IS MY BEAUTY PRODUCT REALLY NATURAL AND ORGANIC? Unraveling what ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ really mean
I think most would agree that there is a general trend towards healthier, more environmentally conscious lifestyles. The personal care industry has benefited from this trend, seeing a 21% increase in demand for organic and natural beauty products in 2015. How a company taps into this growing market however can vary widely from one company to another, and with so many brands out there, it can be difficult to know which is the best brand. With this in mind, here is some information to help you make a more informed decision before buying your next organic or natural beauty product.
You may ask, “if something is marketed as organic and/or natural, isn’t it just that?” Unfortunately no. There are a lot of grey areas concerning the terms ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ within the beauty industry. This grey area, to a large degree, is due to unregulated definitions of ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ and their application in the personal care industry. Within this context, the old adage, “buyer beware” is completely applicable. To get a better idea, let’s look at some examples.
Company A for instance makes and markets a ‘natural’ shampoo. If you look at the ingredients you may assume all to be natural. More often then not however, only a percentage is natural. It could be 95% of ingredients, or it could be as little as 1% of ingredients. In either case, it is perfectly legal for a company to advertise their shampoo as natural.
In addition to questioning the amount of ingredients that are indeed natural, you may also want to look closely at the other, non-natural ingredients. These synthetic ingredients can include those which you could, and should be concerned about – parabens, sodium laureth sulfate or synthetic flavours, for example. To reiterate, even a product marketing itself as ‘natural’ more often than not also includes synthetic ingredients, some which may be of concern. Using terms such as ‘natural’ to upsell a product and help mask other ingredients that may be of concern is called greenwashing and it can be very deceptive.
As with the term natural, ‘organic’ can be subject to greenwashing. For example, Company B develops an ‘organic’ lip balm. Take a look the ingredients. Are all the ingredients really organic? More often than not, the answer is no and the amount of organic ingredients can vary greatly. In addition to non-organic products being present, there may also be synthetic ingredients. Again, just because a product is marketed as organic it can still contain non-organic ingredients and synthetic ingredients in varying amounts.
In the UK, the beauty industry can choose to obtain organic certification for health and beauty products through the Soil Association. Although being certified is not required to use the word ‘organic’ in a product’s marketing, the Soil Association’s certification process helps to establish a common approach in applying the term organic. In 2017 the Soil Association will incorporate an internationally recognized system, called COSMOS. Be aware however that even if a product is certified organic, it still isn’t necessarily 100% organic. To gain organic certification a product needs to be 95% organic; this leaves a 5% window for synthetic and non-organic ingredients.
Under the new COSMOS products can also be marketed as “made with organic”. If you see this then there is likely a smaller percentage of organic ingredients –minimum 20% of ingredients for leave-on products (e.g.: lip balm) and 10% of rinse-off ingredients (e.g.: shampoo). Bottom line – be wary of the small print listed on product packaging and what it means. If a product is not advertised as 100% organic, it isn’t. If a product is certified organic take some solace in this, but also be aware that this certification means that only a percentage of product ingredients are required organic – 95% to 10%, depending on the type of certification obtained.
In explaining the difference between my products and my competitors, I’ve seen the surprise in many faces time and time again. If you have a product that markets itself as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’, have a good, close look at the ingredients. In the majority of cases, it isn’t 100% organic, it isn’t 100% natural and it surely isn’t both.
If this is you, don’t feel alone. Most people are confused. I was caught by surprise one day after realizing that the aloe gel I had been buying (and paying a premium for because it was marketed as organic and natural) included very small percentage of said ingredients. Needless to say, I stopped using it.
Feeling disillusioned with all of the greenwashing, a desire to go all-organic & all-natural as well as a concern over what my daughters’ were putting on their skin I started forumating producted and founded ON! Juniper. At ON! Juniper our products are formulated to only include organic and natural ingredients. Yes, that is right, no greenwashing, no confusing list of ingredients. EVERYTHING is organic and EVERYTHING is natural – period!
ON! Juniper is committed to providing you with products that are:
· Made with Organic and Natural ingredients
· Free-from gluten, nut oils & GMO ingredients
· Not tested on animals (including the final product and product ingredients)