Natural ingredients - the words, the whys and what the hecks...

As more of us start to consider our wellbeing and take a more holistic approach to beauty, natural and organic products seem the obvious choice. If you’ve been thinking of detoxing your beauty routine, you’ve probably come across words such as organic, natural, biodynamic, certified organic, vegan, wild crafted and naturally derived. 

 

Surely I can just look out for a certification stamp right? 

Sadly, it’s not always so simple. Although it’s confusing an organic certification may not the magic symbol to indicate the best beauty product. Certification means it has been tested for safety and authenticity but it does not give you any clues on performance. Click here for more info on certification.

 

So you mean not all organic beauty products are equally organic?

Well there’s no universal standard for ‘certified organic’. There’s numerous different certification bodies for one thing, and each have a different set of standards and a different list of what they will allow in a product and what they prohibit. And it’s an expensive process for producers too. This deters many fabulous brands (with products made from 70 – 100% organic ingredients) and suppliers (with genuine organic ingredients).

 

Is there a simple way to work out how clean the product is if it isn’t certified?

Basically, the only way to know is to read the ingredients. Some products can be scanned with toxicity apps such as CodeCheck (in German) and ThinkDirty (North-America only). For any unlisted items here is the lowdown on what some of the words you’ll see really mean:

Natural – naturally occurring in nature, and delivered in its natural form. eg. coconut oil. But is the coconut oil raw? Virgin? Cold-pressed? Or has it been heat treated, bleached and deodorised?

Naturally derived – ingredients first derived from nature, that have been used to artificially create an end ingredient that is delivered in an unnatural form. eg. SLS derived from coconut oil.

Wild crafted – plants that have grown wild in nature without human intervention and ideally harvested following wild crafting guidelines to ensure a high quality.

Vegan – without any animal-derived ingredients, like beeswax, carmine and milk or whey; a product can be ‘vegan’ if the ingredients are plant-based, mineral-based or synthetic.

Organic – strictly speaking organic means relating to, or derived from living matter (i.e. containing carbon molecules). It is loosely used in the beauty industry to mean a product with ingredients that are grown without the use of artificial chemicals. But it doesn’t take into account the various other ingredients that may be in the product that aren’t organic and may or may not be highly toxic.

Certified organic – can mean anything from as little as 10% of the ingredients being organic to as high as 95% or more. And there’s a large grey area when it comes to acceptable manufacturing methods permitted by the various certification bodies or if non-grown ingredients such as minerals from rocks and water are included in the calculation. 

Biodynamic – one of the most ethical and sustainable forms of agriculture in existence. No artificial fertilizers and pesticides and relies on the natural interdependence between all the different components of the farm to create a self-sustaining, balanced and harmonious environment.

 

Seems a little complicated. What else can I do?

We get it – it can seem really daunting. That’s why at we’ve done the hard work for you, and when it comes to clean beauty, we’re real tough cookies to please. We promise you we’ve rigorously tested every product featured on VANZEE on its:

·      Purity (natural, organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic and non-toxic ingredients)

·      Performance (delivering beautiful results)

·      Ethical standards (ticking vegan, cruelty-free and sustainability boxes too).

We include both certified and uncertified products on the site, as we have found amazing products that tick all our criteria without certification logos.

If you want to check a product for yourself, here are our tips:

1. Read the full ingredient list

Ingredients are listed in descending order, starting with the largest amount in the product. If a product touts a particular ingredient but it is listed near the end of the list, then not much of that ingredient is present. On the other hand, certain active ingredients only need to be present at .5 to one percent in order to be the most effective, so a little can go a long way!  Look out for any hidden nasties (most likely words that don’t look or sound anything like a botanical plant name).

2.  Research your brands

Are they owned by a big multinational that is more concerned with profitability than the long term health and appearance of your skin and wellbeing? Do they source their ingredients ethically?

3.  Most importantly … get hands on

Try a product and determine the results for yourself. If you aren’t impressed, try another brand. Sooner or later you’ll find the right beauty brand for you.