SheenaDeanne

Understanding Natural vs. Organic Labels

SheenaDeanne
Understanding Natural vs. Organic Labels

Several years ago, we (beauty enthusiasts) began demanding more information about the ingredients in our cosmetics. We want transparency and honesty. 

While some of us will only use natural or organic products, others stick with the "legacy" way of beauty. No matter which products round out your beauty collection, our need for more awareness led to the growth of the “natural” and “organic” beauty market and ethical labels. 

Initially, labels were useful in increasing awareness, however today many experts have voiced their concerns about the defectiveness of the labels. Why?  Because we (the customers) still tend to be a little perplexed about what is and what is not a natural or organic product. Likewise, not all companies are honest and transparent. 

Here is a look at some of the most common labels we see on a regular basis and important notes from the Organic Monitor. 


LABEL: NATURAL


What We Think It Means

  • All natural

What It Actually Means

  • Not so much

Regulatory Standards 

  • There are no legal standards for the term “natural” and no regulatory agency that certifies what natural is or is not for cosmetics.

What To Look For

  • Look at the ingredient lists as some companies and brands create their own internal standards for “natural” claims.

LABEL: ORGANIC


What We Think It Means

  • Completely without synthetic, artificial, or chemical substances

What It Actually Means

  • Depends on USDA Organic Labeling Categories. While the FDA doesn’t define or regulate the term “organic” as it applies to finished cosmetics producsts, the UDSA does regulate the term “organic” as it applies to ingredients that may be in the formulas.

Regulatory Standards

  • USDA-accredited organic certifying agents monitor the word “organic” without the USDA seal (or other qualifying context), which may not adhere to certified standards. There is no legal definition for “organic” for cosmetics.

What To Look For

  • Again, look at the ingredient lists as some companies and brands create their own internal standards.

LABEL: GMO-FREE


 What We Think It Means  

  • No genetically altered ingredients

What It Actually Means  

  • Ingredients that have not been knowingly genetically modified. GMO-free labels are voluntary, as there are no federal regulations enforcing GMO-free claims, compliance or monitoring unless ingredients fall under UDSA rules and regulations.  “Non-GMO Project Verified” is a third-party standard that verifies compliance for products with the best practices of GMO avoidance.

Regulatory Standards

  • Since there is no regulatory oversight, some companies have internal GMO-free standards and “Non-GMO Project Verified” is a trustworthy mark for food that may be used in beauty products.

What To Look For

  • If a products claims to be GMO-free and does not  have a stamp that is linked to a verified source or organization, it may be best not to believe the claim.

 


LABEL: NO ANIMAL TESTING


What We Think It Means  

  • No ingredients have been tested on bunnies or other animals.

What It Actually Means

  • Ingredients that have been previously tested on animals that are now banned or frowned upon may be used. Thus, no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.

Regulatory Standards

  • There are no federal laws nor a legislative ban on animal testing. The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, which is made up of eight national animal protection groups, including the Humane Society and the American Humane Association, work to promote a single, comprehensive standard.

What To Look For

  • The Leaping Bunny Program is the most thorough and monitored cruelty-free standard. Companies that are granted its seal of approval agree to strict standards not to test on animals and not to even buy ingredients from companies that do. If you see a product that claims “no animal testing” or “cruelty-free” and it does not have the Leaping Bunny logo or does not appear on the Leaping Bunny list it is best to assume that the claim may be false.

CREDITS


    •    Organic Monitor

    •    FDA, Cosmetics

    •    Non-GMO Project Verified

    •    USDA

    •    The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics

    •    Leaping Bunny

    •    Image: Pinterest, Unknown

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