How to join the clean beauty movement

How to join the clean beauty movement

Clean eating has been a thing for years now. Its best friend is clean beauty, a movement that’s fast gathering momentum in New Zealand.

The clean beauty movement says ‘no’ to parabens, phthalates, sulfates, oxybenzone, triclosan, hydroquinone and artificial fragrances. These ingredients are commonly used in skincare products, however they have all been proven to cause problems – for your overall health, as well as your skin.

The clean beauty movement also says ‘no’ to dubious natural products that have no proven efficacy or actually have potential to cause harm. Putting a few drops of various essential oils into a carrier oil and calling it a serum is a hit and miss process that’s likely to result in nasty skin reactions. Nature makes a lot of toxins – hemlock, deadly nightshade and oleander, just to mention a few. Tobacco is also classed as a toxin, not that you’d ever be tempted to put it in skincare.

The difference between science and science fiction

Ethical, responsible natural skincare makers choose to work with ingredients that have been proven safe, as well as effective. They use robust scientific research to guide their formulations; without science, natural products would be science fiction.

The definition of science is: the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Science is as important for natural substances as it is for pharmaceuticals. Every year, a huge amount of research time goes into studying natural substances. Any natural skincare brand worth its salt should be able to back up claims with scientific study. For example, at Okana we use macadamia oil in some of our formulations, because science supports its efficacy. [1]

Why using genuine natural skincare products is a good idea

If a skincare product is going to stay on your skin all day, because it’s a moisturiser or a body lotion, then it makes sense to use a clean, 100% natural formulation. Skin is the largest organ of your body and it’s porous, so it absorbs whatever you put into it.

Skin is a dynamic, living tissue; as such, its absorption characteristics are susceptible to constant change. Upon contact with the skin, molecules penetrate into the dead stratum corneum and can subsequently reach the viable epidermis, the dermis, and the vascular network (EC, 2004). [2]

Serum, sunscreen and deodorant are other products this long-term-contact rule applies. You could also look at moving to clean hair and makeup products, especially foundation and lipstick.

Auditing your current skincare collection

Before you bin your entire skincare regime because it might contain dodgy ingredients, do an audit of ingredients to confirm which products actually deserve to be banished. You might discover products that aren’t 100% natural, but neither are they toxic. To move economically to a clean skincare regime, these non-natural-but-safe products can be used up first.

Here’s our Top 10 for problem ingredients:


Methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, polyparaben and isobutylparaben are collectively known as parabens. They have antimicrobial properties, so are added to beauty and skincare products to prevent growth of bacteria and mould.  The problem with parabens is that they mimic oestrogen in the human body.

“Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity,” reports the non-profit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC).[3]

A collaborative study by University of California and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that exposure to parabens was directly linked to early onset of puberty among girls. [4]

Solution:  Choose products that don’t contain parabens. These will have a shorter shelf life, however that’s a small inconvenience in the big scheme of things. At Okana we use self-preserving natural ingredients to keep our products safe. The shelf life of our products is 12 months unopened; we recommend you use up products within six months of first use.   

“Many natural and organic cosmetics manufacturers have found effective alternatives to parabens to prevent microbial growth in personal care products,” reports CSC. “Some companies have created preservative-free products that have shorter shelf lives than conventional products (six months to a year), but if used daily are likely to be used up before they expire.”[3]


If you’re a sucker for a pretty smell, it’s time to tell your nose to forget it. The fragrances used in skincare products nearly always contain phthalates, a group of chemicals that help scents to last longer. They show up as DEP, BBzP, DBP and DEHP on ingredients lists.

Phthalates have been linked to asthma, obesity, ADHD, type 2 diabetes, reduced sperm count, breast cancer, reproductive malformation, infertility, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioural issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.[5] Phew! That’s a lot of risk.

The weight of evidence against phthalates suggests manufacturers should proceed with extreme caution when using any chemical in the phthalate class, particularly in products for pregnant women or young children.

Solution: Choose products that are fragrance-free. If you must wear perfume, look for phthalate-free products. A variety of toxic ingredients are used to formulate perfumes and manufacturers don’t have to disclose the ingredients they use. The recipes that are used to create fragrances are regarded as confidential business information, i.e. trade secrets.

Ethoxylated agents

By ethoxylated agents, we mean polyethylene glycols (PEGs), ceteareths, oleth and sulfates. Ethoxylation is the process of reacting ethylene oxide with other chemicals to make them less harsh. The process can create small amounts of 1,4-dioxane and leave residual ethylene oxide in the product.  Both these contaminants are linked to breast cancer and other cancers. [6]

Sulfates create the bubbles and lather in cleansers like shampoo. Some sulfates are synthetic, while others are derived from sulfur and petroleum or plant sources like coconut oil and palm oil. PEG compounds are used as thickeners, solvents, and softeners in hair products, as well as some moisturizers and base products.

Solution: Since labels don’t indicate the presence of dioxane and ethylene oxide, avoid products that contain PPG, PEG, polysorbate and ingredients that end in –eth, such as laureth, steareth, ceteareth.  


You wouldn’t knowingly use a product that contains formaldehyde, because it’s a well-known poison. However if you like to get salon keratin smoothing treatments to keep your hair sleek and straight, formaldehyde could be in the ingredients list. It helps to lock your hair’s disulfide bonds into a straighter position.

Formaldehyde is recognized globally as a human carcinogen, so it’s been eliminated from most common beauty products, such as nail polish. The exception is salon keratin treatments, which contain methylene glycol, formalin, methanol or methanediol. These ingredients release formaldehyde when mixed with water during the treatment. Not only is this a risk to you, it’s a risk to salon workers who get daily exposure.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists sore throat, nosebleeds and itchy eyes as common side effects to formaldehyde exposure. [7]

Solution: Look for a hair smoothing process that doesn’t involve formaldehyde or its precursors.  

Petroleum products

It’s OK to put petrol in your car; it’s not OK to put it on your skin. Mineral oil (petrolatum, paraffin) is often found in lip balms and face creams.

A 2011 study found mineral oil to be the largest contaminant present in the human body, probably due to ongoing use of certain beauty care products. [8]

Untreated or mildly treated mineral oils can cause various types of cancer. Evidence that he highly-treated forms of mineral oils, like those used in skincare products, are carcinogenic remains insufficient to draw conclusions. [9]

Solution: We reckon it’s best to steer away from petrolatum and paraffin, just in case. No more petroleum jelly for you!


Hydroquinone is used to lighten areas of darkened skin, such as freckles, melasma, age spots and acne scars. It works by decreasing the production and increasing the breakdown of melanosomes in melanocytes.

Unfortunately, hydroquinone has been linked to certain cancers, decreased immunity, abnormal adrenal function and a skin problem called ochronosis. Because of this risk, It’s banned as an ingredient for skincare in the European Union, Japan and Australia.  You can still get hydroquinone in New Zealand. It’s a pharmacy-only medicine. 

Solution: Find a natural way to lighten your skin, such as kojic acid, licorice root or mulberry extract.


It’s banned in the USA, but you can literally eat it in New Zealand. Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal chemical agent found in some toothpastes, soaps and shampoos. Oh, and it’s in some sportswear too, delivering the ‘antibacterial’ promise that prevents you from getting whiffy after your workout.

In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled it was ‘likely to be doing more harm than good’.

New Zealand scientists are now calling for triclosan to be banned here."It can affect hormone function, damage the liver and kidneys and is a suspected carcinogen," says environmental chemist and Canterbury University senior lecturer Sally Gaw.

Solution: Look for products that are triclosan-free. For skincare, you can’t go wrong with Okana. For household products, try a trusted Kiwi brand like Ecostore.


Also known as silicon dioxide, silica pops up in all sorts of products, from toothpaste to eyeshadow.  In nature, it’s found in sandstone, clay, granite and even in parts of plants and animals. You can also make it synthetically in a lab.

Silica absorbs oil and sweat, so your makeup lasts longer. It helps your makeup to stick to your face better, so is often used in primers. It thickens creams and lotions, making them easier to use. And it helps foundations to spread easily over your face.

Cosmetic products use supposedly-harmless amorphous silica, however there are studies that now suggest it’s not harmless at all.  To quote a study on the Phagocytosis and Toxicity of Amorphous Silica: “Amorphous silica particles are phagocytosed by macrophage cells and a single internalized particle is capable of killing a cell.” [10]

Solution: Avoid products containing silica. It might be natural, but natural doesn’t always mean safe.


Oxybenzone, aka benzophenone-3, is a sunscreen ingredient that filters UVB and short-wave UVA. It’s found naturally in some flowering plants, but most of it is commercially produced from benzoyl chloride with 3-hydroxyanisole. Oxybenzone is on our radar because it’s the most common allergen found in sunscreens.[11] It’s also known to be a hormone disruptor[12] and has a habit of building up in living tissues, so concentrations can increase over time. [13]

Solution: Use mineral sunscreens. They work by sitting on top of the skin to physically block harmful rays, whereas chemical sunscreens (the kind that contain oxybenzone) penetrate deeper to convert UV rays into heat and release it from the skin.

The clean skin glossary

Clean: Beauty products that consider human and environmental health, using a nontoxic element as a baseline and plant-based ingredients for active results.

Green:  The word ‘green’ should mean the product does no harm to the environment, such a reef-safe mineral sunscreen. However it’s usually associated with ‘green-washing’, which is the unscrupulous business of pretending to be environmentally responsible.

Sustainable: The ingredients and the package are not harmful to the planet. Sustainability also applies to how ingredients were sourced. Keep in mind that sustainability can only be claimed if it comes with recognised accreditations.

Organic: The product is produced without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides or other artificial chemicals. If a product claims to be organic, its packaging should show a device that indicates a recognised organic accreditation.  

Non-toxic: When a beauty product is labelled nontoxic, it means the ingredients have not been shown to cause adverse health effects at the levels found inside the formula and for the intended use.

Vegan: The product doesn’t contain any animal by-products or ingredients sourced from animals. Watch out for beeswax, honey, lanolin and tallow – they are not vegan.

Cruelty-free: The product has not been tested on animals at any point along the manufacturing line or before being sold. Cruelty-free also refers to animal-derived ingredients that are extracted at the expense of an animal’s welfare, like animal-hair brushes.














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1. What is your policy on animal testing?

Okana do not test on animals and do not ask others to do so.

2. Who formulates your products?

All of Okana formulations are made by our in-house team of bio-chemists and materials-chemists in our own lab.

3. Who manufactures your products?

All of Okana products are manufactured in house as per order basis. All orders are produced fresh, handmade in small batches to maintain freshness and its quality.

4. Do you avoid controversial or harmful ingredients in your formulations?

At Okana, we like to treat our skincare products the same way you like to treat your food. i.e. all Okana products are free of parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, animal oils, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, mercury, oxybenzone. Our promise to you, If you can not put in your mouth, we will not include it in our product. If you have questions about any ingredient that we use, please reach out to us here and we will provide a response.

5. Are Your Products Vegan?

Yes all of them. We genuienly believe in animal welfare and being environmental friendly. We do not test our products on animals, nor use their by-product as our ingredient.

6. Are your products Suitable for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women?

Yes absolutely. We will never use any questionable ingredient that can harm your body in long-term. All our products are made from 100% natural edible ingredients.

7. How Do I Store Your Products?

We recommend storing all of our products in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Refrigerating our products will not enhance their longevity. We suggest using all products from Okana within 6 months.

8. What is the Expiry Date of Your Products?

The shelf life of our products is 12 month, but we generally suggest using any products from Okana within 6 months of opening. This ensures the freshness and quality of our ingrdients.

9. Can You Recommend Products for My Skin Concerns?

Of course, we would love to help! You can submit an inquiry on our contact page and be sure to let us know what products you’re currently interested in, your primary skin concerns, and your currently daily regimen (if you have one).

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In the event that any provision of these Terms of Service is determined to be unlawful, void or unenforceable, such provision shall nonetheless be enforceable to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, and the unenforceable portion shall be deemed to be severed from these Terms of Service, such determination shall not affect the validity and enforceability of any other remaining provisions.


The obligations and liabilities of the parties incurred prior to the termination date shall survive the termination of this agreement for all purposes.
These Terms of Service are effective unless and until terminated by either you or us. You may terminate these Terms of Service at any time by notifying us that you no longer wish to use our Services, or when you cease using our site.
If in our sole judgment you fail, or we suspect that you have failed, to comply with any term or provision of these Terms of Service, we also may terminate this agreement at any time without notice and you will remain liable for all amounts due up to and including the date of termination; and/or accordingly may deny you access to our Services (or any part thereof).


The failure of us to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Terms of Service shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision.
These Terms of Service and any policies or operating rules posted by us on this site or in respect to The Service constitutes the entire agreement and understanding between you and us and govern your use of the Service, superseding any prior or contemporaneous agreements, communications and proposals, whether oral or written, between you and us (including, but not limited to, any prior versions of the Terms of Service).
Any ambiguities in the interpretation of these Terms of Service shall not be construed against the drafting party.


These Terms of Service and any separate agreements whereby we provide you Services shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of New Zealand.


You can review the most current version of the Terms of Service at any time at this page.
We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Service by posting updates and changes to our website. It is your responsibility to check our website periodically for changes. Your continued use of or access to our website or the Service following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Service constitutes acceptance of those changes.


Okana Skincare’s customer loyalty programme (“Okana Loyalty Programme”) is managed and conducted by Okana New Zealand Limited (“Okana”, “we”, “us” or “our”) for the benefits of its customers (“customer”, “Member” or “you”). Opting in to the programme is automatic upon the creation of a customer account on the Okana online store.

By opting into the programme, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of the Okana programme and our Privacy Policy. Please read these Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy before you opt into the programme. You can refer to our Privacy Policy to find out more about how we use your personal information and how to opt out of receiving digital communications.

Participation and Membership

Participation in the programme is open to customers worldwide. You must be at least the age of majority in your state or country of residence to opt in to the programme. If you are under the age of majority, you must have permission from a parent/guardian to opt in to the programme who must read and consent to these Terms and Conditions. If you do not agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions, please do not participate in the programme, or contact to opt out.

Calculation of Okana Programme Points

Spending in our online store will earn you points provided you use the email associated with your Okana Programme Account.

Okana programme spend:
- Relates to the final amount you pay at checkout.
- Is calculated after discounts, shipping and tax have been applied.
- Does not include returns, reimbursements or refunds.

Programme points expire 12 months to the day after you earn them. Your current balance is calculated in real time. Your points may fluctuate on a daily basis depending on what points you have earned that day, or what points have expired. Okana reserves the right to change points if we believe someone has unfairly accumulated points outside of the rules set out in this document. Points are non redeemable for cash or monetary value. Points are only available to be accumulated online.

Okana Programme levels

You will achieve Okana Programme Levels by spending in our online store, or by successfully completing certain point-earning actions.


To access you need: 0 – 9,999 Okana points.
Every $1 spent on Okana products equates to 20 points.


To access you need: 10,000 – 19,999 Okana points.
Every $1 spent on Okana products equates to 25 points.


To access you need: 20,000 or more Okana points.
Every $1 spent on Okana products equates to 30 points.

Subscription club - the lounge

You get instant access to the Diamond club. In an event you cancel your subscription, your diamond club access will be downgraded to the club your points accumulate to depending on your purchase history.

You will move to the next level once you have reached the required number of points. You’ll then get to enjoy the benefits of that level for the next 12 months. You cannot drop down a level within those 12 months, but you can move up another level which you will then get to enjoy for the next 12 months. Your level eligibility will be reviewed on the 12 month anniversary of you joining that level. If you have the required points, you will get to continue enjoying that level for the next 12 months, if you do not have the appropriate amount of points needed, you will then drop down a level.

If a programme level has been achieved by you in connection with a breach of these Terms and Conditions or otherwise, has been incorrectly allocated to you, including as a result of an error on the part of Okana, we reserve the right to adjust your programme level to address the breach or error. If you obtain a reimbursement or refund for goods purchased from Okana, an adjustment is also to be made to the programme account, in the amount of the refund granted.

Transfers and customer files

Programme points are non-transferrable: any transactions made by another customer on Okana’s online store cannot be transferred to a different customer(s) for someone else to obtain these programme points.

There can only be one customer for each programme membership. Transactions or points earned from multiple customer files (i.e purchases made under multiple email addresses for one customer) cannot be joined into one programme amount. As a customer and Member of the programme, it’s your responsibility to ensure that we have only one client file for you. If you suspect that you may have more than one client file, please contact:

Programme points cannot be sold, transferred, assigned or otherwise dealt with except in accordance with these terms and conditions. Programme points have no monetary value and cannot be taken or redeemed as cash, unless otherwise stated as part of the programme.

Rewards and benefits are non-transferable.

New release product bonus points

A product is considered a "new release" for two months after the official launch date of the product. Okana programme Members will automatically receive 1000 bonus points when purchasing a new release product within those two months. Okana reserve the right to change the end date of the new release product period at any time.


Any rewards, gifts, benefits or promotional offers communicated as part of the Okana programme may include specific offer terms and conditions, including expiry dates. Unless otherwise stated, rewards and benefits can only be redeemed by making a purchase in Okana’s online store.

Member-Only Benefits

Okana will communicate to the appropriate programme members when a member-only benefit is available for redemption. This will happen at a time determined by Okana. Member-Only Benefits could be a gift with purchase, exclusive content,, bonus points or other promotional offers. Member only benefits will be available for one month or until all stock is allocated.

Change of details

It is the customer's responsibility to advise Okana of any change to your details by logging into your account and managing your details accordingly, or by contacting Okana is not responsible for any failure to notify us of your change of details, which may result in you not obtaining the benefit of programme communications, rewards or benefits, or the loss or downgrade of a programme level status.

Suspension, Modification and/or Termination

Okana reserves the right at our discretion, to disqualify any individual we find to be tampering with the entry process, or the programme operation.

Okana may immediately suspend or terminate your participation in the Okana programme if you: (a) are in breach of these Terms and Conditions; (b) have engaged, or may engage, in fraudulent conduct, or conduct that is suspected to be of fraudulent nature, in relation to Okana New Zealand Limited, the Okana programme, or your customer file; (c) have engaged in inappropriate conduct which undermines the reputation or legitimate interests of Okana; (d) have supplied or are attempting to supply false or misleading information; (e) are selling, assigning, transferring, acquiring, or offering to sell, assign, transfer or acquire any Okana programme awards, gifts, offers or benefits other than in accordance with these Terms and Conditions; (f) act in a hostile, abusive or aggressive manner towards any Okana staff or any other Customers online; or (g) become bankrupt.

If your right to participate in the Okana programme is suspended or terminated, any benefits, rewards, rights and Okana programme level Status you may have accumulated at that time under the Okana programme, shall thereby be suspended or terminated.

We reserve the full rights under our sole discretion to modify, suspend or cancel the programme without notice for any conduct that we believe is in violation of acceptable usage of our loyalty programme.