The word natural and organic in skincare is not regulated and there is no standard definition so its hard to know if you are being green washed, so it helps to educate yourself about different ingredients and what each ingredients does in a product.
It's important to learn how to read the ingredients labels on skin care products
The ACCC / NICNAS regulates cosmetic labeling in Australia and the ingredients must be listed in order of percentage with the highest percentage first, when the ingredient is 1% or lower they can be listed in any order. For example a basic lotion can be made up of:
1 .Water or (Aloe vera juice) can be between 70% to 90% known as a solvent
2.Oils or butters up to 20 % known as emollients
3.Emulsifying wax between 3% and 8% Emulsifiers (ingredients that hold the oil and water in mixture)
4.Thickeners between 3-5%
5. Fragrance 1%-3%
6. Preservative 0.5% to 1%
This gives you a starting point for your research. Not sure what an ingredient does ? Look it up on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database or use a search engine to look up the ingredient and see what you can find, you can even get an idea of the % in a product by searching on the internet.
Less is more when it comes to skin care and more expensive is NOT always better. Because there are so many common ingredients across all the different types---and many may be applied regularly every day---your total exposure might pass unsafe levels even though the level of an ingredient may be very low in a particular cosmetic.
This can be a particular problem for those with chemical sensitivities, who may be able to cope with the amount of a chemical in one product but not, say, six applications of that chemical in one day. It probably pays to familiarise yourself with regularly occurring ingredients and be on the lookout for symptoms.
Common ingredients which can cause allergic, skin and eye irritation and other reactions include:
preservatives like parabens, isothiazolones or formaldehyde
surfactants like sodium lauryl sulphate
lanolin, especially if it has not been properly purified
hardeners such as bisphenol A
antibacterial chemicals including triclosan
pigments and synthetic colours which may be carcinogenic
solvents such as acetone, toluene and those of the glycol, ether and ester type, including the low molecular weight members (e.g. ethylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, propylene glycol)
some chemicals and plant extracts which can cause sensitisation when exposed to the sun, such as glycolic acid, extracts of angelica root, oak moss, bergamot, cassia
derivatives of acrylic acid (e.g. carbomer, methacrylates) which can cause allergic contact dermatitis and are eye, nose, throat and skin irritants
EDTA (ethylenediaminetetra acid) is moderately toxic by ingestion
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a skin and eye irritant
retinol (Vitamin A) is moderately toxic by ingestion and a potential teratogen
polyvinylpyrrolidone plastic (PVP) is a known carcinogen and sensitiser.
Soon, you will be a pro at deciphering any cosmetic label. You can avoid ingredients that you have researched as potential irritants or toxic and spend money on products that are just right for you.