Sunday, April 4, 2010

Here's the wrinkle....

The semantics involved in the green beauty industry can be pretty hairy sometimes. While my goal, along with many other conscientious consumers, is to use more natural and organic products, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what you're really getting from a product labeled "natural" or "organic". Add to that ingredient lists that can read like the Magna Carta, and the waters get even murkier.

I'll do my best here to provide some information regarding the terms "natural" and "organic" as defined by US agencies. We'll get to the trick ingredient lists later. Feel free to keep this information in mind next time you hit Sephora or the drug store :)

Natural: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet defined the term "natural" or put regulations in place to govern the use of the term "natural". So, any manufacturer may use the term "natural" to describe their product regardless of what the product contains. If you run across a product that is represented as "natural", do your homework and consult the list of ingredients. If you feel comfortable with what's listed there, then by all means, go for it! But be aware that many products which claim to be "natural" may contain potentially harmful preservatives and synthetic ingredients.

Organic: In accordance with the Organic Foods Protection Act of 1990 (OFPA), The U.S. Department of Agriculture has implemented the National Organic Program, through which farmers may certify their crops as "organic". Some certified organic crops are processed and used in the production of consumer personal care products. Consumers will find the USDA seal on products where 95-100% of the ingredients are organic. Manufacturers may also use the following labels to represent their products, depending on the percentage of organic ingredients their products contain:

  • 100% Organic
  • Organic - 95% or more of ingredients are organic
  • Made with Organic Ingredients - 70% or more of ingredients are organic
  • Less than 70% Organic Ingredients - Organic Ingredients denoted in ingredients list only
Outside the U.S., many international bodies have established standards for what products may be considered natural or organic. For information regarding standards bodies in your area, contact your local or national agriculture agency.

I hope these tidbits of information make your next shopping trip easier. Please feel free to post any additional information you feel is relevant!


  1. Thanks for all of the research you've put into each of these posts!

  2. Thank you for the info....I also use the list in this link as my guide when shopping...I avoid products with ingredients found in this list: