I probably shouldn’t admit this but up until mid-2011, I thought Organic Beauty was snake oil that smelled like Nana’s, made by lentil weaving hippies, with straggly hair and bad shoes. To say that I was suspicious was an understatement.
This started to change with an introduction to Neal’s Yard Remedies – a brand I still love and use regularly to this day, not because their products are, but because they work, really, really well.
I was bought their rather fabulous book, starting to study and learn more about ingredients and coincidentally, as I was leaving Jemma Kidd and setting up on my own, a new company came a-calling requiring consultancy work, offering the chance to work with leading certified Organic brand, Essential Care.
Having been thoroughly educated in the power of organic, not only by my own passionate company, but by the amazing (stylish, glamorous and entirely not lentil-weaving hippies as it happens) committed individuals and brands that make up the certified sector, whilst I am not one of the staunch organic devotees, I now KNOW the products work as well as mainstream and am devoted to ensuring that all beauty consumers understand exactly what makes up the products they are choosing to put on their faces.
So in honour of this week being the Soil Associations ‘Organic Beauty Week’ and following a hugely informative evening at the Wholefoods Market in London learning from brands like Neal’s Yard Remedies, Therapi,Nourish Skincare (and my client - superhero brand, Odylique by Essential Care) here are some key simple facts every skincare and beauty user needs to know about why organic really is great – I suppose you could call it my very own ‘beauty addicts right to choose’ campaign!
1. Not all Organic Products are actually Organic. There are no legal rules around Organic Beauty in this country – if your product has 1% organic ingredients you can call yourself organic. The only way to tell if it really is Organic is with a recognised certification, such as that offered by the Soil Association. This also applies to brands that claim to be made with herbs, or are ‘natural’. Petroleum is a naturally sourced substance – doesn’t mean it is good for your face. Look for the logo.
2. Big Brands don’t mean Big Research. Apparently the average large beauty brand spends around £100’000 on marketing for every £1000 pound it spends on research. Conversely, allegedly of the 10,000+ chemical ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products less than 10% have actually been tested. So that ‘scientific’ moisturiser may well be more marketing speak then magic ingredient.
3. Certified Organic Brands are also cruelty free and fairer. The standards that apply to a certified brand are stringent – no living creature, be they human or insect, is allowed to be harmed in the making of a product.
4. They genuinely are better on sensitive skin. Much research has been done to back up the fact that chemical based products, using synthetic fragrances and colours are very, very irritating to sensitive skins and those suffering conditions such as eczema and the like. Dry, itchy skins handle natural products much better than those packed with petroleum and mineral oils- just watch out for some essential oils as they can be an irritant).
5. You know what you are putting into your bodies: How much time and effort do you put into having a healthy, balanced diet? Because you reportedly absorb up to 80% of what you put onto your skin too – would you drink petroleum? Because when you slather it on your face, your body simply sucks that car powering juice right up!
6. Do you want to eat bugs: Following on from that, one of my most favourite (and the grimmest) facts in the world are that women eat, on average between 4 – 7 pounds of lipstick in their lifetimes. And if that lipstick is coloured with carmine, or any ingredient that starts with a c, you are enjoying delicious crushed beetles. Pleasant.
7. No one wants to wash their hair with carcinogens: This one is one of the more controversial aspects of Organic Beauty and to be honest the one that least concerns me, although you may (and probably should) feel very differently. You will be hard pressed to find an organic shampoo made with ingredients used heavily in mainstream beauty, such as laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate. This is because considerable numbers of laboratory studies show that products that end in "eth" (for example sodium laureth sulphate and ceteareth) all test positive for 1,4-Dioxane, a petrochemical proven to cause cancer. The argument is whether or the not the quantities included in shampoos lean towards being high risk (source: About Style). If this is an issue for you, find an organic alternative.
8. Because the ingredients are amazing: You might have heard of a little known ingredient called ‘coconut oil’. Pretty effective that one. Or how about Rosehip, proven to be Mother Nature’s anti-ageing ingredient? Being naturally sourced does not meant that a product won’t work; it just means that it may work differently. It almost certainly means that provided you choose the right ingredients, it will work more harmoniously.
Don’t believe me? Check out #organicbeauty on twitter – masses of smart, well-informed beauty lovers are steadily choosing to use organic.
I am NEVER going to be someone who is purely natural – one look at the blog shows that, but I absolutely do believe in making informed choices.
Throughout Organic Beauty Week and the whole of Organic September, masses of Organic Brands have special offers on – check here for full details.