FROM THE ONOLLA FILES

What does ‘sustainable’ really mean nowadays?

Thanks to greenwashing, when it comes to beauty products it can seem trickier than ever to choose wisely for both your body and the planet. Here, we explain what you should be looking out for

Q

If a product is labelled ‘organic’, is it guaranteed to be good for the planet?

AUnfortunately, products just labelled nebulously organic or natural can have very little organic and natural content indeed. B Corp accreditation, Soil Association, COSMOS and Ecocert can all be relied upon – products have to attain high standards of formulation and production to be classified as one of these. You may also want to check if sun lotion is reef-safe. ‘Sustainability has always been one of my passions,’ says Margo Marrone, founder of The Organic Pharmacy. ‘That’s why, for 20 years, we’ve used mineral sunscreens that are reef-safe, so they’re not only safe for humans but also the sea life and reefs.’

Here at Onolla, Suzanne has done the research for you and everything stocked on the website or in store is verified to have high levels of plant-based natural and organic ingredients and to be ‘clean’ in terms of formulation. 

Q

What about packaging?

AAnother important question to consider when shopping for beauty products is whether or not the packaging is recycled and recyclable. Will it contribute to plastic pollution? Wildsmith, for example, uses glass jars to avoid adding to the plastic waste in our oceans and landfill. Louisa Canham, founder of La Eva, says you should question every beauty and self-care purchase you make in terms of function and impact: ‘Function involves taking a moment to think about what a particular product aims or claims to do. Why do I need it or want it? Will I use it? It’s about avoiding buying items that a short while later declare themselves as pointless or that you simply did not actually particularly want in the first place.’ Secondly, she says, you have to consider the impact both short- and long-term: ‘Impact is about both the here and now (“How much will I enjoy or benefit from using this?”) but also about the environmental footprint that the product comes with (“What will I be washing down the plughole? Where will this bottle and/or packaging end up?”).’

Spa in a Jar
Spa in a Jar
Spa in a Jar

Wildsmith

Spa in a Jar

£65.00
roseum-lotion-500
roseum-lotion-500
roseum-lotion-200

LA-EVA

ROSĒUM Face & Body Lotion

£55.00
Q

How important are ingredients?

AAnother question to be asking is which ingredients you should definitely swerve when looking into formulations. ‘Pesticides are some of the most toxic chemicals found in our environment,’ affirms Margo Marrone, ‘and many have been banned over the years. They can cause cancer, birth defects and even organ failure, so, for me, going organic is key.’ Margo also advises to avoid parabens, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and artificial fragrance as some of her chief no-nos. ‘Studies from the University of Kyoto show parabens are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, while Reading University studies have shown parabens mimic the hormone oestrogen in the body and have been found in breast tumours,’ continues Marrone.

Q

What about how the products are grown?

AOf course, when you shop B Corp, Soil Association, COSMOS or Ecocert-certified beauty products, such as those at Onolla, you know the benefits for your skin – you’re putting the purest organic ingredients possible on it – but what are the advantages for the planet? Is it just about organic ingredients or more than that? It goes without saying that organic farming – no use of pesticides – is better for the planet. No plants, insects, bees or animals are killed with chemicals and the whole ecosystem benefits when farming is organic. ‘We are COSMOS natural, which is an internationally recognised certification,’ says John Murray, co-founder at Modern Botany. ‘COSMOS not only looks at your ingredients and their supply chain but also your carbon footprint – water and waste output and ethical behaviour in your supply chain.’

Q

Is shopping organic more expensive?

AAs with organic groceries, you are going to pay a little bit more for organic certified beauty and wellness products, but the benefits are manifold to both your skin and body – using the purest most unadulterated plant ingredients will pay dividends. And, as detailed above, the planet benefits profoundly from organic farming, with a lower carbon footprint and lower water consumption. ‘Indeed, natural products do cost that much more, but there is a good reason for this,’ explains Murray. ‘Most natural personal care and beauty producers are smaller enterprises and more artisan in their approach to manufacturing. Selecting quality ingredients, creating innovative formulations and using sustainable practices comes with a price, but the customer is assured a quality and effective product.'

Q

Where to start with going organic?

AIf you can’t afford to go fully organic immediately, the most important products to switch up first are your serums and creams, because these are the products that stay on your skin, according to Fiona Brackenbury, independent skin consultant. ‘It’s your serums, eye creams, day and night creams that will bring the greatest results, as they are on for longer, but more importantly, they will assist the skin in adapting and responding to the environment that the skin is faced with every day.’ If you were only going to opt for one purchase budget-wise, she recommends the Wildsmith Skin Active Repair Copper Peptide Cream. ‘Our award-winning face cream is a firm favourite thanks to its advanced formula with copper peptides and pure hyaluronic acid, which rapidly restructures and firms the skin, while the nutrient-rich moringa seed oil provides antioxidant protection.’

Active Repair Copper Peptide Cream
Active Repair Copper Peptide Cream
Active Repair Copper Peptide Cream

Wildsmith

Active Repair Copper Peptide Cream

£100.00
Carrot Butter Cleanser
Carrot Butter Cleanser

The Organic Pharmacy

Carrot Butter Cleanser

£43.00