I have been testing two organic skincare lines (28 days and counting) and want to spread the love. Both brands are British (whoop) and both have challenged me to think more about what I put on my skin.
Well, I would hazard a guess that most of us care about — or are at least relatively conscious of — what we put in our bodies. But what about what we put on them? And I don’t mean the ‘type’ of thing here (e.g. body lotion, eye cream), but the ‘what’. Specifically, the key ingredients that make up your <insert favourite skin product here>.
Read the label
Like many makeup artists both my personal makeup bag and professional kit contain largely synthetic (i.e. non-natural) skincare and cosmetic products. So why the sudden interest in organics?
A couple of years ago I became fascinated with sunscreen formulations after a client asked me whether it was better to use a physical or chemical sunscreen (answers on a postcard please…I still do not have a definitive answer!). I started googling the topic (dear reader, do so at your peril) and became so engrossed that I now find it impossible to buy a product without first scrutinising the ingredients list.
During my desk research I also discovered that many ingredients (though not all) are ABSORBED BY THE BODY. Not only that, but what happens to them once absorbed is often a mystery.
Assuming we want to minimise the level of toxins in our body, some of which, let’s face it, probably* stem from our skincare, what kinds of products should you be looking for?
Back to basics
Evolve Beauty is a relatively new kid on the block and heralds from nearby Hertfordshire. Founded by Laura Rudo, Laura’s Romanian grandmother used to show her how to make natural beauty treatments using common food ingredients found at home. Evolve’s products are all handmade and hand finished in their artisanal studio. In fact, each product label states the name of the person responsible for making and packaging each product (a lovely touch).
I really like the fact that Evolve’s website clearly states the percentage of natural ingredients per product as well as the percentage of organic ingredients. For example, the Radiant Glow mask is 100% natural and 86.21% organic. Those figures kinda make the heart sing, no?
If you like the sound of the serum and the mask-slash-exfoliator, be sure to check out their Hydrate and Glow Beauty Bag, currently on offer at £30 (down from £42) for both the HA serum plus a 30ml pot of the Radiant Glow mask.
Front labelling revolution
Another brand championing ingredient transparency is BySarah London. In fact, founders, sisters Sarah and Lauren, felt so strongly about this they decided to introduce a ‘front labelling’ system onto each of their products where ingredients are listed on the front of each bottle or jar, rather than on the back (bravo).
Unlike other skincare brands, BySarah London do not use essential oils in their products so very few of them smell of anything. At first this put me off, I suspect because I have been preconditioned over many years to expect my skincare to smell of something (something pretty, something floral) but the longer I used BySarah London‘s unscented products the less I missed the absence of any fragrance. A chat with Sarah revealed that essential oils can often aggravate more sensitive skin types, hence their omission in the ingredients list. Sarah is also keen to cater for clients who want the freedom to layer their preferred scent or perfume over the top of hard-working, natural, unperfumed skincare. Unsurprisingly the range has proved popular with gents, particularly with those wanting a clean hydration boost post workout that doesn’t leave them smelling ‘girly’.
Natural versus organic
When it comes to the ‘natural versus organic’ debate there is a lot to be said for purity. Not all natural skincare brands use organic ingredients and not all organic brands contain large percentages of organic ingredients (this is where it pays to read the label).
I was shopping with a friend recently in Space NK and she was interested in a popular £70 face oil boasting ‘Boabab and Rose’. I checked the ingredients list on the back and the first ingredient was Almond oil (you can pick up an organic almond face oil for as little as £4). Rosa Canina (Rosehip) and Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) were 7th and 8th on the list after sunflower seed oil and squalane. There must be a reason for including the two ‘hero’ ingredients at this particular point in the formula but it certainly makes one question why something is a certain price.
What I do know is that a by-product of my starting to use more natural and/or organic skincare is that I have become way more picky about the types of things I choose to put on my skin. I only see this as a good thing and hope it will extend to an increased sensitivity around synthetic versus natural cosmetics brands, their ingredients and potential effects (both harmful and potentially not so harmful).
When it comes to organics specifically, knowing that the natural product I am massaging into my skin has been created using organically grown (and preferably sustainably farmed) ingredients only adds to my sense of ‘wellness’. Not everyone feels this way but I am happy to pay a premium as for me the dividends extend way beyond the monetary outlay. If organic farming and earth conscious recycling in beauty and in general are to be encouraged, the more we can support such businesses, the more accessible and affordable they will (hopefully) become.
Want to know more?
If you are interested in finding out more about the suspected problems associated with synthetic skincare and makeup and the nature of toxicity levels in cosmetics, I listened to a fantastic podcast the other day which addressed that very topic. Head on over to the Breaking Beauty podcast and have a listen to the episode featuring Rose Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty (fast forward to 20:35 to listen to when Rose Marie describes the point when, after a series of health issues, she learned that her blood contained toxic levels of heavy metals and other chemicals and that these were most likely a symptom of her many years working as a makeup artist. It is a real eye opener!).