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Are ‘All Natural’ Beauty Products the Same as Organic Beauty Products?

If you’ve been to your local beauty supply shop or pharmacy any time in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that the packaging is starting to all look the same.  With labels such as “all natural beauty products” and “organic beauty products” and “100% from nature,” it is hard to tell the difference between them—if any.  Are they all just different phrases meaning the same thing?  If so, is it merely marketing techniques that make the consumer respond better to “organic” over “natural?”

Or is there something more sinister at work here: are all natural beauty products the same as organic beauty products?  The answer may surprise you.

What are All Natural Beauty Products?

To define all natural beauty products, you first have to understand that the word “natural” on a label is supposed to fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration.  Unfortunately, the FDA does not have a definition for “natural” so it is left up to skin care manufacturers to decide whether to label their goods as all natural beauty products.

Generally speaking, an all natural beauty product will contain at least 1% naturally grown ingredients, but will be free of fragrances, preservatives, colorants, synthetic additives and other common chemicals.  If you are buying all natural beauty products, you want to be sure to check the label and buy from a respected and trusted brand.

Yes to Carrots Organic Skin Cream

Photo Credit: jazzijava via Compfight cc

What are Organic Beauty Products?

On the other hand, organic beauty products are indeed regulated by the government, falling under an arm of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) called the National Organic Program (NOP).  The NOP and USDA have set forth a strict set of guidelines for products labeled as “organic” and these guidelines run across the boards for beauty products, foods, cleaning products and more.

In order for a beauty product to label itself organic, it must first be approved by the USDA with an Organic Seal.  When you see an Organic Seal, it means that the content in the beauty product is 95% organic content or higher.  If the organic content is between 70% and 94%, it may be labeled as “Made with Organic Ingredients.”  If there are less than 70% organic ingredients in the beauty product, the company will list the organic ingredients separately.

USDA Organic Seal

USDA Organic Seal

Unfortunately, there is no other way to know what the rest of the ingredients are without reading the label and having a modicum of knowledge about what harmful synthetic ingredients look like.  Consumers should also be wary of independent certification organizations such as NSF and Ecocert, as they create their own standards which aren’t always in line with the USDA’s.

Are All Natural Beauty Products the Same as Organic Beauty Products?

So, when it really boils down to the nitty gritty, all organic products are natural beauty products, but not all natural beauty products are organic.  Natural refers to ingredients and items that are not manufactured in a laboratory by man.  Organic ingredients denote that not only are they natural, but they were also grown without pesticides, chemicals or other dangerous additives.

So there is absolutely a difference, what that means to you depends on your preference as a consumer and your skin’s sensitivity.  There are all natural beauty products that are not organic which are 100% chemical free and won’t harm your skin.  There are also organic beauty products that might be too harsh on sensitive skin simply because of allergens.

Which is Better: Organic Beauty Products or All Natural Beauty Products?

So which is better for your skin care?  Generally speaking, organic beauty products are safer because they are regulated in their composition and the advertising claims they make.  With organic products, you have a better idea at what you are getting.  Of course, this isn’t to say that every company out there is out to mislead you, but the bottom line is that you need to pay attention to what is inside your beauty products by reading the ingredients.

Research is the best way to ensure that you are getting all natural beauty products that are also organic beauty products which won’t harm your skin.  Know the ingredients, know the company and most of all, know your skin.