Natural beauty products – How to get started and WHY they matter

Kasia from natural skincare brand Sana Naturals featured the following beauty Q&A over on her blog recently.

Kasia spoke to Noleen Sliney all about her work as a natural beauty makeup artist and dug deep with some great questions.

Kasia has kindly allowed us to re-publish this interview here.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Noleen’s view on why natural beauty products are better than mainstream ones
  • The difference between cruelty-free and vegan beauty products
  • What the term ‘greenwashing‘ means
  • Noleen’s top tip for switching to natural beauty products
  • Noleen’s advice for keeping your skin glowing during winter
  • Noleen’s favourite natural beauty products

How did you become a natural makeup artist?

My interest in natural and organic cosmetics was piqued over a decade ago when I first realised there was animal testing going on in the cosmetics industry. At this point, I was still working in the corporate world and was a consumer as opposed to an industry professional.

I was appalled that animals were being harmed at all, let alone for the sake of a beauty product. So I began doing lots of research on brands that test on animals and those that don’t. This led me to understand more about not only the products I was using but also the ingredients that were in those products.

From that moment on, I was hooked. I began to become aware of the importance of what I was putting on my body as well as what I put in it. Everything started to make sense – why products weren’t working for me, no matter how good they supposedly were and how big their reputation was.

When I eventually left the corporate world and trained to become a makeup artist, using natural and organic products was a no-brainer for me. It was always part of my plan to become a natural and organic makeup artist. However, I will admit, that wasn’t so easy back then, as the products just weren’t available at the time. So I still had to use some mainstream products for a while until there were suitable natural and/or organic alternatives available. However, at a minimum, the products I used were always 100% cruelty-free.

Thankfully there have been major advancements in natural and organic cosmetics over the past few years, particularly makeup products. So now I don’t have to choose between safety and quality. I can have it all! And I want to help my clients have it all too and make navigating the green beauty world so easy for them.

What fuels your passion for natural beauty products?

I’ve always had an interest in fitness, nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. So for me, using natural beauty products is an extension of that. It’s like the next level up on the healthy lifestyle ladder, so to speak.

If I’m eating healthy, nutritious foods, looking after my body with exercise as well as looking after my mental health, it makes total sense to also use natural products that are full of all the nutrients, minerals and vitamins my skin needs.

It’s been amazing to finally find products that do everything I want. They’re good for my skin and make it look and feel amazing, they don’t harm my health and they’re ethically made by lovely, like-minded people who also care about animals and the planet too.

Plus they feel so wonderful and luxurious to use. I’m getting all the nutrients as well as the glamour! It’s a win-win on every level. Since I switched to using only natural and organic cosmetics, my skin looks and feels the best it’s ever been.

Why are natural beauty products better than the mainstream ones?

There’s a misconception that using natural products over mainstream ones means having to sacrifice on quality as well as glamour. But this is not true at all!

When you use natural beauty products, you’re getting better quality and much more value for your money.

Mainstream products often contain just a couple of good ingredients and the rest is made up of cheap filler ingredients that have no benefits for your skin whatsoever. This applies to both budget as well as high-end priced mainstream products. Which is not only of no benefit to your skin but it’s also a waste of your hard-earned money!

Compare this to natural and organic products that are only packed full of nourishing ingredients that actually do something for your skin. Every ingredient is in there for a reason. It has a purpose. So in this case, you’re getting much more value for your money because it’s not wasted on any unnecessary ingredients that aren’t performing.

For example, many mainstream products contain ingredients that strip the skin and hair of their natural oils, even the ones that claim to be hydrating. And they often contain ingredients that are known to be a health risk. You’ll never find such ingredients in truly natural and organic cosmetics.

By using cosmetics that are free from the harsh ingredients found in mainstream products and instead switching to ones that only contain natural and organic ingredients, you’re not compromising, you’re elevating. You’ll start to notice a lasting improvement in your skin as it’s getting all the nutrients it needs.

Not only are natural cosmetics kinder to your skin and health, but they’re also kind to animals. One of the bare minimum requirements for a brand or product to be classified as truly natural and/or organic is that it hasn’t been tested on animals and is 100% cruelty-free.

Another amazing reason why natural beauty products are better is that they’re kinder to our beautiful planet. Common ingredients found in mainstream products such as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are being washed into our waterways and cause harm to marine life which also has an effect on the food chain. Likewise, petroleum-based ingredients, a non-renewable resource, are also found in mainstream products. You won’t find any of these ingredients in truly natural and organic cosmetics.

So as you can see, choosing natural and organic products over mainstream ones are so much better for your skin, health, animals and the planet. And you’re getting far better value for your money too.

My hope is that one day soon, green beauty products will be the mainstream. That they’re the products that will be readily available and at the forefront in department stores and pharmacies.

Can you explain the difference between cruelty-free and vegan beauty products?

Vegan means there are no animal-derived ingredients in the product. Examples of this are beeswax, honey, lanolin, squalene, carmine and animal hair, which some makeup brushes are made of.

Cruelty-free means neither the end product nor the ingredients have been tested on animals. Nor has that brand asked a third party to test on animals on their behalf. In addition, in order for a product or brand to be deemed 100% cruelty-free, the products must not be sold in mainland China where animal testing is mandatory for foreign companies who wish to sell their products there.

This is why it’s so important to be aware of statements such as “We don’t test on animals unless required to do so by law.” If you see this statement, it means the brand is selling their products in China and therefore are tested on animals in that country.

Vegan beauty products are not necessarily cruelty-free. So it’s important to be aware of the difference between the two so you can always be 100% sure what you’re buying is not only vegan but also cruelty-free.

Can you explain the term ‘greenwashing’?

Unlike the food industry, the beauty industry is not regulated. There’s no legal definition of terms such as natural, organic and even the term cruelty-free. So brands are free to use whatever terms they like to describe their products and won’t suffer any legal ramifications for using misleading language.

This means you’re relying on the integrity of brands to be completely upfront and open about what exactly is in the products you’re buying and putting on your skin. Unfortunately, not all brands have such high standards of ethics and integrity!

This is where greenwashing comes into play. A brand can say their products are ‘natural’ or say things such as ‘contains certified organic ingredients.’ Other terms you’ll notice are ‘free from XYZ’ (eg: parabens, sulphates) or phrases such as ‘contains botanical ingredients’.

But in reality, these statements tell you absolutely nothing about the product at all. And using such terms does not mean the products are natural cosmetics.

Sure, the product may be free from parabens or sulfates, for example. It may even contain 1 or 2 natural or organic ingredients. But it may also contain other harsh, synthetic ingredients that have no benefits for your skin such as petroleum-derived ingredients.

What’s your top tip for those who want to make the switch to natural beauty?

My top tip is to start slowly and switch one product at a time. This is for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s better for your skin. If you’re using too many new products all at once, even if they do contain natural ingredients, your skin may react to something. And if so, you won’t know which product or ingredient it was that caused the reaction so you’ll know which one to avoid next time.

Another reason is that it won’t seem so overwhelming. You’ll probably want to research, or get advice on, some equivalent green beauty replacements for your current mainstream products, which takes time. So it’s simpler to switch one product as opposed to 5, 6 or even 10 new products all at once. Plus it’s easier on your finances too.

Whilst switching the products you use most often or on the largest surface area of your body can be great ones to begin switching first, there’s really no right or wrong product to begin with.

I personally find it easier to replace products one by one as they run out. So when one of your products is ready to be replaced, replace it with a natural and organic version instead.

I’d also add that it’s important to ask questions and educate yourself even a little on ingredients. As I mentioned, greenwashing is rife in the industry right now and brands are using misleading language to make you think their products are natural or organic when in reality they’re anything but!

What’s written on the front of the product tells you nothing – that’s just marketing. It’s the full ingredients list that tells you all need to know about that product and if it’s truly natural and/or organic or not.

Don’t just accept what a brand is telling you. Ask them questions. If it’s genuinely a green beauty brand, they’ll only be too willing to be completely transparent with you about what’s in their products and they won’t feel the need to use misleading marketing tactics and confusing language.

And if they do reply and you’re unsure of what they’re telling you or you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask them to clarify exactly what they mean in layman’s terms. That way, you can make an informed decision before wasting your money on products that are not truly what you want. If you don’t like the answers you get, don’t buy from them.

How do you keep your glow during the winter months?

There are 3 basic and super simple things I always do to keep my skin hydrated and glowing in winter. Before I reveal them, I want to mention that whilst I absolutely love products, I often notice there’s an over-reliance on products sometimes too.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some amazing ones I highly recommend to keep the skin hydrated and glowing in winter. Nevertheless bear in mind that you can use the best products, but if you’re not doing the basics well, you’re never going to get the results you want.

To answer your question, I do the basics well first and I use just a few products to maintain my skin and keep it healthy, hydrated and glowing. Here’s what they are:

1. I avoid using hot water when showering and bathing. I wash my skin, hair and hands in lukewarm to warm water. Hot water will actually suck the moisture out of your skin and hair. So washing in a lower temperature will help to keep the hydration in.

2. Hydrated, healthy skin begins on the inside. So I always drink a minimum of 2 litres of water per day. In addition, I eat lots of hydrating and skin-loving fruits and vegetables that contain a high water content as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals. Examples are cucumbers, carrots, oranges, kiwis, tomatoes, blueberries and apples. These foods help keep my body hydrated which in turn keeps my skin hydrated and will show on the outside in the form of a healthy, glowing complexion.

3. I get outside, even when it’s cold! I make sure I get out for a minimum of 20-30 minutes most days. When you’re constantly indoors, the lack of daylight and vitamin D as well as central heating, which sucks the moisture out of the air and ultimately out of your skin, will lead to dehydrated skin and a dull-looking complexion. Even getting outside for a minimum of 20-30 minutes will make a difference. And a  lovely brisk walk in the cold air will give you gorgeous, rosy looking cheeks which instantly perks up your complexion.

I then use just a few products to maintain my skin. The combination of both keeps my skin hydrated and glowing even in the cold, winter months.

I’ve actually created an entire masterclass on this topic called the Winter Beauty Masterclass if you’d like to check it out. It teaches you everything you need to know to stay hydrated from head to toe in winter.

What’s the one natural makeup product we should all use?

Oh my, that’s a hard question to answer as there are so many amazing products! If you’re just starting to make the switch to natural and organic makeup products, a great one to start with is concealer or foundation.

People often tell me they don’t like wearing makeup because it feels like a mask and they feel like their skin can’t breathe. If your makeup products feel like this, stop wearing them as they’re absolutely the wrong products for you!

I want my makeup products to be an extension of my skincare products. So using makeup products that are nourishing my skin is a must for me.

Two products I can highly recommend are the Hynt Beauty Duet Perfecting Concealers and RMS Beauty Un-cover Up. Both can be used as a concealer or foundation. So you’ve got two products in one. They feel really lightweight on the skin. You won’t even feel like you’re wearing makeup at all!

These are two of the best makeup products I’ve ever used and are a staple in both my professional and personal makeup kits. The quality is superior to any concealers I’ve ever used. Including mainstream products that claimed to be ‘the best’! They contain ingredients that you’ll find in your skincare products, so they hydrate and nourish your skin throughout the day.

Tell us about the Natural Beauty Society and what inspired you to start it?

The Natural Beauty Society is a monthly membership I created last year. It’s a 1-stop shop for beauty tips and techniques, natural, organic and cruelty-free beauty, self-care, inspiration and community.

Each month the members receive a new masterclass on the topic of the month. They also have access to all past masterclasses, member-only resources such as natural and organic beauty guides, product and brand recommendations as well as monthly live Q&A sessions where they can ask me any questions. In addition there’s also a lovely uplifting community where we can all interact with each other on a daily basis.

I was inspired to create the Natural Beauty Society for a number of reasons. Without sounding too negative there’s just so much wrong with the beauty industry right now! And my goal is to revolutionise it and inspire you to question things, become aware of what you’re using on your skin every day, change your mindset around what and how you buy, show you how to simplify your beauty routine as well encourage you to see it as a vital element of your self-care practice.

There’s a lot of information online. But also so much misinformation. At best, a lot of it is so generic it’s hard to even relate to. Not to mention the volume of information that makes it so overwhelming and time-consuming to even find what you’re looking for!

Then there’s all the unethical practices and greenwashing, which we’ve already chatted about. As well as how the mainstream media and beauty industry brainwash you into feeling like there’s something wrong with you if you don’t look or do things in a certain way. Put all of these together and it’s time for a change!

I created the Natural Beauty Society so people can find everything they need all in one place from a trusted source. I also want them to be able to learn in a quick and simple way to understand their own skin and the right techniques and products that suit them best. That way they feel confident walking into any beauty store and can make empowered buying decisions as they’ll know what products are right for them and which ones aren’t, as well as recognise whether a product or brand is actually natural, organic and cruelty-free.

If you’d like to be part of this beauty revolution and learn how to simplify your beauty routine and easily identify the products that are right for you, then come and join us over in the Natural Beauty Society, I’d love to see you there.

You can find out more about Noleen over on her website here or more about the Natural Beauty Society here. You’ll also find her over on Pinterest or you can connect with her on Facebook.

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