MooGoo… Learning about a Natural Skin Care brand (Part 1 of 2)

Interview with MooGoo Skincare (picture credit Moogoo.com.au)

MarcieMom heard from a mom in Malaysia of how well received MooGoo is among moms with eczema children. MooGoo is an Australian company that makes a range of skincare products, founded by adapting the ‘diary’ version of udder cream for a family member. As you know, while MarcieMom doesn’t do product review (no, Marcie is not available for testing), she is open to writing and introducing and more importantly, finding out more in-depth about eczema products so that parents reading this blog can have more information. Thus, MarcieMom looked up Moogoo.com.au and asked Craig Jones, founder of MooGoo for an interview to find out more about their products targeted at eczema children and infants.

Marcie Mom: Thank you Craig for taking time for this interview. I haven’t used MooGoo but like to ask questions that another ‘self-educated!’ mom with eczema child would likely ask reading your website. I’m very pleased to see that you do highlight on your website that natural doesn’t mean not allergenic and you encourage testing on a small skin patch before using. Now, we know there is no certification for natural and ingredients extracted from nature will need to be processed to fit into the packaging and be of a form that can be used. For instance, olive oil needs to be preserved and the preservatives can irritate. Is there a certification for organic in Australia and if there is, do you think it’d be more objective to brand MooGoo as such? And if not, how do you think you can help explain to your customers how to assess the extent of ‘natural-ness’ of MooGoo or another brand?

Craig Jones: Very good question. In fact, a pure oil like Olive Oil doesn’t need a preservative. When we buy Olive Oil, or Sweet Almond Oil or any other natural ingredient, it is already pure. A preservative is only needed when an oil is mixed with water as bacteria and mould need water. (That is why, if you ever see on a website an ingredient list that contains water, but they don’t show a preservative, you know there is something missing from the preservative list.) If an ingredient came blended with a preservative, this should be put on the finished label of the product.

There are lots of organic certification system in Australia. For food, organic certification can be important for many people. For skin care, because the ingredients we buy are already pure and cosmetic grade, I know it doesn’t really make any difference. They do not come contaminated with pesticides or preservative.

It would certainly help from a marketing perspective to have “organic” splashed across the label. It would also be a simple process for us to become “Organic” certified. I think all of our products would already qualify. All we have to do is to pay the license fee to whichever certification body we chose and a bit more record keeping concerning ingredient supply chain. But I personally feel “organic” in skin care is more of a marketing tool than anything else and I would feel insincere using it. That is why we choose not to. Perhaps we should.

Marcie Mom: Your website gives a very homely and cosy feel and I noticed that a message that seems to be emphasized is to not use products containing mineral oil or paraffin oil. From what I know, though these oils do get mention as being potential irritants, they are not the top allergens and not cancer causing when applied to the skin as moisturizer. Why have MooGoo chosen to emphasize on paraffin and mineral oil? (Also, the links you’ve shared under ‘Why We Don’t Use Paraffin Oil in Skincare’ are either broken or not directly applicable to moisturizer context.)

Craig Jones: Although everyone has different preferences and some people may choose paraffin oil, I think mostly it sneaks into products because it is poorly understood exactly what it is. I personally think Paraffin Oil is a very poor quality oil to be used in skin care and would not use a product with Paraffin on my skin. Nor would I put it in a product that we make.  Labelled as “soft white paraffin oil/mineral oil/baby oil/paraffin liquidatum” it doesn’t sound particularly offensive. Bu people probably don’t comprehend that this is a flammable petroleum oil that in its raw form, they probably wouldn’t put on their skin.  Properly refined petroleum oil for skin care does have the carcinogenic hydrocarbons removed, that is true. However, in the need to keep the price down (paraffin oil is usually used in cheaper products) I wonder sometimes if there might be a temptation for companies to use cheaper grades of paraffin. Also, the study below here has always concerned me. It has shows tumour growth in UV treated mice that have first had paraffin based moisturisers applied, as compared to no tumour growth in the control cream which was non-paraffin based. It doesn’t prove that paraffin oil can cause tumour growth in humans exposed to UV, but it would concern me. (Study here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2630214/?tool=pubmed)

Here is story about a study done on paraffin oils and childhood eczema using a paraffin based cream where is generally made eczema worse for kids. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101018074536.htm)

So for the video ( I will have to look for the broken links) we didn’t make any claims that paraffin is a cancer risk as is claimed by a few other websites. All we wanted to do was show people exactly what it was. Paraffin is the base oil for so many pharmacy products because it is so cheap. We get a feedback all the time comparing the price of our products to something like Sorbolene. So we need to explain that although both may look the same, they aren’t the same.

Marcie Mom: I also see that you have a MooGoo Nappy Balm and that they are first tried and tested on your own babies, and friends, staff and even facebook customers! Good to know but I’d like to ask if you send or intend to send your product for clinical trials for independent reporting. I also noted that there are quite a number of oils that you use, can you share a little more about which oil needs to be preserved and processed to the form of a balm and how MooGoo has ensured that you keep the end product safe for use in babies? Do you manufacture all your products in-house?

Craig Jones: All the products we make for ourselves first. The Nappy Balm will soon be registered as a medical device in Australia which includes the evidence for ingredient efficacy.

For the oils we simply chose a list of soothing edible oils. Although people with nut allergies are generally not allergic to nut oils (because the allergy causing protein is removed) we chose to not use Nut Oils in this case so that new mothers weren’t concerned.

This is not a miracle product either. The main thing is that we use edible oils so that the product can be ingested. Most commercial nappy balms are paraffin based. Paraffin Oil can be fatal for children if ingested. It simply works as an edible barrier balm that is also anti-bacterial. A very simple product.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Craig for taking time for an interview with me. I know there’s so much more you’ve to share that can help parents assess the products they’re using. So, I’ll be running the 2nd segment of your interview in two weeks’ time, on 24th July (p.s. to readers of eczemablues.com, I didn’t receive any money from MooGoo for this interview).

Sensitive Skin Product Series – Understanding Organic & Non-Comedogenic

Organic Certified

This is a 13-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin, an important topic given the generous amount of moisturizers that go onto the skin of a child with eczema. Marcie Mom met Laura Verallo Rowell Bertotto, the CEO of VMVGroup, on twitter and learnt that her company is the only hypoallergenic brand that validates its hypoallergenicity. VMV Hypoallergenics is founded in 1979 by Dr. Vermén Verallo-Rowell who is a world renowned dermatologist. Dr. Vermén created the VH Rating System which is the only validated hypoallergenic rating system in the world and is used across all the products at VMV. In this interview, Laura answers Marcie Mom’s questions on understanding the product label.

Terms on Product Label – “Hypoallergenic”, “Natural”, “100% Organic” – What They Really Mean and Do They Mean Well?

Marcie Mom: Today’s learning more about terms like ‘organic’, ‘non-comedogenic’ and ‘pH-balanced’

Organic – This is a term that always baffles me and reading the amount of debate online as to what is organic is even more confusing! Can you explain to us whether the use of ‘organic’ term is regulated?

Laura: Regulation is much clearer for “organic” which requires certification by certain bodies that have earned the right to certify organicity (certain companies authorized by the US Department of Agriculture, for instance). For example, the virgin coconut oil we use is USDA-certified — a seal that has very strict requirements, that necessitates an inspector to travel to our farm and inspect it in person (including how we extract the oil) and a seal which we have to renew (to “re-earn”) regularly.

With the proper certification, “organic” is arguably far more reliable than “natural”.

Marcie Mom: Non-comedogenic I noticed that your products are listed as ‘non-comedogenic’ and ‘non-drying’. Can you explain to us what this mean and also what pH-balanced means?

Laura: Non-comedogenic means will not clog pores…and this is important for compliance. If a product will not cause reactions or offers a very effective clinical therapy…but then causes acne…then people are less likely to use it or may have just created more problems to deal with.

Non-drying is related to allergenicity. Many people who experience dry skin do not realize that they may already be experiencing a mild allergic or irritant reaction. We use this term to alert people to this fact. As well, some non-pore-clogging products achieve pore-friendliness via the inclusion of ingredients that do dry out the skin.

Important note: Many skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, acne and aging, are caused by, worsened by, or related to inflammation. The more a product can help reduce inflammation or if it can contain an anti-inflammatory, the better for most skin concerns. Also, the less inflammation to have to fight, the stronger the skin is and the better able to, on its own, ward off infection, reactions and other problems.

pH-balanced is an interesting term because it could mean completely neutral, which may or may not be ideal for a formulation. The skin’s natural pH is actually slightly more acidic (5.5-6.5) than neutral (which is 7). Bar soaps, because of the way they are made, intrinsically tend to have a more basic or higher pH (some going as high as 8 or 9). This can, on its own, be quite denaturing and very drying to skin. Most of our products for very dry, sensitive skin skew towards the skin’s natural pH as much as possible, or slightly lower…we try to avoid the high range as much as possible.

Marcie Mom: Thanks! So, we’ve covered the more common terms in labels and discussed whether they are truly meaningful. In the next interview, we’ll understand more about the term most parents with eczema children look for, i.e. “suitable for eczema/ infant”.

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