How Well Do You Know Your Skincare

How well do you know your child’s skincare?

I’ve had it in the back of my mind for some time to write something on baby bath and skincare products.  However recently after seeing so much (well intentioned) but inaccurate statements and advice from Mum’s to other Mum’s via social media the need to do this has pretty much taken over me.  I will say here that this blog piece is going to be done in two parts – due to amount of information that I feel needs to be shared.

There are a lot of products out there that claim to be all natural ‘chemical free’ no nasty, gentle formulations. How much of this is true though?  And how much might, just might be really clever marketing.

Would it surprise you if I said that there are no regulations around the use of the term ‘natural skincare’.  A company could use just one natural ingredient and label their product as natural.  Another tactic is using the term naturally derived or derived from nature.  This usually indicates a portion of the ingredients have come from a natural source but have been altered to a synthetic ingredient or diluted down like cordial.  i.e extracting a tiny portion of oil from a lavender plant and then altering it to make a fragrance.  Just because a company tells you their product is natural does not make it so.  Skincare companies like to stretch the truth a bit so it always pays to read the label to see what you are getting.

Another concept that tends to muddy the waters is the term Chemical Free.  What exactly is chemical free anyway?  Strictly speaking that term is a misnomer because all substances are made of chemicals and energy – water in fact is a chemical so literally the term in itself does not make sense.  Artificial ingredients is perhaps a more accurate description, but I digress.

There is one large company who’s entire branding strategy is based on a no nasty formulation.  I have seen over and over people take this one step further and equate this to ‘chemical free’.  It’s very clever marketing, especially as the company itself does not make any claims that their products are made from all natural ingredients.  The term ‘no nasty chemicals’ kinda does infer that perhaps their products are actually free from chemicals/artificial ingredients.

But that’s just not true.  One quick look at the ingredient list of some of the skincare products manufactured by this brand will dispel that sort of thinking.  Not to mention the very many mothers who have said that more than one of their baby bath products caused their children to have adverse skin reactions.

Organic certification

Products that are genuinely organic will have an organic certification on their label.  Look for the words ‘Certified Organic’ and nothing else.  There are a few ‘natural’ certificates out there (mainly from Europe) and these certificates are not as stringent as the ‘Certified Organic’ labels.  For example the eco-cert natural and organic certification label can be given to products with a minimum of 95% of their ingredients sourced from natural origins and 10% of their ingredients from organic farming.

While this is a step in the right direction don’t be fooled into thinking that products carrying this label are all natural and certified organic.  The term is ‘natural origins’ again an ingredient can come from a natural source but then be altered/diluted into something different and still conform to the eco-cert standards.  Eco-cert does go some way into ensuring the products carrying its label are farmed and manufactured to a reasonably environmentally friendly standard.  So in short the products carrying this certification are definitely a step up and in the right direction but they are by no means all natural or all organic.

The main two Organic Certifications in NZ are from Asure Quality and Biogrow.  Both have two tiers for organic products.

1-.Certified Organic will be products with a minimum of 95% certified organic ingredients.  This can be identified by the words ‘certified organic’ and the certifier’s logo on the front of products (displaying the actual percentage is voluntary).

2- Products ‘made with organic ingredients’ which contain a minimum of 70% certified organic ingredients. Products must display the percentage of certified organic ingredients alongside the certifier’s logo. With this category, BioGro doesn’t allow its logo on the front, while AsureQuality allows its logo on the front of packaging along with the words ‘certified organic’.

Other certified organic labels to look out for in the NZ market will be the Australian Certified Organic and the USDA Organic labels, both have high certification standards manufactures must meet to carry their labels.

That being said there are still plenty of products out there that may not have an organic certification but are made up of completely natural ingredients.  These are usually handmade in small batches by local producers.  They key is to know what you are buying, read your labels and try to look for things in their whole form.  For example oils and not extract/parfum/fragrance.  There is some ring of truth that the easier the ingredient is to understand the more natural it will be, it’s also important to remember that ingredients are listed first to last by their weight in the formulation, so if all the natural ingredients are listed at the end then the final product may not be all it seems to be.

Our next instalment piece on skincare will be out soon and will take an in depth look at ingredient quality, but in the meantime if you are interested in choosing handmade all natural and organic certified skincare you can find some in the skincare section of our store.