Feature

Organic skincare

G Magazine

Organic is the latest buzzword taking the beauty industry by storm. So just why are products free of synthetic chemicals becoming so popular?

organic beauty

Skincare made with organic ingredients is all the rage and moving into the mainstream.

Credit: iStockphoto

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Less than a decade ago, organic was a term associated with hemp-wearing hippies and health food stores, but it's since become glam to go green.

As skin-savvy consumers begin to consider cosmetics that are free of synthetic chemicals as a serious alternative to traditional skincare, mainstream cosmetic giants are scrambling to secure their slice of the multi-billion dollar organic pie.

Among the big-budget marketing monikers are stylish celebs like Stella McCartney (the name behind luxe UK skincare line, Care) and Estée Lauder-owned brand Origins, which released a USDA certified organic skincare line in Australia in February.

According to Organic Monitor, an information service that reports on the global organic market, European organic cosmetics sales are growing by about 20 per cent annually, while sales in the US exceeded US$7 billion in 2007.

A recent Datamonitor study in the United States reports that organic personal care sales are expected to rise to US$20 billion in 2009. So it's little surprise that big business is sitting up and taking notice.

"A few years ago we had every manufacturer and marketer screaming 'natural'," says Greg Milham of Sanctum and Organic Spa skincare. "More recently the word 'organic' has become the new buzz word … again many companies followed suit and began yelling it from the roof tops."

Organic producers farm without the use of synthetic chemicals, artificial fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, genetic modification and antibiotics, and annual water and soil checks are carried out on participating properties.

Skincare labelled as "certified organic" indicates that the agricultural ingredients and manufacturing plant meets the standards required by an accredited certifying body.

"This means that all your products must be of natural origin and the organic ingredients must be certified and have the appropriate certificates to back this up," says Milham. "The organic certification system is all about traceability and is set up so that organic products are carefully monitored from the farm gate right through to the final product."

Until recently there was little regulation on the use of the term "organic" on skincare labels. However, organic industry members have been working with Standards Australia and Australian Quarantine and Inspection services (AQIS) to create a National Standard for organic cosmetics and skincare in a bid to ensure that all products claiming to be "organic" meet Australian national standards, or the international equivalent, by the end of 2008.

"Basically this sets out the rules and guidelines about what you can and cannot have in your products and what you can and cannot claim on the label. It also stipulates that preservatives can only be from natural sources and no fragrance or parfum may be used," explains Milham.

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