Formaldehyde is used in cigarettes, cleaning products, and scarily, one in five beauty products, and it’s often disguised under different names too. Trusting the ingredient list of what we buy, isn’t always easy, but choosing to eat, use and wear natural products is the best way to ensure what you’re putting in and, on your body, isn’t full of nasties.
Processed foods, synthetic materials and chemical products contain harmful ingredients that have detrimental health and environmental impacts, and Formaldehyde is at the top of the culprit list. It’s an ingredient that Sanctum Australia refuses to use, and one of many chemicals they proudly avoid. As a business, Sanctum believes that ‘natural means nurture’, and when it comes to caring for the body’s largest organ, the skin, organic truly is the best option.
Sanctum’s cosmetic range is as natural as it gets, free from parabens, Cocamide DEA, mineral oils, silicones, PEG, SLES and SLS ingredients, ALES additives, fragrances and perfumes, phthalates, GMO ingredients, petrochemicals, artificial colours, petrolatum and paraffin wax, glycol, ethanolamine, polycyclic musks, synthetic retinol, synthetic dyes, animal by-products, ingredients tested on animals, and chemical synthesised sunscreens or polysorbates. It’s a long list and a bit of a mouthful, but the concept is extremely simple: if it’s not a natural or organic ingredient, Sanctum won’t use it.
Sanctum's founders, Greg and Jicky Milham, moved to the countryside of Byron Shire in 1989 to pursue a natural lifestyle and quickly found their inspiration for a business in the land. Greg and Jicky started researching, developing and creating naturally derived skin and health care products under the Sanctum name, and now, it's a brand that reflects the Australian landscape, remaining true to its roots over its 26-year history.
Each Sanctum product encapsulates pure tranquillity by combining locally sourced botanical ingredients with a vision to sustain and nurture, and Katrina Main (General Manager), shares her founders’ values. Katrina wholeheartedly believes in the importance of organic products and she's an open book when it comes to transparency and any questions on the brand.
One of the cosmetic industry’s largest flaws is greenwashing, and falsely labelling products with buzz words such as ‘organic’ or ‘vegan’ for marketing purposes with no regard for the truth or impact it has on consumers. One in five cosmetic products sold in major supermarkets in Australia contain Formaldehyde, and many of them still claim to be 'organic'. Formaldehyde is classified by the World Health Organisation as a Group 1 carcinogen known to cause cancer in humans, and it also causes skin irritation, sensory irritation, and breathing difficulties in people when inhaled, ingested or if it comes into contact with skin. How and why it is a legal ingredient in beauty products, I have no idea, and Katrina Main is the first raise red flags about it too.
“Seeing marketing companies using words such as ‘organic’ and having one to two ingredients that are naturally derived can actually be harmful to consumers and dilutes the meaning behind the words. Consumers look for those words because they have had reactions or sensitivities to non-organic products in the past, so they try a product and have a similar reaction because they are actually not escaping from the perfumes, preservatives and sulphates that are causing the issue. We believe that words carry connotations and the lack of policing has meant people doing the right thing are lost amongst the many doing the wrong thing.”
Practising ethical marketing and supporting other businesses who do so should come hand in hand. Honesty and ethics are not just a trait for consumers, but a responsibility for brands. If brands are completely transparent, they earn consumers’ trust, but it’s a flaw of larger corporations to adorn false titles to mass-sell mislabelled cosmetics to uninformed consumers.
Local and family-owned businesses are arguably more trustworthy when it comes to the authenticity of their products and the honesty behind their ingredients. Having started as a small family business themselves, the team at Sanctum are incredibly passionate about the importance of integrity, supporting others, and the benefits of reliability.
“We have many internationals that seek out our brand and other Australian brands because they know we have diligent quality and safety practices as a nation. They know that Australia as a country has a breadth of understanding of natural ingredients and formulas. Are values surpass our ingredients though. Our head company, Cawarra Cosmetics, employs 21 full-time staff and another 10 casual and part-time staff, so while we are a family owned business, we like to think of our business as an extension to our family. All of our staff members have families in our community that rely on us as an employer, so buying local helps to support them.”
Caring for the local community is an admirable quality in business, and a value we share at The Fashion Advocate. Sanctum’s respect for their staff, the natural world around them, and the ingredients that the earth provides for their products is something that we can only hope larger cosmetic corporations one day strive towards. Every Sanctum product contains more than 70% Certified Organic content with the remaining ingredients being 100% naturally-derived. Sanctum's product reliability is paramount to their success, and Katrina is proud to talk about the certifications the business holds to support their claims. She’s also happy to be transparent about their supply chain.
“Being ‘Certified Organic’ is the only guarantee that a product is 100% naturally derived and no synthetics or harmful additives have been used. It’s a system which is based on traceability, with both our formulas and our facility being accredited by an independent government-audited body. Our products are made by the power of the sun, they have never been tested on animals, we are certified Cruelty Free and Certified Vegan by the UK Vegan Society and our packaging is biodegradable and recyclable.”
Sanctum’s respect for nature and their understanding of Mother Earth's natural ecosystem is nothing short of inspiring. They also actively ‘give back’ every day, and they don’t just talk the talk as many businesses do; they walk the walk.
“Deforestation is the leading cause of climate change. If we want to protect the future of our planet and our own health, tree planting has to be a part of the plan. We're committed to rebuilding and restoring the environment by planting one tree with every product sold online. We work with Seed the Change, and they charge us to plant trees in different areas like rural communities restoring their environments, growing more food and building a sustainable future. By planting one tree for every online order we sell, and ensuring that all our products are produced responsibly, we allow each and every customer to make a difference with every purchase.”
Contributing to positive change isn’t a new concept for Sanctum either. They’re one of the longest standing names in the Australian cosmetics industry, and while they could have easily chosen profits over people a number of times over the last 26 years, they haven’t. Ethical and sustainable practices are at the core of Sanctum, and all in a day’s work for Katrina too. Sustainable living in all its definitions may have become increasingly ‘trendy’, but Sanctum has always operated for the greater good, prioritising people and the planet.
“Consumers are more educated in general now. They want products to be responsible, it’s not just about the feel and the smell any more. They ask questions and they have desires to understand more about what they are putting on their skin. In 1992 when we first started, there were only one or two other brands that even used the word ‘natural’ on their labelling.”
Greenwashing terminology is everywhere now, as the booming organic industry becomes increasingly difficult to navigate, it’s reassuring to know Sanctum continues to set the bar for beauty products in Australia. Sanctum’s transparency and integrity are rare in the beauty, and with an ingredient list I can read, understand and pronounce – it’s a range that will remain in my beauty cabinet.
Learn more about the benefits of organic cosmetics and beauty products at Sanctum Australia.
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