You’re probably wondering right now if there was a typo in the title.
I mean doesn’t everyone want organic and natural?
We are marketed to relentlessly about how natural a product is in a way that assumes that’s a good thing. Marketing implies that organic means premium which is why we are prepared to pay more for organic items.
So, why wouldn’t I choose skincare products that are described as organic or natural?
Let me give you three reasons and see if you change your mind about organic and natural once you’ve read them.
1. There is no commonly agreed definition of what organic means
Most of us think that organic, when on a product, means that the product is free from toxins, like those used in pesticides etc.
But the truth is that there is no internationally agreed definition so organic means different things in different countries and to different people.
Some countries have standards but there is no obligation for product makers in those countries to even follow the recommendations before they put the word organic on their products.
Even products that are ‘certified organic’, which means they are adhering to a guideline by a certifying body, are not 100% organic.
Here is the wording of COSMOS which certifies products in several European countries
Do you accept that your ‘certified organic’ products are not 100% organic?
Because of this lack of clarity and the fact that any item can be called organic, I don’t look for organic skincare items.
What’s more important to me is that the products I use are non-toxic and are not going to harm me or the planet.
So, my products come from a company that uses rigorous quality assurance to guarantee that the products are non-toxic. And it’s important to me that the company is concerned about sustainability when sourcing ingredients as well as using recyclable and recycled packaging.
And when I say that I know that my products are non toxic, I can say that because they go through extensive testing to ensure there are no contaminants such as heavy metals or microbes.
That testing involves expensive equipment, like GCMS, and most companies don’t have the resources for the equipment so many products on the market have not gone through such testing.
So, my advice is to do your research before buying products and if it’s really non-toxic that you want (and probably that is what people want when they choose ‘organic’), look for evidence of that in your products.
2. Natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you
I love my plant based products. Let’s face it, plant-based is quite the thing these days.
But not all plants are good for your skin. Think of stinging nettle, for example. I can’t imagine that would catch on if it were labeled as such. But what if it had its botanical name, Urtica dioica? Would you recognise it?
And speaking about natural; snake venom is natural, but I think I’ll pass on putting the venom of the deadly taipan on my skin.
A friend once commented to me, in relation to skincare, ‘what’s more natural than plants?’. My response was, ‘with respect to skincare, what our own body produces is more natural than plants’
I choose moisturisers with humectants which occur naturally in the body. One of those is Na PCA (sodium pyrrilidone carboxylic acid). I have been told by someone who saw that in my ingredients list that is was too chemical and they preferred natural products with botanical names.
Without being a chemist, or biochemist, I find it hard to look at an ingredient list and determine based on the name if something is natural or not. We are biochemical creatures and every cell is chockablock full of chemicals. Don’t be put off by chemical names.
And, so my point is, natural is another term that can be used misleadingly and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. And just because it sounds like a chemical, it doesn’t mean it’s not natural or even an essential body component.
My advice is to look for ingredients, whatever their name, that are shown to be effective and to give the results you are looking for.
I don’t want to put some mushed up plant all over my face if there is no known benefit. Why would I? Just because it’s natural? Just because it has some pretty plant name? Because some woman in my social media newsfeed said it was great?
Be discerning about the products you use. Ask questions. Look for evidence - are there before and after photos, is there a half face/body demonstration?
This is an evidence-based approach where you ask what the evidence is that this particular product is going to do what it claims it will and how reliable is that evidence before you decide. Or ask someone you trust who uses this approach.
3. I like to know what I’m getting
Have you ever had the most delicious apple - sweet, crunchy and juicy. It tastes so good, you just have to have another. But, the second one never quite tastes as delicious as the first one.
What can you say? It’s nature. And they may even be organic :-).
When I spend money in my skincare I don’t want a hit or miss experience. I want the same great results I got last time. I want the same formulation and the same recipe of active ingredients.
It’s called standardisation. This is more important to me than words like organic and natural, which, as you’ve seen, don’t actually mean anything.
These are three reasons I don’t look for organic or natural in my skincare.
I want my products to have active ingredients that are known to be effective, I want them to be non-toxic and once I’ve found something that works for me, I want to be sure I get the same thing next time.
So, I look for non-toxic, standardised products that are based on sound evidence. And that means I look for products that go through a rigorous quality assurance process and I’m happy to say, I found a range that fits my requirements perfectly.
For a skincare consultation and recommendations for your skin that are effective but won’t harm you or the planet, get in touch