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16/07/13: Riddle me this, Batman (aka The Skincare Maze)

When you're trying to move away from conventional brands, there are suddenly a lot more categories, certifications and ethics being promoted and it can get a bit confusing.   Here are a few of the terms you might come across.

A wide-ranging term that is used a lot - for me, green should mean that the product and brand is eco-conscious, but I think different people have different concepts for the word so it's not something I rely on when purchasing.

The big two.  For me, it's primarily vegetarian that I'll look for, as I haven't made my mind up about bees.  However, some things that are categorised as vegetarian which I'd still not want in my skincare so I also look out for shellac and lanolin which are covered by the vegan banner.  

You'll see this around a lot more, with some of the beauty juggernauts stamping this claim across their packaging.  It's a great element to a brand and means that they don't test on animals.  Hopefully they will also state that they don't receive the individual ingredients from anyone that tests on animals either, but this isn't always clear.  Although cruelty-free products are a fantastic start, I'm aware that products in this category won't always fall into any of my other "look out for" boxes.

This is a confusing one and I've heard different stories.  The definition of chemical is apparently "A compound or substance that has been purified or prepared, esp. artificially" - so some companies use it to mean that their product is natural - without synthetics.  However, I have seen it where there are ingredients that look a bit dodgy, so I don't tend to look out for this one when buying.

This is something that I do like to look for, as I like the idea of simple products.  But, it's another term that isn't regulated, and that natural cream might only have a teaspoon of shea or capful of coconut oil.  Also, it's important to note that you could react just as badly to that natural jojoba oil as to the oxy-methylwhatsit in your face cream. 

This is a huge selling point at the moment, and when it's done properly is great.  Unfortunately, it isn't a regulated claim and products containing as little as 3%  organic content can call their product organic.  As such, organic on a product can mean a lot of things, but an organic ingredient is one that should have been farmed responsibly without pesticides or synthetic chemicals and is plant-based. 

If you're looking for true organic products, read the product list and look out for certification by some of the big names like Soil Association who have strict criteria about what they will and will not stamp their mark on or allow to call themselves organic.

An excellent word to look-out for, this means that the company has sourced particular ingredients (perhaps all of them) from fairtrade sources - meaning the farmers in Africa, India or wherever have been paid fairly for their product and have good working conditions. 

Overall, it can be a bit of a slow process deciphering what means what, and I could go into a lot more detail - but the best way to find products that fit your criteria is to just start sifting through what is out there.  Look at the ingredients (brands, please have them on your websites!) and use your common sense.  If you're not sure, ask. :)  Most companies are willing to send ingredient lists or answer questions.

What do you think of these terms - do any of them influence what you spend your money on?  


Thanks for commenting! For quicker replies find me on Twitter @gfmgfy.

  1. I'm a little skeptical of all the labeling claims companies make since so many of the terms are completely unregulated. The first thing I look at is the actual ingredients list :)

    1. Absolutely - even though it can be time-consuming, I think that's the best way. (Although I sometimes have trouble understanding the lists!)

    2. Completely concur! I just read the ingredients too lol. The cruelty free thing is something I also agree with. Just because someone doesn't personally test their products on animals (or their suppliers), doesn't mean that the ingredients weren't originally tested by such means. Grey areas!! X

    3. It really is. I partly wrote this post to make myself have more of a look into what is actually written out there. Not sure if I'm any clearer! Thank you for reading :) x

  2. I personally take anything written on the front of the packaging with pinch of salt, my first port of call is ingredients if they are good I then will do some more research on the companies website etc.. to see what they mean by the terms they are using. There are huge grey areas and as consumers we don't have all day to research every product so for me if they tick a certain amount of boxes then I will use the brand but I rely on reputation and research more than marketing phrases for this reason. Great idea for a post there are some other terms which seem to be even more confusing like biodynamic etc.. that's when you get to the nitty gritty of organics Xx

    1. I know, I've been disappointed in the past when I've read about a great brand that is x, y and z and then I've looked at the ingredients and not been impressed. I did search for biodynamic once and I don't think I understood it really - it certainly hasn't stuck in my mind. One to research a bit more I reckon! :) Thanks for your input. xx


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