How Do You Know You’re Buying Organic Beauty Products?

| 4/22/2010 3:10:58 PM

I came into the world of organics via food. Once I became more familiar with the USDA’s organic food certification system, it just made sense to foray into organic beauty products; everything that you put on your skin is directly absorbed into your bloodstream and bypasses the kidneys and liver, which filter toxins from your body.

Unfortunately, it isn't easy to decipher all the labels and terminology applied to beauty products. So many different eco-certifications and claims line the beauty aisles; which ones should you trust?

To me, it makes the most sense to keep the USDA organic seal as the gold standard for anything you put in or on your body. In accordance with the USDA’s food certification standards, no product can be deemed “organic” unless it has 95-100 percent organic ingredients; products that are 70 percent organic can bear the phrase “made with organic ingredients.”

Since 2005, the USDA has been certifying beauty and personal-care products, but it has no control over the production and labeling of cosmetics and personal-care products—which is the exact problem the Organic Consumers Association wants to remedy with its “Coming Clean” campaign.

The Organic Consumers Association, along with personal-care companies Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Intelligent Nutrients and Organic Essence, filed a formal complaint to the USDA this year and named 13 companies that mislabel their products as “organic” in violation of the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) standards. The OCA and companies are pushing the USDA to take greater responsibility in policing personal-care companies’ “organic” claims.

Currently, the USDA only strictly regulates the term “organic” as it applies to agricultural products—not personal-care products. Though personal-care products can bear the USDA organic symbol if they meet the National Organic Program’s (NOP) standards, the USDA’s regulations do not explicitly include “cosmetics” and allow for the term “organic” to be used on products that may not meet USDA standards.

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