Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Beauty Myth No.7 - Organic: is it or isn't it?

During my talk/appointments in Liberty this last week I came across a few questions of using organic vs 'chemical' and the tenuous use of the word 'natural' (don't get me started on that one).

This is not so much a myth as a question for the end consumer: 'Are the products that you are using as 'organic' as they claim - and what amounts to 'organic' anyway?

In 2008 alone there were 6 different bodies that gave out organic accreditation in the EU. 13 bodies worldwide.
All of them with different requirements. What is organic for one may not be enough for another. It is as confusing as it is frustrating.

I am frequently asked 'Is it natural?' or 'Is it organic?' and to be honest my answer is always: 'compared to what?'

If organic is important to you - do your research thoroughly. You may be paying for something that came out of the ground/from nature - but if it did so via truly organic channels is open to question.

Brands that are obsessively organic will tell you how, why, when and where their products came from. If there is no trail, I'd ask questions.

35 comments:

  1. I don't know much about organic, but as a biochemist the term "natural" gets to me. If it natural, then it must be good for you. Well guess what, ricin is natural, it's found in castor beans. You know what else it is? Highly toxic.

    BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

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    1. So true! You speak from the bottom of my biologist's heart ;)
      xx

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  2. I think it's complete and utter bull shit.. I'm sorry, I can't help it lol! I've been doing some digging around over recent weeks (I'm trying to find some skincare for my 2 boys, 7 and 11 with completely different skin) as I wanted to look for some good, inexpensive, more kinder skincare for my youngest child and I've come up with zilch. I was looking at some of the Botanics range and, yes it says organic, but after doing some more digging it doesn't have to actually be 100% organic to be called that.
    It's something to do with the soil association or similar that grades it, and if they put their stamp on a product it doesn't have to be 100% organic, so if it's not 100% then what is it?!

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  3. I heard a while back that it's not illegal to claim that a product is organic, even if it isn't! You have to keep a look out for the Soil Assocition logo for confirmation that it is organic. How true all that is though, I don't know!

    www.ceejayell.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Having a Soil Association logo doesn't mean its 100% organic either - its all a tad annoying!

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  4. Have you heard of the site skin deep? The site is ewg.org. I'm obsessed with it now. They're a non profit dedicated to letting you know what's in a product and if it's good or bad for you and they give products a rating from 0-10 for overall hazard of the product and a rating for each ingredient. I'd love to know if you think their ratings are accurate. For instance I plugged in the ingredients for Kate Sommerville Goats milk and it got a 4 and they reccommend you use products that get ratings between 0-2. Thank you so much for being so much fun to read and for helping those of us who have been muddling along.

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    1. It's a little too scare-mongering for me to be honest. There is so much in the media about all chemical products being bad and all organic being good and its really not the case at all.

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    2. You're better off looking at Truth In Ageing Nessa, it's much more informative and less scare-mongering as Caroline points out. Really the best thing to do if you're concerned about ingredients is to search each individual one you're unsure about. It's long winded and time consuming, but really the only way to understand the whole thing!

      Mayah x

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    3. Thanks ladies. It's so hard sometimes to know what information to trust. Really appreciate the feed back. :-)

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  5. Dear Nessa
    From a cosmetic science standpoint the mere mention of ewg.org makes my head implode. Unscientific is being generous. This might be a useful read - http://colinsbeautypages.co.uk/colin-solves-your-problems-26-where-can-i-find-out-about-cosmetic-ingredients/
    x

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    1. I love Colin! He's great!

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    2. I agree its unscientific. Drives me crazy.

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  6. I'm really into natural product at the moment and checking the ingrediants of course. I'm using a lot of weleda and a lot of 100& oils like maccadamia and almond.
    Any tips for very very dry skin likes mine?

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  7. Hmmmm food for thought from this one. I like my Pai moisturiser and it's nice knowing that it's not full of strong harsh chemicals, but I'm also not an idiot in thinking it's full of the most amazing ingredients ever.

    http://thesimplewishlist.blogspot.com x

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  8. Thanks, Caroline! And I do agree, as the same goes for food. I mean, sugar, fructose etc are all natural, right...?
    I personally try to eat as much organic as possible, but for my face I want as hight-tech as I can afford (though I try to stay away from parabens, silicones, SLS etc...)

    By the way, would you recommend Weleda products (like the Almond cleanser and cold cream for a 9 yr old boy who has some spots?). We don't get such a big choice of nice "mild" brands over here...

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  9. A product only has to have 1 ingredient that is organic to be able to use the word "organic" on its label. "Natural" has absolutely zero legal meaning on labelling. I edited a report for the Consumers Association on food labelling where the same applies. Accreditation also costs money so there are some small companies that are producing excellent goods made with organic ingredients that don't have the Soil Assoccation badge. As Caroline mentions, basically up to us consumers to do our research.

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  10. Organic beauty is such a minefield and is hugely confusing to the consumer, not helped by the fact that there is no legal definition of what can be called organic in beauty. It is interesting to see people talking about 100% organic - some ingredients are impossible to be organic, for example water. So if a product contains water (which all lotions, creams, shampoos, etc do) then it is impossible for the product to be 100% organic.

    Furthermore, if a product contains water, it has to contain a preservative for it to be safe to use (otherwise bacteria will develop). Therefore, creams, lotions, etc cannot even be 100% natural (let alone 100% organic) as there are currently no natural preservatives that are effective enough to stop bacteria forming.

    All of this I say refers to commercial products - of course you could make your own natural products without preservatives but they would need to be kept in the fridge and used within a couple of weeks.

    If people want 100% organic products they are best off using oil-based (anhydrous) products, as oils/butters don't require a preservative to be safe to use. But in my personal opinion (and as an ardent user of natural products), it isn't about avoiding any synthetic chemicals whatsoever in your beauty products; it's about using products that are as natural as possible, with the smallest levels of safe preservatives, rather than harsh preservatives that can cause Contact Dermatitis, etc. After all, even if you avoided all synthetic chemicals in your beauty products, you are only going to be exposed to them elsewhere in your cleaning products and so forth. It's impossible to avoid contact with synthetic chemicals in everyday life, but I do what I can to minimise my exposure to them - and that starts with natural beauty products.

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  11. The best thing to do before using any beauty product is that to check what are the ingredients of it. For me, I use products made from natural and organic for safety ofcourse and organic products are very effective.

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  12. Soil Association, USDA are the little labels that one needs to see on products if looking for organic. Pai, Saaf, Suti ... those are such companies.

    The trouble with EWG's Skin Deep is that it is misinterpreted. They are by no means saying that something rated as 0 is absolutely safe. Read the finer print. If information on an ingredient is limited or nil, it gets a lower score. This caveat is clearly stated in their site. For instance:

    Data availability rating. We developed a data availability rating within Skin Deep, primarily to describe the extent to which low hazard scores associated with some ingredients or products are based on definitive data demonstrating safety or, at the other extreme, on a near absence of data either demonstrating or disproving hazard. The data availability rating - none, limited, fair, good or robust - is a combination of two factors: the scope of ingredient safety data contained in Skin Deep, and the number of studies available in the open scientific literature. The rating reflects how much scientists know - or don't know - about an ingredient. Not all cosmetics chemicals have been thoroughly studied. Some may rank low for hazards but only because little research has been done. The lower the data availability, the less we know.

    Do your reading, ladies!

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    1. Unfortunately Soil Assoc, USDA and Ecocert all have different levels of what they consider 'organic'. It's getting to the point where they are not worth the paper they are printed on. I worked with a well-known organic brand who refused soil assoc terms because they felt the soil assoc didn't offer a HIGH enough standard. I'm beginning to dismiss it as a money making industry. (Not organic - just the 'official' stamp)

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    2. Melanie, those labels mean absolutely nothing, something doesn't have to be 100% organic for it to get a stamp. It's the same with food, for example, if you buy a piece of beef that says Britsh beef, that beef may be from a British cow, but that cow could have be raised and slaughtered on foreign land, and they are not breaking the law by saying it's British, they don't have to declare what that British animal was raised etc.

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    3. Oh, please don't say that. It all gets quite exasperating.

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    4. Thanks, Louise, I am well aware of that (and food is another debate entirely). Those are the levels that Caroline mentioned above. For cosmetics, USDA has three. See here: http://usdaorganicskincare.com/what-is-usda-certified-organic/

      Only my opinion, but that is why there needs to be integrity and honesty in these seals, otherwise, anyone can make any claim.

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    5. One of the reasons why I am on the fence with getting my skincare range www.sopureskincare.co.uk certified.
      True say different organisations have their own rulings with regards their min or max requirements.

      I just make sure my line is natural and non toxic without using any questionable ingredients.

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  13. Thanks for this post, I always read the labels and it aggravates me when a brand is "organic" but uses glycol (for example) as a main ingredient.

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  14. Aw whys it all so difficult! I've recently been trying to find some more 'natural' alternatives and skincare wise I literally just have no idea, it's to confusing what is and what isn't haha and it takes the enjoyment out of shopping when your constantly reading labels and ingredients lists x

    http://subjectbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/

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  15. Do you trust in Michael Tod True Organic' products? thanks!

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  16. Caroline, what is your take on the use of essential oils in skincare? There seems to be equal literature out there both condemning and supporting its use; lavender oil either soothes the senses and as it has antibacterial properties must be beneficial because it is a "natural" product, or it is the devil spawn and breaks down the collagen in the skin directly contributing to aging and also acts as an irritant. Your take on the argument?

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    1. Interested to hear your take on essential oils as well...

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  17. Hi Caroline, Love this site and the content. Just to comment on essential oil re: C Bryan. As a qualified aromatherapist and masseuse I feel some clarity is needed. Historically the only reason for Lavender being included in cosmetics was fragrance as I am sure you are aware. The use of essential oils should only be under the supervision of an accredited person and use around the face or glands needs particular care as indeed this can have contraindications & effects. That said it should not deter from their use, luxury site I use is Aura Spa Boutique http://auraspa.moonfruit.com and for inexpensive quality Treatment Store http://treatmentstore.moonfruit.com. Hope this helps those with doubts. Enjoy life, Nicola

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  18. I use Sanoflore for their Elixir of queens and floral water combined with oil (argan, avocado apricot, depends on the day and how y skin is) as a make up remover - what do you think of this brand? I also use Une for their Face powder, I found their soft on the skin and they don't seem to block my pores as a cream foundation would do for me.
    Thanks
    Celine

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