The booming market for organic cosmetics has helped push annual UK spend on organics up by almost a quarter last year, according to a Soil Association report.
The UK sits behind Germany and Italy as the third largest organic market in Europe and has taken a lead in natural and organic cosmetics, a market in which British consumers now spend €208m annually according to Organic Monitor.
Last week, the Guardian reported that at least 200 natural beauty products have already been launched this year compared with 73 in 2006, suggesting that the organic cosmetics market is continuing to accelerate.
The Soil Association said that the organic beauty sector was experiencing particularly strong growth, helping to contribute to increased UK sales of organic products of 22 per cent. This increase takes the UK market beyond the symbolic £2bn mark.
"These figures are extremely encouraging, the year-on-year growth in sales not just in food and drink, but also the newer booming clothing and health and beauty sectors confirm organic has moved well beyond a mere fad or niche," said Helen Browning from the Soil Association.
The Soil Association, which promotes and certifies organics, said that 2006 saw a 30 per cent increase in the number of health and beauty products licensed with the UK-based organisation.
However, controversy is bubbling in the organic cosmetics world on both sides of the Atlantic because no European or American regulatory authority has defined 'organic'.
Consequently, many beauty products that are labelled 'organic' often contain misleadingly small amounts of organic material. However, in order to be labelled organic and carry the Soil Association stamp a cosmetics product must contain 95 per cent organic ingredients.
Moves are being made by individual companies to fight for greater regulation of the organic and naturals cosmetics market.
In the US, the personal care firm Burt's Bees has recently launched an educational website to gather support for an effective regulatory system. It also provides a definition natural and seeks to inform consumers about misleading claims.