Organic or Natural Skin Care Products - what's the difference? by Carolyn Sue
Today more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits nature has to offer and are seeking environmentally friendly products in their homes and in their skin care regimen. Therefore, it is no surprise that skin care manufacturers are catering to this wave of eco-friendly consumers and labeling products natural and/or organic.
The words natural and organic are interpreted and implied as the same meaning, however, there are distinct differences between the two.
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; Aloe Vera is a natural product thus a product with Aloe Vera could be labeled natural. However, that does not mean the natural ingredient was grown organically and it does not mean that the skin care product is not mixed with synthetic/chemical ingredients. The term natural is not regulated in the skin care industry so the term natural is used loosely and extensively in marketing ploys.
Organic - means that no chemicals or pesticides were used during the growth of various plants and herbs. Additionally, the processes to extract the various oils from the plant did not use any type of chemical processing. If a product with Aloe Vera in it is labeled organic, then the Aloe would have had to been grown without any type of pesticides and there would be no chemical processing to extract the oils from the plant. Thus the product could be labeled organic.
A good analogy would be a skin care product which lists papaya and Aloe Vera. If the papaya, and Aloe Vera were grown with any type of pesticides then the skin care product can not be labeled organic, however, it could be labeled all natural and still can contain harmful chemicals.
Additionally, just because a product is labeled natural or organic that does not mean you will not have an allergic reaction. A product made with beeswax or honey would not be recommended for people that are allergic to bees, a product with almond oil would not be recommended for people with nut allergies. A skin test is always recommended with any new skin care product whether it be a synthetic, natural or organic product.
The word botanical is used a lot in skin care products too. This implies that the product includes ingredients that are derived from plants and/or trees, such as Aloe Vera and coconut. 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. Therefore, skin care manufacturers are allowed to make all kinds of claims that their products are pure, natural and/or organic. A case in point is Clairol Herbal Essences which gave users an "organic experience", however there isn't much about this product that is herbal or organic as it contains more than a dozen synthetic petrochemicals and has a moderate toxicity rating. Visit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on the web to read more about your skin care products.
The skin care product industry is a billion dollar business and the claims they make concerning their products may or may not be true. Additionally, if you are paying top dollar for cosmetics that read pure, natural or organic, read the label, research and decide for yourself. The most prominent ingredient on the label will be at the top of the ingredient list and the least ingredient at the bottom. So if your natural or organic ingredient is at the bottom of the ingredient list chances are the amount in the product is minute and has no significant value for your skin.
As a personal note, I would like to state that I do believe in the natural and organic concept in skin care products, although if I am buying natural or organic products I expect them to be just, natural with safe synthetic chemicals or truly organic. There are so many chemicals in skin care products that can be harmful to your health and these chemicals are so detrimental to our environment so I read the labels and do the research to find some "green" in the products I use.