Ingredients questions

Do zao products contain any fragrance?

We do use some fragrance in our products.

As ZAO products are made of natural and organic ingredients, some raw materials such as oils can sometimes give a quite strong and a little unpleasant smell. We use a very small amount of fragrance just enough to cover up this smell and to enjoy the use of ZAO products even more.

Please note that we use hypoallergenic and 100% natural fragrance. In order to limit allergic reactions, this fragrance does not contain any allergens and is introduced in very low quantities in all ZAO products range.

Here are the products which does not contains any fragrance :
- Compact powder
- Fluid eye primer
- Matt eyeshadows
- Volume & sheathing mascara
- Aloe mascara
- Eyeliners
- Pencils
- Eyeshadows powder
- Nail polish (except Nail and cuticule oil)

See also Do ZAO products contain any allergens section

Do zao products contain any allergens?

According to The European Cosmetics Regulation, there are 26 ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction. Their use is limited and they must be included in the ingredients list if they are present in the final formula to a certain extent. The goal is to protect allergy-prone consumers by providing them with sufficient information at the time of purchase. They should know immediately whether the cosmetic product contains any allergens in order to avoid skin allergic reactions.

Here is a list of the 26 allergenic substances listed by the European Union Cosmetics Regulation:
Amyl Cinnamal, Benzyl alcohol, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Citral, Hydroxycitronellal, Eugenol, Isoeugenol, Amylcinnamyl Alcohol, Benzyl salicylate, Cinnamal, Coumarin, Geraniol, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde, Anise Alcohol, Benzyl cinnamate, Farnesol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Benzyl benzoate, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Methyl 2-octynoate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Evernia prunastri, Evernia furfuracea.

These allergenic substances are most often present in fragrances.

The hypoallergenic fragrance, which is present in restricted amounts in ZAO products, does not contain any allergens. Overall, there are no allergens in ZAO products.

Do your products contain any essential oils?

Because of their high sensitizing power, we have chosen not to use essential oils in our products.

Bamboo & organic silica: why? what are the benefits?

Silica is a nutrient found in connective tissue and throughout the human body. It participates in the synthesis of collagen and elastin and thus contributes to epidermal regeneration. Over time, our silica reserves decrease leading to skin elasticity loss and demineralisation. It is therefore necessary to regularly replenish the epidermis. A silica supplement (oral or dermal) is then necessary to maintain skin elasticity.

There are two types of silica:

Mineral silica, mostly found in crystal form. Human body can hardly assimilate this form of silica. Only 10% of the absorbed mineral silica is assimilated by the body.

Vegetal (or organic) silica found in bamboo is much more easily assimilated. 70% of the absorbed organic silica is assimilated by the human body.
Organic silica is a widely used ingredient in Eastern medicine.
It boots collagen and elastin production improving skin's strength, elasticity, flexibility, resistance and also helps to maintain the hydration level.

That is why bamboo, a plant extremely rich in organic silica, is present in all ZAO range products (apart from pencils).

Bamboo powder
It is a white substance extracted from bamboo stems, extremely rich in organic silica.

You can find Bamboo powder in the ingredients list under the following INCI name: BAMBUSA ARUNDINACEA STEM POWDER.

Organic bamboo hydrolate
This component is obtained by bamboo leaves distillation and is extremely rich in organic silica.

You can find organic bamboo hydrolate in the ingredients list under the following INCI names: PHYLLOSTACHYS NIGRA EXTRACT or BAMBUSA VULGARIS LEAF EXTRACT.

Organic bamboo macerate
Organic bamboo macerate is an oily substance obtained from bamboo's rhizomes. A rhizome is an underground stem, usually growing horizontally, that each year produces roots and upward shoots of a plant. It is a real storage and survival organ.

Like bamboo powder or bamboo leaves hydrolate, organic bamboo macerate is extremely rich in organic silica. The advantage of macerate over powder or hydrolate is its ability to better penetrate the superficial layer of the skin.

You can find organic bamboo macerate in the ingredients list under the following INCI name: BAMBUSA ARUNDINACEA STEM POWDER.

Titanium dioxide: why? is it present in nano form?

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a white opacifying pigment that has been used in cosmetics for decades (toothpaste, face cream, body lotion, makeup...). This pigment is also used in other everyday life products: food, home and car paint, etc.

There is a controversy surrounding titanium dioxide in the form of nanoparticles because it can indeed be considered an endocrine disruptor and potentially cause cancer. ZAO products do not contain any nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles raise ethical and public health debates as they can be absorbed through human cells of the same size (10-9 metres). After entering the body, they will then be stocked, and depending on their nature, the body would not be able to eliminate them. Long-term consequences of the absorption are unknown. That is why the new European Cosmos-standard does not allow ingredients containing nanoparticles.

We would like to reassure you that we do not use titanium dioxide in the form of nanoparticles in ZAO products. Titanium dioxide present in ZAO products is in the form of microparticles.

Microparticles are 1000 times larger than nanoparticles.
They do not pass through the skin barrier and do not reach our cells (because they are too large). Therefore they do not present any health risk.

Particles sizes:
Microparticles: 10-6 m = 0,000 001 m = 1 thousandth of a mm
Nanoparticles: 10-9 m = 0,000 000 001 m = 1 millionth of a mm

Titanium dioxide found in ZAO products is in the form of microparticles.
ZAO products do not contain any nanoparticles.

Do your products contain any nanoparticles?

Nanoparticles raise ethical and public health debates as they can be absorbed by human cells due to their same size (10-9 metres). These cells would let the nanoparticles penetrate into the body. After entering the body, they will then be stocked, and depending on their nature, the body would not be able to eliminate them. Long-term consequences of such nanoparticles absorption are unknown. That is why according to the new European Cosmos standard the ingredients containing nanoparticles are not allowed.
All organic products certified by ECOCERT must meet some fundamental criteria, such as absence of GMOs, parabens, phenoxyethanol, nanoparticles, silicone, PEG, perfumes and synthetic dyes, or ingredients derived from animals (except for those naturally produced by them: milk, honey...).

Ecocert and Cosmos certification conditions ensure organic products respectful of human beings and the environment. Certification bodies have assessed certain nanomaterials in cosmetic products as safe. For example, some nanomaterials, such as mineral derivatives (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) are accepted in sunscreen products certified organic.

However, ZAO has chosen to go further and to refuse using nanomaterials at all in our formulas. Therefore, we ask our suppliers to prove the absence of nanomaterials in their ingredients.

ZAO products do not contain nanoparticles.

See also Titanium dioxide section

Do zao products contain any heavy metals (nickel, lead, copper, chromium) ?

Heavy metals (Nickel, Lead, Copper, Chromium, Zinc, Cadmium, Mercury, Arsenic, Barium) are not used in ZAO products, but can be found as unavoidable impurities in mineral pigments.

Pigments bring colour and different shades to a makeup product and therefore are essential.

One of the fundamental principles of organic makeup is to use only natural dyes and ingredients. Natural pigments without doubts offer a narrower range of colours and shades compared to the conventional cosmetic product range, but we continue working on adding new colours to the palette.

We use only natural mineral pigments in ZAO formulas.
Our mineral pigments can potentially contain some traces of heavy metals.

Let’s take a look at Nickel in one of our pigments: pink dye CI 77007 (ULTRAMARINES):

Nickel is potentially present in this pigment with a concentration ranging from 0 to 50 PPM, or between 0 and 0.005 %. (PPM means parts per million; 1 PPM = 0.0001%)

Given that the amount of pigment in ZAO products never exceeds 20%, there may potentially be up to a maximum of 0.0001% of Nickel in the final product.

This is true for ZAO products but also for all organic and natural makeup products.

ZAO products can potentially contain insignificant traces of heavy metals as they are naturally present in our mineral pigments as impurities.

Do zao products contain any chrome?

It is important to highlight that chrome is not an ingredient added as such in the products.

However, there are two things that you should know about it:

1- Some of our products contain a green pigment, Chromium Oxide Green (CI 77288).
Some people may be sensitive or allergic to this pigment.
If you have an allergic reaction, please consult your doctor or an allergologist.

Here is a list of Zao products where this pigment is used:
- Eyeshadows 116
- Eyeshadows 214
- Lip scrub 482
- Concealer Green 499

This green pigment allows to obtain the shades of green that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. In fact, the palette of natural pigments available for organic certified cosmetics, remains narrow even today.

Since the ingredients present in our products are 100% natural and are certified organic, it is very difficult for us to replace this pigment.

2- All ZAO formulas contain natural mineral pigments.
Mineral pigments can potentially contain heavy metals traces, and therefore insignificant traces of chrome.
See Do ZAO Products Contain Any Heavy Metals section

Do zao products contain palm oil?

Intensive cultivation of palm oil, mainly in Indonesia, leads to massive primary forest destruction in favour of palm plantations.

Palm oil and ingredient complexes derived from palm oil are widely used in cosmetic products.

Palm oil is easily recognisable in a product ingredients list by its INCI name which is “PALM OIL”. It may also be identified by the following name: "ELEASIS GUINEENSIS (PALM) OIL".

Cosmetic industry uses many palm oil derivatives, more difficult to identify, because the word PALM does not appear in the ingredients list.

Zao products may contain palm oil derivatives but it is important to understand that it is difficult for us to exclude them as raw material suppliers do not offer other alternatives. We are forced to find ourselves in this situation.

Nevertheless, we are trying to do our best by selecting only RSPO certified palm oil derivatives.

What is RSPO certified palm oil?
RSPO: Round table for Sustainable Palm Oil

RSPO is an association founded in 2004. It aims to promote the growth and use of palm oil that meets specific sustainability criteria at all levels: producers, traders, distributors, etc.

RSPO standard’s set of criteria are applied to all the steps of transformation of palm oil up to its selling. Its aim is to guarantee the traceability of sustainable palm oil, up to the final product.

RSPO certified palm oil shows companies commitment and also certifies sustainability.

You can find more information about RSPO certified palm oil here

RSPO certified palm oil is the best alternative we have at the moment.
However, we do not give up and are trying to find new raw materials.

Here is a list of raw materials derived from RSPO palm oil present in ZAO products:


Our suppliers' certificates guarantee that their raw materials are derived from RSPO certified palm oil

Note: PROPYLENE GLYCOL found in our Eyeliners is from vegetable sources, accepted by Ecocert COSMOS.

We also use organic certified palm oil derivatives.
Organic farming prohibits primary forests destruction. This certification therefore ensures that these derivatives are taken from specific palm oil plantations that are not responsible for deforestation:

For other raw materials frequently used as palm oil derivatives, we have managed to find an alternative:

- CETEARYL ALCOHOL-coconut oil derivative
- STEARATE GLYCEROL-coconut oil derivative
- ISOSTEARIC ACID-rapeseed oil derivative

Do our products contain any anti-ageing active ingredients and why?

Our makeup products combine makeup efficiency (colour, long hold, visual effect, texture) and skin care. Our ingredients have specific properties, for example:

- Bamboo with its high level of organic silica is necessary for skin cells renewal (see BAMBOO & Organic Silica section);

- Essential Fatty Acids rich in omega-3, omega-6 and vitamin F. They provide flexibility and elasticity to the skin, preventing skin barrier problems and increasing skin hydration level.

Here are some of the essential fatty acids you can find in ZAO products: organic shea butter; organic cocoa butter; organic coconut oil; organic macadamia nut oil; organic almond oil.

- Antioxidants fight free radicals responsible for cellular ageing and skin weakening.

Here are some antioxidants you can find in ZAO products:
Organic pomegranate butter; Ginkgo biloba leaf Extract; Organic babassu oil; Organic wheat germ oil; Red seaweed extract.

It is important to highlight that active ingredients contained inorganic plants are much more concentrated than in conventionally grown plants.

Do the products contain any argan oil?

So far only lip care oil contains argan oil.

However, the entire product range contains other skincare ingredients.
See the Anti-ageing active ingredients section

Is there any aluminium?

Aluminium salts such as aluminium Chlorohydrate, used in deodorants and antiperspirants, is still a controversial subject. This debate involves aluminium salts that can increase breast cancer risks depending on where it is applied and the amount used.

ZAO products do not contain aluminium.

However, you may find the following INCI names on our ingredients lists:

It is a completely chemically inert mineral ingredient (clay type) that has nothing to do with an aluminium salt. This raw material presents no health risks (found in eyeliners, Aloe vera mascara, mineral cooked powders and mineral silk)

This raw material is not an aluminium salt and is considered chemically inert. Its shiny aspect brings shimmer to makeup products.

This raw material is used in cosmetic pigments and is added only to our nail polishes, especially for pearly glitter.

Are zao products gluten free?

Gluten is a protein found in a number of foods made of wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats. The consumption of gluten-free food products is becoming a real nutrition trend.

Beyond the "gluten-free" trend, some individuals really suffer from a coeliac autoimmune disease. In order to guarantee that our products are suitable for them, you can find a "crossed wheat spike" logo introduced by Afdiag. This label is controlled by AOECS European standard, with certain requirements such as in-house inspections and annual analysis control plan. For the time being, this label is only applied to food and non-cosmetic products.

ZAO products contain two raw materials derived from cereals, especially wheat:

These two raw materials do not contain Gluten as we have the supplier's certificates that guarantees its absence.

We can therefore be sure that ZAO products do not contain any gluten.

Do the products contain any talc?

Taking into consideration its bad reputation and the fact that it is a potential endocrine disruptor, we have decided to exclude talc from our products.

Do zao products contain maltodextrin? is it gluten-free?

Maltodextrin is not an ingredient added as such to our formulas.

In fact, Maltodextrin that you can find in some of our products comes from another cosmetic ingredient used in our formulas: Cayoma Olive.

You can find more information about this ingredient on the manufacturer's website by clicking on the following link

After checking all our formulas, we can assure you that maltodextrin is only present in some of our powders with a concentration in the finished product between 0.00005% and 0.012%.

Most of the time, it is derived from starch and especially from rice starch. Rice is a natural gluten-free cereal. Our supplier also confirms that maltodextrin is gluten-free.

Are zao products comedogenic?

Comedogenic ingredients are not an issue when used in lip, eye lashes or nails products.

As far as other products, we prefer to be careful about using such ingredients.
ZAO would like to limit the use of comedogenic oils and butters in its products as much as possible.

Therefore, you can find the following ingredients that are potentially comedogenic but used in limited quantities to still get their benefits:
– Mineral silk: wheat germ oil (0.5%) and cocoa butter (1%)
– Pearly eyeshadows: soybean oil (less than 1%)
– Compact powder and blush: cocoa butter (1%)

ZAO products are suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and acne prone skin.

Do zao foundations contain any sunscreen?

It is important to highlight that sunscreen chemical filters are forbidden in natural and organic certified cosmetics, as most of them are harmful to humans and the environment.

Only mineral sunscreens are allowed in organic certified cosmetics. The use of mineral sunscreens as nanomaterial for sun protection is still a controversial subject. This does not mean that all mineral sunscreens will necessarily be in the form of nanoparticles. They can also be used as microparticles.

Our foundations do not contain any sun protection factor.

However ZAO BB cream does contain a sun protection factor. We have used titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in the form of microparticles to achieve it. This way there is no danger for humans or the environment.

See also Titanium dioxide section
See also Nanomaterials section

Biosourced nail polish - safe formulas? Presence of phthalates?

Nail polishes are special cosmetic products for which it is difficult to find certified organic formulas. Indeed, the raw materials available on the market do not allow the formulation of high-performance organic nail polishes (particularly in terms of drying time or durability).

Nevertheless, the ZAO brand has chosen to offer nail polishes free of harmful ingredients (including phthalates) and enriched with silica (bamboo sap). You can therefore use them without moderation!

ZAO nail polish formulas do not contain phthalates, in particular no dibutylphthalate, which is reputed to be an endocrine disruptor that would cause possible irritation of the eyes (watery eyes, conjunctivitis) and upper respiratory tract (rhino-pharyngitis, possible bronchitis); if ingested or inhaled: headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, haematuria, dizziness, photophobia (sensitivity to light) and nephrotoxicity.

In order to offer products that are always more respectful of the environment and your health, our nail polishes are biosourced. This means that in our formulas, ingredients of petrochemical origin are replaced by agro-solvents (derived from corn, potatoes, manioc, sugar cane or wheat) and the formulas contain 76% to 84% ingredients of natural origin.

Finally, like all the products in the ZAO range, ZAO nail polishes are vegan.

Do zao products contain any squalane or squalene?

Currently Squalene is harshly criticized because the use of squalene of animal origin can be harmful to marine biodiversity. Historically, squalene was extracted from shark liver which resulted in death/exploitation of the species. Unfortunately, some beauty brands carry on using it, either on purpose or not.

However that squalene can also be found in plants (derived from olive oil, cane sugar, amaranth, rice, wheat or sugar beets)

Taking into consideration our respect for the animal world, it was impossible for us to use squalene of animal origin.
As you know, our organic certified products must comply with a number of rules, including selection and traceability of the ingredients. Ingredients derived from dead animals are strictly prohibited (except for cochineal*). Furthermore, our products are also certified Vegan by PETA.
You can therefore be sure that our products do not contain any squalene of animal origin.

What's the difference between squalane and squalene?

Squalene is naturally produced by most plants and animals including humans (it is found especially in human sebum). Its structure is similar to the skin lipids structure. Thanks to its excellent chemical affinity with the skin, it easily penetrates the skin and gives it a silky touch.
Squalene has many benefits. It is an excellent emollient that smooths and softens the skin helping to restore the skin lipid barrier. It is also an indirect moisturiser that protects against dehydration and keeps the skin soft and smooth.

Squalane is a stable derivative of squalene, less sensitive to oxidation.
Being more stable and having the same properties as squalene, squalane is most commonly used in cosmetics.

Squalane and squalene used in ZAO products are of vegetable origin, mainly derived from olive oil.

* cochineal is an insect that produces the carmine red pigment that is accepted as an exception by COSMOS.
(See also Cochineal presence section)

Do zao products contain any cochineal?

Deep purple pigment is derived from cochineal females (known as Dactylopius Coccus). This insect lives on Opuntia cactus variety, and is mainly cultivated in Latin America, Peru being the world's largest producer.

Dactylopius coccus female is used to produce different shades of red, orange, and scarlet. Also called carmin, this dye is named after the carminic acid found in the body and eggs produced by the female. 

The insect produces this acid under stress to protect itself from predators.

Insects are killed by immersion in hot water (dried afterwards) or exposure to sunlight, steam or the heat of an oven. Each method produces a different colour.

This dye is widely used in food, confectionery, pharmacy and cosmetics to satisfy the natural products demand. It is true that the term "natural" generally sells, but when we know that it takes 70,000 insects to produce 500 grams of cochineal, as well as the extraction conditions of the pigment, then it is obvious that the use of carmine is not ethical.

ZAO respects the animal world and does not use any carmine in the product. The whole range is labelled Vegan by PETA.

This choice is not without consequences, that's why we don't have any red or fushia lipstick.

In fact, our products are certified organic and therefore do not contain any synthetic pigments, the only way to have a red lipstick would be to use carmine because there is no other stable natural pigment of the red colour. In fact, mineral pigments are of ochre, or orange, there is no solid red.

But we continue laboratory trials to find an alternative solution.

Are zao products safe for pregnant women?

First of all, as ZAO products are certified organic and Vegan, they must comply with the strict certification specifications. This can guarantee that our products are safe. Moreover, in accordance with cosmetic regulations, the safety of our products is tested before being put on the market.

Apart from these certificates, we are concerned about having safe formulas without any raw materials that could present a health risk.

Therefore ZAO products are completely safe for pregnant women.

As for nail polishes, even if they are not organic, our Bio-sourced formulas are much healthier than the standard nail polish formulas. They do not present any particular risk.

However, please consult your doctor if you are pregnant before use.

Once my product is opened, how long can i use it?

Mainly, it depends on the formula and the area of application of the product. To do this, simply refer to the small symbol in the shape of an open jar on the product labels. In general, it is necessary to count :
- 6 Months for eye products (mascaras, eyeliners) and foundation products
- 12 Months for creamy products (Stick...)
- 18 Months for rinsed products / No water / not to be used as eye contour
- 24 Months for powder products

Presence of micas in your products, where do they come from? Is it ethical?

Mica is used in the cosmetics industry as an opacifier but more particularly to give formulas a pearly and shiny appearance. It is indeed according to the thickness of the mineral and the oxide by which it will be covered that the shine and colour will differ.
Mica is a mineral found in nature, there are different types of mica throughout the world. The most widely used today comes from India, for the simple reason that it is the most qualitative.
Mica today raises an ethical question, particularly with regard to its supply in India, as its exploitation is said to be carried out by children.
On this subject our laboratory has only one supplier who uses Mica from India. However, it is very aware of this problem and has been a member of the Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI) since 2017. Other suppliers use mica from Spain. All of them have certificates that children do not work in this exploitation.
The Cosmos standard has not included anything on child labour for the moment, but is committed to do so in the next edition.

All the micas used in ZAO products have the No Child Labor certificate.

Products questions

Where does the name Zao come from?

David Reccole, Founder of the brand, answers: "I was influenced by Eastern philosophies and their way of thinking, especially Buddhism. The idea of a product range focused on bamboo was born in Taiwan. Bamboo plays a very important role in Asia and especially in Buddhism. The name of the brand had to reflect this connection. Buddhism has many expressions and a number of branches. Among them, two are the most well-known and are based on nature observation: ZEN and TAO. ZAO is a contraction of these two words as an invitation to meditation, peace of mind and the search for harmony and authenticity following the example of the nature."

Where does the bamboo come from ?

The bamboo we use for our packaging comes from China where it is processed on-site. We have created specific tools to shape raw bamboo as they did not exist before. Our local supplier now uses it exclusively to produce Zao packaging.

We have chosen bamboo for its elegant and modern look, and also because we are convinced that an organic certified makeup range must use natural packaging. All trees store carbon but the exceptional growth rate of bamboo makes it a champion of carbon capture during its life cycle. That is why ZAO products have a minimal carbon footprint. A real organic elegance!

Bamboo is also added to our formulas in a form of powder, hydrolate or macerate. The ingredients section of the FAQ gives you more information about it.

How is the bamboo cut?

The bamboo used for packaging comes from stems that are 4-5 years old and are about 10 cm in diameter. They are cut off at the base as the rhizome immediately creates new stems.

Does the use of bamboo affect the lives of local giant pandas?

Unfortunately, Giant Pandas now live in small protected areas in central China. The map below shows these areas with brown dots:

Our bamboo forest is situated in the region of Wuyishan, Nanping, Fujian, China which is more than 2000km from the protected area where Giant Pandas live.

In addition, the diet of Giant Pandas is based on two main species of bamboo:

– Sinarundinaria fangiana = Bashania fangiana = Gelidocalamus fangianus which grows between 2300 and 3600 metres above sea level.
– Fargesia spathacea = Fargesia robusta, which grows between 1600m and 2700 metres above the sea level.

In the area where the bamboo is cropped for ZAO, the altitude does not exceed 1000 metres so these species are not present.

The Latin names of our bamboo derivatives are PHYLLOSTACHYS NIGRA for hydrolates, BAMBUSA ARUNDINACEA for powder from the STEM and PHYLLOSTACHIS BAMBUSOIDES for rhizome extract.

The bamboo we use is therefore not a part of Giant Pandas' diet.

What is the glue used?

At the moment we are using a standard white wood glue.

Can the packaging materials be recycled once the makeup product is finished? In which bin should they be disposed?

Recycling techniques today in many countries are not efficient enough to sort makeup products as they are too small to be processed by the current equipment. If we put them in waste sorting bins, they won't be recognised and so will not be recycled.

That's why ZAO products are sustainable and refillable.

Thanks to our easy and fun refilling system, you can easily replace your product in an economical and environmentally friendly way by buying only a refill. You keep the bamboo container and use it as you wish. Each bamboo product comes in an elegant pouch to be able to keep it even longer. Apart from reducing costs and packaging they also allow you to try and change colours depending on your mood.

Why are there not more refillable products?

Most ZAO products are refillable: concealer, compact powder, cooked powder, blush, complexion base, fluid foundation, compact foundation, eyeshadows, primer, eyebrow powder, lipstick and lip balm, silk foundation, Mineral silk, mascara, eyeliner, gloss and lip polish. At the moment only pencils and nail polishes are not refillable.

Are refillables made of plastic?

The packaging of certain refills (e.g. pressed powders) are made of recyclable PET plastic materials, which are authorised by the organic certification specifications. However, since the end of 2018, these packages have been gradually replaced by cardboard envelopes.

As for the refills themselves, they are made of various materials, all of them are recyclable, e.g. the silk foundation tubes are made of polypropylene (PP) whereas the lipstick mechanisms require several materials, including aluminium.

Which metal are godets made from?

Eyeshadows, blush, pressed powder and compact foundation are compacted or poured into metal godets. They also can be used as refills and should be magnetic.

Aluminium could not suit because it is not magnetic. So we use tinplate for all Zao refillable pans.

How to clean Zao brushes?

ZAO brushes are made of bamboo (handle) and synthetic nylon (hair). We have chosen to use synthetic hair rather than natural as we are committed to ensuring that no animal is mistreated, injured or killed during makeup brushes production.

In order to effectively clean your brushes, we advise you to wash them in cold water with mild soap to preserve their quality.

What should I do if I have an allergic reaction?

If, despite the safety measures we have taken, you notice an allergic reaction while using one of our Zao products, we are really sorry. We advise you to visit your doctor or dermatologist to diagnose and treat the reaction. Your GP will then be able to confirm if the reaction is caused by one of our products or not and you can then inform the relevant authorities.

Afterwards we invite you to contact us to inform about the diagnosis, the name of the product, the lot number and where you purchased it.

Your finished products are not tested on animals but what about the ingredients?

In accordance with European cosmetic regulations, we do not test our finished products or the ingredients used on animals. We are also vegan labelled by the PETA organisation, which means that no ingredients used are of animal origin.

Our products are of course tested to guarantee their innocuousness, but these tests are carried out on a panel of people between 20 and 60 years old.

How are products tested if not on animals?

Cosmetic products do not necessarily need to be tested on animals to prove their safety.

Firstly, you need to use well-known safe ingredients, such as certified organic ingredients and the ingredients approved by the organic cosmetic product standards (e.g. Ecocert, Cosmos).

You should also note that each cosmetic product was checked by a toxicological expert before placing on the market. This expert assessed the safety of the product. If according to the results of this assessment the product complies to the current regulations, then it can be placed on the market. Otherwise, the brand cannot sell this product.

All ZAO products were not tested on animals and successfully passed the safety test.

Where are Zao products made ?

ZAO products are manufactured in Europe.

We work mainly with three manufacturers, each being an expert in their particular field, depending on the products category. We can distinguish between :

– Pencils manufacturer: Schwan, a German company whose production is located in the Czech Republic;
– Nail polish manufacturer: Fiabila, a French company located in Eure-et-Loire region;
– Makeup removers manufacturer: Probionat, a French company based in Bouches-du-Rhône region;
– All other products in our range are manufactured by Laboratory Phytotechnical, Italian company, based near Milan (Italy). This company has been our privileged partner for over 15 years. In fact, David Reccole, founder and CEO of the brand Zao, was at the start of Laboratoire Phytotechnique then its president from 2006 to 2013.

We trust the quality of certified organic products from these partners.

You can find where place of manufacturing on the product label (e.g. "made in Italy").

Certifications questions

Can the retailers display certificates?

Certifications are indicated with logos on each certified ZAO product.

They are also available in the communication materials available in each point of sale of the brand. They can of course display this information.

What is the shelf life of organic products compared to non-organic ones?

The shelf life is calculated according to the following criteria:
– Product nature: shower gel, day cream, toothpaste, eyeshadow, eyeliner, lipstick, etc.;
– Packaging type: opened jar, airtight pump bottle, tube, etc.;
– Accelerated age test results before being placed on the market.

As a consequence, an organic cosmetic product can have the same shelf life as a non-organic one. Depending on the packaging used, it can even be longer!

The European regulation n ° 1223/2009 of cosmetic products stipulates that the minimum durability date must be indicated on the packaging. This is the date until which the cosmetic product continues to fulfil its function, subject to being stored under appropriate conditions. However, it is not mandatory to indicate this date on cosmetic products with a minimum durability more than 30 months.

The shelf life for Zao products are:

  • For emulsions (which contain water), the shelf life is 36 months

  • For dense textures (without water) such as lipsticks, lip gloss, pencils, the shelf life is 48 months

  • For all dry products such as powders (loose or compact), the shelf life is 60 months.

Why is there only 10% of organic ingredients in some formulas? Why are your products not 100% organic?

An organic ingredient comes from organic farming. For example, it could be a plant and a plant derivative. But these are not enough to formulate cosmetic products which also require, depending on its nature, water (sometimes up to 90%), minerals such as pigments, clay (sometimes up to 100%) and other ingredients. Water and minerals do not come from organic farming. Therefore, they cannot be certified. So a cosmetic product that contains 80% water, 10% minerals and 10% organic ingredients contains only 10% organic ingredients and yet certified organic at its best.

What matters most is the amount of organic ingredients used compared to the amount of vegetal ingredients. A cosmetic product certified as organic shall contain at least 95% organic ingredients out of the total vegetable ingredients, 10% organic ingredients out of the total ingredients and 95% natural ingredients or of natural origin.

Please see a summary chart following this link:

Zao products organic certified contain as many organic ingredients as possible. Thus, there is often more than 10% of organic ingredients and soon more than 20% thanks to the European organic certification COSMOS.

What is COSMOS?

COSMOS is the European harmonised standard for natural and organic cosmetics.

This standard is a document that states the requirements to obtain organic certification of cosmetic products: ingredients and products composition, nature of packaging, manufacturing, packaging, storage, document management and communication.

In France, we often come across Ecocert standard. You can find Ecocert logo on ZAO certified products.

Ecocert and its 4 other partners (BDIH in Germany, Cosmebio in France, ICEA in Italy and The Soil Association in Great Britain) have put together their values, skills and their vision of organic cosmetics to find a common standard for all of them after many years of work. Starting from January 1, 2017, new certified organic products are only certified according to COSMOS standard.

For more information please visit:

The transition to the European harmonised standard was anticipated while creating Zao products. Most of them are compatible with Cosmos. However, as the standard requirements are more strict than that of Ecocert, some ingredients are now refused. Raw material suppliers should now disclose much more confidential information than before to be approved by Cosmos so are reluctant to do it. That is why some of our products were reformulated during the past few years.

Are the products as effective as conventional products (hold, colour, etc.)?

Organic cosmetic products are as effective as non-organic ones. Indeed, if we look at the total ingredients used, an organic cosmetic product generally has more active ingredients. Each ingredient has not only a primary function in the product but also other properties that gives an advantage to organic cosmetics compared to non-organic.

Nevertheless, there are still some limits to organic cosmetics :

  • Difficult to make a waterproof makeup

  • Difficult to achieve the deep red colour because Zao refuses to use carmine pigment from cochineal extract.

Please note that we are working on these two issues part of our R&D project.

Does the organic certification of Zao cosmetic products guarantee GMO-free products?

The organic certification of Zao beauty brand ensures the products are GMO-free.

The absence of GMOs is one of the key principles of the organic cosmetics standards (Ecocert or Cosmos). The ingredients used must be derived from renewable sources and transformed by the processes respectful of humans and the environment. Ingredients derived from GMO plants do not comply with this fundamental rule. Each certification body (for example Ecocert) is responsible for checking all the ingredients before the brand can add them to their cosmetic formulas. Thus, the certification guarantees that there is no GMOs in ZAO cosmetic products.

Does the organic certification of Zao cosmetic products ensure the products are nano-free?

Organic certification according to Ecocert or Cosmos standards guarantees products that are respectful of both people and the environment. Certification bodies have evaluated certain nanomaterials as being safe for users of cosmetic products.
Certain nanomaterials, such as mineral screens (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide), are therefore exclusively accepted in certified organic sun care products.

At Zao, we have chosen to prioritize zinc oxide over titanium dioxide for our certified organic sun care products. The concern raised by these nanoparticles is their ability to penetrate the body and accumulate. This is called bio-persistence.
Zao has chosen to use zinc oxide as a sun filter instead of titanium dioxide for the following reasons:

1-A study conducted in 2012 by the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety on nano-form zinc oxide shows that there is no evidence of zinc oxide absorption by our body.

2-Unlike titanium dioxide, zinc oxide shows greater solubility in water, which explains its greater ease of elimination by the body and reduces the risks of bio-persistence. When zinc oxide dissolves in water, it creates zinc (in ionic form Zn++) and hydroxide (2OH-). Zinc is naturally present in the body.

3-Unlike titanium, which does not exist in the human body, zinc is present in the body. In a healthy adult, the body contains on average about 2 to 3 grams of zinc in total. Most of the zinc is present in the muscles, bones, skin, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and eyes. It is important to maintain an adequate balance of zinc in the body because zinc is essential for many biological functions, including growth, development, immune function, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and enzyme regulation.

4-Studies show that titanium dioxide nanoparticles can be found in a wider variety of tissues, including the liver, lungs, and brain, suggesting some bio-persistence. In contrast, zinc oxide nanoparticles are less frequently detected in these tissues, indicating more efficient biodegradation or elimination.

Given the current state of knowledge, we believe that among all the sun care cosmetics on the market, those containing only zinc oxide present the least risk both for human health and the environment.

Does the organic certification of Zao cosmetic products ensure the products are free from heavy metals such as nickel?

As you know, our cosmetic formulas contain mineral ingredients such as pigments, mica, or mineral silica.

Minerals extracted from soil contain impurities in very low quantities expressed in ppm (parts per million: 1ppm = 0.0001%). The most regulated impurities are heavy metals. Nickel falls into heavy metals group, but also arsenic, mercury, lead, zinc, copper, chromium, cadmium and barium.

As of today, the ingredients suppliers cannot guarantee the pigments without minor traces of heavy metals.

The only ingredients in our formulas that might contain heavy metals are mineral pigments. The international regulations have introduced maximum quantities for heavy metals. For example, the quantity of nickel allowed in a pigment is 50 ppm, i.e. 0.005%. Since the maximum concentration of a pigment in a formula is 20%, this means a maximum of 10ppm (0.001%) of nickel in the final product.

The solution for people sensitive to nickel is to use non-organic makeup products that contain synthetic pigments and dyes. Unfortunately, these synthetic ingredients have other significant side effects on humans and the environment.

We are hoping to be able to use vegetable pigments in the future that are free of heavy metals, which could provide our makeup products with the right colour intensity. This requires some scientific research, which we have started, but the results will not yet be available in the nearest future. To be continued...

Does the organic certification ensure pesticide-free products?

Ingredients used in organic certified products have passed rigorous control tests by the certification bodies before authorisation. Certified organic ingredients come from organic farming where the use of pesticides is strictly prohibited. For example, farmers who grow organic plants, the source of organic cosmetic ingredients, do not, of course, use pesticides. But we all know that wind can unfortunately bring pesticides from nearby non-organic lands (even if a minimum distance between an organic and a non-organic land has to be respected). To be honest, the total absence of pesticides is difficult to guarantee. However, we note that there is still 1000 to 10000 times less pesticide in organic cosmetics.

ZAO organic certification thus guarantees an extremely low level of pesticides, which no other certification is able to ensure today.

Is Zao labelled vegan?

Since the end of 2018, the entire range of our products have been certified vegan, as we were able to eliminate the last ingredient of animal origin: organic beeswax, thanks to our R&D program.

All our products are now vegan labeled by the PETA organization. The logo represents a small rabbit with heart-shaped ears, well known to consumers.

The acronym PETA means : People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA has more than 3 million members and supporters, this is the world's largest animal rights organization.

Being labeled vegan means that ZAO Make-Up excludes in its products, accessories and packaging all raw materials of animal origin. Which means there is no presence of beeswax or carmine. For exemple, the brush hairs are made of nylon.

ZAO Eco-box: Bring back your used refills!

ZAO Eco-box, what is it?

The Zao Eco-box is a collection, recycling and recovery solution for used refills, sticks, bottles, tubes and buckets entirely designed by the Zao brand. It takes the form of a small cardboard collection box available from Zao retailers and guarantees the recycling and recovery of the packaging collected, by selected players within a radius of 200 km around our offices.

Why offer this solution?

With the aim of limiting unnecessary packaging as much as possible, our products are refillable, sold in a reusable fabric pouch, without disposable packaging. Thus, thanks to our bamboo packaging, you have the possibility to replace only the refill of our products.
However, we have realised that these refills, although designed with recyclable materials, are considered as specific waste due to their small size and therefore cannot currently integrate any classic recycling channel. Thus, if we put them in the sorting bin, they will not be recognised in the sorting centre and cannot be recovered.
Furthermore, our customers are a public sensitive to environmental issues and waste reduction, who regularly ask us about the recyclability of our products once they have been used. The Eco-box is therefore also the answer to these growing demands.
Via the Zao Eco-box, we are reinforcing our desire to be irreproachable in the quality of our products, from their design to their end of life. If the recycling of these materials is possible, we wish to guarantee it by offering a collection solution, with the certainty that they will be recovered.

What can we put in ZAO Eco-box?

- Refills for Mascaras, Eyeliners, Lip Gloss, Inks and Varnishes, Lip Care Oil, Fluid Lip Balm, Fluid Eye Primer, Light Touch
- The refill sticks for Lipsticks, Lip Balms, Lip Scrubs, Correcteurs
- The capsule refills of Mineral silk
- The tubes of Foundation, Foundation, BB cream
- The cups of Blushes, Eyeshadows, Compact Powders, Terracotta, Shine-up Powder, Compact Foundations;

It is not necessary to wash them, even soiled they will be recycled!

Are also accepted:
Textile pouches and bamboo packs which you no longer need and which should be put, if possible, in an envelope to avoid being soiled by used refills.

How does it work?

1-Bring them at the point of sale

You bring back and deposit your used Zao refills in the Zao Eco box. Little by little, it fills up.

2-Return at ZAO

Once full, the Eco-box is sent back by post thanks to a return slip available from the ZAO sales department.

3-Reception, sorting, storage

The Eco-box arrives at our premises in the Drôme. Its contents are sorted and the related materials are separated. In total, we will be able to sort up to 10 categories of materials, ranging from different plastics to paper, cardboard, textiles or metals.


The sorted materials are then weighed. Once the weight required for their handling has been reached (weight varies from one category to another), the materials will be entrusted to professionals within a radius of 200 km around our offices: plasturgists, plastic artists, metallurgists, material handlers and may be given a second life.

Ensuring a preliminary sorting allows us to work with specialised professionals for each of the materials and thus to have more visibility on the associated recovery sector. We have estimated that we could capture up to 1 tonne per year of used refills, sticks, tubes and buckets. This recovery solution is part of a global reflection, thanks to which we guarantee that this specific waste has a second life and is no longer buried or incinerated.

As consumers, your support and participation in this eco-responsible project are fundamental. We are therefore counting on you to deposit your used refills, sticks, bottles, tubes and buckets in the Zao Eco-box and thus enable us to ensure their recovery.

The ZAO Eco-box is a solution for collecting, recycling and recovering used refills, sticks, bottles, tubes and buckets entirely designed by the Zao brand. It takes the form of a small cardboard collection box available from Zao retailers and guarantees the recycling and recovery of the packaging collected, by selected players within a radius of 200 km around our premises.

Where can we found it?

From February 2020, all our retailers will gradually equip themselves with a Zao Eco-box. It will therefore be available in all our points of sale. It's up to you!

Join us!