Fremantle, Australia-based Mokosh is everything the majority of today's best-selling luxury skincare is not: their range of products is certified organic with NASAA (one of the highest standards in Australia). They're accredited by Choose Cruelty Free for refusing to test on animals (all products are vegan, except the lip balm which uses organic beeswax). All Mokosh products are free of preservatives and their ingredients are not only 100% unrefined and used in their natural form, but the key ones—shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, coconut flour, marula oil and coffee—are also fair trade, so workers are paid a decent wage for their labor and goods.
Started in 2006 by former veterinary surgeon Marion O'Leary—who's armed with a Ph.D from Cambridge and two years of medical research in Oxford—Mokosh maintains some of the strictest standards we've seen when it comes to skincare lines. Named after the Slavic goddess of fertility and earth, Mokosh is also one of the few brands to take a firm stance on an environmental issue that goes largely ignored by offering products free of palm oil and its derivatives. While there's nothing harmful about the ingredient itself, which is commonly found in foods and toiletries, its production has led to an alarming rise in deforestation.
O'Leary explains her approach to formulating Mokosh's products: "We felt that the Ayurveda mindset—where balance creates health—is an interesting contrast to the Western approach to medicine, agriculture and even skincare, in which we use synthetic medicines, synthetic fertilizers and synthetic preservatives to bend nature to our purpose, rather than work with what nature has provided."
Another interesting factor is that the products—even the moisturizers—do not contain water. Most creams on the market contain about 80% water so as to make them easier to apply, which ends up functioning as a "filler" that evaporates after an hour or so as it's the oil that actually hydrates your skin. And any skincare product (even if certified organic) that contains water must have a preservative added to prevent the growth of bacteria. Thus, with its water-free formulas, a 60ml jar of Mokosh Light Cream, for example, is five times more concentrated than a water-containing lotion. "Most people find a 60ml jar will last three to six months. It’s amazing how little you need to apply," says O'Leary.
"We consider the range to be unisex [and] choose fragrances not so much for their feminine or masculine appeal but more for the emotions they evoke; we aim for blends of essential oils that are uplifting, and promote calmness and balance," says O'Leary. Unrefined oils of frankincense, sandalwood, vanilla and tiny amounts of patchouli make regular appearances throughout the line, and the fragrances are memorable but not overbearing.
Mokosh products are available from their website. A portion of every sale is donated to The Orangutan Project, an Australian non-profit that supports orangutan conservation and rainforest protection, and also is raising awareness of palm oil plantations as the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Photos by Nara Shin