As you may already know from previous articles and tweets, I have begun transitioning all of my unnatural, chemical riddled and toxic beauty, skincare and household products in favour of natural products. For those also on the same journey as I, you would probably agree that it is incredibly fascinating yet somewhat overwhelming, especially when you are unsure of which ingredients to avoid / what to look out for that identifies a beauty and or skincare product being ‘natural’ through lack of experience.
Given my lack of knowledge in this area, I thought it would be necessary to enlist the help and expertise of an experienced natural beauty writer / blogger to help me devise a ‘Beginners Guide to Natural Beauty and Skincare Products’ , all with the view to hopefully aid both you and I to make the right choices by using this article as a guide as we delve deeper into the world of the Natural Beauty and Skincare products without the nasties.
Now I follow a fair amount of natural beauty and skincare bloggers via social media network Twitter, all of whom I find to be fantastic at giving a great insight into the products they review whilst giving honest brand recommendations for us to invest in (stay tuned for an upcoming article on my top 10 natural beauty bloggers to follow), but for this particular article I chose to approach lifestyle and beauty journalist Galina Achkasova to which she has kindly agreed to share her knowledge with us (thanks again Galina).
Earlier this week, I liaised with Galina via email to pick her brains on the topic of natural beauty and skincare products. I constructed a total of five questions to which I felt the majority of people would want to know, as they embark on this ever evolving journey of using natural products.
This guide and questions were also created from my own curiosity as an inexperienced individual looking for answers on the topic of natural beauty and skincare products.
So without further ado, I present to you (with the knowledge and expertise of Galina Achkasova)….
In the world of skincare and beauty products, what is the difference (if any) between the terms Natural, Organic and Green?
Personally, I don’t think that one should zero on words ‘green’ and ‘natural’ when it comes to beauty products, as unfortunately there are plenty of brands that imply that they are natural, when in actual fact they aren’t.
The word organic shouldn’t be taken at face value unless it is backed up by certification of the appropriate body like Soil Association, EcoCert etc. Instead, look at the list of ingredients, get in touch with the brand’s customer care for clarification or shop at retailers whose judgement and core values one can definitely trust when it comes to brand/product/supplement selection, like Being Content in Marylebone and online webshops such as Naturissimo and Sophia’s Choice.
A great starting point (as information available online might be overwhelming to start with) is a book that must be on every woman’s bedside reading table, called ‘No More Dirty Looks’ by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt.
Can a product be legitimately classed as organic but not classed as natural, or do they practically mean the same thing?
In order for a beauty product to be certified organic it must go through a costly and rigorous regulation by the appropriate organic standard regulation authority. In Europe organic standards are more appropriately upheld as they are regulated by law.
To be honest, many small brands that are wonderful can’t afford to go through the certification by Soil Association due to the costs involved. When it comes to term ‘natural’ you have to start with what this word means for you.
Cheap palm oil can be ethically sourced and because of that the brand might choose to call it natural when it’s not. A much better and more honest alternative might be ‘handmade’.
I will give you a good example: recently I interviewed a former Armani model and now a founder of the wonderful Welch beauty range called Bathing Beauty. George’s products aren’t certified organic but it’s purely because the cost of Soil Association accreditation is too high for a niche brand in its growing stage.
George, however, doesn’t use preservatives or emulsifiers, not even naturally derived ones, she grows and wild-harvests many of the ingredients and I stand with her when she says that she would defy anyone to find a purer product range.
Get to know ingredients and which of them to avoid, know your skin and what works for it/against and don’t be afraid to ask questions of the brands that you buy from-as consumer you deserve to know what’s in the creams & lotions that you put on your biggest organ, your skin.
What recognized association logos will help individuals new to natural products correctly identify weather a brand is legitimately certified as organic?
Different countries have different associations, so check out the one appropriate for the country you live in.
In the UK it is Soil Association.
EcoCert is based in Europe and oversees inspections in 80 countries world-wide.
Leaping Bunny Association is useful if you want a guarantee that your products weren’t tested on animals.
For US and Canadian brands, you might check if they have signed up for The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
For smaller brands claiming to be natural / organic who have just launched but have yet to invest in joining the recognized associations, how can we tell if the products are genuinely natural?
This question has partially answered in the second question but to further elaborate, you can only be 100% sure that something is natural if you grow it in your own garden, without the use of chemicals and then use the produce of your labors for your diet/skincare needs, like people did in old times.
Or mix organically certified ingredients to make up your own skin/bodycare products-I know plenty of people who do. When I was growing up in Moscow there was hardly any choice when it came to female beauty products, so many used berries (strawberries, blueberries), vegetables (potato, cucumber), plants like calendula, honey or oats to make masks or scrubs which made skin look naturally beautifully.
This can still be as effective in our day and age, all you need to do is use your imagination, creativity and knowledge in order to be a true natural beauty.
What ingredients and or chemicals in skincare / beauty products should we be looking out for that notifies the individual that the product is not natural?
The list is very long but start with ingredients like:
- PEGs, alcohol, fragrance, parabens, 1.4 dioxane, formaldehyde, mercury, lead, aluminum (toxic metals)
- Coal tar, SLES, SLS (harsh agents that makes things like shampoos or shower gels lather up)
- Phthalates, Proropylene glycol, DEA, TEA, MEA, ETA (those four are commonly known as Ethanolamines)
- Hydroquinone, Petroleum by-products like distillates and solvents, silicones, synthetic dyes.
Galina concludes her involvement in helping me devise a beginners guide to natural beauty and skincare products by also quoting:
“The world of beauty without the nasties is fascinating but it’s a long and ever evolving journey, so enjoy it and I hope that this guide will help you feel and look your best”
*beginners guide concludes*
After gaining an insight into this new world via Galina’s expertise, I am feeling more confident to make the right choices having been equip with more knowledge on the topic of Natural Beauty and Skincare than I had before writing this article with Galina’s involvement.
I will definitely be investing in her book recommendation ‘No Dirty Looks’ whilst looking forward to the journey ahead!
I hope you too have found my beginners guide to natural beauty and skincare products useful and hope you will share this knowledge with your friends, colleagues and family members that may too want to explore this ever intriguing world.
To keep up-to-date with Galina’s beauty and lifestyle reviews and articles, Galina Achkasova can be found online by visiting her website Galinka and by simply following her on Twitter.