Know your organic makeup

It's all the rage at the moment, but what does it really mean for the health-conscious buyer?

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By Nerissa Low

Published: Thu 19 Mar 2020, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 20 Mar 2020, 1:00 AM

As consumers become increasingly conscious about their health and the environment, they're making better choices when it comes to what they put on their skin. This has sparked a wave of brands in the beauty industry using buzzwords like 'organic' and 'natural' in their marketing, sometimes interchangeably. But what really is the difference? Does organic makeup actually exist? And what does this truly mean for the health-conscious buyer?

What is organic makeup?
Authentic organic makeup is makeup that has been formulated with a high content of organic ingredients. These ingredients are derived from nature and are farmed through sustainable methods, without any chemical assistance and minimal human interference. The formulation of authentic organic makeup should also not contain harmful or synthetic chemicals, to ensure high standards of safety for its user and sustainability for the environment.

What is the difference between natural and organic?
We know that both natural and organic makeup are made of naturally derived ingredients such as plants, flowers and minerals. However, the big difference between natural and organic makeup is in where these ingredients are farmed. Both natural and organic makeup are safer alternatives than their chemical counterparts. However, natural ingredients may be contaminated by chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Organic makeup takes it one step further and uses ingredients that are farmed in organic farms - these farms are secluded (at least 40km radius) from commercial farms in order to prevent any contamination from chemical or pesticide runoff from neighbouring commercial farms. Organic ingredients also do not contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO); instead, nature takes its course in the sowing and harvesting of these ingredients.
When it comes to makeup labels such as natural and organic, there is a big difference. Organic products must contain a minimum of 70 per cent organic ingredients in order to make this claim, while natural ingredients do not have to conform to any strict regulation. Many natural products also contain synthetic chemicals and fragrances. The label "natural makeup" covers a broad spectrum of makeup products that use ingredients found in nature but are not organic, and does not guarantee the absence of chemical additives.

The issue of greenwashing
There are many brands that will cleverly use words like organic, natural, herbal, eco-friendly and earth-friendly in their brand names, but in reality, they do not use natural or organic ingredients at all.
This practice is known as greenwashing, and may deceive consumers who are unaware of what to look out for. Simply put, brands will label their product as natural or organic but, in reality, will only use a small percentage of these natural or organic ingredients in their formulations. Because of such practices, it's important to read the ingredient labels of these products.

What to look for in a genuinely organic brand
People should always check the back of the product and read all the ingredients on the label. Usually, organic products will state the type of certification they have. It is also good to take note of the following criteria to have peace of mind that the product is safe for you and the environment:
.    Cruelty-free (products are not tested on animals)
.    Vegan (products do not contain animal by-products such as beeswax, carmine and honey)
.    Free of nanoparticles, parabens, or other harmful or synthetic chemicals
The way the ingredients are listed says a lot about how transparent the brand is - go for organic brands with labels and certifications, and those that list all its ingredients with transparency.
Nerissa Low is Founder, Liht Organics

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