Cosmetics: Natural Vs. Organic

By Jenna

The Green movement is in full swing and there’s a battle going on with natural cosmetics vs. organic cosmetics.  From cars and houses, to food and makeup, there are a lot of myths circling around that topic.  Since learning more and more about the benefits of going green, I’m more concerned and alert to the marketing terms being used, as well as the ingredients that my makeup contains.  Consumers are jumping at the products that are labeled natural and organic, and it’s very easy to get confused and sucked into an advertisement that we think is eco-friendly.  The good news is that we have plenty of resources available to recognize who’s telling the truth and who’s trying to just sell a product.  But how can you tell which beauty products are truly natural or organic?

The word “natural” is being used EVERYWHERE and newsflash: it doesn’t necessarily mean anything good and it doesn’t have to.  From a marketer’s standpoint this word is a dream, because you may use it on any label and advertisement and not provide anything to back up why it’s considered natural.  Beware of this word!  So for example, I can take any lipstick and label it all natural and the FDA doesn’t have to do anything about it to validate it. Sounds crazy right?  But it’s true and the FDA doesn’t regulate much.  Actually only about 1% of the FDA’s budget is put towards regulating cosmetics and personal care products.

The word “organic” is also a tricky word.  Cosmetic companies can still use it on labels but buyers beware:  If it’s not certified organic then it may just be a hoax as well.  Thankfully you can recognize it by a logo and by looking at the ingredients list.  The cosmetics can be completely organic or made with organic ingredients and you can recognize those ingredients on the labels.  Here’s a brief guide to the different organic certifications that are out there:

The USDA certified organic seal is meant for the United States, and can be displayed on a product only if it goes by these terms.  Cosmetic companies can say “100% Organic” on the label if: (excluding water and salt) Product must contain only organically produced ingredients.  This happens very rarely with cosmetics and must display the certifying agent’s name and address along with the USDA seal. If it says “Organic”, the product must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt) and they can still use the USDA organic seal with the certifying agent’s name and address.

One of the largest organic certification organizations is ECOCERT.  It conducts inspections in over 80 countries, and certifies food, cosmetics, textiles, and perfumes.  Ecocert is founded on strong ethical values and is accredited by the USDA.  Ecocert mainly regulates Europe and surrounding continents and countries, but its seal is recognized all over the world.

The Australian Certified Organic (ACO) logo is accredited to certify organic operations in Australia, Japan, Europe, USA, Switzerland and the UK.  This ensures that your organic products and systems have the highest integrity and aim for ecologically sustainable practices.

Checking out the “about us” section and “corporate responsibility” can help you figure out what brand is right for you and fits your beliefs.  The cosmetic companies that take the time to get certified are gems, so pay attention!  The next time you’re out of face powder or eye shadow, take a little time to shop around to find what brand fits you the best.

What’s most important to you when choosing makeup? The ingredients, the company or the price?

Source: Flickr user: p-duke

Source: Flickr user: p-duke



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