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Beauty Editor Sara Niven Talks 'Clean Beauty'

3rd May 2017

Around 15 years ago I returned from interviewing one of the first skincare companies to focus on entirely natural products but found it hard to get interest in my feature. The magazine editors I approached seemed to feel readers weren’t too concerned about what went into beauty products; what they did and how they made you look took priority.

Times have changed. Now paraben and SLS free are common terms in 'clean beauty' and we expect a product with a natural formulation to perform just as well, if not better than a chemically based one. In fact, sales of organic and natural beauty products went up 13% last year following growth of 20% in 2015.

It isn’t always easy to tell what we’re buying however. One lady who approached me for haircare advice, proudly stated she always made a point of using organic shampoo. When she revealed the range, I realised it was far from organic or even remotely natural.

This kind of confusion is understandable. There is currently no legislation governing the terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ in the beauty industry. A product can contain a small amount of an organic ingredient alongside a high percentage of chemicals and still use the word organic on the label.

It is an issue The Soil Association are currently raising awareness of with their new 'Come Clean About Beauty' Campaign. Their research found 76% of those surveyed felt misled in this way and the organisation cites a number of products they particularly see as ‘Greenwashing’ consumers. They have also drawn up a list of ten ingredients to avoid.

Natural health campaigner and author of Toxic World, Toxic People, Anna Rodgers claims that through every-day life each of us comes into contact with approximately 80,000 untested toxic chemicals every year. She believes these contribute to a wide range of ills from eczema to cancer.

Of course, it could be debated that many chemicals are tested, deemed entirely safe, used in tiny amounts to stop products going off or perform some other essential function. I don’t claim to be a scientist with in-depth knowledge on every used or the potential effect of combinations of them. My thinking is simply that if I can find and use more natural products without breaking the bank, it makes sense, particularly as a mother with a young daughter who is increasingly borrowing them! I look on the labels of the foods we eat so look on the labels of toiletries similarly.

I gravitate towards products that don’t contain parabens, Sodium Laureth Sulfate or synthetic fragrances as a basic (and will now be studying The Soil Association’s list in addition). Sometimes that means buying certified organic products but not always. It could just as easily be a £3.99 body wash stocked in a well-known chemist or a hand cream from a local farmer’s market.

I’m also a fan of the SenSpa range of bath and body products which I see as representing budget friendly luxury. They have formulations I am happy using and provide the chance to recreate a little of the SenSpa experience at home (I’m also a sucker for lovely smells!)

Where possible in my line of work, I try to speak directly to the person or company behind product formulations. My trust in what I’m using or being asked to write about can be affected by their transparency in addition to what’s on the label. I’ve known SenSpa Director Lina Lotto more than a decade and when the SenSpa collection first launched she explained the personal importance to her of the products being as natural as possible, in addition to being free from many of the artificial and synthetic ingredients commonly found in similarly priced ranges. You can view the full list of ingredients used in SenSpa's products here.

Follow the link below to find out more about SenSpa’s range of products.


Clean Beauty By Sara Niven


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Thai Tranquillity | SenSpa at Careys Manor Hydrotherapy Pool | SenSpa at Careys Manor Relax Poolside | SenSpa at Careys Manor Royal Thai Massage | SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel Alphasphere Deluxe | SenSpa at Careys Manor

  • “The only thing missing from this otherwise authentic experience, is the jet lag”.

    Sunday Times Travel

  • The SenSpa Health Club has become a second home to me! The staff are really friendly and I particularly enjoy the PT sessions - the social activities make it feel  more like a club than a gym!"


  • "Greeted with a friendly 'sawadeeka', snug white robe, slippers and a cup of hot Thai green tea, SenSpa guests are treated to an impressive two-floor hydrotherapy haven."


  • "Why fly to Thailand? Lose the spa miles and go to the New Forest instead. The authentic Thai influence sets SenSpa apart from other spas."

    The Good Spa Guide

  • "We are B-I-G fans of SenSpa‘s bodycare and haircare: unbelievably good value, and performance that rivals products 5, 6, sometimes 10 times the price.".

    The Beauty Bible

  • “The spa seems to have done wonders for my skin, which now feels fresh and super soft”.

    National Geographic Traveller

  • “The award-winning Thai spa is the highlight, featuring what I've found to be the widest range of spa experiences in Hampshire”. 

    The Telegraph

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