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We may be selling dreams, but consumers are longer naive!

Without diminishing our "emotional" side, we have come to the conclusion that choosing a product is always a rational process, representing:

  • An informed choice (organic, vegan...)
  • A health choice (hypoallergenic, without transformed ingredients...)
  • An efficient choice (% active ingredients, clinical results...)

But what tools do you have to make the right choice? I must confess that even most brands' marketing teams don't understand what they are selling. This is what I witnessed as the director of a formulation lab working for different brands, before creating Novexpert. So where to find reliable information when choosing a beauty brand?

Ultimately, the question is not "What brand did I choose?", but "Why did I choose it?". This changes everything.

You finally have agency!

I no longer like the word "transparency", which is currently misused. But I must admit that, thanks to the demand for transparency, the consumer has forced companies to communicate differently! Today, you don't just look at the benefits of a product. You also check if the brand shares your values. It's like an election: you are given an electoral program (organic, natural, ecological, made in France...) and you make a choice!

And to choose, consumers have become everyday investigators with different profiles.

Investigator profile 1: impatient
His/her tool: apps

His/her target: barcodes 

YUKA: This comprehensive app (diet & cosmetics) is full of good advice. With 21 million users, it’s absolutely essential.

INCI BEAUTY: The most high-tech app with an easy-to-use website. It provides color-coded comments and scores, and sanctions less "virtuous" formulas.

CLEAN BEAUTY: With this app, you scan the ingredient list rather than the barcode (which is not always easy with a tube...). It provides information on troubling ingredients: endocrine disruptors, irritants, etc. with the scientific evidence to back it up.

QuelProduit: The app created by the magazine Que Choisir to replace the previous version, QuelCosmetic, as it now includes food and cleaning products. It determines a risk level based on the product’s age and whether it was rinsed. Taking an evidence-based position, the app only warns against the controversial molecules that are scientifically proven to be detrimental.

CosmEthics: The clear classification into 3 categories (safe, allergic risk, toxic risk) can be personalized according to your preferences, such as personal allergies. The only downside is that the database is not yet very large.

MIREILLE: A new (paying) app created by a biologist and youtuber that allows to analyze your products, ingredient by ingredient. It doesn’t grade the product but rather it’s composition! More "natural" alternative choices can also be recommended.

Investigator profile 2: well-informed!
His/her tool: websites
His/her target: organizations!

The website EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a US institution that provides information on ingredients in your products: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. You can even access published scientific articles on each ingredient. That's big...

A pity that this organization providing thorough evaluations of formulas targets only cosmetics sold in the US.

There is currently no equivalent in France (an idea for those with an entrepreneurial spirit!). However, the Cosmetic Observatory allows its subscribers to search for up-to-date information on ingredients and the products they are found in. 

Investigator profile 3: the flâneur
His/her tool: social media
His/her target: influencers

Influencers are a more congenial, more fun source of information that allows for the occasional discovery of "nuggets” of wisdom. No idea what this means!! I leave you to identify, according to your criteria, the influencers that will quench your thirst for information and simultaneously obey the law of your wallet.

A little advice on their independence: it’s a good sign if they speak freely about both unknown and historical brands with a hint of criticism.

Investigator profile 4: the rationalizer
His/her tool: specialists
His/her target: dermatologists and naturopaths

It may surprise you that I have not yet discussed them, since they are the closest to skin experts. But here you go! Very few brands finance medical visitors to promote their products. Naturally, their cosmetic knowledge is limited. My advice? Show the product you use to your dermatologist (with the box or ingredients list) so that they can help you. The same goes for your naturopath, who can give advice if the formula is natural.

So, what about brands? Do they finally have nothing to say?

For the most part, they have become... inaudible! Do you think I'm being too harsh? Yesterday, they championed silicone and hard-core chemistry, and today, they promise to save the world... Before, they mocked "clean beauty" but now they rally around it without shame (verbally only). It smells like opportunism and even the panic of being dumped by consumers with long memory and common sense!

To see more clearly past the cosmetic jargon, here are my final comments:

1 / A COMPASS OVER A WIND VANE: Make sure the brand you choose hasn’t wavered in its "positioning" over a period of several years – steadiness reveals strong conviction.

2 / FACTS OVER WORDS:  Pay attention to the content of brand communication. It must be crystal clear. For example, with respect to natural claims, the formula’s total percentage must be displayed along with the certifying organization, on all brand products without exception...

Have fun investigating and contact us if you find any nuggets of wisdom (tip: you don't have to go too far...)  ;-)