The World Health Organisation estimates seven million premature deaths a year worldwide will be linked to air pollution – that’s double the number caused by obesity. While a lot is being done to raise awareness of our outdoor air quality, not so many people are talking about the fumes we breathe before we leave the front door. We spend about 90% of our time inside, yet according to the Environmental Protection Agency the air inside a typical home, school or workplace is two to five times more polluted than the air that’s directly outside.
When did you launch Tincture London, and what was your motivation?
TINCTURE was started out of a pure passion. My eldest son, Freddie, was suffering from severe asthma and hay fever from a very young age and I was increasingly concerned about the toxins and pollutants he was exposed to, both outside and inside our home. During the worst periods, we would have to run an enormous Swiss air purifier day and night in his bedroom in a desperate attempt to aid his symptoms. Then, on top of this, my eldest daughter Cosima started to develop dermatological problems. This forced us to look much more closely at her wash routine and consider what chemicals she might be exposed to when showering, bathing, etc. I wanted more than anything to protect my children in their own home. This is where my TINCTURE journey began.
We launched in February 2016 with an exclusive agreement with John Lewis.
Does Tincture London make the only 100% natural cleaning products in the UK?
Well, what I can say is that we are TRULY 100% natural and our products have also been dermatologically tested!
Lots of cleaning products carry ‘natural’ claims – what hidden ingredients could be lurking inside?
Many ‘natural/Eco’ products contain perfumes which are generally synthetic chemical molecules along with raw materials derived from petrochemicals as these are classed as sustainable. There are also some ingredients, such as phenoxyethanol that can be naturally derived but commercially it´s synthetically produced in labs creating what´s termed a “nature identical” chemical - this particular ingredient is often used as an antibacterial preservative in many cosmetic products as well as fragrances, toothpastes and cleaning products, but studies link the exposure to severe skin reactions. It has now been restricted in Japan and in the EU for its use in cosmetics, which made it a clear ingredient to be avoided.
Another shocking ingredient often found is benzisothiazolinone which is an immune system toxicant and an irritant for skin, lungs and eyes! So why is it included in Eco products? Because it has been classified as bio-degradable under the Eco labelling rules! Further, CMITC (chloromethylisothiazolinone) commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics, hair and cleaning products has been proven to be linked to serious airway disfunction in children when used as a disinfectant! …. and then MIT (methylisothiazoline), an ingredient often found in antibacterial products and Eco products, is highly toxic with recent studies showing that a short 10 min exposure can cause serious nerve damage….and this ingredient is often found in Eco washing up products!
What additional concerns did you have when looking for cleaning products that would be safe for your pets?
I truly believe that if a product is safe for the entire family: adults, children, toddlers etc it will also be safe to be used around pets! It is a given. As you know, we do NOT test on animals!
What inspired you to bring the ancient monastic wisdom of active botanicals to your range of natural cleaning products?
At their time, monasteries were not only havens of spiritual devotion but important centres of knowledge, learning and healing.
Monks were highly educated individuals and pioneers of modern medicine. We looked at all the herbal ingredients used to treat the sick and prevent the spread of disease and incorporated a blend into our natural raw material base, not only to enhance the product performance but also our wellbeing and health.
Today, there is a huge amount of scientific evidence to support the active properties of many of the botanical ingredients used in medieval times.
We’re becoming more aware of the power of nature to clean the home – but how can it also protect, restore and uplift it?
Through the inclusion of active essential oils that are known to have a number of healing and cleansing qualities: from antibacterial and antiseptic through to deodorising and antidepressant properties.
What are the benefits of using active silver in your products?
Silver is a naturally occurring element that is also a known antimicrobial agent and works by attacking bacteria’s metabolism which prevents the reproduction and spreading of bacteria without resulting in bacteria resistance. We use silver in our bottles to ensure they remain bacteria free at all times, inside and outside; this makes our bottles safe for multi-use as the plastic particles do not leak into the formulations and therefore do not contaminate our surfaces nor our water systems.
What can the medieval period teach us about hygiene and health?
Whereas the ancient civilisations such as the Romans, Greek, Persian and Chinese were true pioneers in the development of sanitation the medieval monasteries focused on the development of medicine based on plants. The monasteries used to operate large complex cloister gardens growing medicinal plants.
Essential oils protect plants from infection, temperature variations, damage and pests. How can these qualities also help humans and animals?
These amazing, now, scientifically proven qualities in plants have been harnessed for thousands of years in natural medicines for humans and animals all over the world; ancient cultures such as Egypt, Greek, India and China recognised these oils for medical, magical and ritual purposes and understood their physical and psychological benefits. The Egyptians were the first to create distillation machines to extract oils from certain plants such as cedarwood, clove, cinnamon etc which were used for medical purposes. So the knowledge of their qualities is ancient! Today, we use these powerful plant extracts in holistic healing treatments such Homeopathy and Aromatherapy, Ayurveda etc to name a few and of course, Tincture uses them in their formulations too.
Which essential oils bring the greatest benefits?
SAGE for its anti-fungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-septic and anti-flammatory properties; EUCALYPTUS is a fantastic immunity booster due to its antibacterial properties and used as a natural option to combat colds and allergies that hamper breathing; great for clearing sinuses etc; CHAMOMILE as a treatment for skin diseases and stress and sleeping disorders; PEPPERMINT to help with digestive disorders, headaches and lack of concentration; FRANKINCENSE is a great antiseptic for minor wounds and insect bites, albeit best known for deep relaxation, spiritual awakening, reduction in stress and depression; LAVENDER which too is a very potent antiseptic and best known for its general relaxation properties.
What are the most powerful plants that no home should be without?
Some plants have been scientifically proven to reduce indoor volatile organic compounds by as much as 80%. My personal favourites are the Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) which is a fast-growing vine and also the Spider Plant which has been found to have one of the highest formaldehyde removal capacities.
The Peepal Tree and the Areca Palm can also give off oxygen 24 hours thereby improving the overall air quality in your home!
How many different plants were used in monastic herbal remedies, and how did you select which ones to use in your products?
The number of different plants used in monastic herbal remedies really varied mostly in accordance to there could be one plant extract to over 50! We selected the ones that had the scientific studies to support the various properties. For example, Bergamot has been found to have both antibacterial and anti-fungal activity against Campylobacter, E-Coli, Listeria and Staphylococcus. Studies also supported, both physiologically and psychologically, the use of Bergamot at alleviating symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. Bergamot is one of the ingredients we use in our Tincture formulations which on average comprise over 30 different plant extracts.
When choosing ingredients, how did you strike the right balance between cleaning power and the sense of wellbeing the products induce?
The bench mark for the development of these products has always been: they have to work and moreover outperform current Eco standards! At the same time, the health of your family and pets and that of our planet is of utmost importance in everything we do and develop. We have taken great care in selecting toxic free ingredients and all materials have been selected in accordance to our brief and assessed for their quality and sustainability.
To date, what has been the biggest challenge for the you/the company?
Achieving 100% natural products and making sure they do not contain any of the nasties as well as making the products affordable.
What has been your biggest success since launching Tincture London?
The incredible feedback we get from our customers; they are the reason we keep going and strive to make the best products possible.
What’s next for you/Tincture London?
My passion and mission is to campaign against the use of toxins in the home and thus to improve the quality of air we breathe! It is estimated that we spend over 90% of our time indoors (THE INDOOR GENERATION) yet the UK AND US EPAs (Environmental Protection Agency) estimate that the average air in our homes is up to five times more polluted than the air directly outside, due to the use of chemically driven household products such as cleaners, plug-ins, room sprays etc! Outdoor pollution is a topic which most can relate to, the “invisible” indoor pollution on the other hand is a topic most people still do not quite understand and how it effects our health and wellbeing. There are many studies which show how detrimental the use of chemical based household products are to our respiratory and endocrine systems. Exposure to these products has been compared with smoking 20 cigarettes a day! A 30-year study found that using bleach based products increased the risk of chronic pulmonary respiratory (COPD) by nearly a third. COPD is a common, preventable respiratory disease, but the World Health Organisation predicts it will be the third leading cause of death by 2030. So, many people are still unaware of the “indoor” air quality issues; we have a lot of ideas and lots in development to try help change this, so watch this space!