Organic Certification in Skincare and Beauty Products: What Does it all Mean?
In a wonderful statement from the Soil Association, which is the organic certification body of the United Kingdom, they have this to say:
Your skin is the largest organ of your body and what you put on it can be absorbed in tiny amounts. So it’s no surprise that a growing number of beauty products are now being produced with organic ingredients.
After all, it makes perfect sense. We have all been making the shift towards a more organic diet, if not actually eating only organic foods. We do this because we understand the risks that can come from consuming even whole foods that have been exposed to pesticides, herbicides, chemicals and any sort of harmful processing. We know that organic foods pack more nutrition and this leads to improved health and long-term benefits. Naturally, it just makes sense to feed our skin, this enormous organ, with organic ingredients too!
This is where the rise in certified organic skincare and beauty products comes in, but just as you need to be familiar with the proverbial “ins and outs” of organic food labelling, the same applies with organic beauty products too.
Natural and Organic…Aren’t They the Same?
There is a difference between the use of organic ingredients and a product that is certified organic, and it is important for a consumer to understand this difference. Why? Because labelling is a very difficult matter, and a product can often have the term “organic” appear on its label if it contains even as little as a 1% organic ingredients.
This is why so many of the world’s best certification groups have created specific standards around individual ingredients. They have also created standards that manufacturers must meet to obtain organic certification on a product that uses multiple ingredients. These standards apply to foods as well as skincare and beauty products.
Some of the most reputable and well known certification groups are:
There are additional certifications such as BDIH, COPA, BioGro New Zealand and OTCO (Oregon Tilth Certified Organic) that are also considered to be well trusted.
The organic certification that manufacturers obtain from the agencies listed will tend to be very specific and rigid too.
As an example, the language that these groups use to identify organic beauty products or organic skincare may focus on the word “organic” and avoid terms like “natural”, or vice versa. This is because a word like natural is not as heavily regulated as the term organic. Seeing a product that describes itself as natural skincare does not mean that anything in it is organic or even all that natural!
This is why any consumer who wishes to get the healthiest outcomes and purchase the finest products will need to keep a sharp eye on the wording and the packaging.
The Benefits of Organic Certification in Skincare and Beauty Products
Certified organic beauty products are going to include everything from skincare and hair products to deodorants and more.
Any personal care and beauty products are applied to the skin, used daily, and can improve the condition and look of the skin, hair, nails and body. However, more and more studies have shown that many of the key ingredients in standard (not organic) products may expose people to serious risks over the long-term.
Ingredients like paraben, artificial colours and fragrances, and other preservatives and fillers have revealed themselves to be irritants at their least damaging to carcinogenic at their worst. While millions of people around the globe have taken great leaps in removing harmful chemicals from their home cleaning and maintenance regimens; going green with everything from floor cleaners to toilet rolls, not as many have made the shift where skincare and beauty products are concerned.
Certification organizations have also failed to give areas like cosmetics, skincare and personal products rigorous attention in terms of certification and regulation. Because of that, some manufacturers have gotten away with the use of harmful or questionable ingredients.
The Global Healing Centre has this to say about some of the ingredients showing up in skincare products:
Some of the harmful ingredients that are used frequently in manufacturing the most common non-organic skincare and makeup items include:
- Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
- Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40)
- Polyethylene Glycol
- Polyethylene eth-
Most of these compounds are absorbed easily by the skin, yet the body has no way of ridding itself of them. The toxins remain in your intestine and eventually get spread through the body and can damage organs throughout your body.
Clearly, anyone making a point of using only a certified organic skincare range or other certified organic cosmetics can be sure they are avoiding such risks. But is the avoidance of those compounds the only benefit from using certified organic skincare or beauty products?
In a single word: no. However, the issue deserves far more than a single word! If we want to keep very clear on the key benefits of organic cosmetics and skincare, we can summarize them as:
- They work better and are better for you
- They are better for the planet
Let’s look at each of these points in a bit of detail…
They Work Better
How can we so blithely say that certified organic facial products and skincare lines work better? We need only refer back to the organic diet versus processed diet argument we made a bit earlier. When we use whole foods rather than things like dietary supplements, our bodies intuitively know how to handle the nutrients in the whole foods better.
When we consume diets full of processed foods, we know that they are not as nutritionally dense as foods that are left in their most natural states. We get far more vitamins and minerals from whole grains, for example, than we do from white flour. This same argument has to apply to our skincare and beauty products. Use a facial moisturizer that is mostly water blended with chemicals, or use one that is full of natural and organic compounds, and you will see a tremendous difference in the results.
In other words, if you apply a complex mixture of processed chemicals, oils, and other questionable ingredients to the skin, your cells will not know how to use those ingredients in many beneficial ways. Some of the water and oils may work to temporarily hydrate the skin, but won’t truly nurture it.
However, use organic facial products that are made only from 100% organic ingredients, and your body knows everything about that formula. The nutrients, natural oils, and other healing properties will be easily received by your skin cells and will actually heal the skin rather than mask any problems.
Also consider that an organic and wholly natural blend of ingredients is less likely to cause irritation. Many people have used commercially prepared mixtures designed for sensitive skin only to develop rashes or reactions. Why? Often, it has to do with the chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances and other processed ingredients used.
As one organic skincare expert so aptly explained:
There are increasing studies showing the connection between illness and chemicals. We need to eliminate or reduce exposure to synthetics. Synthetics are simply not necessary in skincare and in many cases synthetics are downright scary. These ingredients are often fast acting and invasive. Sometimes they are causing harm we cannot see. Often this exposure rears its ugly head as skin irritation, chronic headaches, cancers, breathing disabilities, hormone disruption, etc.
So, they work better and they are better for our bodies. What about the planet?
They Are Better for the Planet
Organic, whether you are using the word to talk about food and beverages or ingredients used in cleansers and personal care products, means that individual ingredients as well as blends of ingredients have not required pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and even GMO ingredients.
So, the sensitive skin care product that is from a certified organic producer, and with a formulation that is also certified organic, has not caused any harm to the planet in its production. None of the individual ingredients have been exposed to harmful chemicals, it has not harmed the area in which it was grown or harvested, and even in its processing and packaging it has not made heavy demands on the environment.
Of course, for many consumers, that is where the story ends, but just consider this a bit longer. When we use skincare products and cosmetics, they are going to be washed away in the shower or when we clean our face. They could be passed on to others when we touch them. When the products are certified organic, no harm comes from the skincare product or cosmetics being rinsed away as we bathe or wash, nor will anyone be exposed to chemicals or irritants when we touch them or simply stand close to them.
After all, how many times have you been in close proximity to someone and detected the scent of their shampoo, lotion or other product? Has something ever had such a strong scent that it irritated you or left you feeling a bit overwhelmed? That too is going to be a benefit of certified organic skincare – none of the heavy and artificial ingredients that can cause harm or irritation to others!
Certified Versus Non-Certified
So, you can understand the benefits that are to be gained by purchasing strictly from certified organic producers of cosmetics, skincare and beauty products. You can take the time to find trusted sources for these products, but be absolutely sure that the providers and vendors are following the rigid standards you desire.
In other words, be sure that they do not extend any item for sale unless each ingredient is certified organic, and the product as a whole is organic too.
If we look at the description of “organic cosmetics” from the ACO, you can begin to see how specific their criteria are, and why you would want to seek out products with their certification:
All products are free of genetic modification, artificial preservatives, dyes and fragrances, not tested on animals and grown using sustainable farming methods… Using organic cosmetics means you work with natural ingredients proven to deliver great cosmetic results without the use of harsh chemicals or cruel animal testing.
As you can see, it isn’t merely about sound agricultural practices, it is about non-GMO, no animal testing, and sustainable farming. You will also find that many firms that adhere to these guidelines also use recycled or recyclable packaging to keep their impact the lowest possible.
Making the choice to purchase only certified organic skincare and beauty products is a sound financial decision. You are paying for actual ingredients with proven effectiveness, and in doing so, you are getting tremendous value for your money. As one industry expert wrote in an article for organic cosmetics and skincare manufacturers:
Having your products organically certified communicates credibility to your consumers. A certification represents a seal of approval- that your products have passed a variety of conditions and qualifications in order to pass and bear the certification seal.
As a consumer, you deserve to know what is inside each package or product you buy and use. Any certified organic skincare range or beauty product comes with that promise of superior quality ingredients. However, it is also a sign that the producers and vendors understand their buyers’ needs and wishes. We all want to look and feel our healthiest, and it is only through the purity of organic products that we can reach such goals.
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“ORGANIC SKIN CARE – Why Organic”. Why Organic. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 June 2016.