As consumers, we’re collectively becoming increasingly concerned with the ingredients in our beauty products and what they mean for our overall health. Organic, natural and ‘free from’ are buzz words we hear every day, but there’s a significant lack of clarity around what they really mean. Unlike organic food, there is currently no legal standard in place to
protect shoppers against fake or misleading organic beauty claims; this
flourishing green market is becoming increasingly confusing and hard to
manoevre as marketing teams get more and more clever at making us part with our cash. Brands may use product names that give the impression of
organic ingredients, add a few green leaves to a pack, or use nuances
that subconsciously make us believe the formula will be better for us
than the alternative – but this tends to be just confusing noise
that hides what’s really going on. The Soil Association is the UK’s
leading certification body that aims to make this process clearer,
certifying brands and products in order to provide consumers with the
tools they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
Their certification stamp gives consumers the confidence
to know that
what they are buying is truly organic; from the beautiful plants and
herbs used in the formulas, to the non-organic ingredients that are left
out, everything is checked to ensure it’s 100% true to its claims. In
order to use the ‘stamp of approval’, brands have to provide detailed
requirements on their ingredients and manufacturing
processes, meaning the quality and values that organic embodies are
preserved; you can therefore trust that what you are buying is the real
deal. A product can only
be called ‘organic’ by The Soil Association standards when 95% of the
ingredients (excluding water) are organic; however, without this a brand
could claim their product is ‘organic’ with as little as 1% organic
ingredients. Seeing as this is Organic Beauty Week (which runs until 25th September,) I thought it the perfect
opportunity to revisit the issue – as well as letting
you know about some of the best organic brands I’ve found on the high
street to date.
I was lucky enough to take a trip down to the farm on which all the HerbFarmacy ingredients are grown and products are made back in 2015 (more info on my trip here,) and since then I’ve had an incredibly strong affinity with this beautiful brand. The flowers used are planted, nurtured and picked by hand, before being dried
and steeped in oil; after straining the oils are mixed with maxes or
emollients to produce skin balms or moisturisers, before being hand
poured and shipped to doorsteps across the UK. Not only are they an utter pleasure to use, but they’re incredibly effective at tackling skin concerns and complaints on even the most sensitive of skins. My boyfriend goes through one of their Skin Rescue Balms (£15.00) faster than a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, while I adore the Mallow Beauty Balm (£18.00) for a little overnight pick-me-up; their lip balms are the only thing that effectively soothe my dry lips during the winter, while their tinctures have proven incredibly effective at clearing up eczema and acne amongst my loved ones.
Made by people with sensitive skin for people with sensitive skin, Pai is one of the most successful organic British brands on the high street. Certified by the Soil Association, the Leaping Bunny and Vegan Society, Pai are also part of the Forest Stewardship Council have recyclable packaging, work to offer mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities in the local communities, and work closely with a number of cancer centres to offer practical skincare advice throughout their treatment; they’re a force for good in more ways than one. I’m a big fan of their facial oils and have a particular love for their Rosehip Rapid Radiance Mask (£30.00) for a morning boost of wellness, while their Camellia & Rose Cleanser (£28.00) is a firm favourite of many. This is one organic beauty brand that doesn’t mean you have to compromise.
NEAL’S YARD REMEDIES
You can’t mention organic beauty brands without including the iconic Neal’s Yard Remedies. Today awareness and interest in natural remedies is the norm, but when Neal’s Yard started in 1981 from a corner in Covent Garden they were one of the few brands pushing against the synthetic chemical approach to beauty that had been adopted by much of the industry. Since then their iconic blue bottles have made waves and spread throughout the UK, making organic beauty more mainstream than it ever has been before; their products weren’t sticky, unstable or smelly, but simply provided an effective and pleasurable experience. Some of my favourites include the Wild Rose Beauty Balm & Skin Elixir, as well as their extensive range of bath salts, oils and foams that help create the most relaxing and invigorating end to my day. However, some of my personal favourite Neal’s Yard moments involve stocking up on superfoods and discovering new launches; it’s all about the discovery and enriching your life in the most delicious of ways.
SKIN & TONIC
This beautifully British and slightly tongue-in-cheek brand does things simply, honestly and ethically; they create certified organic, sustainable skincare and use no more than seven ingredients in every bottle because they believe less really is more. Although many organic skincare brands start with a story of a change in lifestyle and desire to do things differently, what makes Skin & Tonic different is the professional and aspirational approach they’ve taken. Far too many brands I see focus all of their attention on the stuff inside, forgetting that a huge part of the decision making process depends on the affinity we feel with the product name, packaging and promises. Although they currently offer only a handful of products, the Brit Beauty Oil (£28.00) is an absolute gem: Borage, Thistle and Chia Seed (packed full of antioxidants and omegas 3 & 6, which help minimise fine lines and reduce large pores) is mixed with delicate Orange Blossom essential oil to help aid skin regeneration; used overnight, mixed with your moisturiser or applied as a treatment, it leaves skin feeling refreshed and full of bounce.
tricky to find effective organic skincare products without all the fragrances
and added essential oils that can leave sensitive or broken skin feeling irritated. My Roo is what we’ve been
missing: beautifully crafted organic skincare products that target key
issues, without any added fragrance if you need to avoid it. Personally,
I’m obsessed with the Spearmint Lip Balm (£8.00) and Starflower & Orange Blossom Skin Boost Serum (£30.00) which sinks into skin to leave a smooth
oil-free surface and a delicate scent, but it’s fab to know the exact
same products are available fragrance-free too. Affordable, well
packaged and a pleasure to use – expect big things from this brand over the next few years.
One of those brands that’s spread via word of mouth and personal recommendations, Odylique offer a huge portfolio of incredible formulations that will really provide a helping hand – if only you can see past the slightly naff bottles. I’m slightly obsessed with the sweet smelling Coconut Candy Scrub (£25.00) which makes buffing skin anything but a chore, while their Super Tonics (£15.00) are a great way to perk up your skin on an Autumn’s afternoon while infusing the surface with a plethora of natural goodness. I love the fact you can shop by skin concern, plus there’s even a huge portfolio of makeup if you want to take your organic choices that one step further. Odylique may have been around for the best part of three decades, but this family run business is still proving that organic skincare can be just as current and on-trend as the more chemically enriched alternatives.
With about a million handmade British soap brands available right now,
it’s hard to stand out. However, Pure Soap have created beauty bars that really
spiked my interest, including their Charcoal Detox Bar and Green Clay
& Tea Tree Bar (£3.99 each) which both provide cleansing and skincare benefits
simultaneously. With other creations including Peppermint & Mocha
and Honey & Oat (mmmm), this is a brand that has managed to nail
something that so many before them have missed: a formula enriched with
hardworking ingredients and a little moment of indulgence. Created using
100% premium natural ingredients and pure essential oils, the soaps are
hand stirred, hand cut and hand wrapped for a little rustic pampering that looks almost good enough to eat. I usually don’t like soaps, but these make that experience a fresh and enjoyable one from beginning to end.
Are you more conscious about your beauty purchasing decisions? Do you try to go organic, or are you not really fussed? Is performance more important than ingredients?
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