Thanks to the trend for clean, green liv­ing, words like ‘nat­u­ral’ and ‘or­ganic’ are now fre­quently ap­plied to cos­met­ics. But what do they re­ally mean, are eco beauty prod­ucts ef­fec­tive, and what in­gre­di­ents should you avoid? Elise Wil­son takes a closer lo

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– nat­u­ral and or­ganic beauty de­coded

It’s hard to imag­ine a time when the words ‘nat­u­ral’ and ‘or­ganic’ weren’t part of ev­ery­day life. Thanks to in­creased aware­ness around the num­ber of syn­thetic chem­i­cals we in­gest through our food and the cos­met­ics we use on our skin – not to men­tion the im­pact man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­ucts and their pack­ag­ing has on the en­vi­ron­ment – the trend for clean, green liv­ing is more pop­u­lar than ever.

If you al­ready eat or­gan­i­cally, re­cy­cle reg­u­larly, and use eco-friendly clean­ing prod­ucts, then you’re more than ready to take the plunge into nat­u­ral beauty – and you’re not alone. In the past year, de­mand for nat­u­ral/or­ganic skin­care sky-rock­eted by 21.4 per cent in New Zealand, ac­cord­ing to phar­macy data. So it’s safe to say this is one beauty trend that isn’t just a tem­po­rary fad.

“There ex­ists clear ev­i­dence of a shift in peo­ple’s buy­ing be­hav­iour to­wards brands that have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the world, and look af­ter the en­vi­ron­ment and their well­be­ing,” says Lisa Wil­son, in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for Tril­ogy. “Peo­ple are be­com­ing aware that what is put on the body is ab­sorbed through the skin into our sys­tems – and there­fore is just as im­por­tant as what is con­sumed.”

While this all makes sense, the ques­tion re­main­ing on most peo­ple’s lips is ‘do nat­u­ral prod­ucts ac­tu­ally work?’ Luck­ily, the an­swer is yes – choos­ing eco-friendly cos­met­ics doesn’t mean you have to sac­ri­fice re­sults. In fact, plant-based beauty prod­ucts can be even more ef­fec­tive than their man-made com­peti­tors, thanks to a plethora of su­per­food in­gre­di­ents and in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated for­mu­las, and brands are only too happy to prove it.

“Premium nat­u­ral and or­ganic skin­care not only al­lows you to get as close to na­ture as pos­si­ble, but brands are now also bring­ing to the mar­ket sci­en­tific val­i­da­tion too,” says Deb­o­rah Samp­son, global brand spe­cial­ist for Antipodes.

So, if you’re ready to make the switch, where should you be­gin? What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween nat­u­ral, or­ganic and cer­ti­fied or­ganic and what in­gre­di­ents are best avoided? Here, we ex­plain the ter­mi­nol­ogy and give you the low­down on how to hunt out the best na­ture has to of­fer.

Sk­in­food,$23. Weleda Ash­ley & Co Wash Locks Bal­anced Sham­poo and Con­di­tioner, $40 each.

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