Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What is the difference between organic and natural skin care?

More and more people want to use environmentally friendly products, and skin care products are no exception. Looking at the fad and craze of people for natural  products, the manufacturers of skin care products naturally exploit  their mood  by labeling them as eco friendly or organic.

Many people believe that the descriptors "natural" and "organic" are synonymous, but there are very different meanings to the two terms.

Natural - this implies that one, some, or all of the ingredients are unprocessed and comes from nature, such as fruits, vitamins and minerals for instance; shea butter is a natural product thus a product with shea could be labeled natural. That may not mean that the skin care product was not mixed with artificial chemicals or that the natural ingredients were grown organically. "Natural" is used very loosely in the skincare industry, since it has no legal definition.

Organic - In order to be organic a product needs to be free of chemicals and pesticides during the the plant's growth. In addition, no chemicals were used to remove the oils from their plants of origin. There is no chemical processing to extract oils from plants and the shea has been grown free of pesticides, if a product with shea is labeled organic. So, organic would be an appropriate label for this product.

Skin care products which list papaya or aloe vera are a satisfactory example. If pesticides were used in the cultivation of any ingredient, such as the papaya and aloe vera, the skin care product can't be described as organic; nevertheless, it can contain chemicals and still be described as "all natural."

Also, remember that it is  possible to have allergic reactions regardless of whether a product is labeled organic or not. Someone who is allergic to bees would do well to avoid products made with beeswax or honey, and someone who is allergic to nuts should steer clear of products containing almond oil. Whether the skin care product is organic, natural, or artificial, it needs to have skin tests done.

You often see the word botanical when describing skin care products as well. Ingredients in this product may contain aloe vera, coconut or other tree or plant oils. Again, botanical products can be labeled as natural but does not mean they are also organic.

Currently there are no legal standards for the terms organic and/or natural for personal care products sold in the United States. Because of this, the makers of skin care products can make claims about their products being all natural. For example, Clairol's Herbal Essences promises an "organic experience" even though it contains over a dozen artificial chemicals and is moderately toxic. Visit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on the web to read more about your skin care products.

While the skin care products industry  is truly a huge billion dollar business, the tall claims about their products may be far from truth many times. Additionally, if you are paying top dollar for cosmetics that read pure, natural or organic, read the label, research and decide for yourself. The ingredients will be listed in decreasing order of importance. The name of the natural or organic ingredient you look for appearing as the last in the list of contents of the product indicates that its presence is insignificant and too small to have any effect.

While I do believe in organic and natural skin care products, I also know that I need to be careful that the products I buy really are natural or organic, without unsafe chemicals. I read labels and do my own research to make sure I select "green" products because skin care products often contain chemicals that can be harmful to your health or to the environment.

For certified organic skin and beauty care try the miessence range.


Author: Marquis Miles

Photo: Culture Mag.


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