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Organic Beauty Products: 5 Things You Should Know

“All natural. Certified organic. Made from natural ingredients. Pure botanicals. Chemical free.”

You might guess I’m standing in the farmers market. Nope. I’m in the “Health and Beauty” aisle at Target. The ubiquitous all-things-natural trend has overtaken the cosmetic industry. How do you know what’s real and what’s marketing hype? Here are five things you should know about organic beauty product labels:

1. Labels that say “natural ingredients” or “botanicals” are not certified organic. These statements are not regulated. Most natural ingredients used in beauty products are actually modified in a lab. Truly botanical ingredients, like you’d pick in your garden, are usually unstable and would spoil like food.

2. Natural doesn’t always mean better. Would you buy: Poison Ivy Eye-Cream? Stinging Nettles Anti-Itch Gel? The most toxic and allergy-inducing ingredients are naturally occurring substances, not manufactured ones.

3. There are many standards of “organic.” USDA Certified Organic is the gold standard. Products with this label must be at least 95 percent organic and must not contain toxic ingredients. Products that are less than 95 percent but at least 75 percent can be labeled “made with organic ingredients.” If your product is not certified by the USDA, then inquire who certified it — some businesses will certify a product for a fee, which some people find improper.

4. Organic products can still contain non-organic ingredients that are harmful. Your shampoo might be mostly organic, but it can still contain preservatives or fragrances that can cause a rash.

5. All natural and organic beauty products are not necessarily more effective. The most potent skin care ingredients are prescription products, which are not organic.

There is value to choosing beauty products that are labelled organic — they may be better for you, and they’re probably better for the planet. Ultimately, the choice is yours. So now that you know what “organic” means on a label, at least it will be an informed choice.

Which of your products are organic? Do you think they are better? Why?

Photo credit: Rick Harrison

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*


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