Go green with your beauty routine. Sarah Stacey and Josephine Fairley, co-authors of The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible, share their best finds with Lisa Haynes.
Once resigned to a tiny corner on beauty counters, organic and natural cosmetics are experiencing a major makeover.
Consumer demand for organic-only is part of a growing beauty trend that analysts are calling 'Nature Plus'. Eco-ethical products are set to be a key part of the UK cosmetics market over the next five years, according to a forecast by Companiesandmarkets.com, who say it's 'partly in response to increasingly sophisticated consumer tastes and also the rise of the ethical consumerism movement'.
Over a third of women cite health as the main reason for buying natural beauty products, according to Mintel, while others just want to live a less chemical-laden life.
Championing the cause are beauty journalists Sarah Stacey and Josephine Fairley. Their latest and sixth book, The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible, gives the green light to botanical beauty.
"Today, being a natural beauty doesn't mean compromising on texture, fragrance or performance," says Stacey.
"Natural beauty has definitely moved on from the time when it was all about balms and oils. As we know from the trials for this book, plenty of natural products rival their synthetic/rocket-science counterparts."
Whether you're a super-natural or just a concerned consumer, there's a myriad of reasons why women are choosing to pick up certified organic products.
Fairley says: "Feedback tells us that some of us prefer the power of plants to sort out skin and hair, rather than the sort of Nobel-prize-winning high-tech molecules that feature in a lot of 21st century skincare.
"For some, it's concern about chemical ingredients, while others want to tread a little more lightly on the planet."
Navigating 'natural' beauty products can flummox even industry experts, with misleading packaging and Latin-listed ingredients. There is no legal definition of 'natural', or organic.
"Pretty pictures of herbs and flowers don't mean the product is based on more than a waft or whiff," Stacey explains. "The very best way to ensure you know exactly what you're putting on your skin is to create products from scratch."
If you don't fancy going all Nigella with a beauty larder, study labels carefully for ingredients.
"The list is in descending order of quality - you want botanicals to feature at the top of the list, and any synthetic chemicals to languish down the bottom," Jo advises.
To make life easier, Sarah and Jo have devised a 'Daisy Rating' system for the products featured in their Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible.
While One Daisy is mostly natural with a small percentage of synthetic and/or petrochemical ingredients, Two Daisies means botanically derived with no synthetics or petrochemicals, and Three Daisies means a product's been certified organic by one of the leading international certification bodies, like Ecocert or Soil Association.
You don't have to compromise your routine to go green. The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible is packed full of 222 award-winning products, whittled down from hundreds. Stacey and Fairley have gleaned the greenest winners boasting Three Daisy ratings that triumphed in their category. Bravo!
Best liquid foundation
:: Living Nature Foundation, £28, available in six shades (www.mypure.co.uk)
The authors' verdict: This is the highest score for a natural foundation in our books - an impressive achievement for the New Zealand brand's 100% natural formulation.
Best lip liner
:: Korres Makeup Lip liner Pencil, £8 (www.thefragranceshop.co.uk)
The authors' verdict: Kind-to-skin ingredients in this velvety pencil include shea butter and vitamin E. The liner comes in five shades but we recommend the one closest to natural lips in tone: Neutral Light.
BEst night treatment
:: Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Cell Revitalise Night Moisturiser, £42 (www.aureliaskincare.com)
The authors' verdict: This night treatment has notched up one of the highest product scores in Beauty Bible's history. Rich with firming ingredients, plus shea butter, it has a skin-melting texture and delectable orange blossom, mandarin, rose and lavender scent.
Best body wash
:: L'Occitane Lavender Shower Gel Organic, £14 (uk.loccitane.com)
The authors' verdict: One of L'Occitane's organically certified products (by Ecocert). Flip open the top of the bottle, breathe in deeply and you can smell wafts from their lavender, harvested in Haute-Provence.
:: Lavera Organic Hairspray Volume and Shine, £9.95 (www.pravera.co.uk)
The authors' verdict: From a long-respected, pioneering German brand, this hairspray - with organic bamboo, aloe vera and camellia extracts - is free from petrochemicals like propylene glycol.
Tried & tested
Hide your imperfections with a natural concealer. Stacey and Fairley trialled 25 and these three came out on top:
:: Wild About Beauty Smooth Cover Concealer Kit, £19.50 (wildaboutbeauty.com)
This clever custom-blend palette offers a flip-top jar with two shades of concealer, which you can mix to get your perfect match. Being a non-light-reflective option, it's good for spots, red veins and sun spots.
:: Liz Earle Light Reflecting Concealer, £15.50 (uk.lizearle.com)
This wand-style option is best for dark circles and brushing along furrows and frown lines. The light-diffusing pigments deliver a 'blurring' effect.
:: Green People Multi-Active Pencil Concealer, £14 (www.greenpeople.co.uk)
A chubby matte pencil that you stroke over redness and blemishes. Not so effective on dark circles, but it camouflages spots well and has antimicrobial ingredients to help heal as it conceals.
Buy it now
Beauty labels are getting charity conscious. Kiehl's has partnered with Alicia Keys and Keep a Child Alive for a new beauty fundraising initiative. The brand is donating 200,000 dollars to the HIV charity and brandishing special edition Midnight Recovery Concentrate serums with a 'Join our movement' call to action. Buy the illustrated bottle for £36 (www.kiehls.co.uk).
:: Teal takeover
Laura Mercier counters have turned teal to help raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which has been running throughout March. There's still time to support the cause; 100% of the proceeds from sales of these three Laura Mercier products will go directly into the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund: Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks Creme Colour Palette, £37 (available all year round); limited edition Kiss of Hope Lip Glace, £19, and limited edition Matte Radiance Healthy Glow Baked Powder & Mini Face Brush, £24 (House of Fraser).
:: Recessionista alert
Mark your beauty calendar for March 30. Skincare expert Sarah Chapman is launching her new 3D Moisture Infusion Mask exclusively on QVC. The new product is part of an exclusive six-piece Skinesis Hydrating Facial Collection, priced £79, saving £102 on individual prices. The offer launches on Sunday, March 30 on qvcuk.com for 24 hours only.
:: The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible by Sarah Stacey and Josephine Fairley is published by Kyle Books, priced £19.99 (www.beautybible.com). Available now