Ethical Gift Guide Part I: Buying Natural Beauty


Welcome to the first of our three part Ethical Gift Guide, designed for those of you that want to get into the festive spirit of gifting to loved ones but want to do it consciously and with heart.

Buying natural beauty products is a minefield, there is so much misinformation in the mass beauty market so people are fooled into thinking the product they are buying (often a very expensive one!) is all-natural and ethically made when in fact it can be the total opposite.

So Rare Beauty has put together some Top Tips to consider when buying beauty and also highlights a few unique beauty brands that you might like to gift this festive season.

Beware of ‘natural beauty speak’

Any beauty company can use the words ‘natural’, ‘naturally derived’ and ‘organic’ on their product. They can also use clever words to mean natural such as ‘clean’, ‘pure’ or ‘herbal’. In terms of organic claims, unless the product is certified (in Europe this is by COSMOS or the Soil Association in the UK) then if they are being sold on the high street in vast numbers you might want to think again about their organic content, which is very likely minimal. Vogue published an informative article about this very issue recently.  You cannot go too far wrong if you check the Soil Association’s list of organic certified beauty brands.

Trust your judgement 

Trust your instincts – if a product (when testing it) feels watery and thin and the first ingredient listed is ‘aqua’ or ‘water’ then yes, you’ve guessed it – the vast majority of the product is likely to be made of water. Most lotions and creams have water in them in order to make them spreadable, but there is a vast difference between a truly natural, handmade product which uses minimal water and more of the good stuff ( plant based oils, butters, essential oils etc) to create a truly active product and one that uses 95% water and then few natural sounding ingredients on top. When you use a truly natural product believe us, your skin will tell the difference!

‘Think Dirty’ and try to avoid these nasties in your beauty products

We’d like to highlight a few ingredients you really should be aiming to avoid:

1. BHA and BHT – Used in moisturizers and makeup, these preservatives may cause cancer and are harmful to fish and other wildlife.

2. Coal tar dyes ( p-phenylenediamine and colors listed as “Cl” followed by 5 digits) – Used in hair dyes and cosmetics, these dyes are potential carcinogens and can be contaminated with heavy metals.

3. DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA – Used in creamy and foaming products, like moisturizers and shampoos, DEAs have been linked to cancer.

4. Dibutyl phthalate – Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products, this is a suspected endocrine disruptor and reprodutive toxin.

5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives ( DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quarternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate) – Found in cosmetics, these are said to slowly release cancer-causing formaldehyde in small amounts.

6. Paraben, methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben – Used as preservatives, parabens are reported to interfere with male reproductive functions.

7. Fragrance or Parfum – Artificial fragrances used in all kinds of cosmetics can trigger allergic reactions, asthma, and some are linked to cancer.

8. PEGs – Used as a cream base for some cosmetics, these can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is linked to cancer.

9. Petrolatum – Used in hair products, lip balms, moisturizers, and lipsticks, this petroleum product can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.

10. Siloxanes ( cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane and cyclomethicone) – Used to soften, smooth and moisten, these appear in a variety of cosmetics and are suspected endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins.

11. Sodium laureth sulfate – Used in foaming cosmetics like shampoos, cleansers, and even toothpaste, this can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is linked to cancer.

12. Triclosan – The controversial antibacterial agent may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacterial strains.

Can’t remember all these? Then check out the Think Dirty App which enables you to scan beauty products with your phone to get the ethical lowdown on their contents.

Shop small, shop local and ask questions

You may feel that it is ‘better the devil you know’ with the common high street beauty brands, their lovely expensive packaging (which by the way is often costing them more to produce than the product they actually fill it with!) and their ‘natural’ reassurances.

Then you come across a new beauty brand at your local farmer’s market or in your local health store and you wander if you can trust them. The short answer is yes, you can trust them. ALL beauty products and cosmetics sold in the UK have to go through a rigorous testing process and produce a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (called CPSR). If you are talking directly to the seller then you can ask them about this. You can also ask them about what percentage of ingredients they have in the product and to talk you through the ingredients they used to create the product. You should be pleasantly surprised by their informed answers and hopefully the passion they put into creating their products. Our recommendation – give small beauty businesses a chance and shop local this festive season!

Three unique beauty brands to give as gifts this Christmas

We will be showcasing a range of unique, handcrafted small-batch made beauty brands in our online store next year but until then we would like to highlight a few brands we are hoping to showcase that we feel could be the perfect match for that ‘hard to buy for’ loved one this Christmas:

Nakin – high performance skincare with anti-ageing properties. Perfect for an older family member or friend who doesn’t want to compromise on performance but is keen to try an alternative to the popular high street anti-ageing products on offer.
 Nakin Gift Image (1).JPG
Bramley – hotel luxe body products with an English countryside twist. With top boutique hotels as their client base, Bramley offers a luxury bathing experience for the discerning bathroom addict!

MyRoo – free from natural skincare for the most sensitive skin types. These award-winning serums, balms and cleansers all come with a totally fragrance free option.


Until next week – happy shopping!
Rare Beauty Team x