Murdock Clean Label Statement
What Is ‘Clean Label’?
When we launched our new and improved grooming collection several years ago, our barbers were at the forefront of crafting the range with a clear and conscious approach - ‘Everything a man needs, nothing he doesn’t’. We shout about this so much because well, we think it’s really important to be honest and up front about what inspires us to make the products we do. This mindset continues to guide our teams in developing a range that not only performs to meet the real needs of men, but does so containing formulas that are as ‘Clean’ as possible.
What do we mean by ‘Clean’? This means leaving out certain ingredients that are widely used in men’s grooming products and considered to be effective, but are also associated with a range of health risks. From day one we have owned the fact that we are barbers. We don’t claim to be scientists by any stretch, clarified here by Flagship Head Barber Joe:
“As a dedicated barber you won’t find me in a lab with goggles and a white coat on, personally trying to mix lotions and potions - that’s for the actual scientists. In terms of testing and ensuring any products meet our high standards in performance however, then yes, we are very much involved. We take our time to make sure our products are exactly how we want them and thoroughly test everything we develop in our barbershops to know that it can really hit the mark.”
We are barbers whose clients and communities mean the world to us and who we want to be able to provide with the very best when it comes to grooming experiences and products that get the job done. To make this a reality, we have stuck to what we know best (looking after and listening to men in the barbershop) and leaned on our incredible lab team (scientifically approved manufacturers) to take our feedback and do their thing to refine each formula to its peak performance, as cleanly as possible.
“It’s really great when we receive a new product sample in the barbershop to test out on ourselves and with our clients who are interested in what’s new. Knowing that it’s come straight from the lab for us to feed back on and we can really put it to work is something I’ve never experienced working anywhere else. As barbers, we all get a buzz when we get to play a part in something new being created. This testing process - making sure things actually do what we want them to - has also shaped really strong working relationships within our teams.” - Shoreditch Senior Barber Sean
There’s loads we still want to do, but over the last few years we think we've made a pretty decent start. We live in a world that is becoming more clean-conscious and environmentally alert and while we appreciate this stuff might not be at the top of everybody’s priority list, as men’s grooming experts we are stepping up to our responsibilities and will continue to make improvements where we can. We encourage you to read on and deep-dive into the makings of our ‘Clean' ethos below. We strongly believe in these values and their significance in better looking after men’s health and the planet. We get it, some of this might not feel like it means a lot to you right now, but you might just go on and learn something…
“Clean Label to me is a safe seal of approval that means our brand has considered more than just what a product is ‘meant’ to do. We have taken extra steps to think about more: Environment, Sustainability and Health. Products that look after you and the planet!” - Shoreditch Head Barber Ben
We care about our clients and that is why we don't gamble with men's health. Fundamentally we won’t use something in a product if we see it as a potential risk. There are two key reasons why this is so important:
- Some ingredients are linked with serious men’s health concerns such as prostate cancer. As a men’s grooming company we see it as a key responsibility to avoid formulating with anything considered to be this dangerous.
- Some ingredients commonly used in men’s products are known irritants. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate for example has been known to cause reactions that can easily be misinterpreted as dandruff or eczema - which no one wants to have to deal with, especially if it can be avoided.
We run a super hard line when it comes to any elements of risk to men’s health and have always put avoiding harmful ingredients first when making our products. Having identified a host of risk ingredients that can cause immediate sensitivity or allergic side effects, also longer-term health issues linked to hormone-disrupting chemicals that includes obesity, sperm damage, prostate and testicular cancer, we choose to outright formulate without these.
Not extending shelf life (with Parabens), not creating a more dramatic foam (with Sulphates) and not enhancing fragrance (with Phthalates) doesn’t have to mean a loss in quality, so these exclusions have been an absolute no-brainer from the start. Phthalates in particular stand out to us as high risk, having links to decreasing testosterone and male fertility. Do we expect you to know or even particularly care what a Phthalate is? No, but we have put the time in to understand the risk and eliminate it before you might even consider looking it up.
“Clean Label means that we as a company are invested in our customers and their health, whilst providing products of the highest quality. It’s a badge that proudly says that we won’t put any old rubbish in to something to make it appear to work better.” - Shoreditch Senior Barber Aaron
Your skin should be smooth and comfortable after shaving, your hair should feel soft and clean after washing it. There’s absolutely no reason for us to consider adding ingredients that we know to be harmful that just aren’t necessary. Again, we absolutely recognise that we aren’t scientists but we do take a great amount of guidance from important reference points when it comes to our product development. Frankly, why wouldn’t we? We want to know about the latest research. We want to lean on scientifically approved manufacturers for advice. We also keep a very close eye on the EWG (Environmental Working Group) website, which has been operating for years and is dedicated to researching and rating ingredients. We do all of this because it is in our best interest to be able to offer you the absolute best. Looking out for your wellbeing doesn’t just begin and end with a haircut as far as we’re concerned. We don’t make our products to just tick boxes. We make them because we know what else is out there and honestly just don’t think it is good enough.
Does that make us perfect? No. We accept that our products are not ‘Natural’ or ‘Organic’ and take this on the chin knowing that this is because we haven’t stripped them back to the point where they just don’t work as well as they should. We won’t degrade a product’s ability by taking safer preservatives out for example, when these can actually be of great benefit.
We are taking action on the high-risk ingredients we know about now because we’ve been in this game for a while. We’ve seen what happens when the EWG compiles enough data and certain ingredients that carry worrisome, but dismissible reputations eventually become banned around the world. We are proud to be ahead of the game and working to cleaner ingredient standards - standards that continue to be avoided by certain pockets of this industry until official guidance forces change. As quickly as new products develop, so too (and rightly so) do ingredient regulations, which is why we’re most comfortable not taking unnecessary risks and not getting complacent.
“Having ‘Clean Label’ stamped proudly on our products gives me as a barber real peace of mind in my job. I now understand more about the risk ingredients we choose to avoid and know that when I recommend something to one of my clients, it’s going to do nothing but good for their skin and hair. Hopefully with the influence of our Clean Label rollout, the caveman, dark age brands with products that have presented health risks for so long might take note of the value and finally make their own changes to improve. There’s no reason we can’t all stay well-groomed and look after ourselves and the planet at the same time!” - Shoreditch Senior Barber Sean
We can proudly say that working with a ‘Clean’ manufacturer has meant that being ‘Ocean Friendly’ has actually been built into our brand for some time already. In a nutshell, ‘Ocean Friendly’ means that our products quickly and safely biodegrade in the water system and contain no chemical filters or microplastics that impact sea life or reefs. They have been carefully designed to be safe and certified.
“Honestly, I think it's fantastic and it’s important for us to be on top of our product game as we are our barbering game. It's one thing to be able to develop our own grooming range that people love, but to do it being environmentally responsible at the same time is some feat. It shows we have our finger on the pulse when it comes to standards as a consumer-based company in 2021. It demonstrates the care we have for the people that are using our products, and this is a natural extension of what we do as a job every day in the barbershop.” - Flagship Head Barber Joe
We didn’t just design our signature blue bottles to look good in your bathroom either. By shaping our bottles square, they not only look smart, but are also economically better suited for packing and shipping compared to cylindrical products. Our blue bottles are also now made with 100% recycled plastic, having been 50% recycled plastic when they first launched. Being ‘recycled’ also doesn’t quite mean enough if your product has come from virgin plastic that has been processed in the plant. So we use Post-Consumer plastic, which means the material has already been reclaimed after being used as something else (such as a milk container) and then recycled. This means that our packaging has genuinely prevented plastic from going out to landfill or oceans.
“We are future-proofing as a brand and our packaging is a huge part of this. Single-use plastics are finally going the way of the dinosaurs and we are so ready for this to happen to help keep the planet healthy. Being ‘Ocean Friendly’ also means that when our products run down the drain when you wash your hair or wet shave at home, none of the ingredients are harmful to water sources and sea life, which is a big win!” - Shoreditch Head Barber Ben
When considering other plastic alternatives, Biodegradable (which you may be more familiar with) didn’t resonate with us as the right choice. Biodegradable bottles, while sounding positive, still take a huge amount of resource to create and can also take a long time to break down when they do re-enter the ecosystem. Similarly, Sugarcane plastic also presents concerns knowing that if it isn’t recycled responsibly it can take years to actually decompose. Compared to PCR, these options just didn’t feel like the greenest solution for us.
All of our bottles are now made from 100% PCR plastic except for Beard Oil, which has to be made from a different material due to its liquid composition posing a leakage risk. There is an argument suggesting that Beard Oil should be outright housed in a glass container for best suitability, but we have been able to source a suitable grade of plastic for the job that is more economically friendly in comparison to glass.
We have also made the call to skip on unnecessary packaging where possible and make sure that everything we make is as easily recyclable as it can be. In order to recycle our current bottles for example, manual intervention is required and we ask that you separate the black nozzle pumps from the metal springs before recycling. We are working on a fully-plastic solution in order to resolve this extra step. By getting rid of unnecessary secondary packaging on our products (the small boxes that previously housed Beard Oil bottles for example), we have drastically reduced the environmental cost of our goods.
“I’m excited that as a company we are trying to be more environmentally friendly and less wasteful. Taking guidance from higher scientific authorities and not waiting for other grooming brands to show us the way, we are forging our own path and setting our own goals in terms of being green and Clean Label.” - Shoreditch Senior Barber Aaron
Looking even further ahead, we are making sure that any new product design rethinks how we can make something adaptable for direct refills in the future. We are also aiming to work with more aluminium, which is super light and very easy to recycle compared to other metals. At this point we again want to reiterate that we aren’t claiming to be perfect. We’re making steps to improve as a greener business but we also continue to rely on our consumers to do their bit and recycle whenever possible, helping us all do better together.
We are totally committed to having a 100% vegan product range by Spring 2021. This includes accessories where, contrary to traditional grooming beliefs, you can absolutely create brushes that perform but are also free of animal hair. Our growing number of vegan team members have put the work in to test and develop new shaving and beard brushes made with quality synthetic bristles that offer no detriment to performance. We are passionate about being a vegan-conscious grooming brand and proud to be making these changes.
“Developing vegan formulas highlights a commitment to the environment and shows that we can excel at being forward-thinking, proactive and engaged in making the world - and our barbering community - better.” - Shoreditch Senior Barber Aaron
We are still selling through a small number of current units that contain older, non-vegan formulas as we run this stock down to zero ahead of the new vegan versions coming in to play. This includes Matt Mud (traces of Beeswax), Hair Play (traces of Beeswax), Quince & Oakmoss Shampoo (traces of Honey) and Pre Shave Oil (traces of Propolis). All of these products are scheduled to be restocked with 100% vegan formulas through summer 2021, apart from Pre Shave Oil, which we have chosen to discontinue.
Aaron continues: “As someone who is personally vegan I find this kind of thing very important. I made a choice for myself to make less of a negative impact on the world, the environment and the animals that we share this planet with, so to see the company you work for trying to achieve the same goals gives you a great deal of hope for the bigger picture. For too long companies have been far too wasteful and sold products with ingredients in them with little regard for the customer or the planet, so I feel proud to see the direction we are going.”
We’re pleased to confirm that all of our products (besides some older batches of Quince & Oakmoss Shampoo) are Gluten Free. We appreciate how important it is for people with gluten sensitivities to be aware of any potential traces in products. Let’s face it, your shampoo shouldn’t be going anywhere near your digestive system and as far as we know, even if gluten were present, it would be basically impossible for a grooming product’s molecules to penetrate into your blood stream. While our products (rather obviously) present such little risk to triggering any gastrointestinal issues, we like to shout about it all the same.
Our Clean Promise
“Being involved in the Clean Label development at Murdock has genuinely changed the way I think about standards in men’s grooming and what the future holds. For example, when I watch Dragon's Den and someone wanders in with 'the next big thing’, wanting £100k for 1% of their business, I eagerly await Deborah Meaden's power play to knock them down a peg. She always goes in hard with the environmentally responsible questions and when the pitcher squirms and looks for excuses, I immediately know that she is OUT, with the other Dragons likely to follow suit. My point is, being ‘Clean’ is rightfully becoming normalised and we should all be doing our bit to make the planet and each other safer. With effort and commitment, there are really effective ways to do it. I'm incredibly proud to be a part of the work we are doing.” - Flagship Head Barber Joe
We aren’t claiming to be perfect. There will always be more that we can do which is why we’re always looking ahead. We want to be transparent about the work that our team of brilliant and inspiring barbers have put in to this point, and continue to do so as we build for the future. We will never just take the easiest option when it comes to product development and hope you will agree that with our Clean Label seal, we’ve made a pretty decent start.