Happy Organic September everyone!
We’re in the process of digital enhancement here at Biteable Beauty, and we’ve also got some new additions to our team, Katria and Eline! Welcome ladies! To celebrate Organic September in true BB style, we’re going to be reviewing a different organic product every day, and sharing the organic credentials of the various certification bodies.
But first, I am going to give you an insight into Organic September, inspired by the recent launch event organised by the Soil Association and Black Book Communications. It was a great event to attend, held at the rather lovely Rosewood Hotel and some really interesting points were raised by the expert panel discussion which I will summarise in today’s post.
I was delighted to hear a report from the Soil Association reported 21% growth in organic beauty in 2015 – that’s amazing! Amanda Barlow, founder of Spiezia Organics, commented that so far in 2016 her turnover has doubled – congratulations Amanda, that is fabulous news and well deserved. As a business owner in this sector, I must say that we are definitely more in demand than ever before, and we’re also getting more ear time with journalists, as well as column inches!
Tanya Hawkes, founder of Therapi Honey Skincare, made the interesting observation that the clean eating movement is leading the public to the clean beauty movement. I couldn’t agree more with this, and it’s great to see a new generation embracing such a healthy way of life. The party fashionistas and It girls of the 90s whom I grew up with in the media have been replaced largely by healthier, more wholesome types who would rather go to bed early to prepare for their morning yoga class than be pictured falling out of a cab outside their home at some unearthly hour. On a side note, I was delighted to hear that Therapi will be launching in Whole Foods this month – I am sure there will be a buzz (if you’ll excuse the pun!)
One interesting point discussed by the panel was the consumers’ desire for the back story; we’re connecting with the transparency of natural and organic companies. We’ve had slow food, slow fashion, and now we’re on slow beauty. We are eschewing the mass brands full of cheap, filler chemicals (and often primarily water) for a more puritan approach to beauty. We are opting for products not only made with few ingredients, but whole unadulterated ingredients which are high performance.
Amanda commented that the mindfulness movement has helped drive her brand on no end, commenting how 15 years ago people thought of her as a “mad lunatic hippy”, but today she is “bang on trend”! She also contributed that wellbeing is the now the biggest area of tourism; think spas, retreats, and wellness/rejuvenation centres. One can count the rise and rise of aromatherapy hitting the mainstream as a key indicator of this. People are becoming more aware of their health, and see organic beauty as a way forward.
Voya‘s representative agreed on this matter, and shared their affiliation with Wellness for Cancer, an organisation for spas and wellness facilities that want to increase their level of comfort and confidence in delivering safe and nurturing services to clients who have experienced cancer. A very worthwhile cause if you ask us.
For many, wellness should and does start at home, with the assessment of the chemicals you are exposed to on a day to day level. It’s interesting how we all arrive at this point in our lives and the panel agreed that most people come to natural and organic beauty either through health issues (such as sensitivity and allergies) or pregnancy. On that note, we must congratulate Sarah from Skin & Tonic, who is expecting! We’ve been loving their Brit Beauty Oil this month, watch out for the review coming soon!
“Do clinical trials matter?” was the question was put to Fran from Neal’s Yard Remedies. She let us in on the fact that the product of Neal’s Yard that has clinical trials they can’t make enough of to keep up with demand (figure of speech). Fran sees clinical trials as important to support what brands are trying to do; not only sell products but improve the skin of consumers. After all, the most important point to a consumer is that a product works; if a clinical study shows this in instrumental measurements then it can only help!
Tanya cited a 2014 study by Newcastle University that showed organically grown foods products up to 70% higher antioxidant levels that non-organic, which just goes to show organic is not just about what’s not in the ingredients, but also what is in the ingredients.
David from Herbfarmacy made a really thoughtful point; rather than focusing on “Free From” messaging, shouldn’t brands be focusing on the “From” element of ingredients; the purity, the sustainability, the organic-ness.
Next came the open floor questions. It was a really interesting event to be at because there were a few familiar faces from the natural and organic world, but by and large the room was filled with mainstream beauty journalists. Unsurprisingly the first question asked was:
“Is organic more expensive?”
Voya’s representative answered this with the statement that their spa treatments and products are nowhere near as expensive as mainstream spa brands. They have even been questioned why aren’t their products more expensive.
It’s important to point out that organic costs more to produce so profit margins are always worse for organic suppliers. Another fact about organic: the initial outlay for a product may seem be more expensive to a consumer than a mainstream product but because there are more active ingredients, and less water and cheap fillers with no beauty benefits, less product is needed so you use less and therefore the product lasts longer! All the brands agreed that it was important to have these conversations, raise these points and turn over the misconception that organic is more expensive. Bamford‘s representative rightly said, local and organic produce is not actually expensive when you eat seasonally. Cruelty Free MUA Justine Jenkins also raised the point that consumers have been brainwashed into thinking the more expensive a product the better it is.
A comparison of how big brands and niche organic brands create a product ensued. Big brands when they set about formulating a product they set a cost price and RRP and how they want the product to look and feel. Tanya illustrated how she starts in a little lab, thinking about the quality of the ingredients (for instance the deepest golden sea buckthorn oil, the greenest avocado oil) and price is given little thought until she is satisfied with the formula!
Of a partnership with the Soil Association, the beauty brand representatives were all very positive about the relationship. We often hear from beauty brands that achieving certification with the Soil Association is an expensive process, however at this panel discussion we got some insight into the many benefits. Amanda said that one of the big challenges for organic brands today is supply and demand of organic ingredients, and being able to source ones that haven’t been “sprayed with crap”. Offering advice on organic supply chain is just one of the many benefits for businesses certified by the Soil Association.
They also all agreed that the Soil Association was a logo people trust; consumers can see at a glance that the product is organic, and as Amanda rightly said you don’t have to squint at the ingredients label to examine the ingredients. Quite simply, if your product doesn’t meet the criteria, if it doesn’t add up you simply don’t get the Soil Association logo. “You can’t pay off the Soil Association”, one of the panel concurred.
Something I didn’t know prior to the event is that cruelty free is actually part of the Soil Association certification, and in fact when it comes to food and farming, the Soil Association has the highest animal welfare standards in the world!
Another question from the open floor was:
“Is Soil Association expensive?”
The unanimous consensus was it’s part of their ethics and brand values, either it’s important to you to be Soil Association certified, or it’s not. To one panel member (I think Tanya?) said “Soil Association certification means so much. If you feel that strongly about your principles you will go the full mile, regardless of the cost” All brand owners also agreed that the business support offered by the Soil Association was top notch.
Happy Organic September everyone – watch out for our reviews all month!