Why does organic skincare cost more?

Why does organic skincare cost more?

Natural woman

Text: Fern Lee

Buro columnist and co-founder of natural skincare brand ANIA shares on the reasons behind the relatively high cost of organic products

Organic skincare has had a presence on our shelves for awhile now, but I wasn’t one of the early adopters as I shrugged it off as another fad. After watching a documentary about how our food now contains way less nutrients than before and being turned off by the long list of chemicals used in skincare products, I started to include organic products in my purchases.
Products with official organic labels undergo rigorous testing to make sure they comply with guidelines. While USDA organic labels are the most common ones we see, there is more than one company giving out certifications including Australian Certified Organic and Agriculture Biologique. So why exactly do organic skincare products cost more?

1)  Higher ingredient cost
Most organic products make use of botanical ingredients. The additional factors organic farms undergo — certification processes, smaller crop sizes, slower harvest timings (from not using chemicals or growth hormones) — all contribute to the higher cost. There is also increased labour cost as some ingredients, such as Argan Oil, are hand harvested and processed. While the higher cost is transferred to consumers, the benefit is that you avoid exposure to harmful chemicals like sodium laureth sulfate and parabens.

2) Quality formulations vs cheap mix of chemicals
If you take a look at the ingredient list on drugstore brands, most of them will have aqua/water listed as the first ingredient (ingredients are listed in order of percentages used  — from highest to lowest). So most of what you're paying for is water. Organic products on the other hand, use high quality active ingredients. Using water as a base is sometimes necessary, but it shouldn't be used to masquerade as an aloe or coconut water based product. 

3) Shorter shelf life
Yes to everlastingly youthful looks, no to vampire lifespan products — organic products tend to have shorter shelf life because the botanical ingredients used naturally have a limited lifespan and break down after a certain time. Chemicals used in drugstore brands last longer because... chemicals. Conventional brands aim for a long shelf life in order to reduce wastage and also be able to produce in bulk, to keep costs down.

At ANIA, we aim to use as little ingredients as possible in order to keep our products at their most effective — our top selling Rhassoul Clay Mask has just four ingredients and uses a natural fruit based preservative. Even though the shelf life of the mask is just six months, it's no issue to us because we want our customers to have the freshest masks. The 50g jar is a nifty size — it lasts up to 3 months with regular use so by the time it expires it would've been time for replenishment anyway.

4) Manufacturing and packaging
A lot of thought goes into every detail of the manufacturing process. Organic ingredients are often hand-harvested and formulations done in small batches to ensure high quality. Big scale products are machine produced in bulk (to enjoy bulk discounts on ingredients) and placed in the most cost efficient containers. You'll notice that many organic products come in dark brown glass bottles — the dark brown is to prevent light damage while glass is a non-reactive material that will not affect the oils or formulations.

Is it worth spending the extra cash on organic products? I would say YES, simply because I would rather put natural ingredients on my skin instead of chemicals. One tip for the next time you're out buying organic products: take a look at the ingredient list to check the priority of ingredients used. A good indication is when the high quality ingredients are listed towards the front.Time to go forth and explore some of the world's most powerful natural ingredients 

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