What to look out for when buying natural or organic beauty products

Weleda Q and A

The world of beauty products can be a confusing one so we asked an expert at Weleda. Image supplied.

The world of beauty has shifted towards natural, organic, sustainable and ethical products but due to a widely unregulated beauty industry, brands may say their products are natural and organic but in reality, this can be far from the truth. It is sometimes very hard to tell whether the product you are buying is really what it says it is.

However, there is one brand that has been paving the way for natural beauty products since 1921, creating natural skincare and farming biodynamically for nearly 100 years. Weleda harnesses the power of ‘nature’s wisdom’ which encompasses sustainability, vitality, biodiversity, anthroposophy, authenticity and science. Weleda’s credentials include NATRUE certified natural, UEBT certified, no animal testing, zero microplastics and free from synthetic fragrances, preservatives, aluminium salts, mineral oils and GMOs, just to name a few.

We had a chat with Helen Wilks from Weleda and asked her to educate us on what natural and organic certifications you need to be looking out for when purchasing a natural or organic beauty product and what ingredients you need to stay away from, here is what she had to say.

What should we be looking for when buying natural and sustainable products?
Be aware – whilst some products/brands are truly natural, many are pretenders using marketing to fool the consumer. It is important consumers know how to make an informed choice, and who to trust. There are currently no laws that restrict the use of the terms natural or organic for personal care. Make sure you look at the certifications – so you can truly trust the marketing of the products/brand. For example, if a product is certified by NATRUE, an internationally recognised label for natural, organic products. They set the highest standards for defining naturalness i.e. only truly natural or organic products will have this certification. Or, products certified UEBT, Union for Ethical BioTrade means the brand looks after people and biodiversity, or B Corp for sustainability.

Another way to know if a brand is legitimate is research. Look into a brand, their credentials and history or shop from retailers that have done the checking for you – e.g. Healthpost, only sell products that have met their criteria.

Finally, price is a good first indicator. If it is cheap, it is highly likely it is not natural or organic.

Is there a difference between natural and organic?
Yes, there is a difference:

Natural is defined as only using natural botanic, inorganic mineral or animal origin, raw materials.  For example, natural raw materials from plant oils, fats, waxes, herbal extracts, aromatic materials, essential oils and so forth from controlled, sustainable cultivation or wild collection. Nothing artificial (man-made) should be included.

Products that are truly ‘natural’ should NOT contain the likes of:

– Parabens – synthetic preservatives, thought to act as hormone disruptors and linked to breast cancer

– Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) – surfactants commonly used in wash-off products, to help bubble and foam, linked to skin irritation

– Aluminium salts – often found in antiperspirants and deodorants, they block pores preventing natural body functions

– Genetically modified organisms (GMO)

– Petrochemicals

– Artificial fragrances, preservatives, colours, dyes

– Non-biodegradable detergent surfactants

– Nano-particles, microbeads etc

Organic means natural (so all of the above) plus the extra rigorous standards that 90%+ of the natural and derived-natural substances must come from controlled certified organic farming and/or wild collection, where ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and so forth.

What are the certifications we should be looking out for?
When looking at the ‘naturalness’ of the product or brand look for: NATRUE, BioGro, and to a lesser degree, COSMOS, BDIH, EcoCert certifications.

When looking into the sustainability of a product or brand look for: UEBT or B Corp Certifications.

How can we tell if a product isn’t really natural?
Sadly in the absence of a certification, within an unregulated category, you probably can’t.

Don’t be fooled by words like ‘nature-inspired’ or ‘naturals’… they don’t mean natural. Anyone can say their product is natural or organic even if only 1% of that product is natural or organic. However, for a product to carry a certification for being natural or organic, they have to meet certain strict criteria.

Images supplied.

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