[Local] The Importance of Reading the Ingredient List (or, How Mustika Ratu is Fooling You)


I have been using virgin coconut oils on my scalp and hair for a few years. My current favorite oil is made by Blue Stone Botanicals; it is deliciously fresh and rich in aroma, although no additives are added.

Recently, however, I wondered whether I should diversify the oils I use, and picked up the Mustika Ratu Cem Ceman Hair Oil. This oil has been in the market for a while, but one time I took a whiff of it and decided the scent is not appealing, so never purchased it. The other day, on a whim, I picked it up, thinking that I might add some orange oil to make the scent more pleasant. I am already using the Mustika Ratu Cem Ceman Hair Mask, and it was ok, so I thought why not have variety and try the Cem Ceman Hair oil.

Here’s a surprise. Even though this product has been around for years, making the same claims (as far as I remember, as this is a very popular product), Mustika Ratu has actually been misleading consumers. The product touts coconut oil as its ingredient, and even put a picture of coconut on the packaging, but looking at the ingredient list, I don’t see any coconut. What is there is palm kernel oil (the first ingredient, Elaeis guineensis). True, in Indonesian that would be called minyak kelapa sawit, but really, I think it is still misleading to say that oil palm is the same as coconut. Frankly, I think it’s a conscious effort to mislead by Mustika Ratu, since obviously they know that Cocos nucifera is coconut, as it is a content in the Cem Ceman Hair Mask.

A closer look at the claims and ingredient list

Bottom line: lesson learned! Always read the ingredients list, as even big companies can get away fooling you. What is the Indonesian food and drug agency (BPOM) doing when they put their stamp of approval on this product? This episode strengthens my suspicions that BPOM is only administratively reviewing products (and not actually testing products for touted ingredients). And they’re not even doing these administrative reviews well, if this is an example. Perhaps they should focus on their job more, instead of whining and refusing import by individuals of well-known foreign products (on the premise that they are not imported by those licensed to import). BPOM seems to be interested only in protecting businesses (e.g. in this case Mustika Ratu), rather than the interests of consumers. Bah!

So, tell me, do you think Mustika Ratu at fault here, or is this a normal marketing ploy that I shouldn’t be making a big deal of?

My favorite toners (and what I do with them)

Lush Eau Roma Water Toner
Lush Eau Roma Water Toner (Source)

I am not a big believer in toners to tone. I guess there should be a separate post about this, but all the reasons given for the rationale of toners, don’t really convince me, e.g.

  • to remove remaining soils from your face –> errrr, because you did not sufficiently clean your face, ergo it’s still dirty? You probably need a better cleanser, then?
  • to prove that your face is clean –> again, your cleanser and/or your cleansing technique is the problem.
  • to remove residues that comes with the water you rinse your face with –> nope, i have got great, clear, delicious water at home
  • to bring back the acidity (ph) of your face, after cleansing –> yeah, if you still use the harsh cleansers of the 1970s
  • to prepare for your serums and lotions –> if your face is clean, what more do the serums/lotions need? unless you want the natural oils of your face to also be gone, which is not my preference. And actually, toners can be a barrier for the serum/lotion to penetrate, no?

But anyway, that doesn’t mean I don’t use toners, no! Because they’re just too wonderful not to be used. What I use them for:

1. A refreshing mid-day facial spritz or for anytime I need a pick-me-up. My recent favorite for this is a toner I found in Manila, Human Love Nature Balancing Toner. It is the most delicious-smelling concoction ever! The combination of orange oils and elemi oil is just so refreshing to my nose. It’s the ultimate hot day pick-me-up. I always stock up on these whenever I visit the Philippines. Rose toners from local brands Sariayu and Mustika Ratu are also great for this purpose (if you like rose scents, which I do). You can put the toner in a spritzer bottle, which you can also take on your travels or commute.

Human Love Nature Balancing Toner
Human Love Nature Balancing Toner (Source)

2. Sometimes I’m so rushed in the morning that I do not have the time to put on lotion and potions. Lush Eau Roma Toner Water to the rescue! This is probably the most moisturizing toner I’ve ever used. You just need a quick spray around your face (and hair, if so you wish), let it dry while you put on your clothes, then on to sunscreen and makeup, and you’re good to go!

3. To set makeup,especially powder ones. A quick spritzing followed by a little buffing and voila, powderiness be gone! Actually, any old liquid will probably work fine for this, but toners are probably cheaper than the fancy waters of Avene and the like.

4. There’s a few powder masks that I like, and. I mostly use honey to turn powder masks into paste, but I also like to add a little bit of Viva Face Tonic Green Tea in them. This Green Tea Tonic is also a nice alternative for a mid-day spritzing pick-me-up.

Viva Face Tonic Green Tea
Viva Face Tonic Green Tea (Source)

5. To turn powder eyeshadow into paste (to intensify their color) or into eyeliner. Again, the Viva Green Tea Tonic is a favorite since it is so mild and do not sting the eyes (not that it’s ever gotten in my eyes, I think). Another good alternative is Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner.

Kiehl's Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner
Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner (Source)

6. To clean my face. Yup, sometimes when I am staying at home, and my face is not so dirty from the environment, I just use the Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato Toner to clean it, and follow up with a serum, lotion or cream of choice. No water, no cleanser, no cleansing oils. Just this toner, which is very acidic and will break down oils and dirt, so it is ideal for the job. I don’t use this often, though, as it can be drying.

Burt's Bees Garden Tomato Toner
Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato Toner (Source)

7. To dilute thickĀ  body lotions and body butters so they can spread easily, and for this the Viva Green Tea Tonic also works well, as its scent won’t overpower the lotion, and it is quite cheap (since you need quite a bit of it).

8. As a body splash. The local brand toners are so cheap that using them as body splash is not going to break the bank, and they often smell nicer than the body splashes you find in the supermarkets. I like the rose-scented toners from local brands Sariayu and Mustika Ratu for this, as also the Mustika Ratu Sari Sekar Gambir toner, which is jasmine-scented.

I’d love to hear what other uses people have for their toners.


Mustika Ratu Rose toner
Mustika Ratu Rose toner (Source)