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Dr Organic – Natural and Organic Skincare Products on the UK Highstreet

Please note – The Moroccan Argan lotion is no longer vegan, it now has beeswax (cera alba) in it.

Introduction

Dr Organic or ‘dr.organic’ is an extensive and attractive skincare brand primarily available at the ever wonderful Holland & Barrett, purveyors of more ethically friendly food and health items (e.g. vitamins and cosmetics) for those with special diets, health needs and just a general interest in improving/maintaining health with a purer quality of product. The ‘Dr’ is a British brand with an international reach in the ingredients they source (though I’m not clued up about their ethical policies for sourcing, fair trade, transporting etc), are enrolled in a number of organic standard certifications and have a plethora of awards.

They describe themselves as providers or ‘bioactive skincare’; bioactive basically means a substance that can be used to affect or promote a response from a living organism, and/or can extracted from a living organism. To me it sounds like a very general slogan which can be applied to any number of cosmetics and non-cosmetics alike however in conjunction with the ingredients lists I’ve seen it implies to me that Dr Organic are interested in conveying the beneficial properties of the items used without clashing or heightening/playing down some characteristics over others. I respect that because more often than not I come across products that use key words to promote products and then you find that the corresponding ingredient(s) is only included in a very minor percentage or as a topnote. Such disappointing advertising is also often accompanied by numerous filler ingredients both natural and synthetic but mostly synthetic and possibly some other ‘nasties’ that can cause skin irritation as well as other speculated undesirable side effects. That said the ingredients lists that I’ve noted are also quite mild in general so some ranges would definitely be worth checking out for sensitive skin.

http://www.drorganic.co.uk/about.asp

Our Promise…
Organic ingredients
We strive to use organically grown ingredients. Where an organic ingredient cannot be used we will always source sustainable natural alternatives
Bioactive ingredients
We use certified bioactive extracts to ensure each product is truly functional by nature.
Natural ingredients
Natural ingredients are used in all formulations.
No harsh chemicals
We do not use ingredients often criticised for their side effects. We never use parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), perfumes or artificial fragrances.
No animal ingredients
All our products are suitable for vegetarians. In some products we used by-products from animals, most of which revolve around honey, these include; honey, royal jelly, propolis and bees wax.
No animal testing
Our products are always tested on human volunteers to ensure they are completely safe and effective. No animal tests are ever performed on finished products or raw materials.
No mineral oils
Petro-chemicals such as paraffin and petroleum are avoided, plant based oils and extracts are used.
No GM ingredients
Genetically modified or genetically engineered organisms are avoided to ensure all formulations are as natural as possible.
Preservatives
Where necessary preservatives are used to guarantee product safety and shelf life. Only the highest grade broad spectrum naturally derived preservatives are used.

The ranges available are Aloe Vera, Pomegranate, Tea Tree, Vitamin E, Lavender, Manuka Honey, Olive Oil, Royal Jelly, Rose Otto, Coconut Oil, Moroccan Argan Oil and Dead Sea Mineral. All of the ranges are vegetarian friendly and most vegan friendly; the lotions in this review are vegan friendly and 200ml in size.

Each range has a variety of products available including the usual Lip Balms, Body Butters, Hand & Nail Creams, Face Masks, Face Scrubs, Soaps, Body Scrubs, Body Washes, Face Washes, Shampoos, and Conditioners etc. Some more interesting items are toothpastes, deodorants and items focusing on the foot care.

The directions on the four reviewed are as follows: ‘Apply liberally to the skin. Repeat as often as required. Suitable for use all over the body. Avoid contact with eyes. Due to the ingredients natural origin, colour and consistency may vary from batch to batch. This does not affect the quality of the product.’

Virgin Olive Oil

Olive Oil Lotion Dr Organic

Properties

Aptly described as ‘liquid Gold’ olive oil has extensively been used for health and skin care throughout the ages. It’s a thick, protective, light to dark Gold colour with a subtle aromatic smell and usually fulsome flavours (as should be expected from such piquant fruit 🙂 and even better for you when left to mature). It’s suitable for eating as dressing or cooked and unrefined varieties will solidify in less than room temperature. Along with its nutritional benefits it is known for protecting skin from signs of aging/weather beating and turning hair into a beautiful, soft, shiny mane. It is suitable for everyday use as well as top ups and deep moisturizing treatments.

Cold pressed olive oil is rich in Oleic Acid (omega-9 fatty acid) which is a powerful antioxidant and has the ability to sink in past the epidermis (outer layer of skin) to give a long lasting moisturizing and nourishing affect whilst improving the overall condition of the skin in general promoting a more youthful looking and supple texture.

Consistency

I’ve used 3 bottles of this and have found the look and feel to be consistent; the lotion is a thick White-Ivory cream which feels smooth and rich and has a subtle olive smell. It is somewhat greasy to the touch and takes a bit of time and massaging to sink in fully. It’s not heavy but does make an effective night cream and when used in a pea sized quantity it is fine for day wear underneath make up.

How Well It Works – Instant Tan?

As with olive oil in general I find that it makes my skin appear darker and continues to do so until I stop using it and switch to something else. I already have a medium skin tone and on top of that I tan easily even in the Winter sun so I find that this does make me look olive Brown. That could be advantageous to those wanting to look darker or top up their tans but as I don’t currently have two foundations for my skin when tanned and untanned I prefer to use this for my hands and body rather than neck and face.

In regards to moisturizing I find this gently and slowly ‘healing’/soothing in that it doesn’t hydrate in an instant and dramatic way but softens, tones and nourishes my skin in a gradual, long lasting way. It’s particularly good for ‘plumping’ skin so don’t be afraid to try it around the eyes and mouth :-).

As aforementioned this makes a good night cream if a sufficient amount is used but it can be worn (without makeup) either with a two pea sized amounts left to sink in or one at a time as a top up throughout the day.

Ingredients:

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aqua, Dicaprylyl Ether, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Isocetyl Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Myristyl Myristate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Glyceryl Caprylate, Tocopherol/Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Ribes Nigrum, Parfum, Olea Europaea Leaf Extract, Citrus Medical Limonum Peel Extract, Vitis Vinifera Leaf Extract, Thymus Vulgaris Leaf Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare Seed Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Phytate, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Amyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate, Geraniol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal.

Price

£6.19 at Holland & Barrett 

Pomegranate

Pomegranate Dr Organic Lotion

Properties

Thought to have originated in Iran (née Persia) pomegranates have an interesting history for both cultural, health and food use e.g. from the trapping/separating of the beautiful Persephone and Demeter to medicinal use in ancient Egypt and India. Pomegranates have a high level of vitamins and antioxidants providing anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. It has become very popular recently as a superfruit and as such can be found in all types of skin care products from moisturizers to sun protection.

In the Dr Organic lotion it sits complimentary amongst aloe vera, cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, and Irish moss and yet still stands out with a wow factor justifying the ‘pomegranate’ label.

Consistency

It is a very White thick cream with a silky feel and smooth texture but the first thing I noticed was the smell… Wow, it’s a very heady and invigorating smell with a powerful affect on the senses. It may have been partly because I hadn’t had any fresh fruit in many weeks at the time but the exotic and very fruity scent really elicited the satisfied sensation of having eaten fruit (akin to how the smell of pure cocoa butter can satisfy chocolate cravings). That said every subsequent time I used it the fragrance was still strong and revitalizing.

How Well It Works

The pomegranate lotion works well for day wear as it absorbs quickly and easily which is helpful for makeup wearers and for those who like to top up. As a night lotion it works well but would not see you through ’til morning so best to pair it a small amount of base oil.

Overall I’d say it’s not as moisturizing as the olive lotion but is super hydrating and helps to ‘wake up’ the skin. It softens the skin, makes it slightly radiant, slightly tautens the skin but doesn’t plump so I prefer to use this in warm weather.

Ingredients:

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aqua, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Glycerin, Isocetyl Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Myristyl Myristate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Punica Granatum Extract, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Glyceryl Caprylate, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Xanthan Gum, Aroma, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Phytate, Citric acid, Citronellol, Limonene, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool.

Price £7.19 at Holland & Barrett

Moroccan Argan

Moroccan Argan Oil Dr Organic Skin Lotion

Properties

I went into detail about Argan oil HERE and so was glad to see Dr Organic specifying their products with the locality ‘Moroccan Argan oil’ since it’s a protected and difficult process to grow and extract argan oil and the work done there is helping local humane initiatives and in particular the independence and respect of women and their place in home/society. Dr Organic was the first brand I saw doing this.

Argan oil has a long history in the Mediterranean as a wholesome and nutritious source of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids making it appealing for skin maintenance/improvement and culinary uses. Akin to the pomegranate it has made a modern impact as a cosmetic ‘wonder’ and is what I consider to be a ‘light’ oil in both colour and body yet still rich.

This particular Dr Organic lotion has an extra abundance of amazing ingredients including Kigelia fruit extract, Roselle flower extract, baobab fruit extract, orange fruit oil, clove leaf oil, Geranium oil, lemon peel Oil, Patchouli oil, cinnamon leaf oil, Rosewood oil, wild mint oil, mandarin peel oil, vanilla fruit extract and spearmint oil. Can you say powerhouse? A list like that paints a picture of the best of both worlds, exotic and local in an evocative yet comfortable dance.

Consistency

True to form/brand I found the lotion to be a thick White cream, soft and smooth in texture and this time with a less discernible smell which I would hazard to say is an acquired taste. I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t like it either. Unfortunately I found the absorbency of this lotion to be very poor, not only taking a long time but being very uneven.

How Well It Works – Instant Face Lift?

I was quite surprised at the use of citrus and strong/’refreshing’ herb oils in the ingredients list and so had uncertain yet hopeful expectations and found likewise the results to be mixed.

Personally I could not use this on my face, a sad realization after numerous fruitless attempts because even though it really tightens the skin and ‘lifts’ the forehead/eyes with a surprisingly good hold it just would not sink in evenly. I had to use less than what I would normally just to be ‘safe’ but even when it finally sunk in it would leave patches all over regardless of how evenly I tried to put it on. The patches were random as well, changing each time I tried it so I wouldn’t think that the T-Zone is a factor. Strangely it absorbed just fine elsewhere on the body.

In places other than the face and neck (where it leaves less visible but still noticeable residue) the lotion sinks in ok and softens nicely. I would say it softens similarly to the olive though not long lasting and not as invigorating as the pomegranate but still refreshing hence it was a happy medium.

Ingredients:

Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Aqua, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) butter, Glycerin, Coco-caprylate, Glyceryl stearate, Cetearyl alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 dicitrate/stearate, Sodium magnesium silicate, Argania spinosa (Argan) oil, Xanthan gum, Sodium stearoyl glutamate, Kigelia Africana fruit extract, Hibiscus sabdariffa flower extract, Adansonia digitata fruit extract, Citrus aurantium dulcis, Eugenia caryophyllus (Clove) leaf oil, Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) oil, Citrus limon peel oil, Pogostemon cablin (Patchouli) oil, Cinnamomumzeylanicum (Cinnamon) leaf oil, Aniba rosaeodora (Rosewood) oil, Mentha arvensis herb oil, Citrus nobilis (Mandarin) peel oil, Vanilla planifolia (Vanilla) fruit extract, Mentha spicata herb oil, Sodium phytate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium dehydroacetate, Benzyl alcohol, Dehydroacetic acid, Citric acid, Limonene, Eugenol, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Citral, Benzyl benzoate.

Price £6.99 at Holland & Barrett

Vitamin E

Vitamin E Sunflower Dr Organic Skin Lotion

Properties – What is Vitamin E?

I find the use of names/terms like Vitamin A & E (ahem) to be somewhat vague as product titles and even with the rampant use of such in the cosmetics industry I still find the idea ambiguous because on first impression I’m not sure what I’m getting. That said with healthier options such as Dr Organics I first assume (before reading the ingredients list) that the ingredients have a higher level of said ‘ name’ and in their combination contain or will produce more of the said ‘name’ than the other products from the same brand. I generally know the term ‘Vitamin E’ to apply to a group of health promoting compounds rather than a single vitamin, it’s also a fat soluble nutrient and an antioxidant. That infers to me that it’s a healthy fat (obviously if consumed consciously as part of a lifestyle/diet read up on the possible effects of large quantities and remember that fats are used for many functions in the body not just affecting weight) which is easily broken down and helps prevent oxidization in the body which can lead to degenerative effects such as the ever dreaded aging but also health maladies. With a little research I’ve found that Vitamin E is linked to a healthy immune system, hair and eyes.

As a now common term in the skin care industry Dr Organic describes it ‘as a moisturiser it helps combat premature skin aging and also protects and soothes dry dehydrated and sun exposed skin. It also restores elasticity and reduces the appearance of skin imperfections by increasing hydration.’

Consistency

It is a pure White thick cream which once spread on the palms of my hands looks and feels slightly oily but ‘instantly’ absorbs, yes it’s very fast. I can use it and then type in practically no time at all without leaving grease stains or feeling sticky. This is an excellent quality for daily use and traveling.

I noticed that the Dr Organic website points out that this lotion is fragrance free and usually I see that as meaning not artificially ‘enhanced’ with fragrance/perfume and hence relying on the natural scents of the ingredients or having a mild/subdued smell. However that could apply to all of the lotions of theirs I’ve tried so I’m not sure why it’s described as fragrance free especially as it does have a smell, and a lovely one at that. It’s hard to describe other than it is pleasant and not too strong, almost like a sweet citrus smell.

How Well It Works

I find it moisturizes the facial skin very well with a nice softening both visual and felt. It does the same with the hands but in this weather it takes quite a bit or repeated use to make them visibly softer. I can tell from the way it softens and makes my hands feel smoother/silkier that if formulated as a hand cream specifically I would buy it and it would probably become a staple. As it is I would absolutely love it in warm weather where it would probably make my hands look years younger but right now it’s being hampered by the cold.

It is thick enough to be worn by itself without adding a thin coating of oil and for those wearing make up a thin layer will suffice and dries quick enough to wear foundation or powder over it without it interfering and making lines/runs, blobs or pushing up dry skin. If applied liberally it can also make do as a night cream. On the face I find it has a mildly toning and lifting effect and overall is it very refreshing/hydrating.

Ingredients:

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aqua, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Glycerin, Isocetyl Palmitate, Myristyl Myristate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Xanthan Gum, Aroma, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Phytate, Limonene, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool.

Price £6.29 at Holland & Barrett 

The packaging – Mainly a Disadvantage

For the packaging junkies and connoisseurs out there for whom the casing can make or break a decision, the images and overall look of Dr Organic products (in my opinion) is very professional, clear and sleek. Just the right balance of minimalist and vibrant/vivid colour as well as informative so not embarrassing to have displayed in one’s home ;-).

On the downside I find their packaging to be quite heavy/bulky and for some products less could be more making it easier on you and recycling. The lotions come in the form of squeezy containers, very thick plastic which is very secure against damage and spillage but a pain once you’ve used half of it and have to put more effort into getting the product out. I generally find that for hand/face use a bottle will last approx 2 months and 1 month with body use and when I get to the point where squeezing the bottle yields nothing and it feels much lighter in weight telling me it’s ready for the bin it’s actually concealing a lot more. Thankfully my suspicious mind aided me into checking the first bottle I bought. Be prepared with a strong pair of scissors as the lid will just not come off, not even with consistent effort lol so I always have to cut off the top half to reveal at least 1-2 week’s worth of lotion throughout the innards that would be an absolute waste to unconsciously throw away. Note – remember to cover the chopped bottle halves or place them in a container to prevent the lotion drying up and going hard before you can finish it.

Conclusion

In the last year I’ve noticed that The Dr Organic products have pretty much taken over and extended (and arguably enhanced though monopolized) the cosmetic shelves at H&B. What has dwindled in brand variety though has increased in product type; from memory H&B have not had such a wide range of skincare products before and upon speaking to staff in smaller stores I’ve learned that they had to make space for them by decreasing or removing less popular products which is of course a nuisance for those reliant on them (I now have to shop purely online for some items that were on the hitlist) but helpful as an alternative to pharmacy and department store aisles of cosmetic chemical craziness.

To be honest I started purchasing Dr Organic lotions out of necessity when I didn’t have internet access or was outside of cosmopolitan circumstances within which I could hunt down products in local shopping districts. Thankfully in my experience there is always a Holland & Barrett in a town or on a major highstreet and despite my initial reservations I resorted to buying a couple of the above lotions but was surprisingly and increasingly impressed and pleased with the results. The regular ‘buy-one-get-one-half-price’ or ‘buy-one-get-one-for-a-penny’ sales also helped in swaying where I spent my proverbial pound 😉 but overall for the size and quality the prices are very competitive anyway.

One thing I like about these lotions is that the first ingredient is aloe vera and not water; I have no problem with water of course but in this day and age it’s hard to know where it’s coming from, what’s in it and how/if it’s been filtered even in organic products. The additional use of coca butter and shea butter for the base help make these lotions thick and reliable. The ones I’ve tried all sufficiently moisturize and hydrate especially in the freezing weather, both as a barrier and boost for the skin making them a helpful and convenient highstreet alternative to hunting down appropriate lifestyle products on foot or online.

I look forward to which one I’ll try next!

Urtekram Olive Hand & Body Lotion – Lasting Lovliness

Urtekram – Olive hand and body lotion 245ml (used to be 250ml)

This is a company that really seems to care, not just about the quality  of their products but about the consequences of their actions and  manufacturing. For those of us that don’t have gardens and have  limited indoor/outdoor space or those without access to farmer’s  markets and so it’s harder to make our own cosmetics – companies like  this are fantastic.

 Urtekram Manifesto Values
Urtekram Ecology

Reading through the sections on the above links are impressive, they  state and give examples of how they care not only about the quality of  their products but also the individual steps in how they made from the  ground to the factory to shipping/exporting. Awesome!

The lotion itself is an Ivory/Cream colour and has a medium texture, meaning it’s not thin and liquidy or it’s not thick and creamy. It absorbs quickly and instantly makes the skin look younger, softer and somewhat radiant. A little goes a long way and I can use it frequently  throughout the day without taking too much time and it keeps that  fresh/youthful look all day, or I can use it at longer intervals and it will keep my skin looking younger and softer but obviously isn’t as soft/radiant as when I use it more, it also depends on how many times you wash your hands. I find that it is also easily absorbed into my nails and makes them look shinier, which is nice since I have fairly long nails but I rarely decorate them.

I’ve been using this for months and unlike many other products I’ve tried the effect was not only immediate but long lasting. Most products I’ve tried have had a very nice instant hydrating, moisturizing and youthful effect but after a while it’s like my skin gets used to it and the effect decreases – meaning that even just after I put it on, my skin doesn’t look or feel as nice as it did when I started using the product. I have yet to find a product that actually has anti-aging effects whereby the skin stays soft and supple after washing, most products maintain the skin until I wash my hands for example but this one has had the same effect through continuous use and the effect lasts the longest. That is especially important to me as I dehydrate quickly (it must be all that hot bloodedness… Hehe.)

The rest of my body likes this lotion as much as my hands, and my skin appreciates the instant hydration as well as long term moisturizing effect it has. I find it helpful for drier areas such as elbows, knees and ankles/feet. It combines nicely with oil or body butters and helps them absorb faster so you don’t have to sit around massaging/rubbing the skin for ages before being able to move around or change clothes.

I’ve tried other lotions in their various ranges e.g. the Rose, Lavender, Aloe and Chamomile lotions. An interesting note is that all the aforementioned are labeled as ‘body lotions’ whereas the Olive is the only hand and body one. That might be because, in my opinion, is it the most moisturizing/strongest one. The others are excellent too and display the properties of their namesake e.g the soothing/’cooling’ effects of Lavender and Chamomile for itchy or irritated skin, but they aren’t as ‘rich’ as olive oil, a characteristic which makes it particularly helpful for areas that show aging the most, like hands.

Ingredients

Water, glycerine*, olive oil*, jojoba oil*, shea butter”, olive oil and palm oil products, apricot kernel oil*, lecithin, pea flour*, broccoli seed oil*, lavender oil*, anisic acid, citric acid, vegetable vitamin E. Nothing else.
* = Organic Farming

(the list below is the same above, just with their scientific names)

Aqua, glycerin*, olea europaea oil*, simmondsia chinensis oil*, butyrospermum parkii butter*, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, prunus armeniaca kernel oil*, cetyl alcohol, lysolecithin, pisum sativum*, brassica oleracea italica seed oil*, glyceryl caprylate, lavandula angustifolia oil* (aroma*), p-anisic acid, sodium citrate, lavandula hybrida oil*, citric acid, tocopheryl acetate, limonene”, linalool”
* = ingredient from Organic farming
” = ingredient from essential oils

100% of the total of the ingredients are of natural origin
20% of the total of the ingredients proceed from Organic Agriculture.

Natural and Organic Cosmetics certified by ECOCERT Greenlife according to ECOCERT Standard available at cosmetics.ecocert.com

The only ingredient that I’m not sure about is the ‘palm oil products’ – as many of you know, the manufacturing of palm oil has been very destructive and the qualiy has been questionable with it being used commonly as a filler with little value. However there are companies, such as Lush, that use palm oil from sustainable farming. Side note  – unfortunately I have never seen a cosmetic product that states where the water comes from or how it is treated e.g. if it is filtered.

They also have a non-perfumed body lotion, in which it seems they use alcohol instead of an essential oil (which gives the fragrance in the others, it’s not a ‘perfume’ as in a synthetic perfume made up of lot’s of unnamed ingredients), as well as a non-perfumed baby lotion, a children’s lotion and a family sized lotion.

In Conclusion

I find this essential, as both a stand alone product and as a partner to thicker/oilier emollients. It can be used throughout the day, for pick-me-ups and overnight. The skin doesn’t become dry again too quickly after using and with long term use keeps the skin softer overall.

It’s cost effective in comparison to other products of a similar type and size. I’ve never paid over £6 for a bottle and I find many online stores give a discount when buying a few of them. Most other products I’ve seen in similar sizes are noticeably higher priced and their ingredients lists aren’t always as impressive, so this is a star buy for me.

PLUS – They do food too! You can see on their website that they make pasta, muesli, cereal flakes and rice cakes too – how cool is that?