This week is Organic Beauty & Wellbeing Week (9 – 14 September). Organised by the Soil Association, this annual campaign aims to raise awareness of certified organic beauty and wellbeing products and the importance of certification and making sustainable choices. And it’s something we’re confident FHT members will be keen to support, with 58% indicating in our 2019 membership survey that they already buy organic products for personal and professional use.
In the Summer 2019 issue of International Therapist magazine, FHT spoke to Georgia Barnes (pictured), business development manager for health and beauty at the Soil Association. Here’s what she shared with our members…
Q. Tell us a bit about your background…
After completing a politics and international relations degree at Manchester University, I settled into corporate life and worked through several roles, from international account executive to product development and category management. My key focus has been on building and maintaining effective business relationships, to the benefit of both the brand and the buyer.
Following the arrival of my son, I found myself needing to align my work with my personal ethics, so in a moment of serendipity I searched the Soil Association’s roles and the vacancy was here. I manage a fabulous team, who work hard to support the organic and natural beauty and wellbeing market, and champion brands that make sustainable products.
Q. When and how did you develop an interest in health and beauty?
My mum is a strong advocate for complementary therapies, having trained as an aromatherapist, and I’ve been a keen advocate of the organic lifestyle my whole life. As a user of beauty and holistic health products, it’s an area that is continuously developing, and this is such an exciting time for the industry.
Q. What are the benefits of using organic products?
‘Organic’ means working with nature. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides (weed killers) or artificial fertilisers, and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment, which means more wildlife. Whatever you’re buying, when you choose organic food, drink, beauty or textiles, you choose products that promote a better world.
Q. Why is it important to use products that are certified by an organisation like the Soil Association?
We believe that our lotions and potions shouldn’t come at a cost to our health or the planet. What we put onto our body is just as important as what we put into it. This is where the Soil Association comes in. Certified organic cosmetics ensure that everything, from farm to finished product, is traceable. This includes the restriction of synthetic fertilisers, GM ingredients and harsh chemicals. Certified organic beauty also means no animal testing and the sourcing of ingredients sustainably. Look for an accredited logo such as the Soil Association or COSMOS (Cosmetic Organic Standard) to make sure that what you’re buying is a genuine organic product.
Q. Tell us about ‘greenwashing’…
The terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ beauty aren’t regulated in the same way as food and drink products. As brands don’t need to meet a minimum percentage of organic ingredients to claim that they are they are organic, they can use the term ‘organic’ even if only 1% of the ingredients actually are – otherwise known as ‘greenwashing’. The only way you can guarantee what you’re buying is truly organic is to go for certified products, so always look for the logo.
Q. What key change would you like to see in the industry?
It would be great to bring organic into the mainstream – organic products are such a simple swap as people begin to look for a more sustainable lifestyle. As people demand more from their products, I hope we will see a real shift towards sustainable production, manufacturing and usage. The challenges facing us can feel overwhelming but swapping your purchases for certified organic beauty and wellbeing products really does make such an impact throughout the whole supply chain.
Q. What do you do to relax and unwind?
I love to play in the garden with my toddler and spend time outdoors – preferably in the sun – riding my bike and enjoying the fresh air. Nature is a real healer and having access to it is such a gift. There is also nothing that can’t be fixed by a long, calm bath and some deep breathing mindfulness techniques.
Georgia Barnes is the business development manager for health and beauty at Soil Association Certification, a charity that certifies more than 70% of all organic products sold in the UK. For more information, see www.soilassociation.org