Switching to organic skincare in Singapore is easier and less expensive today than 15 years ago. Prices have plummeted or made at least comparable to non-organic products. Many of these brands claim to be: of certified organic sources, packaged in environmentally friendly ways, and made without substances such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) which have been touted to be bad for health.
While many of these health claims are debatable and veer towards pseudoscience, many people like me switch to organic skincare to avoid allergic reactions to synthetic fragrances and detergents in conventional skincare. If you plan to switch to organic skincare, here’s a general guide on what to look out for before you head for the shops.
1. If you suspect that you are allergic to ingredients in conventional skincare, it would cause you less heartache and money in the long run if you find out what exactly you are allergic to from the start. One sure-fire way is through a skin prick test with a dermatologist or a medical doctor specialising in allergies. No matter how organic a product is, if it contains an ingredient or ingredients you are allergic to, you would still develop an allergic reaction if you apply it onto your skin. So someone with an allergy to aloe vera or Echinacea would still react to products which contain them, even if their sources are organic.
2. Look for brands which hail from countries with an established organic industry such as Germany and Italy in Europe, and Australia.
3. Research on the associations that certify organic products in the products’ country of origin. For example, if the organic products are from Italy, they should be certified organic by bodies such as the Italian Association for Organic Farming (AIAB – Associazione Italiana Agricoltura Biologica) and the Environmental Ethic Certification Institute (ICEA, or Instituto Certificazione Etica e Ambientale).
4. Check if the brand and its products have been awarded internationally recognised certifications such as ISO 9000. ISO 9000 is an international quality management systems standard designed to help organisations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product or service.
5. Finally, do not commit to purchasing a product until you have done a patch test on your skin. Ask for a sachet, apply the product onto your skin somewhere inconspicuous such as behind your ear or under your chin. And if there’s no reaction after 10 minutes, proceed to use the entire sachet and purchase the product if you like it.
Here are the top products on my shelf:
Bema Bio Nice Hands Hand Cream (Italy) – I might not look like it, but I do housework from time to time. I try to limit contact with abrasive detergents as much as I can, but when I am certain it cannot be helped, I always rub some of this onto my hands half an hour before I roll up my sleeves. It seems to protect my palms from peeling with no greasy feeling.
Dr Hauschka Cleansing Milk (Germany) – I have been using this for over a decade and I simply love that it doubles up as a gentle but very effective makeup cleanser. With the help of cotton buds and a mirror in a well-lit room, this can remove even my smokiest Marc Jacobs eye shadow thoroughly. As Dr Hauschka product prices in Singapore have been soaring, I have resorted to purchasing this from lazada.sg and cosme-de.com
Bamford Geranium, Lavender and Rose Body Lotion (United Kingdom) – I was first acquainted with this in a Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta suite (where it was stocked) while on a work trip. These days I cannot fall asleep without layering its delicious herbaceous fragrance on my skin after a shower. This is not available in Singapore, so I get my stock from cosme-de.com. At US$64 for 250ml it’s not cheap, but oh how indulgent!
Solar Tea AntiAge SPF 30 (Italy) – This is probably the best sunscreen I have ever had for taking out on a sunny rendezvous, like my recent afternoon walkabout at the zoo. The issue I have with sunscreens is that somehow the bridge of my nose (where my sunglasses rest on my skin) would break out after a day out, but not with this. It also works well under makeup just before you put on your base.
Bema Bio Face Double Lifting Serum (Italy) – This helps with toning facial skin. So if you have been suffering from puffiness under the eyes and elsewhere on the face for whatever reasons; whether it’s the time of the month, or if you have had a late night or travelling into different time zones but are scheduled to meet a VIP, this helps you look fresh and show-ready.
Bema Bio Face Blue Defence (Italy) – While the Bema Bio Face Lifting Serum is for toning, this is for resisting environmental damage. I find this to be particularly helpful for making skin look fresh throughout the night – especially if you are expecting to drift through swirls of cigarette or barbecue smoke or indulge in alcohol. Only four drops under your makeup and you will look as good as when you leave the house.
Product photos are by Shah Rizal Bin Baharudin.