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Organic and Natural Skincare, Where Knowledge is Power

Sep 1, 2008
Shopping for organic and natural skincare products should not, in theory, be any more complicated than shopping for anything else. In reality though the wide range of products - each one with different purposes and benefits - can make it confusing to know which item suits your needs the best. Here, I will briefly run through the pieces of information that should be found on most natural and organic skincare products, and outline what these symbols and pieces of information say about their product.

Since 2005 EU guidelines have changed so that skincare and cosmetic products no longer need to have a conventional 'best-before' date. Instead, a little symbol that resembles a small pot with its lid open is now to be found. Upon this little pot is printed a number, which tells the consumer how long that product will last from the day that it is opened. Whilst this is a very useful idea, it does rely on the purchaser of the product remembering when they actually opened it. A best before date is far more cut-and-dry in my opinion.

The life expectancy symbol can give you a hint as to whether or not an organic or natural skincare product has had any nasty chemical preservatives slipped in - a quick glance at my (non-organic) shampoo reveals a rather worrying 24 month life expectancy, which suggests the presence of some not overly natural compounds, synthetics or preservatives. When it comes to natural products that use Essential Oils, it is important to note that the life expectancy symbol might be slightly misleading. Essential Oils actually stay good and last longer than most vegetable oils, but many manufactures will put a relatively low life expectancy on their products to indicate how long the potency of those oils will be at its peak. So, a natural or organic skincare products that contains a high percentage of essential oils may only have a life expectancy of say, six months, but in practice, as long as its kept in a cool, dark, dry place, will last far longer.

When purchasing natural or organic skincare products you are not just doing your body a favour, but, in many cases, also doing the environment favour too. Organic compounds don't reek the same havoc into the water system that their chemical cousins can. If you are concerned about the environment, look out for the little circle comprised of the white and black arrow on a products label. This yin-yang like logo shows that the company contributes to recycling and proper disposal programs for all of that products packaging.

The list of the product's ingredients is an important resource for those people that are allergic to certain things. Any product claiming to be natural or organic should have a fairly comprehensive ingredients list. Remember that a product that claims to be 'organic' may not be '100% organic' and in the instance of deciding whether to purchase a skincare product labelled 'organic' the ingredients list is useful in working out what percentage of the product is organic and what percentage is synthetic, chemical or alcohol based.
About the Author
Martin Gavin is a writer for scin boutique
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