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Natural vs. Organic
So what is Natural and what is Organic?
These two terms have been used and overused for a while now. Generally, when people see a product that is labeled ‘natural’ they assume that the formula is made of nature derived ingredients. Something like oils, butters and plant extracts. And no chemicals were added. Sadly, in today’s landscape of beauty product marketing, a lot of brands market their products as ‘natural’ even if they contain only a few natural ingredients. Or even just a trace. Often, you can see a product that says on the front label – “Made with Jojoba oil” or “Made with natural ingredients’, but that in no way means that all of the ingredients are that. There could be just 1% of Jojoba oil in it that is natural, and nothing else. Or it could be 5% of natural ingredients total, and 95% of lab made material. Companies can do this, unfortunately, because FDA does not regulate cosmetic ingredients.
On the other hand, small natural companies tend to have more integrity and pride in their work. More and more small brands gear their products towards real Plant-Powered Beauty and base their message on full transparency. Natural, to us means that our ingredients really do come from nature.
Be ‘label smart’, pay attention to what is listed in the full ingredient list, usually in the back of the packaging, not just on the front label. Avoid products containing, artificial fragrances (phthalates), colors (like D&C Red 27 or FD&C blue 1), parabens, Triclosan, PEGs (Polyethylene glycol). Avoid Formaldehyde releasing preservatives, listed as: Formaldehyde, Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Polyoxymethylene urea, Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and Glyoxal. In addition, choose nail products that are labeled formaldehyde-free or “toxic-trio-free” (formaldehyde, toluene and DBP). Skip hair-smoothing products—especially those sold in salons, as salon-based products are exempt from labeling laws. When it comes to sunscreens, the following chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the body. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are Benzophenone, PABA, Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octinoxate and Ethoxycinnmate.
Now, what is Organic.
organic - (/ôrˈɡanik/)
For beauty products, it’s a plant material, produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents including GMO. It’s a step up from the ‘natural’. FDA has a close eye on organic farming and in order to market a raw material as ‘organic’ a farmer has to produce a proof. Not only he has to ensure that his ingredients are, but also his facility in which the raw material is manufactured has to be free from toxins.
In the world of beauty all ingredients ideally have to be Organic, but it’s not always possible. Only the ingredients that grow can be Organic. Sophisticated beauty products most often than not contain nature derived or nature identical ingredients that add the scent, color or sensory effect. Emulsifiers, that allow to mix water with oil are most certainly cannot be organic. But they are naturally derived (I will describe a few in my next post) and allow to create gorgeous textures. Preservatives cannot be Organic, but they are necessary for giving your product a decent shelf life.
So be label smart, choose Organic where possible. And where not, know your ingredients and where they come from.