reflect the true value they bring to the industry.
Our colloidal oat and oat lipid oil are produced to the highest standards using modern, sustainable farming practices. This ensures full traceability from field to face! Clean beauty is beautiful skin with consciousness. This is why the “farm to bottle” process is so important!
Looking to discover more in local beauty like A For Apothecary? Stay tuned to The DC Edit for a very special feature that will put together everything you need to know about (nearly) every homegrown beauty brand *wink*. Exciting things coming your way so watch our space!