Natural Hair Dyes?

Not long ago we searched for natural hair colorants able to dye hair naturally. Henna, as an example, can be a great natural color ingredient but by itself does not cover gray hair.

Henna and other hair color products that do cover gray hair contain the chemicals p-phenylenediamine (PPD) and p-toloenediamine (PTD).

Cosmetic companies that claim to produce all-natural hair dyes are aware of these chemicals in their products. Many of these companies do not put these chemical names on their product labels. In our own market research no natural alternative to chemical dyes have been found. All hair dyes marketed as natural that claim to cover gray hair in fact mislead consumers. They hide the facts and sorry … no exception to the rule.

There is good news!

Recently researchers from Leeds University developed a natural hair color formula that removes p-phenylenediamine (PPD) and p-toloenediamine (PTD) to replace them with botanical ingredients. Progress is made and it looks that maybe a permanent hair dye made from botanicals could be made, yet such product still needs many years to be tested to get it ready for the consumer market.

Therefore, consumers still need to make difficult choices. In case they want to use all-natural hair colorants they need to think twice. It is true that the FDA doesn’t do enough to protect consumers from companies that market hair dyes as a natural product.

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When is Natural not Natural?

One of our favorite writers about cosmetic science, Dene Godfrey, asked and answered the question, “100% Natural?…Almost 100% Certainly Not.” His point? Many companies claim their products are “all-natural” or “100% natural.” But how many really are?

Says Dene:

It is no exaggeration to state that they are NOT 100% natural in well over 90% of cases. Whilst I must admit that I am talking about a fairly small sample size (tens, rather than thousands), it is clear that a large proportion of one sector of the market are making inaccurate claims.

His article got us thinking about all the product descriptions floating around out there: natural, naturally-derived, nature-identical, organic, certified organic, non-synthetic, no chemical additives, and many more. What do they all really mean? The truth is no one really knows. Are the companies that use these wonderful buzzwords in their promotions actually telling us anything of value? Even more importantly, are the companies careful and responsible about their use of earth-friendly and human-friendly ingredients?

For example, if products are truly “natural,” what would that mean? Again, Dene’s got 2 excellent questions and a great answer to this puzzle:

1) Does the substance exist in nature?

2) Is the substance extracted from nature without any chemical modification?

Only if the answer to both questions is yes, can the substance be truly described as “natural”.

Really when you think about it, any substance that comes from either a plant or an animal – flora or fauna – is “natural.” Are oil, gas and coal “natural”? Yes, by this definition – as those substances are formed from fossils.

As we at Paul Penders are utterly opposed to any cruelty to animals, we avoid the use of any animal-derived products. That leaves us with plants and rocks – beautiful tropical flowers, leaves, herbs, and roots that when gently crushed or bathed in oils give off lovely fragrances and a range of properties that can cleanse, refresh and beautify skin and hair.

To the botanicals, we can add minerals taken straight from the earth. Minerals have been a secret of great beauties for centuries, although not always the healthiest choices. Think of the lead-based skin whitening used by Mme. de Pompadour and other 18th century French ladies. We know our science and our chemists would never allow lead or other dangerous minerals to be included in our formulas.

For skin care and cosmetics, we believe freshness is a determiner of what makes an excellent natural beauty product. We need to choose the freshest ingredients and prepare them in small batches to preserve their inherent properties. We don’t want to over-process the ingredients so instead we use a cold-blending process rather than heating ingredients which would cause chemical bonds to break or reform and therefore change the basic natural chemistry.

What about “organic” and “certified organic”? As Dene reminds:

many people confuse “organic” and “natural” – a situation not discouraged by those involved in the market sector. These terms are NOT interchangeable. A high proportion of ingredients certified as “organic” (by one or more certification bodies) are NOT natural, as they don’t exist in nature and, therefore, a certified “organic” product cannot automatically be promoted as “all-natural”, unless it truly is, of course!

This is part of the problem we have with the certification agencies that get big bucks for their seals of approval. Just because a product is certified, that doesn’t mean that the consumer is not being misled or false claims are not being made. Was the product synthesized in huge batches in a factory or collected by hand in a rainforest and hand-blended? Certification won’t tell you the difference – but your body might.

Really, it all comes down to processing. Do we use the gifts of Nature in their most natural forms and gently blend them into creams, lotions, shampoos, and other skin and hair care products? As a small company, we vow never to take the route of “Big Business.” Our bigger brothers see no problem with processing huge quantities of ingredients in giant vats. But we want to do something different – something more beneficial to our customers and for our planet. Our aim is not quantity but quality.

As Dene says,

“…taking the definition of “nature-derived” to its logical conclusion, unless you actually create new matter, everything is “nature-derived”; the only question is to how many stages of processing has the substance been exposed.”

Dene Godfrey is one of the people in the cosmetics industry we most admire. He has been involved with preservatives for cosmetics since 1981, from both technical and commercial angles and holds a degree in chemistry. He speaks out often on cosmetic issues on the “Personal Care, Truth or Scare” site. See the article that inspired this blog at .

By Teviot Fairservis.



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Are We Washing Away the Benefits?

Like almost all the important things in life, getting your health and beauty in order takes time. It’s easy to fall into a routine and then forget to assess if a given product is truly beneficial over the long-run.
However complacency can be dangerous, especially when you are dealing with chemical products to be applied to your body. The latest scientific discoveries could reverse our previous knowledge (remember Marie Curie died of anemia before anyone knew radiation exposure could be dangerous). It’s just good sense to take some time to examine the potential benefits, hazards, and cost-effectiveness of the products we use each day.
As a ‘newbie’ to Paul Penders International line of natural cosmetics, I’m just starting to learn what each product contains and how it can be used as part of a daily beauty regime.
In the shower this morning, I quickly lathered up with the last of my old cheap shampoo from the convenience store. I’m looking forward to trying out the Paul Penders shampoo but my Puritan ancestry still whispers, “Waste not, want not…”
As I watched the suds swirl down the drain, I wondered, “Does anyone know how long a shampoo or conditioner should sit on our hair? What about how long a cleanser or moisturizer should sit on the skin?  How long should we wait before rinsing off in order to reap the benefits?”
The ever-present economic question comes up, “How much money am I wasting if I wash off the product just seconds after applying it?”
Paul Penders International research scientists deal with these questions about Time, Money, and the Benefits of natural cosmetics every day. Here are just a few of my questions to be explored in future blogs:

  • How long should products ‘sit’ on the hair or skin before rinsing?
  • Is there a cumulative effect from repeated use over time?
  • Do the ingredients interact in some way with the rinse water?
  • How much of the benefits are lost if you wash off immediately?
  • What is the optimal beauty regime for use of the Paul Pender products?

The Paul Penders Blog welcomes your questions which we’ll try to answer.
Email us any time at

By Teviot Fairservis.



The Beauty of Langkawi

It was love at first sight. Pristine island surrounded by the turquoise Andaman Sea, ancient rainforest with trees rooted in the depth of thousands of years, and their branches daringly reaching towards the sky. Bright orange of wild heliconias, and deep red of the ginger flowers. The tantalizing smell of a jackfruit in the air

As per definition, ‘Love at first sight’ is the phenomenon of an instant attraction, inexplicable romantic feelings bordering on madness
A description implying that this state of sensory intoxication is far too intense as that it could last.
Nine months have passed – and I am still waiting for my emotions to settle down.
Eagerly waiting to spot every morning hibiscus flowers that blossomed in my garden over night – just to make my day colorful, missing a few keyboard strokes to watch a hornbill indulge in a ripe papaya as I look out of the window.
And there is nothing more exquisite than diving at night into the cool sheets of my bed, closing my eyes, and letting the frog symphony lull me to sleep.
Although My love to Langkawi did change! There are more layers now, a depth to my feelings. Going far beyond the magical beauty of the island. It is hard to explain, but there is this unique energy – bringing together people that seem to be on the same wavelength.
Caught in the daily rat race, we all find ourselves occasionally wondering whether there may be more to life: daydreaming about starting over, about defining our happiness anew, about living more in tune with who we really are. But like a forceful river, the current of our life continues carrying us in the familiar direction, letting these moments vanish as quickly as they emerged.

Now – imagine finding yourself surrounded by people who actually followed the calling! Who managed to withstand this powerful pull, and hold still long enough for the vague feeling to become a path. I am not talking about escapists who ‘checked out’ of reality, running away from their responsibilities.
In fact, most of the expats on the island are pretty busy. – Making their dreams come true, whatever that means to each of them: cooking delicious meals – hoping for a satisfied look on the diners’ faces rather than for a Michelin Star, creating natural products from healing rainforest plants, exploring the depths of the soul – and developing innovative holistic therapies
Success is still part of the equation. Just the definition is a different one. Rather than being the ultimate goal, it is the natural consequence of following one’s passion.
Having traveled the world, I never came across a place with such a pure energy! I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what makes this island so special. And I believe, I found the answer. In the warm smiles of the local people I encounter wherever I go. In the words ‘Mat Salleh’ – not being whispered behind my back but told straight to my face. Because all it means is ‘a white foreigner’. Nothing but a simple statement of facts. With no judgment attached.
We are who we are. White, little impatient, with all these crazy ideas in our heads. Not expected to change. Not forced to fit in. We are free to follow our hearts! And that is the real beauty of this magical island
By Kamila Delart.


Small Habits That Create A Better World

Compare a happy R&D of a small natural cosmetics company with a happy gathering of local youngsters. The R&D play in our labs and local children play on our land and all of them enjoy astonishing sea views. One party is protected from the hot sun under a roof; the other uses the shadow of a palm tree. Yet all feel happy but under a different circumstance. What is this story about?
More than ever in the history of our planet, we must become responsible in life in whatever we do. Whether we are young or old. Whether we live in a cold climate or in a tropical Malaysia. When all are not becoming more responsible we stand to lose a beautiful world what we still can call paradise. But the question arises… for how long can we still call mother earth a paradise?

Results of bad habits that help to destroy our world.
At Paul Penders Home Office we live by simple community rules that help to keeping all of us happy. That is simply in looking after ourselves in terms of cleaning up after ourselves; it’s that simple while it creates a difference when the same rule is applied to all who share this planet. Simple things make for positive changes when we cooperate, even starting with enjoying a cup of tea and clean up our own cup! Enjoy a cup of tea but do not leave your cup for the next person to clean it, or do you?
Are you one where mother never taught to clean up after yourself? Rather put your empty cup in the sink for someone else to clean? Because you are “too busy”? or too important? or… just too darn lazy? In our case at Paul Penders, such little thing make a community feel unhappy and being unappreciated. It spoils the feel of peace when all were to do the same.

Now let’s look to something bigger but what applies to the same golden rule of cleaning up after yourself? How about an empty water bottle or a plastic bag that we so careless throw away? See what the result is from your empty water bottle or plastic bag? The picture below is just a multiplication of an entire lazy same like you people and it has become a mountain waste that could have been avoided just by taking a little bit care, and it saves our planet. Thus to clean up the world starts with education, right?

Therefore, these great youngsters who enjoy the beautiful scenery of the sea and enjoy using our fresh natural seawater swimming pool understand and no longer leave plastic bags at a well maintained property. We and even they have been part of beach cleaning parties for few years. Yesterday Eva and her crew went out together with local youngsters, also as part of education and that beauty and happiness can also be created by preservation and using our mind.
Therefore small habits create a better world for all.

To make it a better world starts with the one that does not wash her/his used cup of tea. Its all about the right mentality and we need to educate those who don’t know. Of course we cannot be responsible for others. And at this precious, beautiful part in the world called Langkawi UNESCO Geopark Rainforest Island, a one hour flight from the capital Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, some of us kindly help to protect what must be protected for the future of all of us.