Organic: talk about a wellness buzzword! You’ll find the word on everything from food to cosmetics, and it has had a huge surge in popularity over the last decade or so - but what does it actually mean? The word is often conflated with natural, or even vegan, but neither of those quite sum up what organic encompasses.
Vegan, for example, means that a product or food has been made without any animal products. All of our products are entirely vegan, and as such don’t contain any ingredients derived from animals. Natural, on the other hand, simply means ingredients that occur in the natural world, without the need for synthesis by humans. Natural doesn’t necessarily equate to good for you - many famous poisons, for example, fall into this category. Equally, synthetic should not be synonymous with bad, though we do try to choose natural ingredients over synthetic ones. We can synthesise some ingredients in laboratories that are great for us, like hyaluronic acid, and it means we don’t have to harm animals to get them. Hyaluronic acid is found naturally, both in our bodies and in other animals, but for cosmetic use it is generally synthesised, to prevent animal suffering.
The word organic, in relation to ingredients, simply means that the product has been produced using either only a small number of artificial chemicals and methods, or none at all - though there are a few synthetics that farmers can currently use and still qualify as organic. The tricky thing is, organic doesn’t guarantee a good end product, nor does using non-organic methods guarantee a bad one. Organic isn’t necessarily about the outcome of the product, but more about the methods used to create it, and the impact those methods might have on our environment and our bodies. However, one of the common arguments for organic farming is that the synthetic pesticides used haven’t been around for as long as the natural alternatives, and so haven’t been tested quite so rigorously, and we’re not so well versed in the long term effects.
Most people assume that there are no pesticides used in organic farming, however this in fact is not the case. There are approximately 490 substances approved for use as pesticides, but only 28 of them are approved for use in organic agriculture. These are considered to be non-toxic and are also used in much lower quantities than in non-organic farming.
One worry in non-organic farming is the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In this sense, GMOs refer to crops that have been injected with DNA from another strain or species, in order to see benefits. GMO can also sometimes refer to crops that have been specifically bred in a certain way, in order to see benefits such as resistance to drought. This type of GMO is not forbidden under organic regulations, but the first is. One of the issues is that crops can be genetically modified to be resistant to weed killer or insecticides, for example - but then are sprayed with the substance they’re resistant to (which kills the surrounding weeds/insects but not the GMO crop) before general consumption or use in cosmetics. That is, their resistance is good for the farmer - but bad for the consumer.
Another tenet of the standard organic regulation states that organic produce should strive to protect the environment and animal welfare, both of which can only be good things! For example, the EU-eco-regulation has a section that focuses on preventing damage to the soil used through limiting the use of some petroleum-based fertilisers and conditioners (not the type you’d put in your hair!).
One of the reasons we choose to buy organic where possible is that some studies have shown that organic foods often have more health benefits than their traditional counterparts. Antioxidants, for example, are often boosted in organic crops, and we all know how important they are for our skin! Because organic products don’t contain artificial preservatives, they’re fresher, and they also tend to have a shorter shelf life. If you ask us, this is actually a great thing: we’d much rather produce small quantities of excellent, organic products that you can realistically use up before the product goes bad. We believe that this promotes a healthier attitude to consumerism - it means you won’t be buying multiples of products just to leave them on shelves unused!
Not all of our products are fully organic, but we do source organic ingredients where possible - these are always marked in the ingredients list, so you can check for yourself. Organic farming is, on the whole, better for the environment too: it increases soil fertility by avoiding damaging pesticides, conserves more water than the traditional methods, and is better for both people and animals in the vicinity. Lots of our products contain organic ingredients but aren’t wholly organic products, because sometimes other issues take precedence. Making sure we choose organic where possible isn’t the only way we try to protect the Earth and its inhabitants, though. We make sure that all of our ingredients are cruelty free, as well as vegan, and we buy our ingredients as close to our studio in Hertfordshire as possible. Incidentally, organic produce is often produced on smaller-scale farms that sell locally - the best of both worlds! Our suppliers are fairtrade and sustainable, and we look out for practices that don’t exploit the workers. Anything we have to buy from far overseas is shipped in powder form, which reduces the weight and our carbon footprint. We hope that as organic products become more popular, they might start to become the norm - it’s a win for our planet and a win for our skin!