I recently read an amazing quote by beauty expert Jillian Wright. “Grass is natural and so is gasoline but you are not going to put it on your face. The more you know about ingredients and what they do for you, the better choices you will make.”
When it comes to makeup and skin products, it seems like the choices are endless. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re walking down the aisles in the drugstore or department store. There are always new brands popping up, new ingredients, and new ideas. But what brands and ingredients can you trust?
Many of us, including myself, have jumped on the natural and organic beauty train the more and more we learn about the ingredients in our products. And even though you’re simplifying your products (in theory), it can be even more difficult to decipher new terms like “vegan,” “paraben-free,” and “cruelty-free.” It all sounds good, but it’s essential to know what these terms mean since companies often look for ways to trick consumers and find ways to claim themselves as natural.
The Beginner’s Guide to Natural and Organic Beauty Brands
Let’s get down to the basics about labels, ingredients, and brands.
Natural vs. Organic
Many of us conflate these two terms and assume they mean the same thing, but they don’t. Check out this explanation for how a product is considered organic–we all know what organically-grown means, but a product can have the word “organic” on its label even if it’s not made with 100% organic ingredients.
On the flip side, “natural” products don’t really need to meet regulations, making it a pretty vague term. They typically contain plant-based ingredients like aloe, beeswax, and shea butter, but don’t have to meet the same standards as organic products.
Vegan vs. Cruelty-free
Here are two more terms that are often confusing to people new to natural skincare and makeup. Vegan means that the product you’re buying is not made with any animal products, like milk or honey. But that doesn’t mean it’s 100% natural. Vegan products can still contain synthetic preservatives like parabens.
Cruelty-free products have not been tested on animals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are vegan, natural, or organic. The Leaping Bunny Association is the go-to when you need to check if a product has been tested on animals.
Many of our beloved cosmetics and skincare products smell wonderful, but do you ever wonder if it’s ok for your skin? Most brands use synthetic fragrances that can irritate your skin–especially those with already sensitive skin. Often times these ingredients are not even disclosed on the label, and instead, vaguely referred to as “fragrance.” Opt for products that are fragrance-free, or use essential oils.
When choosing natural or organic products, there are certain ingredients to watch out for. Despite the labels on these “green” products, brands can still sneak in synthetic chemicals, like:
- 1,4-dioxane (sodium laureate sulfate, sodium myreth sulfate, polyethylene glycol)
- Aluminum chlorohydrate
- Dibutyl phthalate
- Lead acetate
Finally, it’s also important to look into a brand’s reputation. I’m a big researcher when it comes to buying new products. I love to see how consumers rate them, but I also love to read up on the company’s mission, ethics, promises, community involvement, etc. It’s essential to find brands that are truly devoted to creating natural and organic products. You absolutely should trust the products that are going on your skin. Dive deep into your research.23