Style & Beauty
From Farm to Face: The Growing Trend of Organic & Plant-Based Cosmetics
8/1/2019 1:00:00 PM
Face to Face

Most of us are aware that what we put into our bodies can affect our health and we try to eat wholesome, nutritious food. Consumers are now beginning to understand that what we put on our bodies is important, as well. There’s a growing collective fear of synthetic ingredients and chemicals with names we cannot pronounce. Consequently, a trend is growing toward natural, organic, plant-based products within the skin care/cosmetics industry.

Liz Kapelan owns Pure Vida, an online market that sells natural skin care products. She attributes this trend to the fact that our culture is more connected than ever, which has created an awareness and concern for each other, in the foods and drinks we consume, and the products we purchase. "There are legitimate concerns raised by researchers about chemicals in common skin care products such as BPA, parabens, and phthalates,” says Kapelan. "There have been lawsuits like the Johnson & Johnson ovarian cancer talc cases, where multimillion-dollar settlements have been given to people who claimed using baby powder for years caused their cancer. The hair care company Wen settled a $26 million class-action case because one of its products was allegedly making people’s hair fall out. Consumers have become fearful of chemicals and have started looking for products they think would be ‘natural’ or ‘safer.’” 

Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, and we absorb things through our pores. So, we need to be aware of what we put on our skin. Kapelan says there are many benefits of plant-based cosmetics over synthetic/chemical ingredients. We recognize these benefits mostly by understanding what is harmful about the synthetics. Parabens, a common preservative in conventional cosmetics, are known to mimic our bodies’ natural hormones, and many researchers are concerned this can alter the functions of our own endocrine systems. Many of these ingredients are used to increase shelf-life, add fragrance, and improve adherence to our skin.

What to look for in the ingredients lists

Instead of looking for certain ingredients, Kapelan recommends you check the number of ingredients on the product label. Less is best in many scenarios, including skin care products. A multitude of ingredients may lead to skin irritation. You should be able to pronounce the ingredients; if you can’t, they most likely are synthetic. Also, steer clear of products that include ingredients simply labeled "fragrance” or "parfum”. "These represent an undisclosed mixture of scent chemicals and ingredients that companies can put into a product without revealing what exactly it is,” says Kapelan.

And therein lies a major problem in the cosmetics industry. The FDA does not define or regulate the labels natural, organic, and clean. How can a consumer know a product is safe and effective? Kapelan, along with others in the industry, has challenged lawmakers to address this issue. "Cosmetic regulation laws in the US haven’t been meaningfully updated since 1938, and brands mainly regulate themselves. Just because a product is labeled, "natural, all organic ingredients,” doesn’t necessarily make it true. This is where being a conscious consumer comes into play, and right now it is easier than ever to be one.” 

Kapelan recommends consumers visit the Environmental Working Group website and their app called EWG’s Healthy Living. They have created a cosmetic database that provides information on product ingredients from published literature and supplies rankings relative to the level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in the product. She also trusts the app, Think Dirty. Simply scan the product barcode and Think Dirty provides easy-to-understand information on the product and its ingredients. Several ingredients have been creating buzz lately, but a few stand out to Kapelan, including rose hip seed oil (Rosa rugose and Rosa canina), aloe vera (Aloe Barbadensis), rose clay (Kaolinite), and marine algae, specifically seaweed extract.

Kapelan reminds consumers that the natural cosmetic industry is indeed that – an industry. True, many companies are taking their ingredient lists seriously, however, sometimes it can be a marketing ploy. "Certification and verified labels are how we consumers navigate this market and make conscious choices for our health and the health of our families.” 

For more information, go to, email, for find on social media, @purevidaonline. 

Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Cosmetics

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