The 10 organic beauty ingredients you need right now
Chances are you eat organic when you can – and you’ve probably tried the odd organic beauty product, too, despite them costing more and being harder to find than regular items. You’re not alone – the latest figures from The Soil Association show sales of its licensed health and beauty brands grew by a huge 20 per cent in 2014, to a figure of £44 million.
Why? As well as avoiding chemicals that can cause skin sensitivity and allergies, the natural beauty trend is being fuelled by a desire for products rich in pure ingredients that benefit the skin – and work. But, with an overwhelming list of ingredients to choose from, which are the best ones to look out for at the beauty counter? We asked the experts to reveal their ‘hero’ organic ingredients worth the money, and here’s what they came up with.
1 Jojoba oil: the skin nourisher
This liquid wax nourishes dry skin and balances oily areas. ‘It has similar properties to sebum (oil) we produce naturally – so the skin accepts it readily, helping it penetrate further and lock in moisture,’ says Jane Hibbert, founder of AromaWorks. ‘It tricks the body into producing less sebum, preventing greasiness and blocked pores.’ Adding a tiny amount of your chosen essential oil* to jojoba will help deliver its full therapeutic benefits deeper into the skin.
2 Hyaluronic acid: the natural wrinkle filler
It’s found naturally in the body – and over half is located in the collagen of the skin, helping it stay plump and youthful. Hyaluronic acid can be made in the lab by bacterial fermentation processes and is a key ingredient in many natural anti-ageing moisturisers. ‘It attracts over a thousand times its own weight in water, so it’s a powerful ingredient to rehydrate skin and “fill in” fine lines,’ explains Lorraine Dallmeier, biologist and owner of organic cosmetic science school formulabotanica.com. ‘It also makes skin feel amazing – smoother, fresher and springier.’
3 Coconut oil: the multi-tasking moisturiser
The benefits of this oil have taken the health and beauty world by storm, and for good reason, says Hibbert. ‘It’s a great body moisturiser and one of the few oils that doesn’t leave a greasy residue. It doesn’t go rancid either, so it has a long shelf life without needing synthetic preservatives.’ She continues, ‘Go for the liquid version, or warm solid oil in your hands to melt it. Use it after a shower to lock in moisture; as a hair treatment; on dry cuticles; as lip balm – even to remove make-up.’
4 Argan oil: the giver of lustrous locks
This super-nourishing oil from the fruit of the Moroccan argan tree has become one of the most prized natural ingredients in hair care, and is packed with nutrients including vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Organic colourist Karine Jackson says, ‘It works wonders on repairing dry, damaged hair. It’s in lots of hair products, but I like to use a bit of pure oil on hair before blow-drying as protection. It gives it a wonderful healthy shine, and doesn’t build up.’
5 Minerals: the flawless make-up
Powder foundations look great – they are fine and contain light-reflecting mineral particles that give a youthful glow – and have no chemical irritants. ‘Good quality mineral make-up often has only three ingredients – ground zinc, iron oxides and titanium,’ Lesley Reynolds of Harley Street Skin explains. ‘Unlike liquid make-up it doesn’t contain water, which attracts bacteria, so you don’t need preservatives, which can cause flare- ups of rosacea or acne. Naturally antibacterial, zinc oxide cares for skin and, with no oily emulsifiers, mineral make-up won’t clog pores.’
6 Cocoa butter: the ultimate skin soother
Extracted from cocoa beans, this sweet smelling butter is a super-effective skin emollient. ‘As well as skin nourishing fatty acids, it contains natural antioxidants, which help combat free radicals that cause skin ageing,’ says Hibbert. ‘It’s also great for skin tone and elasticity, helping to fade the appearance of scars and stretch marks.’
7 Pink Himalayan sea salt: the brightening body buffer
As well as sodium, this contains many trace minerals beneficial to health, including iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium. Traditionally, it’s used as a detoxifying and skin-healing bath soak for dry skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, but it’s also a great exfoliator. ‘Add finely ground crystals to coconut oil to make a body scrub,’ says Hibbert. ‘The salt is very gentle, even on sensitive skin, and has a great smoothing and brightening effect. Use it in the bath and let your skin soak up the minerals.’
8 Bee venom: the natural skin plumper
Used in many natural anti-ageing creams, bee venom pads out wrinkles by producing a slight inflammatory effect. ‘It fools the skin into thinking it’s been lightly stung, increasing blood flow to the area, stimulating production of collagen and elastin,’ explains cosmetic doctor Jules Nabet (julesnabet.com). ‘Many aesthetic treatments offered by clinics, such as skin peels, work on this “damage and heal” principle.’
9 Co-enzyme Q10: the cell regenerator
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant and a favourite ingredient in anti-ageing moisturisers, serums and eye creams. Hibbert says: ‘CoQ10 speeds up skin cell regeneration and aids repair, so it’s really effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines; a good choice for mature skin.’
10 Marine plant extracts: the anti-agers
Particularly beneficial for calming irritated or sensitive skin, ‘marine plants have amazing properties,’ says Hibbert. ‘Look out for sea daffodil, Mediterranean sea lavender and seagrass. They are very soothing and moisturising, and also have anti-ageing properties. One of my favourites is a compound known as MDI complex, which can reduce the appearance of dark circles, spider veins and helps with rosacea, too.’