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September 11, 2014

Transparency and Tricks - Is your skin care natural, organic… or neither?

 

Cosmetic manufacturers are tricksy. That’s the premise of this post.

What you might not realise, even if you are a particularly savvy skin care user (and you must be if you’re here!), is that there’s so much misleading branding taking place in the beauty industry that even those products which you’re sure are 100% natural?.. might not be.

Take another look.

Since I started Eve Organics I’ve been scouting the globe for 100% natural skin care products; and what continues to amaze me is how difficult these are to find. Even those products which use the words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ in their marketing or on their labeling don’t necessarily live up to their claims. For example, a product can say, “paraben free” but contain other synthetic preservatives; or it can say, “contains natural ingredients” when those natural ingredients only comprise 10% of the product. There is currently no regulation on the use of the word ‘natural’ in Australia; so it’s important not to take the term at face value.

So how do you ensure that what you’re getting is the real deal; and that you’re not unknowingly slathering chemicals on your poor complexion?

  1. Read your ingredients lists.
    If there’s something there that you don’t recognise or can’t pronounce, look it up. Make sure you know what it is. Become educated. I won’t buy a product without first turning it over and checking every last thing that’s in it. And if there is no ingredients list in clear sight? I put it back on the shelf.

  2. Look for certification.
    Another good idea is to look for a 'certified organic' symbol on the product - in Australia this means that the product contains at least 95% certified organic ingredients, and the remaining 5% of ingredients must be natural. (Many ingredients are natural, but not organic - sometimes this is simply because they aren't yet available in organic form. Read on for more information on this.) Certified Organic skin care labels can vary in appearance depending on where the product was manufactured and what organisation it achieved organic certification with - but they all say 'certified organic', so look out for this text.

Another label you’ll often see is ‘Made with organic ingredients’. A product can make this claim if it contains between 70% and 94% organic ingredients.

So - what exactly is 'organic'? Put simply, organic produce is produce that is grown, cultivated and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals. This means no synthetic fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides and no GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Most countries have an organisation through which manufacturers can apply for ‘organic certification’ – to certify to consumers that their produce (in the case of raw ingredient manufacturers) or their product ingredients (in the case of skin care companies) are organic. In Australia, certification can be obtained via NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia) ACO (Australian Certified Organic), and OFC (Organic Food Chain), to name a few. In America, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) is the most widely recognised organic certification body.

The proportion of organic ingredients required in order to certify something as a Certified Organic skin care product varies from country to country. In Australia, as well as in the US, a product needs to contain 95% certified organic ingredients (excluding salt and water) in order to qualify for organic certification.
 However, achieving organic certification is not an easy process – there is a huge amount involved, and certification of raw ingredients can often take years, particularly for new businesses and companies using new organic farming premises or who are just beginning the certification process. Because of this, there are some ingredients that just aren’t available as certified organic yet, even though they are 100% natural and might be produced using organic methods.

As more and more organic farming facilities are established and more ingredients are produced according to organic certification, it will become easier for manufacturers to produce not only 100% natural, but 100% organic skin care products.

In the mean time – keep checking your ingredients lists, and stay educated!

 


Eve :)

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