Sustainability, the buzzword of the century, is a movement many conglomerates have adopted over the years; it has become a business imperative. Beauty brands, too, are going green in hopes to expiate their damages. For K-beauty brand Aromatica, sustainability has been embedded in its psyche even before its inauguration.
Having encountered aromatherapy in Australia in 1994, CEO of the brand and the country’s first-generation aromatherapist, Jerry Kim noticed the adverse effects of synthetic fragrances and made it a mission to bring them to light through an aromatherapy-focused conscious-beauty label. At the same time, he wanted to highlight how zero-waste products can match up to commercial skincare.
“Aromatica embraces aromatherapy to express safe and healthy beauty. All of our products are produced with vegan formulas that exclude synthetic fragrances and ingredients that are harmful to the human body,” notes the brand on its official website. “Aromatica’s production plant has obtained the COSMOS certification, an international organic and natural cosmetics standard, and is strictly managed to meet the requirements set forth.”
The brand also emphasises that its raw ingredients are harvested in a sustainable and ethical way at reliable production sites, directly from local producers. Since its inception, Aromatica has also tapped into new ways to save the planet, like innovating its packaging to address the plastic issue stemming from excessive packaging and opening a Zero Station to encourage others to espouse a more sustainable lifestyle.
Despite the steadfast commitment to a greener future, efficacy isn’t compromised. Anchoring on the prowess of natural essential oils, the trove of products promises holistic wellness – keeping the mind, body, hair and skin at a constant 10. Many customers dubbed Aromatica the “brand that you buy even before trying”.
What piqued your interest in aromatherapy?
When I was residing in Australia, I was introduced to natural organic herbal and aromatherapy products by the hospitals; I had a culture shock as I thought antibiotics are the only antidotes to diseases and infections.
Not just doctors, Australians were also reliant on these essential oils, most notably the tea tree and eucalyptus that do wonders for wounds, insect bites and sinuses. I was so fascinated with its prowess, and the idea to bring aromatherapy to Korea quickly came to mind.
Besides the benefits, I wanted to spotlight the detrimental effects of synthetic fragrances. Whilst diving deep into the practice, I realised that the latter could disrupt our hormones and impact our environment.
Talk us through Aromatica’s ethos.
Our mission, “Save the Soul, Save the Planet”, is literal. We want to provide sustainable and effective products that benefit our health and planet. Building on the latter, we are actively working to restore our planet. How? For starters, we donate some of our profits to NGOs, assisting them with improving the environmental well-being of the community.
Since the inauguration of Aromatica, we have also been fostering transparency, eschewing harmful synthetic fragrances and animal-derived ingredients that may violate ethical principles. Backed by rigorous certifications such as EWG Verified, Vegan and COSMOS, as well as our international experience in the EU and US markets, which have strict restrictions, we will continue to perpetuate clean and sustainable beauty standards.
How did you come up with “Aromatica”?
“Aromatic” from our brand name Aromatica is a term often used at the end of the scientific name of scented herbs; the company name derives from scientific nomenclature. Sustainable, green and efficacious.
How does Aromatica meld these qualities into one?
Whenever we plan and launch new products, we review whether our brand philosophy, “Save the Skin, Save the Planet,” is accurately reflected in the product. We ensure the best organic raw materials sustainably sourced from all over the world– ideally produced in COSMOS-compliant facilities with strict natural and organic product production standards.
We also research packaging materials that can reduce carbon emissions even after disposal. We design containers with a reusable structure and use materials that are easy to recycle. Currently, more than 90% of our containers boast 100% recycled transparent PET and recycled glass.
Further committing to being sustainable, we exclude unnecessary materials and packaging. Not to mention, we operate a smart factory with 20% solar energy with a target of reaching 100% renewable energy.
Where does Aromatica stand amongst other green beauty brands? What sets the brand apart from the rest?
Since 2009, Aromatica has been partnering with the US environmental organisation EWG’s Safe Cosmetics Campaign, introducing EWG to South Korea for the first time. As a result, the South Korean cosmetics industry began to pay attention to ingredient safety, leading to positive changes and opening the era of clean beauty in South Korea.
In 2016, Aromatica became the first domestic brand to receive the US EWG Verified certification. Since then, the company has continued to undergo verification from rigorous beauty certification organisations, ensuring that all products are produced and sold based on health and safety, strictly excluding harmful ingredients such as synthetic fragrances, parabens, silicones and sulfate surfactants.
Aromatica was the first in the cosmetics industry to introduce recycled plastic containers and currently uses 100% recyclable transparent PET and 90% recycled glass containers for all products. The company also uses transparent plastic and moisture-resistant labels to make it easier for customers to recycle.
As a pioneer of green beauty, Aromatica ultimately aims to become the paragon of sustainable beauty. Although it may require more time and cost to be a green beauty brand, the company hopes to become a successful brand and inspire many other cosmetic brands to join the movement towards environmental sustainability.
Aromatica has also opened a refill station, where customers can bring their own containers and refill their products after sterilisation. We encourage the use of refill packs and operate various refill pack products to reduce plastic usage.
Can you share with us more about the Zero Station? Will you open the doors of the Zero Station in other countries?
Aromatica actively advocates a culture of refilling and reusing containers instead of discarding them after a single use. In 2020, Aromatica opened Korea’s first refill station in partnership with Zero Waste Store. As of today, Aromatica operates Zero Stations in Sinsa and Hanam, and supplies sustainable husks for cosmetic refills to over 100 Zero Waste Stores nationwide.
There were about 25,000 of our containers being reused last year through this initiative. For those unable to visit the stores, we have been producing refill packs for returning online customers; they can save money and the health of our planet whilst enjoying our formulations.
What are some of the hero ingredients you guys take pride in?
One of the key ingredients used in Aromatica products is rosemary. Known for its energising properties that improve blood circulation, rosemary has been a fan-favourite for centuries. This plant is also known for its antimicrobial, migraine relief and hair growth-promoting effects.
Aromatica uses rosemary in a variety of products ranging from haircare to body and skin care, including its best-selling Rosemary Scalp Scaling Shampoo, Rosemary Root Enhancer and Rosemary Scalp Scrub.
Aromatica’s rosemary ingredient is extracted using the decoction method, which delivers its active ingredients directly to the scalp and hair follicles. The warm nature of rosemary helps to gently exfoliate the scalp, promoting the shedding of dead skin cells and improving scalp health. Additionally, rosemary is rich in antioxidants and energy, which can help improve the condition of damaged scalps and promote healthy hair growth.
How do you source the ingredients?
When choosing partners, Aromatica places a strong emphasis on sustainable management practices. We directly source 47 essential oils from a traditional essential oil manufacturer in France, bypassing fragrance suppliers. Our French ingredient partner is committed to sustainable management practices as a fair trade, renewable energy user and socially responsible local business.
For example, they recycle lavender residue into fertiliser for nearby almond and apricot fields, promoting sustainable production and coexistence with local farmers. In addition, they educate small farmers at the Madagascar farm on organic farming– building a rapport with them whilst improving these farmers’ living standard.
When selecting ingredients, we strictly verify the GMO-free, animal-derived status, Non-Nano checklist and Palm RSPO (sustainably produced palm oil) criteria. For essential oils, we only handle pharmaceutical grade, food-grade and therapy-grade essential oils that meet European Pharmacopoeia (EUP), US Pharmacopoeia (USP) and other imperative standards.
How does Aromatica prevent the oxidation of essential oils?
People have been asking this question since they heard of the adverse effects of oxidation due to light and heat. These people are also baffled as to how we circumvent these oxidation issues. Oxidation by light or heat is a phenomenon that occurs more often with 100% essential oil products, especially those encapsulated in plastic containers – which is why we use tinted glass packaging for our high-concentrated products. The lower its potency, the lesser the chances of occurrence; a product with less than 3% of essential oil does not require any special preservation techniques.
Skincare, bodycare, haircare – what’s next?
The answer goes back to the reason why I decided to launch the brand: To protect our daily life from synthetic fragrances and harmful chemical ingredients. We are planning to launch room sprays and air fresheners that keep your space safe with beautiful essential oil scents. These products will follow our other lifestyle products like diffusers, deodorisers, sanitisers and dish detergents.
Share with us some of the best sellers and your personal favourites.
Ritual Hair Oil Lavender and Patchouli is my favourite product. I enjoy using it when my hair is slightly damp after showering. I love the dark earthy scent of lavender and patchouli in the Herbaceous note. It envelops the senses and calms the soul; it makes me feel like I’m standing in the middle of a purple lavender garden. The harmony of lavender and patchouli keeps my mind grounded, while the lightweight and gentle plant-derived oil base lends my hair nourishment with only a few drops.
What products would you recommend for us Singaporeans experiencing all-year summer?
I believe that Ritual Hair Oil Lavender and Patchouli will do well. I believe Sephora shares the same sentiments as they picked it up. I’d also recommend the Rosemary Scalp Scrub and Rosemary Root Enhance as they both have a scalp cooling effect, and prevent odour and grease that come with excessive sweating in a humid environment.