The minefield of sifting through natural, organic, vegan and synthetic free beauty on the shelves.
Just because these words are on labels and on marketing materials does not mean they are actually true or have any bearing. At the moment there is no regulatory board to certify any of these labels except for the term organic. So if you really want to know the truth about what the brands are offering you need to delve a little deeper.
We know that gone are the days that when choosing earth-friendly beauty products meant sacrificing effectiveness. These days plant based products don’t just compare but surpass the general offerings from established brands or from brands that have a deeper purse to drive marketing.
All thanks to superfood ingredients that do wonders for our complexions, as well as fewer chemicals, which can be drying and cause wear on skin. Case in point Terra Tonics hasn’t won hearts and earned its cult status for nothing.
Going green is hotter that ever so here is our help to understand these terms a little better.
Natural skin care is defined as using ingredients that are produced in nature like water, a plant, or from a fruit like coconut oil or shea butter. There is no regulation around this term and there lies the conundrum. Just because a company and/or brand claims its product is natural does not mean it is made only with natural ingredients. It also does not mean that the product has been screened, tested, verified or certified in any way.
A good example is a product can be made with ‘spring water’ and can be labelled natural regardless of many potentially harmful and questionable ingredients found within the formula. The product can be technically called ‘natural’. Many companies lean on this term as a clever marketing ploy.
Also remember that just because an ingredient is found in nature doesn't mean it's better for you or the environment. Hyaluronic acid, for example, is considered a natural ingredient when it's taken from the umbilical cords of cows and horses. The synthetic, vegan version is just as effective without harming wildlife or the environment.
Initially the word certified was usually found before organic. It has settled with the understanding these days that the term organic is usually regulated by some body. You can look at this link to identify the organic certifiers around the world.
Keep in mind that there is no uniform set of rules that is shared by each certifier. In Australia where Terra Tonics is currently based there are nine certifiers at last count and each has their own set of rules and regulation. In Australia water and salt cannot be certified as organic hence a facial spay of 95% water and 5% essential oil can be given organic certification.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) says “Organic products intended for the Australian market are not required to be certified in order to be labelled ‘organic’. However, there is a voluntary standard for growers and manufacturers wishing to label products as ‘organic’ and ‘biodynamic’ for sale within Australia (AS 6000–2015). As it is a voluntary standard, businesses do not necessarily have to meet the requirements of this standard in order to label and sell their products as ‘organic’ within Australia.” 
Plant based or vegan
Theoretically, a product labelled as "plant based" or ‘vegan” contains no ingredients from animal or its by products. This means that traditional ingredients like beeswax, honey, collagen, lanolin and keratin are not used. Any ingredient that has a trace of animal like collagen or hyaluronic acid is also replaced with far superior plant based substitutes.
Dr. Hooman Khorasani, quadruple board certified New York dermatologist says;
“Vegan ingredients have been used for centuries for their healing and cosmetic properties. Additionally, vegan products are often rich in vitamins filled with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and since they typically contain fewer ingredients, it can be easier to understand exactly what you’re putting on your skin.”
This also means these brands manufacture their products more ethically (not always.) There are certifying bodies Cruelty Free and PETA which more companies are adopting but for intimate, grassroots brands who cannot afford the certifying fees they are innately doing everything to be very transparent about their footprint. Terra Tonics is a great believer in this – for us being ethical is not a by product or marketing ploy but it is the very beating heart of our operation.
So where does that leave the consumer
The onus always falls on you sadly.
- Know how to read ingredients list or INCI as we call it. The first ingredient is always what the product is made most with and towards the end is what the product has least.
- Look past marketing hype – Vitamin C or Retinol plastered on the design or in magazine articles does not mean the product has heaps of it – read where on the INCI it lies. An ingredient may have heaps of scientific names and this can be misleading so to help you decipher it here are a few sites you can check your ingredients list:
The small consolation is that Terra Tonics products have the highest amount of active ingredients in any range. Being wholly vegan we take how we treat animals, the environment and how we formulate and nurture the brand very seriously.
Our products are proven to be highly effective and we are constantly looking for ways to further reduce our footprint.