Monday 7 September 2015

Ch ch changes...

It feels like there is a storm brewing, that will change the face of green beauty. It probably has been a long time coming, there have been slow steady shifts for the past few years, but now it feels like we are on the verge of something big, change is in the air. About 2 years ago I could tell you with confidence that I have tried and tested 90% of truly natural brands, now I have no idea! Everyday I wake up to news of 3-4 newly launched or about to launch brands that claim to be green and clean as a whistle. The demand is clearly there, and everyone wants a slice of the pie. A common story used to be: I was sensitive to mainstream products, started to make my own, now I'm sharing with the world etc.


Today the choice is staggering, I find it hard to believe that people can't find something that works for them. Of course there is always room for improvement, innovation and better understanding of how ingredients effect us. One of the main reasons I was ditching conventional skincare was because they kept causing problems, but I also felt like I couldn't not use any products, so I just needed to find alternatives. Now that I know more and understand skin better, I could have skipped a lot of problems by using fewer things, and no I don't think anyone needs a nighttime moisturiser at 16.


Green beauty not only introduced me to skincare that works but also changed the way I saw beauty, and the way it was marketed was different. In most of the images women looked real, done up but the same people I would see in shops, and restaurants. I used to be obsessed with magazines, flicking straight to the beauty pages to see what was new. I was buying glossies less and less as the brands on offer were always the same, and none of them were of interest anymore. I do remember one issue making an impact though, it was Jessia Simpson on the cover of Marie Claire, she went sans makeup and the image was not photoshopped. Naturally the conversation was steered not towards "yeah let's make women feel like it is ok to go makeup free", but towards "is she really not wearing makeup"? Having seen lots of my girlfriends makeup free, and myself in the mirror like every day, I honestly believe that those photos are real. I am getting a little of point, but that magazine issue was also focusing on more natural beauty. Not everything would be up to my current green standards, but that was the first time I've ever seen such a feature in any of the mainstream magazines.


Of course it was a journey to figure out the truly natural brands from the ones that are just very good at marketing, and then to actually find what works for my individual skin. The images to promote the products were mainly of women frolicking in the fields. I quiet like those, but from what I gather they are not to everyone's taste, and most definitely don't have the mass market glam appeal. The products themselves were good bust most of the packaging not really all that visually appealing, makeup choices severely limited. Now most of the packaging is sleek, absolutely gorgeous to look at, products are earning their place at the likes of Harrods, Selfridges and Space NK. You don't have to work nearly as hard to get your hands on natural beauty. That is always something that I wanted, for natural to be mainstream, the new status quo. I do wonder if it is that classic "be careful what you wish for" situation. Obviously natural beauty is not mainstream yet, but it is definitely up there competing with the big boys in a lot of areas, with more expensive brands being sold in luxury boutiques alongside La prairie and De La mer, and more affordable S.W. basics being picked up by Target in U.S. Yet I see more and more green beauty images popping up that have more in common with airbrushed covers of Vogue then with reality. From an artistic perspective they are pleasing to the eye, from the perspective of a person who stopped buying magazines beacause I got sick of being shown a very narrowly defined idea of beauty, I am not at all thrilled. I was hoping that green beauty would change the conversation with its approach of proaging, individuality and quality versus quantity. It does feel a little like instead of mainstream being changed, it's the green beauty that is changing to fit the mould, and become more pleasing, more palatable to the masses. Instead of being something empowering, it is starting to feed on the same insecurities as the pushy sales assistants in department stores.

"May you live in interesting times", that curse disguised as a blessing. It is definitely an interesting time in the age of green beauty, with so many newcomers and innovations from already established brands, the "less is more" rhetoric of the movement is getting a little lost, but of course some brands are sticking to their guns. I have no idea which way the winds of change will turn, will it be for better or worse, one thing for sure Is that it will be different. I would hate to see green beauty become just a puppet of mainstream, with everyone using safer products but forgetting to be happy in their own skin, thinking that the next magic bottle of face oil will make them look like a photoshopped picture of a celebrity. That getting older and showing a few wrinkles isn't a privilege that a lot of people are still denied, but something to fear. I really hope that in pursuit of wider acceptance, the thing that makes natural beauty different doesn't just become about safer ingredients that work, yes it is a big part of it but it is not the only one. The often seen message now is "green beauty is no longer for hippies", call me cynical but that to me implies that their is something wrong or undesirable in being a hippie. I'm not really sure if I ever was a hippie, but certainly when I started using natural products, it was portrayed as a hippie thing to do, with everyone smelling of patchouli. That was not true of me then, that is not true of me now. But according to mainstream media messages I am somehow changed from a hippie to just your modern day woman that chooses organic skincare, yet my skincare and makeup preferences have not at all changed. So it is just the perception of natural beauty is changing, from an unreasonable fad to a scientifically proven alternative. It is like mainstream wants a little of the action and instead of continuing the fight they are finally opening their arms, and saying: "Alright we get it, you can come play in our play ground, just don't forget to follow the rules. We will divide and conquer, the more insecure the public the better for the both of us". I really honestly hope that Green beauty with all its good intentions doesn't fall for the trick and loose its integrity in the process. I will be watching with anticipation of a child on a Christmas morning, these are the most interesting times in green beauty after all.


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