Are natural cosmetics really worth the money?
Thanks to wellness bloggers and clean-eating Instagrammers, we're paying more attention than ever to what we put into our bodies. And we’re also increasingly turning our attention to what we put onto our bodies too - particularly our faces.
Over the past few years, the demand for natural and organic cosmetics has soared. By 2024, it's predicted that the global market in this area will be worth almost $22 billion.
With new ranges seeming to appear every time you blink, it’s clear to see that the cosmetics companies are just as happy for this trend to continue. After all, they're considerably more expensive than regular cosmetics. Even celebrity health gurus such as Deliciously Ella, who in 2016 launched her own skincare line in conjunction with Neal's Yard, have got in on the act. But are natural and organic cosmetics worth this extra cost?
There's no standardisation when it comes to "natural" or "organic" products
Natural cosmetics are generally considered to be those made from natural ingredients, including oil and plant extracts. Organic cosmetics take this one step further, by only using organic natural ingredients. But there’s a catch.
There’s currently actually no standardisation as to what it "organic" or "natural" cosmetics actually means. In the UK, where rules are generally stricter, cosmetic products can still be labelled as “organic”, even if they have not been certified as such, simply on the good word of the manufacturer.
Part of the demand for natural and organic products comes from the idea of keeping ourselves “clean” from chemicals. And a growing number of people believe that makeup that is free from traditional ingredients must be better for our skin and wider health.
The debate for "clean" beauty
Rose-Marie Swift is a celebrity makeup artist. She launched a range of natural cosmetics, after experiencing health issues that she associated with the chemicals found in makeup.
“I was surprised when one of the technicians at the [blood test lab] asked if I worked in the cosmetics industry. It turns out that a lot of the chemicals in my blood were also used in make-up and these were a contributor to my very run down immune system,” she said, going on to explain that she bore this in mind when creating her own range: “Your skin is a mirror to your overall health and it absorbs what you put on it, so it made no sense to me to add anything dead to my products.”
The case against...
Beth McLellan is a dermatologist, and the director of Oncodermatology at Montefiore Health. And she isn’t so convinced that standard cosmetics are necessarily bad for you.
She pointed out to In The Gloss that not only is there no research to conclude this, but one of the skin’s main - and most successful - functions is to protect the body from absorbing nasty chemicals:
"If we could put something on the surface of the skin and it was all absorbed into the bloodstream, you would never have to take pills—you could just rub medicine on your skin, but it doesn't work that way."
Why are natural and organic products more expensive?
Natural and organic products tend to be more expensive. And this is largely because of the higher production costs involved in sourcing and creating them.
But do you get more for your money at the end of the day? Unfortunately, in terms of longevity, the answer is no. The reality is that natural cosmetics tend to have a shorter shelf life than normal cosmetics because they use no preservatives and their main ingredients are plant-based, meaning they break down more quickly. Not exactly ideal for the beauty aficionado on a budget.
However, if you're wanting to go greener, such products can be worth the investment. This is because they have fewer pesticides or chemical fertilisers, making them better for the local environment and for wildlife.
The bottom line
So if you’re particularly passionate about keeping your body - and the planet - as pure as can be, then it might be worth spending the extra cash. But unless you’re going to fully commit, then it might not be the be-all and end-all solution you've been looking for. It's not that natural and organic products can't be worth money. In fact, I'm sure they can be, but it's definitely a matter of doing your own research to make sure manufacturers aren't green-washing the reality of their products.
One thing is for sure though: natural cosmetics are no longer the preserve of hippies and health-freaks, and the trend for them will last longer than a bottle of their foundation.