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Is organic skincare better for your skin?

Woman with shaved head in a white towel washing her face and neck while looking in a mirror
On this page

Is organic skincare better for your skin?

In this day and age, terms like “organic”, “natural”, “green” and “clean” can be found everywhere – and not just in the food aisle. Within the cosmetics industry, many brands have released eco-friendly lines, which are said to be kinder to both the environment and your skin.

But how much truth is there to the claim that organic is really better for your skin? Read on for our complete guide to organic skincare.

The definition of “organic” in skincare

“Organic” is a term that applies to how ingredients in a certain product have been farmed. The organic system incorporates:

  • fewer pesticides
  • no genetic modification
  • no artificial fertilisers, colours or preservatives
  • a higher standard of welfare for farm animals¹

In the UK, there are pretty strict rules about labelling food as organic. If you’re a retailer, you can give your food this label provided that at least 95% of the farm-grown ingredients are organic. You also need to be certified by an organic control body like the Soil Association².

Within skincare, however, the term “organic” isn’t subject to the same government regulations. This means brands can use it on all sorts of products – along with other terms like “natural” and “green”³.

How to find genuine organic skincare

The government may not prevent cosmetics brands from freely using the term “organic”, but there are still ways to find out whether a brand’s track record matches up with what’s on their labels.

One way is to check for the Soil Association COSMOS Organic logo on a product. This indicates that it has been certified by the Soil Association as containing 95% organic ingredients³.

An organic beauty product certified in this way will contain zero:

  • Genetically modified ingredients
  • Controversial chemicals
  • Parabens and phthalates
  • Synthetic colours, dyes and perfumes

In addition, it should come in sustainable packaging and have been manufactured without animal testing⁴.

Many cosmetics brands have been certified by the Soil Association in this way, including Garnier Organic and Fushi

However, if a product you’re interested in hasn’t been certified by the Soil Association, it’s still taking a look at their website. Some brands, such as NEOM Organics, won’t adhere entirely to the rules set out by the Soil Association, but they may still have excellent organic and eco-friendly credentials. 

The benefits of organic skincare for your skin

As we’ve seen, organic skincare that’s been certified by the Soil Association must be free from “controversial” chemicals like parabens, phthalates and synthetic colours and fragrances. For lots of people, this might be the main appeal of organic skincare, as there’s an assumption that these kinds of “unnatural” chemicals will automatically be bad for your skin.

However, the truth is that skincare ingredients don’t have to be synthetic to be bad for your skin – in fact there are plenty of all-natural ingredients that can cause irritation, dryness and breakouts, whether or not they’ve been farmed in an organic way.

Even if a product is free from irritating chemicals, it may still contain natural, organic ingredients that don’t get on well with your skin. This is particularly true of essential oils, which tend to contain irritating fragrances⁶.

Of course, there are plenty of all-natural ingredients found in organic skincare products that can be great for your skin, including:

  • Camomile
  • Seaweed
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Coconut oil
  • Shea butter
  • Honey
  • Turmeric
  • Aloe vera
  • Cocoa butter⁶

Products to generally steer clear of include:

  • Arnica
  • Balsam
  • Bergamot
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender oil
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Witch hazel⁶

As these can be irritating if you have sensitive skin. When it comes to skincare it may take a little trial and error to find the brands and products that work for you. If you’re wanting to shop kinder our conscious buying page is a great place to start.

What to look for when you buy organic skincare

Although organic skincare isn’t automatically better for your skin, there are still lots of benefits to using it.

Brands that have clear organic credentials, including those certified by the Soil Association, are taking steps to help reduce pollution, soil degradation and animal cruelty. Buying from these companies is a great way to do your bit for the environment and feel good about your consumer choices.

Just make sure that before you buy, you check out the ingredients list of your chosen products, especially if you have sensitive skin!

If you’re looking to make your skincare routine kinder, have a look at our vegan skincare blog and our cruelty free makeup roundup.

References

¹www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/what-is-organic/
²www.gov.uk/food-labelling-and-packaging/organic-food
³www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/beauty-wellbeing/what-does-organic-beauty-mean/organic-vs-natural-beauty/
www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/beauty-wellbeing/what-does-organic-beauty-mean/
https://support.neomorganics.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360002778617-Are-your-products-organic-
www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/skincare-advice/skin-care-myths/are-natural-and-organic-ingredients-better-for-your-skin.html