You’ve heard of organic food and organic clothing, but what is the difference between natural and organic? In the case of natural or organic beauty products, is there even any real difference at all?
Well, quite simply, yes. While we as consumers are aware that natural beauty products contain ingredients derived from nature, we may be less aware the ‘natural’ product may contain a significant amount of synthetic ingredients too. Also the natural ingredients might have been grown using pesticides, herbicides or GMO. On the plus side natural beauty products generally don't include ingredients like petrochemicals, parabens, sodium lauryl / laureth sulphates, phthalates, synthetic colours and synthetic fragrances.
Now I’m not here to put a downer on natural beauty, not at all! Mother nature provides an exhaustive supply of beautiful plants and herbs to use in skincare and natural beauty is without doubt a cleaner healthier alternative for your skin. But I want to focus on the differences between ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ to give you the edge on making more savvy beauty choices.
“Plants contain compounds which work in synergy with each other – for instance, a rose flower alone may contain over 500 different chemical compounds. It will be almost impossible for a combination of synthetic ingredients to mimic such a complex plant symphony of compounds." says Lorraine Dallmeier, Director of Formula Botanica, the Organic Cosmetic Science School.
So, just as organic fruit is healthier and better for the earth because it doesn’t have chemical pesticide residues and organic dairy is better for you because the butter comes from cows that aren’t fed on artificial chemical hormones. Likewise, organic beauty products are made up of organic ingredients grown without GMO (genetically modified organism), and approved biological or synthetic herbicides and pesticides.
So in contrast to ‘natural’ and in order to be called an ‘organic’ product it must pass far more rigorous standards of ingredient purity, organic farming, origin, kindness to the environment and sustainability.
A finished beauty product carrying the logo of a certification body such as COSMOS (The Soil Association), OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers Organisation) or ECOCERT gives consumers the confidence to know that they’re purchasing something truly organic.
It’s worth pointing out that in the UK there are many smaller artisan producers of natural and organic beauty products, manufacturing small batches of fresh products with up to 100% certified organic ingredients. But in a lot of cases with small producers, the finished product is not certified by an organic certification. The main reason is that acquiring an organic certification is an extremely expensive and time consuming endeavour for small produces to undertake in the UK.
The most reliable way to go about identifying and buying beauty products that are truly natural and/or organic is read the ingredients label, that’s the best way to know exactly what you’re putting on your skin. The following sites contain searchable consumer databases giving reliable information about ingredients. Try www.TheBeautyBrains.com and www.TheFactsAbout.co.uk
So now that you’re armed with some insider advice you’re ready to shop savvy!