The Uncomfortable Truth About "Natural" Skincare Products
There's no denying that going green has never been easier than it is right now—synthetic-free product lines continue to pop up everywhere from the supermarket to the salon—but it's this growing consumer enthusiasm that has led to some serious confusion. If you're into green beauty you're probably familiar with "greenwashing", a term used to describe the practice of making a product seem more natural/organic/eco than it really is. (Usually with the help of some convincing advertising and a misleading ingredients label.) Unfortunately with many companies looking to make a buck off of interested buyers, it's no longer enough to spot the words "natural" "organic" or "eco-friendly" on a bottle and throw it in your shopping cart. For instance, it's totally possible to buy a natural product that contains lab-made preservatives or fragrances. Since discovering genuinely natural products takes a bit of extra investigation, we reached out to Jacqueline Evans whose eponymous skincare line represents the best of the best. Evans, (who recently opened her first-ever bricks and mortar store in Eastland's incredible Beauty Garden) created her line based on meticulous research into ingredients and product formulations, using only natural and certified organic ingredients. Ergo, she's the perfect person to quiz on what exactly we should be looking on product labels in order to be 100 per cent sure we're buying quality.
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Not all natural products contain high quality ingredients. (Sad but true.) You can find a perfect example of this contradiction in the many natural oil blends on market that don't specify method of extraction. According to Evans, much as we've come to seek out cold pressed coconut and olive oils, it's time to check our skincare is made up of the same: "Cold pressed oils retain a much higher nutritional value—it is therefore better to look for cold pressed oils in your skincare as far as is possible," she says. Unlike heat pressed oils which can be nuked to the point of rancidity, cold pressed oils are only heated at low temps to prevent loss of valuable nutrients. When you think about what it is you're paying for (see: said valuable nutrients) it makes sense to seek out a product with the highest possible percentage.
Something to know about truly natural products: when using the highest quality non-synthetic ingredients it is more difficult to retain the function and action of the ingredients. Because of this, Evan suggests opting for brands that create their products using small scale production methods. "Choosing brands that make in small batches ensures maximum freshness and efficacy of the ingredients inside," she notes.
First off, Evans dispels the myth that all natural products must be completely preservative-free. "Despite the fact that some cosmetic preservatives have had bad press, they reality is that preservatives play a vital part in ensuring a product continues to be safe for application to the skin right up until its use by date," she says. The good news is that a plethora of natural preservatives are now available, including grapefruit seed and rosemary extracts both of which Evans uses in her range. Other safe options that keep products from spoiling whilst also giving good shelf life can include vegetable-based preservatives—check ingredients lists if you're not sure.
Anyone who's mid-transition to natural skincare knows it can be hard to find products with non-artificial scents that rival the traditional kind. Why does this matter? "Artificial perfumes have question marks around disrupting our hormones and in some people may cause headaches and fatigue," says Evans. Still, the natural beauty whizz says that in addition to there being an "absolute smorgasbord" of natural fragrances available, essential oils also have a beneficial actions on the skin: "Take neroli essential oil for example, it's great for oily, sensitive and mature types and helps to smooth fine lines and tone sagging skin. FYI, you can find this superstar essential oil in the brand's Argan and Rosehip Oil Facial Serum ($55).
"It is our ongoing commitment that no harsh or detrimental chemicals are used—this belief is demonstrated by our choice of packaging that is both minimalist and respects the environment," says Evans. If you already seek out recyclable glass or PET plastic bottles, here's something else to consider—how are the products you buy transported by the company? In the age of online shopping (#hallelujah), it's worth thinking about how your buys make it to your doorstep. Evan's company ships using packaging made from renewable Australian grown wheat that has excellent shock absorbing abilities. "It is 100% biodegradable and breaks down into naturally occurring elements when composted," she says.