natural beauty

What ‘organic beauty’ actually means

This Organic Beauty Week, educate yourself about what it all means

How can we clarify when products really are organic? The answer here is that it’s not easy to know, as there are no real legal standards for claims that can be made for organic beauty (unlike food or drink.) We talked to Lauren Bartley, Health and Beauty Manager at Soil Association to find out more…

‘The lack of standards means that a brand wanting to call itself organic can, even if they only use a very small percentage of certified organic ingredients. This year, as we launch our Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week, we’re asking consumers to look for the logo so they know the products they’re buying have been independently verified and are genuinely organic. You’ll find the Soil Association 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.’

Love all things beauty? Head to our sister site, Powder, for personalised recommendations. Why not start by finding the best cleanser for your skin type?

What is organic beauty?

Organic products contain ingredients from organic farming, sourced and manufactured using sustainable methods. By looking for the logo, certified organic beauty products say: no to GM, no to toxic chemicals, no to parabens, no to synthetic colours, dyes or fragrances, no to nano particles, no to animal testing and yes to sustainably sourced ingredients, transparent manufacturing processes, biodegradable ingredients, ethical packaging and protecting wildlife.

Going organic

‘Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and much of what you put on it is likely to be absorbed. Yet unlike with organic food, which must adhere to strict EU standards, there are no legal standards for the use of the term organic on beauty products. This means in practice that any brand or beauty product can be labelled as ‘organic’ even if it contains virtually no organic ingredients. New research conducted this year for Soil Associations Come Clean About Beauty campaign revealed that 72% of people said they would lose trust in a beauty brand that made misleading claims about being organic.’

Logos to look out for

‘If customers really want to be certain the products they are buying really are organic, they need to look out for the recognised and trusted Soil Association logo! We independently certify our products with them as they’re known for their high standards which guarantee a product contains the highest level of certified organic ingredients possible,’ Lou Green, Head of Campaigns at Neal’s Yard Remedies, tells us.

How organic is organic?

‘Unlike food, there’s currently no legislation as such that regulates natural and organic products within the cosmetic industry. As it stands a product can be labelled ‘organic’ yet contain a minimal amount of organic ingredients, and many others which would not be permitted in a certified organic product. This is why looking for certification from an independent body is so important if you want to ensure the products you are using are truly organic. For a beauty product to be labelled with ‘organic’ in the product name, according to the Soil Association’s strict guidelines 95% of its ingredients have to be certified organic, meaning they are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals and harmful pesticides. There is also a strict criteria as to what other ingredients are allowed to be included in the formulation. Certification also means that the  product isn’t tested on animals and that the ingredients are not genetically modified.’

What’s the difference between an organic product and one made with organic ingredients?

‘For a product to be called organic under Soil Association Organic standards (COSMOS), 95% of all the ingredients must be organic. Made with organic ingredients’ is a certification that is designed for products that include water, which itself cannot be organic. However, 95% of the physically processed agricultural ingredients must always be organic. The only way to be certain that a product is truly organic is to look for a trusted and recognised third party accreditation. We work with the Soil Association for our certification as their logo is the gold standard for organic beauty – it guarantees that products meet the highest standards of quality, purity and transparency throughout the entire soil to skin chain,’ explains Tanya Hawkes, Founder of Therapi skincare.

Organic beauty is such a hot topic right now because consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the crossover between health and beauty. As our largest organ, our skin absorbs much of what we put on it and switching to organic beauty is a great way to boost our wellbeing. Organic ingredients are free from toxic pesticides, full of antioxidants and are better for the environment – it’s win-win!

Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week is on from the 15th – 21st May

Reading now

Popular Life stories

Popular beauty stories