Clean skincare, green skincare, natural skincare – are they the same thing?

‘Clean’, ‘green’ and ‘natural’ are more than buzzwords when it comes to beauty products. These terms are not interchangeable. Due to misinformation and ‘greenwashing’, it is now more important than ever to educate ourselves and wise up to what exactly these terms entail, as well as what they have to offer.

‘Clean’ products are free of toxic ingredients, both natural and man-made. These include parabens, phthalates, talc, and formaldehyde – to name a few. Their focus will be to formulate products using ingredients which are proven to be safe. The shift towards ‘clean beauty’ are driven by a few factors. An obsession with wellness and detoxification, both in terms of diet and products, is fueling a demand for stripped-back, ‘clean’ ingredients. Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about possible irritations caused by synthetic ingredients in fragrances and preservatives and are reading labels more carefully. The second factor is the rise in sensitive skin. Dermatologists are reporting a growing phenomenon of sensitised skin caused by increased exposure to pollution, stress and digital aggressors. Skin sensitivity has become the new buzz topic, ahead of anti-ageing, driving a shift towards caring for skin with natural and honest ingredients.

‘Green’ products are made sustainably and will not harm the earth through their manufacturing or recycling, ensuring its business practices are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. The rise in green products comes as no surprise as we are all striving to reduce pollution and waste. Being environmentally responsible has never been higher on our agendas.

‘Natural’ products source their ingredients from nature; utilising botanical oils, extracts and butters, natural salts and everything in between. The classic definition of natural skin care is based on using botanically sourced ingredients currently existing in or formed by nature, without the use of synthetic chemicals, and manufactured in such a way to preserve the integrity of the ingredients. Truly natural brands will usually strive to be clean (not all natural ingredients are safe!).

Many brands will adopt two or more of the above principles, but it is imperative we understand the differences between the three so that we are able to make informed decisions.

Manuka Honey – Nature’s Best Food

What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka Honey is a complex honey that goes far beyond simple table honey, it is only produced in New Zealand and is considered by some as Nature’s Best Food. Manuka honey is used as a natural ointment for wounds of all kinds. It has been hailed as a go-to germ fighter in an age of resistance to conventional antibiotics. Proponents also claim that Manuka honey can treat other conditions from acne to sinus issues.

Manuka Bees get to work each year collecting the pollen from the Manuka plant and creating the honeycomb that gives us our Manuka Honey. It has been the focus of extensive scientific research evidencing remarkable natural properties that set it apart from other kinds of honey and make it so highly prized throughout the world. Genuine New Zealand Manuka Honey are officially graded by an UMF Rating system.


What is UMF?

Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) is a grading system for genuine Manuka Honey. This rating system is maintained by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA). The UMF grading system uses the most comprehensive and transparent test currently available for Manuka Honey. It appraises natural markers found in Manuka Honey to assure its purity and quality. Every batch of UMF Manuka Honey undergoes the UMF grading system (testing laboratory). The key markers (Leptosperin, Dihydroxyacetone, Methyglyoxal and Hydroxymethylfurfural) must be presented and the UMF grading is based on the combined levels of these key markers. The higher the UMF rating, the higher is the therapeutic potency of the honey.


How to Identify Genuine UMF Manuka Honey?

Genuine Manuka Honey is packed and labelled made in New Zealand. It has the UMF licensee’s brand name and the license# stated on the label. This license guarantees consumers that they are buying genuine Manuka Honey. It is verified by the official UMF certificate which states the test results for the batch# shown on the jar label. The official UMF certificate presents all 4 laboratory test results (Leptosperin, Dihydroxyacetone, Methyglyoxal and Hydroxymethylfurfural). The UMF number refers to the level of anti-bacterial property in the honey at the time of packaging. The higher the UMF number, the more potent is the Manuka Honey. Therapeutic grade manuka Honey only starts from UMF10, all the way to UMF20+. The colour of higher UMF levels of Manuka Honey tends to be darker and has a more distinctive taste.


Key Benefits of Manuka Honey

Manuka Honey is acidic and has a pH of between 3.2 and 4.5. The acidic properties inhibit the growth or destroys microorganisms such as bacteria, virus and fungus. Therefore, Manuka Honey is well-known with its wound healing effect.

Manuka Honey can also help to strengthen the immune system and is effective against all kinds of infections. Its antibacterial and anti-viral properties can reduce inflammation and clear infections that can cause sickness & discomfort. Manuka honey can also improve digestion and ease stomachache as it contains a pre-biotic. It has been found to be an effective therapy for digestive disorder such as acid reflux, gastric, diarrhea and ulcers.  Finally, Manuka Honey is also commonly regarded as a good energy booster.

Unknown to many people, Manuka honey also has a bunch of skin benefits in addition to its health benefits. It is very effective for skin barrier protection to maintain a healthy and blemish-free skin.

Firstly, it helps to improve skin’s appearance especially acne prone skin that has breakouts. It can balance skin’s pH level and remove dead cells to keep the skin clean. Its anti-bacteria and anti-inflammatory effect can reduce inflammation and irritation and heal existing pimples and clear up blemishes on skin. It also calms and reduces redness on face by soothing the skin.

Secondly, It is also a powerful humectant due to its sugar component. This makes it a very effective ingredient in moisturizers, as it attracts moisture from the air and binds it to the skin to give skin cells intense hydration.  Hydrated skin is the key to healthy skin!

Finally, Manuka Honey also contains loads of antioxidants thus making it an effective anti-aging ingredient. Antioxidants protect the skin against cell scavenging free radicals and help the skin repairs itself. It also keeps the skin moisturized to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


How to Consume Manuka Honey?

For health benefits, it is advisable to consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of Manuka honey every day to get its utmost benefits. There are a few ways to consume manuka honey: you may eat it straight or add it to foods or drinks.  For one who is suffering from sore throat, you may take Manuka honey with warm water and lemon juice to experience its soothing effect and ease the symptoms. It is not advisable to take manuka honey with boiling liquids as the heat will take away all its antimicrobial properties.

If you would like to include manuka honey into your daily meal plan, you may consider spreading it onto a slice of bread or adding it into yogurt. Tea drinkers can also add a spoonful of manuka honey into morning cup.

For skin benefits, look for New Zealand skincare products that use Manuka Honey as the main or major ingredient.  Make sure that the product contains Manuka Honey of at least UMF12+ rating, and manuka honey appears near the top of the ingredients list and not in the bottom half.


Possible Side Effects of Manuka Honey

If one is allergic to bees, then he should not be using manuka honey as it might cause a risk of allergic reaction. There is also a risk of blood sugar increase as honey is high in natural sugar. Therefore diabetic patients should only consume with physician instruction only. People who are under medication treatment should consult a doctor before consuming it as manuka honey has effects on certain chemotherapy drugs and interactions with various other medicines. Mayo Clinic, U.S. does not recommend giving honey to infants under the age of one due to the risk of infant botulism, a type of foodborne illness.

Discover the Uses of Aura Cacia Essential Oils

Diluting Essential Oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile substances. In order to be used safely, they should be diluted in another safe substance, like water, a skin care oil or an unscented lotion or liquid soap. Follow the recommendations in this guide for safe, effective use.

Standard Measurement: 1ml= 20drops

Dilution Golden Rule: 6 drops of essential oil + 1 oz. or 30ml carrier = 1% dilution

*Carriers: Water, Skin Care Oil, Unscented lotion or liquid soap


Simple Ways to Use Essential Oils

Essential Oil Safety

Essential oils are very concentrated. Their safe use requires they be treated with care and respect. The user should be knowledgeable about their properties and actions before any use. Most personal applications require drops rather than ounces.

Whenever you use essential oils, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Do not use essential oils undiluted on skin.
  • Keep in mind that the absorption is increased on damaged skin.
  • Test diluted essential oils on inconspicous areas before general use.
  • Use photosensitizing essential oils cautiously.
  • Consult with a health practitioner before use if pregnant, nursing, suffering from any medical condition, or taking medication.
  • Keep essential oils out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep essential oils away from your eyes.
  • Do not use essential oils internally.
  • Follow specific recommendations for dilution based on the person and application.
  • Don’t overuse essential oils.


Shop Aura Cacia Essential Oils:

How to Use Essential Oils for Aromatherapy


Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils (plant oils extracted from leaves, flowers, and other parts). Each oil has a characteristic scent, and in aromatherapy, the oil is inhaled or used topically on skin for sleep, headaches, and other conditions.

Although essential oils are widely available, it’s important to understand how to use these potent oils. Here are some tips to guide you.


Whether you’re using a diffusersteam inhalation, spray, or you are simply inhaling a drop or two of an essential oil on a cotton ball, be sure to test a very small amount first because allergic reactions can occur.

A common mistake when using essential oils is to use too much. Usually, one to three drops is all that is needed.

Topical Use

When using essential oils on skin, in a bath or shower, or in an aromatherapy massage, always dilute the oil and be careful not to use too much. Essential oils are absorbed through the skin, and using an excessive amount or applying undiluted essential oils to the skin can result in an overdose.

Although recommended amounts may vary, a typical concentration for occasional use is 1 percent for the body and 0.5 percent for the face (or other delicate skin).

For regular or daily use, 0.5 percent or less is often suggested. Generally, the larger the area (e.g. a body massage) or the more frequent the use, the less concentrated the product should be.

Skin irritation, contact allergy, and burns can occur when using essential oils topically. Always do a patch test when using a new essential oil.

When using a pure essential oil, add one drop in 2.5 milliliters (or 1/2 teaspoon) of vegetable oil and apply it to your arm. If the area turns red or if there is burning or itchiness, wash the area and avoid that oil.

Test aromatherapy skin and hair products, such as lotions, creams, or shampoos, by applying a small dab to your arm.

Precautions and Tips

Be sure to store essential oils out of the reach of children.

Avoid getting essential oils in your eyes, nose, or ears. Wash your hands thoroughly after using essential oils. If you’re blending or working with pure essential oils, you may want to get disposable latex gloves (or latex-free alternatives) from the drug store.

Don’t take essential oils internally. Even small amounts can be toxic and potentially fatal if ingested.

Before going out in the sun or to a tanning booth, avoid essential oils that increase your sensitivity to the sun, such as bergamotgrapefruit, and other citrus oils.

Overuse of essential oils can trigger a headache or dizziness. Don’t exceed recommended amounts.

If you’re working with essential oils (e.g. making your own lotions, candles, or bath salts) make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area or take breaks to go outside.

If you have a medical condition, consult a qualified practitioner before using essential oils. Certain essential oils should not be used by people with health conditions.

People with liver or kidney disease should only use essential oils under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, essential oils are eventually cleared from your body by the liver and kidneys. Using essential oils excessively may injure these organs.

Consult a qualified practitioner if you take any medication, because essential oils may interact with certain medications. For example, essential oils such as chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm may heighten the effect of sleeping pills or sedatives.

Also keep in mind that the safe limit for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

If you’re considering the use of essential oils for a health condition, make sure to consult your physician first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.


By Cathy Wong