Origins has officially returned to the Philippines. The high-end skincare brand quietly opened a store at SM Makati this Wednesday to a slew of delighted beauty and skin enthusiasts.

Origins, which was established twenty-five years ago by Estee Lauder, is the “first prestige skincare brand to focus on using natural ingredients in its products.” The company has literally scoured the world’s far-flung locations to discover beautifying natural ingredients like the  sap of the Anogeissus tree in Ghana  to a resurrective dessert plant called the rose of Jericho ( I kid you not) to more familiar names like mushrooms and coffee beans.

While that’s all very commendable, is the brand that touts to be ‘powered by nature, proven by science’ actually healthy?

The short answer is:  Yes and no, you need to cherry pick their line.

At the store’s soft launch, a curated set of products called the ‘Difference Makers’ were displayed at the storefront, promoted as the solution for bringing out your best skin. They’re composed of the corrective Smarty Plants CC, energising GinZing scrub cleanser, Dr Weil’s soothing mushroom lotion, the Original Skin skin renewal serum and the Clear Improvement charcoal mask.

Origins Philippines
From left to right: Smarty Plants CC, GinZing Scrub Cleanser, Dr Weil’s Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief lotion, Original Skin Renewal Serum, Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask

The charcoal mask is one of Origins older products and over the years has developed a solid reputation for being healthy yet effective. Online user reviews and articles about the GinZing line are also positive.

But here’s the less positive news…

The Smarty Plants CC cream isn’t a smart choice after all. The Skin Deep cosmetics database identifies the product as high hazard. The cream contains potentially harmful ingredients like oxybenzone ( an endocrine disruptor), citral and BHT (fragrance ingredients). If you’re having trouble believing me, read more here.

In fact, Origins has about twenty products listed in the Skin Deep Cosmetics database with scores from 1-7 out of 10. The higher the score, the more toxic. Nearly half of the listed Origins products have a score of 5 or higher. Given the company’s efforts towards being natural, it would be great to see their entire line of products scoring a 5 or lower.

In fairness, Origins has a long-established commitment to being green having planted the equivalent of over 1 million trees. The beauty company also manufactures products using a combination of renewable resources and wind energy, according to the company website.

Origins also has a page dedicated to the purity of the line which emphasizes the absence of pthalates, parabens and animal ingredients; but the fact of the matter is – it still includes ingredients such as BHT and oxybenzone – which makes the brand tough to trust.


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