It is okay to be sceptical when cosmetic and skincare companies make certain claims about their products. These claims are essentially marketing – designed to entice you to buy. Skincare and cosmetics contain fillers and certain chemical ingredients that act as preservatives to maintain the integrity of the products. Without these ingredients the products would have a very short shelf life – similar to fresh fruit and vegetables, which are highly perishable. It would be quite shocking to purchase an expensive cosmetic or skincare product only to find that it was unfit for use a few days later or full of mould, which can be highly toxic. Many years of scientific research is behind the development of the ingredients contained in the products we use on our skin every day. We can be reasonably optimistic that the products are safe and stable if purchased from well known brands. It is unlikely however that claims that such products are natural or organic can be substantiated. Often a product is marketed as natural or organic because it contains essential oils or natural ingredients such a fruit acids. These natural ingredients are added in minimal amounts compared to the overall size of the product. It is also important to be aware that natural ingredients such as essential oils can be very irritating to sensitive skin – for instance tea tree oil, lavender oil and peppermint oil. Many companies claim their products are not tested on animals and this is probably true. But can we be certain that the ingredients they are using in their products have never been tested on animals? Possibly not. In our quest to be environmentally and socially responsible, we can certainly choose brands that ethically source ingredients such as Palm oil and use recyclable packaging. We can also educate ourselves about product ingredients and there is a great deal of information about this on the internet.