Lots of companies make much of their ingredients being ‘natural’ and derived from plants, reinforcing this impression with packaging featuring plants, but there is no definition of ‘natural’ and close inspection of the ingredients list may reveal that plant-based ingredients are only a small percentage.
Many companies also claim to use organic ingredients, though the proportion of organic ingredients varies. While organic food sold in the UK must by law display a certification symbol or number which ensures that the product complies with minimum government standards and meets European and international standards, the same is not true for beauty products. But the Soil Association organic symbol can be applied to beauty products which meet the Soil Association standards. These include using organic ingredients where available and not using synthetic fragrances or colourings or certain chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate or parabens. The Soil Association website section on health and beauty contains much more information.
If you want to buy products which do not contain animal products (such gelatine, buttermilk or honey) the Vegan Society publish the Animal Free Shopper and their Vegan logo is a registered trademark, a symbol of their standards and appears on animal free products that have been registered with The Vegan Society. The Women’s Environmental Network survey of companies lists companies which as a minimum state that their products are free from both parabens and synthetic fragrances.