Buyer beware! What you see is not always what you
Natural skin care, you would think, would be made
from natural ingredients. Natural ingredients come from plants, right?
not altered, treated, or disguised
However, in the world of natural skin care
products, the word "natural" has no legal definition. Manufacturers can
call their products natural if they contain all natural skin care
ingredients, a few natural ingredients or none at all.
Even organic natural skin care is not what you
might think. Surely if it says organic it must have all healthy
Well again, maybe or maybe not!
If the products are USDA certified organic skin
care to the National Organic Program Standards (NOP), i.e. the organic
food standards, then you can feel that you've got a healthy product.
However, if the product says organic, but it's not certified then there
may be a problem.
Recently the Organic Consumer's Association
(OCA) commissioned a study of organic natural skin care and body care
products from health food stores. The results showed that many of the
popular products labeled as organic actually contained the
cancer-causing contaminant 1,4-dioxane.
The products that were certified organic
according to the NOP standards did not contain 1,4-dioxane.
So, you might say, that's easy, just buy
certified organic skin care products. That would have worked in the
past, when the only organic standards were the NOP food standards.
Until recently, there were no certified organic
standards for skin care, cosmetics and personal care products. However,
a short time ago companies like L'Oreal, Estee Lauder and Hain from the
conventional skin care industry got together and formed the OASIS
organic standards. There was no comment period for input from the
organic consuming public. Organic farmers and skin care companies who
had achieved certified organic status through the NOP were not invited
The OASIS organic standards allow non-organic
ingredients grown with synthetic pesticides, herbicides and
fertilizers. They also permit petroleum derived synthetic preservatives
such as phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin.
Another organic standard is Ecocert. It's new to
the U.S., but has been the European standard for some time. This
certifying body also has a less-than-organic standard and is known to
certify products as organic that don't even meet their own low
These pseudo-organic standards, by allowing a
variety of synthetic ingredients in products they certify as organic,
undermine the true meaning of organic as set forth with the NOP.
So, even though it should be easier to identify
truly all natural organic skin care products, it really isn't ... if
you're just looking at the label.
To make sure you get truly healthy, all natural
skin care products, do these things before you buy:
- Check out the manufacturer. Many of the
mainstream cosmetic and skin care companies are coming out with natural
skin care lines that aren't very natural.
- Look for USDA certified organic or certified
organic to the NOP standards.
- Read the ingredients list. If you need help,
Dying To Look Good is a good resource you can carry with you when you
- Check the ingredients every time you buy.
Manufacturers sometimes change the ingredients.
With all the deception in the organic market, it
is just as important now, as ever before, to do your due diligence. Do
your homework and vote with your dollars for the truly good-for-you
organic natural skin care products.
© 2008 Christine H. Farlow, D.C., "The Ingredients
Investigator" and author of DYING TO LOOK GOOD. Dr. Farlow has been
researching ingredient safety since 1991. She gives more information
about ingredient safety at
and healthy skin care products at