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The Conscious Beauty & Wellbeing Podcast
The Conscious Beauty & Wellbeing Podcast

Episode 5 · 2 years ago

Certified Organic Beauty Defined With Alessandra De Gregorio

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode Alessandra De Gregorio from certified organic beauty brand Terre Verdi talks to Karen from Blomma Beauty about organic beauty. 

Find out:

- The difference between organic and certified organic beauty products

- What to spot on the product labels to know you're buying organic 

- What's involved in the certification process

- The benefits of buying certified organic beauty products

- What the organic percentages on your beauty products really mean

Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the conscious collective podcast. I'm Karen from Blama beauty and today I'm joined by Alessandra de Gregorio from certified organic skincare brand Teddy Verdi, and today we're talking all about what certified organic actually means. Hello, Alessandra, Hi Karen. Thank you so much for joining us today. I think we should start by sort of going all the way back and defining the term organic on its own, before we even get to the certification part. Say, what does the term organic mean? Yes, well, organic means grown or manufacture without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, so any synthetic fertilizers in skincare it it means that the ingredients use that are as organic as they can possibly be and they would actually be used as opposed to their natural form, where obviously available. You will still need to pay particular attention to the percentage of organic content in a skincare product, as well as the certification, etc. But the main thing is that the the percentage would need to be as high as possible. And why do you think using organically grown ingredients in skin care is so important? Your brand is you using a very high concentration of organic ingredients and you've got lots of different certifications to prove the quality and the provenance of your products, and so it's obviously really important to you, but can you tell us a bit more why? Yes, it's very important to me. We range between ninety nine and one hundred percent of organic content in our products for oil based products, while eight hundred and eighty, I think, eighty six exty seven percent or on the water based product. Organically it is really important to me because or kind of grown ingredients have not toxic pesticide and not chemical residue. There is a study that proves that organic ingredients are about one and a half times more nutritious than non organic ones, and in skincare you have a more nourishing product at the end that brings more vitamins and minerals to the skin and therefore there's more healing properties for several skin conditions. The anti antioxidant level of organic ingredients is also much higher than the one of non organic ones, and obviously how by your antioxidants means also more anti aging, and we all want to look younger and and stay and...

...stay this way. So so yes, it is really important for everyone and for whoever. Healthy skin overall perfect and it's almost like skin food. Then we're feeding a skin say that we can fend off the aging process and make sure that it's really nourished and protected. And with organic ingredients we've got a higher concentration of the the kind of yes content and absolutely and and obviously we're used to crap. Certified Organic Bet what does that mean exactly? Yes, now the reason? No. No. There's no law regulation on these words organic, natural, specifically for skincare. So they can be used freely by by any brand really. So buying certified organic means that someone has done the work for you and carried out all the checks for quality and integrity. Ingredients in the products can be placed all the way back to the source as well. So certified brands are rigger rigorously the check every year to make sure that they're following the standards that day that they comply with from the very beginning. Before a brand is certified, the certifier looks at and needs to improve different things, the packaging used to make sure it's recyclable, the cleaning products used, those also before and after the manufacturing process. Also, you need to make sure that you follow the guidelines and and don't and the product doesn't contain harmful ingredients they could leak into the products themselves. So the chain of ingredients, provenance to make sure that this is traceable back to the source, and as well as other things like keeping an environmental management plan. So, therefore, how the company operates the recycling and what programs it has in place as far as that is concerned. In a few words, the production of organic ingredients and products is environmentally friendly. Also, natural sources are being used response responsibly and that also the biodiversity by diversity is respected. The packaging, again, is recyclable. There is a pot or chemical ingredients, except for the ones that are authorize in the preservatives, and then there is absence of GMOs.

Human health is the most important aspect when when we certify organic, it's so so again, like you said, is food for the scheme. So basically, so, basically, whatever we put on our skin penetrace, whether whether it stays that the higher level or it penetrates deeper and it goes into the circulation. We want to make sure that we, the body, is kept safe. Yeah, I think that's really incredible. Just how involved the process is. I mean you told me before about the process and we'll talk about that a little bit later about, you know, even down to the cleaning products, as you say, like there's a lot of care and attention that goes into making sure that the products that are certified hits so many criteria and I guess that's that's more reassuring to the consumer then, would you say, because it you know, as you said, organic is an unregulated term and they can be products out there which have a very high concentration organic ingredients. But I guess we can't then guarantee without the certification that they've also had the the packaging aspect checked, all the manufacturing aspect checked. So that's that's really interesting to know just how involve that processes. And here in the UK we have a certification for organic. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, the other multiple people who are certifying here in the UK and and what the standard is? Yeah, so if we look at the UK, the main organic standard is from the solarsociation. Overall, so both for food, for for textiles, for skincare, things change a bit in the last couple of years. What happened was that a few years ago, five of the of the main certifiers in Europe, and these are Dah in Germany and then in France, we have caused the Bo and ECO serve in equity. We have each air and sociation in the UK, or five of them got together and created the cosmos standards. So this is an international standard that has been developed at the European and also at an international level by all these five certifiers. So these standard, therefore, is approved by each one of these individual individual certifiers, and Cosmos is now the recognize standard for beauty and well being products. Of course there are other smaller standards, but I decided...

...to certify with Cosmos because they're the strictest and and the more widely recognized standards and I believe, because I truly believe in organic one hundred percent support for food, textiles, everything, you know, beauty products. I decided to comply with the cost standards. Great, that's that's really insightful. Thank you. And and so if we are wanting to look for organic products when we're shopping and certified organic products, what what's the symbol of the soil association that we should be looking for in the UK? Yes, so in the UK, obviously you still have the solar sociation logo, which is the round logo that says so association. It's a circular one, and at the bottom you will have the word Cosmos organic for organic products, while if, for instance, Ecocert was to certify the products for the products that they certify under the costmo standard. So the standards are the same. But whoever the body that approves the standards will actually allow you allow the brand that the certified to use their symbol together again with the cosmos organics words at the bottom. So it's a bit miss leading because obviously when you go into a shop and you're looking for a logo, you will be faced with so many different logos. But if you go and look for the costmost the cosmos organic word, whether they're below the solar sociation or below ecoserve, below the Cha logo, you will then slowly start to recognize this and understand that they all belong to the same standard, they all comply with that. So so wherever you go, probably any any any state that you go to, or even if you if you if you are in America, you you're buying, you know, European products, if you know those five symbols, then you will be able to to two, to to know, to to you know, to to reassure yourself that, hey, I know this, I know the certifier. I trust is certifier, I will buy that product. Yeah, so it's Amas like Cosmos has the umbrella that encases the five standards from the different countries that you mentioned. And in the UK you might say Cosmos linked with Soil Association or Ecosert or if it's the French one, that's being the UK, but they still certified the Cosmos Standard. You'll see the French Lego. So I guess. So the first thing is the cosmos and then it's about getting used to...

...say even though, yes, even though Cosmos is right below the other logo or by itself, I think that brands now are also allowed, because it's so confusing, are also allowed to just use the word cosmos, organic and and that will go. That will be okay. So, especially nowadays where, you know, we start shopping online more and more and we can buy products from all over, you know, all over the place. Also, online shops may carry products from different countries. But if they if they comply, if they decide to stock certified organic products. They might just stick with Cosmos and then stop different, you know, different products having different logos. But at the end of the day they all comply with the same standards and if you if you understand those standard, that standard, then you you will be you will be, you know, will be of a tract. Yes, there are certainly. On our website we stock natural, organic and organically certified brands. It's really important for us to highlights which have the certification which adjusts with organic ingredients and then which are with a mixture of natural and organic. So yes, yeah, we're kind of quite clear on that in our descriptions. But yeah, it we then obviously don't always have the logo their feature spot, but it will be written. But yeah, there's lots of ways that you can kind of spot those organic products and I think as well. I've Seen Cosmos have a natural standard and a stamp as well. Can you tell me a little bit about that? Yes, well, just as the words say, Cosmos Organic organic ensures that they are. They are stricter, stricter rules rules in place for that product and they have a specific percentage of organic ingredient. Organic content is needed to achieve that. That stundard. But then there's also caused most natural on the other hand, which anyway ensures that the cosmos thunders are followed in every other way nonetheless, but it does not require the organic content. It's still natural, is still doesn't use specific harmful ingredients, still follows the packaging guidelines, e. Sttera, but as far as the organic content, the percentage, it's not there quite yet. So the cosmos, Cosmos decided to to give those brands to allow them to use the cosmos natural logo. And again it gets even more complicated because obviously you still have those five logos, but then at the very bottom you will...

...have the words costmost natural instead. And this is a bit tricky in the UK especially misleading, because in the past years we've recognized the Solarsociation logo specifically. We have couple that with with the world organic. You know, in our the back of our minds we know that association means organic. So now that we have for beauty products, costs natural standards, then we need to we need to put extra care when selecting our skincare products, if only if we want them in an organic form. YEA, and that and that's that. That I would like to stress, because it's it's very it's it's seen the heart of the brands that that also certify organic, that this has been a bit misleading, yes, in the past, and also for people who mainly by organic food that recognize the sociation logo with the organic word. Yes, I think you know we've talked about it before between those and various things we've collaborated on. But when you start to get into the world of organic beauty it can be a bit of a Mindfield and you do have to have that little bit of an education or a baptism of fire. Or maybe, yes, maybe, make a couple of mistakes and probably the the natural and the organic, as you say, linked to the soil association, could be a bit of a pitfall because you think also association, Great, you might get that product. I'm like, Oh, it's natural, it's still, you know, a product that's been verified and vetted from the soil all the way to the skin, but it's just not got that high concentration organic ingredients. So if you really are passionate about only using organic, then just make sure you're reading for those labels. Really really care how absolutely, Yes, non just look at these association logo, unfortunately, but read those words right wide belong for for beauty. I'm not talking about food or anything else, because food, obviously, association are only certifies organic food. It's you know, all food is natural. I mean you know, not not all, but yes, most food, like you know, so in let's stay station banana is not any different to it. And non soil, say siation banana and will get it. And he mentions a couple of times already that that there'sn't almost like a list of ingredients or substances that the soil, as say station or ECO Sir or any of the Cosmos certifiers, don't allow. Can...

...you expand on that? Are The particular ingredients in non certified skincare that we should be looking out for and avoiding? Yes, so, if firm, well, the least is fairly long. So what I would what I would recommend consumers is to go online actually and and look for cosmos non approved ingredients just to make sure that they are not they're not buying, you know, just to make sure that they are buying what they really want if they're into avoiding the toxic ingredients. Yeah, so, yes, so, so that that's what I would would recommend. Okay, obviously you have the pedrochemicals that that you don't want to you don't want to to encounter, to come across, etc. And there are other other ingredients that I wouldn't personally use, like fragrances that I wouldn't personally buy. Actually used, of course not, but but by I wouldn't buy anything that has fragrances written on it because fragrances are, for say, Ninety five plus percent come from put from Pedro Chemicals as well. And you don't know, it's a very vague word, fragrance. It could be come from any anywhere, it could be anything. It's yes, and you will never find out what it really is for that specific product. So I would just just stay away from from them all together. Okay, and we've talked a little bit about percentages. So people who maybe aren't aware of the certification or maybe just delving into natural, organic beauty for the first time, when we see eighty seven percent organic on the product, what does that mean? So the certification does not apply to the full product, but the organic content could vary from product to product. There are some ingredients that cannot be found in an organic form like take, for instance, vitamin E. Vitamini can come in a in a natural form, which is talk of the roll, while the synthetic form is Talco ferial ACETEC but it doesn't come in an organic form. So that for this reason, and also to allow other ingredients such as clay's minerals, then the standard will allow for...

...a percentage of non organic ingredients, but obviously they they need to be natural unless they are specific preservative that has been approved. But to continue on as far as the minimum percentage of organic ingredients, instead, there is required to become certified. So every certifier as different rules. But for COSMO specifically, for certified products organic we need to have ninety five percent of the plant ingredients that need to be organic. So out of all just the plant, the botanical ingredients, when we instead take the full, the total formulation, then at least twenty percent need to be present, and then these becomes ten percent for rings of products. Why would you? Why would you? Will Ask me, why is it such a low percentage? Your first you're talking to me about ninety percent, ninety five, and then all of a sudden twenty or ten percent. Because because the again, there are certain ingredients that cost most done does not classify as organic. For instance water. Water is not classified can be classified as organic, but even though it's naturally better. That is the main reason why these percentage all of a sudden becomes very low, twenty percent, because to allow also things like floral waters, water and water, etc. And Minerals in the case of makeup, yes, to be used in an organic product. That's great. It's really interesting because I think a lot of times people take the percentage at face value and they'll say, oh, fifty percent, that means the other fifty percent must just be the rest of the product. But actually it's fifty percent of that ninety five percent of the pass ingredients. So, but remember the other rule is that twenty percent of the thought of formula needs to be your guney. So then either. So if you have a play product, for instance, then you need to have, for instance, seventy percent clay. Okay, if you want to make it, make it high in play, and then the remaining thirty percent, you could have. At least ninety five percent of that thirty percent needs to be organic. If it's, if it's, how can you say if it's? If it's a plant based. The remainder is plant based, but at least twenty percent of the overall formula needs to be organic. That's why I reduce your eighty percent to seventy to allow for the you know,...

...for the remainder to have things like vitamin E that we've said before needs to be you know that that cannot be organic. You know if you want to add vitamin E or maybe specific essential olls that you cannot find in an organic form and different things. Yes, and see that. Let me think something quite interesting actually, because when it's only twenty percent as a minimum, there's obviously going to be shades of gray within different organically searchified brands in that some will have the twenty percent to achieve the certification and then others will have more than twenty percent and much, much higher concentration of organic ingredients, sort of over and above what the minimum is. And so we then look at the label to try to understand how much of the product is organic. So it's aways like a Yes, absolutely, patient yes. So every on the label you have an ingredient list and every ingredient will need to specify whether the ingredient is organic or non organic. So you will be able to some somehow figure out what is organic in percentage and what is not, because obviously also at the top of the ingredient list you're going to have the you're going to have the ingredients that are higher in volume in yes, and then at the bottom of England least, you have the smaller, you know, volume ingredients that. But but remember, because when we are using the organic standard, we we want for these products to be a plant based in the first place, you know, or mineral base? We don't. We don't want to use anything and obviously we cannot use anything synthetic. Right. So it doesn't matter really the percentage. Yes, if you're comparing called most natural causes organic yest, you have a huge difference there. But but if you're looking at organic yet, unless unless you have water there, then there is no reason why your product should not be ninety five percent organic or ninety percent organic. Yes, that they or unless you had minerals, and unless you have place. I mean you will end up, you will have you will end up being able to figure out what what you're buying and why you have that percentage there. Just as I said before, my moisturizer cannot achieve ninety plus percent organic because it has water. It has water in it. So yes, we've said, and EMULTIFIERS, and the emulsifiers also. Yes, I will said.

You know, you can't certify water as organic, and I believe that's because you can't, you know, trace the source necessarily and everything that waters come into contact with along the way. But are there some plant based ingredients that should and could qualify for the organic certication which are really difficult to source organically? Yes, absolutely, and this is due to two to the factor that, basically it would be very difficult to have them in an organic form, first of all, or it would be very expensive to make them in an organic form. I remember many, many years ago, when I was a little girl, my grandmother had this farm and this senior and and she decided to make it into an organic form. So and she she lost two thirds over crop just because, you know, at the beginning, just because she turned the vineyard into an organic vineyard. Now, this was many, many years ago, maybe thirty forty years ago. Now things have changed, because now you do have options for, you know, to find fertilizers that are green and there are natural. I'm sure you will not lose two thirds of your crop, but still you are losing quite a bit and it's a challenge to find specific ingredients that organic already are difficult to find in a natural form and find them in an organic form. That some ingredients cannot be found in an organic form, even though there is a slight chance, light postability of them, you know them, chance that they could be grown organically. I hope, I hope to make sense. Yeah, they definitely, I think it's organic farming is less it can be less consistent because you're obviously not controlling that crop with those chemicals, the herbicide and the pesticides, and you're not genetically modifying the crops to be more hardy or be different from their their original state, if you like. So yeah, it makes sense that there would be a loss and I guess it also means I've got other brands that we work with that sometimes they're the amount of stock that they can give me changes because they've not been able to source as much of a particular ingredient because of the harvest, and I think in particular Jasmine's quite difficult to sawceorganically, and so one lady who I work with, she has organic, organic jasmine in her formulation, but it does mean that we sometimes get a lot and...

...we sometimes don't get a lot because it's a little bit predictable. Are there any other specific ingredients which you know of that are difficult to find organically? Well? Well, well, yes, for instance, minor Rollie is the only ingredient that could be used organ who? But I decided who use the nother form and the does because it's it's it's quite difficult to find it. It already takes a lot because you know, the Rolei is the orange blossom. Soil is the is the blossom of the orange, is the flower of the orange. So you already need a lot of petals to to make the soil and on top of that, to find it in or going for me is almost impossible. So when you find the cost of that is just incredible, a bit like rose. I think that minimum you can find it in wholesome, talking about Wholesale Price, is about five zero pounds for a liter. Yes, so it's incredible. It's incredible. So then. So then, yeah, sometimes you need to you need to make to make to make a choice that is also sustainable for for your business. And yes, and and be able also to to create those products long term. Yeah, just like your other suppliers, when she runs out of Justinine, she has to stop manufacturing. So for this specific ingredient that didn't want to run into that, into that problem. So yeah, I decided to use the non organic and that's not say that your formulations aren't low in organic presents, is because they're very much high percentage organic and you were one of the first brands to have a water based product be certified the Cosmos Standard in the UK. So I always say that Alexandre is a trailblazer for organic. Okay, thanks you. Well, it's good. It took two years. It took to two good years to certify, to formulate and certify that product organic. But then when I realized what I've achieved there was the very first person to create a water based moisture, base moisturizer to be made in the UK. If I we cos myselves so happy, what you know, really really happy such an event. Tell tell me more about the process. I've heard this story before, but I love it so yet. Yes, well, it took me about one year to become certified for oil based products and and two years for...

...the specific book. I think that nowadays it will take much less time if our brand was to look into it now for cosmos, because when I initially signed up they were again moving from solarsociation certification for beauty products to cosmos and a lot of the supplies were not approved for costs. So there was a lot of work involved with me to get the right ingredients from the right suppliers who were getting approved. And so I did a lot of work with a couple of other brands together and to try and convince the suppliers to source those products for us, those ingredients, and and then we ended up splitting some of the ingredients because you need to buy them involved quantities. So just for sustainability, we didn't want to splurge all the extra all the express and yes, so I think that all the boxes need to be ticked so if something in your manufacturing or your formulation is not following the standards, that you can really be certified under the standards. So time went on and on and I couldn't find the solution to some of some of the some of the problems. So I kept, you know, taking time to try and find the solution, the solution. So yes, when I ask other brands, other people, other founders, why they're not certified organic, they tell me because it's costly. But then my reply is actually, the cost into me was minimal if I look at the time that I spent. And yes, but now I can say I can say, Hey, I'm very happy to be able to to be certified organic, to offer my clients, to offer to my clients a product that I stand behind. My Post mean yes, I mean one hundred percent, and also the certification proves that that it is a it is a valuable and pure product, as much as I wanted so initially create a terribility for me and my family and and at a sub discercy, also to give me the assurance that what I was using on my skin and on my family, my children seen, was actually your and, you know, as organic as possible. And and for a pot, all the different components...

...of packaging and everything else. Yea. So that's amazing. Thank you so much. It's lovely to hear how collaborative it was the process, because you could be, you know, thinking that you didn't want to share the ingredients with people, because he wanted to have your own special kind of formulations. But it's amazing that you came together to kind of move the organic beauty movement forward. So I think that's that's such an achievement. Yeah, yes, I think we need to we need to come together and and I think we need to fight the cost together if we really believe in what we're doing. So just like you're doing, you're putting off your brunch together and collaborate and it's great. I really appreciate what you're doing. So yes, we, we. There were cases when I would call a brown say Spain or in the different country, and they wouldn't know who I was, where I was coming from, when I would start talking about ingredients, that would just say or just leave me alone, you know. But but, yes, but I did find a few that decided to collaborate and yes, get what I really it, because the range is amazing and we're going to tell your story and another episode another time. But thank you for sharing all of your knowledge that you're so respected industry and you have such an amazing knowledge base and I've learned lots from working with thesely say thank you so much for being part of the pod yesterday, but thank you, Karen, for having me and a pleasure, he thank you. Write.

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