A crash course in organic skincare and Endota Spa Organics review
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
Salons and spas have been ordered to close :( but it doesn't mean that we can't take time off and take care of ourselves!
I pulled this post out from my "drafts" which I started about a year ago but have never gotten around to finish it! Here I will share my experience with a variety of Endota Spa's organic products: Vanilla & Macadamia Body Drink, Coconut & Grapefruit Melting Body Balm and Signature Blend Hand Therapy, and a brief background on organic skincare in general.
What is "organic" skincare?
"Organic" is a word that is thrown around a lot more than it should be. At its origin, organic farming is an agricultural practice without the use of synthetic substances such as man-made fertilisers, pesticides and growth stimulants. The idea of using organic plant extracts in skincare is to minimise artificial contaminants in the end product. Note that organic farming will not eliminate contaminants such as micro-organisms and organic approved pesticides.
What is "certified organic"?
Organic certification process is complex. Australian Certified Organic (ACO) is the main organic certifying body in Australia. It can certify cosmetic products under at least 3 different standards, including COSMOS which is very commonly used in Australia. As an example:
minimum certification requires at least 70% organic ingredients
to claim "certified organic" requires at least 95% organic ingredients
to claim "100% organic" requires 100% organic ingredients
(excluding water and salt).
Where a product contains less than 70% organic ingredients, it cannot make any organic claims, although it can list an ingredient as "organic" if that particular ingredient does have an organic origin.
Below is a picture of Endota Spa hand cream, which contains 88% organic ingredients so it can obtain the minimum certification, but strictly speaking it cannot be called "certified organic" (which requires 95%).
Is organic certification necessary?
The idea of using organic ingredients has some merits. Theatrically, organic plant extract should be completely free of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides alike so that the end product is as "pure" as possible.
However, there are also problems with using organic ingredients.
Certified organic products almost always come with a higher price tag. The formal certification process is costly, and can be prohibitive for smaller players in the market.
Some ingredients, by the nature of it, can never be "organic". Things like ceramide, retinols, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and hyaluronic acid have to be synthetically produced. To use organic products for the sake of being organic means missing out on these beneficial ingredients.
It is ambiguous whether organically grown plants contain better nutrition value. In addition, an "organic" origin only describes the cultivation method but does not give any indication about extraction methods. Some extraction methods are better than the others (e.g. supercritical extraction of rose hip oil will preserve more nutrients than cold press - see more details in my review of Sukin rose hip oil).
The other problem, which I have not thought of until I did a live chat session with the founder of ST. Cred Tasmania is that it can be difficult to formulate a product with a certain % of organic ingredients yet make the product pleasant to use AND have a long shelf life. From time to time, "inorganic" ingredients are desirable for texture, consistency and as a preservative.
Personally, I only have a small number of organically certified products. Organic origin is just one consideration out of the many that I look at: active ingredients, skin needs, user experience, packaging and shelf life.
Endota Spa Organics packaging
All 3 products are inverted squeeze tubes with a small opening shown in the picture below. Life after opening is 6 months.
Vanilla & Macadamia Body Drink $50
Although described as "Calming vanilla balances the lively citrus notes of moisture-retaining mandarin peel", the smell of the body lotion is surprisingly subtle. There is not much scent to it at all. I could not smell any vanilla or citrus in it. "A fresh beam of A4 paper" is how I would describe the smell.
The texture and consistency of the body lotion is not one that melts into skin effortlessly. A bit of time and patience is required to make the body lotion absorbed into skin, but this is fairly consistent with most other creams and lotions that claim to be natural-based.
In terms of results, this is a lovely product. Parts of my body (especially legs) prone to dryness have been kept well-moisturised the whole time. No complaints to skin hydration level and it easily out-performs many other "natural" products; but at $50, for me it is overpriced - particularly given the small size (180mL) which I finished in just a few weeks.
Coconut & Grapefruit Melting Body Balm $55
I really want to like the body balm. It has so much potential but something went wrong in the design process.
I suspect the original idea is to make this a melt-into-your-skin buttery balm with lots of oils (grape seed oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, beeswax, cocoa seed butter and shea butter, etc), but the execution was a failure. The product is basically solidified coconut oil and wax suspended in runny oil. As soon as I opened the seal, the oil dripped down from the tube. However, because the coconut/wax solids blocked the outlet from time to time, it was very difficult for me to get any of the solid part of the product out (while the oil kept running and leaking) - and if I do squeeze, it splatters everywhere. The consistency of the product makes it difficult and unpleasant to use. Combining with the packaging (inverted tube with a small opening) it's pretty much a disaster.
It is such a shame because when I finally managed to get some suspension out of the tube it nourished my skin really well and it has a beautifully refreshing grapefruit scent.
Signature Blend Hand Therapy $35
Out of all 3, this is the only one that I may consider repurchase. It has a medium consistency and a fast-absorbing texture which passes my door-knob test (can I open a door after using the hand cream?). It does a fair job but that said, I do not have particularly dry hands. What I love about it is the Endota Signature scent (bergamot, lavender and ylang ylang) that I associate with relaxing spa experience. If you are not a fan of this fragrance, then it may end up in the over-priced category.
Makeup artist and hair stylist based in Sydney. Founder of the well-known award-winning bridal specialist team Faces Makeup & Hair. Beauty junkie with an obsession for skincare.