I 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. This is an interview with Craig Jones, founder of Moogoo.com.au
This was originally a 2-part series, combined into a single post. This is not a sponsored post; I reached out to Craig as I wanted to find out more about the company and its eczema skincare products, and ask the questions which other parents with eczema children may be interested in finding out.
What Natural Skincare Mean
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.
Certified ORGANIC Skincare
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 choose 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.
Mineral Oil or Paraffin Oil
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?
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. But 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.
But 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.
Also, the study below here has always concerned me. It has shown 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 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.
Diaper Cream & Baby Safety
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: I noted also on your website that ‘MooGoo creams have been independently tested to ensure they remain pure and uncontaminated for at least two years, when stored below 30 Degrees Celsius. This is a called a “Challenge Test. It is not a compulsory test in Australia.’
Could you give further details as to who conducted this test, how the test is conducted and what is your definition of ‘pure’ and ‘uncontaminated’?
Craig Jones: Preservatives is one area of our formulation that we are very proud. A product that is often used on broken skin, or babies, needs to be properly preserved so it is sterile. Everyone would be aware of ingredients like Parabens, Benzoates, Formaldehyde Donors and other ingredients often used to keep skin care products sterile. It doesn’t take too much research to see that if we had the choice, we probably wouldn’t put these chemicals on our skin. (It is also interesting to see how often they aren’t on the list of ingredients published on websites, but are on the label of products). These ingredients are used as they are inexpensive ways of preserving a cream.
Obviously most natural companies want to avoid being seen in the company of these type of ingredients. The temptation can be to try and cut corners in preserving a cream and use fairly ineffective preservatives like Grapefruit Seed Extract. Not all companies do this at all, but it can be a temptation, especially as nobody checks for preservative efficacy in Australia.
We accidentally discovered a new way of preserving our creams based on Hops. I stumbled across i when talking to a food ingredient supplier who used it for Apple Juice. We tried it in the creams and after a bit of tinkering (at first some people found it changed the smell of the cream so we had to cut the percentage down) we now use that as a total edible preservative.
We have our creams tested by Conmac labs. The BP Preservative Efficacy Test is a program of deliberately contaminating the cream sample with a range of bacteria and mould, and then tracking the growth of the bacteria and mould over a 30 day period. To pass, the preservation system must kill all the bacteria and mould. I have included a sample report so you can see.
Because we have so many infants using our products, and because we are using a novel edible preservation system, we make sure our products pass this test.
Selection of Ingredients
Marcie Mom: You have some products suited for eczema and one of them is the ‘Eczema and Psoriasis Balm’. It is AUD18.50 for 120g which translates to about SGD24. I would say the price is about mid-range. Aloe vera, matricaria chamomilla extract, centella asiatica and sage oil are listed as active ingredients (and very good that you list amount of mg of ingredient per gram, which in aggregate is 30.5mg/g).
Why did you choose these ingredients and what research can you point us to that concludes these ingredients applied on skin are beneficial for eczema? Also, are these ingredients listed as allergens by any national dermatitis group, e.g. NACDG?
Craig Jones: This is a complicated question. Before we created the Eczema Balm, a lot of people were already using our Udder Cream for skin problems. In fact, the Udder Cream was first made for my mother who had psoriasis. At that time I had no intention of starting a skin care company, and if that cream hadn’t worked as well as it did, I am sure I would still be enjoying my previous profession of being a pilot and MooGoo would have gone no further than our kitchen and my mother’s skin.
The original Udder Cream we made probably worked quite well due to the oils such as Sweet Almond Oil that we used, combined with the Aloe and Allantoin. I am the first to admit it is not a “miracle” formula. I think the reason it helped so many people is that they had been using poorer quality creams (often sorbolene type creams) for years and so when they switched to a repair moisturiser of better quality, some found a huge improvement. But it was probably the choice of oils, the fact it didn’t contain some certain preservatives that helped the most.
However, to register a product for Eczema with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, we needed to add some approved “Actives”. So we looked for those with the best evidence we could find as natural anti-inflammatories and wound healing, and added those. But I don’t think it is just the actives that help. I personally think the natural oils and Allantoin also assist.
Incidentally, over the last 4 years i have kept researching lots of different natural actives. In a few months we are releasing a second Eczema Balm. On paper it should work even better. We are keeping the original as it is so popular and still a very good product. However it doesn’t work for everybody, and so this is another option. It was also the result of my personal belief that the combination of ingredients should result in the best possible natural anti-inflammatory cream it is possible to make. So we will see how it goes.
Sensitivity to Skincare Ingredients
As for allergies, even the best ingredients can have people that are allergic to them. As you know, we compare it to food. People can be allergic to nuts or dairy or shellfish. However, for the vast majority of the population, these foods are very healthy. Nobody is allergic to Cola. This doesn’t make Cola a superior food to shellfish.
It is the same in skin care. Typical examples of allergies can be to Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. For most people however, these are excellent ingredients for the skin. It would be detrimental to most people if they were taken out because a very small number of people have allergies.
We do however avoid Essential Oils as much as possible due to allergies. We used to use them in a lot of our products, including the Milk Shampoo, Wash and Conditioner. People would sometimes react to these. So we instead worked with a company that specialized in phthalate free fragrant oils that didn’t cause allergic reactions and now use these. The number of people with reactions in the products without essential oils is almost nil.
Anti-ageing products though do have more potential for allergies with some people if they are genuinely effective. This is because genuine anti-ageing actives need to penetrate and work with the skin metabolism, so they need to be reasonably concentrated and fairly bio-active. So they are more powerful. An inert ingredient or an ingredient that was in the product at a tiny concentration would not be an allergy risk for anyone, but nor would it do what people hoped.
Patch Testing – Encouraged
So what we do it put the best ingredients in the product we can at the concentration we think we need, and then encourage everyone to patch test all natural products before use. This is much better for most people we think than not using any ingredient that may end up causing an allergy. Paraffin and Water (Sorbolene) may not cause many allergies, but it won’t do a lot of good either.
Marcie Mom: Thanks Craig for being open and sharing insights to your products and the decisions behind them. p.s. to readers of eczemablues.com, I didn’t receive any money from MooGoo for this interview.