Think of the feeling when an organic skin care moisturizer touches your dry skin. How one spray of an invigorating mist cools your face on a hot summer day or a potent scent of essential oils boosts your senses?
How does it feel? Intensely comforting, even luxurious? There is hardly a thing more precious to a woman than a skin care product that does its job.
First records of people using nature’s gifts for cosmetic purposes go back to Ancient Egypt, where its people cherished the richness of castor oil, while Romans swore on olive oil, beeswax and rosewater.
When technology became interwoven with every aspect of human life, cosmetic industry jumped on a train of innovations and started creating complex molecules and ingredients which promised nearly miraculous solutions. People began dismissing natural as primitive and shunned it in favor of revolutionary formulas promising that they’d ”look 10 years younger!” or “ smooth out all those wrinkles!”.
But recently natural has made a dramatic return and organic skin care has taken the beauty world by storm. Are you flirting with the idea of using organic skin care, but have doubts whether its hefty prices are justified?
Join me on a journey to the fascinating world of all natural skin care and find out for yourself. Let’s dive in!
Organic skin care: more than just a trend
Organic has become modern world’s ultimate goal. We want organic food, organic cotton, and organic cosmetics. Because big corporations are driven by profit, people began to distrust mass production, complex synthetic formulas, and almost indefinite shelf lives. We started to value what we once considered primitive and inferior to the technological advancements.
But increasing demand for organic skin care is more than just a trend; it is a shift in the consciousness of consumers, who started seeing beyond sensationalistic promises and began realizing the devastating effects our pursuits of the perfect skin care can have on other living beings and our planet.
Natural, organic, ecological?
Attempting to decipher all kinds of claims on cosmetic products, it is easy to get lost.
Words are often just a marketing tool to trick you into buying.
Here’s an example: natural skin care means that all ingredients are natural, right? Wrong. It actually means that the product contains at little as 1% of natural ingredients, the rest can be synthetic. Organic means using organically farmed ingredients (without GMOs, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers), but those can represent a minority part of the entire products.
But you don’t need a PhD in chemistry to separate the wheat from the chaff. Let me introduce you to – certificates. They encompass a set of rules which beauty products need to comply with in order to be granted a certificate. The most common European certificates are BDIH, NaTrue, Ecocert, Cosmebio, and Soil Association.
By Herbs products are certified by University of Maribor’s Institute for Control and Certification (IKC), which grants certificates for natural and ecological cosmetics. Out of 21 products one is certified as natural and 20 ecological. IKC’s certificates assure you that our products comply with the most rigorous and comprehensive standards in order to offer you only the highest quality.
Why is certified better?
Certificates cover a wide range of requirements, from production to processing, packaging, transport and storage. To obtain them manufacturers must undergo a costly process of ensuring that they meet the required quality standards. This, together with routine audits, provides the assurance of the highest quality.
They prohibit GMOs, ionizing radiation, controversial chemicals, synthetic colors or fragrances, parts of animals, animal testing, and cultivation which negatively impacts the environment.
By Herbs’ IKC certificates include all of the above requirements and ensure that all products contain at least 95% of natural ingredients. To get ecological certificate those have to be of a certified organic origin.
Keep in mind that obtaining certificates can be quite a financial burden, especially for smaller businesses. Many may not be able to afford displaying that stamp of approval, but they opt to follow the same standards nevertheless. Such products can be as good as their certified counterparts, so it is important to be an educated consumers and learn to read the labels.
The dirty chemicals
Certain chemicals, traditionally used for various purposes in you cosmetic products, have been heavily criticized, even demonized in recent years, linked to serious diseases and often prohibited. You probably heard about at least some of them: parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, sulfates and synthetic fragrances.
Their negative effects range from irritation and allergic reactions to hormone disruption. Formaldehyde is even a proven human carcinogen. Although not all of them have been proven to cause health problems, there are enough unanswered questions to raise doubts. And since there are plenty alternatives, why not play it safe and avoid them altogether by using pure, organic skin care?
Cruelty-free and vegan
You have probably come across pictures showing grisly consequences of animal testing on rabbits, rats and mice. If you’re lucky, you haven’t seen any videos. It’s unbelievably cruel, inhumane and not even guaranteed to work.
Thanks to the rising wave of concern and compassion from consumers all over the globe, animal testing is slowly becoming outdated and efforts are being directed at researching alternatives.
While there are certain alternatives available, they are not quite as effective yet, especially for testing the toxicity of life-saving medications. But with cosmetics natural and cruelty-free go hand in hand. Ingredients such as chamomile, lavender, and different oils have been in use for centuries, so their safety is well documented and proven.
Vegan cosmetic products go one step further, avoiding all animal-related ingredients such as honey, wax, gelatin, retinol, pearl, silk, milk protein, cochineal (colorant, E120), lanolin, etc. Not all result in the death of an animal, but their use poses a moral dilemma due to the way they are produced or extracted.
If you want to be sure no sentient beings were harmed in the making of your beauty products, look for the Leaping Bunny and Vegan symbols.
(Note: Products that carry the above discussed certificates are all cruelty-free, but not necessarily vegan.)
Beauty goes skin deep
The skin is our largest organ and the barrier between the outside world and the sanctum of our interior, but it is not impenetrable. Nor does it absorb 60% of what we put on it, as often claimed. That would mean that showering or swimming would leave us bloated from all the water we absorb, and our makeup would simply vanish into our skin.
Our skin is “picky”
The skin is literally waterproof and highly picky about allowing molecules to pass its barrier. The smaller and more soluble the molecule, the easier it finds its way under your skin (literally). Certain factors increase skin’s absorption ability (such as higher temperature and moisture, which is why sauna and steaming are so effective, and many skin care product are applied overnight when our body temperature peaks) and so do certain chemicals.
Because the skin guards us against a myriad of threats from our environment, opening those doors wide can be very unwise. Beneficial molecules in your face cream can bring along unwanted guests, chemicals that might wreak havoc on the inside.
If this happens irregularly, the concentrations are too low to cause any damage. It is the accumulated effect of many years of regular use that poses a threat. Have you ever experienced a beauty product you’ve been using for years suddenly become irritating? Your body has been accumulating that nasty stuff and has finally had enough, and decided to act up.
Selfless beauty: Supporting the local
Do you realize the power your day-to-day choices have? They reflect your inner values and can promote change on a local and global level. How, do you ask? Organic skin care products are often made by small, local businesses.
Besides literally putting food on the table of local farmers, locally-sourced products don’t require long transport, while plants grown in their indigenous environment have the highest concentration of active ingredients. Your choices matter, so be mindful about your purchases – find local brands and manufacturers, small farmers and sustainable businesses.
Made to be better, not last longer
We are used to products lasting almost indefinitely because a host of preservatives prevent bacteria from setting up residence in your favorite face cream. Plant-based active ingredients break down after a while and in order to keep organic cosmetics as natural as possible, manufacturers use less or no preservatives to artificially extend their lifespan.
After all, good things aren’t meant to last forever. So you might have to buy organic skin care more frequently, your favorite product might not always be available and it won’t have a shelf life of two years, but considering all the good it hides under the lid, those inconveniences are a small price to pay.
Quality and authenticity have a cost
Organic goodies usually come with a much high price-tag than your average drugstore brand. We cringe from buying a face cream which costs more than a week’s worth of groceries. But why does it?
Natural takes time.
Big companies strive to have production as low-cost as possible. Natural takes time, and they don’t have that. Because synthetic and low-quality ingredients are cheaper and easier to obtain, quality often gets sacrificed at the altar of higher productivity.
Small businesses on the other hand invest much more time, energy, and, ultimately, money, into what ends up in their finished product. They cultivate herbs eco-friendly without artificial fertilizers or pesticides, they use longer extraction procedures to retain the most active ingredients, and often make their products by hand. All this effort culminates in a price which reflects the product’s actual value and not just the hype of the latest famous brand. Organic ingredients are up to two times more expensive than non-organic ones.
Natural skin care products also do not contain what I like to call vanity ingredients: stuff that basically just makes the products smell, look and feel nicer, smoother, and shinier.
Without emulsifiers, dyes, fragrances and other ballast a natural skin care product is whittled down to its essence – active ingredients. This means that smaller quantities of a more potent organic skin care product achieve greater results. Less really is more.
Healthy life for healthy skin
Human body is a wonderfully complex machine and taking care of it is no small feat. You might have the best organic skin care product man and nature can come up with, but if you neglect your health, it will still be like throwing money to the wind.
Smoking, dehydration, stress, poor nutrition and lack of physical exercise constantly prey on your health. So make it your priority: eat quality food, drink water, don’t smoke, exercise regularly and your body will repay your efforts in kind.
If you want to give your skin a nutrient boost, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Healthy skin is the results of a healthy body and combined with organic skin care it is a winning formula guaranteed to make you glow from head to toes.
Organic skin care doesn’t make miraculous claims and shout from the rooftops. Its voice is quieter, but firm in its belief that it passes on the tradition and knowledge of countless generation who have benefited from nature and its amazing properties. Choosing organic skin care is a conscious choice and an invaluable investment in both our health and the health of our planet and fellow living beings.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little excursion into the intriguing world of organic skin care, and that I’ve piqued your interest. Are you using natural cosmetics? What are your experiences? We’d love to know. Share your thoughts in the comments.
Until next time,
your Bye Herbs