the lowdown

this section of The effortlist aims to provide more information and elaborate on some brand values.


The terms “organic” and “natural” are not as tightly regulated within cosmetics as one might expect. A product being natural or organic does not mean it does not contain synthetic ingredients. The UK’s The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (The CTPA) explain on their website that legally cosmetic brands are not allowed to false advertise, if they make the claims of selling natural or organic products, for the most part, that has to be true.  However, brands products do not have to contain 100% natural or organic products in order for them to use that term. 

There are various certification bodies that created their own standards for what constitutes as a natural or organic product, they vary as each of them having slightly different criteria. However they all aim confirm that what you are buying is of the quality it claims to be. UK and European examples of these organisations are:


It is important to remember that there are various brands who use organic or naturally derived ingredients but have have not achieved certification , this can be due to a range of reasons, including financial as some of the certification bodies charge fees.

For the sake of categorising, The Effortlist considers brands that have achieved organic certification as organic as well as brands that have no certification, but the majority of their products contain high percentages of organic ingredients. These brands will have clearly listed the percentage of organic ingredients contained within each product.


Free from products are not necessarily completely formulated with naturally derived ingredients, however they are free from  certain synthetic, “toxic” or natural irritants such as sulphates, parabens and aluminium. Free from products can be  found in many personal care brands. A good example of free from products are non toxic nail polishes. There are three main ingredients that are heavily used in nail polish production: Toulene, Formaldehyde and Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP).  

Generally speaking, nail polish brands that consider themselves non-toxic often do not use these ingredients, however there are brands that go further and manage to cut out up to 12 “toxic” ingredients without compromising the quality of the nail polish.  Brands usually list the ingredients they have omitted, however this article on Nourished Life breaks downs the ingredients variations between 5-10 free nail polishes.

Other examples of a free from products  are shampoo’s that do not contain sulphates, paraben’s etc, or deodorants that are free from aluminium etc.


Products sold in Europe would not have undergone the animal testing process as it is illegal and has been since 2013. However there are the brands that may not test on animals at during there manufacturing process, however they choose to sell in countries, such as mainland China, where animal testing is compulsory for cosmetics manufactured abroad.


Think Dirty is a database app that allows you to scan product bar codes to find out how “clean” the ingredients of your products are. The app allows users to create lists of “clean” and “dirty” products

The EWG Healthy Living App is a database creted by the not-for- profit group Environmental Working Group. The database grades thousands of health and beauty products based on the quality of ingredients. The app includes a handy scanning feature which allows you to scan barcodes of products you want to look up.



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