The ultimate guide to organic and natural skincare
Date Posted:25 June 2021
Labelling can be misleading when it comes to natural and organic products. Many companies will use the words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ as buzz words on their product name or packaging. Some brands will use the word ‘organic’ as part of their company name, but that’s all it is, a name. It doesn't mean they use organic products or abide by a strict code of conduct. You can use the following guide to help you shop for natural and organic products.
The difference between natural and organic skincare
If you’re looking to move away from conventional skincare, you’re probably looking for organic and natural skincare products. But is there a difference between natural and organic skincare? The short answer: yes. ‘Organic’ refers mostly to the way the ingredients in a skincare product are farmed and grown. Organic farming is a set of standardised farming practices that involve not using harsh chemicals, pesticides and other nasties in the growing and farming stage. ‘Natural’ refers more to the type of ingredients in the product. A ‘natural’ ingredient is one that is derived from a source that occurs naturally in the environment. While this tends to mean plant-based ingredients, be careful as animal-derived ingredients can still be classed as natural. A natural ingredient can also be grown with non-organic farming practices and therefore the final product might contain chemicals and pesticides.
To summarise: an organic product is one that contains ingredients that are grown in organic conditions without pesticides and nasty chemicals. A natural product is one that contains mostly natural ingredients that aren’t necessarily grown organically. While an organic skincare product might contain only natural ingredients this isn’t always the case and while a natural skincare product might not be organic or certified organic, it doesn’t necessarily contain nasty chemicals or pesticides.
What does organic certification mean?
Okay, so that’s organic versus natural skincare explained, but what about the difference between organic and organic certified? When shopping for organic skincare, you have to be careful of misleading labels. To have organic certification Australia and display the certification logo in Australia, a product must adhere to a strict set of rules and regulations. At least 95-100% of the ingredients must be of certified organic origin. This means the ingredients have been grown in a non-genetically modified environment, free from chemicals and pesticides and in an ethical and environmentally sustainable manner. If the product contains between 70-95% organic ingredients, the label can state that the product is made with organic ingredients but cannot display the certified organic logo on the packaging.
Any product with less than 70% organic ingredients cannot claim to be an organic product. But, if a product has been certified as organic, it will have the organic certified logo on its packaging. If you're wondering why organic certification is important consider this: a product can be called organic if it contains at least 1% organic ingredients. Meaning, without strict organic certification Australia guidelines and bodies, brands will be able to (legally) mislead customers. That said, some products will contain a high level of organic ingredients but have not yet secured a logo as the process for certifying is lengthy and costly. Choosing clean, organic and/or organic certified products takes quite a bit of research, which is why we do that boring stuff for you at Sassy Organics. You can trust our range as we only source and stock certified organic products and products with mostly organic ingredients that we know don’t contain other nasty fillers or pesticides.
How can I tell if a product is natural?
Natural beauty products can be particularly misleading. For a product to call itself natural, it only has to have 1 naturally derived ingredient. That means it can have 1 natural ingredient, such as a botanical extract, and the rest can be cheap synthetic fillers and chemicals. Price will be a big indicator of how natural a product is. For example, ’natural hand soap ‘at the supermarket for $2.99 is most likely going to contain a lot of inexpensive chemical detergent. Scanning the ingredients list is paramount when choosing natural products. There are certain natural ingredients you can look out for and will come across often when shopping for natural skincare. These include:
- Plant/fruit/vegetable oils (like argan, jojoba, coconut, hemp, avocado, shea butter)
- Naturally-derived Cetaryl Alcohol – although it sounds like a chemical, this common ingredient can be made from coconut oil
- Plant-derived Glycerine – but avoid synthetic versions like Propylene glycol and PEG silicone.
- Essential oils
- Plant, botanical or fruit extracts (like pomegranate, liquorice root)
- Tea – often chamomile or green tea
- Other key plant ingredients like cocoa, charcoal, Sea Buckthorn, aloe vera
Some common chemicals and synthetic filler ingredients to avoid include:
- Parabens – common in shampoos, moisturisers and body lotions
- DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamide) and TEA (Triethanolamine)
- Propylene glycol and PEG silicone
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
- Triclosan – common in antibacterial products
The benefits of using organic and/or natural skincare
Top organic skincare and natural skincare brands
Useful links to learn more about organic products
For more information on organic certified products and regulations, you can visit the following websites
- Ecocert (www.ecocert.com)
- USDA Organic (www.usda.gov)
- Biogro New Zealand (www.biogro.co.nz)
- Australian Certified Organic (www.aco.net.au)
- COSMOS Standard (www.cosmos-standard.org)