05/06/2013 06:04 BST | Updated 04/08/2013 06:12 BST

Is it Really Organic?


When it comes to proper labelling on our beauty products, its not pretty out there.

It seems cosmetics and lotions that are being labelled organic, natural or even more cheekily -'nature inspired', may not be as pure as they claim. Peter Melchett, the Soil Association's policy director over here in the UK, warned recently that ingredients often found in antifreeze, floor cleaner,oven cleaner and car oil are making their way onto our unsuspecting skin. We are also apparently dousing ourselves in chemicals that have been banned from being used in children's food and toys. The worst part is that the people who use creams and lotions regularly: women and children are the one's most vulnerable to the effects of toxins bioaccumulating in our bodies; kids because they are little and women because of our reproductive kit.

So what can we do about it? The Soil Association recommends we look for products that carry independent certification labels. They will only give their organic seal of approval to products that contain 95% organic ingredients. So if you are into the super natural, look for that. COSMOS is another reputable certifier over here. They have a COSMOS NATURAL logo, that identifies products whose ingredients aren't organic but are at least actually made by nature rather than some smoke spewing chemical giant.

I am going to come clean now, I know I should be more careful about what I put on my skin, but my zeal for label scrutiny comes and goes. Sometimes I buy the Nivea because I like the smell, it works and its the right size for my toiletries bag. However this shout out from the Soil Association has woken me up once again to the need to shop smart. Two of the products they named and shamed are in my own beauty arsenal. It turns out Nivea's 'Pure and Natural' handcare cream is packing a possible carcinogen called Methylisothiazolinone and my new discovery, the Organix brand shampoo from the US not only ain't organic but it also contains more potential cancer causing crud.

If you want to check your own products for unhealthy ingredients, I found the list below helpful.

And finally, I have an organic beauty tip that I am happy to share in compensation for all this troublesome news. For the past six months I have been using organic, raw coconut oil as a moisturiser on my bod at night before bed and my skin seems to love it. If you don't mind literally slipping into bed -give it a try.

Also, if you have effective healthy beauty secrets of your own that you are willing to share, please add them in the comments section below. It's beach season and this mid-lifer needs all the help she can get.

Here is the list of baddies the Soil Association recommends you keep an eye out for:

1. Non-organic ingredients we found in products labelled as 'natural' or 'organic' but not certified:

· Non-natural Propylene Glycol (PG): active component in antifreeze, which might cause brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.

· Methylisothiazolinone: found in laundry detergents, liquid dish detergents, cream cleansers, all-purpose cleaners, window cleaners, floor cleaners, countertop sprays, stain removers, linen washes, room sprays, air fresheners, carpet shampoos, and wipes.

· Parabens: made from a petrochemical and has been linked with breast cancer, such as methylparaben.

· DMDM Hydantoin: this is a preservative that releases formaldehyde.

· Phthalates: used as an additive to PVC (polyvinyl chloride products to make them flexible, and to personal care products to make fragrances last longer. These have been banned from use in children's toys, and can also be found in paint and packaging.

· PEGs - (polyethylene glycols): are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. Found in oven cleaners. PEGs are commonly used as cosmetic cream bases.