I often ask myself if aiming for 100% organic ingredients in skincare products is the most important factor for a good skincare routine. I always reach the same conclusion that it is indeed, at least for me, but other factors MUST be taken into account as well when choosing the right products for you.
To begin with, a lot of people are faced with different skin conditions that they need to address, often caused by different factors, such as hormonal ones (see my previous article: Good Habits for Great Skin). So, the first step is to understand your skin and the causes of individual problems, and using a gentle enough routine that is good for you. It is not enough to find an anti-aging solution, which could even turn out to be wrong in different ways. What I define as anti-aging, actually, is keeping your skin nourished and moisturized all the time to avoid new lines, as opposed to trying to get rid of lines that are there already.
Staying away from products that do not claim themselves organic is not enough either, as sometimes those products are better than some other “organic” options. Why is that? The words organic and natural are not regulated, so if even a small percentage of a product is organic, the whole product could be claimed as such. Solution: look at the full ingredient list where the organic ingredients are disclosed; look for a phrase such as “XX% organic of total” or “XX% organic”; look for a certification logo such as Soil Association or Ecocert. These organizations do not allow for a product to be called organic if it is less than 95% organic. This ensures that the certified organic products bearing their logo contain a much higher percentage of organic ingredients than those other “organic” products where the organic ingredients make up just a few percentage points of the total product.
The rest of the ingredients are just as important. What decision would I make if a product contains SLS, or harsh preservatives but claims to be organic? I would pick a product with no such ingredients but just natural for instance.
We need to know which ingredients we are allergic to and avoid them. For instance, people who are allergic to nuts, may wish to avoid using almond (or other nutty) oils on their skin, as these could show allergic reactions. In this case, the extraction method used is relevant, but I would say “better be safe than sorry”! The same is true for aloe vera, or specific essential oils.
Pregnant Women and Children
As for children, I would avoid using products with essential oils altogether (whether natural or organic) until the child is over 3 years of age, to be safe. Pregnant women should also avoid essential oils, at least in the first trimester of pregnancy, although certain essential oils are best avoided throughout the pregnancy.
So yes, when it comes to choosing between natural and organic I would pick the organic version if available, as I know that there would be a much smaller chance of pesticide residue. If this is not an option, for instance in the case of vitamin E, where there is no organic version, then I would pick the natural version over the synthetic man-made version, even if it is more expensive and less available.
The above are not the only important factors in picking your skincare products. The presence of certain ingredients and their percentages in the formulations are very important as well, as some ingredients can be toxic, harmful, or provoke allergies. So, get to know your body’s needs, as well as your products!