It’s Organic Beauty Week 19-25 September, but why all the hype?
Our skin is our body’s largest organ and much of what we put on it is likely to be absorbed into our bloodstream. Now although it is true that some particles are in fact to big to penetrate all the skin layers, there are still quite a lot that do. On their own, in small quantities, they may be harmless but daily application leads to daily absorption, which if it’s not eliminated, leads to buildup. It’s that buildup that may cause problems. Studies found the face to be several times more permeable than broad body surfaces and in some cases an absorption rate of 100% for underarms. And another study showed 100% absorption for fragrance ingredients. If you’re still not convinced, think of nicotine patches that are used on the skin to quit smoking and usually, quite successfully.
Non-organic health and beauty products on the market have been known to contain toxic ingredients and non-biodegradable chemicals which may have a negative impact on human health as well as the environment. Microbeads are a hot topic at the moment. These particals whilst not absorbed through the skin are now possibly being ingested as they are contaminating waste water and therefore the ocean – so it’s no surprise that beauty brands are choosing to go organic – providing us with a safer alternative.
However unlike food, there is currently no legal standard in place for organic beauty meaning products can be labelled as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ and actually contain little to no organic ingredients.
This is why the Soil Association created their own certification. Organic certification is the only way you can be sure of the quality and integrity of the growing number of organic beauty products available in shops and online. They also recently teamed up with four other European partners to develop a new Cosmetic Organic Standard (COSMOS) to harmonise organic standards globally.
Louise Dartford, a professional make-up artist with a huge passion for green beauty, recently wrote a fantastic blog for the Soil Association to help you switch to organic beauty by making one small change. Read her article here.
In the mean time don’t be fooled by misleading product branding. Greenwashing is now quite common in the beauty industry as the buyer wants more natural products. To do this, brands will cover their bottles in flowers and trick us by use words like “organic”, “eco”, “botanic”, “pure” and “natural”, whilst containing near to no ingredients to back up that claim.
Here are some top tips from the Soil Association to ensure that your products are not just greenwashed but are actually organic or natural:
1. Look for the logo!
This is the easiest way to ensure that your product is actually organic. Soil Association has the highest organic standards out of any organic certification body. All of our certified products will either have more than 95% organic ingredients or it will state the exact percentage of organic ingredients on the packaging. This means that the actual product is organic, compared to the small amount of organic ingredients that may be found in other products.
2. Read the ingredient list
Don’t take the organic label at face value. It is a shame that consumers need to verify a products claims, but until things change if you want to KNOW a product is organic you need to check. Genuine organic products will clearly show the organic ingredients with an asterisk.
Examples of things to be aware of:
A product might say that it is “paraben free” on the packaging, but this could just mean that parabens have been replaced with something just as bad. Check that if a product has “naturally active ingredients”, for example argan oil, that the other ingredients are just as natural.
3. Check whether the ingredients are toxic
How can you choose beauty products that are healthy for your skin? You can find out the toxicity level of a product by using the Think Dirty app. You scan your product and Think Dirty assesses the overall risk. It analyses the potential health impacts of the ingredients. The app looks for evidence of whether ingredients are toxic, may cause or allergies or be linked to cancer.
4. Do the benefits outweigh the true costs?
When buying products and trying to be green, there are so many things to consider. How many toxins are there? Is the packaging biodegradable? As a consumer you need to weigh up the true costs and the benefits. Organic delivers products with ingredients which are better for wildlife and human health, with packaging which is recycled where possible. Looking for the logo is usually a good way to guarantee that the true cost is low. Sometimes you may not have access to a product certified by us and unfortunately, not all products are going to be perfect. In that case, you can work out what matters tht to you.
5. Take action
The claims that products are allowed to make are pretty shocking. Are you angry about it? You have every right to be! However, things don’t change by themselves. The most powerful thing we can do is to use our consumer voice. Write to a beauty company that claims to be organic and tell them what you think. Use your purchasing power and buy organic products.
Each country has their own certification. In the UK, look out for the Soil Association logo, but you may see any of the following organic certification logos on our products:
Visit us in store during Organic September to find out more about what we can do to help you get the best out of your skin care.