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The word is out – organic is in, with the market increasing 15 percent in just 12 months. But how do you ensure you are buying the best? Lisa Tristram reports.

Cosmetics, personal care and essentials oils make up a tiny 1.9 percent of the organics industry – however, that's still a huge $236.1 million in retail revenue, and it's increased at 18 percent each year for a decade, which means we have much more choice. However, the real issue is how to choose between real and fake organic brands – the latter are a major headache, with the ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) receiving numerous complaints about false claims every year. It all boils down to certification. In Australia, certified organic personal care products must be certified by a regulatory body, such as the ACO (Australian certified Organic), NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia), or the OFC (Organic Food Chain); there are also other regulatory bodies for food.

Naturally, organic personal care and cosmetic manufacturers and retailers are some of the most passionate proponents of the organic philosophy. One example is The Divine Company, created by holistic health advocate Therese Kerr, who says that “... a woman will no longer compromise herself, her health, and her long-term wellbeing; she is astute and connected to the impact her choices have on her body and on the environment, and is not afraid to question ingredients in products before committing to them.” Julia Charters, general manager of Everescents Organic Hair Care, adds: “Minimising exposure to toxic chemicals by changing to organic and natural haircare, skincare, make-up and household cleaning products, a couple of things at a time, is a great place to start.” And this from Kon Bochrinis of Every Bit Organic: “We choose certified organic ingredients as this is ensures high purity and quality, and protects the environment for future generations. Certified organic is a stamp of true sustainability.”

Players in this market are often motivated by a personal health story, such as Sonya Driver of EcoTan, who decided to investigate ingredients more thoroughly after her sister was diagnosed with melanoma, and they started getting regular spray tans together. “It didn't take long to question the health impacts of the chemicals in spray tans,” she says. “There's so much BS out there! Always look for a certified organic logo and always research and read ingredients lists.” Bridget Carmady, naturopath and founder of Clemence Organics, often saw the effects on skin and health of toxic chemicals in her clinical practice. She says: “Using organic is not just beneficial for your health and beauty, but for the environment, ensuring that fewer harmful ingredients like plastic microbeads or chemical nanoparticles enter our waterways. Theme Rains, founder and creator of Synthesis Organics agrees: “Evidence of the devastation microbeads have caused to our oceans and marine life makes it clear why certified organic is the best.” As well as using organic ingredients, Rains ensures they are energetically imbued with higher frequencies during processing, to make the most of the ingredients' purity. The driver for Sylvie Hutchings, founder of Scout Cosmetics, was lack of choice: she knew what she wanted, but couldn’t find it. She says: “Artificial preservatives like parabens, used in conventional health and beauty products, have been shown in studies to mimic natural hormones, which over time could impact endocrine function. Certified organic products are using innovative natural preservative systems based on plants' antifungal and antibacterial properties, so shelf life is no longer a concern.”

Beauty Editor's picks:

Ecotan Invisible Tan ($34.95, www.ecotan.com.au)
Clemence Organics Ultimate SOS Balm ($49.95, www.clemenceorganics.com)
Scout Cosmetics Moisture Defence Crème ($44.95, www.scoutcosmetics.com)
EverEscents Berry Blonde shampoo and conditioner ($32.50, www.everescents.com.au)
Synthesis Purify Enzyme Cleanser ($68.00, www.synthesisorganics.com)
EBO Raw Tamanu Oil ($16.85, www.everybitorganic.com.au)
Divine Moisturising Hand Lotion ($24.95, www.divinecompany.com)

Spot the real deal
*Don't be fooled by the word 'organic' in a product or brand name. Always look for a logo from a certifying body with a processor number on it.
*Check ingredients lists – certified organic products must only contain allowable ingredients. Search ingredients at www.aco.net.au.
*Certified organic products will state '95% or more organic ingredients' on the label; products with 70 to 95% can claim 'Made with organic ingredients'.

Lisa Tristram is a natural skincare expert, aromatherapist, organic educator, and mind-body wellness teacher. www.lisatristram.com