Decoding your beauty labels: 5 tips to green up your beauty routine

Organic natural beauty
If you are looking for a more natural approach to your beauty routine, the good news is it is easy – when you know the right things to look for.

The trouble is that there is no legal definition of ‘natural,’ which makes it that much harder to recognise which products are truly natural and which ones are just claiming to be.

We’ve broken it down for you, so you can choose well:

Tip 1: Choose ingredients you recognise

Would you eat it? Some beauty products and lotions smell good enough to eat, however whether you would actually consume them is another story! If you wouldn’t put those ingredients in your mouth, you might want to reconsider applying them to your skin every day – your skin is the body’s largest organ after all.

Read the label closely and examine the ingredients – if there are names that aren’t familiar, look them up online on a credible cosmetics ingredients database.

Even some naturally-derived ingredients are less beneficial than they appear. Look out for:

  • Sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate and cocamidopropyl betaine, both derived from coconut oil, are known to irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions.
  • Cocamide DEA/MEA are known skin irritants and potential carcinogens.


Tip 2: Check to see if the products are certified natural/organic

Don’t take claims of ‘natural’, ‘dermatologist-tested’, ‘organic’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ on the packaging to be gospel. This could just be marketing hype so you’ll need to dig a little deeper.

If it is a legitimate claim, it will be backed up by a government or regulatory authority or an independent organic and natural certification such as BioGro and NATRUE.

Trilogy was the first skincare brand in New Zealand to achieve NATRUE Natural Cosmetics Certification in 2012. The NATRUE stamp of approval means products stand by the following codes:

  • No animal testing
  • No synthetic fragrances and colours
  • No genetically modified ingredients
  • No petroleum-derived products
  • No silicone oils and derivatives
  • No irradiation of end products and botanical ingredients

Tip 3: Avoid fragrances

A majority of fragrances in skincare products are made of synthetic fragrances, derived from petroleum, coal tar and volatile organic compounds linked to cancer, birth defects and allergic reactions.

In a world where fragrance ingredients are protected as ‘trade secrets’, (companies don’t have to declare any of the toxic ingredients that make a single product’s fragrance), there is unfortunately no way of knowing what’s inside. The solution? Always choose synthetic-free products such as Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream, $53, which uses all-natural fragrances made from fractions of essential oils, or try fragrance-free products.

Tip 4: Familiarise yourself

Do your research. Sites such as SkinDeep have a comprehensive database which lists all your favourite products and breaks down the combination of chemicals in each product on a toxicity scale from 0 (least toxic) to 10 (most toxic).

Tip 5: Choose nontoxic, recyclable packaging

The best organic skincare brands not only care about the ingredients that they put into their products, they also ensure that every aspect of their brand lives up to the company’s core values to be natural, organic and environmentally-friendly. As a result, many brands have now started to produce nontoxic recyclable packaging.

Glass is the number one pick as there is no danger of leaching toxins into the product it contains. When it comes to plastic packaging, polyethylene terephthalate or PET, which has the #1 recycling code, and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) has the #2 recycling code, making them the two top choices for skincare brands to use. However, avoid the poison plastic PVC which has the #3 recycling code as it has several environmental and health effects.

*This article is brought to you by Trilogy.

Photo: Sevak Babakhani/