Once pigeonholed as a category for the supremely sensitive or devoutly ethical, natural beauty is having its moment in the limelight. Thanks to high-tech advances in formulating natural ingredients and the growing crop of naturally-minded brands making their way onto our beauty shelves, we are now able to enjoy skincare, haircare and makeup products that not only do us good but make us feel good too.
“Natural formulations have come a long way over the past ten years,” says Tina Randello, marketing director at Sukin, Australia’s largest natural beauty brand, which has made no-nasty skin and hair care available to a wide-reaching audience during its decade in business. “Natural products were [once] a clinical experience for a small proportion of consumers with specific health needs. It was widely accepted that natural products didn’t perform as well as their synthetic counterparts — and they were certainly a sensory compromise.”
But things have changed. Organic and natural beauty products now promise real skin and hair benefits – and committing to them no longer feels like skin penance.
Nature vs science
Natural beauty products are no longer devoid of innovation for the sake of purity – these days a lot of high-tech know-how goes in.
“Organic or natural products can work just as well or better than their chemically enhanced counterparts,” says Jose Bryce Smith, founder of luxe natural haircare brand O&M, a brand that habitually replaces potentially irritating chemicals found in haircare and replaces them with active, natural extracts and minerals.
Natural skincare has also made plenty of steps forward. “Products that work in true harmony with your skin need fine, natural ingredients in their purest form,” says Corinne Morley, Trilogy’s global in-house beauty expert. “By working with natural ingredients and avoiding all synthetic film-formers and emulsifiers, we are consistently breaking new ground in new natural product development.”
Reasons to switch
When you think about the number of body, skin, hair and make-up products the average woman applies – studies say this tallies to an average of 168 different chemicals a day – it makes sense to switch to natural alternatives where we can.
If you’re layering on body cream every day, for example, you could inadvertently be slathering on potentially irritating ingredients. But switch to a daily moisturiser spiked only with natural oils (try P’ure Papayacare Renew Cream, which takes care of scars and stretch marks) and you’ve found yourself an easy way to stem the build-up.
And this natural way of thinking is catching on. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Sukin revealed that more than half of Australian women prefer to use natural products over synthetic counterparts. When asked why they decided to make the switch, respondents flagged natural ingredients, a lack of harsh chemicals, and natural beauty’s cruelty-free stance as reasons for stocking up.
Going natural will make a very real difference at pore level too.
“The appearance of our skin reflects our internal health and holistic lifestyle choices,” says Cassandra Hilton, founder of Australian organic skincare brand Ocinium. “We can now offer results-led organic skincare that will transform the skin.”
Makeup is also a good place to start. “The ingredients that are created to make [many make-up] products last longer are not natural,” says Susanne Langmuir, founder of natural make-up brand, Bite Beauty. “At Bite, we have a narrow criterion of what we can or cannot use. We then find a way to work with those ingredients and make them high-performance.”
Considering we consume about two kilograms of lipstick in a lifetime, it follows that women are snapping up natural lines, such as Karen Murrell, which offers colour pay-off with naturally-derived ingredients.
“It is time to understand not just what you’re putting in your body, but what you’re putting on your body,” says Natalie Kringoudis, a doctor of Chinese medicine and founder of women’s health clinic, The Padoga Tree.
Just rotating one or two natural alternatives into your skincare routine will make a big difference to your exposure to potentially unhealthy chemicals.
“My philosophy has always been an 80/20 rule,” says Langmuir, whose Bite Beauty natural lipstick range is one of Sephora’s biggest sellers. “80 per cent of the [products] I choose, I really try to be mindful of making sure that they’re healthy, sustainable and non-toxic.”