Have a quick glance at your bathroom shelf. There’s bound to be at least one product labelled ‘organic’, even if you’re a die-hard glycolic-acid devotee. That’s the thing with today’s natural beauty industry – the very word has become a powerful marketing tool, used with abandon and not always honestly. “Outside of the recognised COSMOS bodies, there can be very loose organic standards and some companies can even call their products organic, despite them having minimal amounts of qualifying ingredients in them” explains Olivia Thorpe, founder of natural beauty site Vanderohe.
Considering all this confusion, it’s easy to see why natural beauty fans are taking their quest for clean skincare one step further, looking for honesty and simplicity alongside that organic stamp of approval. In a world where clean eating and wellness continue to dominate, it makes sense that we now want to peek inside the workings of the brands we entrust with our complexions.
Thankfully, a new generation of all-natural beauty brands has risen to the challenge, seizing control of the entire production process – and shouting about it, proudly. These independent operations shun mass production and shiny marketing campaigns for the finer things in beauty: properly pressed oils, ethical processes and a beautifully designed bottle.
The appeal of buying from small-batch companies is manifold, explains Imelda Burke, founder of organic beauty store Content and author of The Nature of Beauty. “Purchasing from such brands supports a variety of social and ethical issues: these products are often made locally, with sustainability and the environment in mind. The money that goes back to these companies in product sales can enhance local communities and employment, supporting fair-trade practices and organic growers in developing countries around the world.” What’s more, when there’s a face behind the name, the interaction works both ways. “Beauty enthusiasts love that you can often contact the founders of small-batch brands directly for recommendations, in contrast to a larger company where you can’t talk to the person actually mixing the product.”
For Thorpe, the appeal of small-batch beauty lies in its simple, open nature. “The most obvious benefit to choosing a traceable beauty brand is the knowledge that comes with it: what their ingredients are (in mass-production products the ingredients are often hidden, which should ring alarm bells), where the ingredients are from, and how they were sourced, farmed, and bottled.”
So, it seems the best way to clean up your beauty act is to start small. Click through for our verdict on the best new niche brands with open-door policies…