With growing concern for what goes into our bodies, it seems only natural that an increasing number of discerning women and men are reconsidering the impact of what goes on the body. Buying based solely on what looks good is no longer enough. To be a conscious consumer means to buy based on what ‘does good’, and modern beauty solutions must be altruistic if we’re to really see the value.
The UK organic personal care market has experienced a seventh consecutive year of growth, reaching sales of over £75m in 2017, according to the annual report produced by the Soil Association. Proof that the conscious consumerism movement — more than a mere fad — is a mindset shift which is only just reaching its simmering point.
What does clean beauty mean?
It is a transparent effort, on the part of the brand, to use certified organic, ethical, ingredients and practices in the production of their goods. It has recently come to light that many brands claiming organic status use additives and methods banned in certified organic farming — a tactic known as ‘greenwashing’. But why does it matter? It matters because those products which aren’t legitimately certified may contain controversial chemicals, synthetics, parabens and phthalates; as well as nanoparticles which make their way into our river systems and oceans, causing — as yet — immeasurable damage to aquatic ecosystems. Non-certified products may not be cruelty-free and often contain GM ingredients which could prove harmful to our bodies, in the long-run.
Where beauty brands have been accredited proper certification, under standards such as the Soil Association and COSMOS, products contain up to 60% more natural antioxidants, cause minimal environmental impact and are manufactured using ethical practices which protect precious biodiversity. So which brands are bringing beauty back to its natural roots?
London-based British skincare brand, Pai, was borne out of the failure of existing “hypoallergenic” and organic products to provide sensitive skin with all-natural, irritant-free, care. Through trial and error, founder Sarah Brown eliminated common problem ingredients from her own skincare regime. Now, Pai manufactures its product range without parabens, alcohol, phenoxyethanol, petrochemicals, detergents (SLS/SLES) and artificial fragrances — using sustainable, organic, plant ingredients instead.
Natural makeup label Odilique was awarded ‘Best Organic Makeup Brand’ by Ethical Consumer Magazine recently. Its mineral cosmetics, including lipsticks, eyeliners and concealers, are free from palm oil and are, wherever possible, Fairtrade. So conscious are they of the delicate needs of allergy-prone skin, they also exclude many common natural irritants; including wheat, dairy and soya. This family-run beauty brand lives by its mantra that: ‘All ingredients must have therapeutic value, and the product must be a joy to use’.
Inspired by traditional herbalism, a childhood spent learning about the topical application of herbs and essential oils, and an education from a Swedish biodynamic farm; MuLondon is a natural skincare range founded on those learnings. Replacing artificial additives with pure essential oils and carefully selected herbal extracts; the products are designed to care for sensitive skin but balanced and mild enough to suit all skin types. MuLondon is certified by the Soil Association, Vegan Society, 1% For the Planet, PETA, B Corporation, and a host of other globally recognised bodies.
Limiting themselves to only seven natural ingredients per product — foregoing harsh additives, endocrine disruptors and unnatural preservatives — Skin & Tonic seeks to reset skin which has succumbed to modern stressors such as air pollution, chemical-based makeup, artificial heating and cigarette smoke. The brand is proudly cruelty-free and supports small, sustainable, growers in the UK and France, as well as Fairtrade women’s co-operatives in Ghana & Sri Lanka.
Founded in East Anglia, by father and daughter duo Richard and Bessie, Austin Austin is an organic, vegan, range of hair, hand and body care products. Producing locally, with footprint in mind, it uses ingredients which can be “traced back to the fields where they were grown”. The absence of pesticides serves to preserve the essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals which are so often touted as protectors of skin, yet are so often destroyed through harsh production practices and artificial additives.
Self-titled ‘modern apothecary’; Neal’s Yard has been a firm favourite in the natural beauty market since the early 1980s. Despite establishing itself across five continents, the British brand maintains small-scale, organic, production at its eco-factory headquarters in Dorset. Even bottling and labelling its products by hand. Pioneering organic health and beauty since 1991 and leading the way in its approach to ethics — the first beauty brand to be awarded 100/100 by The Ethical Company Organisation — N’s Y remains true to the original mantra that ‘beauty and inner health should be in perfect balance’.