Organic, Natural or Sustainable? Dilemma when choosing skincare

There is much debate on natural verses man-made/synthetic and the debate of organic over natural but is anyone thinking about sustainable ingredients. When I see a new wonder ingredient that is only found in some far-flung place in the world, grown in a small band of very Eco delicate area, I ask “should we be using this ingredient”. We have seen the devastation of rain forest and animal habitats to product palm oil for food production and with the personal care industry is $62 billion U.S. dollars and employs about 63,816 people by 2016 with over 10 billion products produced every year we need to ask and demand sustainable ingredient harvesting and production.

Is all Organic farming Sustainable?

The industrialized countries developed modern conventional farming. This is where new seed varieties were developed through Genetic Modification to enable high yield, insect and disease resistance, longer shelf life and perfect appearance but not necessarily high in nutritional value. This method of farming uses mass amounts of chemical inputs and irrigation to produce crops with no thought about the down river land or sea impact. Whereas organics farming is about farming traditional farming per-industrialization, a more natural way farming controls invasive species through a mixture of companion planting, crop rotation, use of cover crops, natural pest control, hand weeding and animal grazing. Unfortunately the large commercialized “organic certified ” farms are not adhering to the true organic method they still use conventional approaches such as mono-crops and limited the amount of chemical used. This is not sustainable farming or in real sense, organic.

Is it worth paying the license fees to become classed as Organic if “fake organic farms can get certified”?

Being able to distinguish your product from other products on the retail shelve is very important and to enable to be recognize for your company philosophy, but at what cost and are your customers willing to pay the extra for certification. Many years ago I was involved in the manufacture of a clothing item that we wanted to be recognized as “Australian Made” but the cost to have the symbol on are items was the same cost of producing the item thus doubling the cost of the product. To compete with similar import products we could not ask double price or we would not sell the volume to break even. Was it worth the status of being able to hang “Australian Made off our product” when the product was Australian Made with or without the tag. This is the same dilemma for many organic/eco farmers have to make a decision on. They are also faced with the problem with that there are so many organizations and governing bodies offering “organic certification” with a variety of standards and interpretation varying fees levels – some over $100,000.

In a 2012 study it was found that majority (two-thirds) of Australians don’t look for a certified label, they buy on good faith of the marketing documents and company values.

What is Sustainable Farming?

An alternative approach to industrial farming/large commercial mono crop organic farming is ‘agro-ecological farming’ – “ Eco Farming”. This approach is a way to farm that builds, rather than destroys ecosystems. It is about ensuring the sustainability of the farm, crops, animal and the environments. Instead of spraying chemicals to get rid of pests, it is about growing plants that attract beneficial insects. Using a technique is of planting the fields with legumes between commercial crops, which naturally help to fix nitrogen in the soil instead of applying fossil-fuel-based fertilizers to the soil, which destroys the soil’s capacity to regenerate. Eco Farming is having a long-term and holistic approach to production.

How a Prestigious oil – Argan Oil is being Sustainable farmed.

Several years ago the hair industry fell in love with Moroccan Argan oil, known for it’s cosmetic and medical properties. Argan oil can be used to treat a number of skin and hair conditions such as slow hair growth, acne, dryness of scalp, dry skin, stretched skin as well as for pure cosmetic purposes. Because  Argan tree is endemic to Morocco, Argan oil remains one of the rarest oils in the world and is a very expensive and time consuming oil to produce, To prevent what has happened to other exotic ingredients A Biosphere Reserve, RARBA was founded in 2002 with the aim of ensuring sustainable development in the Argan oil to protect the trees, the environment, employment and income of women in this country. Argan Oil forests can produce approximately 4 to 2 million kilograms of fruit a year depending on the rain. It takes approximately 33 kg of fruit to produce a liter (33.8 ounces) of Argan oil. If you purchase pure argan oil via Fair Trade through a Berber women’s cooperative it might cost between $80-$100 an ounce = 30mls. Therefore if you are not paying this, its entirely possible that product are diluted with other complimentary oils such as jojoba, rose hip, or olive oil. It was reported in 2014 that 90% of Argan oil, even the bottles sold to tourists in Morocco are fake.

The priority When choosing Skincare.

When you are choosing skincare look for companies that have the same values and philosophy as you do. If it is Organic then make sure that it is from a ethical company that is Eco farming. With Zen de Jour – Individual formulated Results Driven Cosmeceutical Skincare the priority is sustainable farmed natural ingredients and where possible they are to be organic.


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Debra Spence is a Qualified Medical Aesthetician, Cosmetic Scientist, Lecture and Author. Owned of an Australian National Award Winning Medi Spa. Now is concerntrating on Education of Skin and Skincare plus provideing advance treatments to her private patients. Plus developing Zen Dejour a Result Based Cosmeceutical Skincare Range and Dermal Solution Private Lable Professional Skincare.

QUESTION ABOUT YOUR SKIN? Make an Appointment Today or send me an email to

PERMISSION TO REPRINT: You may use this article in your print, blog, magazine or electronic newsletter. But in order to do so, you must include the following paragraph “Information courtesy from Debra Spence – Answering your skin problems with Science and Nature. Debra Spence is a Cosmetic Chemist and Skin Specialist who provides skincare and treatment tips, product recommendations and reviews to professionals and patients.” Content Copyright © 2017, Debra Spence

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