The Heart Behind - The Verdant Lab
THE HEART BEHIND is a series of interviews where we get to know the founders and the heart behind what they do.
The Verdant Lab is a homegrown artisanal lifestyle brand focusing on quality products that are good for your body, perfect for your home, and kind to the planet. We ask Xi Ming, co-founder of The Verdant Lab.
How did The Verdant Lab came about?
There were several factors that led to The Verdant Lab. I am a chemist working in the textile industry. My company supplies specialty chemicals and providing consultancy to improve the efficiency and reduce waste in garment factories. My interest and experience in this field have given me insight into the formulation of personal care products.
My co-founder has a background in art and design. She has struggled with eczema and experienced products that were not suitable for her sensitive skin.
Through our conversations, we decided to combine our strengths in chemistry and design to come up with products that we can pride ourselves on. There is a sense of satisfaction in researching, formulating, and producing our own products.
Tell us more about your process. How do you come up with your concoctions?
Coming up with concoctions is a bit like cooking or baking. There are different ingredients which have different purposes, and understanding what needs to be included to form a safe and stable product is the first step.
From the beginning, we wanted our products to be based on simplicity, quality, and transparency. This informed us on our choice of ingredients. We back up our choices with research drawn from scientific journals and keep our formulations free of unnecessary fillers.
After we have a working formulation, it is time to test them. We use the products on ourselves (and our friends and families), taking note of parameters such as skin/hair feel, viscosity, strength of scent, rinsability etc. Another important test is preservative efficacy. In products that contain water, there is a possibility of microbial growth which needs to be prevented through a preservative system. Product safety is an important aspect that should not be overlooked.
What are some common myths that consumers don't know about when it comes to ingredients used in washes and soaps?
I believe the most common myth is the appeal to nature. What this means is a belief that because a product is perceived as “natural”, it is good for you. This is not always the case. There are safe synthetic materials (such as antibiotics) and dangerous “natural” materials (such as arsenic). Furthermore, it is difficult to define what “natural” is.
Another myth is that antibacterial soap is more effective than ordinary soap. Ordinary soap is actually sufficient to remove microbes and keep you safe, and there is literature that shows antibacterial soap failing to show an improvement over ordinary soap.
What should consumers know or look out for when choosing personal care products?
I always encourage people to look at the ingredients list to find out what goes into their products. People who have sensitive skin or are allergic to certain substances would probably already pay attention to the ingredients. If you have no major skin care concerns, you will most likely be able to use any personal care product out on the shelf.
Some consumers may be concerned with sulfates, silicones, parabens or other controversial ingredients. Looking closely at the ingredients will help one discern if they have been added in.
You can take a look at our line of wash off products, which are formulated to be gentle on the skin and free of controversial ingredients. Our scents are also specially curated to make every shower experience one to look forward to.
Social and environmental issues are problems that we all have a part to play in. How does The Verdant Lab approach sustainability?
I believe that everyone is on their own journey to sustainability. We should encourage each other to make incremental steps to reduce our impact on the environment. Some of us may not be ready to make the switch to solid soaps or reusable bags.
On our end, The Verdant Lab offers a range of solid personal care products that are packaged without plastic. These solid soaps and shampoos are concentrated and can be used over a longer period compared to liquid alternatives.
We are also offering our liquid products in three refilleries across the island, where you can bring your own container to refill our wash products. - Eco.le, The Min List, Two Sisters Pantry
What do you hope to see more in the personal care industry?
I hope to see more public interest in the chemistry behind personal care products. Right now there is a lot of misinformation surrounding ingredients and products on the internet.