Organic skin care. Is it always what it's cracked up to be?

By Amy Crawford

 

The word organic is simply a labelling term. It indicates that the agricultural product has been produced via biological, mechanical and cultural methods that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. In other words, it means 'grown without the use of chemicals'.

But did you know that many cosmetic companies use the term 'organic' with reference to its chemistry definition - meaning a compound that contains carbon? 

Carbon is found in any being that has ever lived. So when the cosmetic industry uses this definition of organic, they can encompass far more nasties than one would assume. Case in point, we could say that a toxic petrochemical preservative such as methyl paraben is 'organic' because if you trace it, it was created by leaves that have decomposed over thousands of years to form oil, which is then used to make this chemical preservative. So, the 'organic' term can be slightly misleading, wouldn't you agree?

It is for this reason that you must look for 'certified organic' in order to be assured of the authenticity and integrity of the 'organic' claim. 

For certified organically processed products, minimal processing is permitted, with a limited number of non-agricultural but natural or traditional ingredients allowed. Hence no synthetic chemicals, unnatural dyes, colouring, flavourings or other additives are allowed. 

If in Australia, look for the logo of the Australian Certified Organic certifying body.

2 further points to note:
If an ingredient is listed in brackets within the ingredients list it means that it is a derivative of the natural ingredient and so is a synthetic version, produced using a non organic process. For example, think about how vanilla can be listed as both a natural ingredient from pure vanilla beans, or a man made synthetic scent. 

If the ingredient has a long list of chemical names it is a good tell tale sign that it is not an organic product. Many beauty products contain ingredients ending in 'eth', for example Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Steer clear of these.

Next week, we'll be discussing how to prioritise where your choices lie when it comes to skin care. Organic versus ethically sourced? Local versus fair trade? Beautiful packaging versus eco friendly materials? Tested on animals? We look at all the factors and ask you to delve deep into deciding what is important to you. And there's also a very special giveaway, just for subscribers! 

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Published:

December 01 2015

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