Beauty care is big business, and we know from Annie Leonard's recent film, The Story of Stuff: Cosmetics, that behind the glossy veneer it ain't all that pretty.
Luckily you don't need to rely on big-name brands. They may have supermodels fronting for them, but a look behind the label shows they're not the best for your skin, your health and the environment.
Here are 10 of the top organic skincream products. They are packed with the kind of stuff you want on your skin, and none of the stuff you don't.
Raw Gaia Living hemp moisturiser (£13.75, 60ml). A little goes a very long way with this rich and creamy all-round cream. Good for extremely dry skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. The feelgood factor comes from the use of cold-pressed cocoa butter, hemp and apricot oils. Raw Gaia's products are made following the principles of a raw food diet, which maintains that foods in their natural state contain much more life energy, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals than when they are cooked.
Neal's Yard Remedies Rose Beauty Balm (£34.50, 50g). One of the UK's most trusted green brands, and an Ecologist favourite, NYR has been at the forefront of environmentally responsible innovations in beauty products for decades – and it doesn't fail to deliver with the Wild Rose Beauty Balm. Its versatility – use it to clean, exfoliate and moisturise – is proof that you don't need a bathroom cabinet full of products for a beauty regime.
Weleda Pomegranate Day (£19.95, 30ml) and Night Cream (£21.95, 30 ml). Pomegranate power! This is made with cold-pressed pomegranate-seed oil and argan oil, both good for antioxidants and various fatty acids. The beauty of Weleda is its relationships with producers and suppliers: the pomegranates come from a fair trade farming partnership in southern Turkey. The juice is extracted for the food industry and the seeds are used as valuable oil for skincare.
This Works Active Oil (£35, 30ml). Serious aromatherapy based on many years of expertise and in-depth knowledge of the brands' founder and co-creator Kathy Phillips, a former fashion and beauty journalist. Active Oil is a blend of essential oils including fairly traded African marula oil, a natural antioxidant and jasmine oil which gives it its sweet smell.
MV Organic skincare Skin booster Rose Plus (£55, 35ml). Rich in organic rosehip oil and pure rose otto essential oil, this cult product is reputed to alleviate capillary damage and ease rosacea, dermatitis and eczema. Rose also has excellent skin-softening and hydrating properties, making it an invaluable ingredient in many of MV's unique blends.
INLight Organic Daily Face Oil (£23.90, 30ml). Dr Mariano Spiezia and his wife Loredana have done it again. After creating the successful Spiezia Organics brand, five years ago, they left to start InLight. Formulator and scientific director, Spiezia is a MD, medical herbalist and medical homeopath with a great passion for nature and wellbeing. ‘This is why,’ says Loredana, ‘our products don't contain any synthetic chemical or preservatives and, as we say, they work not only on the skin but with the skin’. All products are handmade at Roskilly’s organic farm in Cornwwall.
Evolve Multi Action Double Cream (£17.99, 50ml). Evolve was founded in 2008 by the former head of development for the Nude Skincare range, Laura Rudoe. As such, it was sure to be a clear winner in the organic skincream market, considering the most environmentally friendly choices for everything from ingredients to packaging. The Double Cream moisturises like an oil but without the greasiness, and is made with argan and sweet almond oils. The range launched in October 2009 and is available from John Lewis, Ocado, Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic and selected online retailers.
No Nonsense bodycare Organic Hemp & Shea Skin Cream (£15,100ml). With only four ingredients (shea butter, sweet almond oil, hemp seed oil and bergamot essential oil), this all-organic, amazingly light mousse gets a thumbs-up for its texture, fresh smell and all-round goodness. With only a few months' trading, No Nonsense already has a loyal following.
Bentley Organic Calming Body Lotion (£4.49, 250ml). This 'calming' body lotion contains aloe vera, chamomile and lavender. It's non-greasy, very affordable and it works. What more could you ask for?
Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Facial Moisturizer SPF 25 (£26, 5oz). A protective day cream with organic sunscreen ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect from UV radiation. Other key ingredients include squalene from olives, Ugandan shea butter and lemon oil. This can also be used in summer on both the face and body for sun protection.
Matilda Lee is the Ecologist's Community Affairs Editor
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