There is A LOT of green washing that goes on in the cosmetic industry and for the consumer it’s not always that easy to tell what is really legitimate when it comes to choosing your products. You will see a lot of ‘Natural this’ or ‘Organic that’, but if you are consciously trying to make the change to ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ products then there are a few things you should know…
Lets start with the term ‘natural’ or ‘naturally derived’, you could be forgiven for being lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that this sounded great. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many companies selling ‘natural’ products that are what they say they are and their products are amazing but i’m trying to make you more aware of the not so good ones. When a product is ‘natural’ or ‘naturally derived’ that may mean they use ingredients that come from natural sources, take Apricot oil for example. Apricots are a fruit, grown on a tree, how much more natural can you get? Apricot oil is known to be a great oil for sensitive skin because of its soothing properties, but not all apricot oils will be the same. Some products might use a virgin apricot oil which means it is the least processed so will still retain all the beneficial goodness contained in the oil, while other products might contain an apricot oil that has been completely processed, so that the apricot oil that is left is:
- Much cheaper to buy
- So whittled down that it contains none of it’s beneficial properties
So you can see why ‘natural’ may not always be as good as it sounds.
The same can be said for ‘Organic’ skincare products. As it stands there are no set rules for labelling a skincare product as Organic.
I like to use the example of a Lavender Moisturiser when explaining this to my clients. So say you see an Organic Lavender Moisturiser and think ‘oooh that sounds good!’. Well, it may well be, but there are no regulations on what needs to be in that moisturiser. While it may contain Organic Lavender essential oil (which usually only makes up to 1% of the total product), the rest of the product could be filled with thickeners, fillers, artificial colours, parabens, you name it.
That is why it is so important to look for the organic certification of a product if it is solely organic products that you want use. The Blumáin skincare line is certified organic by the IOA (Irish Organic Association). They have strict criteria for certifying a product as organic and rightly so! Every ingredient in an organic product has to be traced and proven to be organic if that ingredient is going to be counted towards the overall organic percentage of a product. Now, it is very rare that every ingredient in a product can be organic unless it is an oil based product. Any product containing water will need to have a preservative system to ensure the shelf life of a product and these are not organic. Likewise, ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamins, Co enzyme Q10 etc can also not be organic, but their beneficial properties cannot be overlooked.
While a savvy shopper might try and read the ingredients list of a product, that is also a mine field. The ingredients list on a cosmetic product have to be done in Latin by law, (this is something they are strict about!) , it hardly makes much sense as I’m guessing most of you aren’t fluent in Latin!?! But you will find some companies also put the English there too. When reading an ingredients list on cosmetics, they are listed by volume in the product, starting with the biggest quantity. You will see E numbers and Mica for artificial colours and Parfum for artificial fragrances.
As our skin absorbs up to 60% of what we apply to it into our bodies, I feel it makes sense not to be loading it up harmful artificial ingredients that may cause problems on the outside like skin reactions and irritations, but may well being doing damage on the inside too.
I hope this helps to make you a little more aware when buying your skincare products,
If you have any thoughts on the matter or questions please let me know in the comments!