Calendula cream and olive oil soap were once the typical natural variations to conventional cosmetics. Today, natural cosmetics offer much more and also much of what the conventional competition has available.

In 2013, the natural cosmetics market in Germany grew by seven percent and generated sales of around 920 million euros.

In the drugstore market, you can find nowadays not only brands of natural cosmetics such as Lavera or Weleda, but also many of the big brands follow and have natural alternatives on sale. This choice makes the decisions not easy. Here are a few tips on how to recognize natural cosmetics and what they really mean:

Photo credit: Lavender soap.

How can natural cosmetics be recognized?

The best way is by the certification, which easier said than done. Certifications are nowadays abundant and all are slightly different. Oils, fats and waxes can only be produced from vegetables, mineral sources and a few limited animal raw materials. Silicones and paraffins must never be used. Radioactive irradiations and animal experiments are also a taboo. There are a few similarities in the certifications - the certifications and standards only set minimum criteria, all of which are the decision of the manufacturers.

Are natural cosmetics healthier?

Conventional cosmetics often contain hormonally active substances. This may not be so bad if you only use one product, but most of our products in our bathrooms can contain these substances. Furthermore, it has not yet been demonstrated how such active ingredients react when they come in contact with other substances as for example cleaning agents and other cosmetics.

Are natural cosmetics better for the environment?

Not all natural cosmetics manufacturers buy their raw materials from organic farming - so this is a far more difficult question. Small plastic particles, for example, in peeling creams or toothpaste, pass through the filters at sewage treatment plants and then get into our waters.

Another example are synthetic sunscreen filters. They also get into our water and destroy algae and corals. This is another reason you should think twice what you buy when shopping.