As the world becomes increasingly familiar with the subject of climate change – as we rightfully should – consumers are also acquainting themselves with eco-friendly and organic skincare products that aren’t just good for the Earth but also our skin.
But what exactly does organic mean? And, are all organic products really good for our skin?
Organic and natural
First, let’s take a look at what organic skincare entails. According to Lily Kew, founder of organic skincare line Kew Organics, organic skincare refers to “a skincare formulation, food or farming method involving production without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides or other artificial chemicals”. Also, the ingredients used would have been certified organic by a certifying institution that’s globally recognised.
In the same vein, there are also skincare products that are “100% natural”. When you see a skincare product labelled “100% natural”, what that means is that its ingredients were sourced from nature rather than created synthetically. Naturally sourced products generally do not include ingredients such as petrochemicals, parabens, sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates, phthalates, synthetic dyes and synthetic colours.
What sets these two apart
While “100% natural” and “organic” appear to be loosely interchangeable, the main distinction between the two is that organic ingredients must pass more rigorous standards of purity.
“As mentioned earlier, in order to be organic, an ingredient must have been derived without the use of synthetic pesticides, petroleum fertilisers or sewage sludge fertilisers,” says Kew. “And, it must not be a genetically modified organism (GMO).”
How can you tell if a product is truly organic?
So, how do you make sure that the skincare products labelled “organic” are indeed organic? Kew often tell her customers they should look out for products that are certified by legitimate certifying institutions like Soil Association, OFC or Ecocert. “These have the highest standards in the world when it comes to certifying products,” she asserts.
Another way would to be to check out the ingredients used – especially if you have sensitive skin or you’re buying the product for a baby. “An organic skincare product may still contain hormone-altering ingredients,” advises Kew. “Watch out for ingredients such as essential oils, or preservatives such as ureas, parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate, which can be harsh on the skin and cause allergic reactions.”
What can chemicals and preservatives do to your skin?
At the end of the day, organic skincare is still safer and more effective than synthetic alternatives. At 3mm thick, the skin is highly permeable – this means the skin is able to absorb chemicals and preservatives, and these turn into toxins that stay in the body in the long run. Over time, these toxins can cause the skin to develop a myriad of problems such as chronic ache, dullness of skin tone, pigmentation, premature ageing, and overactive sebaceous glands.
Here are a few additional tips on what to look out for when buying an organic skincare product:
- As a rule of thumb, avoid products that contain a long list of ingredients that are hard to pronounce. Truly good organic skincare products only contain a few ingredients that you’d recognise.
- Request for samples before committing to buying a full-sized version of the product so you can test it to see if it works for your skin.
- You really don’t need to pile on more than a handful of skincare products on your skin – just keep to the basics, i.e. cleanser, toner, moisturiser and sunscreen.