Products that are labeled as organic must contain a minimum of 95 percent organically-produced content with the remainder being substances that are approved on the national list. When a product states that it is made with organic ingredients, it must be at least 70 percent organic.
In 2009, an American National Standard (NSF/ANSI 305: Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients) was created. This guideline is the only United States government standard that defines both production and labeling requirements for personal care products containing organic ingredients. To become certified to this standard, products must undergo a thorough review by an independent organic-certification organization to verify that a manufacturer’s product formulation contains at least 70 percent organic content by weight. The percentage of organic content must appear on the label.
For marketing purposes, a company can put ‘organic’ on the front of the label. For example, a company can state, “XYZ Skin Care, Organic,” as long as the ingredient label states that the product is made with organic ingredients. That statement, however, means that the product is only 70 percent organic, not 95 percent organic, as consumers are being led to believe. Another key point is that 95 percent organic may mean that only one product has to contain 95 percent organic ingredients for a company to claim to be organic. Not all of their products are necessarily 95 percent organic. To be sure, ask for a list of products with the percent of organic ingredients by product. When purchasing products, note the differences in the sales pitch and look for products containing up to 95 percent organic ingredients.
Natural Skin Care
The word ‘natural,’ when pertaining to products, is generally defined as having ingredients that are derived, in whole or in part, from natural sources with no synthetic compounds.
This labeling can become confusing because of marketing and the blurred line in cosmetics. Many cosmetic companies claim to be natural when their product contains high amounts of synthetic ingredients, excluding water and salt. At this time, there are no government standards for natural skin care, so there is a large grey marketing area that companies work within.
As a result, skin care professionals must educate themselves on natural and organic products. If they are looking for a natural skin care line, they should look for products that have the largest amount of natural, plant-derived ingredients. Professionals should also make it a point to find companies that list everything on the label. For example, the chemical name and the plant it is derived from next to it. Such as: Capric/Caprylic Traglyceride (Coconut Oil). They should also be able to find every product ingredient deck on the company’s website.
Ingredients like mineral oil, which are made from petroleum and talc, which is the same as asbestoses, are dangerous in powder form and considered a natural ingredient. Professionals should know every ingredient and their negative potential effects and benefits. Skin care professionals and clients should look at the ingredient deck and research the ingredients. They also need to do this for organic products because there are a number of ingredients on the Cosmetic National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, excluding parabens, that are toxic to the organs, hormone disrupters and may lead to long-term, serious health issues, such as cancer, due to long-term exposure building up in the organs.
A Look at the Facts
Organic products are not safer for clients and better for the environment than natural products. An ingredient’s source does not determine its safety or if it is better for the environment. Unfortunately, that myth is due to marketing by organic companies. Many plants, whether or not they are organically grown, contain substances that may be toxic or allergenic. Also, organic products can use any non-agriculture ingredient in their 30 percent that can be toxic but on the safe ingredient list.
Non-organic, natural ingredients do not include toxic pesticides. After a plant is harvested and processed to be included in a cosmetic product, no pesticides remain not even a trace. The sterilization and manufacturing process cleans all that stuff away, including any pesticides.
Organic products are not always non-irritating and safer. An irritant is an irritant, whether it is organic or natural. Many of the plant extracts, such as peppermint, menthol, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, sandalwood, some essential oils, daily/overuse of alpha hydroxy acids and sorbic acid, are routinely included in organic and natural products, despite the fact that research has clearly established these ingredients are irritants. When the skin is irritated, elastin breaks down, causing collagen to break down and hurt the skin’s ability to heal.
Both natural and organic products incorporate botanical or herbal ingredients into their formulation. Botanical-based products provide multiple functionalities and highly-active ingredients that benefit the product’s effectiveness. Because of this, they are usually marketed as main therapeutic components. However, botanical products should have scientific research and traditional medicine to backup the marketing claim. Some botanical extracts’ primary functions are an emollient/skin conditioner and have no therapeutic component in products. Some will market that this botanical is therapeutic because of a far reaching, unproven therapeutic benefit.
Organic products are not more effective for anti-aging than natural products. They both have their positives and negatives and depend on age and the client’s skin needs. If professionals want the scientific advances found in natural products, they should look for the brand that has high plant-based ingredients with advanced ingredients that include bioidentical, bio-active peptides without toxins or irritating ingredients.
High performance quality skin care products must be synergistic and in perfect harmony with the skin and body for the best results.