Finding natural ethical beauty products used to be a near impossible task. Looking on the back of products to decipher the ingredient list required something of a rocket science degree, not to mention an amount of spare time that no modern woman actually has. That was, until Jenna Mullinger started Oh Natural, NZ’s conscious beauty and lifestyle store. With her passion for natural goodness and determination to make it accessible for everyone, she changed the game of natural ethical beauty and lifestyle products big time.
Tell us about how you came up with the idea for Oh Natural?
I started Oh Natural in 2012, when my first son was very small and I was looking for something ‘to do’ in my spare time when he was asleep. Looking back two more sons later, I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t just put my feet up while I had the chance! I’d like to say that I saw the growing demand for natural ethical beauty and rose to the challenge, but honestly, I simply followed my personal passions, and this put me in the right place to meet a growing social trend towards ethical beauty. I got given the excellent advice that I should “just do something you love, and don’t worry about the money side – that will come later”.
I wanted to stay home with my little man and any future wee ones for as long as I could, and I’ve always been a bit obsessed with natural beauty products, so despite a fair dose of skepticism I started blogging about my natural beauty finds. Of course, I quickly discovered some really awesome products and brands that weren’t available in NZ so I added a shop functionality to my site and placed my orders for the first three brands.
Oh Natural has expanded into a waste-free lifestyle store too, with a huge range of eco-living brands, and today we stock more than 90 totally amazing brands. Oh Natural has grown and evolved into what can only be described as my dream business!
How do you decide which brands you want to stock and work with?
At Oh Natural we use an extremely complex, constantly evolving algorithm – just like Google! We rule out any products with synthetic fragrances or the many, many ingredients on our ‘no-go’ list. These include hormone disruptors, carcinogens, neurotoxins and allergens and we publish our Ingredients Policy on our website.
We give preference to eco-products that have low plastic or zero-waste packaging, and brands who can demonstrate ethical sourcing policy. We factor in carbon miles and purchase as close to home as possible. We love Kiwi brands so we work to support local brands for that reason too. We adore organic brands and of course, absolutely everything must be 100% cruelty-free. So in the Oh Natural online store, you will find gorgeous Acure Organic skincare from the USA side by side with ethical Sienna nailpolish from Australia, and waste-free EcoSaint bags and Ethique skincare from New Zealand. We have NZ Made, Waste Free and Vegan categories to help people purchase in ways that fit their ethical motivation!
There’s a lot of greenwashing out there in the beauty industry. Do you have any tips for consumers who are looking for making their beauty routine greener but aren’t really sure where to start?
Absolutely! Unless you want to earn a diploma is deciphering marketing jargon and scientific terminology, the key to success is shopping with a brand you can trust has done the hard work and research for you. Organic doesn’t always mean pesticide free, and even if it does, the organic ingredients can be combined with any number of toxic chemicals.
Natural doesn’t always mean harmless as some top lipstick brands demonstrate by including lead and coal tar derived colourants. A makeup line branded cruelty-free doesn’t mean that the parent brand doesn’t still test on animals. The odds are that almost any makeup brand you find in a chemist labeled natural will contain ingredients we wouldn’t accept at Oh Natural.
Literally chock-a-block with truly natural and safe beauty products, Oh Natural stocks loads of organic products, vegan-friendly brands, wonderful New Zealand brands and waste-free lifestyle products, so you can shop with total peace of mind.
What are the natural beauty products that you can’t live without?
Oh, this is a hard one! I often post my Top 5 on social media, because we are always adding new incredible eco-beauty brands to the Oh Natural site, and I’m in a state of constant temptation!
A lasting favourite is Tailor Skincare’s award-winning Polish, and I’m loving Acure Organic’s Magical Wonderfluff face mask. I think if you take care of your skin with great natural skincare, you will always look wonderful.
The Inika Organic makeup range is really lovely and I’m a big fan of the Long Lash mascara and their soft eyeliners, especially the Gold Khaki and Indigo. Eco Minerals have a scrumptious range of natural eyeshadows with beautiful little cardboard sachet eco-refill packs.
What’s one of your favourite products that you stock that people might be surprised to hear is environmentally friendly?
One aspect of living a waste-free lifestyle that people often forget is period care. Pads and tampons are made from cottons and wood pulps grown with pesticides and fertilizers, processed using bleach and dioxin, shipped worldwide – and then used for 1-2 hours. If the average woman uses 11,000 plastic wrapped tampons or pads in her life, which take centuries to degrade, the environmental price of periods is obviously exceptionally high.
On a personal level, it’s generally agreed that chemical laced objects inside your body isn’t ideal, and the lifetime cost of buying period care was recently estimated at $16,000. This is why a whole section of our Waste-Free collection is dedicated to sustainable sanitary care.
The ultimate way to reduce both waste and cost permanently is to take the plunge and swap to a menstrual cup. We absolutely love the NZ made Hello Cup and it is so popular! The kiwi entrepreneurs who created the cup focused on creating a cute, functional design that would change the way people thought about cups, and it is really appealing to our customers. We also stock the Aussie Tsuno range of 100% plastic free pads and tampons, and Wellington brand Bon Tampons which come in a gorgeous cardboard tube pack.