Sarah Stacey and Josephine Fairley, co-authors of The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible, share their best finds with Lisa Haynes
ONCE resigned to a tiny corner on beauty counters, organic and natural cosmetics are experiencing a major makeover.
Consumer demand for organic-only is part of a growing beauty trend that analysts are calling 'Nature Plus'. Eco-ethical products are set to be a key part of the UK cosmetics market over the next five years, according to a forecast by Companiesandmarkets.com, who say it's 'partly in response to increasingly sophisticated consumer tastes and also the rise of the ethical consumerism movement'.
Over a third of women cite health as the main reason for buying natural beauty products, according to Mintel, while others just want to live a less chemical-laden life.
"Today, being a natural beauty doesn't mean compromising on texture, fragrance or performance," says Stacey.
"Natural beauty has definitely moved on from the time when it was all about balms and oils. As we know from the trials for this book, plenty of natural products rival their synthetic/rocket-science counterparts."
Whether you're a super-natural or just a concerned consumer, there's a myriad of reasons why women are choosing to pick up certified organic products.
Fairley says: "Feedback tells us that some of us prefer the power of plants to sort out skin and hair, rather than the sort of Nobel-prize-winning high-tech molecules that feature in a lot of 21st century skincare. For some, it's concern about chemical ingredients, while others want to tread a little more lightly on the planet."
Navigating 'natural' beauty products can flummox even industry experts, with misleading packaging and Latin-listed ingredients. There is no legal definition of 'natural', or organic.
"Pretty pictures of herbs and flowers don't mean the product is based on more than a waft or whiff," Stacey explains. "The very best way to ensure you know exactly what you're putting on your skin is to create products from scratch."
If you don't fancy going all Nigella with a beauty larder, study labels carefully for ingredients.
"The list is in descending order of quality - you want botanicals to feature at the top of the list, and any synthetic chemicals to languish down the bottom," Jo advises. To make life easier, Sarah and Jo have devised a 'Daisy Rating' system for the products featured in their Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible.
While One Daisy is mostly natural with a small percentage of synthetic and/or petrochemical ingredients, Two Daisies means botanically derived with no synthetics or petrochemicals, and Three Daisies means a product's been certified organic by one of the leading international certification bodies, like Ecocert or Soil Association.
BEST LIQUID FOUNDATION
Living Nature Foundation, £28, available in six shades (www.mypure.co.uk)
The authors' verdict: This is the highest score for a natural foundation in our books - an impressive achievement for the New Zealand brand's 100% natural formulation.
BEST LIP LINER
Korres Makeup Lip liner Pencil, £8 (www.thefragranceshop.co.uk)
The authors' verdict: Kind-to-skin ingredients in this velvety pencil include shea butter and vitamin E. The liner comes in five shades but we recommend the one closest to natural lips in tone: Neutral Light.
BEST NIGHT TREATMENT
Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Cell Revitalise Night Moisturiser, £42 (www.aureliaskincare.com)
The authors' verdict: This night treatment has notched up one of the highest product scores in Beauty Bible's history. Rich with firming ingredients, plus shea butter, it has a skin-melting texture and delectable orange blossom, mandarin, rose and lavender scent.
BEST BODY WASH
L'Occitane Lavender Shower Gel Organic, £14 (uk.loccitane.com)
The authors' verdict: One of L'Occitane's organically certified products (by Ecocert). Flip open the top of the bottle, breathe in deeply and you can smell wafts from their lavender, harvested in Haute-Provence.
Lavera Organic Hairspray Volume and Shine, £9.95 (www.pravera.co.uk)
The authors' verdict: From a long-respected, pioneering German brand, this hairspray - with organic bamboo, aloe vera and camellia extracts - is free from petrochemicals like propylene glycol.