Natural beauty is booming! Consumers and beauty lovers like us are increasingly conscious of the ingredients that we put on our skin. Of course avoiding nasties always seems like a good idea but if you are anything like us, you will know that natural sounds best but not really know why. We asked the natural skincare experts about the benefits. Here’s what they had to say:
Are natural products better from an anti-ageing perspective?
Natalie Balmond, the Founder of Pure Potions says: “The advantage (carefully-chosen!) natural products have is that the right ones are less likely to cause reactions, either short term or long term. Ageing skin can become delicate and more easily damaged, even if someone has had healthy, robust skin in their lives so far. Natural rosehip oil or hemp seed oil is not only more likely to be tolerated than synthetics but will also be feeding the skin the vital nutrients, such as essential fatty acids, it needs to maintain its cycle of repair and regeneration.”
Margaret Weeds, Skincare Expert at Odylique: “It’s proven that organically grown plants are higher in vitamins and nutrients, so you can get more natural, free-radical fighting antioxidants from a good organic beauty product. Modern organic beauty products have sophisticated textures and really perform. Certified organic beauty is guaranteed free from the ingredients many people like to avoid like artificial fragrance, parabens and harsh preservatives. It’s generally more compatible with sensitive skin. Much of what we apply to skin is absorbed into the body so it makes sense to cut down on your toxic load and ‘feed’ your skin with wholesome organic ingredients.”
What ingredients should you avoid and why?
Lottie Pearce from Urban Veda: “Different ingredients suit different skin types, but we would advise avoiding Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS). It is actually a foaming agent used in many products, but can be really irritating on the skin, leaving it inflamed and sore. Parabens and mineral oil are also best avoided. There is constant research into each ingredient used within the beauty industry, so we are always finding out the long term effects of formulations. It is important to remember that many ingredients used in beauty products can be absorbed into the blood stream, so it’s wise to consider carefully what you are putting on your skin.”
“The usual ‘nasties’ – parbens, mineral oils, synthetic colours, phthalates, silicones, petrolatum, silicons, PEG derived ingredients BHT and glycols. Many of these ingredients are like poison to your skin, hence so many people have bad reactions. You wouldn’t but petrol on your skin, so why use mineral oil, which is derived from crude oil? I think it is a matter of awareness, lots of people just don’t realise what are in these ingredients. Also, pay attention to products that list water as their first ingredient water, as they are usually made up of 75-80% water.” Zane Piese, Founder of Atlantis Skincare.
What ingredients should you look for?
Lottie Pearce from Urban Veda: “For anti-ageing, rosehip oil is one to look out for, and is something that is becoming more and more popular in natural skincare. Antioxidants are also hugely beneficial to the skin, as they protect the cells against the damaging effects of free radicals (e.g. from pollution), so ingredients with high antioxidant contents are important. Turmeric is one of our favourites! We also use an ingredient called arjuna in all of our products, which is fairly unknown in Western culture at present. It is used in Ayurvedic therapies for numerous reasons, but it’s also great for reducing the appearance of fine lines.”
“I’d always look for plain, simple natural ingredients! Ones you can understand and which have not been heavily synthesised or processed. Cold-pressed oils, essential oils, herbal tinctures, shea butter or beeswax are all lovely, nourishing minimally-processed skincare ingredients.” Natalie Balmond, the Founder of Pure Potions.
What effects might non natural products have on my hair and skin?
“They can potentially cause itching, inflammation, eczema flare-ups, dermatitis, flaky scalp etc. Basically they can damage the top layer of skin – the epidermis – which creates further damage and allows allergens to pass through the broken protective top layer and cause an immune-system response, with increased histamine meaning swelling, redness, inflamed areas of skin etc.” Natalie Balmond, the Founder of Pure Potions.
Lottie Pearce from Urban Veda: “Non natural products may result in dryness, irritation, hair breakage and even conditions such as eczema. Long term effects (that may still be unknown) can also occur.”
What stamps of approval do I want to see?
Accreditations are key when it comes to shopping for products. Achieving accreditations can be a lengthy process for brands, as each body carefully analyses every single ingredient of every product. Getting a full product range certified or accredited can take months from start to finish. Whilst this may be difficult for the brand, it is beneficial for consumers, as we can be certain that vigorous checks have been carried out to ensure our favourite products are approved. Accreditations and certifications vary from country to country, but it is important that brands are accredited by a third party, rather than just simply stating that they are ‘organic’, ‘natural’, or ‘vegan’. At Urban Veda, we have been certified as cruelty-free (no animal testing) by PETA and Cruelty Free International, vegan-friendly by The Vegetarian Society and PETA, microbead-free by the Good Scrub Guide, and we use FSC (Forest Sustainability Certified) ingredients. We are also currently going checks for additional accreditations, so watch this space!” Lottie Pearce from Urban Veda.
Margaret Weeds, Skincare Expert at Odylique: “Much of what we apply to skin is absorbed into the body so it makes sense to cut down on your toxic load and ‘feed’ your skin with wholesome organic ingredients. Buying organic encourages more plants to be grown organically which is better for the environment: fewer pesticides and herbicides and greater biodiversity. Always look for a real organic logo like the Soil Association’s to make sure what you’re buying is genuine – with food you’re okay – everything is certified, but with health and beauty it might not be.”
“You can check for logos awarded by official bodies – the Soil Association for example – but remember that the certification process can be costly and contain criteria that not all perfectly ethical and sound natural companies can adhere to! For example, organic beeswax isn’t available in the UK so any company preferring to use local beeswax to support UK farmers and reduce air miles will not be able to claim 100% organic status. It is better in my view to look out for organic, biodynamic or ecologically-grown natural ingredients.” Natalie Balmond, the Founder of Pure Potions.