Natural Beauty Definitions – Define for Yourself

The natural
beauty world can be a minefield to navigate what with all of the confusing words
being thrown around like “eco” “natural” and “green”.  But what do they all mean
exactly?  For starters, there are no legal definitions for these
words (although “anti-aging” and “organic” do have some requirements).  Here’s a
stab at what I think the following words mean, (at least to me)
and in my own words:

photo via

dawn ashley

- For me, this
term is even more offensive than seeing parabens, sulphates, or formaldehyde on
a beauty product label.  Not from a physical health point of view, because
obviously you don’t want any of the above in your beauty products.  My offensive
is more from a mental health point of view.  The word “anti” is a strong word
meaning “against” and I don’t think any woman should be against aging, despite
all of the magazines, tv, media, etc illustrating otherwise.  Instead I think we
should be “pro-maturing gracefully.” Ok, rant over.  Technically speaking a
product needs to have SPF in it in order to slap anti-aging on its label.  This
is because blocking UV rays actually does slow down the skin’s aging processes. 
So there you go, if your fancy and expensive night cream says “anti-aging” on
it, that’s why.  Not because it’s doing magical things overnight but because if
you did wear it during the day it would have some sun protection in it (ironic,

– probably short for environmental, I believe it has to do with the impact of
the product on the environment, for example will it pollute water in the runoff
or was it made from recycled material?  However I’ve also seen it used in
context with health and beauty products so it’s probably also supposed to mean
that it’s good for you, but be your own judge of that and read the ingredient

– I used to think
that fragrance and perfume were synonymous.  You see/hear it in commercials “the
new fragrance by XXX brand.”  However, fragrance can also be listed as an
ingredient and when it is you really need to avoid the product because it could
contain any one or more of thousands of different chemicals.  You’ll never know
which ones because companies are protected by trade-secret laws from disclosing
them.  It’s best to go with products which are “fragrance-free” but again don’t
take the company’s word for it, check for yourself.  (See “free” below)

– I’m sure that any
sane, rational person would think that “free” means that a product doesn’t
contain even a smidgeon of what the product purports to be free of.  Sadly as
consumers we’ve learned the hard way from the

Brazilian Blowout controversy
that you can’t take it from a company’s
website or media that a product is “free” of anything (in this case formaldehyde
was found at dangerous levels when samples were sent off and tested in labs. 
Brazilian Blowout took the position that because it had reformulated but not
recalled the already in existence toxic brews, it had done nothing wrong. 
However the damage was already done to the company’s reputation.  Shame on you
Brazilian Blowout!).  Lesson learned – when getting a treatment done in a salon,
ask to see the ingredient list on the bottle they are using on you.

– similar to “eco” but
probably even broader.  You rarely find this on a product label, it’s more about
how a company markets or brands itself.  For example The Green Girls are a group
of women who care about women and the environment!

– I suppose at a very
basic level, if something is labelled “herbal” it should have some herbs in it. 
We assume that herbs are good for us.  However, just because something contains
herbs doesn’t mean it won’t contain a whole host of other yucky stuff.  Exhibit


–not just
used in beauty, this term is supposed to mean that the product claims to produce
fewer allergic reactions, but compared to what?  Really people, this one annoys
me almost as much as anti-aging but in a different way.  This one lures people
in with its perceived scientific sounding name.  There is no medical definition
despite its name.

– Wow, where do I even start on this one?  It’s probably best not to even go
here by trying to put an explanation around how this word could be used.  Like
“herbal” I suppose it means that there should be at least one ingredient in it
that can also be found in nature.  But let’s not put too much stock in this word
that if this is on a label it means the product is good for you.  Lemons are
found in nature but just because you squeeze them and put them into a cream
doesn’t mean that at a lot of other unnatural stuff won’t be added. 

[side note:
my blog is actually called

Natural Beautee
because I feel strongly that we should all be trying to lead
more natural lifestyles and that in beauty we should be celebrating our

naturally beautiful selves
and using products that won’t harm us in either
the short or long term.]

- In order for a
product to be called organic it must contain at least 1 ingredient which is
certified organic by a recognised certification body (e.g.



UK Soil Association
.)  Therefore you should be wary if you just see
“organic” without the logo of a certification body.  Is organic better
necessarily?  A lot of people say yes because by growing ingredients that aren’t
sprayed with pesticides, there is less chance of contaminating the ingredient
with chemicals.  I like to use organic products myself, just be aware that
different products will have a different percentage of organic ingredients and
it’s pretty rare to find a product that is 100% organic.  Some companies like

Neal’s Yard Remedies
are quite helpful by labelling their products with what
percentage of the ingredients are organically sourced.    

So after all
of my musing and guessing what all of the above words mean, the main lesson here
is do not take for granted what is on the label of your product bottle or a
company’s website.  Read the ingredient label instead, ask questions, and demand
answers from any company whose claims are not stacking up to their ingredient

Learn more about Katherine



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