Effectiveness vs. Organic: The Bias Against Organic Cosmetics

September 12, 2012

Today wraps up the third day of the Beyond Beauty Trade Expo. It has been a colorful learning experience for us at Ziba: discovering so many new brands, meeting the highly innovative creators behind them and gaining a deeper understanding of the process that goes on in the creation of cosmetics.

But instead of doing another write up about all the different cosmetic brands we’ve discovered during the expo, I’d like to instead write about a recent cosmetics trend of which this event has afforded me a glimpse. Actually, what I’m referring to is not so much a trend as it is a certain… hesitation. Or to put it frankly, a bias that consumers have against organic cosmetics.

Although many people agree on the importance of their health and that of the environment, when it comes to their skin care, people still feel the need to prioritize effectiveness over safety and green-ness. It was for this very reason that Novexpert, a cosmetic brand whose products could pass organic certification requirements, chose not to display their green roots anywhere on their brand. And they’re not the only cosmetic brand to do so.

Brands like Novexpert opt to forgo their green logo for a more clinical look.

Consumers continue to pit “effectiveness” against “organic,” considering the two as separate and mutually exclusive ends. And who could blame them? After all, a concoction of crushed leaves and sticks could never be up to par with the scientific and technological expertise of a team of researchers and chemists tinkering away in white lab coats.

But therein lies the misconception. Organic cosmetics are seen as being too “raw” and “primitive” while their clinical and chemical counterparts are seen as somehow more scientifically superior. What many people do not get to see is the process involved in the production of organic cosmetics. Yes, organic cosmetic brands also use laboratories, cutting edge technology, years of scientific research and people in white lab coats. In fact, different cosmetic brands, some of which may be organic while others non-organic, can end up appointing the same laboratory to help manufacture their products.

When viewed from this angle, it’s hard not to ask yourself the next natural question: what then is the difference between organic and conventional cosmetics? In fact, what does the word Organic even mean??

At first, I naively imagined a small organic farm which is visited by an organic cosmetic producer and then picked as the source for their plant ingredients. But it’s not even like that. In reality, there are people involved called ‘traders’ and a long chain of supply and lots of paperwork, all of which takes us further and further away from our imagined scene of an organic cosmetic laboratory that works right next door to their neighboring family farm. In fact, there was only one cosmetic brand I encountered during this Expo that was even close to this idyllic operation. And this is me giving a shout out to Kaliom, an ayurvedique skin care brand which sources their organic ingredients from their own farm in India and then formulates their products in their laboratory in France.

Kaliom, an organic brand that sources its ingredients from its own farm.

But anyway, back to our scrutiny of organic cosmetics. It’s obvious that I have a lot of questions of my own. And although I hold the ideals behind organic cosmetics dear to my heart, I always want to approach everything with a critical and questioning eye. So I intend to put forward my questions on this blog and perhaps together, our continued exploration of this topic can lead us to some very thoughtful and earnest discussions. At least, that is my hope.

Now on to lighter things.

I promised I would reveal the Giveaway today at the end of the Beyond Beauty Trade Expo. But I think I’d rather keep you guys in suspense! Things are just more fun that way. Don’t worry, I won’t keep you in suspense for too long. I just thought it would be better if the Giveaway were to be a separate post of its own.

Lastly, I wanted to wrap up this post and the past three days by saying a BIG thank you to Oliver for enduring what no boyfriend should ever have to endure. He accompanied me during the three days of beauty bonanza and I think he hated pretty much every minute of it. But he was always helpful: sniffing beauty products whenever I’d hold them up to his nose, carrying all the bags of beauty samples I’d accumulated and even asking pertinent questions of his own. He was a real champ throughout it all.

Us during the first day, when we were still feeling fresh and bright-eyed

So I’m curious, of all the brands that I wrote about these past three days, which one piqued your interest the most and why?

4 thoughts on “Effectiveness vs. Organic: The Bias Against Organic Cosmetics

  1. Denise Agnew

    Hi Kareen,

    I am an independent consultant for NYR (Neal’s Yard Remedies) Organic and I was searching the web for articles comparing organic beauty products to clinical and professional products when I came across your post. NYR started in the UK 30 years ago and recently came to the US. I would love to hear your feedback! Please check out my website and let me know your thoughts. I think you will be very impressed!!

    Take Care,
    Denise Agnew
    610-570-7533

    Reply
    1. kareen

      Hi Denise,

      Oddly enough, I’ve just recently read a blog review on some products by Neal’s Yard Remedies. It’s just now that I’m slowly becoming acquainted with this brand. I do like the look of your website and the brand’s simple packaging. If you wish to send some products to be reviewed, feel free to discuss details with me by email: contact@ziba-bynature.com. Take care and have a nice day!

      Reply

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