How to Identify Organic Products
Today there is a huge selection of organic beauty, skin care and personal care product lines. This gives rise to the question of how you can be certain that an organic product claiming to be organic, truly is organic. The answer to this is a bit complicated. If you haven't already done so, you may first want to read our page on Organic Labeling Confusion.
One way to identify organic products is by their certification or "seal". Read Organic Certification. These certifications made by regulatory agencies are established to protect the consumer and ensure organic quality so a consumer can be confident that what they are purchasing is indeed a truly organic product. However, the certifications also cause a fair amount of confusion over different standards and guidelines. Another problem is that there are also many organic companies that are not yet certified. Organic certification is new in the United States and very expensive. There are several different agencies that have been established over the past 5 years, each charging a company several thousands of dollars to receive certification to be able to use their Organic seal. And if you sell your product outside of the US, then you must pay for additional certification in other countries in order to label your products as "certified Organic". Many organic manufacturers are small family owned businesses that haven't been able to afford the cost of certification yet.
So, your best bet to find superior purity, quality and effectiveness that meets your needs is, as is the case most of the time, to educate yourself and learn as much about organic ingredients as possible. Become familiar with chemical ingredients as well as natural and organic ingredients. We have several links on our website to resources where you can research information on ingredients.
After you have become familiar with different types of ingredients then begin reading ingredient labels on products to see if you can understand them.
Based on your organic goals, here are some guidelines that you may consider following when evaluating the ingredients and manufacturers of beauty, skin care and personal care products:
- Plant and mineral ingredients are used and the product does not contain synthetic chemicals including sulfates, chemical fragrances, synthetic coloring agents, paraffin, waxes or other petroleum ingredients. You may also want to consider not using a product whose plant or mineral ingredients are derived from an endangered source.
Here is a quick reference list of the "deadly dozen" - the most common synthetic chemical ingredients used in skin care products:
- Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG 4 - 200)
- Sodium Hydroxide
- DMDM and Urea (Imidazolidnyl)
- Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Propyl.. etc)
- Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40)
- Mineral Oil
- FD&C Color Pigments
- Fragrances (synthetic fragrances will have names like "essential lavender oil", because no lavender was even used!)
- Plant ingredients are certified organic, (or certified biodynamic) or organically grown and do not contain any genetically modified ingredients (GMO's).
- Preservatives should be derived from natural sources. Parabens (propyl, methyl and ethyl) which are chemical preservatives, should not be used.
- No animal by-products. Ingredients derived from animals should not be used with the exception of: beeswax, bee pollen, honey and royal jelly, which are considered acceptable as they do not harm the animal. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, then you will want to find products that exclude these ingredients as well.
- No animal testing on ingredients contained in products or on the products by the company or on behalf of the company.
- Manufacturers should have an environmental based mission or company philosophy.
- Manufacturers should use recyclable and environmentally friendly packaging wherever possible.
- When there is a question of organic authenticity, manufacturers should provide a certificate of organic certification from a third party agency concerning their ingredients.
- Manufacturers should be able to track origin of ingredients to ensure quality of ingredients.
Aside from reading product labels which can be confusing, sometimes you can also evaluate whether products have chemicals in them simply by looking at the product itself:
- The colors - are they bright and vibrant? Does the color remain the same throughout the use of the product? If so, it is NOT organic - Chemicals additives are used in products to give them nice, bright and appealing colors.
- The scent - Does the product have a strong scent to it? Typically, synthetic fragrances will produce a strong aroma.
With just a little time and research, you'll soon be buying Organic with confidence!