A guest post by Fiona MacDonald of Cosmos Magazine 

Just when you think the beauty industry has committed herself to a life of botox, doctors and high-tech chemicals, she turns around and surprises you by going on a detox. It could have something to do with goddesses such as Miranda Kerr bounding around and preaching about the power of an organic lifestyle, but a growing number of women are now shifting their focus from chemicals and fillers to organic products and natural ingredients. For the past two years I have also given up the chemicals and turned to the pure side of cosmetics.

But what is the benefit of organic beauty? And how do you know where to start? Here’s a beginner’s guide to organic beauty and how to achieve a complexion that Aphrodite herself would envy.

What does organic mean?

Generally, an organic product has not been treated with pesticides and herbicides and contains mostly non-synthetic materials. There are different organic certifications with varying standards (see more info on these standards here but overall you can expect that a certified organic product will contain mainly natural ingredients and have fewer toxins.

Why use organic?

We spend a lot of time thinking about what we put into our bodies, but many people don’t realise that every day we’re slathering our biggest organ – our skin – in toxins. A large number of beauty products contain chemicals that are known to cause cancer, hormone changes and cell death. And anything you put on your skin can end up straight in your blood stream – which quickly circulates to every other organ in your body.

Using products that are free of these harmful chemicals will help to reduce the amount of toxins in your body and your skin will look amazing as a result. While bleaching, burning or freezing your skin with common products containing harmful chemicals may be a quick fix for blemishes or fine lines, in the long run you are putting toxins into your system and your skin will ultimately suffer.

Are all organic products created equally?

Unfortunately not. Many products claim to be organic, but are still filled with harmful chemicals. And some products that aren’t certified organics may in fact be purer than those that are. This is where things get tricky – it’s up to you to read labels and work out what’s going to nourish your skin in the healthiest way possible. If you want to glow like a goddess, you need to put in a little effort.

Here are some ingredients that you should avoid. In this batch there are chemicals that have been linked to cancer, are known irritants and cause hormone changes and birth defects.

–   parabens (anything listed in the ingredients with ‘paraben’ at the end)

–   anything from the phthalate family (often listed as DBP and DEHP)

–   lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate (sometimes listed as SLS or SLES)

–   formaldehyde (or methyl aldehyde and any urea products)

–   the amine family (DEA, TEA and MEA)

–   mineral oil (listed as mineral oil, petroleum or liquid paraffin)

–   propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol (PEG)

–   synthetic fragrances and colours

Do organic products work?

When changing over to organic products, my biggest concern was whether they were too ‘gentle’ to make a difference. It’s fine for girls with poreless skin to rave about natural beauty, but what about those of us who have acne, rosacea or patchy skin? Luckily there are plenty of intensive and specialised treatments out there. To name just a few: Burt’s Bees anti-blemish range, Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel, Anitpodes Avocado Oil & Rosehip Divine Face Oil and the trusty Trilogy Rosehip Oil. The majority of the products I have tried have worked visibly within the first two weeks.

Is it more expensive?

Surprisingly, I haven’t found buying organic products to be any more expensive than regular ones. Up front the cost may be more (depending on which brand you use) but I have found that as most of the products aren’t padded out with water and other harmful fillers, they last a lot longer.

Where do I start?

The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to overhaul your beauty cabinet all at once – just swapping one regular product for an organic or natural one will reduce the toxic strain on your body.

There are some amazing brands out there, here are some of my favourites. Not all of these are certified organic products but are all almost 100% natural and don’t contain harmful chemicals and toxins.

Skincare:

Juice Beauty – the Green Apple Peel is amazing for dull or damaged skin.

http://www.juicebeauty.com/

Burt’s Bees – these beautiful, natural products are based on the healing power of beeswax and I can’t go past the anti-blemish range for my skin type. I also love the lip balms and the Garden Tomato toner.

http://www.burtsbees.com.au/

Kora – formulated by the goddess Miranda Kerr, all of these products are beautiful. I particularly love the exfoliating cream.

http://www.koraorganics.com/

Trilogy – the certified organic rose hip oil is great on scars and they have an all natural self tanner that I’m dying to try.

http://www.trilogyproducts.com/

Antipodes – this is a beautiful brand that has all the luxury of a designer range. The Divine Face Oil melts into your skin and has been shown to stimulate collagen growth by 51%.

http://www.antipodesnature.com

La Mav – I particularly love the skin-brightening Vit-C Advanced Nightly Repair Nectar (and my boyfriend loves the smell).

http://www.lamav.com

Argital – new in Australia, this Italian brand has some amazing products – including a 100% natural anti-cellulite oil. It’s imported by Haberfield Naturopathic Centre.

http://www.haberfieldnaturopathics.com.au

Sukin – perhaps the cheapest natural/organic brand out there, Sukin is my go-to company. Their body lotion leaves me feeling soft for days and I love the new night moisturiser from the Purely  Ageless range.

http://www.sukinorganics.com.au/

Yes to… – including Yes to Carrots, Tomatoes, Blueberries and Cucumbers, these products are affordable and all natural. I love all the products I’ve tried – especially the Yes to Tomatoes skin clearing facial mask with mud from the Dead Sea.

http://www.yestocarrots.com/

Makeup:

Ere perez – my absolute favourite. The Beetroot Lip and Cheek stain has changed my life – and those of all the friends I’ve recommended it to. If you are a fan of wearing red lipstick that NEVER runs or bleeds and lasts for hours, (I’m not exaggerating here people, it’s that good) then you MUST buy this product. The rice powders are also gorgeous.

http://www.ereperez.com

Inika – organic and mineral products in great, contemporary shades. I find these mineral make up colours look the most natural on my skin.

http://www.inika.com.au/

RMS – I haven’t yet tried the make up of Rose-Marie Swift but have heard and read such great things – particularly from her biggest fan, Miranda Kerr –  this is the next on my list of brands to try.

http://www.rmsbeauty.com/

NVEY eco – I love their range of fluid foundations and the volumising mascara is amazing – although isn’t waterproof so be careful not to touch your eyes too much.

http://www.nveymakeup.com/

Hair and body:

Organic Care – I love these shampoos and conditioners and you can get them from Woolworths!

http://www.naturesorganics.com.au/organic-care

Dr Bronner’s Magic Pure Organic Castille Soap – this miracle products can be used 18 ways – I just wouldn’t recommend using it as toothpaste, which they suggest. It feels like you’re watching your mouth out with soap.

http://www.drbronner.com/

Butter London – beautiful carcinogen-free nailpolishes in a range of amazing colours.

http://www.butterlondon.com

One Seed – a natural perfume brand with some lovely, elegant scents.

http://oneseedcompany.com/