Organic Beauty + Wellbeing Week: Why We’re Embracing Organic

Transforming our farming system for the better isn’t just about switching up what we eat, Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week (7-13 September), part of the Soil Association’s Organic September campaign is an opportunity to reexamine what we put on our bodies not just what goes in them.

What is organic beauty?

“When we choose organic, we are making a commitment to ourselves and to our planet, we are championing natural, less processed and environmentally friendly products. This is important for anything we put in and on our bodies, from the food we eat to the skincare products we use daily,” say Mimi + Tor, founders of Basho Skincare, which relies on the power of plants and the rhythms of nature for its range of face and body oils.

Essentially, organic certification signals that a product is farmed without the use of harmful pesticides, Genetically Modified Organisms (GM), herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and other potentially harmful chemical inputs. However, without a unified legal definition, the industry relies on independent bodies to verify standards. In the UK, this falls to the Soil Association and its beauty logo COSMOS Organic, but you should also look out for NaTrue and EcoCert. (Bear in mind that different countries will carry different logos).

It has taken a while for ‘organic’ to move out of the fusty corners of farm shops and into the bright lights of our bathrooms, but we are lucky to work with a number of brands who are bringing organic principles to new audiences with flair. With its alluring scent combinations and dreamy artist collaborations, LA-EVA is one such brand giving the movement a much-needed face lift. Originally a purveyor of artisan soaps, LA-EVA has since evolved into a chic range of multipurpose products that zone in on organic, ethically sound ingredients. LA-EVA means ‘left of centre’ in Latin, but these elegant apothecary-style glass bottles (recyclable and refillable FYI) are bound to take centre stage in your skincare routine.

Image: Thea Lovstad for Glasshouse Journal
Image: Thea Lovstad for Glasshouse Journal

In a recent panel discussion hosted by the Sustainability Lifestyle Awards, founder Louisa Canham discussed what being certified means to her team. “The organic, vegan and cruelty-free certifications that we have opted for involve rigorous checking of our chain of supply and trace each ingredient back to source, assuring us and our customers that what is contained in our bottles is the purest of what is available, respectful towards the natural habitat and produced from renewable raw materials.” But beyond the practicalities, Canham pointed to something less visible than a label but just as important: the joy in making considered earth-friendly choices.

“Sustainability is about living with compassion for the natural world. It is about a principle of balance and goes hand in hand with buying thoughtfully, using better, and wasting less. Sustainability is inherently about celebrating and maintaining health, wellness and beauty and hopefully over time we can approach the practice of living more sustainably positively - I like the idea that it comes to be associated with being a ‘bon vivant’: “one who lives well”.

It’s a sentiment echoed by new addition to the Glasshouse Shop Ede, the modern wellness range calls its skincare project “a celebration of humans and our connection to nature. While rooted in age-old aromatherapy techniques Ede has done away with the industry’s unsustainable practices, only working with organic and natural plant oils and certified vegan suppliers.

For Basho Skincare, using certified ingredients is crucial but they’re aware the process of certification can be beyond the resources of smaller brands. “We understand that the processes involved in becoming accredited as an organic producer are long and require hard work. Our hope is that there could be more support and incentives for producers to work using organic farming principles, especially for smaller, independent growers. We would love for organic production of essential and carrier oils to be a viable business for growers in the UK and to elevate the standards of the whole industry,” they add.

Image: Ede Skincare
Image: Ede Skincare

While it doesn’t receive much press, many of the essential and carrier oils commonly used in the beauty industry are grown in countries with poor workers’ rights with minimal health and social care. For Mimi + Tor, it’s important they work with like-minded companies where there are strict in-house codes of practice that ensure ethical standards are met. “These include working conditions, fair pay and safe and responsible extraction.” But they also point out that organic alone isn’t a sure sign of sustainability. “There are certain ingredients we refuse to buy such as Indian Sandalwood because the trees, which take nearly 200 years to grow and provide an amazing habitat for wildlife are cut unsustainably as well as being a serious threat to those involved in the production,” they add.

All of our brands are committed to creating planet-friendly products beyond saying no to toxic chemicals. Whether it’s through recycled, recyclable or refillable packaging, biodegradable, sustainably sourced ingredients and transparency over their farm-to-face manufacturing processes. Often the result is a high performing product with a low impact on the planet. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Studies have shown that organic products contain up to 60% higher levels of antioxidants. And there are innumerable benefits to this climate-conscious system as Mimi + Tor are keen to stress.

“Organic farming principles promote more ecological methods which help to enrich soils and protect biodiversity, wildlife and the environment - essentially working with nature, not against it. We all know the serious damage to soil health and water quality caused by the synthetic chemicals and antibiotics used in intensive farming, so by choosing organic we are choosing the long term health of our planet, not a quick fix. The more in demand organic products become, the stronger the industry will be, allowing more pressure to be put on environmentally hazardous types of farming.”

Here are our top tips for choosing organic

Take it slow

Switching all your beauty and skincare products in the space of a week would be a costly and not to mention wasteful exercise. Instead, the Soil Association suggests readjusting one area at a time as “making one small swap to your self-care routine is the first step to making a world of difference.”

Know your numbers

According to the Soil Association, a product can only be labelled as organic e.g ‘Organic facial oil’ if 95% of ALL ingredients are organic. A 100% organic product is near impossible as something like water can not be certified. What’s more, the Beauty Kitchen has pointed out that some farmed ingredients aren’t certifiable but are far more sustainable than taking the same ingredients from the wild.

For leave on products, 95% of all physically processed agro-ingredients (plant-based ingredients which undergo processing, to extend shelf life, for example) must be organic and at least 20% of the total ingredients must be organic.

For rinse off products, 95% of all physically processed agro-ingredients must be organic and at least 10% of the total ingredients must be organic.

Suss out your personal sustainable markers

Whether you’re against animal testing, avoiding chemicals or trying to make more planet-friendly choices, an ethical brand will be upfront about all these things. As well as organic certification, we’d recommend looking for the cruelty free label and choosing products that avoid hormone disrupting parabens and phyalates and synthetic colours, dyes and fragrances. Our salon go-to Organic Colour Systems uses 60% organic certified ingredients sourced from reputable suppliers and you can also rest easy knowing they steer clear of harsh chemicals such as ammonia, parabens, resorcinol and formaldehyde.

Browse our range of organic beauty online at Glasshouse Shop.

Words: Kyra Hanson
Feature image: Basho

Share this:

More From The Journal

  1. Sustainable Sleep Rituals

    ​From ethically sourced loungewear to low waste makeup removal, we speak to some eco-conscious bloggers about all the ways you can practice good sleep hygiene without harming the planet.

    More +
  2. Masterclass: Air-drying Curls

    Winter has definitely arrived and with it brings a shift in the way we care for our hair. On balmier days we welcome air drying our curly hair, but in the depths of winter this is less appealing. With the help of Glasshouse Salon stylist Tori’s expert advise, we’ve got some tips for achieving a frizz-free curly style throughout the colder months.

    More +
  3. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Scorpio

    As our mornings and evenings get darker and the clocks turn back this weekend, we are entering the beginning of Scorpio season and have once again enlisted the help of Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer, to tell us all about this illusive and intriguing sign.

    More +
  4. Gender Neutral Prices

    As we launch a new gender neutral price list that makes hair cuts and colour the same for both men and women, we’re take a look at some of the other industries affected by the so called ‘pink tax’ and why many women end up paying more than men for the same products.

    More +
  5. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Libra

    ​Autumn is officially here and with it comes the beginning of Libra season. Balanced, social and often romantic, Daliah Roth of The Highgate Astrologer helps us delve deeper into the qualities of this sign.

    More +
  6. Hair Trend: Slicked Back

    From Molly Goddard to Roland Mouret, we spotted the slicked back look all over the SS20 catwalks. Though the style may seem more high fashion than everyday, hair that’s swept of the face is surprisingly flattering and easy to achieve. With help from our Senior Stylist Mel, we’ve put together some tips on the bold yet sophisticated trend.

    More +
  7. Plastic-Free Periods

    ​As more and more alternative period products become available, we chat to four real women to hear their experiences transitioning from conventional feminine care to more sustainable and healthy options.

    More +
  8. The Glasshouse Guide to Beauty Recycling

    The rules around recycling can be difficult to decipher most of the time, but recycling our beauty products seems to be an even more confusing area. In celebration of Zero Waste Week, we’ve put together the definitive guide to reusing, recycling, and refilling our bathroom waste.

    More +
  9. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Virgo

    As the summer starts winding down, we’re entering into Virgo season. Practical and humble, we find out more about Virgo’s traits as we continue our Astrology series with Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer.

    More +
  10. Beauty Trend: Orange

    Bold and zesty, orange makeup is having a moment this summer. Whether you’re up for experimenting or are a little more reserved, we’ve got some tips on how to wear the shade in a way that suits you with the help of our in-house makeup artist Emily.

    More +
  11. Amber Rowan by Thea Lovstad

    Despite diversity being more visible than ever, we still wrap a lot of our identity up in our hair. Model and actress Amber Rowan has suffered from alopecia from the age of 15, sharing her journey and the stories of others on her platform, Hair Free Life. We spent a morning with Amber and photographer Thea Lovstad, leaving feeling inspired by what she has to say and her unique beauty.

    More +
  12. Reads: Moon Lists by Leigh Patterson

    ​With a focus on reflection and perspective, Moon Lists is a new workbook from Leigh Patterson designed to guide readers through a series of prompts, lists and questions for a life experienced more deeply. We sat down with Leigh to gain some more insight about the concept and how it relates to self-care.

    More +
  13. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Leo

    As we enter Leo season, friend of Glasshouse Daliah Roth, aka The Highgate Astrologer, joins us once again to share an in depth analysis of the fiery sun sign and the Leo qualities you might see in yourself or others.

    More +
  14. Summer Beauty SOS

    From oily skin to frizzy hair, the warm summer weather can throw a few different beauty issues our way. We’ve put together a handy guide to dealing with some of the biggest bug-bears of the season so that you can enjoy your summer stress-free.

    More +
  15. Circular Beauty: Part One

    Circular beauty is the beauty trend we hope never goes out of fashion. In part one of this series, we look at how food waste is finding a new home in our skin and hair care.

    More +
  16. Think Piece: Beauty Fasting

    The beauty industry is bigger than ever. But what does that mean for the environment? And what are our overcomplicated regimes doing for our skin? We delve into the world of ‘Beauty Fasting’ to see if there’s any worth in cutting things down and giving our skin, the planet and our wallet a break.

    More +
Load more posts