Organic, cruelty-free and all-natural beauty is on the rise. Customers are demanding high-quality and non-damaging ingredients, and a report by Persistence Market Research estimates that the global organic beauty market will be worth £17 billion by 2024. Running parallel to the rise in wellness and veganism, we’re less willing to let our skin absorb questionable chemicals and irritating nasties.
However, we should be wary of blindly buying products labelled organic. According to The Guardian, unlike the food we consume, which must meet rigid EU regulations in order to be classified as organic, beauty and skincare has no such standards – so technically, any brand can call itself organic without actually having to be. With no legislation in place, organisations have established independent standards – with COSMOS and NaTrue being the best known – allowing buyers to check that products fulfil their claims.
Now, The Soil Association (TSA) has launched its Campaign For Clarity, releasing a league table of products that claim to be organic while in reality containing ingredients that wouldn’t meet organic standards. Worryingly, a toxicologist found ingredients known to cause allergies, hormone disruption and harm to the development of unborn babies in products wrongly labelled organic. Vyvyan Howard, from the Centre for Molecular Bioscience at Ulster University, said: “I was shocked to find ingredients which could contain human carcinogens in products with labels which could misleadingly suggest that they might be organic.”
Cutting corners when it comes to making natural products with quality ingredients won’t fly with buyers. Campaign for Clarity is supported by TSA’s national survey, which showed that 76% of people felt ‘misled’ when they found out the league table results, with 72% losing trust in those brands. Encouraging shoppers to ask brands to #ComeCleanAboutBeauty on social media, TSA is warning of greenwashing across the industry.
So, which products can you rely on? The TSA recommend Neal’s Yard Remedies, Bamford, Skin & Tonic and Botanicals among their trustworthy brands. If you’re committed to organic beauty, keep an eye out for the COSMOS and NaTrue labels on products, hold brands responsible for their branding and message, and pressure them to become transparent in their practices. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so make sure you know what it's absorbing.