Let’s Be Honest and Transparent…What's the Difference? “Natural” Vs. “Organic” Beauty Products
How many beauty products have you seen that are labeled, organic and natural? Isn’t something that’s organic meant to be natural anyway? What is the difference between them?
The marketing hype is confusing, and frustrating when we’re all trying to make better and more healthful choices for our bodies. Though there may be more and more clean products out there on the market, it can still be difficult to know which the better option is; often what we’re promised on the label, does not reflect what’s inside.
While the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate the terms "organic," or "natural," you may spot the official organic seal from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on beauty-product packaging (the same one you might see on your favorite organic peanut butter).
Let’s delve into this: What do the terms mean?
The term “Organic” means that the product is made with certified organic ingredients that are farmed under USDA Organic laws. USDA organic products have strict production and labeling requirements. The label verifies that the product is “produced without excluded methods”, meaning it’s produced in an organic manner (without genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge), and produced with controlled and limited pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
Organic products can be classified with four distinctions.
100% Organic means that the product contains only organically-produced ingredients. They are produced without synthetic preservatives, radiation, pesticides or petrochemicals. The USDA seal may appear on the package.
Organic products must contain a minimum of 95 percent organically-produced ingredients. The USDA seal may appear on this type of product.
Made with Organic Ingredients means that the product contains at least 70 percent organically-produced ingredients. The USDA seal cannot be used on these products.
Less than 70% Organic Ingredients products are not permitted to use the term "organic" anywhere on the packaging (and cannot display the seal) but the label can identify organically produced items in the ingredient list.
What about natural?
“Natural” – Means that the product contains one or some ingredients that come from the earth. Natural skin care products tend to involve plant-derived ingredients such as herbs, roots and flowers. “100% Natural” can really mean anything as this is not a regulated term, and products labeled with this term may still contain other toxic chemicals within its formulas. Fragrance in a product for example, can hide hundreds of endocrine disrupting chemicals within that one word.
The term “Natural” is as unregulated as using the word “best-selling” – it’s all a tactic that brands can use without any monitoring; to make you assume that what you’re buying is good for you. A product that says “natural” and doesn’t use “made with organic ingredients” means the company manufacturing this product has not purchased most of their ingredients from USDA Certified organic farms, and so their products can contain really anything.
However, Natural products generally don't include ingredients like petrochemicals, parabens, sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates, phthalates, synthetic dyes and synthetic colors.
But why is the beauty industry allowed to tell so many half-truths?
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently have authority to regulate ingredients used in cosmetics, nor to require safety testing before products hit the shelves, or to recall products once a toxic chemical is discovered. The responsibility lies with the cosmetic manufacturer or brand. This is how companies get their products, with potentially toxic ingredients, into your hands, because they are not required to file data on ingredients or report cosmetic related injuries to the FDA. Companies are only required to comply to labeling requirements under the FDA.
The bottom line? When shopping for natural and organic beauty products, don’t take advertising claims at face value. Remember that product packaging and advertising may be worded deliberately to mislead you into thinking you’re purchasing something you’re not. Research the companies you do business with and read your ingredient list before buying. Funny I should say that; next week’s article will be about “how to read skincare labels”.
Until next time, remember “Your Skin Deserves Love Too!”