Green Beauty: A Guide to Organic Cosmetics


Author – Arnika Karthikeyan


Today, we live in a world where cosmetics are used on a daily basis to enhance our appearance and odor. Readily available in the market, cosmetics are manufactured according to needs of different bodies. Depending upon the nature of the ingredients used, they are classified as mineral makeup and cosmetics created using organic materials. As the merits of organic make-up becomes more apparent, it is gaining prominence among the shelf of daily use items. Void of chemicals, these organic products provide a natural and harmless way of taking care of our bodies. However, current products in the market are of a hybrid nature with reducing percentage of chemicals such as ‘0% alcohol’ in deodorants and others.

The sustained popularity of mineral cosmetics is due to their properties of faster results, sun protection and anti-inflammatory character (in products using zinc oxide and titanium oxide), and long shelf life. However, as the harm done by these chemically produced products are gradually revealed, organic cosmetics are gaining currency.

Why Say ‘No’ To Mineral Cosmetics?

The primary cause of decline in the use of mineral-based synthetic cosmetics is the revealing of range of chemicals that constitute them and the long-term health and environmental side effects that can happen due to their continued use. Here is a list of chemicals commonly used in cosmetics:

Soaps, deodorants and other cleansing products:

IngredientsWhy ‘No’?
Anti-bacterial elementsDestruction of body-helping good bacteriaIncreases chances of catching infection and diseases
Diethanolamine/DEACarcinogenicDrains out vitamins from the body
FormaldehydeCarcinogenicHarms the respiratory and nervous systems, especially in case of fragrances
Nanoparticles like titanium and zinc oxideAbsorbed by skin leading to body poisoning and damage of brain cells

Mascara, eye-shadow, kajal and eye-liners:

IngredientsWhy ‘No’?
Butyl AcetateCommonly used in nail-polish removers leads to arresting of cognitive functions and cracking of skin
MercuryCommonly used in eye make-up items causes irritation in skin and brain damage
Petroleum DistillatesCarcinogenic
TalcCauses cancer and tumors (lungs)

Hair products

IngredientWhy ‘No’?
General compositionCauses dryness of hair in long-term use
Coal Tar, especially in anti-dandruff creamsCauses cancer
Lead, especially in hair dyes, lipsticksNeurological injury and poisonous on high use

Difference between Organic and Herbal Products

Herbal cosmetic products are prepared from ingredients that are derived from plants. However, the process of manufacturing these products might be natural or chemical-based, which include use of synthetic material and insecticides. Examples of herbal products include black henna (kali mehendi), neem face wash, aloe vera, etc. Organic cosmetics do not involve the use of chemicals in the ingredients and the manufacturing procedure and they have to be certified to prove that.

Apart from being prepared from natural materials, organic products prevent accumulation of chemicals in the body that might lead to bodily harm over a long duration. Being hypo-allergenic (i.e. less probable of causing allergic response), they do not pose any threat to the user. Natural ingredients are effective for all skin types and are considerably cheaper than synthetic cosmetics. Further, not being tested on animals, they are ethically a better choice than the mineral-based ones.

Basket of Organic Ingredients Available

Organic IngredientIndian nameBenefits
Aloe vera
Ghee KunwarTreatment of wounds, scars and burnsKeeps away sunburn in oil form
Coconut Oil
Nariyal ka telHair growthPrevention of dryness in hair and skin
AndaHair conditioningReduces wrinkles over long-term use
Golden Apple
BelPulp useful for redness and rashes on skin
ChandanApplied in powdered face mask form for removing dead cells and scarsIn oil form, smeared for softening skin
HaldiRegular use for removing pimples and reducing facial hair growth
Neem oil used for removing lice and dandruffNeem water to tone skin, remove blackheads and scarsPaste for cleansing skin
TulsiConsumption of tulsi juice for skin problems like eczema and scabiesUse of paste for acne and depigmentation
PudinaJuice for reduction in skin irritation and rashPaste for removing blackheads and acne
Bacopa Monnieri
BrahmiTo heal dermal wounds with minimum scarring
Mignonette tree
HennaNatural hair coloring ingredient
Emblica Officinalis
AmlaOil for better hair growth and reduced splitting of ends
ArandiHealing of calluses and cornsPrevents and gets rid of wrinklesRemoves itching and flakes from hair
Red lentils
MasurUsed in skin lightening lotionKeeps away aging effects on skin

Aisle of Organic Personal Care Products

Organic personal care products can be procured from various eco-friendly green companies or made at home. Kajal can be prepared by collection of soot from almond/steel plates and lip balms from cream and honey. Check out our guide on making eco-friendly alternatives. If you’re looking to buy organic products, check out the following companies: OmVed, Forest Essentials, FabIndia, Nyassa, Himalaya Herbals, Khadi, Rustic Art and Just Herbs.

Certification of Organic Cosmetics

There are various national and international agencies that examine and provide certification to 1,000 companies in India. Ecocert is a leading international organization that initiated the certification of products in India in 2003. IMO India and INDOCERT are the other Indian certifying agencies. The criteria to qualify for organic certification are:

  • Use of renewable resources in ingredients and during process of production (inclusive of biodegradable packaging);
  • Depending on amount of organic content, Ecocert attributes two labels:

Organic cosmetics: A minimum of 95% of plant-based ingredients in formula and minimum of 10% of all ingredients (by weight) derived from organic farming.

Natural cosmetics: Minimum level of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in formula with minimum of 5% of all ingredients (by weight) derived from organic farming

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