You don't have to be a hippie to use natural products these days. Loads of parents are seeking out healthier, simpler alternatives for food, household supplies and beauty products. HoneyKids has travelled the island looking for the best places to find natural products in Singapore.
We all want the best for our kids, so it’s only natural that we seek out the best alternatives when it comes to what we’re eating, what we’re putting onto our bodies and what we’re using around the home. As a result, many parents naturally turn to products that are considered ‘safe’, ‘natural’ and free from nasties. There is a lot of advice out there about what ingredients we should be avoiding and it can make it tricky to choose – and find – suitable products here in Singapore. We’ve put together our list of top places to find natural products in Singapore, with a couple of definitions thrown in for good measure for the uninitiated.
When we’re talking about natural food, there are so many considerations. We are told to avoid genetically modified produce (GMO) and opt for organic, wild, free range, palm oil-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free foods – that’s a lot to think about, not to mention the expense of all these things. There are some easy wins to bring into the pantry though:
‘Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen’
You could consider changing your habits to avoid fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues. The Environmental Working Group‘s 2018 ‘Dirty Dozen’ tells us that the fruits and vegetables with the highest loads of pesticide residue, in order, are: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers.
And why not consider moving towards more fruits and vegetables on the ‘Clean Fifteen’ list – these foods are least likely to contain pesticide residues: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydews, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower and broccoli.
You can read all about our favourite organic food and grocery stores across the island, and we encourage you to look at the labels when doing the shop in your local supermarket, or online (RedMart’s product images are high-resolution, so you can zoom in and read the labels).
Ingredients to avoid
Top ingredients or words to avoid include: fortified, GMO, high frutcose corn syrup, MSG, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, nitrates, nitrites, palm oil, shortening, saccharin, sucralose, sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate, aspartame, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and artificial colors blue 1 and 2, green 3, red 3, and yellow 6.
This may all sound pretty overwhelming, but there are some tips to make it simpler. Try and keep your diet as wholesome as possible, avoid packaged foods and opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, seafood, poultry, nuts, seeds and red meat (in moderation).
Natural beauty products
The beauty industry is relatively unregulated when it comes to what ingredients are permitted or banned. Whilst much of the research has been inconclusive, there is mounting evidence to suggest that certain ingredients and chemicals found in everyday beauty products may do us harm. Some can disrupt our body’s hormonal balance (known as endocrine disruptors), some can lead to fertility issues and birth defects, others can cause allergies, skin irritation, cancer, DNA damage, behavioural problems and asthma.
Ingredients to avoid
So, in light of all this info, we are trying our best to avoid beauty products (especially for the kids) that contain: parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, lead and formaldehyde.
The HoneyKids team totally feel you when it comes to managing the household budget in Singapore. So we’ve got some handy tips on where to find natural products that won’t mean you have to sell a kidney.
At FairPrice we’ve tracked down several skincare and haircare brands, for both adults and kids that don’t contain nasties: Nature’s Gate, Gaia, Natural Secrets, Ecostore, Essano and Palmers.
Your local Cold Storage stocks natural brands including Cherub Rubs, Gaia, Ecostore, Botaneco Garden, Avalon Organics, Alba Botanica and Jason.
Brown Rice Paradise
Brown Rice Paradise is a firm favourite if you live around the Tanglin or Orchard area (or if you visit Tanglin Mall regularly). Yes, you will find a lot of pricey items, but if you look carefully you can track down lots of great, reasonably priced natural skincare and beauty products, for both you and the kids. They have an impressive selection of paraben-free and sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners and some lovely natural body washes, creams and sunscreens for the kids too. We love the Weleda Calendula Shampoo and Baby Wash and Tom’s of Maine Natural Fluoride Toothpaste.
Is there anything more exciting than a big iHerb order? So much fun stuff that you can’t buy anywhere else! As the name suggests, iHerb is loaded with natural products to suit your needs and can be more affordable than the shops. You’ll still need to check the labels for nasties though, as not all products they carry are completely natural. Delivery takes roughly six to eight working days.
If you scour the shelves of your local Guardian you can find natural products. Brands we’ve found that don’t include nasties include Botaneco Garden, Palmer’s, Himalaya, Hask, Natur Vital, Amino Mason and Klorane.
Supernature is a pretty fancy health food store nestled in the basement of Forum the Shopping Mall. Whilst we won’t be doing our weekly shop here, you can find brands that aren’t available all over the island. We make a visit to Supernature every so often to stock up on Dr Hauschka skincare, Crystal deodrant, John Masters haircare products and Mrs Meyers hand soaps.
Natural household products
As with beauty products, there can be loads of toxic chemicals in our cleaning supplies. Sure, it might clean your floors well, but do you really want your sparkly tiles with a side of eczema? The chemicals used to clean our homes can be carcinogenic, endocrine disrupters and reproductive toxins.
Chemicals to avoid
The three big no-nos in cleaning products are parabens (a preservative and antifungal chemical), triclosan (an antimicrobial chemical) and phthalates (synthetic fragrance). There is evidence to suggest that they can cause skin irritation, hormone disruption, neurotoxicity, early puberty and reproductive issues.
When you’re in the supermarket looking for natural cleaning supplies, look for words like ‘eco-friendly’, ‘non-toxic’ and ‘green’.
In our modern world, we want to ensure that our living environment is super clean and sanitary and so it makes sense that we reach for products that offer to do the best job. But the reality is, going back to basics can be just as effective and it can sometimes even be more cost-effective. Our fave DIY cleaning solutions are:
Mix two cups of water, two tablespoons of white vinegar and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil and put into a spray bottle.
Mix up bicarb soda with water to make a paste, spread it onto the cooled oven surface, leave for a couple of hours, then wipe clean.
Put one cup of bicarb soda into the toilet and leave for an hour. Then pour in a cup of white vinegar, leave for a few minutes, then flush. Job done!
Stain remover and general magic potion
Eucalyptus oil is powerful stuff – it can be used as an antiseptic (it kills 99.99% of germs), deodoriser, stain remover, to soothe insect bites, gum/sticker remover and loads more. We love Bosistos Eucalyptus Spray, available on The Corner Store.
All purpose cleaner
Mix one cup of water, one cup of white vinegar and a glug of eucalyptus oil (or any other essential oil) into a spray bottle. Just be wary of using vinegar on natural stone surfaces, like marble, as it may be too abrasive.
When you’re finished with your glass sauce or vinegar bottles, you can use them as spray bottles to avoid having to use plastic bottles. Just transfer over the spray nozzle from your old plastic bottles.
Our supermarket picks
When buying off-the-shelf cleaning products, the reality is that you’ll need to pay a bit more for an eco-friendly, non-toxic product. So we’re constantly looking for affordable eco-friendly products when we’re at the supermarket and have picked our favourites that you can get at your local Cold Storage or FairPrice or online. Our picks are Bio-Home Hyacinth & Nectarine Laundry Detergent, $11.90, available on RedMart and at Cold Storage and FairPrice; Ecover Lemon & Aloe Vera Washing-up Liquid, $8.90, available on RedMart and at Cold Storage and FairPrice; Method Daily Granite Cleaner in Apple Orchard, from $7.00, available on RedMart and at Cold Storage and FairPrice; Bosistos Eucalyptus Spray, $13.85, available on The Corner Store.
It might seem like ‘information overload’, but one step at a time can make all the difference. You’ve got this.
Top image: Ika Dam via Unsplash
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