01 September 2020

More than a name, a guarantee: when words make the difference

Shampoo or hair bath, soap or solid oil: naming a cosmetic does not just mean defining it, labelling it, categorising it. Above all, it means describing its complexity: the set of choices hidden in the richness of its formula and the well-being objectives established before giving it shape.

Washing is the most commonplace thing to do in the shower”, said Charles Bukowski.

Should this leave you dazed or wrong-foot your expectations, try to dwell on what, in this as in many other cases, makes the difference: the meaning of the word.

Every lexical choice carries with it consequences in terms of perception and understanding, and this is true at any level.

The name of a cosmetic product - to remain firmly anchored to our world - tells a story of very precise objectives, beliefs, actionsand sensations, which accompany this ally of personal care throughout the daily habits of those who use it, binding itself to the idea of beauty treatment that we have chosen to embrace, in every formulation and along the entire supply chain.

We step into the shower, it is true, mainly to clean ourselves.

But who decided that, once cleansed, scalp and hair don’t deserve a deeper and more lasting treatment, respectful of any - and very personal - alterations of the skin and of our natural hydrolipidic barrier?

Personal hygiene: small contraindications to daily washing

After all, washing seems like a basic concept. It means cleaning, cleansing, removing various types of dirt from your skin, hair or scalp: physiological (sebum, sweat, flaking cells) or environmental (smog above all).

Thus explained, this simple habit - frequent and repeated - of personal hygiene would seem to be a "universal" practice, a democratic and equal gesture for all as it is aimed at a common and shared result. But the scalp of each individual has very specific needs and peculiarities which lead it to react differently to the many types of shampoos on the market.

Using one product rather than another is a way to respond adequately - and in a targeted manner - to alterations such as dandruff, seborrhoea, itching and skin irritations, combining the cleansing action with the beneficial bonus given by a treatment that is as deep as it is delicate.

But here is another key point. The main components of cleansing products are surfactants, substances capable of "dissolving" dirt to facilitate its removal by rinsing. They may be found in all cleansing products - shampoos but also shower gels and soaps - but, although necessary, they risk removing the hydrolipidic film of the skin together with the dirt, exposing it to external aggressions.

That said, here is the first advice for their use: prefer products with surfactants of vegetable origin to the more aggressive chemical alter egos. Because what differs between the two is not their cleaning power, but how delicate they are while cleansing.

#SafeHandsChallenge: when an emergency brings primary needs back to the fore

The approach described so far involves cleansing hair as well as cleansing hands, the players responsible for our every small and big pragmatic and concrete gesture which must be protected and preserved carefully and safely.

And here the second piece of advice comes into play: remember that the lipid layer is an unparalleled ally against the risks of the world around us.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) has recently disseminated this precious tip. Called upon to promote prevention and health safety in the period hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to disseminate useful instructions and indications for choosing the best behaviours, the WHO has launched a social challenge to invite users to share their personal tutorial on hand washing: the #SafeHandsChallenge.

Given the need to increase the frequency of their thorough cleaning, a problem has arisen linked to some collateral discomforts: dryness, redness, small cuts and cracks. Small drawbacks caused by aggressive surfactants which reconfirm the importance of choosing substances of plant origin.

But in order to leave no doubt, here is the most important reason: when naturally derived surfactants are enriched with moisturising and soothing ingredients, they regenerate as well as purify.

Hair bath and solid oil: the (best) aspect of cleansing

We said it: words are fundamental. The name of a cosmetic product represents the business card with which we introduce it to the world, to be sure that, no longer in our care, it is really understood and used.

A shampoo, in the collective imagination, is a specific detergent mixture for hair. A foaming cleanser, if you prefer, but in any case, a product used to wash one’s hair.

Well: seen from this perspective, there are all the conditions for considering it an easily understandable category, sufficiently musical to pronounce and, above all, international. Much more than hair bath: a term which, at a first glance, can mistakenly communicate a desire to stand out, at times to rise above competing products. Except that the word "shampoo" was born right in the 1700s, borrowed from the Anglo-Indian language which gave it the meaning of "massage", and not just of the pure act of cleansing.

Then there is soap. Whether solid or liquid, it has always been greatly widespread, so much so that it even earned its connection with the 1930s soap operas, so called as they were sponsored by brands which manufactured soaps and common detergents. Its origin, however, is much older, so much so that we must rewind our tape to Mesopotamia in 2800 BC. From that moment onwards, there have been plenty of traditional and handmade - and later industrial - soap manufacturing techniques: from the Ancient Romans to the Arabs, from Castile to Sicily to Marseille.

But let's try to think about the benefits of an oil: beyond the irrational fear of becominggreasy instead of clean, its use removes dirt delicately, penetrating deeply and purifying without altering the skin's pH. Solid oil avoids dehydration and removes impurities while protecting the balance of the epidermis. Thus demonstrating that the real cosmetic “action” is the one that acts, adds, enriches.

The names of Oway agricosmetics: going beyond (and below) the surface  

Therefore, the word shampoo is not enough to describe Oway’s haircare formulas.

After all, Agricosmetics is an association of ideas, approaches, needs and responsibilities. An Oway product embraces all these aspects as it performs a conditioning action for skin and hair (and a good example is the Frequent use hair & scalp bath), which acts in-depth and thus requires a waiting time for a few specific treatments.

It contains surfactants and co-surfactants derived from natural ingredients – which in addition to having a plant origin have a low impact on ecosystems – and it preserves the lipid layer. It is true pampering, an actual multisensory ritual. And that's why it's called a hair bath.

For hands instead? Does the term soap convey the idea? Let's take Materia: our precious solid oil.

The requirement, the apparent sole and only need is hand washing. And Materia fulfils this task. But it does so whilst restoring hydration and softness to the hands. Thanks to its nourishing and protective formula based on lipids, it removes toxins and impurities and makes the skin soft and smooth.

These are only two examples to describe the different ways of cleansing according to Oway, but ones which prove the importance of choosing the name which defines them: words that express our search for a green and clean chemistry, but also the real benefits for those who use them.


Greenwashing: the “feigned environmentalism” that we surely do not need

Proclaiming oneself as eco-friendly and certifying this on the label is the new frontier of misrepresenting zero-impact procedures. A riot of green leaves, a shower of “organic or bio", "green" and "natural" stamps that confuse, obscure and cover up reality. Here's how to recognise the deception and stem the consequences.

Superfluous packaging: the packaging avalanche pouring into the waste bin

In the aftermath of the Holidays, we know for sure that the most received gifts were parcels, external packaging, additional packaging and everything “necessary" to keep the contents intact. Overpackaging is the triumph of single use: an increasingly accentuated phenomenon which has reached senseless usage paradoxes.

Let’s not black out the future. It’s time to consume less and to do it better

Sales days like Black Friday produce a staggering waste of resources. They shape our perception of purchases, they push us to believe that we absolutely must buy, taking advantage of discounts right away, with devastating consequences on the environment. There is no time to change things: we must get back to conscious consumption – and we must do it now.

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