Boost your beauty knowledge

Decode the back of the packaging to find out exactly what makes up your products


The gold standard for cruelty-free products (and recognised around the world) is the Leaping Bunny logo. All products bearing this mark have to meet watertight criteria, including ongoing audits, to make sure no animals come to any harm in their production. Proof that making more conscious choices won’t leave you out of pocket, Aldi’s cosmetics line Lacura is certified, as well as pursefriendly skincare brand


 Even if you know your UVAs from your UVBs, you might still be stumped by the term ‘reef safe’. While UV filters are great at protecting your skin, the chemicals they contain (oxybenzone and octinoxate) wash off your body when in the water, causing fatal damage to coral reefs. All Soltan sun creams are reef safe, but eco-pioneer Green People has gone a step further. Not only is it one of the few sun-cream brands that is both reef-safe and non-toxic to marine life, but all the company’s packaging is made from renewable sugar cane


Over time, beauty products start to break down – meaning they’re less effective than before and this can be for a huge range of reasons. Mascara wands are exposed to bacteria each time you use them, while vitamin C-based serums can oxidise quickly, which reduces their potency. Hanging onto products past their prime won’t do your skin any favours, so look out for the icon of an open jar with a little number within it on your products – that number tells you how many months you should keep it for after opening. For example, 12M equals 12 months. Throwing out products before they’re used up can feel wasteful, but luckily Ultrasun’s entire range of sun creams lasts for two years once opened (the average is just one year), meaning you can squirrel them away for next summer with no stress.


‘Unlike food and drink, which has to be legally certified as organic, the terms organic and natural aren’t regulated in beauty products,’ explains Beauty and Wellbeing Business Development Officer for Soil Association Certification Sophie Williams. So it can be hard to know who to trust. Look out for the Soil Association symbol, though – it means the product has adhered to its strict standards and, among other things, will be free from parabens, phthalates, synthetic colours, dyes and fragrances. Check the website ( for a full list of certified brands, which includes Garnier Organic


Much like products labelled ‘organic’, there are no specific rules companies need to play by in order to label their product as ‘natural’. Check the percentages on the back of a pack, but if a product is claiming to be ‘natural’, we would expect that to mean it’s not made up of synthetic ingredients created in a lab. A brand to watch, Nature’s Kitchen, offers a range of skincare that uses food-grade organic ingredients, with a focus on natural essential oils and fruit extracts. The ingredient lists are proudly displayed too, so you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin. Herbivore runs by the same ethos. Created in the founders’ kitchen in 2011, Herbivore only uses raw, natural ingredients with no fillers, meaning every ingredient is ‘active’, for impressive results.


Most of us keep a recycling bin in our kitchens, but not our bathrooms, resulting in tonnes of plastics making their way into landfill unnecessarily. Not sure whether your item is recyclable? Head to to find out what your local council will take, but if it features the ‘mobius loop’ (three arrows in a triangle shape) that means it can be recycled. Want to shun plastic altogether?

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