Clean and Organic cosmetics from Scandinavia -Flow Cosmetics

Every day, an increasing number of people are paying more attention to the quality of their cosmetics products. Are you aware of what your daily cosmetics products contain? The cosmetic industry seems to lay low when it comes to talking about the side-effects of several commonly used ingredients in their products. They try to sooth us with their studies that claim “when this carcinogen is used in small amounts it is not harmful”. At the same time, nobody is truly considering the cumulative impacts of all the chemicals pumped into our bodies every single day if the same chemical appears in your shampoo, lotion, face cream, make-up, etc.

That really made me look at my beauty bag in a different way and made me more interested in the quality of my beauty products. I especially wanted to see first-hand how organic beauty products are really being made. I was lucky enough to be able to get to know a Finnish Cosmetic Brand called Flow Cosmetics and visit their factory in Hyvinkää, Finland. I got to meet some of their staff members as well as the founder of the company, Riitta Jänkälä.

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I had heard about their products from my esthetician and had seen how good their INCI lists on their products looked, so I was very excited about the visit. Turned out that my visit was better than I even could have imagined. I got to actually witness how a product is made, from the beginning to the final packaging and was able to learn so many interesting facts about the industry from Riitta and her daughter Suvi.

How it all began…

Flow kosmetiikka (Finnish for cosmetics) is a family-run beauty product business. They manufacture Organic Cosmetics and all their products are made in their own factory in Finland. The journey of the company started 10 years ago when the founder, Riitta Jänkälä started to manufacture soap bars. Back then, the company was called Vihreä Kosmetiikka (Green Cosmetics) and was operated solely by Riitta. Over time, the product range has evolved. The company has grown, and in 2012 the company changed to a corporation.

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Before starting to make her own products, Riitta had worked as a hair dresser and aroma therapist. During those years she was able to gain a lot of information and a good understanding of both chemical, and natural ingredients in products, and their impact. After everything she learned, she decided that natural and organic was the way to go.

She first became interested in organic food. Like most people, once you start thinking about what you put in your mouth, you begin paying attention to all the other products you use. There is a whopping amount of chemicals in all of our daily cosmetics, even in the cleanest baby products. This started to concern Riitta, so she decided she wanted to create completely clean products. She did not want to use any chemicals in her own beauty routines and since she was unable to find products that were good enough for her standard, she decided to make her own.

10 years ago, she started with her own products. At first, she was just making soap bars at her home. As people started to realize how good her products were, the demand started to grow. Riitta needed to find a bigger workspace. Nowadays, her collection varies from skin care and baby products to a large variety of other clean, organic beauty products.

My visit to the Flow Cosmetics factory was also my first visit ever to a cosmetic factory. Riitta and her daughter Suvi showed me around their facilities, and I was truly amazed and impressed by how open they were telling me about the process of manufacturing beauty products. I’m pretty sure I would have had hard time getting into any of the big cosmetic industry giants’ manufacturing facilities.

About the products and ingredients

The ingredients used in Flow cosmetics are organic with a few exceptions. For example, the blueberries used in their products are grown wild in Finland, and for this reason cannot be called organic since organic products need to be organically farmed. But as everybody knows, ingredients can’t get much cleaner than a wild-grown blueberry (especially when grown in the pure Finnish forests!). The ingredients they cannot harvest or buy from Finland are bought from abroad, for instance, orange essential oil.

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The majority of Flow Cosmetics products are 100% organic, and the rest, such as face creams, are 95% organic. This is due to the fact that it is impossible to manufacture a face cream that would be made with 100% organic ingredients. Because of the consistency and the products used in it, face cream always requires some sort of preservative and emulgator. Moisturizers and a lot of other beauty products are made by mixing water and oil. This does not work without the help of an emulgator. The ingredients in Flow Cosmetics’ products are selected based on what is allowed for organic cosmetics, and also on their own research. Flow Cosmetics have very strict standards for their ingredients and that is why they always select them very carefully, not trusting solely on what organic certificates would allow them to use.

When Suvi and Riitta were talking about the selection process for their ingredients and the manufacturing of their products, I loved what they said about their principals. “We want to make our products without sacrificing the quality over cheaper ingredients or more profit. Our aim is to make products that we actually approve to our own beauty regime and what we can recommend to our dearest friends and family members with good conscience.” After learning a thing or two about the cosmetic industry, I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of the cosmetic industry giants cannot say the same knowing what kind of horrible chemicals they put in their products.

When talking about organic and natural cosmetics, it is alarming and confusing to the consumers that the same ingredients used in natural and organic cosmetics might have a very different quality depending on how it is processed. When a raw material is processed for use in cosmetics or other beauty products, it typically undergoes a lengthy process. The majority of ingredients used in natural cosmetics go through a number of transformations, including being refined, bleached, deodorized, clarified, fractionated and heated to high temperatures. This means they are not pure natural ingredients anymore. In fact, after such processing some of them can be equivalent to man-made chemicals and the processes strip away almost all of the nutrients that make natural ingredients beneficial to the skin.

Organic cosmetics has more strict standards for processing the ingredients though compare to other cosmetics. Some of the processes are needed in order to make the product more user friendly. For example raw shea butter has a very strong smell to it. This is why usually it has been refined. Organic she butter is cleaned by using steaming instead of strong chemicals like in non-organic or natural cosmetics.

I have done quite a bit of research during the past year about organic cosmetics and the quality that Flow Cosmetics have in their products is very hard to find. Not many companies manufacture such clean products with that high integrity. It is concerning and sad at the same time that the set standards for organic cosmetics are not more strict and clear. Often times, the certificates merely provide the minimum standard rather than insurance for a high quality. After visiting the Flow factory, it really made me think they have the customer’s best interests in mind. They truly have a desire to manufacture good quality, clean beauty products.

Manufacturing Organic Beauty Products

When I stepped into the facility where the Flow Cosmetics products are made, it looked to me like a regular, all though pretty big, kitchen. There were plenty of huge bowls, pots and ladles. I was smiling because it made me feel like I had stepped into a giant’s home. The room had a few large tables, with fridges next to them, and a shelf full of glass jars filled with dried herbs. It was calming to realize that I actually recognized every single ingredient they put into their products.

When I was taking my tour around the manufacturing room together with Riitta and Suvi, one of their workers, Viivi, was making one of the Flow facial creams. Viivi has the education of a lab technician and she is also the one in their company who does their quality control. She takes samples out of the finished products and analyzes them. I got to monitor the face cream making process from far away. It really looks like she is cooking something. Viivi has a recipe in front of her and few bottles. She measures every ingredient carefully and then mixes the ingredients in a pot. After that, the pot is taken into a room where the cream is poured into a machine. This machine divides the cream into the packages that are then sold to consumers. For the face creams, Flow Cosmetics uses aluminium tubes, and for the face oils they use glass jars with a pipet. Their aim is to use as little packaging material as possible, and to use ones that are environmental friendly.

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Making the packages is a very detailed and pedantic job. Viivi weighs a few of the first packages that are ready. They have the wrong amount of cream, so she needs to adjust the machine. This is done every time a product is canned. The ones that are too heavy or light are sold at their factory as “2nd hand products”.

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Once the products are canned, the product info stickers are glued into the packages. Now the products are ready to be shipped to customers or to Flow cosmetics retailers. From Finland you can find their products in organic stores and some beauty salons. Flow Cosmetics has their own store close to the factory in Hyvinkää in Finland, and they also sell their products online, on their website.

Personal Experience

Ever since my very quality-aware esthetician, Hanna introduced me to Flow Cosmetics, at my beauty salon in Helsinki, I have personally been using and trying out different products for the past 6 months. I’m very picky when it comes to cosmetics and about how clean they are. With Flow cosmetics, I really felt that I had found the perfect brand.

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For my own skincare routine, I like to use some organic oil (for example raw coconut oil) to remove my make-up. I wash my face with Flow cosmetics Clay-Herb facial soap bar, and I finish with their Organic Rose Water. To moisturize, I use Flow Cosmetics Organic Rose Hip Oil. For Body moisturizing I absolutely love their Shea butter. It is so good for so many things. It is 100% whipped organic Shea butter so it does not have any preservatives, perfumes (even from essential oils) or other additional ingredients. It also works great for kids.

If you are interested in reading more about truly good and clean skin-care and beauty products, check out my blog at www.cestlaveera.com