‘Eco’ and ‘luxury’ aren’t the easiest of bedfellows – Katie Hill explores why
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Published: 13 August 2015
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
As a seven-year-old vegetarian I used to find all sorts of food on my plate. A chef in France once plonked a tomato (unsliced, I might add) and a matchbox of cheese in front of me, simply because that’s all he had that was suitable (or that’s what he said, anyway).
I was brought up to consider myself lucky that my whims were being accommodated and to get on with it.
Things have changed a bit now (I’ve grown, for starters) so if a chef did the same thing to me today I suspect I’d respond differently. The UK has incredible restaurants dedicated to vegetarian, vegan, raw, organic, gluten-free and pretty much any other type of food or dietary requirement you can think of.
We understand the health benefits of eating produce that hasn’t been messed around with and we don’t mind paying a bit more for it: the question now is less about why the good stuff costs more and more about how any food can be produced as cheaply as some is.
The beauty revolution
A similar revolution has happened with beauty products. Not that long ago, it took some serious legwork to find genuine eco-friendly cosmetics – and even those you found weren’t always as ‘green’ or natural as their manufacturers would have us believe.
The ones I usually ended up with were more of the ‘fragrance-free’ ilk and didn’t make me feel particularly feminine (or clean). They sat on my bathroom shelf with an obstinance not unlike that of the (unsliced) French tomato.
Still, the environmental argument alone has been enough to keep many of us battling on.More often than not, commercial cosmetics use chemical-synthetic and toxic bases which, in a bid to keep costs down, carry few active and natural ingredients and contain lots of water.
Produced on an industrial scale, these products are usually sold in plastic containers. The containers, together with the synthetic chemicals in the products themselves, have a devastating effect on the environment.
To top it off, many of the mainstream cosmetics brands that manufacture these products bombard us with misleading messages about what it is to be beautiful, with little regard for our health or wellbeing. We’re told that miraculous products will give back the beauty we have ‘lost’.
Eco-friendly products that contain ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients are obviously better for the environment (not to mention our sanity) – from the moment the ingredients are sown to the point at which they’re flushed into our water systems. They’re not tested on animals and they don’t test the Earth’s ability to process them.
But we’re just beginning to understand that there’s a whole lot more going for them – and the organic beauty market’s booming as a result.
Organic products bring all sorts of benefits that mainstream skincare products simply can’t. Yes they often cost more, but I’d be as worried about putting the cheapest products on my skin as I would about putting the cheapest fast food in my stomach.
The extra bonus with organic beauty products is that you really do get what you pay for. Natural ingredients can be healing remedies for sensitive skin, whereas the synthetic chemicals in many mainstream beauty products can exacerbate even minor irritations.
The natural antioxidants found in plants can also help protect your skin from the ravages of pollution, meaning the products that contain them are naturally age-defying – the Holy Grail for cosmetics companies and most of their customers.
Top-of-the-range organic beauty products from award-winning Inlight Organic are crammed with healing flowers, precious plant extracts and luxurious oils. They don’t contain artificial perfumes or chemicals and they genuinely don’t need to: they’re bursting with everything from rose, chamomile and lavender to cocoa seed powder and argan kernel oil. If you want to look and feel great without harming the Earth, they’re the ideal choice.
Nature’s medicine cabinet
Dr Mariano Spiezia, who founded Cornish brand Spiezia Organics and is now the scientist behind Inlight Organic’s products, developed his first organic skincare products at a time when the cosmetics industry was rife with greenwash. There was no labelling system that could identify a beauty product’s eco-credentials as the testing standard simply didn’t exist (hence the greenwash).
Instead, Mariano’s products had to be assessed by organic food standards; the upshot was that they ended up carrying labels that identified they were literally good enough to eat (and they still are – I’ve tried them. Hello Chocolate Face Mask).
As a trailblazer for organic beauty – as well as being a medical doctor, homeopath and herbalist – Mariano devoted years of his life to developing skincare products that are organic, sustainable, beneficial to overall wellbeing and bursting with Italian glamour. You can smell the sunshine and va-va-voom the minute you open a jar.
Mariano’s products are the result of fusing the latest scientific discoveries with the natural bounty of healing and nurturing ingredients growing all around us. Mariano is something of a magician: the oils used in Inlight Organic’s products are selected after meticulous observation of their scientific and holistic benefits, and combined with other complementary botanical extracts – all of which are made on site – to ensure maximum delivery and impact.
Want to improve skin elasticity? Try a product that contains bitter cherry seed oil. Trying to slow down the ageing process? Look out for barley grass. Trying to combat a skin condition? Get some calendula on your skin and watch it get to work on anything from dermatitis and acne to sun burn and mosquito bites.
All Inlight Organic’s products are handmade in small batches. Ancient techniques are applied, using colours, music, symbols and geometric and mathematical models to enrich the oils with high, harmonic frequencies.
The alchemical process provides luxurious testament to the fact we look and feel our best when we’re in sync with Nature and its cycles.
The squalene debate
One example is the use of squalene, which is a hot topic in the beauty industry. Lauded for its ability to keep skin in top condition, fight wrinkles and other signs of ageing and encourage the growth of healthy cells, squalene is a powerful antioxidant that’s similar in composition to vitamin A. It protects against the loss of internal water – which means it has a moisturising effect – and protects the skin from UV rays.
It sounds like a miracle ingredient and it’s treated like one – squalene has found its way into all kinds of face creams, serums and masks.
The science behind squalene is pretty solid; it was discovered at the beginning of the last century when a Japanese scientist was studying the incredible immune resistance of sharks. He found a special molecule, squalene, in their livers (squalo means ‘shark’ in Italian).
On further scrutiny, it was discovered that squalene is an unsaturated hydrocarbon that releases oxygen when mixed with water. With a specific gravity of 0.855 squalene is lighter than water itself, which improves the shark’s flotation by reducing its underwater body density. Nature is cleverer than any of us will ever be.
Squalene was later also found in human sebum, the fat produced by our sebaceous glands to protect our skin. The organic compound occurs naturally in the body and plays an important role in the synthesis and production of sterols, both in humans and in plants.
In the human body it’s the starting point for the production of cholesterol, steroid hormones and vitamin D and, when it’s exposed to water or other fluids, it produces oxygen and helps the skin regenerate.
If your body’s not producing enough squalene it can lead to premature ageing and dry skin. As a result, the cosmetics industry uses squalene to enhance the moisturising, antioxidant, soothing and anti-ageing performance of beauty products.
Olives vs sharks
While many cosmetics companies use squalene from deep sea shark liver oil, olive oil has been found to be one of the richest sources of vegetable squalene (200mg-12,000mg/kg) and just as effective as the shark-derived version.
Because squalene also supports the immune system when used as a supplement, it’s thought that the vegetable oil-rich Mediterranean diet – which is packed full of squalene – could help to prevent cancer.
Extra virgin olive oil is just one of a number of cold pressed organic oils that go into the highly nourishing base of Inlight Organic’s skincare products. As with all the other ingredients, oils are only used in their complete and unrefined form in order to maintain their chemical integrity, wholeness and life force.
The result is better quality and a more effective product – that hasn’t involved any cruelty to animals and that instead harnesses the incredible healing power of plants.
I’ll always pay more when it comes to food and beauty products because they’re a solid investment and, when you think about what must be happening at the other end of the supply chain, the price of some of the products on the market is frankly terrifying.
But the bonus is that the products that are most responsibly sourced and produced are now also the products that are best for your skin and that make you feel amazing. Result.
To find out more about Dr Mariano Spiezia and the alchemical processes behind Inlight Organic
skincare, visit inlight-online.com.