A-Z of natural beauty trends

Clean beauty lovers rejoice! Our choices available now are plentiful and run the gamut from garage dwellers whipping up their own zinc oxide sunscreen to huge multi-national beauty giants, turning ‘free-from’ products into big business. It can get incredibly confusing committing to conscious consumerism but small steps can have a big impact.

The best part? The market is now reflecting those steps, resulting in wider choice and ease of access means producing products that are kind to the earth, and to our bodies, has become somewhat the new normal. 

A - Animal testing 

While the term cruelty free is one we’ve long been familiar with, the issue is still far from black and white. In New Zealand testing on animals is still legal for consumer and medical research reasons, but back in 2015 the Government signed a bill banning testing for cosmetics purposes. Great news however if brands wish to enter the Chinese market, they must submit their products to be tested in Government-owned labs As such, many animal lovers steer clear of major multi-national corporations that also retail there. Confusing things further, there are several ways to circumvent the rules without compromising ethics such as as local brands like Linden Leaves and Antipodes has proven, like keeping stock offshore and selling in duty free outposts in China’s major cities.

B - Bees knees 

With nourishing, healing and antibacterial properties, honey is an obvious ingredient to be taken advantage of for natural skincare, but the multitude of products our small furry flying friends can contribute to has surprised us recently! Moisturisers, serums, balms, anti-acne and anti- aging products containing honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly and even bee venom are becoming star players and NZ is turning out some excellent products in the category. Bees Brilliance is one brand that has a skincare range inspired by honeybees. 

C - Certifications

There is no one label covers all when looking for natural products. While it's best practice to read up on ingredients and do your own research into a brand, not everyone has time for that. Some badges are respectable, however each of their standards demand slightly varying minimum levels of what constitutes ‘natural’ . Some to look out for are:

BioGrow - NZ’s leading certification for natural products including food and beauty products, with different seals to signify categories like natural, organic and non-GMO.

NATRUE - a widely respected international standard run by a non-profit organisation based in Brussels.

BDIH Natural cosmetic Certification - A German trade association with a strict list of parameters companies must adhere to, and they are checked up on every year.

Leaping Bunny - The only internationally recognised signifier that a company does not test on animals, although there are plenty of regional variants, some of which are not affiliated with any organisation. 

D - Detoxification

A new buzz word favoured by products claiming to rid aging micro particles of pollution from your skin accumulated daily whether you live in a city CBD or not. Also regularly appears on products containing charcoal - proven effective in soaking up oil and debris that lingers on the surface of skin. What they really mean is they give an effective deep clean.

E - Edible or ingestible beauty

Nourishing skin from the inside out is arguably one of the biggest beauty trends of the year. The approach that what you put in your body will be reflected on the outside is nothing new to kale-munchers but the business of supplementation in order to target skin’s clarity, signs of aging, acne and inflammation has grown rapidly in recent years.  Many ingredients like collagen and hyaluronic acid often found in skincare products have been encapsulated or created in powder form. Acai, Hemp, Chia, Turmeric and probiotics are also hot property ‘sups’ in the quest for evergreen beauty.

F - ‘Free from’ 

The title ‘Free-from’ is now so popular on food, health and beauty items, research has shown shoppers look for labels like this even when there is little or no evidence the alternative is safer, healthier or ‘greener’. More useful is the trend to more transparent or informative labels, such as decoding scientific names eg: ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

G - Glow

With the use of microbeads banished given their detrimental environmental impact, attention has turned to a far gentler form of exfoliation for the face using gentle fruit (glycolic) and lactic acids to encourage cell turnover, smooth skin and provide an undeniable even, healthy glow. Use as a serum or wipe soaked pads over skin after cleansing and before moisturister. 

H - Hair

Recently the clean, green movement turned its attention to hair products, meaning classic hair cleansing and smoothing ingredients like sulfates and silicone have been given the cold shoulder by many new players. For natural haircare turn to Essano, Glow Lab and Sukin.

I - Ingredients

Consumers are increasingly informed and demanding more transparency from the ingredients in their cosmetics and skincare. While many ‘natural-leaning’ brands clearly state each ingredient, larger players can rely on all-encompassing terms and scientific terms that mean little to the average person. Following a move from Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, that suppliers must list all product ingredients, multinational bodycare players Unilever and P&G announced their commitment to displaying individual ingredients in fragrance composition for their wide range of products, as well moving to decode other jargon in an ingredients breakdown for each product on its websites. Recent studies show while many women are moving to more chemical-free beauty products, fragrance is not one of the areas they generally consider. There are an increasing number of all natural fragrance companies now on offer. 

J - Jade rolling  

In the move away from extensive ingredients manipulated by science more ‘low fi’ approaches are also being adopted. A throwback to an ancient Chinese method of toning and de-puffing the face, increasing circulation and releasing toxins, the use of a jade rolling tool to massage skin from the centre of the face outwards is being touted by many natural facialist and skincare brands for its youth-inducing benefits. Try: DB Cosmetics Jade Facial Roller and Revlon Cooling Facial Roller

K - Kale

The crunchy green is good for your insides, but applying it with a mix of other greens is apparently beneficial when applied topically too. 

L - Local

One of the most exciting elements of the explosion in natural products is how great New Zealanders are at making them.  There are far too many great natural NZ brands to mention, but if you’re not familiar with the likes of Karen Murrell, Trilogy and Linden Leaves, we suggest you acquaint yourself! Find more by reading our A-Z of New Zealand brands.

M - Microbeads

Since the ocean-polluting plastic particles have finally been outed there has been innovation on natural physical exfoliant ingredients to use instead. Options include non-abrasive jojoba wax, rosehip seed powder, ground rice, bamboo, sea salt, oatmeal and coffee. 

N - Natural origin

A term increasingly used for marketing a product, generally referring to the percentage of ingredients derived from a source that can be found within the environment and used with minimal interference from humans.

O - Organic

An unregulated term that tends to mean products created with ingredients that have been raised without the use of pesticides, sprays or genetic modification. The term ‘certified organic’ gives slightly more assurance, particularly if it has been certified by a respected authority because companies must undergo a rigorous process auditing every step of the production chain including things like the care and management of soil and the surrounding environment, products and techniques used to grow and manufacture ingredients and the ability to trace every single ingredient back to its origin.

P - Packaging

Rounding out a kinder approach to beauty products, packaging plays a large part in the ethics of natural beauty companies. Packaging approaches range from able to be recycled, made from recycled materials, plant-based printing dyes, paper from sustainable forestry all the way to completely compostable wrappers. LUSH and Ahhh are two brands champoning the championing the plastic-free packaging approach.

Q - Quinoa

Yes, it seems every trendy health food eventually gets investigated for external use too. Not surprisingly the ridiculously good for you grain has beauty benefits.

R - Raw

While the term is occasionally used in products, they have undergone some processing, so going raw to us means taking plants, fruits or vegetables in their natural state and using them in order to provide beauty benefits. Think creating your own nourishing face masks from honey or avocado.  

S - Small batch

Beauty products made in small runs and with limited shelf life are flourishing, thanks to many people's desire to shop local and move away from mass produced items to hand-made products that celebrate the variation in between each run of items. Many home-based operations can operate thanks to the reach of the internet for marketing and retail allowing brands to start small and grow slowly as demand rises.

T - Teeth

Products to maintain the health and appearance of our chompers have become a talking point recently, after dispute over the safety of chemicals used by some household brands. While they have been around for a while, it offered a platform for natural plant-based brands that use ingredients like charcoal, manuka oil and sea salt to step up to the plate.

U - Under the sea

Sea kelp has been slowly gaining prominence as an ingredient that helps nourish and  If you’re thinking about popping down the beach and picking up some seaweed to pop on your skin you might be on to something. In Korea, a hotbed of emerging beauty trends, sheet masks are now being produced solely from the green stuff. Syrene Skincare is one brand harnessing the benefits of the sea with nutrient-rich skincare.

V - Vegan 

Driven by a resurgence in people turning vegetarian but also by the large number of people who believe that harming animals in the pursuit of beauty is unnecessary, products that don't contain any ingredients or by-products derived from animals, including hair used in makeup brushes, are surging in availability and popularity. With fantastic appearance and performance many equal or even exceed their more traditionally formulated counterparts. INIKA and DB Cosmetics are both are excellent performers in the category.

W - Water-free

Returning to a solid state minimises water wastage and packaging and concentrated forms generally last longer, thus a sensible space for natural brands to inhabit. Recent releases include solid oil cleansers, shampoo and conditioners, sunscreen and a return to bar soap over body wash. 

X - The X factor

Just because a product has green credentials, doesn't mean it has to appear basic or boring or have a simple formulation. Luxury natural skincare and cosmetics is a growing niche, that includes advanced anti-aging formulations, superior makeup textures and colours and premium packaging. 

Y - Yellow

The colour of the powerful spice Turmeric that has become a star player in natural skincare products recently. Turns out it’s anti-inflammatory abilities are not just beneficial internally, but according to skincare experts it also has anti-septic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically too. Just don't go applying the spice on its own - it stains!

Z - Zen

In the busy world we live in, stress and lack of sleep can be a huge contributor to premature aging. Hence, a new focus on switching down a gear, relaxing, and taking some time for yourself. Think aromatherapy, bath salts, massage oils and the like.

This article originally appeared on beautyheaven.
Words: Megan Bedford