It’s no surprise that we’re all becoming increasingly concerned with the ingredients in our beauty products and what they mean for our overall health; newspapers tell us every day that our shampoo or lipstick can cause cancer, or that our body washes are enriched with damaging chemicals. Although the majority of the stories are developed with the sole purpose of scaremongering, it has lead us as consumers to be more aware and start making better choices. 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. A recent survey revealed that 76%
of consumers felt misled by organic
claims on beauty products, proving the need for regulation in the
industry and more honest labeling from brands so consumers can feel con
dent in the products they are buying.
Unlike organic food, there is (rather shockingly) currently no legal standard in place to protect shoppers against fake or misleading organic beauty claims; this flourishing green market is becoming increasingly confusing as marketing teams get more and more clever at giving the impression that their products are filled with organic goodness. Whether that’s through product names that give the impression of organic ingredients, the addition of a few green leaves to a pack, or little nuances that subconsciously make us believe the formula will be better for us than the alternative, it’s 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.
So what exactly does ‘organic beauty’ actually mean? Organic products
contain ingredients from organic farming that are sourced and
manufactured using sustainable methods. There are no toxic chemicals,
parabens, nano particles, synthetic colours or fragrances, but instead
sustainably sourced ingredients, more ethical packaging, a transparent
manufacturing process and protection for wildlife. A product can only be called ‘organic’ by The Soil Association standards when 95% of the ingredients are organic; however, without this accreditation a brand could legally claim their product is ‘organic’ with as little as 1% organic ingredients. It’s no wonder we’re easily swayed into parting with our money and not actually getting what we anticipate in return!
If you want to know the kinds of brands that ARE certified as organic by The Soil Association, then they include: Neal’s Yard, Pai, Therpai, Skin & Tonic, Bamford, Botanicals, Terre Verdi, Voya, Odylique, Herbfarmacy, Nourish, Green People, La Eva, Lulu & Boo and Balm Balm among many others. “You’ll find our logo on thousands of beauty products from your local supermarket to a high street retailer and online beauty shop. Natural and organic beauty is now one of the fastest growing beauty categories and we couldn’t be more excited to see so many people switching over to a cleaner and greener approach to beauty,” says Lauren Bartley, Health and Beauty Manager at Soil Association.
The latest Organic Market Report reveals that is has been a phenomenal
year for certified organic and natural cosmetics, with the market
growing 24% in the the last year – the seventh year of
consecutive growth for the sector. Sales of certified organic beauty and
wellbeing now stand at £75.9 million, the highest they’ve ever been, illustrating the demand for these ‘cleaner’ alternatives and the fact they’re becoming more mainstream than ever. Whether you choose to embrace organic or not is up to you, but the important factor is being able to make an informed decision and not to be duped into parting with your cash for a less than transparent brand.
Personally I don’t conciously opt for organic over non-organic, but if there’s an organic version that’s just as good then I’ll embrace the swap wholeheartedly; chemicals aren’t always as scary as the media makes out, but if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation then shopping organic could be a wise move. There’s so much more to the organic market than first meets the eye, but the important thing is to be informed and do your research if it’s something that’s a personal priority. Until there’s a legal standard in place to protect consumers, we all need to wise up and shop smart.
Find out more about the Soil Association, their accreditation and the brands they work with on their website: www.soilassociation.org
Visit the #WhatWereMadeOf pop-up in Hoxton Holborn this weekend (12/13th May.) More information here.
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