Consumers are paying more attention to ingredients in personal care products than ever before, and, in the last decade, there has been increasing demand for products with demonstrated safety as well as reliability. Coupled with much of the population embracing environmentally- and health-conscious lifestyles, there’s been rapid evolution in consumer products — the beauty industry being no exception.
From small startups to big name brands, companies are dedicating entire lines to all-natural products. Sephora recently launched their collection dedicated to clean skincare products, Tata Harper continues to prove serious skincare can be achieved without a drop of artificial chemicals, and many other organic beauty brands are working hard to deliver natural beauty products that consumers are requesting.
While increasing popularity might seem like it would drive down prices in the market, eco-friendly and plant-based beauty products still often come with a higher price tag. So, how do you decide if you should spend your hard earned cash on that organic tea tree oil toner, or save on its cheaper drugstore counterpart? Everybody loves a good bargain, but, in the realm of beauty, they often come at cost. Here’s why natural cosmetics and organic products are totally worth the extra money.
Organic and clean beauty brands often carefully craft their products to contain high concentrations of superior quality ingredients. These brands eliminate harmful chemicals and by-products, and are made without cheap fillers. While common fillers like petroleum and mineral oil are not necessarily harmful, they’re inactive ingredients that offer no real benefit aside from helping to fill up the bottle or tube of whatever product they’re used in.
As a side-note: When you see an inexpensive drugstore product claiming to feature natural ingredients for skin or haircare, it’s important to keep in mind that only a trace of the ingredient is required in order for the brand to market it. Just like with food, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of reading what’s listed on the back of beauty products. Ingredients are always listed in descending order, starting with the ingredient with the highest concentration in the product. So, while a cheaper product might boast “made with coconut oil” on the front of the bottle, flip it over and you’re likely to find that key ingredient listed all the way toward the end.
On the other hand, with natural and organic beauty brands, you can count on finding these beneficial, results-producing ingredients at the top of the list. By using formulas with high-concentrations of beneficial ingredients, natural beauty products offer way more bang for your buck.
As discussed above, natural and organic beauty products contain a higher concentration of beneficial botanical ingredients. This often means that less product is needed at a time, and fewer applications are required per day or week to get results. In other words, you get a product that will last longer, while also yielding better results! Notice that a lot of natural and high-end products come with droppers because a little goes a long way. It might feel like you’re dishing out extra money at the time, but, in the long run, it’s actually a better investment both economically and in terms of achieving the results you’re after.
In order to maintain inexpensive prices, non-organic cosmetic and beauty brands typically mass-produce their products using ingredients cheaply manufactured overseas. When it comes to plant-derived ingredients, the less processing the better. Shortcut techniques, like machine harvesting, strip ingredients of their benefits. Poor regulations also result in environmental and social repercussions in the supply chain. And while a long shelf life might seem like a good thing, it’s usually a sure sign that the product contains empty fillers and harsh chemical preservatives.
Conversely, organic and natural brands typically look for quality as well as price when sourcing, making sure that the beneficial qualities of an ingredient make it to your skin, and that harmful additives aren't included in the supply chain along the way. Since raw materials without chemical preservatives have a quicker expiration date, clean products tend to be produced in smaller batches — meaning more attention is given to precision and quality.
It's true that the FDA (which governs cosmetics) has no definition for terms like "organic" or "all natural," and that marketing claims featuring these terms are unregulated. However, the same is not true where the USDA Organic Seal is concerned. While the USDA tightly regulates organic food products and not cosmetics, the organic ingredients that go into a beauty product do fall under the purview of the USDA.
What this means is that if you see the USDA Organic Seal on a beauty product, the term "organic" does have weight (all natural is still unregulated, sorry). In fact, it means that each of the organic ingredients in that product have undergone the long, intense, and expensive process required to get certified as organic, and that the product itself has also been certified organic under NOP (National Organic Program) regulations. Still, even once an organic beauty brand completes this process, there are numerous inspections throughout the year that also cost a hefty fee. While this does add another dollar or two to the price tag, consumers can be sure that what they’re paying for is actually what they get. It's worth noting that, even with certified products, there are different levels of "organic." Find out more here.
Regulations on non-organic beauty products are slim to none. In an Elle article featuring skincare expert Sunday Riley, she reminds us that, "'Dermatologist tested' doesn't equal 'dermatologist endorsed.'" As consumers, it’s important to stay educated on the products we’re using on our bodies, so that we don’t fall for misleading marketing gimmicks.
The beauty industry doesn’t exactly have the hottest track record when it comes to being eco-friendly. However, natural cosmetics and hair products are changing the game. From growing and harvesting raw materials, to packaging and disposal, natural and organic beauty brands are taking measures to ensure the entire lifecycle of their products are environmentally and socially friendly.
With brands like LUSH helping to pave the way with their no-packaging concept, and others continuing to drive cruelty-free and ethical initiatives when it comes to sourcing materials, consumers are empowered to take action on the impacts of beauty products through purchasing decisions.
Even if you can’t swap out your entire beauty product collection, replacing just some of your products can make a huge difference for both your body and the environment. Plus, there are a ton of DIY concoctions that are actually super inexpensive. Just like with cooking, pure and fresh ingredients are bound to produce a better tasting dish than something prepared with artificial flavors and processed foods. The same goes for beauty products!
By: Stephanie Hernandez