Monday 15th May saw the media briefing morning for press on Organic Beauty & Wellbeing Week 2017. This was the first time the week has stood apart from Organic September. The format was the same as last year’s Organic Beauty Week, with a few familiar faces on the panel:
Tanya Hawkes from Therapi, Paul Richards from Herbfarmacy, Cheryl Thallon from Viridian, Fran Johnson from Neal’s Yard Remedies, Emma Roberts, head of sales and business development at Voya, Michael Miller of the London Meditation Centre and chairing was Lauren Bartley from the Soil Association.
I always enjoy a good panel discussion, mostly because it brings out the best points from people and their brands, helping me as a writer to give you readers (as well as myself!) a greater insight into the subject at hand. Here are some of the key points I took away and want you all to know:
- Organic is more than just no use of pesticides when growing crops. It’s a way of life that represents sustainability and maintenance of biodiversity. Through choosing to use organic, you are not just making a better decision for your skin and body, but for the whole planet. From the people who grow the crops, all the other billions of people who share this home with you, and our rich tapestry of wildlife and nature.
- Organic works. As Paul Richards from Herbfarmacy said “we create organic products that excel and perform”. For many years, consumers have been hoodwinked into thinking that natural and organic does not perform as well as mainstream, and that products have to be from one of the big names to actually work, when actually when you find the right organic products for you, I’m willing to put money on them outperforming your previous beauty love. Reason being, there are not any cheap filler chemicals in the products, just a concentration of the goodness of nature. Ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fats your skin, or hair, needs.
- Organic isn’t more expensive, comparatively. If you were to take a mainstream beauty product and compare to an organic product, active ingredients gram for gram or ml for ml, you would find the organic product far more potent than the mainstream product, which would likely be mostly water and cheap fillers. With a greater concentration of active and beneficial ingredients in the product, you will use less per application. Also, organic products are often created in bigger sizes with environmental footprints in mind (think packaging and logistics) so always look at the size of the product you are buying before you baulk at the price.
- Organic is better than natural. The quality of organically grown ingredients when compared to natural is considerable: The University of Newcastle found that organic produce had up to 60% higher concentration of antioxidants compared to the same inorganically grown product. The organic crops also contained less nitrogen and less heavy metals. So by choosing organic, you are not just limiting your exposure to pesticides and heavy metals but also choosing a more concentrated product.
- Just because it says “organic” doesn’t mean it is. And, sadly, natural no longer means natural. There is no governing body or clause in the trade descriptions act that regulates the use of the terms “natural” or “organic” on beauty products. Even if a product is natural, it can still contain toxic agricultural chemicals and it can still be a GMO, this is sadly the world we live in today. Which is why if you are buying natural or organic, it is always important to look for the logo! Soil Association and USDA are the two main organic certifiers, but then you have Ecocert who certify both organic and natural products, and NATRUE and BDIH who both certify natural products. All these bodies have varying standards of naturalness and organicness, so even when there is a logo it can be confusing!
One of the biggest take-homes from this panel that I think it is important everyone actions: “question everything”. Cheryl of Viridian Nutrition said “you are only as good as the questions you ask” and “you don’t know what you don’t know”. With her background in journalism, Cheryl admitted she is very nosey by nature and has since transferred this skill to her role as a manufacturer. As consumers, which we all are, we must dig deeper and get to know just what the ingredients in the list are, what all the various logos mean, and most importantly what ingredients might be in mainstream or natural products that are not specified on the list. If a brand has nothing to hide, they will be transparent, and more than willing to share this information with you. If not, question everything!
The other big message I want people to always keep at the forefront of their minds, which was summed up perfectly by two statements. Firstly, Cheryl from Viridian Nutrition made a very wise statement: “the best way to get people healthy is to get the envionment healthy,” which led Paul from Herbfarmacy to the question “why put something topical on or take a pill that’s not good for the environment?” because in doing this you are not being healthy to yourself in the long run.
Are you aware of the difference between natural and organic? If you have any questions that you need clearing up, leave a comment below!