The Soil Association have been running Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week this week – 15th to 21st May. This it the first time that organic beauty has had it’s own stand-alone week; Organic Beauty Week is usually included in Organic September. I think this just goes to show how popular organic beauty is becoming. And it’s something I’m very passionate about.
Beauty products certified by the Soil Association have to meet with really strict criteria and follow rigorous standards. In order to gain Soil Association certification:
- Products are never tested on animals
- Contain no genetically modified (GM) ingredients
- Only use natural colours and fragrances from plants and flowers which are gentler on your skin and for the environment
- Do not use silicone oils or derivatives
- Follow the principles of green chemistry and minimise waste and pollution.
I’ve been using organic and natural beauty products and make-up for 5 years now. In fact, in May 2012, I had my own Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week when I threw out all of my old make-up and skincare products (I’m talking a huge collection of big brand make-up like MAC, Chanel and Dior and a cabinet full of lotions and potions) and replaced my kit with all natural and organic alternatives. I did this because I was concerned about potentially endocrine disrupting ingredients in my existing haul. I was completely unaware of any health question marks over cosmetics until Henrietta Norton, an amazing nutritional therapist pointed this out to me. I was seeing Henrietta after a long and harrowing time of not getting pregnant, so it was something I took very seriously. I was making huge changes to my diet and lifestyle in general, I wasn’t going to let my bathroom cabinet and make-up bag get in the way! It was actually a pretty hard decision to throw everything away when it came to it and I did feel torn: all of that money wasted, all of those “trusted” products gone, my old identity in the bin. I was also really angry that companies had been using potentially harmful ingredients in the products I’d been buying since I was a teen. So, with my old make-up in the bin new and uncharted hippy cosmetic territory ahead I set out to find my new all-natural kit! I wasn’t too worried about skincare products but I was completely unconvinced that natural make-up could perform as well as my old, big brand products. Wouldn’t it smell funny? Wouldn’t it be old fashioned? Would I be able to get colourful eye shadows and glosses? I was lucky to be living in Brighton at the time and had access to a couple of shops selling small amounts of organic and natural make-up but mostly I bought online. There were a few products that I initially chose, which I didn’t like very much, or that didn’t suit me (the perils of buying online). However, the majority of products I’ve experimented with have been great. I’ve found some amazing alternatives – especially foundations, lipsticks, lip gloss and bronzers – and although I’m still working on finding the perfect mascara (I just find that they are all really smudgy) I’m really pleased with what I have. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that I think many products are far, far superior. But that’s not a surprise really when you consider that the quality of ingredients is better: lovely, organic fruit, nut and seed oils and natural pigments vs synthetic and petroleum based ingredients. I won’t go back to “normal” products now.
The big message of Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week is #lookforthelogo. As I’ve discussed before green washing is a huge problem, especially when it comes to make-up and skincare as there are no legal requirements for labelling beauty products “natural” or “organic” in the UK. The Soil Association are running a Come Clean About Beauty campaign and a few weeks’ ago exposed several products claiming to be organic as not organic. They published a league table of the worst offenders, detailing how each product is misleading and if it contains any potential harmful and toxic ingredients from the Soil Association’s “Terrible Ten”. I was genuinely surprised by a few of the products included, especially the Faith in Nature shower gel and hand wash; I had them down as trustworthy brand and have used their products in the past. An independent national survey found that 76% of consumers find labelling misleading; and 69% think that misleading labelling should be illegal. I would find myself in the majority on both counts. That’s why I’ve signed the Soil Association’s petition to campaign for better labelling. You can too, here.
Luckily it’s easy to look for the Soil Association logo, which is seen as the global gold standard in organic certification. And luckily for consumers there are lots of great products to choose from.
Here are some of my favourite soil association skin care products:
Delicious organic teas too – certified by the Soil Association
Practically Ethical – top tips on how to switch to a greener make-up bag
- Lou Dartford is an amazing Green Make-up Artist. I follow her blog and on Instagram – so much great information! One of her tips on how to move to an organic skincare regime is to simply switch from non-organic to organic cotton wool and cotton buds or to use an organic cotton muslin.
- Buy less make-up! Just like your ethical wardrobe, decide what you’re using everyday and streamline your make-up bag accordingly. Also, if you’re using natural and organic products, you’ll need to change them more regularly as the shelf life of these products is shorter. You can find the little jar logo on all beauty products, which tells you how long you should keep it once open.
- Don’t feel that you have to change everything all at once. You could for example, replace things as they run out. Or you could decide what’s most important to you. I feel really strange about non organic lipstick now because if you wear lipstick, you’re also eating lipstick!
- The Soil Association have a list of certified brands on their wesbite, a good place to go if you want to have a look at what’s on offer. Most of these brands sell sample sizes of their products. I order samples all the time to try out new products before committing to the bigger versions – cheaper and less waste. And you can keep and reuse some of the little jars for holiday too.
- Odylique’s make-up is certified organic. Their lipsticks are fair trade and the recyclable lipstick case is made in the EU from dextrose (sugar) derived from the waste parts of corn. Odylique don’t use palm oil, unlike some other natural and organic brands. I really rate their lipsticks. I haven’t tried their mascara, but it’s next on my list. Watch this space!
- Green People’s volumising mascara is certified organic as are their pressed powders and blushers. I think this has been the best natural mascara to date that I’ve tried.
There’s been a pop-up shop at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, and all sorts of amazing talks and seminars going on there too. I’ve been following events closely on Instagram and I’m really sad that I haven’t been able to get up to London to have a look around and sit in on a talk or two. The pop up shop looks incredible and they’ve arranged for some brilliant people from the organic beauty industry to be involved. There was a custom made serum bar, an evening with stunning cocktails and loads of goodie bags. I’m definitely planning to go next year.
In the meantime, I’m going to take advantage of some of the great offers still available for Beauty and Wellbeing Week 2017. I can’t wait to try out some Herbfarmacy products I’ve had my eye on for a while. Why not have a browse yourself? You can have a look at all of the discounts on offer here
And finally, if you know of a great, non smudgy natural, preferably organic mascara, let me know! I’m still working my way through them and haven’t found The One.