Consume less but better 🌱

Our imperfections

 

Our aim is to always try and be even more environmentally friendly, produce even less waste and to always try our best. We are constantly challenging ourselves because we are aware that it’s always possible to do better.

Our ambition is to always do better. We really take into account what you have to say to us. We write your propositions and feedback down and look for relevant solutions that will suit everyone.

Here is a list of the criticisms we often see and our solutions.

 🙏 If you have any feedback or constructive criticism we’re all ears. Write to us on the contact page, so we can try to improve and fix the problem.

 

🛑 All our ingredients don’t come from local producers

 

It’s true some of our ingredients, like our 100% organic olive oil, are Spanish. We’re located in the south of France, in Provence, why not get our olive oil from somewhere closer to home ?

The answer is simple : the people who produce organic olive oil we contacted told us they wouldn’t be able to supply us, because they can’t provide us with enough olive oil on a regular basis all year round. 🕰

Some producers would only be able to supply us with one massive delivery of olive oil in one go, but we don’t have enough space to stock those kind of quantities.

These logistical problems led us to suppliers outside of France.

Our olive oil supplier is « organic farming » certified. We’re aware Spanish organic farming might not be of the same standards as French organic farming. It was the only available way for us to still pick the highest quality, extra virgin olive oil. 💪

Another problem is the volatility of olive oil prices in Provence. The prices sometimes double over the course of a year. The prices also change depending on the seasons. We wouldn’t be able to offer decent prices and it would be incredibly complicated to price our products in general.

It’s the same problem for all of our foreign raw materials. They’re either :

- Unavailable in France
- Extremely expensive or have volatile prices
- The supplies are too small

 

Here is a summary table of where we get our raw materials from :

RAW MATERIALS PROVENANCE
Shea Butter Ghana
Olive Oil Spain
Argan Oil Morocco
Miswak India
Cornstarch Austria
Candelilla wax Mexico
Caustic soda France
SLMI United States
Menthol crystals India
Orris roots Powder Albania
White Clay France
Calcium Carbonate Germany
Rhassoul Morocco
Sodium Bicarbonate 

France

 

We are open to propositions. If you know any French suppliers that could supply us with the right amounts of raw organic material with stable prices, please get in touch ! 💚

 

🛑 The toothpaste and deodorant aren’t zero waste

 

A lot of customers ask us why our deodorant and toothpaste have plastic packaging. 🛍

For these two products, we wanted something that was refillable, not something that you simply use once and throw away.

For the deodorant, we tried making a stick deodorant with refills but the tests weren’t conclusive. It really wasn’t easy to use or practical. The powder in a roll on seemed like a better compromise. 

The same goes for the toothpaste. We wanted something that you could refill. Solid toothpastes already exist and we looked into them but the feedback and the results weren’t of a high enough standard. We looked into all possible alternatives. We tested powder and for us it was the best possible solution. The texture of the product enables the powder to get into all the corners of your mouth thus giving you the best clean possible.

Yes, but what about the plastic ?

Lots of you have commented on our use of plastic pots. You don’t like them very much and neither do we. It’s the best solution we have so far. 🤷‍♂️

For the moment, we use pots that are fully recyclable for the toothpaste and made in Italy. For the deodorant, the roll on pot is made in Germany.

We’re looking to improve our packaging but its hard since we have quite a few requirements:

- Needs to be made in Europe

- Needs to be entirely recyclable

- Needs to mesure less than 4 cm high

 

Many have suggested glass but most of the time the glass breaks when we send the parcels out. 😫 It’s important to remember also that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to make, recycle, and transport glass. We also wouldn’t be able to offer free delivery in France since glass is a lot heavier.

Some have suggested metals like aluminium.The problem is, metals might have health risks, that we still know very little about, when used as packaging. Studies tend to show that metal packaging affects the contents. 😖 It would be great if we could find a supplier that has done in depth testing that really shows the safety of metal packaging. 

For the toothpaste and deodorant, we made sure that the containers are refillable. That way you can buy the refills and keep your pot or just use your own pot. The refills now come in brown kraft paper that’s entirely compostable. 

We don’t have a miracle solution for this issue. But if you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them ! 

 

🛑 All the ingredients aren’t organic

 

You need to keep in mind that to be « organic » certified in the world of cosmetics, there are a lot of requirements. One of the most important requirements is the actual percentage of organic ingredients in the end product. 🌿

We have very few ingredients in our cosmetics, so why are some labeled as « COSMOS natural » (this certification guarantees that all the ingredients are 100% natural) and others as « COSMOS Organic » ?

The answer is quite simple : some ingredients can’t be organic !

Some of our ingredients grow wild, meaning they aren’t farmed in an organised, industrial way but are hand picked in the wild. That’s why some ingredients aren’t organic certified.

For example, candelilla wax grows wildly in Mexico and isn’t farmed but handpicked. It’s one of the main ingredients in our moisturising cream formula. Unfortunately, the cream can only get the « COSMOS Natural » credential even though 77% of the ingredients in the cream are organic. 🌱

We select our ingredients with the upmost care. We take the time to really weigh the pros and cons of every ingredient we choose and it takes time and consideration. We choose organic ingredients every time they are available. The ingredients that aren’t organic are carefully selected too, and we make sure that pesticides are never part of the growing or treatment process of these ingredients (the candelilla wax is a prime example because its a wildflower so it doesn’t undergo any chemical treatment). We want nothing to do with pesticides or harmful chemicals. 👌

Some manufacturers find loopholes in the requirements that are set out by the labels that award the « organic » certifications. They swap healthy ingredients for cheaper more harmful ingredients that are still considered organic so that they can still get the « organic » label on their products. 🤬

One thing is for sure though, organic labels guarantee a higher level of quality. They reduce the potential risk that harmful products or chemicals were used (hormone disruptors, pesticides, controversial ingredients… the list goes on).

But we need to keep in mind that not all organic labels have the same requirements or standards and that some are better than others.

Also, selling a certified organic product doesn’t necessarily mean that the company is a responsable one ; taking steps the preserve the environment, its customers health… It might just be greenwashing. 🤦‍♂️

Consumer power comes from knowledge. Don’t believe everything you read or are told, always make sure the companies sales pitch and the actual product are coherent. 

 

🛑 Our products are too expensive

 

It’s always a bit tricky to talk about prices to be honest. It’s a really subjective matter and can vary from one person to another. The price of a products means something and we don’t always know what we’re actually paying for. 🌑

To answer the « it’s too expensive » comment, you need to understand that a products quality and conception has a price.

First and foremost, a product's price is based on the price of its ingredients. We always choose organic ingredients for our formulas when it is possible. But organic ingredients always cost a bit more because the yields aren’t as important as traditional farms. 💦

The second most important thing to remember when talking about a product's price is the work force required to make it.

Every single product made by Comme Avant is handmade. Nothing in the production process has been automatised : making the soap, cutting the soap, the toothpaste and deodorant mixes, the packing and the sending are ALL done by hand.

Two things to remember too : the production time is longer, that means that working hours are longer, especially since we don’t use any machines. But the important thing for us is that everything is handmade. If demand for our products goes up ; we will hire another person, and not use a machine to catch up with demand. If demand goes up and we are able to hire more people, that means we can pay that person a decent wage because our turnover is getting better.

Also, our work schedules aren’t the classical intense factory working hours. We don’t skimp on break times. We work from 9am to 12. Then from 1pm to 5pm. We have a break in the morning and a break in the afternoon. We have an hour's break over lunch. We treat our staff with respect and dignity and we don’t want to make people work hectic, untenable working hours. The holidays are a bit harder, it gets really busy but everybody mucks in and we make sure the work schedules aren’t too intense in holiday periods. 😓

Since we are a small family business we can’t make economies of scale, meaning we can’t save money by making massive amounts. We can’t stock large deliveries of raw material, meaning we can’t get interesting prices.💲 Big compagnies can negotiate with their suppliers ; we aren’t at that stage yet and we don’t want to be. 🤨

Our research and development expenses are mostly absorbed by the general costs of the business. A business shouldn’t impact its R&D on its products.

Our finished products aren’t used the same way as conventional, industrial products.

When you buy a « Comme Avant » soap, the ONLY thing you’re buying is SOAP and it’s the same for all our products. You aren’t paying for the packaging, toxic chemicals, or water. Yes water, because most industrial soaps are full of water. Often, the first thing on the ingredient list is « aqua », meaning that ingredient is the component present in the largest amount. When you think about it, you’re paying a lot of money for water with a few chemicals mixed in. 💧

Most of our clients realise pretty quickly that it’s a lot cheaper to use Comme Avant products compared to industrial products. They not only last longer but they can also be used for lots of different things. Our products definitely save you money while also looking after your health and the environment.

 

🛑 Using our products is difficult

 

It’s true, it might take a bit of time to get used to our products. It’s different. We’re so used to using industrial cosmetics that it might seem a bit strange at the beginning. But you’ll get used to it. 🤲

Solid cosmetics are quite unusual (especially for moisturising creams). You might feel unconvinced the first few times you use them but if you persevere and keep on going you’ll see it’s really worth it. 

Also, a solid cosmetic means a big reduction in waste and it also means it’s less dangerous for your health. Your body will thank you for it, we’re sure of it! 👏

In any case, that’s why we started using them for Nael.

 

🛑 Our products don’t smell nice or don’t have any fragrances

 

We get asked a lot why we don’t make soap with different fragrances or if they can put essential oils in our soap. 🍃

Our aim is to make cosmetics that are suitable for the whole family. Our products are made to fulfill basic needs such as cleanliness or hydration. 

Fragrance fulfills the « pleasure » aspect of a product. Our products are not intended to fulfill anything except what they were made for. Our soap has no vocation to be anything other than a soap and it’s the same for all our cosmetics. We make them so that they are simple and efficient. The pleasure side comes after when you discover all the positif changes taking place in your body.

If we added essential oils, our products wouldn’t be suitable for children, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. Essential oils aren’t suitable for everyone, that’s why precaution and moderation is required when handling them.

If you wish to add essential oils, please remember to make sure to test the oils on you skin (try the oil on the fold of your arm) before adding them and remember to respect the right amounts.

Please read up on essential oils before using them, they can cause harm if not used properly.